[A transcription of Bloomfield's prose journal of his Wye tour from the text as it appears, with his sketches and pasted-in maps and notes, in British Library Additional Manuscript 28267. The folio numbers on which the text and the sketches appear are indicated here within square brackets. Bloomfield's spelling and punctuation are preserved. His deletions are represented by words struckthrough; insertions above the line appear <thus>. The titles of Bloomfield's sketches appear in italics between square brackets at the appropriate places in the text]

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of A
&c. &c. --
Augst 1807

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Note: In my 'Shooters Hill' [1]  I have said,
'Of Cambrian Mountains still I dream'
&c. &c. but,
'Tis not for me to trace around
The wonders of my native land'
I find that it was through reading that poem that the tour was resolv'd
on, at least that I became one of the party. My friends guess'd that I
should like it, and they never form'd a better guess in their lives.

Stouts Hill. Uley.
Aug. 180

Uley is situated in rather a singular valley, about seven miles from the Severn. It appears to be surrounded by abrupt and woody hills, except on the north, where a bold promontory, with an old camp on its brow, calld the 'Berry,' [2]  lifts its bald head; and whose sides, yielding plenty of stone for building, are extremly steep. Yet they are not hills, but merely the terminations of the upland country of Gloucestershire termed the 'Cotswold Levels' and here they break suddenly into the vale of the Severn: [3]  and the valley of Uley is sunk so as to be approached by a stranger without the smallest suspicion of there being a valley before him. Cotswold is an immense Gloucester cheese, and Uley valey is a half-pound notch cut in his side.

The town of Dursley lies in the opening of the same valley, towards the Severn, and immediately under Stinchcomb Hill, one of the most remarkable of these bluff points, as standing majestically forward into the vale of Severn, and consequently commanding a very extensive view in all directions, particularly down the stream, over Kingwood,

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[f. 5] Bristol, the mouth of the Wye, the Monmouthshire, and Black Mountains; the Forest of Dean; May Hill; Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire; and the city of Gloster, &c. — — — Both Dursley and Uley are employ'd in the manufacture of Broad-cloth, and was I to abuse their Steam Engines, that fill so delightful a valey with smoke, they would probably begin reminding me of my coat, and not unlikely of the time when I was hampered to get one! I mean to let them alone!

The village of Owlpen stands under the hanging woods at the top of Uley Vale. It is very small, and near its curious and obscure church runs the little rill [4] , with several natural cascades, (the first I had ever seen), which, in its further progress, becomes of such importance to the clothiers. The Curate of Uley preaches here once a fortnight, and he lately ran the hazard of his life by the falling of the sounding-board, which struck him a violent blow on the head.— The country immediately round this valley on the high ground, is every where intersected by stone walls; for stone, a brick thickness, more or less, is the invariable consequence of digging ten inches into the ground; they are merely piled, without morter, easily made, and as easily mended. A strange desolate appearance! In the valley there is no such thing. The verdure is of the most vivid green, and the uneven boundary of woods on the allmost perpendicular sides of the high grounds, form the finest amphitheatre I have ever seen. But hold! I am going down the Wye!

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Berkley Castle, <distant 5 miles,> lies in sight from the heights; but I could <can>not reach it at present in any of my expiditions, but have frequently thought of Gray, and the

'Shrieks of an agonizing King.' [5] 

From Dursley [6]  to the Severn side at Framelode, the lowlands fall with a slow, gradual descent; The passage-house is finely situated, and the boats are fitted up for the conveying horses and carriages across the stream. The water of the Severn is here but narrow, but owing to the occasional tides of uncommon height, the sands are extensive; the current is rapid. Barrow Hill is a charming spot, rising in the neck of a horseshoe form'd by the Severn, and gives <giving> a great command of the country. Here we found plentifully the petrified shell of the Nautilus; and pebbles, which in the neighbourhood of Uley are not seen, nor the least appearance of chalk, or flint. Horses, I observe, appear to be struck with a kind of tremulous submission on finding themselves floating; one Barge carried the seven. But to float each sociable, two barges were lash'd side by side, and the carriage placed across upon planks. One Boat of course carried all the party, and we were soon all on terrey-firma again, and climbing the high-ground, leaving May Hill on our right. Passd Flaxley Abbey, the seat of Sir Thos Crawley. The woods on this estate are chiefly Oak, of good growth, and covering the side hills in a manner truly sublime.

The road leads on by Gun's Mills, and to Mitcheldean, the oldest town situated in a most beautiful country, and whose church has a spire of uncommon height, and so slender as to make one tremble for the

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builder. Yet on entering the place it keeps no promises made at a distance, but is the Oldest Town (in appearance) that can be found <imagined>, singularly unpleasing to the eye. Here I observed a stone cross, almost perfect, having an upright stone on which the cro Image was formerly placed. ——

During the ride from hence to Ross, had two or three peeps at the Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire, and the 'Skirit' and Sugarloaf in Monmouthshire. — 'Bailey's Side' is a fine bold eminence on the left, cloathd with wood, with a range, or strata of Rock breaking through it, and forming a curious contrast with the green above and below. Penyard Hill, in the neighbourhood of Ross, is nearly of the same description, but is on every side covered by steep woods, so that they assert that no sparrows were ever known on the farm on its brow; This I think possible, as the sparrow is so entirely domestic, and avoids woods in general; and in this case his flight would be unusually long, and almost perpendicular.

(Arrived at Ross at 7. evening)

Ross is not a town to my fancy, in appearance perhaps it is the prevalence of Rock, and of Rock-stone in their buildings that gives it a kind of dreary look to one unused to such buildings. The church, with its taper spire, stands on elevated ground, and from <it> is a view of the River Wye winding eel-fashion, below. Many of the elms planted by 'Kyrle,' Pope's 'Man of Ross,' [7]  are growing in the church yard and neighbourhood. The ruins of Wilton Castle are seen across the stream in the oposite meadows, and a man in the churchyard very seriously informed us, that 'the said castle was knock'd down by cannon, in a great rebellion in the time of the Romans!'

During my short stay at Ross, I called

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on an old acquaintance and fellow-tradesman, whom I had not seen for eleven years. He keeps a shoemaker's shop, oposite the Swan Inn, where we lodg'd.

(Left Ross at 8. morning, 18th)

At eight in the morning assembled to the number of ten, on board a pleasure Boat, [8]  store'd with provisions, and Bottles, &c. &c. The sociables having been order'd forward to meet us at Monmouth and Chepstow. [9]  But how shall I attempt to describe the natural beauties of this charming River, or the objects seen during the passage? I must not attempt it! a journal is not a vehicle of sufficient importance. My heart is brimfull of indescribable pleasure when I think on this day! Beauty in all its variety is perhaps its leading feature, But sublimity is paramount to all considerations at the passage under Coldwell Rocks, and round to New Weir, and Great Doward, and thence on to Monmouth. Every body knows that the Wye is exceedingly deep in places, and falls beautifully in others over ledges of Rocks, so as to form, not cascades, but rapids, where the water hurries along with a visible descent. It is winding in its course to a great degree, inconceivably pelucid, and in general, the hills rise majestically steep from its shores.

We dined on board the Boat, on the right bank of the stream, near the spring called 'Cold well' and here is a new-erected Monument in memory of a youth drowned here in sight of his parents! the inscription is long, and excellent, but I neglected to copy it [10]  Permission for its erection was granted by Mr. Vaughan of Monmouth, the owner of the land; and though, for

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several reasons, I could individually wish the monument not there, I think it does honour to him to grant it, and though, as 'the Lord of Courtfield,' I have condemnd his taste, I know nothing disrespectful of his heart. — Coldwell Rocks, on the Gloster side of the stream, are particularly grand and impressive, and the circumstance of having one of them baptized by my name, by the company, I have noticed elsewhere. [11] 

At the neck of a long horseshoe form'd by this river, the rocky eminence called 'Symmons' Yat' obtrudes itself to a vast height between the two points of the approach of the river. Instead of going round with the boat, it is usual for the party to ascend the rocks from A to B where the ridge terminates in a high bank of perpendicular Rock not more than twenty yards wide, and to join the boat again at new Wier. An old woman was our guide, who led us over this isthmus untill our bones ached.—Three of us outstript our companions, and finding they did not overtake us, I again left my two companions, and climbd a pathless way, with intent to reach the summit which I had missd. On nearly approaching the absolute perpendicular part of the cliff, I heard voices at the top, and hallow'd and soon found <that> the hindmost part of the company, had climbed the place before me. The old woman descended to become my pilot, and the view paid amply for the labour. On the down-stream side of this bank of rock lies the place called the 'New Wier,' or a kind of artificial means of keeping up the river, and accommodated by a lock. here we embarkd again, and lookd back on the scene with encreased interest, for here, projecting from the usual run of this rocky hill, stands allmost detachd, an upright tower of stone very aptly term'd the Cathedral, or the 'Minster Rock,' (I forget which) it is square and grotesque, and vast in its proportions. —— It was one of those charming days that gratify us with their serenity and

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peace. The clarionet sounded softly; yet the echo was perhaps the more enchanting. To describe all the beauties of the passage was not my intention was I ever so capable. There was one circumstance however that was to me curious. I had heard when at Ross, that the fishermen on this River, still used the identical kind of boat which Caesar has described in his commentaries [12]  as being used in his time by the natives of Britain, and I hoped for an opportunity of being convinced of its truth. When drawing near to Monmouth, after passing Great Doward, and drinking at Martin's well, we came among some fishermen who were disturbing the water with long poles to dislodge the salmon. To accomplish this they occasionally used an infant kind of boat, which they carry with them in their large one. It holds but one person; is, as far as I can guess not more than 4 foot in length, goes with the broadest end foremost, is worked by a paddle, has no keel or rudder, and is formd of wickers only, and cover'd by an oil-skin outside to repel the water. The man paddles himself on shore, jumps out, and takes his boat at his back with great ease. It had a strange and even laughable appearance; It was impossible to keep the mind at home; it would compare infancy and maturity, a 'Corricle' or 'Corracal' with the 'Victory,' [13]  and a Wye fisherman to Nelson. [14] 

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After an uninterrupted day of rational enjoyment we reachd Monmouth, at half-past seven in the evening; eleven hours and a half on the water.

(Monmouth at ½ past seven)

Monmouth [f. 26] (as the birthplace of Henry the 5th) may be considerd as a high curiosity to the Antiquarian; but as we were obliged, on account of meeting the tide in our way to Chepstow, to start at 6 the following morning, no great attention could be paid to the town. The place of his birth, the castle, is nearly all demolish'd (Or else in the dark we <you> could not find it says the antiquarian;—) They have a Noble Statue of him over the Market House.

Left Monmouth at 6 in the morning, Wedy 19)

The sun strove to overlook the steeps of wood that enclosd us in, skirting our misty, and delightfully indistinct passage down the River. The day rose, the mists dispersed, and we met the tide just before we reachd the Village of Landauga, where the cottages rise one over the other in a manner particularly pleasing against the morning sun. The reach of the river that commands the village of Landauga, exemplified in a striking manner that peculiar appearance which we had notic'd often on the water this morning, and the preceding day. Viz. where the water was bounded by high ground, and at the same time seemingly terminated by as high, or higher; it seemd <appeared> to decline from the eye, and to loose its natural horizontal level by running extreemly downhill into the opposing emminence. We know that a River has in reality its natural declension, but this is a very strong and decided optical deception; and it pleased me not a little.

Through the long reach below Ethels wier,

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the water became turbid and slugish, until the tide turnd, and then it ran furiously down, and soon brought us in sight of the Ruins of Tintern Abby. A place so often described by pen and by pencil, [15]  that I will not attempt it; only remarking that it must have been a place of extreem beauty, and is now a place that strikes the eye, and fixes on the soul something like the shackles of superstition; yet I would hope that reverence for an old place of devotion is something deserving a better name. The door was open'd suddenly, and the effect instantaneously overpowerd us all in different ways! It is grandeur in a place where it would be least expected; a memorial of wealth and population now unseen in its neighbourhood. The burial place of Strong-bow, the conqueror of Ireland, &c. Most of the party sat down and took sketches of the interior; but I found it above my reach, and so gave vent to my feelings by singing, for their amusement and my own, the 104th Psalm. [16]  And though no 'fretted vault' [17]  remains to harmonize the sound, it soothd me into those <that> state of mind which is most to be desired. We tarried here until the last moment <minute> of our allowance of time; the tide was ebbing, and if suffer'd to ebb too far, some of the rapids further down would not have boasted sufficient depth to have floated us to Chepstow. We took a hearty, but hasty breakfast, and I rather think the Welsh girl who waited upon us was not sorry

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to get rid of her company. We had been more than three hours on the water; and we shall remember the Tintern Breakfast with pleasure if any part of our company go there, or meet each other again. —Though in this latter part of our voyage the water was not so lovely an object in itself, yet the grandeur of the scenery increased upon us every moment. The Rocks calld 'Winlass leap,' and 'lovers leap,' and the more exalted eminence of Wind Cliff, in itself worth going an hundred miles to see. These, with the detached Rocks like buttrasses, called the 'twelve apostles', and an infinity of minor beauties made themselves admired and respected on either side, untill we reachd Chepstow Castle and Bridge; where we quitted the Wye with <a> regret, that those will best appreciate; who have witnessed its power to enchant, and <seen> the objects in its course.

(arrived at Chepstow about one)

The Castle of Chepstow stands on the Bank of the Wye immediately on the brink of a perpendicular rock of vast height. It appears to have been a place <fortress> of uncommon strength. Here Martin (the Regicide) as he is calld, was long confined by Charles ye Second, and one of the towers bears his name. [18]  Here each of the party found abundance of exercise for the mind and for the pencil, but having passed 'Wind cliff' on our way down the river, we now visited it by

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land, through the grounds of — Wells, [19]  Esq. of Persfield, pursuing a wooded walk for about two miles, immediately on the edge of the rocks that overhang the Wye, at nearly one end of this natural terrace, is the precipice called 'Lovers Leap', down which the eye descends with a fearful complacency, as a thick wood covers the bottom ground. they told us that its height was about sixty yards, I should guess it more. An iron railing protects the walk at top, and the descent is as steep as a wall. 'Wind Cliff', as seen by the map, is somthing further up the stream, and is magnificently grand. The fantastic turns of the Wye, with its amphitheatre of woods, seemed diminishd; but, if possible, increasd in beauty. The Severn's mouth; the Holmes, in its channel; the shipping at King-road, and all the country from below Bristol upwards untill Gloucester was lost in mist, is compleatly under the eye. It is here calld the second view in england, and by Lord North [20]  was preferd to 'Mount Edgecomb.'

The accompanying view of 'Wind Cliff' is taken from a part of Chepstow Castle, and it will give an additional idea of its magnitude if you observe that you do not see the river at its foot, but look over very high ground, round which the water comes from the right towards the centre of the drawing. If you look on the map from Chepstow Castle to Wind Cliff, the whole will be understood. [21]  This drawing is done

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by R. B. Cooper, Esq. a principal in our party, who uses his pencil with great freedom and expidition. I prize it on his, and every account. ——— We spent a delightful and social evening at the Beaufort Arms at Chepstow, and retired to rest, but not till we had walked to the Castle by Moonlight, where we found an owl hooting lustily from the Battlements of Martin's Tower. We all stood to listen! and to admire! and certainly no imagination can form an object and a scene half so impressive.

(Thursday 20th, at Chepstow)

The whole of this morning was spent in a thorough examination of the Ruin'd Castle, but the time was too short; Many good drawings were made, and I attempted one amongst the rest; The joists of the floors in Martin's Tower are still existing and are of solid Oak, about a foot square. It appears unaccountable to me how, even by the lapse of ages, nutriment enough can be found for shrubs of so large a growth as are flourishing between the outer and inner ramparts of these towers, and on the top of the wall of course. This gangway, once the place of the defenders of the fortress and its centinels, is now an absolute wild: a mixture of Brambles, Hazel, Ash, Beech, and fruit trees, from twenty to thirty feet high at least. The whole area of the Chappel which I was much taken with, (though the man in attendance called it the banqueting-room) is coverd with thriving underwood. The look out from its large windows must have been allmost dreadful, as that wall stands on, and is, in truth the continuation of a perpendicular cliff, as <much> high<er> as than the building itself.

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The bridge at Chepstow is very narrow, (belonging to the two counties) and the flooring is composed of oak planks only on which both hoofs and wheels batter along in a singular manner. The planks are not fastened otherwise than at each end by an upright peg, on which, in case of high tides, they have room to lift up ten or twelve inches without loosing their places.

(Thursday, left Chepstow at twelve, for Ragland and Abergany)

About noon left Chepstow, and the Wye and proceeded on to Ragland, where there is another immense castle, in some respects in better preservation than that we had left; but it appears <has not> so commanding a situation, and appears more like a Barronial residence than an impregnable fortress. Here is the largest growth of Ivy I have ever seen. The whole compass of the Walls are nearly compleat. But I cannot possibly enter into particulars in a flying journal like this. We spent two hours amongst the ruins; and in a kind of cellaring, the archd way leading to which has partly fallen in, a country woman who offerd her services and information, informd us that, when a light is carried in, it is soon extinguish'd, and that they say it is because of damps; but for her part she was inclined to believe with many of her neighbours, that the devil was there. In this building a gigantic stem of Ivy has pushed awry the fine fluted work of the kitchen window, and seems to set iron and stone at defiance. The largest elm I have ever seen growing, is found in the yard or grounds of the castle. ——

We drove on for Abergavenny, where we arrived about 9 at night, having the 'Sugarloaf' Mountain,' 'The Skirrid-Vawr,' and 'Blorench'

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catching the rays of the setting sun, as we came towards them. It was a noble sight!

(Abergavenny, <arrived at> 9 at night)

(Friday, 21st)

I am now writing in my bedroom at Abergany before breakfast, with the sugarloaf Mountain in view of my window, and before night we shall be on his brow. ———

I have now discover'd that the hill I saw from my window is not the Sugar loaf, but one of much inferior size. With ten in company, and two <three> servants, it requir'd some little order and contrivance to get us all up so rugged a way, and to such a distance. We found that as sociables and common carriages could not pass the narrow, stony, and precipitate lanes that lead up to the high ground, the best way would be to hire a carriage on purpose, that would carry half our party. We learn'd that a man in the neighbourhood was in the habbit of carrying strangers to the top of the Sugar loaf, and the hills in the neighbourhood <the Skirid, and Blorench, &c.> and that his conveyance was a common open cart, fitted up with occasional seats for the purpose, and drawn by three little scrambling poneys. The driver and owner is a red-fac'd little fellow named powel, who lives on his own small property, and is perhaps, one of those we might call yeomen, or what in the north are termd, statesmen. In this cart were stowed six of us, the rest rode single horses, chiefly fitted with side saddles for the accommodation of the ladies, who occasionally

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relieved each other. The cart was abundantly stored with provisions, wine, Bottled ale, and fruit, and every thing that could render the expidition agreeable and joyous. In this style, the whole cavalcade left the Angel Inn at Abergany, and excited a great deal of mirth. The roads up the mountain are such as nothing could have passed but a cart. Brambles, honeysuckles, and hazelnuts, rap'd us on the head as we jolted up the courses of the winter's torrents, for every lane is a water-course. Blorench seem'd to rise in greater sublimity as we ascended the lower hills, or base of the Sugar loaf. 'Skirid Vawr' was on our right, but the day was hazy, and the prospect not so extensive as it sometimes is. We reach'd the top of the woody part of this high ground, and then had a fairer view of the peak, or summit of the Sugar Loaf 'Pen y Vale,' which I understand to mean the 'head of the vale' and which sombody has since baptized by the more melting name of the 'Sugar-loaf.' I here took to my feet and steerd directly for the summit, while most of the party went slowly round with the cart: But young purnell Cooper rode his father's horse, amidst the rocks and fragments allmost to the summit, where the poor animal trembled and neigh'd for his companions. I gained the brow by regular and temperate exertion, for I had learned a lesson from Symmons' Yat, gathering whimburys or winberrys in my way and resting on the grotesque and immense fragments of Rocks, which appear to have rolled down from the top; which is compos'd of allmost entire rock, and is not a sharp, but a long narrow ridge, of about one hundred yards wide. [22]  It was not possible to drive the cart to the

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top, so while all the party climb'd to the eminence, the driver took a circuit, and the servants relieved each other in the necessary duty of holding the horses, and enjoy'd the scene by turns. —— We all sat on the soft green, or rather brown heath or Ling; and from a spring just below the rocky summit had some excellent water. From this sublime eminence the eye ranges over others still higher, and the <blue mists hanging over the horizon, gave to the> long line of intersecting mountains the appearance of a sea of hills. We had left beauty behind, here was nothing but sublimity! and I think that mirth would be the last feeling likely to be excited in such a situation. The air was remarkably fresh and invigorating; some few drops of rain fell, which were most likely not known in the country below. We left the summit with regret. At a considerable way from the more rocky part of the hill, in our descent, a cloth was spread on the moss beside a rivulet, the horses tied to a thorn, and the cold collation <repast> enjoy'd with a mutual thankfulness, that is seldom found in a hall amidst the clattering of knives and plates. Again <we mounted> the Welsh sociable, and descended by another road, though as to declivity not a whit better than the other. We at length reachd the turnpike road to Abergany, and returnd to the Inn after an excursion that having been long promised and expected, could hardly have been despensed with, and which from the universal gratification it gave, appears now it is over, to have been a principal ingredient in dish of our pleasures.

(At Abergavenny, Saturday 22d)

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(Abergany. 22)

This morning we strolled round the remains of Abergany Castle, It is very much gone to decay, but from the eminence where once stood the keep, the hill called 'Blorench' on the other side the river Usk, and the 'Pen vale Hills,' which we had ascended the preceding day, presented themselves in a new and magnificent point of view. The morning was inclined to be stormy, and the point of the Sugar-loaf, and great part of his sides could not be seen. The clouds hung round him, and rolld in dark volumes about his stony girdle. We waited untill the sun acquired more power, and saw his head emerge with all the majesty of a monarch.

(left Abergany at eleven)

This day's journey was to take us to Brecon, by way of Crickhowel; At the latter place refreshd by the way. here likewise are <seen> some remains of a castle, and likewise the ruins of an old mansion, once belonging to the Earles Earls of Pembroke. The people partake strongly of the welsh character, and many of them cannot speak english.— Three miles further on, turnd out of the high road to see the remains of Tre-tower Castle, which stands rather singularly in a deep valley. Here an upright woman, a hundred years old, askd charity, and said her name was 'Jane Edwards.' [23]  An old shoe-maker answered in Welsh a great many inquiries, through an interpreter, his son, who could speak English, but roughly. From hence to

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Brecon was a most enchanting ride. Crickhowel mountain, and several others were coverd with clouds that travel'd along on their summits, and these clouds illuminated by the declining sun! and nearer to Brecon, the grotesque and abrupt cluster of points, called the 'Vann' were still more enveloped and in clouds of the most terrific and dark hue. Reach'd the Golden Lion at Brecon, at 9.—

(Brecon at Nine. 22d)

Mr. Morgan, the Recorder of Brecon, being related to father's of our party, we sup'd there, and next day

(Sunday 23)

Attended service at church, and heard some excellent voices in the organ lofft, full of simple pathos and feeling. The service is performed in Welsh at three in the afternoon for the accommodation of those who do not speak english. And another kind of accomodation is afforded the young men of the country, by the recruiting Sergeants; they expose their bills of invitation, with their offer of eleven guineas Bounty, in english and in welsh, side by side! Who would loose a soldier by neglecting to let him know that you want him.? Between the church and Dinner hour Mr Floyd Baker and self on horseback, visited an old British intrenchment, so deemd (I believe) by the late Mr. King, [24]  the antiquarian, it consists of a triple bank round the brow of a hill—And not more than three miles from Brecon, and for the on the same

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side of the town, at a Farm now termed 'the Gaer' [25]  are the remains of a Roman Wall, <still> so perfect as not to have wholly lost the outer, or facing stones. This appears to have been a Roman station, of some importance. [26]  Mr. Price, a very civil and intelligent farmer on the spot, gave us every information in his power, and seem'd to enjoy it. A paved Roman road crosses his orchard, only cover'd by grass. A small lamp, found on the premises, is in possession of Mrs. Price. And several very perfect Roman Bricks, are turn'd up by the plough, all stamp'd while the clay was wet, as the work of the second Legion of Augustus, as I have endeavour'd to show in the scetch.

In the wild, bushy lane, leading down to 'the Gaer' stands a stone (perhaps 5 foot high, and 3 wide, by 6in thick,) calld 'Marn Morinion' or 'the Maiden's Stone.' It has had 3 lines of inscription, now so effaced, that Mr B. could only make out a few words, but we learn'd that the whole is decipher'd, and is in the possession of a gentleman at Brecon. In front are two figures, once rais'd from the surface, but now batter'd away nearly to a flat. That on the right, (looking at the drawing) appears to have been a Roman soldier with the dress like a Highland philibeg, or petticoat. the other figure I think was a female, but the position of their arms is not to be made out; and though the figures in my sketch [27]  appear so very imperfect, I doubt they are too perfect rather, to be strictly just to the original.

A spot close

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in the neighbourhood of Brecon, calld the 'Priory Groves,' the property of Lord Camden, forms a beautiful walk for the town's people, a stream makes its way over a number of rocky obstructions in a deep valley below, keeping a continual murmur, though allmost entirely hid by the trees.

(Left Brecon Monday morning, 24th)

This day's journey was to take us to Hereford. we could not attempt to climb 'the Vann' in the neighbourhood, esteem'd the highest in South Wales; and which, during our Sunday's ride and this morning were continually cap'd by clouds. (N.B. Price, the farmer, said he could almost to a certainty foretel rain, by the appearance of the clouds on the Vann.) Mr and Mrs Morgan in their own chariot accompanied us as far as Hay; in the way to which town stands the remains of Bronyliss Castle, one tower of which is nearly perfect, except the floors. The walls of this tower are about eleven feet thick. The farmer on the spot, makes use of it for a hay loft; and he has destroy'd great part of the other walls and ruins to have the materials to fence his yard and build a stable! This form'd a pleasing subject for the pencil, and my companions enjoyd it, During which, I was thinking of the River Wye, and filling my pockets with Nuts. The Severn, and the Wye, both take their rise from the mountain of Plenlimon. Hay, where we dined, stands on the Wye, and we felt a kind of unaccountable affection for the stream that had in its lower progress given us so much pleasure. Here is likewise fine remains of a castle; and in the churchyard we observed a new grave strew'd with flowers! It is a Welsh custom, and they are

[f. 54v]

[f. 55]

often not strewn, but planted on the grave; and carefully weeded by the surviving friends of the deceased. In this case we only observed only <one> sprig of sweet-briar growing. It was a beautiful, sad, and impressive sight; which will make me detest the unhallow'd mob of bones in Bunhill fields more than I ever did before. let me be buried any where but in a croud!

Here we parted with our Brecon friends, and proceeded onwards, passing on the steep bank of the Wye the poor remains of Clifford Castle, said to be the birthplace of Fair Rosamond. [28]  Cross'd the Wye a few miles further on, and then had it on our right, during an uninterrupted ride to Hereford.

(At Hereford, Monday night)

During the whole ride the harvest was in all its glory. Orchards abound on each side of the road and overhang the highway as plentifully as elms do in Suffolk; and the greatest crop is hanging on the trees that has been known for many years.

Hereford is a clean lively city. We lodged at the New Inn, and in the same house was residing the young Roscius, Wm Betty. [29]  He play'd Achmet [30]  on the evening of our arrival, but I declined a squeeze on so hot an evening. I saw him in the Inn yard in the morning; a well-made youth of about 5ft 6in — a good, but surely not by any means an expressive countenance. I beg his pardon if I am wrong. He mounted his horse with a kind of toldarol gaiety, and gallop'd out of the yard. ——— The tower of the cathedral

[f. 56]

has a strange, squaddy appearance, being exceedingly large, with turrets too small, and the height not according well with the proportion of the building. [31]  The interior is elegant, and contains many very old monuments. But amongst the oddest particulars of this church is the circumstance of its having two of the immense arches under the tower in the interior of the church, supported by an upright pillar dividing at the top, so as to destroy the beauty of the arch, and make a singular appearance. These pillars are comparatively modern, and surely there must have been some other cause, not now apparent, to induce any architect to attempt so paradoxical a fancy, as to support an arch from beneath.

(Left Hereford at 11. on Tuesday)

This day's journey was to take us from Hereford to the Malvern Hills, and Mr F. B. having to call on his friend, Mr. Hopton, of Canfrone, part of the company drove on for Ledbury, where we proposed meeting there again. Mr. Hopton has a house of no common sort. it is very large, and fitted up in the first style of elegance, not fantastically modern. Here we dined; and in the true spirit of old english hospitality, the venerable old squire asked if we liked 'good beer'? and orderd the servant to bring a bottle of 'seventy-seven.' I found that this beer was three years old, when it was, at the above date, put into bottles, and was consequently brew'd when I was 8 years old. ———

We joind our party at Ledbury, and proceeded on for Malvern Hills. Evening came on apace, and darkness overtook us as we cross'd the Hills, and turned to the left towards Malvern Wells. The road is but narrow, [f. 57] and runs on the side of the Hills, giving us a starlight view of <the> descent below us, and of the emminence, not to say Mountain, above. We reached the Well House, but they were, with all their appendages, full of company; no beds could be had. Drove down to the town of Great Malvern, and received the same answer there! not even a sitting-room could be had for refreshment! except an offer, (which was eventually declined), and which we learned was made by Sir Robert Staples, of the use of his rooms for an hour. It was eight miles further to Worcester, and the horses tired, and <now> very dark. Every effort was made to procure accomodations, which at last was accomplishd, by procuring beds at private houses, &c. —This caused more mirth than disappointment; for every one set out at first with a determination to be pleased. I lodged at a shop which was the post office; and being debarred from the accomodating articles that wait upon my beard, I learnd that I could be shaved by a man in the house, and so it proved, for the post office man was the shaver! though I took him from weighing tea and cheese. He was a surly old fellow, a little on one side, and so was his house; for the flooring of my bedroom was more out of level than I ever slep'd on before. It was solid oak, and I dare say perfectly sound; though a large fracture, and there being no plaster below it, shew'd me the ostlers and maids at early breakfast below me. One of the ostlers snuffled a good deal in his speech; the other was a wit; and the maids (if they were such) were a tolerable match for them. ——This morning, having no breakfast-room, had a table set in a garden, and the sun shining bright upon the craggy hills just above us, made it a beautiful and singular scene. We took two

[f. 57v]

[f. 58]

saddle-horses for the Ladies, and all together began to ascend the highest peak of Old Malvern. It was laborious work! This majestic view has been many hundred times described better than I can do it here. I will however remark, that the Malvern Hills are a range that rise in comparatively a flat country and therefore command an extraordinary view. Amongst the round of objects which we deliberately observed, are, on the Welsh side, and turning round to the right; the Sugar Loaf; the Skirit; the Black Mountains; the City of Hereford; Clay Hills, and the Wreaken in Shropshire; Winbury Hills—The LickeyHagley park— Worcester City (8 miles)—Malvern Abbey just below—the whole valey of Stratford on Avon, very distant—Bredon Hill— The long heights of Cotswold—Upton Bridge— <down towards the> Severn's mouth, and allmost to the ocean! A ditch along the ridge of the hills, marks the boundary between the counties of Gloucester and Hereford. I think if I lived on the spot I should climb the hills about twice a week for six months, and then be able to give a tolerable account of the scene. Delightful Malvern!! I have said above that we all climbed the hill; but Mrs F B. though she had reached the summit of 'Pen y Vale' in a state (and far advanced) that 'all women would wish to be who love their lords,' [32]  was, I doubt, deterred from this attempt; for I am sure her spirit would never fail if her reason approved. The old abby church at Malvern, reminds one of a man Lost xx in a deep decline, and yet retaining about him all that can attest his former strength and vigour. The woman who exhibited what was there to be seen was much better informd than many in a similar situation and gave the most unaffected detail I have ever heard. The whole fabric is uncommonly damp and discoloured; and unless something is done to arrest the scythe of Time, the roof will soon be xxxx on the floor.

(Left Malvern for Tewkesbury Wednesday at one)

Leaving Malvern Hills, no other striking scenes which any presented themselves except works of art, which, though I affect not to disregard, I am not so much taken with, or able or willing to describe. From the summit of Malvern, we had observed Upton Bridge in the valley, and now pass'd it in the road to Tewkesbury. [33]  On entering the latter place, I was uncommonly surprised, and delighted with the noble appearance of the streets. A width and length, and clearness, and great respectability that I had not been at all apprised of. Bury St. Ed. I had always esteem'd a fine clean town, but the street by which we entered Tewkesby is at least twice, and at places thrice as wide as the Abby-gate Stt, and 4 times its length, a more respectable street than Holboun. The Stratford Avon over which we pass'd, falls into the Severn at Tewkesbury. The Abby Church has of late years been beautified [34]  and repaired by Mr Wyatt; [35]  and as to pulpit and seats is the neatest that can be imagined. Prince Edward, son of Edward ye 4th Henry the Sixth, said to be murder'd by Richard after the battle of Tewkesby, lies here in the centre of the church, with a small brass inscription. This evening was spent with a peculiar pleasure, which we had been promised from our first setting out. Mr. R. B. Cooper had with him his MS poem (unfinishd), <in> which he describes his neighbour 'Stinchcomb Hill'— He read it with very good effect, and it spoke most amply for its subject and its author. I hope some day to see it finish'd. Here likewise took place a [f. 58v] general exhibition and comparison of notes and sketches and much good will, and <with> allowances for the bad, and enjoyment of the good.

(Left Tewkesbury Thursday morning, for Gloucester, and home)

It was agreed to proceed this last day's journey by way of Cheltenham, and thence to Gloucester to dinner. Cheltenham appears to be an increasing town, full of dashing shops, and full of what is often called Life, (i.e.) high life. I am not qualified to judge of high life, and may be laughed at for my strictures, but as I never feel happy in Bond street, I see no reason that I should here. The visitors seem distrest for somthing to do, and I know <of> no calamity equal to it. I proposed calling on Doctor Jenner who join'd our party in the walks, and sent a Cheltenham gift for my wife, which shall remain in my family with his former tokens between us [36]  —The prince was at Cheltenham, and though the votaries of fashion follow him as gnats do a horse, to sting him, or to be lashd to death, I Found all moralists, and all thinkers, through the whole xxxxx <town> speak of him with a shake of the head, and a humbled, and negative kind of exultation—I hope the feeling will last as long as truth and history. Spent about 3 hours at Cheltenham, and drove on for Gloucester, where we dined at three at the King's Head. The Cathedrial is beauty itself. Westminster is black and venerable, Canterbury is gigantic, and mix'd in its beauties, but this, and particularly the Tower, is a noble and lovely object. We look at it as we would at a beautiful woman, without cessation, and without tiring. Gloucester Cathedrial is the burial place of Robert of Normandy, and of Edward ye Second, murder'd at Berkeley.— The city is fine, and is a busy scene, but I was more struck with Tewkesbury. From Gloucester we proceeded for home, which we reached about nine at night;

'Nor stop'd, till where we first got up
We did again get down.'—  [37] 

Dursley and Uley as I have said already are singularly beautiful as to situation, yet such is the force of a set of new Ideas, that the most facitious individuals of the party <now> thought their beauties tame, because they were compared with what we had seen. I have imbibed the highest degree of affection for all the individuals of the party, from the most natural cause in the world—because they all seem'd glad to give me pleasure— and I shall forget them all—when my grave is strewn with Flowers.

R Bloomfield

N. B. Before I left the country, visited Berkeley Castle, and gained much comparative information from here observing a Castle still habitable and perfect, with all the characteristics of a Castle which I had so repeatedly seen in a state of dilapidation. The room where Edward was murderd has a horrid kind of appearance.

I returnd to London by way of Oxford, and spent a day there for fear I should never have such another chance. But to tell here of Oxford sights, great and highly interesting as they are, will never do. I leave the task to hands more methodical and more able

And am most glady at the end of my transcribing duty
R. B.

[f. 59]

[f. 59 map]


[1] Lines 73 and 79-80 of Bloomfield's poem 'Shooter's Hill', published in his third collection Wild Flowers (1806). BACK

[2] 'Bury'] 'Berry'* *Bury or Berry the Saxon name for a hill particularly for one wholly or partially formed by ants RBC. [MS note in the hand of Robert Bransby Cooper]. BACK

[3] Severn] A marginal note in the MS reads 'Insert giant Scoop'. BACK

[4] At Dursley is a spring near the course of this stream, which turns a mill at the distance of fifty yards from its issuing from the ground. [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[5] Line 56 of Thomas Gray's 'The Bard: A Pindaric Ode' (1757). BACK

[6] Left Dursley at ten in the morning, August 17th. [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[7] The paragon of local philanthropy and emblem of the good moral life featured in Pope's third Epistle, 'To the Right Honourable Allen Lord Bathurst', lines 250-90, and note: 'The Person here celebrated, who with so small an estate actually performed all these good works, and whose true Name was almost lost (partly by the Title of the Man of Ross given him by way of eminence, and partly by being buried without so much as an Inscription) was called Mr. John Kyrle. He died in the year 1724, aged 90, and lies interr'd in the Chancel of the Church of Ross in Herefordshire.' BACK

[8] In taking this boat tour, Bloomfield was following in the wake of many earlier tourists. See Suzanne Matheson, 'Enchanting Ruin: Tintern Abbey and Romantic Tourism in Wales', BACK

[9] Spent an hour on shore at Goodrich Castle. Pollett, the boat-man, informed me that he had often bought good cider for sixpence per gallon, and expected it as cheap this season. [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[10] See Banks of Wye, Book I, lines 269-78: 'Close on the bank, and half o'ergrown, / Beneath a dark wood's sombrous frown, / A monumental stone appears, / Of one who in his blooming years, / While bathing spurn'd the grassy shore, / And sunk, midst friends, to rise no more; / By parents witness'd.––Hark! their shrieks! / The dreadful language horror speaks! / But why in verse attempt to tell / That tale the stone records so well?' BACK

[11] See Banks of Wye, Book I, lines 329-36: 'The generous band, / That spread his board and grasp'd his hand, / In native mirth, as here they came, / Gave a bluff rock his humble name: / A yew-tree clasps its rugged base; / The boatman knows its reverend face; / With his memory and his fee, / Rests the result that time shall see.' BACK

[12] Describing in his Gallic Wars his Spanish campaign of 49 B.C., Caesar relates ordering his troops to make wickerwork boats covered with hides — similar to those seen on Roman forays into southwestern England. BACK

[13] Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar of 1805, which was still a recent event and Britain's greatest defeat of Napoleonic France when Bloomfield was writing. BACK

[14] Nelson] Nelson* *See Gilpin [pencilled note on MS] Gilpin describes the coracle in his Observations on the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales, &c. relative chiefly to picturesque beauty; made in the summer of the year 1770, 2nd edn (London, 1789), p. 40. BACK

[15] Among the descriptions of Tintern Abbey known to Bloomfield was Wordsworth's "Lines. Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour. July 13, 1798" (1798) for he was an early admirer of Lyrical Ballads (see his letters of 19 April 1801 and of 2 September 1802 and (letters 52 and 94 of The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and his Circle, ed. Tim Fulford and Lynda Pratt). Gilpin's Observations on the River Wye and Charles Heath's guidebook Historic and Descriptive Accounts of the Ancient and Present State of Tintern Abbey (1803) helped establish the abbey's fame as a picturesque location. By 1807, it had been portrayed in watercolour by Edward Dayes and James Ward, among others. See the website "Tintern Abbey and Romantic Tourism in Wales" BACK

[16] The text of the 104th Psalm from the King James Bible:

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.
By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.
The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.
Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.
Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.
O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.
He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.
I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.
Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.


[17] Thomas Gray, 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' (1751), line 39. BACK

[18] Henry Marten, one of those Parliamentarians who signed Charles I's death warrant, was, after the Restoration, imprisoned in Chepstow castle until his death in 1680. BACK

[19] Nathaniel Wells, enriched by plantations in the West Indies, bought the Piercefield estate in 1802. BACK

[20] Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford (1732-92): Prime Minister under George III, during the American War of Independence. Stayed at Mount Edgcombe in 1766. BACK

[21] From Chepstow Castle to Windcliff the river crosses the line of sight four times [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[22] Cox's History of Monmouthshire calls it two hundred wide, by a quarter of a mile long; I think, from recollection, that it is not so much [Bloomfield's note]. Bloomfield refers to William Coxe, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire: Illustrated with views by Sir R. C. Hoare, Bart. A New Map of the County, and other Engravings (London, 1801). BACK

[23] Jane Edwards: See The Banks of Wye, Book III, lines 345-60:

E'en thou,
JANE, with the placid silver brow,
Know'st not the day, though thou hast seen
A hundred springs of cheerful green,
A hundred winters' snows increase
That brook, the emblem of thy peace.
Most venerable dame! and shall
The plund'rer, in his gorgeous hall,
His fame, with Moloch-frown prefer,
And scorn thy harmless character,
Who scarcely hear'st of his renown,
And never sack'd or burnt a town?
But should he crave, with coward cries,
To be Jane Edwards when he dies,
Thou'lt be the CONQUEROR, old lass,
So take thy alms, and let us pass.


[24] Edward King (1734/5-1807), antiquary and author of Munimenta Antiqua, or, Observations on Ancient Castles, Including Remarks on the … Progress of Architecture … in Great Britain, and on the … Change in … Laws and Customs, 4 vols (London, 1799-1806). BACK

[25] Gaer,] Gaer* *Gaer or Caer signifies a xxxx or Military Station MB [pencilled MS note in another hand]. BACK

[26] importance] importance* *Julius Frontinus came to Caerleon about the year of Christ 70, and brought with him the second legion of Augustus, call'd 'victrix'. He was succeeded by Agricola. / Jones's His. Brecknock [MS note]. The note refers to Theophilus Jones, A History of the County of Brecknock, 2 vols (Brecon, 1805-09). BACK

[27] From Welsh Heritage website "Gathering the Jewels" : 'The Maiden Stone or Maen y Morwynion, a large carved stone found at Brecon Gaer Roman fort near Brecon, and now in Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery. The badly weathered carving represents a Roman citizen and his wife'. Bloomfield's sketch was engraved and published in The Antiquarian & Topographical Cabinet (1809). BACK

[28] Rosamund Clifford (before 1150-c. 1176): King Henry II's mistress, supposedly killed by his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Legends also suggest Henry built for her a lodge at Woodstock with a labyrinth-garden as her bower. She is the subject of the Ballad of Fair Rosamund by Thomas Delaney and the Complaint of Rosamund by Samuel Daniel. BACK

[29] Young Roscius, William Henry Betty (1791-1874) a boy actor who achieved great fame at Covent Garden during the 1804 and 1806 seasons, playing adult roles, including Romeo and Hamlet, Norval in John Home's Douglas, and Rollo in Pizarro, leading him to be compared to the celebrated Roman comic actor Quintus Roscius Gallus. BACK

[30] Achmet was a role taken by Betty in the popular play Barbarossa (1755) by John Brown. Betty appeared in the play first in 1804. BACK

[31] Since writing the above, I have found the following memorandum in the 'Tablet of Memory:' Hereford Cathedral nearly destroyed by the fall of its tower, September the 10th, 1786 [Bloomfield's note, referring to the events of Easter Monday, 1786, when the west tower fell, ruining the west front and parts of the nave. James Wyatt (1746-1813) was called in to plan restoration, resulting in the supporting of arches by new columns]. BACK

[32] Cf. John Home, Douglas, a Tragedy (1756), Act I, scene i: 'As women wish to be who love their lords'. BACK

[33] The Avon flows into the Severn at Tewkesbury [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[34] In the church books of Tewkesbury, which have been preserved for a long time back, are the following entries—'A. D. 1378, paid for the "Players Geers" six sheep-skins for Christ's garments.' And in an inventory recorded in the same book, 1585, are these words—'and order eight heads of hair for the Apostles, and ten beards, and a face or visor, for the DEVIL.' Monthly Mirror, [October] 1807 [269] [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[35] James Wyatt (1746-1813) 'the destroyer': architect who carried out controversial remodelling work at Hereford and Salisbury cathedrals as well as at Tewkesbury. BACK

[36] Jenner's gifts to Bloomfield were acknowledgements for the pro-vaccination poem Good Tidings; or, News from the Farm that Bloomfield, at Jenner's instigation, published in 1804. They included a silver inkstand. BACK

[37] William Cowper, 'The Diverting History of John Gilpin; Showing how he Went Farther than he Intended, and Came Safe Home Again' (1782), stanza 62. BACK