than in ours, and of tastes too that rise above phy-
sical wants.
But Conway is really worth seeing. It is an
old walled town—the wall still standing, with
twenty-four circular towers in very good preserva.
tion. The castle of Edward I., in ruins, flanked
by four immense round towers, is a sublime object.
This castle, which also “frowns o'er old Conway's

foaming flood,” brought to mind Gray's ode, where

the ghosts of the ancient Welsh harpers are represented as hurling down anathemas upon the “ruthless king.” Time has executed the anathema upon the building itself, for the grass is growing upon the tops of the towers.

THE MENAI BRIDGE. Who could ever have thought of calling a bridge sublime ! And yet that is actually the impression made by the Menai Bridge. It is very different, to be sure, from the sublimity of castles or cathedrals; it never, perhaps, can have the sublime of association—a battle, indeed, might give it; but this structure has a grandeur of its own. It bestrides an arm of the sea—connecting Anglesea with the mainland. It is a hundred feet from the water. The part suspended is 550 feet in length. The arches and towers are masses of masonry as stupendous as the Roman aqueducts,

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


The sole material of the part suspended is iron. As I approached it—it was towards evening—I could see nothing but the towers. And when you distinguish the fine delicate tracery of the iron chains and supporters, it seems as if it were nothing but gause or cobweb, compared with the mighty masses of masonry on which it rests. The vehicles travelling over it look as if they were suspended in the air. I went down to the shore below, and as I looked up, it seemed to span a whole third part of the heavens. A celebrated lady, (since dead,”) in speaking of this stupendous work, said that she first saw it from the Isle of Anglesea, so that it was relieved against the lofty mountains of North Wales; and she added in a strain of eloquent and poetical comparison familiar to her, that “Snowdon seemed to her a fit background for the Menai Bridge.”

July 4, To-day I made an excursion down to Caernarvon, through the pass of Llanberis, to Capel Curig (Kerrig) and back again to Bangor, and on to Holyhead.

At Caernarvon is another old castle of Edward I. in ruins: the town too, like Conway, is surrounded by a wall with towers. The walls of the castle

* Mrs. Hemans.

are very thick, in some places ten feet. I should
judge the space enclosed must be 1500 by 150 feet.
There are several huge towers, one of which I
ascended to the top: the stone steps much worn,
It consisted of two walls, with narrow, dark pas-
sages all around between them. On the inner
wall, abutments on which the beams and floors of
the successive stories were supported, were evi-
dent: and also the fireplaces. An anteroom to one
of these central apartments, (about twelve by sev-
en feet) was pointed out as the birthplace of Ed-
ward's son, the first Prince of Wales. It was thus,
as history says, and Welsh tradition still holds, that
Edward I. claimed the promise which he had ob-
tained of these intractable mountaineers, that they
would submit to a native-born prince.
This is indeed a place in which to muse and
moralize. Who can look upon the humblest hearth-
stone of a ruinous and deserted cottage, such as I
have sometimes seen, even in our own country—
our only ruins—without reading on it a whole
history of human affections ! The hearthstone
seems everywhere like a tablet of the heart. But
here kings and nobles have come, with the tramp
of horses, and the blast of trumpets, and the ring-
ing of armour. Here proud men have bid defiance,
and brave men have died. Here fair women

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


have mingled in feast and song, or started and turned pale, at the summons of the besieger's horn. And now all is silent and desolate. Grass overgrows the courtyard, and waves from the tops of the walls and towers. The birds build nests in

these turrets, and chirp about them as if they were

grand old places for aviaries; and the visiter
comes, not to feast, but to meditate. What different
scenes have passed here! what thoughts have been
revolved, around these lonely, deserted, and scarce
discerned firesides | what affections have here
kindled and glowed, and withered and faded away!
what footsteps have been upon these rough stairs
Enough! they have been the footsteps of men 1
Light and joyous hearts had they borne, though
they had not been the hearts of princes. And
heavy hearts had they borne, though they had not
been carried wounded and bleeding from the battle-
strife. -
Everything about this old castle shows the
purpose for which, mainly, it was constructed;
small apertures, rather than windows, out of which
arrows or other missives could be thrown, and
opening inward to a space in the wall large enough
for a warder to stand; three or four narrow loop-
holes on each side of the great gate of entrance,
for the purpose of reconnoitering those who ap-
proached; and, inside of the gate, the groove in
which the portcullis slided up and down.
I am satisfied that in order to gain any approach
to an idea of these things without seeing them, one
must not be content with barely reading the de-
scription, but must lay down the measurement
upon some familiar spot. For instance, the walls
of this castle, I judged, from arough measurement,
to be two hundred rods in circuit; and they are
nearly eight feet thick, and perhaps thirty feet high;
and the principal tower may be ninety or one hun-
dred feet high and fifty feetin diameter. So of the
Menai Bridge, or of Eaton Hall. I am sure I got a
far more impressive idea of Niagara falls, and prob-
ably far more just, by laying it down on a land-
scape three quarters of a mile in extent, and then
conceiving a precipice of one hundred and sixty
feet in height, and an ocean pouring over it.
Except the sublimest, I suppose that every de-
scription of mountain scenery is to be found in
Wales; unless it be, also, the contrast of hills and
mountains to the perfect levels of our New-Eng-
land intervals and river banks—like which I have
seen nothing. The pass of Llanberis and the road
from Capel Curig are almost level, while the wild-
est mountains rise almost from the very roadside,
on either hand. There is every variety of form—

steep, swelling, bald, shaggy; massy and pointed

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »