« AnteriorContinuar »
assertions. At p. 206 he confesses that, in the genealogy of Benjamin in the Pentateuch, errors are manifest : but how (says he) can the critics account for the corruption of the Hebrew text? It has unhappily escaped the sagacity of the far greater number. Natural is the conjecture, that some scribe or owner of a copy, without the least design of an interpolation, (he means, of interpolating,) might mark on the margin of Genesis, xlvi. 21. notes of reference to parallel passages. Another, afterwards, suspecting a deficiency in the numbers, and thinking the correction proper and necessary, might take the grandsons into the text *.' This is a concession with which, from Mr. W., we are well pleased : it is more, perhaps, than the greatest adversary to the present Hebrew text would demand. We will only say that, if there were copyists daring enough to thrust into the text of the Pentateuch a register of six names from the book of Chronicles, it is a bad specimen of Jewish accuracy, or Jewish honesty.
From sacred chronology, Mr. Walker makes occasional excur. sions into that of the Greeks and Romans : but still with a re. ference to the co-existent Hebrew magistrates, or to the chronology of the Gospel. • An Appendix of 117 pages contains strictures on Sir Isaac Newton's chronology; in which are some observations not unworthy of the attention of those who make chronology their particular study, or deem it of very great importance to ascertain the year and day of minute or memorable events.
Art. III. Picturesque Views on the River Wye, from its Source at
Plinlimmon Hill, to its Junction with the Severn below Chepstow: with Observations on the Public Buildings, and other Works of Art, in its Vicinity. By Samuel Ireland, Author of “ A Pictur. esque Tour through Holland, Brabant, and Part of France;" and of “ Picturesque Views on the River Thames, Medway, Warwick. shire Avon, &c.” Royal Octavo. pp. 159. Il. i6s. Boards.
Faulder. 1797. TT is properly observed by the author of this volume, that, Toamong the numerous rivers with which our Island is so richly ornamented and fertilized, the Wye, our present subject of investigation, though in no very widely extended course, and itself only a tributary stream, is yet in the production of the sublime, of the grand and majestic, proudly eminent above its fellows. In a course of about eighty miles, the utmost distance it measures from its source, to its junction with
the Severn, so various and such an interesting picturesque scenery is perhaps no where to be found, either in this or any other country.'
Mr. I. thus farther explains the nature of his subject, and the mode which he has chosen to illustrate and delineate it :
• Nature and Art have most happily combined in opening their richest stores to diversify and spread fertility, grandeur and beauty over the country through which it flows : for its environ is not less highly distinguished and dressed by the hand of art with castles, abbies, and villas beautifully seated on its banks, than it is itself fa. youred by nature, in the striking interchange of shoal and food, wood and rock, meadow and precipice. With so much, and in so many various ways to allure and interest, it was not possible that all its charms could have escaped either the penetrating eye of Taste and Genius, or the pencil of the inquisitive, refined, and systematical Amateur, and accordingly many of its most striking features have employed the pens and the pencils of our Writers and Artists; but they have, all of them, been either detached views aud single objects, or, if more has been comprehended in the design of the amateur or artist, the execution has been partial, imperfect, or foreign to the subject. The whole has never been fully exhibited to the eye of the lover of the scenes of nature faithfully delineated. One ingenious author indeed has given observations upon the river, and such as have unquestionably merited the high commendations they have received from the admirers of the picturesque and beautiful : and he has accompanied his observations with drawings. He does not however profess to give exact representations, or portraits of the various objects that present themselves, but aims rather at exhibiting their general effect on the eye, when considered technically, and as picturesque forms, by the learned and professed artist.
• Without interfering therefore with the plan of that much admired writer, or arrogating to himself superior science or knowledge of his subject, the author of this work has, in conformity with his original intention, selected this river from amongst those not yet described, in order to complete his history of the principal rivers of this country: and, unable as he feels himself to render justice to the dig. nity of his subject, he builds his claim to public favor, on the fidelity with which he flatters himself he has delineated the scenery. He would wish, and it is his aim, that his drawings should, like the transparent mirror of his stream, truly reflect the landscape that exists around, as well as the objects that decorate its banks. And, content with the simple charms and varieties of nature, he cannot prevail upon himself to contemplate in every winding of the stream the forms of his own idea, the image of his own mind and its complicated same. ness, reflected again, and again ; but gives to his reader that, which, if he visits the spot, he trusts he will find, and, if the spot is known to him already, he assures himself he will recognize.'
This concluding remark seems to convey an implied censure on the drawings of a contemporary writer and artist, (Mr.
Gilpin,) for complicated sameness, &c.'; while the author assumes to himself the merit of always exhibiting every variety of nature. We will remind him, however, of one truth, which his own drawings tend remarkably to exemplify: viz. That there are many scenes in nature which are beautiful, but which do not form a proper assemblage of objects to be represented in a picture. A view may be too extensive, or too partial; too complicated, (the case with the generality of Mr. Ireland's pictures,) or too simple; to afford a fit subject for a painter's choice. Now certainly he who, amid a variety of beautiful scenery, can reject that which is not suitable to the display of the powers of his art, and bring forwards only that which does suit, deserves the praise of being a skilful artist; and such praise (generally speaking) we cannot in justice withhold from Mr. Gilpin, nor with unsparing hand bestow on Mr. Ireland.
The following extract will afford a specimen of the author's descriptive powers :
• Descending towards the new Weir by a course not less rugged than that by which we ascunded, the fatis ue we had undergone was amply repaiù by the gratification we reccived in sone of the most beautiful views that can be imagined. These presented themselves through the various breaks of the rocks, or openings of the surrounding woods with which they are enriched. The serpentine winding of the river, and the vast prominencies and fantastic forms of the rocks in its vicinity, give an air of solemn gloom and grandeur to the scene. From the approach to the Weir, the annexed view was selected; it comprises all the principal objects that could be admitted within the limits of a scale so circumsciiled. The innumerable circumstances that aid this grand and sublime scene, are such as to render it almost impossible for the pencil to render it justice. The iron forges on the opposite side of the river, not less from their appearance than from the important purposes they answer in human life, give an interest to this efect of nature, while the awful sound of the iron hammers beating the fiery mass, awakens in the mind new sensacions giving dignity and grandeur to the subject. This picturesque scene is much heightened by the immense volumes of sparkling smoak that are continually issuing from the forges, these give a pleasing though transitory relief to the sombre and distant hills, that terminate the view. Around these works are scattered great masses of half-burned ore, coal, and cinders, and interspersed on the barren and extensive moor in the vicinity, are many humble cottages of the various workmen employed in the manufactory. The roaring of the waters from the cascade of the l'cir adjoining to this work has a grand effect, its fall is precipi. tate although at no great height, nor is it perceived from above the stream.
•The river here receives a considerable degree of agitation from the huge masses of stone, either swept down by the stream, or hurled from the summit of the neighbouring rocks. Here the Wye increases in width, and its current is so strong, that it is with extra
erdinary labour and difficulty the barges are towed up. I have seen cight or ten men throwing themselves on the earth on every pull, to give force to their exertions.
In this part of the river is frequently seen a small fishing boat on a singular construction, called a corricle, it is ribbed with laths or split twigs, and is covered with a strong pitched canvas, to prevent its leaking, it is about five feet and a lialt lorg and four broad. In the middle is a seat that holds one man, who sits with a paddle in one hand while he fishes with the other. His labour finished, he throws the corticle over his shoulder and retires to his home,
"A little below the weir the river scenery is terminated by what is called King Arthur's plain, or Doward hills. To the traveller who is bold enough to attempt the summit of these hills, the views will afiord ample variety both in the beautiful and sublime. Camden conjectures, that on these hills there has anciently been a fortification, and what makes it more probable is, that in digging there for iron ore, and lime stone, he says “ broad arrow heads have been found, and not long ago, the greatest part of the bones of a gigantic person were found here interred, in a place that seemed to be arched over.” Whatever may have been the ancient destination of this spot, its present attractions proceed from the very extensive and richly diversified prospects that present themselves from every point of view. On a spot adjoining to the wood on the extremity of this hill, is a cavern that bears the name of King Arthur's Hall; it is said to extend by a subterraneous passage froin hence to the new weir, a distance of about a mile. Many fabulous and romantic tales have been attached to the history of this hall, but the fact appears to be simply this, that is was a cavern, from whence was dug a rich mine of iron ore, that supplied the adjoining furnaces.
A detached cluster of rocks called St. Martins', or the three Sisters, somewhat resembling but much inferior to those at Coldwell, skirt the river in passing down, near which at a short reach called St. Martin's Well, the stream is supposed to have a greater depth of water than in any other part. At the extremity of this reach from a beautiful vale, King Arthur's plain again presents itself, assuming a new and castellated form, and here every stroke of the oar gives variety to the scene, and every object seems to vary its situation. The vast assemblage of rocks we have just contemplated, appear to vanish and melt into a distant hill, rising from a craggy base on the margin of the river.'
In his description of Chepstow castle, Mr. Ireland introduces the following anecdote :
• In the civil dissensions of the last century, this castle was con. sidered of great importance to both parties, and a garrison was cons tinued here after the restoration. ' A spacious apartment is still shewn in which Henry Martin, one of the king's judges, was confined a close prisoner for twenty-seven years.
• The life of this remarkable man was spared, he having surrendered himself conformable to the proclamation issued, when that event took place. His estates in Berkshire, which were considerable, were
sequestered, sequestered, and here he residered till 1680, when according to An. thony Wood, he died suddenly while at dinner, at the age of 78. He was buried in Chepstow church, and on his tomb-stone were engraved the following lines. As they are now obliterated and are said to have been written by himself, they may be thought worth preserving. The epitaph is an acrostic.
I HERE, SEPTEMBER THE NINTH,
A TRUE ENGLISHMAN,
Y ou'll gladly do and suffer what you must.
A nd death's my pay, it seems, and welcome too,
T o birds of preay leave my old cage and fly.
N ot how you end, but how you spend your days. • Some years after its interment, by order of the then clergyman, the body was removed to an obscure situation, that the church might not be disgraced by containing the ashes of a regicide.'
This work is to be considered as a single link of a chain formed by the industrious hand of the present artist. It commenced with his Picturesque Tour through Holland, Brabant, and France; see Rev. N. S. vol. v. p. 93. The Views on the Riger Thames, &c. 2 vols. came next *, and were succeeded by the beauties of the River Medway; see Rev. vol. xvi. N. S. p. 65.-The present work is the next in order of succession ; and we are informed by the author's preface, that • The Picturesque Views of the Severn are in great forward. ness, and will, it is presumed, be ready for publication in 2 vols. royal 8vo. in the course of next (the present) year.
The number of plates in this volume is thirty-one; the scenery is, in general, pleasing ; some of the views are very interesting ; and most of them are romantic.
* See M. R. vol. xii. N. S. p. 511.