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OF: THĘ WYE TO MONMOUTH ++ -OLD
How teeming with objects of curiosity and beauty is Monmouthshire! Within two pr tlıree miles of Piercefield we reached the justly-famed. ruin of TỊNTERN ABBEY : its dark mouldering walls, solemnly rising above surrounding trees, appeared to us, in turning from a deep-wooded hollow, with a most impressive effect *. At the village adjoining
* This part of our journey, in wading through a right Welch road, brought to my mind an anecdote of Mr. Morris. When a bill was before the House of Commons for the improvement of the roads in Monmouthshire, many gentlemen of the county, willing to plod through the same mire that had bedaubed their ancestors, gave it a strong op
position. position. Mr. Morris, who had a mind above vulgar prejudices, and who was a warm promoter of every useful improvement, being examined at the bar of the House and questioned, “ What roads have you in Monmouthshire ?" replied, “None.”—“How do you travel then?"-" In ditches," was his reply.
we put up at the Beaufort Arms, the landlord of which, Mr. Gething, holds the key of the ruin, and who, extraordinary as it may seem, unites unaffected civility and kindness with upwards of forty years initiation into the business of an inn-keeper, and, as the neighbours say, a well-lined purse. Passing the works of an iron-foundry, and a train of miserable cottages engrafted on the offices of the abbey, we found ourselves under the west front of the ruin. This confined approach, incumbered by mean buildings, is not calculated to inspire one with a very high estimation of its consequence : but, on the door's being thrown open, an effect bursts on the spectator, of so majestic and singular a description, that words can neither do justice to its merit, nor convey an adequate idea of the scene. It is neither a mere creation of art nor an exhibition of najure's charms; but a grand spectacle, in which both seem to have blended their powers
in producing something beautiful and sublime !
Through long ranges of Gothic pillars and arches, some displaying all the exquisite: workmanship of their clustered shafts, while others are hung with shadowy festoons of ivy, or lightly decorated with its waving tendrils, the eye passes; and, for a moment arrested by the lofty arches rising in the middle of the structure that formerly supported the tower, it glides to the grand window at the termination of the ruin. : Beyond this aperture, distinguished by a shaft of uncommon lightness springing up the middle, some wild wooded hills on the opposite side of the Wye rear their dusky summits, and close the scene with much congenial grandeur. The ruin is generally in a high state of preservation ; the outer walls are perfect; and the elegant tracery of the west window above the en-, trance has not suffered in one of its members. A singular circumstance of this ruin, and to which
be ascribed its superior effect, is, that the fallen roof and all the other rubbish have been removed to the original level of the pavement by order of the Duke of 'Beaufort, and a greensward smooth as a bowling
green extended throughout. Hence all the parts rise in their original and due proportion, and with an undisturbed effect. At the same time, the uniformity of a lawn-like surface is diversified with several clumps; consisting of broken columns, cornices, and the mutilated effigies of monks and heroes *, whose ashes repose within the walls: Light branching trees start from their interstices, and throw a doubtful shadow over the sculptured fragments.
Tintern Abbey is cruciform; The length of the nave and choir is two hundred and thirty feet; their width, thirty-three; and it is a hundred and sixty feet to the extremes of the transept. It was founded for Cistercian monks by Walter de Clare, anno 1131; and in 1268, according to Williami of Worcester, the abbot and monks entered the choir, and celebrated the first mass at the high altar. It is probable, that only that part of the building was then completed, as the other parts
* A rough carved figure of a man in a coat of mail is shewn as the effigy of Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, the founder of the abbey. This account, however, is altoget ther erroneous : Richard was only great nephew of the founder, and he was buried in the chapter-house of Gloucester.
of the church are of a later style of architecture; and it was no uncommon thing for the choir to be built and consecrated before the rest of the structure was finished.
On entering the abbey, it was determined that we should proceed no further that day : getting rid, therefore, of my companion and landlord, who retired in a consultation about dinner, I locked myself in, and employed several hours without interruption in sketching the interesting features of the ruin. At an early hour the following morning we sallied from our inn, and, crossing the Wye, were greeted with a new effect of the abbey. Majestically towering above encircling trees, the external elevation arose in nearly its original grandeur. The walls, though clad with moss and tender lichens, appeared nowhere dismantled; yet might an eye, anxious after picturesque forms, be offended with the uniform angles and strait lines of the gable ends and parapets. We walked along the banks of the sinuous river about half a mile from the ferry, when the ruin presented itself in a very agrecable point of view. Looking full through the grand aperture of the eastern window, the rows of columns and