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growing right over the precipice, gazing on the depth profound. I have descended the extreme end of the rock, by the brushwood, so as to see in profile the broad face of the stupendous steep; and am now one moment noting down my remarks, and the next, sharing with my companions the refreshments spread out on a napkin, on the rocky summit.
An aged man, and two aged women, evidently drawing near to the end of their pilgrimage, have proffered us what little information they possess, concerning this rocky mountain; and in return, besides some little matter in the way of gratuity, they have received a part of our provisions, including a glass of good sherry for each of them. Even now their thank-offering is sounding in my ears. The sincere blessing of the aged poor is a precious thing, and when duly earned, it ought to be more highly valued than the "dust of diamonds."
And is there a fairer scene, a more impressive spectacle, than the pile of crags, arches, clefts, hanging woods, and roaring waters of the new Weir? Can it be, that the eye can gaze on a more arresting prospect, a yet more goodly and glorious assemblage of wood, rock, plain, and water, of towering height and dark and deep
abyss, than is to be found at Symond's Yat? Yes! it is possible; for now I am standing on the dizzy height of Windcliff, the most magnificent and sublime of British scenes. Full as my mind and memory are of the numberless beauties of the winding Wye, of Goodrich, the new Weir, the glowing scene at Symond's Yat, and of the eye and heart-arresting remains of Tintern Abbey, still I cannot but acknowledge, here, the presence of a mightier emotion, a more mysterious influence, a deeper tone of feeling, and a higher estimate of nature's charms, than hitherto my mind has entertained: my cup of delight appears to be filled even to the brim. It would be hard to say how much of pleasure may be borne by mortal man; but my power to endure joy seems to be taxed to the uttermost; an addition either to my present enjoyment, or to the boundless thankfulness of my heart to the more glorious and almighty Giver of this glorious scene, scarcely could I bear.
It has often been a subject of regret, that the liveliness of our emotions, when gazing on glowing scenes, should so quickly subside; but this is only one of the many merciful arrangements of our heavenly Father, who knows what we can, and what we cannot bear. Were our eyes ever sparkling with rapture, and our hearts al
ways thrilling with emotion, we should be unfitted for the humbler and more commonplace duties of our existence. One hour of my present intensity of delight, would subdue my strength for the remainder of the day.
I am gazing, like a monarch, from this exalted rocky throne on the wide-spread territory around me, too much excited to point out, in a systematic manner, the different objects that attract the eye, or to contrast the beauties on the east and west, with those on the north and south. It pleases me more to revel, without restraint, in the unbounded prodigality that bewilders and enchants me.
I have heard that a celebrated poet, on visiting this place, full of enthusiastic and ardent anticipations, was so disgusted on finding two soldiers playing at cards on the proudest summit of this commanding cliff, that he hurried back from the scene, utterly unable to overcome his disgust sufficiently to allow him the delight of feasting his eyes on the entrancing prospect. Fully can I enter into his susceptibility.
Windcliff and Piercefield Park abound in all that is bold, beauteous, grand, awful, savagely wild, and extravagantly romantic. It is said, that "a vast and well-preserved ruin is the most beautiful of buildings." Chepstow Castle and
Tintern Abbey, two of the fairest ruins in England, are of themselves pictures of intense interest. The heights in the scenery of Windcliff are tremendous; the precipices are fearful; the crags, hung with pendent plants, are fantastic; the woods are magnificent, and the fair prospect oppressively extensive. Rolling rivers, amphitheatres of woody heights, naked cliffs, huge ramparts of rock, and overhanging thickets, form but a part of this truly sublime and gorgeous panorama. In a word, would you find pleasure, the views from Ross churchyard, Caplor, Aconbury, and Saddleback, will impart it; would you be awe-struck, visit the new Weir; would you be excited, go to Symond's Yat; but would you have your whole heart and mind filled with wonder, magnificence, sublimity, exquisite delight, and unbounded thankfulness, stand where I am standing, and gaze on earth and heaven from the towering summit of Windcliff.
An old man, on visiting an old castle, is tolerably sure to indulge in solitary musings. If he be wise, he will keep these, for the most part, to himself; dealing out the remainder very sparingly to his friends. Whether I can act up to this sage remark of mine remains to be seen.
Extremes are always more striking when brought into close connexion one with another. It is said, that on Hecla, in Iceland, one foot may be placed in hot water, or on burning cinders, while the other is in cold water, or on ice and snow; and that in Switzerland, the lands on one side a mountain are often bound with frost, when those on the other are covered with the ripened harvest.
There are striking contrasts at Dudley, though not of the same kind as those alluded to. In the town, on busy days, all is public, noisy, common-place, and unattractive; in the castle grounds, all is retired, romantic, and beautiful.