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DIARY OF A VISIT TO ENGLAND.'
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1775. I went aboard the Besborough
pacquet, and weighed anchor at five in the evening, and landed at Holyhead at eight o'clock next morning, which was very foggy and hazy. The passage was on a very pacific sea, so that I was so little affected with sickness, as to lament the want of that substitute for hippo. Here we breakfasted, and the eggs were so small, that I had curiosity to measure them, and the largest diameter was an inch and three-quarters. Here is a odd old church, in the form of a cross, in the yard of which Flood and Agar fought, about seven years ago ; but the feud did not end there, Agar at length fell by his antagonist, A.D. 1769. The folks at the Inn told me that the weather had been generally hazy for a month past, and they expected it would be so till March. They had but two or three days of frost last winter. The sailors say, it is always foggy when the wind is at south. The church is, on the outside, of an H-like figure, i.e. the old part, which is not ugly, and seems the remains of something greater; there is an addition however of modern work.
From Holyhead to Bangor is a country, not unlike that about Virginia, in the County Cavan: as you approach Bangor ferry the prospect brightens, and becomes agreeably varied with hill, and dale, and sea : but the first view of Bangor itself is so transcendantly beautiful, that it beggars the richness of words. I never was so wrapped with surprise, as when this lovely vista struck my ravished sight; and every step I took, so altered the
By the “ Irish Dr. Campbell” of Boswell's Life, vol. ii., pp. 310, 313, 318. See appendix to vol. ii. for an account of Campbell, his relations with Johnson, and the discovery of this Diary.--Editor.
contour, that it became a new scene of wonder, and the last was still more pleasing than the first; for the distant view of Beaumorris, and the circumjacent hills, afforded so fine and airy a back ground, that I never saw one so picturesque. I have heard Englishmen say, that Ireland had finer subjects for the landscape painter than England; but, sure, they have not taken in Wales. Bangor alone would yield an infinitude of scenes : let those painters, who affect composition, study and imitate Bangor ; they may avail themselves of it, as Michael Angelo did of the Dorso. At Pinmanmuir, nature hath painted with her boldest pencil, nor hath she neglected the graces in the lower grounds ; there are great elegances in the valley, which dulcify the stupendous cragginess of the mountain. The Cathedral of Bangor lookes somewhat to a mere Irish eye. The choir has been glazed with painted glass, and if the church was ceiled it would add much to the beauty of it. But it must not be forgotten, that here, in the short time I spent in it, (which was during a stop the postilion made to get a pair of boots), I had an opportunity of observing a sad remnant of Popish superstition performed in this Cathedral. I observed a vast crowd both in the quire, and body of the church, and the surpliced minister standing at the chancel. I mixed in the crowd, and each person, according (I suppose) to his ability, went up to the chancel table, and there made his offering. I saw, however, nothing but half-pence, and at first wondered what all this could mean; but returning, I saw a corpse lying in the Isle of the church: and this brought to my mind the account, which Hughes, the Welshman, gave of the great benefits arising from funerals. This was, evidently, a relick of the offerings for praying the soul out of Purgatory. N.B. The distance from Holyhead to Bangor ferry is twenty-five miles; from thence to Conway eighteen; a post shay and four from Holyhead is eight guineas for two, and nine for three ; from Conway to St. Asaph, is eighteen miles. At Bangor ferry we could get no beer, yet one would think that the tempering of mault' and hops into that consistence, were a facile operation ; nor was there meat, except eggs and rashers of beef. At Conway both meat and drink were as bad as we could meet at any Irish Inn.
1 The spelling is peculiar in many instances. I have invariably retained the orthography of the manuscript except where it is clearly a clerical error.-Raymond.