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February 25, viz., Saturday. The foggy gloom was dispelled, about seven in the morning, by a sight of the sun, who gilded the horrors of the mountain : even deserted Conway smoothed its frowning brow. The Castle and wood have a good effect from the water; but the triangular fortification, with its flankers, inclosing such a poor pittance of wooden houses looks miserable. The beauty of the prospect vanishes into the ratio of the distance. After shuddering in walking over the cliffe at Panmanross, we were regaled with passing through the valley of Cluen; and thence to St. Asaph, where we breakfasted; and here, for the first time, did we find anything like that English neatness, I had heard so much of. The house was Thompson's, some distance from the town, which hindered me from looking into the Cathedral, and the Parish Church. The Cathedral was a cross, with the steeple in the middle, not unlike the Cathedral of Armagh. The bridge was composed of the flat elliptic arches, and seemed en passant to be very elegant. The town itself seems poor and little.
On the 25th we got into Chester at 8 o'clock at night. Chester is built of wood chiefly, and is surrounded with a wall, which affords an agreeable walk, flagged, about four feet broad, the periphery of which is one mile, three quarters, and one hundred and one yards. The Dee winds prettily round one side of the town, and a canal through a rock is now a cutting round the other. N.B.—There are nine churches in Chester; yet the town is small in comparison of Birmingham. The Cathedral of St. Werburgh's is worth seeing, especially the quire, which is ornamented with oak, beautifully carved. The old cloysters still remain, and have a venerable appearance. There has been an old Abbey. The Bishop's house fronts the Abbey Square.. From Chester to Bermingham seventy-five miles. We arrived at near one o'clock at night on the 26th. Whitchurch (twenty miles from Chester) is a pretty clean old town; and Newport (forty-one from ditto) neither so large, nor so clean. Here we met several people very drunk: this, we supposed, was owing to the festivity on the Sunday; and now the night wrapped the sweet country of Stafford and Warwickshire, from my longing eyes. N.B.—Chetwind, a country seat about two miles from Newport, was very neat.
FEBRUARY 27th. We stayed at Bermingham till after twelve, and drove to Henly, viz., fourteen miles in less than an hour and
a half. Bermingham is large, populous, and clean. St. Phillip's Church, and Steeple, is a beautiful building of hewn stone, and very modern: the steeple of the octagonal Church is exquisitely beautiful, and the spire of Martin's not ugly. The number of Churches I could not learn from our boot catch guide; but there were four at least, beside many other places of worship. The town however cannot contain one hundred and fifty thousand, nor above one third of that number; yet they contend that, next to London, it is the most populous town. That part of Warwickshire from Bermingham to Stratford upon Avon, seems to be a poor, wet clay; for on the commons it is a mixture of rushes and heath, but on the adjacent parts, they are obliged to lay down the ground in prodigious broad ridges, to deepen and dry the soil.
At Stratford I was amply rewarded, by diverting from the great London road, for there I saw the tomb of Shakespear; was in the room where he was born, and sat in his chair. Stratford is an ancient town, built mostly of wood, and seems now in a deserted state, without any manufacture, but the woolcombing, of which trade Shakespear originally was. There is a handsome Town house, lately built at the expense of the Corporation, and neighbouring gentlemen, in a nitch whereof, a statue of Shakespear, the gift of Mr. Garrick, stands. In the great room of it are two pictures, one of Shakespear by Wilson, the gift also of Garrick, and another of Garrick himself, embracing the bust of Shakespear, by Gainsborough, done at the charge of the Corporation. The house, where Shakespear died, stood near the beautiful old Chapel in the middle of the town; and in the garden belonging, grew the famous mulberry tree, whereof I saw a box in a toy-shop there. The Church is large, consisting of a large aisle, and a choir, in both of which there
several monumental inscriptions. Shakespear's tombstone lies at the chancel of the choir, with his own two lines denouncing curses on him who shall move his bones : by the way, I conceive the reason of this curse was a custom, which has been observed at Stratford, of collecting the bones of the dead, and throwing them into a vault under the steeple. The monument raised by his wife, consisting of a halflength figure, is entirely Gothic ; but not more so than the inscription under it. On the right of the Chancel, lieth a monumental statue, in a horizontal position, with precatory hands, of John Combe, on which Shakespear wrote his famous
distich. After treading with almost religious adoration on this classic ground, we could not leave Stratford without many reflections. N.B.— Avon is there a poor little muddy stream, which would have for ever remained inglorious, if this Swan had not warbled on its banks : little gabbards, with coals, and groceries, &c., come up here from Bristol.
FEBRUARY 28th. We set off from Shipton by Chappel-house, and breakfasted at Woodstock, the greatest part of which road is through a cold clay, highly cultivated in the broad ridges ; but very thin of trees, as most of the corn grounds, I passed through are : for Cheshire and Shropshire are rather pasturage. The parts about Chappel-house were extremely coarse, and hilly. But Woodstock, once so famous for the bower of Rosamond, presented us with a new scene, the most beautiful I ever beheld -the park of Blenheim. For this, and the University, at which we arrived about twelve o'clock, vide the Oxford guide. N.B.We went to the Coffee house in the evening, where almost all the Gownsmen we saw were tipsy, and the streets re-echoed with bacchanalian crys, as we returned from supper with Mr. Barnard. The next night also, we went to another Coffee house, and there the scene was only shifted, all muzzy. This, happily abated my enthusiasm conceived for an Oxford education ; for such was the venerability of the place, that after taking a cursory view of it, I was almost in a paroxism of superstition.
Oxfordshire seems but a wettish county, highly cultivated, and not very thickly planted—it being mostly corn grounds; but uncultivated commons evince what the native state of the country is, for they were all either heath or rushes. The first of March, at Oxford, was extremely cold; the rain came on in the evening, and it was raining at six next morning, but the day turned out a tine one, which made the road to London very pleasant; and nothing could be finer than Berkshire. Along this road we saw General Conway's, Lord Harcourt's, Clifton, Windsor, &c. From Brentford to London is almost all city, such as the bad parts of Dublin.
On the 2nd of March, Covent Garden Play
Ten in the hundred lies engraved,
0! ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe.” But as to the authorship of this verse, see the note by Steevens, p. 80, Malone's ed., 1813.- Editor.
house received me; so that, in one week from leaving Dublin, I had seen a syllabus of all England. A Gownsman of Oxford thus painted the fellows of All Souls—they lived so luxuriantly, and indolently, that they did nothing but clean their teeth all the morning, and pick them all the evening.
FRIDAY, 3rd. It hailed more than once in the forenoon, and it rained almost all the afternoon, so that the streets were very slobbery. The atmosphere over London is above measure heavy, impregnated so strongly with coal, that the lower part of St. Paul's and the other Churches are blackened prodigiously.
On this day I called on Jack Day, who said so many good things, that I asked him, why he had not wrote a comedy ? He told me that Kelly owns himself his debtor for several bon mots in his. Talking of the edacity of the English, he said that the stomach of the Irish went and came, but that the stomach of the English came and stayed. He complained however, that he had got a diarrhea of the tongue.
SATURDAY, the 4th. It rained almost all day. N.B.—That day I left the Hummums, and took a lodging at the Grecian Coffee House, where, after coming from Drury Lane, I heard a fellow imitate the black bird, thrush, lark, and canary birds, so exactly, that had I heard the same sounds, at proper times and places, I should never have suspected them to be any other than original : he also did equally well the mewing and caterwanling of cats, barking of dogs, and dogs hunting cats, &c.
“Braganza went off well : the poetry is happy enough, and the catastrophe is striking. After the representation of this play, a scene ensued which strongly marked the English character. It was the tenth night of the play, and it seems that custom bath decided that, after the ninth night, the prologue and epilogue should be discontinued. Neither was announced in the bills : however when the players came on, the prologue was called for, and Mr. Palmer, a very handsome mouthing blockhead, answered the call. When the overture for the farce began to be played, the epilogue was called for, the music ceased for it could not be heard-a
a long interval ensued—the players came on; they stood their ground for a long time, but were hissed at length off. Mr. Vernon attempted to speak, but he could not be heard : still the
2 Braganza was the production of an Irishman, Robert Jephson, Esq., who also wrote the Count of Narbonne and other pieces. He died in 1803.- Editor.
-off-off—the epilogue, &c. After a long pause, the bell rang for the musick-this set the house in an uproar—the women however, who were singers, came on, in hopes of disarming these savage beasts ; but they were a second time pelted off: then Weston, a mighty favorite of the town, came on; he was pelted with oranges ; however he stuck to the stage, as if he had vegetated on the spot; and only looked at the gallery, and pointed up at it when the orange fell, as if to say, I know you that threw that: once he took up an orange, as if in thankfulness, and put it in his pocket : this and a thousand other humerous tricks he played, yet all to no purpose, John Bull roared on, and poor Weston could not prevail. The Players came again and again : Vernon, after a third effort, was allowed to tell the pit, that Mrs. Yates was sent for, and begged leave that the farce might go on, till she came; but this was denied : the house grew more and more clamorous, calling for Garrick or Mrs. Yates: at length Mr. Yates comes on, and tho' he declared in the most solemn manner, that his wife was gone sick to bed, yet this would not tame the savages of the gallery. The Players were twice hissed off after this, till a promise of Mrs. Yates' appearance on Monday somewhat abated their madness. But what to me seemed most expressive of Angloism was the conduct of some in the pit beside me: some were more moderate, and asked others, why they made such a noise : one before asked another behind, how he dared make such a noise, and told him after some altercation, that he deserved to be turned out of the pit: this produced no other effect, but to make my friend behind me more vociferous. The smallest fraction of such language would have produced a duel in the Dublin Theatres, and the millionth part of the submissions, made by these poor players, would have appeased an Irish audience, yea, if they have murdered their fathers.
SUNDAY, the 5th. I breakfasted with Mr. Pearson (Figtree Court, Middle Temple), and went with him to the Temple Church-a most beautiful Gothic structure. The service was ill-read, and the singing not according to the rubrick; for it was immediately after the second Lesson. The sermon was preached by the master of the society, a brother to Thurloe the Atorney General.
The discourse was the most meagre composition (on our Saviour's temptation) and the delivery worse.
He stood like Gulliver stuck in the marrow bone, with the Sermon (newspaper like) in his hand, and without grace, or emphasis, he