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289 mit of the hill the battered structure of Christ Church, even at a distance exhibiting to the most superficial eye marks of antiquity. Within, on the pavement, is seen a long flat stone with this inscription round its edge, in Latin : Here lie John Colmar and Isabella his wife, who died, 1376. On the eve of Trinity Sunday, poor persons used to come and lie all night on the stone, conceiving that this would cure them of any disease with which they happen to be afflicted ! Even since the year 1800, Mr. Donovan has visited this sacred spot, and assures us of the following fact: “ I there to my inexpressible astonishment beheld a young man of very creditable appearance, with his night cap on, laying upon the bare pavement, shivering with cold, his hands uplifted, and with many pious aspirations muttering a prayer for the cure of some affliction under which he appeared to labour. During this religious farce, his friends formed a spacious circle round him, some standing, some sitting, and others kneeling, as best accorded with their inclinations, but all were equally intent in watching the countenance and motion of the patient, to observe the progressive advance of the miracle wrought upon him, in consequence of this superstitious ceremony !” Since this period I have myself alighted from my horse, and examined this far-famed stone; and was happy to find that the above absurd practice is wearing away; it is indeed painful to an ancient Briton to have to record such follies of his countrymen. It is time that the in. 290
PIERCEFIELD. creasing light of the age should shed its beneficial effects on the principality.
Riding on about ten miles we came to Caerwent, a place of consequence in the times of the Romans; * but now rural in its aspect and variegated in its scenery. A Roman pavement was discovered here
some years ago, which I turned aside to inspect, * and was sorry to find it in a shattered condition.
It was walled round the center of a field ; but for want of being covered, and from the circumstance of every visitor taking away a piece of it, the ancient figures were nearly obliterated.
Not far from Caerwent, in the neighbourhood of Chepstow, lies Piercefield, whose house and gardens have been the subject of general admiration. The house is a magnificent building of freestone, reared in a romantic situation, and its interior is handsomely decorated. But it is the gardens which have attracted so much attention. Mr. Coxe has thus happily described them :66 On entering the grounds at the extremity of the village of St. Arvans, and at the bottom of Wynd Cliff, the walk leads through the plantations, commanding on the right a distant view of the Severn and the surrounding country. It penetrates into a thick forest, and conducts to the Lover's Leap, where the Wynd Cliff is seen towering above the river in all its height and beauty; and below yawns a deep and wooded abyss. It waves almost imperceptibly in a grand outline on the brow of the majestic aniphitheatre of cliffs impending over the PIERCEFIELD.
991 Wye, opposite to the peninsula of Lancaut, then crosses the park, runs through groves and thickets, and again joins the banks of the Wye at the reach of the river which stretches from Lancaut to the castle of Chepstow. From the Lover's Leap the walk is carried through a thick mantle of forests, with occasional openings, which seem not the result of art or design, but the effect of chance or nature, and seats are placed, where the spectator may repose and view, at leisure, the senery above, beneath, and around! This
is consonant to the genius of Piercefield. The screen of wood prevents the uniformity of a bird's -eye view; and the imperceptible bend of the amphitheatre conveys the spectator from one part of this fairy region to another, without discovering the gradations. Hence the Wye is sometimes concealed or half observed by overhanging foliage; at others, wholly expanding to view, is seen sweeping beneath in a broad and circuitous channel. Hence, at one place, the Severn spreads in the midst of a boundless expanse of country, and on the opposite side to the Wye; at another, both rivers appear on the same side, and the Severn seems supported on the level summit of the cliffs, which form the banks of the Wye. Hence the same objects present themselves in different aspects, and with varied accompaniments. Hence 292 . PASSAGE HOUSE. the magic transition, from the iṁpervious gloom of the forests to open groves, from meadows and lawns to rocks and precipices, and from the mild beauties of English landscape to the wildness of Alpine scenery."
This enchanting spot was once the seat of Valentine Morris, Esq. who died August 26, 1789; a character as distinguished for his imprudence as for his benevolence and hospitality. He was, however, greatly beloved, for when his embarrassed circumstances obliged him to quit his beloved Piercefield, his departure excited deep regret in the breasts of persons of almost every description. Indeed, to use the words of Mr. Thicknesse, who knew him well," he shared his good things, in the day of his fortune, with the friends of his prosperity; and he divided the pittance that remained, in the hour of distress, with the companions of his adversity.” :
In the memoirs of the accomplished Miss Smith -who once lived at Piercefield, an Ode will be found on the death of Lewellen ap Griffith, the last Prince of Wales, whom the authoress supposes was killed at or near this spot. Be this as it may, the Ode, written at fifteen years of age, must be (pronounced highly creditable to the amiable Miss Smith's genius and memory.
Upon reaching the Passage-house, * We were not able to cross for some hours. It is supposed that this ferry is as' ancient as that of the Old Passage, nearer to Chepstow. But it may be mentioned, that Oliver Cromwell suppressed it on account of
THE SEVERN. a small body of republicans being lost here by the designed inattention of the boatmen. It was revived in 1718, and belongs to the St. Pierre family.
The SEVERN, at the New Passage, is abont three miles wide: and it was diverting to behold the porpoises tossing and tumbling on the surface of the tumultuous tide. The hoarse resounding Severn takes its rise in Montgomeryshire, passes by Shrewsbury, Worcester, Gloucester, &c. then loses itself, by means of the Bristol Channel, in the waves of the Atlantic ocean. When our pa tience was almost exhausted, we met with a small boat; and got over with ease. A stage conveyed us the remaining twelve miles, passing along through rural villages, particularly Westbury, to the famous city of Bristol.
I am, Sir,