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SIDMOUTH. respect to the commerce and spirit of enterprise which once animated this place. Tradition tells us that the pilchard fishery, that immense source of national wealth, was once carried on to a great extent by the natives of Sidmouth : that its hardy sons, with every returning season, sought their finny stores, and pursued them along the coasts of Cornwall, round the Scilly Isles, and even up the northern shores of their native country. Unhappily two succeeding unfavourable seasons overtook them, their boats were all cast away, their crews overwhelmed in the ocean returned no more. - Where the bustle and gaiety of business had adorned every countenance with smiles, nothing was seen but sable weeds-nothing was heard but sighs and lamentations! The spirit which had animated this enterprising spot was quenched at once, and of all its former celebrity, nought remained but the apparatus in which its merchandise had been prepared for the market; the memory of what it once was, and the ecclesiastical records, which detail to future incumbents the plenteous tithe which their forerunners had collected from the deep!
" It ought not to be forgotten that this spirit of enterprise was not the consequence of their peculiar situation : it is said, that when no longer able to find refuge for the busy craft among their native rocks, the inhabitants of Sidmouth set on foot a liberal subscription, and with it erected a quay at Torquay; and hence their vessels, boats, and craft of every description, take shelter from the only kn
37 tempest there, in time of distress, without paying the customary port duties which are exacted of all others.
“ At present, Sidmouth is only known as a place of resort for the valetudinary and the dissipated ; and to each of these it presents attractions peculiarly inviting. Seated on the base of the two lofty mountains which form its charming vale, and closed up on the north by the Honiton hills, it presents its bosom only to the southern ray, and to the southern zephyr, and fanned by the pure breeze of the ocean alone, must, of course, bę well calculated to redress the injury which filthy cities, crowded rooms, and mephitic vapours, entail upon mankind. In this respect Sidmouth claims a decided superiority over all its competitors for public resort. Here no filthy lagoons impregnate the atmosphere with poisonous miasma; no stagnant pools here putrefy in the solar ray; wherever there is water, it flows, and constantly crossing the traveller's path, tempers the sultry gale, gives fresh verdure to the luxuriant herbage which fringes its tinkling course, cherishes the thousand plants and flowers with which every hedge-row is garnished, embalms the air, and revives the fainting energies of nature. The charming diversity for which Devon is famed, seems here to be collected into one point. Does the sated mind turn from the monotony of the ocean? In the vale behind it, every thing is rich, luxuriant, and variegated, calculated to awaken the softest and most tranquillizing emotions in the
VALE OF SIDMOUTH. bosom : the trees are here seen flourishing even to the water's edge, with a verdure and luxuriance which is elsewhere unknown. Along the banks of the Sid, which, bursting at once from beneath a mighty rock, meanders its three-mile-course to the ocean, we meet with all that beautiful variety of scenery which Fenelon so richly describes in his Telémaquemeadows embroidered with flowers, fields waving with corn, orchards laden with fruit; while every turn in its fantastic windings presents us with the delicacies of the landscape in some new point of view, adds some fresh tuft of • trees, some little murmuring water-fall, some straw-thatch'd cottage to the picture. Upon the mountain, the half-suffocated victim of fashion and midnight orgies, breathes the pure ætherial atmosphere; and while his path is strewed with flowers, gazes upon nature in some of her most elegant attitudes, and catches at one glance an extent of prospect, a variety of scenery, which is almost unrivalled.
“ It has been debated to which of the adjacent summits the palm of excellence in this respect is due, but the point can alone be determined by the peculiar taste of the beholder. From the eastern high lands the vale of Sidmouth is certainly seen to the most advantage; the perspective is undoubtedly confined, but it teems with luxury. The ravished eye looks down upon a landscape stretched out like a carpet beneath it, which centres within itself as much picturesque beauty as is collected within an equal boundary in any country upon the earth!
SIDMOUTH. Here every thing necessary to an enchanting picture seems to be concentrated. Lands, rich and well cultivated, hedge-rows amply furnished with forest trees; mountains tipped with copse, bespotted with sheep; here glowing with the gilded blossoms of the furze, and there finely tinted with the numerous varieties of the heaths, which flourish on their slopes; the whole decorated, not with the frowning awe-commanding mansions of the great, but besprinkled with cottages, villages, and hamlets, with their white-washed spire peeping through the orchards that envelope and almost hide it from view! On the precipices which terminate either hill, the picture is uncommonly sublime and striking; from the eastern summit the eye ranges over a vast extent of country, and is only bounded at the distance of forty miles, by the rugged tors upon the forest of Dartmoor. Beneath we see the Halidown Hills, the Start Point, the Berry Head, Torbay, with its ever shifting fleets; and in the cliffs we have, • Pelion upon Ossa,' and 'Caucasus upon Pelion,' in tremendous masses heaped upon each other! From the Peak we gaze upon the white cliffs of Albion (and here take our leave of them) the south-western coast of Dorset, the Portland Isle, which, like: a bully, projects itself into the channel, and seems to hurl defiance against the opposite shores.
6 In Sidmouth itself we have nothing which is worth noticing, if we except the Church tower, which is certainly a fine piece of masonry. The modern erections are many; among the rest there
40 REFLECTIONS ON THE SEA. is an excellent inn, a large and convenient assembly-room, billiard-room, and reading-room. On the beach a gravel walk of about one-third of a mile in length, has been constructed for the accommodation of the company; the bathing is commodious, and, for the convenience of the infirm, warm salt water baths have also been erected. Here the naturalist may find an ample field of investigation. The hills abound with plants, many of which are rare. In the cliffs numerous spars of different kinds are to be collected; nor are the rocks deficient in materials for study and amusement. Beautiful specimens of the Pholen are found imbedded in the marly foundations of the hills; and blocks of free-stone, which have been broken from the summits of the cliffs, abound with echinæ marinæ, petrified coral, and many other productions of a similar description. In the basons, worn by the action of the waves in the rocks, elegant corallines abound : and not unfrequently that singular production of nature, the animal flower, vulgarly called the sea anemone.”
From this entertaining account of Sidmouth, by my friend, you will have it in your power to form a satisfactory idea of the spot at which we were now arrived.
As I am partial to the contemplation of the SEA, you will indulge me in a few reflections on my favourite subject.
The globe was originally distributed into land and water. The measure was wisely designed, and is appropriated to many important purposes.