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LETTER VII.

DEAR SIR,

Caernarvon. LEAVING the fairy vale, we had eight miles of the worst road in the Principility * to encounter ; from Tany Bwlch almost to Bedd Kelert. It is the only communication between the wild mountains of Merioneth, and the alpine heights of Caernarvon: Ergo nil desperandum sed omnia tentanda. Accompanied by our intelligent guide, and having given the horses a day's rest, we ascended the steep hill that overlooks Mr. Oakly's house.

Mountain now rose above mountain to the clouds: so that the difficulties we had past seemed lost in comparison with the unwelcome prospect. The retrospect was highly pleasing: the opposite verdant hills and luxuriant woods; the church and comfortable village of Maentwrog, the diminishing vale, with its fertile meads and winding stream, forined a striking contrast to the rude and terrific scenes before us.

* A subscription was now going forward for making a new road round the foot of the mountain, which, though longer, will be a great accommodation to the traveller: andra letter from a friend informs me that a number of hands are already employed in the work ; and that it is likely to be completed the ensuing summer.

The mountains, almost bare, consist of huge projecting rocks; fragments lying in undigested heaps, with crumbling strata; and the whole surface destitute of any thing like vegetation, save the LICHEN CALCAREUM,* here and there changing the colour of the rock, exhibited the wildest confusion. Perhaps nothing can exceed the dreary aspect and awful desolation of the first five miles of this road. No vestige of a dwelling; no mark of human footstep, nor the least trace of its being inhabited. It appeared like a country shaken by internal convul. sions, from which vegetable, as well as animated nature, had affrighted fled. It seemned matter incapable of form or usefulness; left in its elemental state ; dismissed by nature from her care, and disinherited of her favours: and forcibly reminded us of Burnet's observations on Caernarvonshire, “ That it was the fragment of a demolished world.”

Ascending for a mile, we attained a mountainous plain, with a scanty sprinkling of half-starved sheep, almost equally barren and rude in its appearance. The country here afforded very little variety; what was not naked rock, was covered with heath and ling, giving shelter to the black and red grouse ; with now and then a stream gushing from the fissured rock. Justly is it observed, the eye accus

* This plant is the first that vegetates on naked rocks; covering them with a kind of tapestry: drawing its nourishment principally from the air. After it perishes, sufficient earth is left for different mosses to take root; and thus in the course of time soil enough is produced for the support of more succulent vegetables,

toined to view the fertile parts of nature, to roam over golden harvests and flowery pastures, must be astonished and repelled at this extensive tract of hopeless sterility:

Ascending still higher, we gained the suminit of Moel Wyn yr Hydd ; leaving the more lofty one of Moel

wyn Gwyn on our right. Here the lengthened gloom was relieved by the surrounding views ; and the eye was diverted by the distant scenery. Before us the dark naked rocks of Snowdon ; behind us its rival Caders to the West the Dwyryd, opening in the Traeth Mawr to the bay; the Irish Sea, Barmouth, Harlech Castle, and the extensive peninsula of Penmorfa, stretching out to sea visible to its point of Aberdaron.

However difficult we found the acclivities, the trouble of descending the Cwms, into the vales, was still more so. Both ourselves and beasts, sometimes up and sometimes down, were glad of every

shelf in the rock as a place of halting. Hitherto we had borne up with tolerable temper, full of the idea, that Pont aber glas Lyn, would more than compensate for any temporary inconvenience; but we were now to encounter a scene that beggars all attempts at description, an alpine storm.

The morning was lowering, and as we gained the different ascents, the peak of Snowdon, Moel y Wyddfa, capt with clouds, became invisible. The darkness began to gather round, as we proceeded; and we perceived driving clouds pássing rapidly beneath our feet, round some of the hills we had just as

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cended. The sheep were filing down the declivities for shelter, as though apprehensive of danger. , From these appearances our guide prognosticated an approaching storm : we halted and deliberated what was best to be done : but being rather more than half way towards Bedd Kelert, deliberation only served to remind us of our unpleasant situation. To retread our steps would have been attended with equal inconvenience as proceeding. The country afforded no shelter ; no vestige of a hut; nor was it to be expected in a country devoid of vegetation. · * The darkness momentarily increased, the misty clouds left their towering heights, and gaining strength by approximating towards the heavier ones beneath, soon became formidable from coalition. The winds became clamorous from the West and North; and, meeting with currents from the mountain vistas, soon blew an hurricane. All foreboded a dismal issue. The guide forgot his usual gaiety, and loquacity, and began to shake and mutter a few inarticulate sounds. Despairing of making our escape, we relaxed in our exertions, and became less quick and firm in our steps: the very beasts shook their heads and snorted, as though sensible of the perilous situation.

A general torpor at length seized the whole party; and visibly panic-struck we patiently waited the assailing elements ; ,like mariners, who after every effort to save the vessel proves abortive, give up their toil ia despair, and patiently look for the coming destruction.

A general gloom, like that of a total eclipse, pervaded the whole atmosphere : the diversified mountain scenery we had before admired, had entirely vanished. Heaven and earth seemed blended together: the crumbling strata and shivering rock beneath our feet, afforded us the only vestiges of the latter; while in the former cloud dashed against cloụd in angry conflict. To this war of elements, succeeded the fiercest torrents of rain that the imagination can conceive: to say it poured, would be to trifle with language: no words are adequate to a description of the storm. To those who have seen a water-spout at sea, the conception may be easy; but to those who have not, we can only say, that we appeared in the situation of persons placed under one of those mountain cataracts before described, with its waters rushing down upon our heads. To those who never have visited alpine countries, no adequate description can be given ; and to those who are familiar with them, this colouring will appear extremely faint.

Impelled by imperious necessity to adopt every method for self-preservation, after being frequently beaten down, we had recoursê to crossing arms and joining shoulders ; closing like wrestlers for support. This from the violence of the wind, at length failed ; and had it not been from a circumstance, otherwise too'trifling to mention, it is probable we should have been materially injured, had we escaped with life. A boy, about fifteen, had followed us several miles,

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