352. Robert Southey to Edith Southey,
14[–15] October 1798
Sunday night. Oct. 14.
Without a map my dear Edith will know nothing
of the place I date from, & if she have a map to refer
to, very probably she may miss the name. we are however near
not the most important certainly the most agreable object of
our journey. by Danvers’s letter this day put in the post office
at Brecon, you will have learnt how we travelled up a most
delightful glen to the mountain top, & how after
hobbling over turnpike roads, which would have overturned
any broad wheeld waggon, we reached Merthyr Tidvil,
& Maber. him
I found the same as ever, civil, formal, & tiresome;
however the conversation about Edward was
happily introduced & that matter is well settled. this
has reconciled me to my journey – for otherwise Edith I
should have half repented it. I often wish myself at home.
all these mountain beauties are pleasant enough to see, but
they will be pleasanter to recollect.
What have we seen? woods – mountains, &
mountain glens & streams. in those woods are
comprehended all imaginable beauty. sometimes we have been
winding up the dingle side, & every minute catching the
stream below thro the wood that half hid it, always hearing
its roar. then over mountains where nothing was to be seen
but hill & sky, their sides rent by the winter streams.
sometimes a little tract of cultivation appeared up some
coomb. places so lovely, so beautiful, – they lookd as tho
no taxgatherer ever visited them. I have longed to dwell in
one of these solitary houses in a mountain vale, sheltered
by the hills, & the trees that grow finely round the
house, the vale rich by the soil swept down from the hills a
stream before the door, rolling over large stones, pure
water, so musical too – & a child might cross it. yet at
wet seasons it must thunder down, a torrent. in such scenes
there is a simpleness of sublimity fit to feed
We left Merthyr this
morning after a great breakfast. Maber asked us to
sleep but without meaning us to accept his invitation I
believe. his wife is a good natured woman – we drank tea
& suppd there on Friday, & dined & spent the
evening on Saturday. the morning wxx was better past at the inn, whence Danvers wrote
to his mother, & I finished a letter to Stuart. at two
we reached Brecon, a distance of 18 miles. a little but
clean ale house afforded us eig eight pennyworth of bread cheese & ale.
& we departed for Crickhowel, a stage of 13 more. a woman whom we
met & of whom we asked the distance, measured it by the
‘great inn’ at Bwlch on the way, & we determined to halt
there. before we got there heavy rain overtook us, & we
were x wet the lower half
when we reachd the ‘great inn at Bwlch’ which is not quite
so good as the memorable ale alehouse at Tintern. however we
have seen good beds here, the cream was good, & the tea
excellent thanks to Mabers peach leaves which we put in
So we have eat, drank, dried ourselves &
grown comfortable. also we have had the pleasure of the
Landlords company, who being somewhat communicative &
somewhat tipsy, gave us the history of himself & family
& of his own & his daughters complaints. hers was xx is a sore leg. his is
We reach Crickhowel to breakfast tomorrow. Lanthony is not far
from thence, but whether we reach Hereford that night, or
the next day to dinner is uncertain. hitherto, except the
trifling inconvenience of this evenings rain our whole
journey has been fortunate & pleasant. the waterfalls
indeed were deficient in the slight article of ––––– water.
all else has equalled our expectations.
I much like the appearance of the Welsh
women. they have all a [MS torn]ter in their countenances,
an intelligence which is very pleasant [MS torn] round
shrewd national physiognomy is certainly better than that of
the English peasantry & we have uniformly met with
civility. there is none of the insolence & brutality
which characterises our colliers & milkwomen.
At Merthyr we witnessed the very interesting custom
of strewing the graves. they are fenced round with little
white stones, & the earth, in the coffin shape, planted
with herbs & flowers, & strewn with flowers. two
women were thus decorating a grave, the one a middle aged
women, & much affected. this affected me a good deal.
the custom is so congenial to ones heart – it prolongs the
memory of the dead, & links the affections to them.
write from Hereford. I must think of Stuart, &
now resume Madoc. 
God bless you my own dear Edith.
Last night was not so comfortable as last
evening. our sheets were beastly dirty & we could
procure no clean ones. dirty sheets are not an endurable
evil, so we pulled them out & lay in our cloaths
between the blankets. I did not easily get to sleep from
the idea of nastiness, & the howling of the wind.
however this morning I woke refreshed & rejoiced at
daylight. we are now at Crickhowel
where we have breakfasted. Lanthony is
twelve miles from hence. eight miles from Lanthony is
Lanvihangle, whe[MS obscured] hope to find beds, &
if so, the 19 miles to Hereford will be easy wo[MS
obscured] tomorrow. this part of Brecknockshire is most
beautiful. the Usk rolling [MS obscured] a rich &
cultivated vale, & mountains rising on every side.
we feel as if [MS obscured] & I get more comfortable
every day now our faces are turned homewards.
God bless you my dear Edith. shall I not
find a letter at Hereford. the clouds fell all last
night, & the weather now looks well. but these [MS
obscured] alas how slippery! farewell – & now for
the Black Mountain & St