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Of neighbouring cypress, or more sable yew,
EXCURSION INTO THE WEST OF ENGLAND,
DURING THE MONTH OF JULY, 1799.
FOUR LETTERS TO A FRIEND.
BY THE REV. JOHN EVANS, A. M.
an account of the remaining portion of my tour, and hope you will not find this my las epistle, wholly destitute of entertainment and instruction.
The day I left Taunton I rose at an early hour, and being favoured with the horse of a friend, made a thort excurfion into the country. It was a most beautiful morning; the sun steadily mounting to reach his meridian height, flung his rays with a moderate intenseness over the surrounding landscape. Nature presented herself to me in a most endearing aspect, and almost every object I beheld, impressed me with sensations of delight. Indeed the charms of a fine morning are indescribable :
For who the melodies of MORN can tell?
And shrill lark carols clear from her ærial tour. The purport of this excursion was to pay a friendly visit to a venerable widow, who resided at a village within a few miles of Taunton, the fituation of which was peculiarly retired and impressive. Her only fon had, a few months ago, emigrated to America ; being induced, by a flattering prospect of independence, to quit his native country.
She shewed me the letter which she had lately received from him, containing the pleafing information of his safe arrival at New York. The latter part of the letter glowed with the tenderest emanations of duty and affection; aiming, especially, to impress on the mind of his aged parent this consolatory truth, that though the wide Atlantic rolled waves between them, yer, in the course of every twenty-four hours, the same sun sheds his kindly rays on their different habitations ! This simple illustration, dictated by the warmth of his filial feelings, did honour to his heart. But alas ! he is now no more ! The melancholy intelligence has been since received of the decease of this excellent young man, on the 22d of August last, at Philadelphia. He was cut off in three days by the yellow fever, that scourge of the Western Continent. From this disorder at New York, he had actually fled, and was on his way to join a friend in Kentucky, after whose society, to use his own forcible expreffions, “ his soul hungered and thirsted.” Well did Mr. Burke exclaim, on an occasion of sudden mortality ~ What shadows are we, and what shadows are we pursuing !” The virtues of GEORGE WICHE will not be forgotten among the circle of his friends, by whom his modeft and unassuming worth was justly appreciated. Be this paragraph sacred to his memory !
Upon my return to Taunton, the stage coach was soon ready, and my friend and I set off for Wells. We're. gretted the shortness of our stay in this pleasant town, but we remained long enough to witness their affectionate hospitality.
In two hours we arrived at Bridgewater, a seaport, not far from the Bristol Channel, whence a spring-tide flows twenty-two feet at the key, and comes in with so much turbulence, that it is called a raging boar by the inhabitants.
Its church has a lofty spire, from which there must be an extensive prospect of the surrounding country; Hither the Duke of Monmouth, together with Lord Grey, and other of his officers, ascended to view the fituarion of the King's troops on the very day before the fatal battle of Sedgemoor. Thus used the unhappy Trojans, from the walls of Troy, to survey the Grecian forces, by whom they were afterwards defeated and overthrown. The iron bridge which is to be seen here, and which is similar to that in Colebrooke Dale, is a real curiosity. In 1724 the Duke of Chandos built a street in this town, with a range of convenient ware
houses. The town suffered severely in the civil wars, and at last surrendered to the artful and overpowering Cromwell. In 1685 the Duke of Monmouth lodged in its castle, was proclaimed King there, and even touched many persons for the king's evil. It is imporfible not to sinile at this useless superstition. Even the great Dr. Johnson was, in his childhood, touched for it by Queen Anne, though he could not boast of its heal. ing efficacy. All that he used to say about it was, that he was the last upon whom the good Queen tried the experiment, and that he just remembered his being introduced to an old lady in a black fattin hood, finely dressed and bespangled with jewels ! Bridgewater carries on a trade of some extent with Bristol, Wales, and Cornwall. It had also a foreign trade, chiefly to Portugal and Newfoundland.
In its river Parret, near its confluence with the Tone, is the small island of Athelney, whither the immortal Alfred Aed from the Danes, and where hapa pened the merry incident of the herdsman and his wife, who employed the monarch in baking a cake! This little story is wrought by Mrs. Barbauld, in her Evenings at Home, into a pleasing drama, well calculated to entertain and delight the youthful imagination. Al. fred afterwards made the herdsınan Bihop of Winchester, and built a monastery here, the foundations of which were discovered 1674. Among other subter. raneous remains of this building, were found the bases of church pillars, consisting of wrought free-stone, with coloured tiles, and other things of the same kind; and soon afterwards near this island, was found a sort of medal or picture of St. Cuthbert, with a Saxon inscription, which imported that it was made by order of King Alfred. It appears by its form to have hung by a string, and it is conjectured that the King wore it either as an amulet, or in veneration of St. Cuthbert, who is said to have appeared to him in his troubles, and assured him of the victories which he afterwards obtained.
A little beyond Bridgewater, to the right of the road which leads to Wells, lies the village of Sedgemoor, near which the Duke of Monmouth, and his adherents, were completely routed. The battle was fought July 6, 1685. The following interesting particulars are worthy of being preserved.
“ The approach of the King's forces, under the command of the Earl of Feversham, was first discovered by Mr. Willian Sparke, a farmer of Chedzoy, who was at that time on the tower, and by the affistance of a glass saw them coming down Sedgemoor. One Richard Godfrey, of the same parish, was immediately difpatched to Weston Zoyland, to take a nearer observation, who, having informed himself of their strength, and the order of their encampment, ran to Bridgewater to apprize the Duke. A consultation being held, it was determined to assault the royal camp in the dead of the night. Accordingly on Sunday, July the 5th, a little before midnight, the Duke's party marched out of Bridgewater, taking Godfrey with them for a guide, who conducted them through a private lane at Bradney (known at this day by the name of War Lane,) and paffing under Peasy-farm, brought them, at length, into North Moor, directly in the rear of the King's army. Unluckily for the Duke, at this juncture, a pistol was fired by some person unknown, which alarming the enemy, they soon put themselves in a posture to receive the attack.
“ The action began on Monday morning, between one and two of the clock, and continued near an hour and a half. Sixteen only of the King's foldiers were killed (as appears from a memorandum, entered at the time, in the parish register at Weston) five of whom were buried in Weston Church, and eleven in Weston church-yard. Above one hundred were wounded, and among them Louis Chevalier de Misiere, a French gentleman, who died of his wounds, and lies buried in the church of Middlezoy. On the part of the Duke three hundred were