MICHAEL FARADAY - TOUR IN WALES - 1819

TUESDAY, JULY 20th

The morning saluted us on our awaking, heavy, rainy and with hostile appearances and we were soon satisfied of the necessity of our keeping house for this day. After breakfast we looked at the ducks, the horses and dogs until we were tired. We then routed out the house library which mustered a folio British traveller, a second volume of Halls Dictionary and two odd volumes of Townsend’s Journey through Spain. We dipped into these for a while, then examined Mr Price’s pictures and at last set to work on our Journals.

After dinner I set off on a ramble to Melincourt, a waterfall on the North side of the Valley and about six miles from our Inn. I found the canal path very dirty, the canal overflowing in many places from the rain and the river very turbid and swelled. I crossed the river by a tottering slippery bridge with more safety than I expected and soon rambled my way out to the village of Melincourt. Here I got a little damsel for my guide who could not speak a word of English. We however talked together all the way to the fall though neither knew what the other said. I fancy it is not often that she is elevated to the rank of guide for she seemed proud of her office and was extremely solicitous to fill it with honor. She carefully pointed out the dirty and clean places and ran on so fast in her spirit of readiness as to leave me far behind. I was delighted with her burst of pleasure and on hurrying round a corner she first showed me the waterfall and then she ran along more and more rapidly that she might bring me under the stream before I could recover from the impressions it had first made on me. There she placed me on a safe stone and then throwing her arms toward the torrent, chatted most volubly in welch I suppose about its beauties and its force. The stream had been much swelled by the rain and fell in grandeur over the abrupt rocks which terminated its higher beds. Here, as in almost all the other falls, the stream descended freely through the air, the rocks receding from behind it and leaving it to combat with the wind. The body of water was considerable and yet it became so minutely divided in the descent as to seem like a mere film thrown before the cliffs and every leaf of the trees behind it could be distinguished. Its height was perhaps 70 feet but I found it impossible to form a certain estimate. Two or tree light airy falls occurred at the side of the larger one, diversifying the rocks and softening down its rugged character.

Whilst I was admiring the scene my little welch damsel was busy running about even under the stream, gathering strawberries. When she saw me at leisure she gave me a whole handful and would not take one for herself; they were excellent. I wanted to look down the river and she, perceiving my intention, waded to a stone she was too little to jump to and then pointed out where I might, with safety, put my foot. On returning from the fall I gave her a shilling that I might enjoy her pleasure; she curtsied, and I perceived her delight.

She again ran before me back to the village but wished to step aside every now and again to pull strawberries. I made out that at home she had some finer that she would give me. Every bramble she carefully moved out of the way and ventured her bare feet to try stony paths that she might find the softest for mine. I observed her as she ran before me when she met a village companion opened her hand to show her prize but without any stoppage, word or other motion. When we returned to the village I bade her goodnight and she bade me farewell both by her actions and, I have no doubt, her language too. Sterne may rise above Peter Pastoral and Stoics above Sterne in the refined progress of human feeling and human reason but he who feels and enjoys the impulses of nature however generated is a man of nature’s own forming and has all the dignity and perfection of his race, though he may not have adopted the refinement of the art. I never felt more honorable in my own eyes than I did this evening whilst enjoying the display this artless girl made of her feelings.

The evening was beautiful, a short fine sunset ornamented the heavens with a thousand varying tints and my walk home was delightful.