BLTC Press Titles

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

The Characters of Theophrastus


Descriptive excursions through South Wales and Monmouthshire

by Edward Donovan


When the weather is serene, the traveller surveys, as he proceeds along this road, the rich and varied scenery of Monmouthshire to great advantage, from several ele

vated points of view, over which the road has been constructed. The landscapes to the southward are in particular beautiful, combining, in various instances, a wide extent of the Severn sea, rolling its translucent waters between the verdant limits of the nearer coast, and the pale hills of Somerset, that rest upon the verge of the distant horizon.

Caldecot castle, a grand and spacious edifice of high antiquity, occurs to arrest the observation of the passing stranger about two miles beyond the new passage; appearing, at no great distance across the meadows that lie to the left of the Newport road. The shattered remnants of this curious example of early military architecture, is still so far considerable, as to be much more interesting than we could possibly have been at first aware; and amply repaid the trouble of a visit we bestowed upon it, in our return through Monmouthshire, by the way of Caldecot village. In the distance truly, it does not fail to impress the mind with


some idea of its ancient splendour, for it assumes an aspect of no common dignity: a friendly mantling of luxuriant ivy, improves, in an eminent degree, the picturesque effect of its venerable mouldering turrets; and upon the whole, the ruin altogether would appear unquestionably to great advantage, were it fortunately for the admirers of artless beauty, stationed in a more conspicuous situation; like the greater number of edifices of a similar nature in other parts of the country.

Contenting ourselves for the present with the transitory glimpse of Caldecot castle, that intervened in our ride along the road, we soon after passed through the pretty village of Crick; a place commodiously situated near the junction of the four roads that lead to Portescuit, Shire Newton, St. Pierre, and Caerwent. Of the latter of these roads, I had almost forgotten to observe, that according to the best authorities, it pursues the precise course of the great Roman causeway, the Via Julia, which that cautious people had formed with incredible labour, in order to preserve a regular communication with the different stations, and chain of camps, they established, or projected to establish, along the southerncoast of Wales. In confirmation of this opinion, many hewn stones, and traces of the solid masonry of the foundation of the causeway, may be yet perceived in various places, by the attentive traveller.

After traversing the road for another mile beyond Crick, we came to the foot of the gradual ascent, upon which the poor remains of Caerwent, the Venta Silurum of the ancients, stand.

This place, which like Caerleon, flourished under the auspices of the Romans, was once a proud and important city: the great rival of Caerleon; or perhaps as Richard of Cirencester has suggested, at one epoch of time, even, the capital of the Silurian province.—

But But alas! such is the mutability of all human grandeur; such the inefficiency of all distinction founded alone on ancient greatness, the glory of Caerwent has passed away, in the bold and impressive diction of the poet,

"like the baseless fabric of a vision;"

this pride of cities is no more: an humble village now occupies its scite, and mocks its memory, while it assumes the name of—Caerwent!

Memorials of its former consequence have yet survived the ravages of ages; they yet exist in the early record of the historian; and in the more faithful vestiges of its ruins, that have long been known, or that are still discovered daily.-—Huge fragments of its massive Avails, of fallen columns, capitals and shafts of admired workmanship, tessellated pavements of singular beauty, and coins in amazing numbers; all which, in the lapse of former ages, had been levelled with the dust, and are now occasionally discovered within its precincts,

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