Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

and Rundlestone, on the right, and proceed over a wild
track, and by habitations as wild, towards Two-bridges.
In one of these moss-covered huts, springing up like
mounds from the earth, once lived an aged moor-man,
surnamed Carter, who claimed to be the patriarch of the
moor, as the ancestor of a tribe of herdsmen, as wild
and independent as the Arabs of the desert. He and
his sons contracted about seventy years since, for the
making of the first turnpike road, leading over the moor,
towards Moretonhampstead. Previously to its forma-
tion, it was actually necessary to have an experienced
guide, to conduct the traveller with any chance of
security over the trackless waste. The course was
steered by observing the relative position of the tors;
here and there arose a stone cross, to save the traveller
from the perils of the morass. In the charter of Isabella
de Fortibus, Countess of Devon, to Buckland Abbey, I
observed the names of Syward's Cross, (still remaining)
Smalacumba Cross, Panebone Cross, Maynestone Cross,
and Capris Cross. Near Two-bridges is the small wooded
valley which rises like an oasis in the desert below Bard-
down. The good feeling and taste of a former proprietor,
(Edward Bray, Esq.) induced him to plant by the moun-
tain stream, a number of trees, which even now spread
their branches fearlessly, though scathed by the storms,
that desolate the moor. The little river Cowsick dashes
onward, over vast masses of granite, on which the present
owner, (the Rev. E. A. Bray) has placed various inscrip-
tions. A question arises, as to whether from the
numerous little valleys which intersect the moor, similar
plantations might not be made to rise, and that thus
our bleak desert, by the wand of industry, might be
transformed into a cultivated track. The specimen of
stunted vegetation on Wistman's wood, is certainly
unfavorable to the speculation. A number of oaks, of
no more than two or three feet in height, rear their

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tortuous forms above the moss-grown rocks, throwing twisted and ungainly branches as far as their dogged perseverance will permit. There is an uncomfortable sensation in beholding these thwarted efforts of nature; it is like being thrown into an assemblage of human dwarfs—amidst the halt, the maimed, and the blind, who boldly grin at the spectator, as if boasting of their own deformity. “Tradition reports, that Wistman's, otherwise Wiseman's wood, was planted by the beforementioned Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon.” It is on the eastern side of the West Dart, about two miles northward of Two-bridges. At no great distance, is Longford Tor, of a conical form, presenting a bold front to a spectator on the road to Moreton. Thence at the distance of four miles, is situated PostBridge, on the East Dart, built of upright stones, overcapped with others horizontally, placed so as to admit of passengers on foot, or on horseback, after the manner of crossing rivers in ancient times. It was probably reared in a primitive age, by the British inhabitants. Following the road which conducts by Two-bridges to the Prisons, we pass the railroad, which connects the moor with Plymouth; and observe at a distance, the estate of Tor-Royal, planted by the late Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt. The house at Tor-Royal, which for the sake of security from the storms, is but one story in height, contains a handsome suite of apartments, with cornices representing a small railroad train, Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt having been the original projector of the Plymouth and Dartmoor railway. “The length of this railway from Prince-town, to Sutton-Pool, where it ends, is about twenty-five miles. It is used in conveying lime, coals, timber, &c. and taking back granite, and other articles. The tunnel on the twentieth mile from Prince town, is o six hundred and twenty yards in length. It was opened

[ocr errors]


for public use, with a procession, September 26th, 1823.”
“What has been done, can be done again:” we do not
despair of seeing railroads connecting the town of
Tavistock with Plymouth and Exeter, by their expediti-
ous mode of travelling. Already various lines have been
projected and marked out: Nothing is required but
corage and perseverance; our monied men will surely
not be backward in their contributions; the government
must countenance the labors of its subjects; and thus
every obstacle will in time be cleared, which lies in the
way! The Plymouth and Dartmoor railway, belongs to
Messrs. Johnson; we shall have occasion to mention it
again, when we visit the granite quarries. We must
now, after leaving our equipage at the Duchy Hotel, at
Prince town, proceed to visit the gloomy prisons.

In our way a handsome granite church, built by the
French prisoners for the use of the inhabitants of Prince-
town, attracts our attention. The scattered graves
around, show how few desire even in death, to be placed
in this desolate and exposed spot. Opposite the church-
yard gate, is the entrance to some barracks, used in the
time of the last French war. At a quarter of a mile
beyond, we come upon the strong portal, which for so
many years, inclosed the unfortunate victims of human

“Silent now,
How silent that proud pile where England held
Within her victor-gripe, the vanquish'd foe!”

On the granite archway, is carved an inscription from

* The total cost of the undertaking, including the purchase of land, the expense of three acts of parliament, the construction of the works, and other contingencies, amounted to about sixty-six thousand pounds; twenty-eight thousand of which, were borrowed from the commissioners for granting the loan of exchequer bills, in aid of public works. South Devon Museum.

& wo

[ocr errors][merged small]

Virgil. “Parcere subjectis ; debellare superbos.” The
houses for the officers and agents on duty, occupy the
outer court of the prison. In one of these, is a number
of inscriptions in French, intimating the feelings of the
poor captives, who waited to be confined, or released, by
order of the recording officer. An inner court contains
a covered piazza, furnished with gratings, through which
the prisoners, on certain days, were permitted to traffic
with such small articles, as their ingenuity led them to
produce, from the apparently incompetent materials,
afforded by old bones, waste paper, and slips of straw.
By apt contrivance they constructed from these, boxes,
dinner mats, and various ornaments, suited to the taste
of the fair inhabitants of the nearest towns, who crowded
to make purchases of the prisoner's wares. The guide
at the prisons, who is an Irishman, as original as his
habitation, points out some bullet holes in the strong
oak door, and in the wall, near the market-place, which
denotes the spot at which the prisoners once made an
attempt to escape. The establishment forms an inclosure
of thirty acres, surrounded by three lofty walls, on one
of which were sentry-boxes, at distinct distances, gained
by flights of steps still remaining. There are also three
guard-houses, at the east, west, and south. Within the
walls is another barrier, formed of iron palisades. Such
precautions were deemed eminently essential; as at one
period of the war, ten thousand prisoners were here
confined. The prisons are seven in number, each three
hundred feet long, and fifty wide, and of similar con-
struction; containing two long dormitories, with gangways
between the iron poles, from which were suspended the
hammocks. Above these two rooms, is a third, which
was devoted to the exercise, or employment of the
prisoners. Beneath some of the prisons, are covered
ways, where the inmates might breathe the fresh air,
without suffering from the inclemencies of the storm.



Every precaution seems to have been taken, to preserve
the health, and spare the vanquished; but still many
unfortunate men perished. They drooped and died, it
might be from la maladie du pays 2 Still the mortality
was not so great as in the crowded prisons of other
parts. For the sick, excellent hospitals were provided,
containing some noble apartments, suited to the palace
of a prince. The kitchens and laundries were well
contrived; and the dungeon is far preferable to any
place of confinement, which our common prisons can
afford. But the walls are so thick, that the instrument
of release could never pierce them; the light comes
dimly through a small iron grating, and the doubly
plated door closes with a thundering sound, which
reverberates through the vaulted cell. It would be cold,
heartless misery, to sojourn in such a place, even for a
short time. Methinks I hear the cry of that poor young
prisoner, who was forced to this gloomy domicile, for
attempting to escape.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »