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interest to the scene by suggesting the probability of others being below the surface of the water, but near enough to cause danger.
It was not until we had very nearly reached the western face of this promontory that we had a view into the Mouth of the Dart. Nothing could be more striking. The barren and inhospitable cliffs seemed rent asunder, and a large town was suddenly presented to our view, dispersed in a most picturesque manner upon the side of the bill to the west of the noble river, whose wide expanse and deep water offers, as we were told, a safe anchorage for many hundred vessels. As yet we saw but the very mouth of the river, for it begins to wind even before it has passed the town, but we subsequently found that it rapidly diminishes in size and pursues its tortucus course up the country between the most beautiful hills, affording some of the most lovely scenery in England.
Our attention was at first struck most forcibly by the very singular appearance of the town, which is built on the side of so steep a hill that the doors in one cross-street are upon a level with the chimneys of the lower street, whilst the gray stone of which it is built gives it an appearance of age and sobriety, in good keeping with the character of the scene. On the opposite, that is, the eastern bank, close to the water, is the village of Kingswere, and above and around it many pretty villas with terraced gardens, whose appearance, as of those at Salcombe, indicate the mildness of the climate.
With a proper
On a huge rock on the west side at the very mouth of the river stands an old castle, part of which is in good preservation, with guns still mounted on its ramparts, and a small church still used for service, though it must be at some inconvenience that the congregation assemble there from the suburbs of the town, which is distant by road at least balf-a-mile, a space which is occupied by a rich hanging-wood, which, of course, exceedingly enhances the beauty of the scene. garrison and a chain to the opposite shore, I presume that the castle would render the harbour almost impregnable: at any rate there can be no doubt that a few temporary works on the opposite acclivities would speedily render its access impracticable to any enemy from sea.
Although we had day-light to make these observations from the offing, yet the night had fallen before we could get into the harbour, owing to the calm : this, however, was perhaps, rather in our favour than otherwise, for having been closetted in the little cabin for some time at our tea, we encountered a most interesting spectacle as we emerged again into open air: darkness had imperceptibly crept on, and we could no longer trace the features of the scene with any accuracy, but the whole side of the hill seemed now illuminated, and that in the most fantastical manner: here a long regular line of lights indicated the unbroken front of some street, there a lamp pointed out some spot of particular consequence : all aiding and abetting in the general effect, which was most singular and striking, though we had previously seen the town; to any one making the harbour for the first time, after night-fall, the effect would, no doubt, be extraordinary and perplexing.
We soon found a snug berth facing the town, and turned in for the night; the next morning we found the favourable impressions of the evening fully horne out by more extensive observation, at least so far as the view from the water was concerned. We now found ourselves completely land-locked, we were in a large natural bason, the outlet to the sea being entirely hid from view, though we were within a quarter of a mile of it. A more splendid or commodious harbour cannot well be conceived, though for sailing vessels, the ingress and egress must always be troublesome, and often, I should suppose, impracticable : even for steamers it cannot be the most easy, especially at night; I presume, however, that this is no serious objection to the harbour, as it has been recommended by the commissioners as the station for the departure and arrival of the West India mails; on the propriety of the choice, I cannot give any decided opinion, though I must say, that it seems to me, that so far as passengers are concerned, Southampton would have been a much more convenient port, both as being within three hours and-a-half distance by rail from London, and as being an agreeable and commodious place to rest and recruit at after a voyage; probably, however, passengers will have their option at which port they will land, as I believe the proprietors of the vessels have determined to adopt Southampton as the station for their vessels,
although they are to call at Dartmouth, to take in and land the mail-bags. The opening of the rail-road all the way through, from Exeter to London, viâ Bristol, which will soon be accomplished, will no doubt be a great thing in favour of Dartmouth, and I suppose, persons going to Bristol, Liverpool, or Dublin, will always prefer landing there.* No doubt also the steamers will give an impetus to improvement at Dartmouth, which seems, I must confess, to have been rather at a stand still for many years past : at least, we could not discover any signs of recent improvement about the place, and indeed, were soon glad to return on board from our perambulation about the town. The only signs of activity which we saw, were in some of the building-yards, where several vessels were on the stocks, but even these yards gave evidence of having been once in a more flourishing state, as they no doubt were during the time of the war. Some years ago, a steam-bridge was established here, in place of the old ferry, i. e. a large floating machine, into which several carriages could be drawn by their respective horses, and from which they could emerge on the other side of the river, after a speedy transit by the agency of steam; the concern, however, did not pay, and the steam part of it has been done away with, hand-power being substituted through the instrumentality of windlasses and chains fixed from side to side.
The steamers have commenced running, but the bags are still embarked and landed at Falmouth.
We were fortunate this morning in having a nice breeze from the northward, which not only enabled us to push out of the narrow mouth of the river, before high water, but also gave us an opportunity of slipping through the large rocks before mentioned, and round the bold front of Berry-head, before the ebb-tide made. We were fain, however, to give the head-land a good berth, and to keep well in the offing, as though the surface of the sea was smooth, and the breeze moderate, yet, now and then strong puffs came from the high land, and might readily have upset a small vessel immediately exposed to their violerice, and unskilfully managed. Indeed, there is no doubt that very many accidents happen all along the coast from this cause : it is from the liability to such sudden and depressing gusts, that river and lake sailing are far more dangerous to inexperienced hands than on the open sea.
Few things can be finer than sailing round Berryhead : the headland itself is truly sublime and mag