from Bristol via the New Passage
On 24 June, St John's
or Midsummer's Day [footnote a], I travelled from Bristol to Wales.
I arrived in the afternoon at New Passage, ten miles from Bristol
on the River Severn, which in this place ought to be known as
a bay of the ocean as it is four miles wide [Fig. 152b].
the way to New Passage I passed through Clifton Down located on
the hill above Hotwells Spa. It has a number of attractive summerhouses,
with which the inhabitants of Bristol have embellished this place.
The road continued across a common called Durdham Down, where
there was a magnificent prospect out towards the sea and King
Roads, where ships enter the Bristol River from the Severn. Many
of the spa visitors promenaded on this common, some in carriages
and others on horseback. A masonry wall has just been built at
the top of the steep slope down to the river, which makes this
promenade safer and more pleasant. Towards autumn a horse race
is held upon the common, and it was said that there is a great
influx of spectators both from Bristol and from other towns and
villages many miles away.
On my arrival at the Severn, I met a number of travellers who
were waiting for passage, but the ship could not sail due to the
winds that had lasted for two days and still kept the waves surging.
There was also a Lodge of Freemasons from Bristol, who had assembled
to celebrate the day in the traditional way. Before long I was
introduced into this worthy and amusing company, which made the
day short and pleasant in this otherwise dull and lonely place.
across the Severn
On 25 June wind and rain that made themselves heard throughout
the night did not hold out any promise of a speedy and safe passage.
However, towards dinnertime, when the tide had started to flow
out against the wind and the waves, the captain decided to take
the risk. More than 20 horses and an even greater number of passengers,
as many as there was room for, were crammed into the ship. Another
ship, belonging to the opposite side, had to return empty, as
it was not allowed to take cargo or passengers from our side.
were so unruly during the crossing that it seemed that the ship
would fly apart. This caused her to spring a leak and the waves
washed over her. Passengers screamed and wailed, the sailors were
hampered by the overcrowding, quite at a loss as to what to do,
and complete confusion reigned. We all expected a catastrophe
at any moment. This fear continued until we approached land and
could with great joy jump onto the rocks to dispel the anxiety
that had filled us all with consternation.
of the sea upon terra firma
Having arrived at the other side of the water at the ferry station,
which is in Wales, an old man showed me how the waves eat into
terra firma, and told me that in his youth he had cut corn in
a place that now is a rock 10 feet out in the water.
about ebb and flood
Ebb and flood are here so strong that the water falls and rises
between 50 feet and 60 feet every 12 hours. There are five hours
of ebb, when all the water runs out, and another seven hours of
flood when it comes streaming back again. These changing movements
of the water are longest and strongest when there is a spring
tide, which occurs at Full Moon, or when the attractions of the
Sun and the Moon on the Earth act together. This happens when
they are placed on one each side of the Earth, all three on one
straight line. The result is that the united forces pull the water
on either side of the Earth which, considering the natural equilibrium
that all things created are endowed with, has the same effect
on the sea as if the attraction of these bodies, namely the Sun
and the Moon, on the Earth were united on one side, which can
be demonstrated by experimental physics.
note, the footnotes have been renumbered for convenience.
The feast of John the Baptist, six months from Christmas, celebrated
as Midsummer's Day in Sweden.