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If the Cumberland Bibliography is worth noting in Blake, it may deserve to be supplemented here with information which came to my notice because of the publication of the Bibliography.


Tour in North Wales. 1784 (?1796)

TITLE: Tour in North Wales. | 1784 | [pasted on vignette] | by George Cumberland | and | C L [i.e., Charles Long] | [description of the vignette] N.B. The Tour was made by Cumberland and Long, but the manuscript is entirely by and about George Cumberland.
BINDING: Bound in three quarter leather over brow marbled boards.
PAPER: Shard[?] [date cut off] on titlepage. None on other leaves; the leaves bearing sketches are distinctly heavier than the text-leaves. After p. 36, the leaves are waterstained.
SIZE: 30.5 × 38.1 cm (12″ × 15″)
NUMBERING: The pages are numbered 1-62 (sometimes trimmed off) at the top outer corners (misnumbered after p. 47, so that pp. “49”-“62” should be 48-61); the last, unnumbered, page is blank.
CONTENTS: Flyleaf, titlepage (verso blank), text on pp. 1-61 (numbered 1-47, 49-62), [63]; three flyleaves. After pp. 4, 6, 8, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24, 28, 32, 34, 40, 44, 46 (2 leaves), [48](2 leaves), [56] (two leaves) are inserted heavier leaves bearing pasted-on sketches numbered 1-36, many with flimsy guard-leaves. There are 55 leaves in all (not counting flimsies).

HISTORY: Probably the manuscript left the Cumberland family about 1873 (see A Bibliography of George Cumberland 1754-1848 [1975], 83-84). According to the present owner, it was found in a somewhat damp cellar in Newport, Monmouthshire, by a female book-seller, who sold it about 1960 to Major Herbert LLOYD-JOHNES, O.B.E., T.D., LL.D., F.J.A., who has promised it to the National Library of Wales and who is publishing an account of the manuscript in the Journal of the National Library of Wales. I am deeply grateful to Major Lloyd-Johnes for allowing me to see and describe the manuscript and to look at his remarkable library of books on Wales and pictures of his family and their sometime estate at Hafod.

DATE: The manuscript was clearly composed from notes Cumberland had made at the time, for once he explains lacunae by saying that he had “lost my notes on this part of the tour” (p.[61]). In the text he refers to “a very agreeable fortnight there [at Hafod] in 1795” and “the description of it” he has “since published” (1796), and he mentions a third excursion he made to Wales in 1796 (p. [61]). Perhaps the manuscript was composed from the earlier notes about 1796. An insertion of two leaves after p. 34 bears a poem dated “New yrs. day 1796”, suggesting that the previous version of the Tour had been completed by then. Cumberland clearly kept the manuscript by him and looked it over from time to time, for a footnote on the first page of text identifying his companion as Charles Long has two or three addenda at later dates identifying him as “a Privy Counsellor, in 1800—now a Knight of the Bath [1820] and Lord Farnborough [1826]”.

NOTE: A large part of the purpose of the manuscript is to put in context the series of sketches which Cumberland made on his 1784 tour and which are pasted in here—except for a few which he had lost by the time he wrote the Tour. There is a long section on the beauties of the neighborhood of Hafod (pp. 42-61), before Thomas Johnes had built his seat there, and another on the village of “Abbey Tintern” (pp. 14-17). One passage in particular (p. 36) may remind us of Cumberland’s friendship (c. 1790-1827) with the painter-poet Blake:

At sun rise . . . after bathing a few minutes in its refreshing stream, I found myself so invigorated, and my spirit so exalted with the laughing scene around, that taking out my pencil instead of drawing I wrote the following Song [on the River Dee]. . . .
A related “merry scene” in which a “dimpling stream runs laughing by” appears in Blake’s “Laughing Song” in his Songs of Innocence (1789).

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