HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS OF CHEDDAR GORGE.
rro THE EDITOE OF TER " spiscrrros."1
Bra,— Some of us in Bristol as we watch the solemn grandeur of our beautiful Gorge being quickly and noisily taken away under our very eyes have much sympathy with the steady support you are giving in your columns to the National Trust in its attempt to save Cheddar from the hand of the quarry- man. We have read your article on the "Literary Associa- tions of Cheddar Gorges' with a great deal of interest. No doubt many gleaners might profitably follow the writer into the pleasant field where he has been reaping.
It has not, however, been observed, as far as I know, that Cheddar has historical associations -which ought not to be left altogether out of account in this connexion. A thousand years ago, when the young Dunstan was out of favour at the Court of Edmund the Magnificent, according to the old tale the King was hunting on the high ground near Cheddar when the deer, closely followed by the dogs, made for the cliffs and dashed over the precipice with the dogs after him. For the moment it seemed certain that the King, who was riding a bard-mouthed horse, would follow and be dashed to pieces on the rocks below. Like a flash of lightning some of the incidents of his past life flashed before him, and he called to mind the injury he had done to the young Somersetshire monk who was already so brilliant a figure in the Saxon Church and world. Edmund was saved on Cheddar Cliffs as by a miracle, and sending for Dunstan, rode with him forthwith to the great house of Glastonbury and made him Abbot—some would have us believe—at the age of eighteen. This was in 943.
You have mentioned in your article Lord Macaulay and De Quincey. These men belong to literature. William Wilberforce belongs to history, but his visit to Mrs. More deserves a place beside theirs. In 1789, when staying at Bath, he too came over to visit the sisters in their country cottage. One day he drove over to the Gorge in a chaise for a day's sight-seeing. Cheddar was a place in the eighteenth century where every prospect was still pleasing, but man was notoriously vile. Here in this Mendip village Wilberforce who was giving his life for the cause of the slave abroad, woke up suddenly to the needs of men who were living lives of extreme savagery and ignorance at home. He came back to Cowslip Green oppressed and silent. At last he broke out : "Mrs. More, something must be done for Cheddar!" This was the beginning of the great philanthropic work in Somerset which had so wide an influence, and which was now begun by Hannah and Patty More in the Cheddar Valley. The story deserves, I think, a place in history, as illustrating in a particularly interesting way the revival of religion, and the close connexion between the Evangelical movement and philanthropy in the later years of the eighteenth century.
Whatever injury may be done to the cliffs at Cheddar, the pretty straggling village with its amazing caves, and the clear stream welling out at the foot of the Gorge from its mysterious subterranean channel, will always remain a place of pilgrimage; but it is devoutly to be hoped that while so much of the countryside in the Cheddar Valley must inevitably change, the Gorge itself may yet be saved—perhaps even a new race of forbearing visitors will allow the beautiful Cheddar pink to grow once more upon its native rocks unmolested—so that generations to come may see what Dunstan saw, and what the many distinguished visitors at Barley Wood came to see when they drove over in the chaise, with the well-packed luncheon- basket under the seat, to explore the wonders of the Mendip