"Auszüge aus reisebeschreibenden Briefen des vorletzten Grafen von Purgstall"

Name of traveller

Gottfried Wenzel von Purgstall (1773-1812)

Reason for travel

  • travelling as cultural tourist, self-improvement

Date of travel

September 1796

Der Anblick der gutmüthig mich angaffenden Kuh, und das ganze Bild war mir so unerwartet, daß ich lange vor der Kuh stehen blieb; die Bauersfrau kam näher, ich redete sie an, sie sprach gebrochen englisch, und mit dem den Leuten dieser Gegend eigenen Accent, der ganz wie der eines Ausländers ist. (Purgstall 117)


  • agriculture: impressed by profitability of sheep breeding and ponders keeping sheep at home in Austria
  • architecture:
    • interested in ruined churches and castles
    • greatly impressed by William Edwards's (1719-1789) newly constructed bridge in Pontyprydd
  • art: includes a simple line sketch of the bridges at Devil's Bridge Falls
  • clothing: near Cardigan meets a farmer's wife in her country dress, tending to the cows in the field
  • customs:
    • describes a church service delivered in English in Cardigan
    • points to the frequent employment of harpists in hotels; encounter with a blind harpist in a hotel in Caernarfon
  • diet: salmon and mutton are a staple of his diet during the journey
  • history:
    • some notes on the history of various ruins
    • notes on the historical background of St Winifred's Well
  • industry:
    • takes a guided tour around one of the Crawshay iron works in Merthyr Tydfil and describes a steam engine in operation; inspection of copper works near Swansea and copper mines on Anglesey; inspection of the Llechryd tin works near Cardigan; visits brass works and a woollen mill in Holywell
    • gloomy aspect of the black coal tips
    • notes a natural abundance of resources in Wales
  • language:
    • points out that the Welsh language is entirely different from English
    • compares the melody of the Welsh language to that of Slavic languages in Austria
    • accented English spoken by the Welsh sounds foreign
  • people:
    • meets with Richard Crawshay (1739-1810) in Merthyr Tydfil and Benjamin Hammet (c.1736-1800) near Cardigan
    • finds similarities of character between the Welsh and the Austro-Slavic populations; finds the Welsh suspicious of strangers, servile and with contempt for their English betters
  • recreation:
    • frequently lists names of various inns and some prices for accommodation; notes that similar services in England cost twice as much
    • touristic exploration of a great number of country estates and identifies their names and owners; mentions entrance fees
    • mention of sea bathing in Swansea; visits the theatre
    • longer stay in Aberystwyth because he has to wait for a new delivery of money; references summer tourism for the purpose of sea bathing
  • terrain:
    • many detailed, romanticised landscape descriptions
    • appreciates the harmony of landscape and ruins, but frequently passes disparaging remarks on the towns in south Wales
    • appreciates north Wales for its wilderness and rough, sublime character
    • frequent descriptions of the sea and coast as a spectacle, especially in stormy weather
    • Aberystwyth as entrance to north Wales
  • transport:
    • modes of travel: boat; chaise; horse; on foot; stagecoach
    • uses the ferry services across the Severn, the Menai Strait and at Conwy
    • lists some costs for various routes and types of transport; regrets comparatively high cost of travelling by chaise
    • increasingly bad service provided for individual travellers further west into south Wales; trouble with the horses
    • good road conditions leading from the Severn to Chepstow
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[Purgstall, Gottfried Wenzel von]. "Auszüge aus reisebeschreibenden Briefen des vorletzten Grafen von Purgstall." Denkmal auf das Grab der beyden letzten Grafen von Purgstall. Ed. Joseph von Hammer[-Purgstall]. Wien: Anton Strauß, 1821. 1-166. Print.