11th May 1843
My Dear Mother,
I did not see anything amiss in this railway; I have no doubt when it is finished you will be able to go from London to Dover in 4 hours, and from Lacock Abbey you will reach Dover in 9 hours, or an easy day’s journey.
I arrived here at 2 o’clock today, & having nothing to do I went to see the scene of the great explosion that threw down the chalk cliffs not long ago – I walked thro’ the Tunnel (thro’ Shakspeare’s cliff) It is very long and extremely unpleasant. In the middle you can see nothing of the roadway, or of the sides of the tunnel, only the light from the 2 extremities to guide you – The place is solitary silent & dismal, I don’t know why people walk thro’ Tunnels, for nothing can be more triste, <1> but this is at present the great Lion of the place – It is bricked throughout, in the form of a pointed arch. This is necessary, being cut thro’ the softest chalk which you can crush with the pressure of a finger – Nothing is more deceptive than the apparent distance of the other extremity, I found it five times longer than I thought when I went in. Emerging from the Tunnel I came to the scene of the great explosion, crowds of workmen were engaged in levelling the ruins of the cliffs & making thereon a broad platform, much broader than needed for the railway therefore I suppose sheds and magazines are to be built there. I then climbed up the cliff by a fatiguing and giddy path, which “everybody” does, so one must not complain, and came back on the downs – In the evening I visited the Castle which I had not seen for a long time – Today the weather was very fine and pleasant.