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William Gilpin toured the Wye Valley in June 1770; his Observations on the River Wye, not published until 1782, portrays a borderland idyll that can fairly be said to have initiated Tintern's tourist industry:
From Monmouth we reached . . . the noble ruin of Tintern-abbey . . . the abbey, intended for meditation, is hid in the sequestered vale . . . beautifully screened on all sides by woody hills . . . A more pleasing retreat could not easily be found . . . [it is] a very inchanting piece of scenery.(1)
The beauty of the landscape, and of Gilpin's subsequent picturesque idealization of it, rudely contrasts, however, with the inescapable sights of human suffering …