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And, as they bow their hoary tops, relate,
At the foot of one of these squats me (il penseroso), and there I grow to the trunk for a whole morning. The timorous hare and sportive squirrel gambol around me like Adam in Paradise, before he had an Eve ; but I think he did not use to read Virgil, as I commonly do there. In this situation, I often converse with my Horace, aloud too, that is, to talk to you, but I do not remember, that I ever heard you answer me. I beg pardon for taking all the conversation to myself, but it is entirely your own fault. We have old Mr. Southern at a gentleman's house a little way off, who often comes to see us; he is now seventy-seven years old, and has almost wholly lost his memory; but is as agreeable as an old man can be, at least I persuade myself so when I look at him, and think of Isabella and Oroonoko. I shall be in town in about three weeks. Adieu.
MR. GRAY TO DR. WHARTON.
Pembroke Hall, Aug. 26, 1766. WHATEVER my pen may do, I am sure my thoughts expatiate nowhere oftener, or with more pleasure, than to Old Park. I hope you have made my peace with the angry little lady. It is certain, whether her name were in my letter or not, she was as present to my memory as the rest of the whole family ; and I desire you would present her with two kisses in my name, and one a piece to all the others; for I shall take the liberty to kiss them all (great and small), as you are to be my proxy.
In spite of the rain, which I think continued, with very short intervals, till the beginning of this month, and quite effaced the summer from the year, I made a shift to pass May and June not disagreeably in Kent. I was surprised at the beauty of the road to Canterbury, which (I know not why) had not struck me before. The whole country is a rich and well cultivated garden; orchards, cherry grounds, hop gardens, intermixed with corn and frequent villages; gentle risings covered with wood, and everywhere the Thames and Medway breaking in upon the landscape with all their navigation, It was indeed owing to the bad weather, that the whole scene was dressed in that tender emerald green, which one usually sees only for a fortnight in the opening of the spring; and this continued till I left the country. My residence was eight mile east of Canterbury, in a little quiet valley on the skirts of Barham. Downs. In these parts the whole soil is chalk, and whenerer it holds up, in half an hour it is dry enough to walk out. I took the opportunity of three or four days fine weather to go into the Isle of Thanet; saw Margate (which is Bartholemew Fair by the seaside), Ramsgate, and other places there ; and so came by Sandwich, Deal, Dover, Folkstone, and Hithe, back again. The coast is not like Hartlepool; there are no rocks, but only chalky cliffs, of no great height, till you come to Dover; there indeed they are noble and picturesque, and the opposite coasts of France begin to bound your view, which was left before to range unlimited by any thing but the horizon ; yet it is by no means a shipless sea, but everywhere peopled with white sails, and vessels of all sizes in motion: and take notice (except in the Isle, which is all corn fields, and has very little enclosure), there are in all places hedge rows, and tall trees even within a few yards of the beach. Particularly, Hithe stands on an eminence covered with wood. I shall confess we had fires at night
(ay, and at day too) several times in June; but do not go and take advantage in the north at this, for it was the most untoward
that ever I remember. My compliments to Mrs. Wharton and all your family: I will not-name them, lest I should affront any body.
MR. GRAY TO MR. NICHOLLS.
November 19, 1796. I RECEIVED your letter at Southampton; and, as. I would wish to treat every body according to their owu rule and measure of good breeding, have, against my inclination, waited till now before I answered it, purely out of fear and respect, and an ingenuous diffidence of
my own abilities. If you will take this as an excuse, accept it at least as a well turned period, which is always my principal concern.
So I proceed to tell you, that my health is much improved by the sea; not that I drank it, or bathed in it, as the common people do : no! I only walked by it, and looked upon it. The climate is remarkably mild, even in October and November: no snow has been seen to lie there for these thirty years past; the myrtles grow in the ground against the bouses, and Guernsey lilies bloom in every window; the town, clean and well built, surrounded by it's old stone walls, with their towers and gateways, stands at the point of a peninsula, and opens full south to an arm of the sea, which, having formed two beautiful bays on each hand of it, stretches away in direct view till it joins the British Channel; it is skirted on either side with gently rising grounds, clothed with thick wood and directly cross it's mouth rise the high lands of the Isle of Wight, at a distance, but distinctly seen. In the bosom of the woods (concealed from profane eyes), lie bid the rains of Net
tley Abbey ; there may be richer and greater houses of religion, but the abbot is content with his situation. See there, at the top of that hanging meadow, under the shade of those old trees, that bend into a half circle about it, he is walking slowly (good man!), and bidding his beads for the souls of his benefactors, interred in that venerable pile that lies beneath him. Beyond it (the meadow still descending) nods a thicket of oaks, that mask the building, and have excluded a view too garish and luxuriant for a holy eye: only on either hand they leave au opening to the blue glittering sea. Did you not observe how, as that white sail shot by and was lost, he turned and crossed himself, to drive the tempter from him, that had thrown that distraction in his
? I should tell you, that the ferryman who rowed me, a lusty young fellow, told me that he would not for all the world pass a night at the Abbey (there were such things seen near it), though there was a power of money hid there. From thence I went to Salisbury, Wilton, and Stonehenge: but of these things I say no more, they will be published at the university press.
P.S. -I must not close iny letter without giving you one principal event of my history ; which was, that in the course of
my late tour 1 set out one morning before five o'clock, the moon shining through a dark and misty au• tumpal air, and got to the seacoast time enough to be at the sun's levee. I saw the clouds and dark vapours open gradually to right and left, rolling over one another in great smoky wreathes, and the tide (as it flowed gently in upon the sands) first whitening, then slightly tinged with gold and blue; and all at once a little line of insufferable brightness, that (before I can write these five words) was grown to half an orb, and now to a whole one, too glorious to be distinctly seen. It is very odd it makes no figure on paper; yet I shall remember it as long as the sud, or at least as long as I endure. I wonder whether any body ever saw it before? I hardly believe it.
LADY M. W. MONTAGUE TO THE COUN.
Vienna, Sept. 14, 0. S. THOUGH I have so lately troubled you, my dear sister, with a long letter, yet I will keep my promise, in giving you an account of my first going to court. In order to that ceremony, I was squeezed up in a gown, and adorned with a gorget, and the other implements thereunto belonging, a dress very inconvenient, but which certainly shows the neck and shape to great advantage. I cannot forbear giving you some description of the fashions here, which are more monstrous and contrary to common sense and reason, than it is possible for you to imagine. They build certain fabrics of gauze on their heads, about a yard high, consisting of three or four stories, fortified with numberless yards of heavy riband. The foundation of this structure is a thing they call a bourlè, which is exactly of the same shape and kind, but about four times as big as those rolls our prudent milkmaids make use of to fix their pails upon. This machine they cover with their own hair, which they mix with a great deal of false, it being a particular beauty to have their heads too large to go into a moderate tub. Their hair is prodigiously powdered to conceal the mixture, and set out with three or four rows of bodkins (wonderfully large, that stick out two or three inches from their hair) made of diamonds, pearls, red, green, and yellow stones, that it certainly requires as much art and experience to carry the load upright, as to dance upon May day with the garland. Their whalebone petticoats outdo ours by