« AnteriorContinuar »
alike, their hair floating on the gale, their hats, whose waving plumes were so graceful in the dance!-nothing but the beams of Cynthia, instead of those of the setting Phoebus, was wanting to have realized
"The fairy revel in the moonlight glade."
"One sunny morning, my father took Miss Rogers and myself, in the chaise, four miles of the most dreary part of our county, over the summits of some bare, wild hills, deformed by stone walls, the ashes of mines, and the smoke of limekilns. At length arose before us a cluster of high, round, and beautiful mountains, covered with underwood, and intersecting each other in the boldest manner. Approaching the brow of the nearest, sunk at a vast depth beneath, we beheld that lovely Mensodale, of which I have spoken to you so often. It is more beautiful than the vale of Matlock, because it has still softer features; much more of the smiling charms of pasturage and corn-fields; while the rocky mountains, which embosom it, are not less sublime. The river Wye, of the most lucid clearness, is as large and finely fringed on its banks, as the Derwent at Matlock. It winds through the softest,
brightest, and most plenteous meadows that poetic fancy could picture. They are narrow, it is true, but that circumstance makes them lovelier, from the umbrageous richness which is produced by the sweet nut-hedges which divide them. The eye pursues this glassy river about a mile on its meandering course; it reflects all the gadding branches on its bank, as in a mirror, for its depth, and the height from which we view it, prevents the current from being visible. The river then loses itself to the eye on this its first hawk's view of the dale, amongst the intersecting mountains. The valley, about half a mile broad, runs into a length of more than two miles; the scenes assuming new and varied graces, along the course of the river.
"While my father went to pay a visit some three miles onward, Miss R. and myself, escorted by Mr Longston, ventured on foot, by a winding path, down the steep mountain. That descent was the most arduous of my late attempts. Behold us in safety at the bottom of the dale, and pursuing the course of the river till it falls, about six feet, down some steep and broken rocks, that divide the streams into a number of currents, forming, not indeed a grand, but one of the most beautiful cascades I ever saw,
"Of wanton waters, volatile, and free."
Our leave of absence not permitting us to pursue the enchanting ramble, we returned to scale those heights which we had so lately descended. The ascent, however laborious, was not only less dangerous, but less difficult to me than going down. My father, having paid his visit, reached the brow of the mountain a few minutes before us. He received his wanderers with blazing cheeks, short respiration, and enthusiastic exclamations over the charms of that scenery which we had with so much pleasure explored.
"We dined, and passed one day at Edenzor, with good Mr Barker. My swain was there, more ardently attentive than ever. He seems impressed with the most passionate tenderness for me, in this the summer of his youth. "Tis an odd fancy-even him whom I remember to have caressed when an infant, and to have corrected too with all the girlish love of power and authoritythere is about thirteen years between us-on the wrong side what a caprice of the heart!-It is well for our future happiness, that mine is not influenced by a congenial spell.
"During this residence amongst my native mountains, we had either company, or went out to dinner every day. You know what a social being is my dearest father. Shook as his frame has been, his mind has lost,
as yet, none of its
energy. Nothing could less resemble retirement. Our stay so short, I too much desired the company of my old friends and neighbours, to permit the wish of that sequestration, so dear to me in scenes like those, silent, vast, and awful.
"Are you not fond of the bounded horizon of a mountainous country, where the situation, whether high or low, looks up to grand elevations in several points of view? There the eye can always find a brown or green mass, on which to repose. I always perceive vision much more clear and distinct, when the light descends thus perpendicularly upon the eye-lids, rather than assails their undefended orbits in every direction at once, as it must do amid the wide-stretched plains of an open country. There we are always entirely in the untempered whiteness of light, or must seek its chastizement either by near walls, or trees, or by the jailish gloom of Venetian blinds; all of them excluding with the sun every object it gilds; or, if abroad,
"Must hie to thick damp groves, whose unpierc'd shade Embrowns the noon-tide scene."
I should suppose, that the visual powers of the inhabitants must be stronger, and more en
*The reader will recollect this letter was written in 1783.-S.
during, in a mountainous than in a flat country; but know not if experience has ascertained the probability.
"Miss Powys past last Tuesday here in her road to the Cheshire Lady Holt's. She had made a longer stay with me, but concluding us at Eyam, had settled her plans differently. Her manners recalled your idea every instant. She is entirely of your class. In the year 1770, she passed a delightful month with Honora, Giovanni, and myself, in the dear blue region, as the lost Major André used to call my dressing-room, for there we were all day but at meal-times. Except in public, she had not seen Giovanni in that long long interval. She ever esteemed him, affectionately as you esteem him. Judge of the gladness with which they met, after such an age of absence! Virtuous friendship, how pure, how sacred are thy delights!-Sophia, thy mind is capable of tasting them in all their poignance; against how many of life's painful incidents may that capacity be considered as a counterpoise! Sincerely do I wish, that, in future, its joys may come to you pure and unbalanced by any weight in the dark scale of misfortune. Adieu."