Page images
PDF
EPUB

LEONORA

-Non illa colo calathisve Minervce
Fæmineas assueta manus.

VIRG., Æn, vii, 805.

Unbred to spinning, in the loom unskilled.

DRYDEN.

SOME months ago, my friend Sir Roger, being in the country, enclosed a letter to me, directed to a certain lady whom I shall here call by the name of Leonora, and, as it contained matters of consequence, desired me to deliver it to her with my own hand. Accordingly I waited upon her ladyship pretty early in the morning, and was desired by her woman to walk into her lady's library, till such time as she was in a readiness to receive me. The very

sound of a lady's library gave me a great curiosity to see it; and as it was some time before the lady came to me, I had an opportunity of turning over a great many of her books, which were ranged together in a very beautiful order. At the end of the folios, which were finely bound and gilt, were great jars of china placed one above another in a very noble piece of architecture.

The quartos were separated from the octavos by a pile of smaller vessels, which rose in a delightful pyramid. The octavos were

[ocr errors]

bounded by tea-dishes of all shapes, colours, and sizes, which were so disposed on a wooden frame that they looked like one continued pillar indented with the finest strokes of sculpture, and stained with the greatest variety of dyes. That part of the library which was designed for the reception of plays and pamphlets and other loose papers was inclosed in .a kind of square, consisting of one of the prettiest grotesque works that ever I saw, and made up of scaramouches, lions, monkeys, mandarines, trees, shells, and thousand other odd figures in china-ware. In the midst of the room was a little Japan table, with a quire of gilt paper upon it, and on the paper a silver snuff-box made in the shape of a little book. I found there were several other counterfeit books upon the upper shelves, which were carved in wood, and served only to fill up the numbers, like fagots in the muster of a regiment. I was wonderfully pleased with such a mixed kind of furniture, as seemed very suitable to both the lady and the scholar, and did not know at first whether I should fancy myself in a grotto or in a library.

Upon my looking into the books, I found there were some few which the lady had bought for her own use, but that most of them had been got together, either because she had heard them praised, or because she had seen the authors of them.

Among several that I examined, I very well remember these that follow :

Ogleby's Virgil.
Dryden's Juvenal.
Cassandra.
Cleopatra.
Astræa.
Sir Isaac Newton's Works.
The Grand Cyrus; with a pin stuck in one of the

middle leaves. Pembroke's Arcadia. Locke on Human Understanding; with a paper of

patches in it.
A Spelling Book.
A Dictionary for the explanation of hard words.
Sherlock

upon

Death. The Fifteen Comforts of Matrimony. Sir William Temple's Essays. Father Malebranche's Search after Truth, translated

into English. A book of Novels. The Academy of Compliments. Culpepper's Midwifery. The Ladies' Calling. Tales in Verse by Mr. D'Urfey : bound in red

leather, gilt on the back, and doubled down in several places.

[ocr errors]

All the Classic Authors in Wood.
A set of Elzevirs by the same Hand.
Clelia; which opened of itself in the place that

describes two lovers in a bower.
Baker's Chronicle.
Advice to a Daughter.
The New Atalantis, with a Key to it.
Mr. Steele's Christian Hero.
A Prayer-book; with a bottle of Hungary water by

the side of it.
Dr. Sacheverell's Speech.
Fielding's Trial.
Seneca's Morals.
Taylor's Holy Living and Dying.
La Ferte's Instructions for Country Dances.

I was taking a catalogue in my pocket-book of these, and several other authors, when Leonora entered, and upon my presenting her with a letter from the knight, told me, with an unspeakable grace, that she hoped Sir Roger was in good health. I answered “Yes,” for I hate long speeches, and, after a bow or two, retired.

Leonora was formerly a celebrated beauty, and is still a very lovely woman. She has been a widow for two or three years, and, being unfortunate in her first marriage, has taken a resolution never to venture apon a second. She has no children to take care of, and leaves the management of her estate to my good friend

a

Sir Roger. But as the mind naturally sinks into a kind of lethargy, and falls asleep, that is not agitated by some favourite pleasures and pursuits, Leonora has turned all the passions of her sex into a love of books and retirement. She converses chiefly with men, as she has often said herself, but it is only in their writings; and admits of very few male visitants, except my friend Sir Roger, whom she hears with great pleasure and without scandal. As her reading has lain very much among romances, it has given her a very particular turn of thinking, and discovers itself even in her house, her gardens, and her furniture. Sir Roger has entertained me an hour together with a description of her country seat, which is situated in a kind of wilderness, about a hundred miles distant from London, and looks like a little enchanted palace. The rocks about her are shaped into artificial grottoes covered with woodbines and jessamines. The woods are cut into shady walks, twisted into bowers, and filled with cages of turtles. The springs are made to run among pebbles, and by that means taught to murmur very agreeably. They are likewise collected into a beautiful lake that is inhabited by a couple of swans, and empties itself by a little rivulet which runs through a green meadow, and is known in the family by the name of the Purling Stream. The knight likewise tells me that this lady preserves her game better than any

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »