« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
religious reverence by the Duke of Montagu. Adjoining to the church, between that and the river, are variety of chapels and remnants of the abbey, shattered by the encroachments of the iry, and surrounded by many a sturdy tree, whose twisted roots break through the fret of the vaulting, and hang streaming from the roofs. The gloom of these ancient cells, the shade and verdure of the landscape, the glittering and murmur of the stream, the lofty towers and long perspectives of the church, in the midst of a clear bright day, detained me for many hours; and were the truest objects for my glass I have yet met with any where. As I lay at that smoky, ugly, busy town of Leeds, I dropped all further thoughts of my Journal; and after passing two days at Mason's (tho' he was absent) pursued my way by Nottingham, Leicester, Harborough, Kettering, Thrapston, and Huntingdon to Cambridge, where I arrived on the 22d of October, having met with no rain to signify till this last day of my journey. There's luck for you!
I do think of seeing Wales this summer, having never found my spirits lower than at present, and feeling that motion and change of the scene is absolutely necessary to me; I will make Aston in my way to Chester, and shall rejoice to meet you there the last week in
May. Mason writes me word that he wishes it; and though his old house is down, and his new one not up, proposes to receive us like Princes in grain.
MR. GRAY TO MR. NICHOLLS. *
I Received your letter at Southampton; and as I would wish to treat every body, according to their own 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 not 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
* This letter was written the 19th of November, 1764; but as it delineates another abbey, in a different manner, it seems to make no improper companion to that which precedes it.
been scen to lie there for these thirty years past; the myrtles grow in the ground against the houses, and Guernsey lilies bloom in every window: the town, clean and well-built, surrounded by its 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 gentlyrising grounds, cloathed with thick wood, and directly cross its mouth rise the high lands of the Isle of Wight at distance, but distinctly seen. In the bosom of the woods (concealed from prophane eyes) lie bid the ruins of Nettely 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 mcadow, 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 cither hand they leave an 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 way? 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
hid there. From thence I went to Salisbury, Wilton, and Stonehenge: But of these things I say no more, they wių be published at the University press.
P.S. I must not close my letter without giving you one principal event of my history; which was, that in the course of my late tour) I set out one morning before five o'clock, the moon shining through a dark and misty autumnal air, and got to the sea-coast 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 wbitening, 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 glorions to be distinctly seen *. It is very odd it makes no figure on
* This puts me in mind of a similar description written by Dr. Jeremy Taylor, which I shall here beg leave to present to the reader, who will find by it that the old Divine had occasionally as much power of description as even our modern Poet. “ As when
paper; yet I shall remember it as long as the sun, or at least as long as I endure. I wonder whether any body ever saw it before? 1 hardly believe it.
VR, GRAY TO MR. BEATTIE.
Pembroke-llall, July 9, 1770. I Rejoice to hear that you are restored to better state of health, to your books, and to your muse once again. That forced dissipation and exercise we are obliged to fly to as a remedy, when this frail machine goes wrong, is often almost as bad as the distemper we would cure; yet I too have been constrained of late to pursue a like regimen, on account of certain pains in the head, (a sensation unknown to me before) and of great dejection of spirits. This, Sir, is the only excuse I have to make my long silence, and not (as perhaps you
“ the sun approaches towards the gates of the morning, he first
opens a little eye of heaven, and sends away the spirits of dark
ness; gives light to the cock, and calls up the lark to mattins; “ anıl by and by gilds the fringes of a cloud, and peeps over the “ eastern bills, thrusting out his golden horns ; and still(while
a man tells the story) the sun gets up higher iill he shews a fair " face and a full light." J. Taylor's lloly Dying, p. 17.