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Will not describe Bl--- in particular, not to fore
ftall your expectations before you see it ; only take a short account, which I will hazard my little credit is no unjust one. I never saw so great a thing with so much littleness, in it. I think the Architect built it intirely in compliance to the taste of its Owners ; for it is the most inhospitable thing imaginable, and the most selfish. It has, like their own hearts, no room for strangers, and no reception for any person of superior quality to themselves. There are but two Apartments for the Master and Mistress below, and but two Apartments above (very much inferior to them) in the whole House. When you look upon the outside, you wou'd think it large enough for a Prince; when you see the inside it is too little for a Subject, and has not conviniency to lodge a common family. It is a house of Entries and paflages, among which there are three Vifta's through the whole, very uselessly handsome. There is what might have been a fine Gallery, but spoiled by two Arches towards the End of it, which take away the fight of several of the windows. There are two ordinary stair-cases instead of one great one. The best things within the house are the Hall, which is indeed noble and well proportioned and the cellars and offices under ground, which are the most comodious, and the best contrived of the whole. At the top of the Building are several Cupola's and Jittle Turrets that have but an ill effect, and make the Building look at once finical and heavy. What seems of the best taste, is that Front towards the gardens, which is not yet loaded wit these turrets. The two sides of the building are intirely spoild by two monstrous bow-windows, which stand just in
the middle, instead of doors : and as if it were fatal that some trifling littleness should every where destroy the grandeur, there are in the chief front two semicircles of a lower structure than the rest, that cut of the angles, and look as if they were purposely designed to hide a loftier and nobler piece of build ing, the top of which appears above them. In a word, the whole is a most expensive absurdity; and the duke of Shretusbury gave a true character of it, when he said, it was a great Quarry of Stones above ground.
We paid a visit to the spring where Rofamond bathed her felf, on a hill where remains only a piece of a wall of the old Palace of Henry the Second. We toasted her shade in the cold water, not without a thought or two, scarce so cold as the liquor we drank it in. I dare not tell you what they were, and so hasten to conclude,
YOU cannot be surprized to find him a dull cor
respondent, whom you have known so long for a dull companion. And tho' I am pretty sensible, that if I have any wit, I may as well write to show it, as not; (because any Lady that has once seen me, will naturally ask, what I can show that is better?) yet I'M content my self with giving you as plain a history of my pilgramage, as Purchas himself, or as John Bunyon could do of his walking through the wilderness of this world, &c.
First then I went by water to Hampton-Court, unattended by all but my own virtues, which were not of fo modest a nature as to keep themselves, or
things the most miferable; and wish'd that every
me conceal'd; for I met the Prince with all his Ladies on horseback, coming from hunting. Mrs. B-and Mrs. L--- took me into protection (contrary to the laws against harbouring Papists) and gave me a dinner, with something I liked better, an opportunity of conversation with Mrs. H----.. We all agreed, that the life of a Maid of Honour was of all
woman who envy'd it, had a specimen of it. To eat Westphalia-Ham in a morning, ride over hedges and ditches on borrow'd Hacks, come home in the heat of the day with a fever, and what is worse a hundred times with a red mark in the forehead from an uneasy hat; all this may qualify them to make excellent wives for Fox hunters, and bear abundance of ruddy complexion'd children. As soon as they can wipe off the sweat of the day, they must simper an hour and catch cold, in the Princess's apartment; from thence (as. Shakespear has it) To dinner with what appetite they may ----- and after that till midnight, walk, work, or ihink, which they please. I can easily believe, no lone-house in Wales, with a Mountain and a Rookery, is more contemplative than this. Court; and as a proof of it I need only tell you, Mrs. L---- walked all alone with me three or four hours; by moonlight, and we met no creature of any Quality but the King, who gave audience to the Vice-chamberlain, all alone, under the garden. wall.
In short, I Heard of no Ball, Allembly, Baflet Table, or any place where two or three were gathered together, except Madam Kilmansegg's, to which I had the honour to be invited, and the grace to stay away.
I was heartily tired, and posted to B---- Park; there we had an excellent Discourse of Quackery. Dr. Shadwell was mentioned with honour. Lady A---- walked a whole hour abroad without dying after its at least in the time I stay'd, tho' she seemed
to be fainting, and had convulsive motions several times in her head.
This day I received a Letter with certain advices where women were to be met with at Oxford. I defy them and all their works. I love no meat but Ortolans, and no women but you : tho' indeed that is no proper comparison, but for fat Duchess's; for to love you, is as if one should wish to eat Angels, or to drink Cherubim-broth.
I arrived in the forest by Tuesday noon, having fled from the face (I wish I could say the horned face) Mofes B---, who dined in the mid-way thither. I past the rest of the day in those Woods where I have so often enjoy'd a Book and a Friend. I made a Hymn as I passed thro', which ended with a figh that I will not tell you the meaning of.
Your Doctor is gone the way of all his patients, and was hard put to it how to dispose of an estate miserably, unwildly, and splendidly useful to him. Sir Samuel Garth says, that for Ratcliffe to leave a Library, was as if a Eunuch should found a Seraglio. Dr. Sh--- lately told a Lady: He wondered The could be alive after him ; she made answer: She wondered at it for two reasons ; because Dr. Ratcliffe was dead, and because Dr. Sh---- was living.
To the same. Nothing could have more of that melancholy
which once used to please me, than my last days journey : For after having passed through my favourite Woods in the forest, with a thousand Reveries of paft pleasures, I rid over hanging hills,
whose tops were edged with groves, and whose seet water'd with winding rivers, listning to the falls of cataracts below, and the murmuring of the winds above. The gloomy verdure of Stonor fucceeded to there, and then the shades of the evening overtook mę.
The moon rose in the clearest sky I ever saw, by whose folemn light I paced on Nowly without company, or any interruption to the range of my thoughts. About a mile before I reached Oxford, all the bells told in different notes ; the clocks of every college answered one another, and founded forth (some in a deeper, some in a softer tone) that it was eleven at night. All this was no ill preparation to the life I have led since among those old walls, venerable galleries, stone partico's, studious walks, and solitary scenes of the University. I wanted nothing but a black gown and a falary, to be as meer a bookworm as any there. I conformed my self to the College hours, was rolled up in books, lay in one of the most antient, dusky parts of the University, and was as dead to the world as any Hermit of the defart. If any thing was alive or awake in me, it was a little vanity; such as even those good men used to entertain, when the Monks of their own Order extolled their piety and abstraction. For I found my self received with a sort of respect, which this idle part of mankind, the learned, pay to their own species; who are as considerable here, as the busy, the gay, and the ambitious are in your world.
Indeed I was treated in such a manner, that I could not but sometimes ask my self in my mind, What College I was founder? of or what Library I had built ? Methinks I do very ill to return to the world again, to leave the only place where I make a figure; and from seeing my self feated with dignity in the most conspicious Thelves of a Library, put my felf into the abject posture of lying at a Lady's feet in St. James's square.