Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

excellent seamen ; but, instead of its former dignity as a port, it looks like a petty town deserted of its neighbourhood, and left to grow wild and solitary. The beautiful vegetation immediately about it, added to the bare hills in the background, completes this look of forlornness, and produces an effect like that of the grass growing in the streets of a metropolis. The harbour is landlocked with hills, and wood, and a bit of an old castle at the entrance; forming a combination very picturesque. Among the old families remaining in that quarter, the Prideaux, relations of the ecclesiastical historian, live in this town; and going up a solitary street on the hill-side, I saw on a door the name of Wolcot, a memorandum of a different sort. Peter Pindar's family, like the divine's, are from Cornwall.

We left Dartmouth, where nó ships were in the habit of sailing for Italy, and went to Plymouth; intending to set off again with the beginning of spring, in a vessel bound for Ge

But the mate of it, who, I believe, grudged us the room we should deprive him of, contrived to tell my wife a number of dismal stories, both of the ship and its captain, who was

noa.

an unlucky fellow that seemed marked by fortune. Misery had also made him a Calvinist,—the most miserable of all ways of getting comfort; and this was no additional recommendation. To say the truth, having a pique against my fears on the former occasion, I was more bent on allowing myself to have none on the present; otherwise, I should not have thought of putting forth again till the fine weather was complete. But the reasons that prevailed before, had now become still more imperative; my wife being confined to her bed, and undergoing repeated bleedings: so, till summer we waited. Plymouth is a proper modern commercial town, unpicturesque in itself, with an overgrown suburb, or dock, which has become a town distinct, and other suburbs carrying other towns along the coast. But the country up the river is beautiful; and Mount-Edgecumbe is at hand, with its enchanted island, like a piece of old poetry by the side of new money-getting. Lord Lyttleton, in some pretty verses, has introduced the gods, with Neptune at their head,

and the nymphs of land and sea, contesting for the proprietorship of it;-a dispute which Jupiter settles by saying, that he made MountEdgecumbe for them all. But the best compliment paid it was by the Duke de Medina Sidonia, admiral of the Spanish Armada, who, according to Fuller, marked it out from the sea, as his territorial portion of the booty. “ But,” says Fuller, “ he had catched a great cold, had he had no other clothes to wear than those which were to be made of a skin of a bear not killed.” In the neighbourhood is a seat of the Carews, the family of the historian of Cornwall, and kinsmen of the poet. Near it, on the other side of the river, was the seat of the Killigrews; another family which became celebrated in the annals of wit and poetry.* The tops of the two mansions looked at one another over the trees. In the grounds of the former is a bowling-green, the scene of a once fashionable amusement, now grown out of use; which is a pity. Fashion cannot too much identify itself with what is healthy ; nor

• Worthies of England, Vol. i. p. 208. Edit. 1811.

has England been“ merry England,” since late hours and pallid faces came into vogue. But our sedentary thoughts, it is to be hoped, will help to their own remedy, and in the end leave us better off than before.

The sea upon the whole had done me good, and I found myself able to write again, though by driblets. We lived very quietly at Stonehouse, opposite Mount-Edgecumbe, nursing our hopes for a new voyage, and expecting one of a very different complexion in sailing towards an Italian summer. My wife kept her bed almost the whole time, and lost a great deal of blood; but the repose, together with the sea-air, was of service to her, and enabled her to receive benefit on resuming our journey. Thus quietly we lived, and thus should have continued, agreeably to both of our inclinations; but some friends of the Examiner heard of our being in the neighbourhood, and the privatest of all public men (if I may be ranked among the number) found himself complimented by his readers, face to face, and presented with a silver cup. I then had a taste of the Plymouth hospitality, and

found it friendly and cordial to the last degree, as if the seaman's atmosphere gave a new spirit to the love of books and liberty. Nor, as the poet would say, was music wanting; nor fair faces, the crown of welcome. Besides the landscapes in the neighhourhood, I had the pleasure of seeing some beautiful ones in the painting-room of Mr. Rogers, a very clever artist and intelligent man, who has travelled, and can think for himself. But my great Examiner friend, who has since become a personal one, was Mr. Hine, now master of an academy near the Metropolis, and the most attentive and energetic person of his profession that I ever met with. My principal visitors indeed at Plymouth consisted of schoolmasters ;-one of those signs of the times, which has not been so ill regarded since the accession of a lettered and liberal minister to the government of this country, as they were under the supercilious ignorance, and (to say the truth) well-founded alarm of his footmanlike predecessors.

The Devonshire people, as far as I had experience of them, were pleasant and good-hu

« НазадПродовжити »