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“ At the end of the village, I was glad to find this ruin not so inaccessible as Mr Wraxal thought; though it cost me many a difficult and wearying step to reach and explore it; but I was repaid by noble views of the country, far and near, and especially by those of the valley, the river Sorgue, and the village, which I caught, in the manner that painters love, through the ivied arches of the rocks.
“On the high ground, on the other side, stands, haughtily, in a barren wild, the Chateau de Som mane, where Laura once dwelt, and which yet belongs to some of her direct descendents. It was lately inhabited by the ingenious and learned Abbé de Sade. Some years since, he published a voluminous history of Petrarch and Laura, of which Mrs Dobson's is a mere abridgment. I have just read it, and found it satisfactory and entertaining, though often too prolix; and though his translations prove him no poet, nor always an accurate master of his author's sense, he has put it beyond all doubt, that his ancestress was the Laura of Petrarch.”
So far Mr.Whalley. In the poem mentioned in the beginning of this letter, I attempted a poetical landscape of Vaucluse. It may perhaps one day see the light.
The letter * you sent me of Horace Walpole's is brilliant, and, from its subject, inevitably interesting; but do not expect that I can learn to esteem that fastidious and unfeeling being to whose insensibility we owe the extinction of the
* “ I have received the drawings of Grignan, and know not how to express my gratitude sufficiently ; but, by a silly witticism in the style of some of the quaint novels of the last age, they are so much more beautiful than I expected, that I am not surprised at your having surprised me by exceeding even what I expected from your well-known kindness to me.
“ They are charmingly executed, and with great taste. Grignan, too, is in a much nobler situation than I expected; as I concluded that the witchery of Madame Sevigné's ideas and style had spread the fine leaf-gold over Places, with wbich she gilded all her Friends.
“ All that has appeared of them since the publication of her letters, has lowered them. A single letter of Madame de Grignan's, that which describes the Duchess of Bourbon's toilette, is alone worthy of the mother. Paulina's own letters contain not a tittle that is worth reading. One just perceives that she might have written well if she had had any thing to write about, which, however, would not have signified to her grandmother.
“Coulanges was a silly good humoured glutton, wlio flattered a rich widow for her dinners. His wife was sensible, but dry, peevish, and growing old. Unluckily nothing more is come to light of Madame Sevigné's son, whose short letters in the collection, I am almost profane enough to prefer to his mo
which makes one astonished that she did not love so natural, unaffected, and congenial a wit, and prefer it to the
greatest poetic luminary, if we may judge from the brightness of its dawn, that ever rose in our, or perhaps in any other, hemisphere.
This fine wit of Strawberry-hill, is of that order of mortals who swarm, always swarmed, and always will swarm, in refined states; whose eyes of admiration are in their backs, and who, consequently, see nothing worthy their attention before, or on either side of them; and who, therefore, weary, sicken, and disgust people, whose sensibilities are strong and healthy, by their eternal cant about the great have beens, and the little ares.
Wit, dearly as I love it, cannot atone to me for such envious, such hackneyed nonsense, from age to age transmitted. Shaftesbury canted in this style during that very period which the back-gazers of our time extol, and dignify with the title of
eccentric and sophisticated reveries of her sublime and ill-humoured daughter. Grignan alove maintains its dignity, and shall be consecrated here among other monuments of that bewitching period, and amongst which one is so glad to lose one's self, and drink oblivion of an æra so very unlike. The awkward bigots to despotism in our time, have not Madame Se vigné's address, nor can, like her, paint an Indian idol, with an hundred hands, as graceful as the Apollo Belvidere.
“I shall soon want your protection in Westminster-ball against the Bishops, an odious race, whether clerical or laic. You heard how infamously I have been treated by Colonel and by Ned Bishop. Oh! they could not be worse if they were in orders! Yours;-HORACE WALPOLE.”
Augustan. How severe is your friend upon the clergy in the close of his letter! I have known many who reflected upon them, but have always found reasons, of various species, for distrusting either the soundness of their understanding, or the goodness of their hearts.
A sly creature this Welch judge of ours. No man, or woman either, better knows how to frame a sentence which she, to whom it is addressed, may interpret praise or satire, as her conscience shall dictate. Of this Janus-species is the paragraph in your last, which says, “ Your letter of to-day is, more than all its predecessors, above this visible diurnal sphere.”
I grant you, ascendant, and not ascension, ought to have been the word. It was certainly climbing above the visible diurnal sphere with a stiff knee; but I always write in too much haste to pause for best-possible verbalisms; and to my pen the prompt is oftener the poetical than the prose-expression. I may say, with Cowley to the muse,
6. When my new mind had no infasion known
So pray have patience when I come striding
along upon the stilts she gave me, because I cannot stay to find my shoes. As to amity, which you grumble at, 'tis a pretty, tender, femality word, that does not walk so tall as friendship-80 pray don't kick it down for a strutter.
Let our great Sully alone-no sneers at his ice, I intreat! That frosty constitution has, perhaps, braced the nerves of England's credit and consequence. What, lost Mark Antony the world ?” Answer to yourself the question, and play the tempter no more!
Court Dewes, Esg. At Paw, in Berne.
Lichfield, Dec. 3, 1787. I Am charmed by the alacrity with which you have performed, in so short a time, a journey of a thousand miles. It is an admirable sign that the Continental gales will be beneficial to your health, when, through a winter so softened, you shall breathe them serenely, and at leisure. How strange would it seem to us folk, who have been always fixed like a plant to one peculiar spot of