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huge river, and loses itself among the mountains that surround it; at its eastern extremity, where the river issues out of it, on a peninsula my lord has built a neat little town and church, with a high square tower; and just before it lies a small round island in the lake, covered with trees, amongst which are the ruins of some little religious house. Trees, by the way, grow here to great size and beauty. I saw four old chesnuts in the road, as you enter the park, of vast bulk and height; one beech tree I measured that was sixteen feet seven inches in the girth, and, I guess, near eighty feet in height. The gardener presented us with peaches, nectarines, and plums from the stone walls of the kitchen-garden (for there are no brick nor hot walls); the peaches were good, the rest well tasted, but scarce ripe; we had also golden pippins from an espalier, not ripe, and a melon very well flavoured and fit to cut: of the house I have little to say; it is a very good nobleman's house, handsomely furnished and well kept, very comfortable to inhabit, but not worth going far to see. Of the earl's taste I have not much more to say; it is one of those noble situations that man cannot spoil: it is however certain, that he has built an inn and a town just where his principal walks should have been, and in the most wonderful spot of ground that perhaps belongs to him. In this inn however we lay; and next day returning down the river four miles, we passed it over a fine bridge, built at the expense of the government, and continued our way to Logie-Rait, just below which, in a most charming scene, the Tummel, which is here the larger river of the two, falls into the Tay. We ferried over the Tummel in order to get into Marshal Wade's road, which leads from Dunkeld to Inverness, and continued our way along it toward the north : the road is excellent, but dangerous enough in conscience; the river often run
ning directly under us at the bottom of a precipice two hundred feet deep, sometimes masked indeed by wood that finds means to grow where I could not stand, but very often quite naked and without any defence; in such places we walked for miles together, partly for fear, and partly to admire the beauty of the country, which the beauty of the weather set off to the greatest advantage: as evening came on, we approached the pass of Gillikrankie, where, in the year 1745, the Hessians, with their prince at their head, stopped short, and refused to march a foot farther. Westibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus Orci stands the solitary mansion of Mr. Robertson, of Fascley; close by it rises a hill covered with oak, with grotesque masses of rock staring from among their trunks, like the sullen countenances of Fingal and all his family, frowning on the little mortals of modern days : from between this hill and the adjacent mountains, pent in a narrow channel, comes roaring out the river Tummel, and falls headlong down involved in white foam, which rises into a mist all round it: but my paper is deficient, and I must say nothing of the pass itself, the black river Garry, the Blair of Athol, Mount Beni-Gloe, my return by another road to Dunkeld, the Hermitage, the Stra-Bram, and the Rumbling Brig.: in short, since I saw the Alps, I have seen nothing sublime till now. In about a week I shall set forward, by the Stirling road, on my return all alone. Pray for me till I see you, for I dread Edinburgh and the itch, and expect to find very little in my way worth the perils I am to endure.
LI. M. R. G. R. A. Y TO MR. B.E.A.T.T.I.E. Glames-castle, Oct. 2, 1765. I MUST beg you would present my most grateful acknowledgments to your society for the public mark of their esteem, which you say they are disposed to confer on me.* I embrace, with so deep and just a sense of their goodness, the substance of that honour they do me, that I hope it may plead my pardon with them if I do not accept the form. I have been, Sir, for several years a member of the University of Cambridge, and formerly (when I had some thoughts of the profession) took a bachelor of laws' degree there; since that time, though long qualified by my standing, I have always neglected to finish my course, and claim my doctor's degree: judge, therefore, whether it will not look like a slight, and some sort of contempt, if I receive the same degree from a sister university. I certainly would avoid giving any offence to a set of men, among whom I have passed so many easy, and I may say, happy hours of my life; yet shall ever retain in my memory the obligations you have laid me under, and be proud of my connexion with the University of Aberdeen. It is a pleasure to me to find that you are not of. fended with the liberties I took when you were at Glames; you took me too literally, if you thought I meant in the least to discourage you in your pursuit of poetry: all I intended to say was, that if either vanity (that is, a general and undistinguishing desire of applause), or interest, or ambition, has any place in the breast of a poet, he stands a great chance in these our days of being severely disappointed; and yet, after all these passions are suppressed, there may remain in the mind of one, “ingenti perculsus amore” (and such I take you to be), incitements of a better sort, strong enough to make him write verse all his life, both for his own pleasure and that of all posterity. I am sorry for the trouble you have had to gratify my curiosity and love of superstition;" yet I heartily thank you. On Monday, Sir, I set forward on my way to England; where, if I can be of any little use to you, or should ever have the good fortune to see you, it will be a particular satisfaction to me. Lord Strathmore and the family here desire me to make their compliments to you.
*The Marischal College of Aberdeen had desired to know whether it would be agreeable to Mr. Gray to receive from them the degree of doctor of laws. Mr. Beattie wrote to him on the subject, and this is the answer.
P. S. Remember Dryden, and be blind to all his faults.f
LII. M.R. GRAY to DR. wha RtoN.
Pembroke-hall, March 5, 1766. I AM amazed at myself when I think I have never wrote to you; to be sure it is the sin of witchcraft, or something worse. Had I been married, like Mason, some excuse might be made for it; who (for the first time since that great event) has just thought fit to tell me that he never passed so happy a winter as the last, and this in spite of his anxieties, which he says might even make a part of his happiness; for his wife is by no means in health, she has a constant cough : yet he is assured her lungs are not affected, and that it is nothing of the consumptive kind. As to me, I have been neither happy nor miserable; but in a gentle stupefaction of mind, and very tolerable health of body hitherto. If they last, I shall not much complain. The accounts one has lately had from all parts, make me suppose you buried in the snow like the old Queen of Denmark. As soon as you are dug out, I should rejoice to hear your voice from the battlements of Old Park.
* Mr. Gray, when in Scotland, had been very inquisitive after the popular superstitions of the country; his correspondent sent him two books on this subject, foolish ones indeed, as might be expected, but the best that could be had; a History of Second Sight, and a History of Witches.
+ Mr. Beattie, it seems, in their late interview, had expressed himself with less admiration of Dryden that Mr. Gray thought his due. He told him in reply, “that if there was any excellence in his own numbers, he had learned it wholly from that great poet; and pressed him with great earnestness to study him, as his choice of words and versification were singularly happy and harmonious.”
Every thing is politics. There are no literary productions worth your notice, at least of our country. The French have finished their great Encyclopedia in seventeen volumes; but there are many flimsy articles very hastily treated, and great incorrectness of the press, There are now thirteen volumes of Buffon's Natural History; and he is not come to the monkeys yet, who are a numerous people. The Life of Petrarch has entertained me; it is not well written, but very curious, and laid together from his own letters and the original writings of the fourteenth century: so that he takes in much of the history of those obscure times, and the characters of many remarkable persons. There are two volumes quarto; and another, unpublished yet, will complete it.
Mr. Walpole writes me now and then a long and lively letter from Paris; to which place he went last year with the gout upon him, sometimes in his limbs, often in his stomach and head. He has got somehow well (not by means of the climate, one would think), goes to all public places, sees all the best company, and is very much in fashion. He says he sunk like Queen Eleanor at Charing-cross, and has risen again at Paris. He returns in April. I saw the lady you inquire after, when I was in London, and a prodigious fine one she is. She had a strong suspicion of rouge on her cheeks, a cage of foreign birds and a piping bullfinch at her elbow; two little dogs on a cushion in her lap, and a cockatoo on her shoulder; they were all exceeding glad to see me, and I them.
LIII. M. R. G R A Y TO DR. W H A RTON.
WHATEVER my pen may do, I am sure my thoughts
expatiate no where oftener, or with more pleasure, than