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ditions there named; which we have little hope (or rather, fear) of being complied with,-since the world is more than sufficiently supplied with persons whose chief talent lies in finding fault, and who are so conscious of the superiority of their claims on this score, and so desirous that others should be equally convinced of that superiority, that, if they cannot get paid for calling it into action, they are generous enough to perform the task gratis.
Here, then, beneath tbis great western arch of the saloon, we slip off our character of Cicerone, and having rested a moment to get rid of the feeling of it, descend the stairs of the Great Hall, and sally forth, alone, into the scene which has been all along beckoning us to its company from every window that we have passed ; and which invitation we have had much ado to say nay to: for, after all, it is the external part of Fonthill Abbey, and the natural objects appertaining to it, that are alone worth serious and particular attention ; and it is only when the spectator is alone, that this attention can be bestowed upon them.
It is, of course, not our intention to give any thing in the shape of a detailed description of grounds, the inner circle of which extends above seyen miles.
All our already transgressed limits will permit us to attempt is, to notice the general impression they are calculated to produce, in connexion with the magnificent building which crowns and overlooks them. And first of the building itself. There are various points of view from which it may be seen ; but none towards which it presents an aspect of more imposing and majestic beauty than that which is situated at the top of the great avenue on which the western doors abut. Standing on this spot, it rises before us with a look of solemn and stately grandeur, the effect of which has probably never been surpassed ; and which effect, if we mistake not, arises in a considerable degree from the peculiar character of the building, coupled with the situation in which we meet with it. It has all the individual as well as general character of one of those stupendous religious temples which have come down to us from Gothic times; but, unlike any one of those, it stands detached from all other of the works of man, on the summit of an immense fir-clad hill,which it crowns as with a diadem. Hitherto the idea of a great cathedral has come to us accompanied by all sorts of associations connected with cities, societies, and population; but here we meet with it, utterly silent and solitary: reigning, it is true; but reigning over the still realm of Nature alone,-like a queen on a desert island, without a people.
There is still another accidental feeling which contributes to the effect produced by this building. It is, as far as the memory of a general impression of mere size will enable us to judge, of greater extent than any other building of a similar character in Europe ; and when we come to enquire into the history of these latter, we find, when they are finished at all, that such a portion was completed under the direction of such an abbot, in the year so and so; that this wing was added a century or two after, by such a bishop, by the aid of funds collected in such and such a manner; and so of the rest : that all, in fact, have demanded the united means, talents, and spirit of several individuals, or public bodies, and the lives of several architects, to bring them to the state in which we now see them :—but that here is one, equal to most, if not all of them in extent, grandeur, and beauty, which has
sprung up at the command of one private individual and under the direction of one architect.
In threading the interminable mazes of the grounds surrounding this majestic mass of architecture, it is probable that something like the same complex and imaginative impression is received. Speaking for ourselves, we are sure that this is the case. The late owner of this place was at once the inventor, the creator, and the sole possessor of it. This, however, would have been nothing, if he had been like the usual possessors of such spots. But the author of Vathek is no common person; and the paths which he, and he alone, has trodden—where he has pondered his bitter thoughts, and dreamed his fantastic dreams, and mused his lofty imaginations; and whence he is now exiled for ever, only that they may be made a common thoroughfare for all the idle and curious--all the high and low vulgar of the land ;-these paths cannot be paced (at least by those who have a jot of sympathy with either the strengths or the weaknesses of our human nature) without feelings and associations which are perhaps the more, rather than the less active, because they are not easily to be communicated or explained—in fact, they cannot be paced without what was, and must long continue, the genius loci, being ever present in imagination, under such form or image as the mood or recollection of the moment may invest it with. For our parts (who are, it is true, somewhat addicted to the romantic in such matters), we have seldom wandered alone through the mazes of this spot without fancying by the side of us an inhabitant of the Halls of Eblis, permitted for awhile to visit these Elysian fields ; but still condemned to wear its right hand upon its left breast; or only allowed to lift it up now and then, to shew beneath, through the transparent flesh, the red heart burning like a flame of fire *.
We must now positively take leave of Fonthill at once, by saying, of the grounds generally, that as far as the mere planning and arrangement of them goes, they strike us as being nearer to the perfection of this sort of spot than any thing else we are acquainted with, or had previously formed a conception of. The spirit of them, be it understood, is that of pure Nature; not unassisted indeed, but entirely unadorned, and almost uncontrolled. Every thing she is capable of producing, that will live under our skies, is here collected together ; but scattered about with so artful a hand, that the art of it is entirely concealed. The usual natives of the forest, the heath, and the garden, here meet together in one spot, and form one beautiful and happy family; and all flourish and bloom together, by mutual consent. Roses blush from out the bosom of the heath furze; rhododendrons fling their gorgeous flowers at random among ferns and forest shrubs ; the frail woodbine hangs its dependent clusters upon the everlasting laurel ; and on the ground all sorts of rich (so called) garden flowers group themselves with those gentle families of the earth which we (happening to be “drest in a little brief authority” over them) have chosen to banish from our presence into the fields and hedges, and denominate weeds.
The above refers to particular spots that present themselves occasionally as you wander about. But the general character of the place,
** See the conclusion of Vathek.
as a whole, is that of one vast solitude, half wild, half cultivated, spreading itself over a plot of earth which includes every variety of natural beauty; here opening into rich lawns studded with lofty forest trees or low clumps of evergreens and underwood—there stretching away into interminable vistas through lines of larches and pines-now descending abruptly, and shewing, from between the topmost branches of the trees beneath, lovely lakes basking in the still light, and reflecting all the beauty about them; and now opening suddenly at a turn of the green path, and permitting a rich expanse of distant country to burst
upon the eye for a moment, only to be lost again, as you pass on, in the dark shadows of some deep fir-grove :—a solitude; but-(and this is one of its greatest charms,)“ a populous solitude :"--for here, all the animal tribe, save their would-be lord alone, have had permission to wander, unmolested, and uncontrolled, but by their own wills; and for them at least it has been, until lately, a new Paradise. Even now, when the idle crowds that at present haunt and disturb this peace-hallowed spot have quitted it for a few hours, and in the sweet mornings before they have broken in upon it, we have seen the hares sporting about within a few yards of our feet like kittens, and heard the birds sing to each other upon the bough above our head, as if the place were all their own. For this alone, if for nothing else, we shall never cease to regret that any cause, but the inevitable one of death, should have laid bare the secret beauties of Fonthill Abbey, and divorced them from the only possessor who could be said to have a natural right in them, in virtue of their having been purely the work of his own hand. *
SONNET, FROM FILICAJA.
On the Earthquakes of Sicily.
Qui pur foste o Città, ne in voi più resta."
No stone is left, to mark in letters rude
Where Syracuse—or where Catania stood.
Save the deep settled gloom of solitude,
Whose justice gave the judgment, shall not I
Rise froin the depths of darkness where ye lie,
* The Arabic figures in this paper refer to the nunbers in the descriptive catalogue of the building.
EXTERNAL APPEARANCE. There are few particulars in which the present generation has more decidedly established its superiority over the “wisdom of our ancestors,” than in the art of improving personal appearance. What between the blessed advantages of vaccination for the young, and the multiplied artificial resources of those more advanced in life, age and ugliness have been completely banished from good company. Chesterfield's eternal “Graces” have now fallen to "rude mechanicals” and country parsons. Instead of cultivating amiable manners, we task our efforts to adorn the person ; and our improvements, for the most part, regard much less the address than the dress. To be agreeable is nothing, unless at the same time we have an agreeable exterior ; and to succeed in society, integrity of body is a point of much more importance than integrity of mind. Now-a-days, indeed,
Dente si nigro fieres, vel uno
Turpior ungui, it is all over with you in the world of bon-ton ; a wrinkle is the sure mark of a quiz, and grey hairs a more infallible proof of rusticity than' the Yorkshire brogue, or the lisping Venetian Z of the county of Zomerzet. Whether this be one of the “death-despising" signs of the times, I cannot say. I should have had some hesitation in touching on the tender subject in the face of that scourge of reviewers, and Minos of magazines, Mr. I-, if I had not heard some of those who frequent “ the Caledonian" hint that his Reverence was himself, at least as far as regards his own person, an "elegans formarum spectutor.” Hoping, therefore, to escape the bitterness of his censure, I must frankly owr, that I think this tendency to put a good face upon matters, meritorious. I see no virtue in looking abominably, no self-denial in laying bare to public gaze a concealable deformity; no laudable forbearance in pale cheeks and lollow eyes. I confess I prefer a patched face to a patched conscience, and think a painted woman less morally offensive than a painted sepulchre. Dare I add, that I would rather hear a good preacher habited in that most happy imitation of luxuriant nature. technically called “ a head of hair," than a dolt in a cauliflower that would rival Paris, or give the fullest aid to “ frowning a schismatic, into insignificance."
The Duc de Duras very properly placed the majesty of the French throne in the royal kitchen; and Dr. Gastaldy* esteemed cookery at once the criterion and the end of civilization. Certain it is, if the gastrouomic science does not“ come home to men's business and bosoms," it does to their stomachs; and that is the next thing to it. Still, however, if we look to the history of inventions, and trace chronologically the progress of human science, we shall be compelled to make the dressing of our persons, rather than the dressing of our dinners, the touchstone of our advance towards the goal of civilized perfectibility. For men cooked beefsteaks before they wore breeches; and à fortiori, before they wore false teeth.
These matters were rolling in my brain the other day, precisely as I entered Mr. Colburn's library; and while I was deep in the perusal
# Almanach des Gourmands.
of a new pamphlet on political economy, my eye wandering from the page to the well-filled shelves which surrounded me, I fell into a profound reverie. The shop was in considerable bustle.
There were half-a-dozen carriages drawn up in front of the door, all of whose inmates were eagerly petitioning for the newest novelties. Two members of parliament were calling for copies of “ The Oracles ;" three country ladies were desirous of putting down their names for Sir Walter's last novel but two, the "sticking-place" of their actual stock of literature ; and another demure-looking female was whispering the librarian in a corner, something that I fancied had the sound of the last Cantos of Don Juan." These images, my previous thoughts, and the pamphlet I was reading, all worked together in my imagination. The division of labour, Adam Smith's pin-maker, the vast utility of Mr. Colburn's establishment, the rapid diffusion of knowledge it occasioned, its political and moral influence on society, were vaguely floating through my half-dormant intellect, when on a sudden, by the happiest association of ideas, I was seized with the notion of a Circulating Collection of supplemental Limbs and Organs. The idea was novel; it was judicious ; it promised great advantage to the community, and no small profit to the projector. How many individuals, I said to myself, does this vast and overgrown metropolis contain, whose circumstances will not allow them to purchase out and out a whole limb to themselves, who would gladly subscribe for its occasional use! How many are there that would be delighted to hire a cork leg to walk in their wife's funeral procession; or would be grateful for the opportunity of subscribing for a handsome Irishman's calf
, till they had married the widow! How many would acknowledge the convenience to a “ drapery Miss,” when far past her teens, of hiring a set of teeth by the ball-night! How many a poor Lieutenant, turned out of a "hell," with his pockets as bare as his upper lip, would rejoice to hire his whiskers for a single parade! How many a city-piece of lath and plaster would be contented to remain as thin
as a whipping-post all the week, could she sport a callipyge in the Park on a Sunday! How handy for a "crop-eared prentice" to step into his wig for a night on the return of the Kennington Assembly; or to mount a temporary eye-brow, when he would be critical in the pit of the Surrey Theatre! Thus also a cocked hat and an ear for music might go with the seven-and-sixpenny ticket on opera nights ; and an eye and an opera-glass might be let together, at the doors of panoramas and picture galleries.
Bright thoughts like these do not often occur in a man's life; and if they be not seized and acted upon at once when they pop into the head, he may pine in obscurity in a back garret, or die in a workhouse, with nobody to blame but himself. These are the “ tides in the affairs of men, which, taken at the turn, lead on to fortune," but which, when they are suffered to pass unheeded or neglected, are followed by a rapid and unvanquishable ebb, which infallibly
“ Leaves us at e'en on the bleak shore alone." For two hours I remained fixed on the spot where I stood, unconscious of all that was passing around me. I had," with unremitting diligence, long made the science of artificial" limbs and members, “where mechanical contrivance is requisite, my peculiar study," and “could supply any loss with an artificial or natural substitute in a