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Suzon. Low, yet precipitous hills, covered with vines or woods, and with streams, meadows, and poplars, at the bottom.
Sunday, September 1st.—Leave Rouvray, pass Aoxerre, where we dine ; a pretty town, and arrive, at two o'clock, at Villeneuve le Guiard.
Monday 2d.—From Villeneuve le Guiard, we arrive at Fontainebleau. The scenery around this palace is wild and even savage. The soil is full of rocks, apparently granite, which on every side break through the ground. The hills are low, but precipitous and rough. The valleys, equally wild, are shaded by forests. In the midst of this wilderness stands the palace. Some of the apartments equal in magnificence anything that I could conceive. The roofs are fretted with gold, and the canopies of velvet. From Fontainebleau we proceed to Versailles, in the route towards Rouen. We arrive at Versailles at nine.
Tuesday 3d.—We saw the palace and gardens of Versailles and le Grand et Petit Trianon. They surpass Fontainebleau. The gardens are full of statues, vases, fountains, and colonnades. In all that essentially belongs to a garden they are extraordinarily deficient. The orangery is a stupid piece of expense. There was one orangetree, not apparently so old, sown in 1442. We saw only the gardens and the theatre at the Petit Trianon. The gardens are in tho English taste, and extremely pretty. The Grand Trianon was open. It is a summer palace, light, yet magnificent. We were unable to devote tho time it deserved to the gallery of paintings here. There was a portrait of Madame de la Valliere, the repentant mistress of Louis XIV. She was melancholy, but exceedingly beautiful, and was represented as holding a skull, and sitting before a crucifix, pale, and with downcast eyes.
We then went to the great palace. The apartments are unfurnished; but even with thiB disadvantage, are more magnificent than those of Fontainebleau. They are lined with marble of various colours, whose pedestals and capitals are gilt, and the ceiling is richly gilt with compartments of painting. The arrangement of these materials has in them,
it is true, something effeminate and royal. Could a Grecian architect have commanded all the labour and money which was expended on Versailles, he would have produced a fabric which the whole world has never equalled. We saw the Hall of Hercules, the balcony where the King and tho Queen exhibited themselves to the Parisian mob. The people who showed us through the palace, obstinately refused to say anything about the Revolution. We could not even find out in which chamber the rioters of the 10th August found the king. We saw the Salle d'Opera, where are now preserved the portraits of the kings. There was the race of the house of Orleans, with the exception of Egalite, all extremely handsome. There was Madame de Maintenon, and beside her a beautiful little girl, the daughter of La Valliere. The pictures had been hidden during the Revolution. We saw the Library of Louis XVI. The librarian had held some place in the ancient court near Marie-Antoinette. He returned with the Bourbons, and was waiting for some better situation. He showed us a book which he had preserved during the Revolution. It was a book of paintings, representing a tournament at the Court of Louis XIV.; and it seemed that the present desolation of France, the fury of the injured people, and all the horrors to which they abandoned themselves, stung by their long sufferings, flowed naturally enough from expenditures so immense, as must have been demanded by the magnificence of this tournament. Tho vacant rooms of this palace imaged well the hollow show of monarchy. After seeing these things we departed toward Havre, and slept at Auxerre.
Wednesday 4th.—We passed tlirough Rouen, and saw the cathedral, an immense specimen of the most costly and magnificent gothic. Tho interior of the church disappoints. We saw the burial-place of Richard Cceur dc Lion and his brother. The altar of the church is a fine piece of marble. Sleep at Yvetot.
Thursday 5th.—We arrive at Havre, and wait for the packet—wind contrary.
LETTERS FROM ITALY.
To Lbioh Hi Nt, Esq..
Lyons, March 22, 1818.
My Dear Friend,—Why did you not wake me that night before we left England, you and Marianne? I take tliis as rather an unkind piece of kindness in you ; but which, in consideration of the six hundred miles between us, I forgive.
We have journeyed towards the spring, that has been hastening to meet us from the south ; and (hough our weather was at first abominable, we have now warm sunny days, and soft winds, and a sky of deep azure, the most serene I ever saw. The heat in this city to-day, is like that of London in the midst of summer. My spirits and health sympathize in the change. Indeed, before I left London, my spirits were as feeble as my health, and I had demands on them which I found it difficult to supply. I have read u Foliage:" with most of the poems I am already familiar. What a delightful poem the "Nymphs" is! It is truly poctical9 in the intense and emphatic Bcnse of the word. If six hundred miles were not between us, I should say what pity tliat glib was not omitted, and that the poem is not as faultless as it is beautiful. But, for fear I should spoil your next poem, 1 will not let slip a word upon the subject.
Give my love to Marianne and her sister, and tell Marianne she defrauded me of a kiss by not waking me when she went away, and that, as I have no better mode of conveying it, I must take the best, and ask you to pay the debt. When shall I see you again? Oh, that it might be in Italy! I confess that the thought of how long we may be divided makes me very mleancholy. Adieu, my dear friends. Write soon.
Ever most affectionately yours, P. H. S.»
• In a brief journal I kept at that time, 1 find a few pages in Shelley's handwriting, descriptive of the passage over the mountains of Les Echelles: "March 26, Thursday. We travel towards the mountains, and begin to enter the valleys of the Alp*. The country becomes covered again with verdure and cultivation, and white chateaux and scattered cottages among woods of old oak and walnut trees. The vines are here peculiar])- pictur
Milan, April 181S. My Dear P.—Behold us arrived at the end of our journey—that is, within a few miles of it— because we design to spend the summer on the shore of the Lake of Como. Our journey wa* somewhat painful from the cold—and in no other manner interesting until we passed the Alps: of
esque ; they arc trcllissed upon immense stakes, and the trunks of them are moss-covered and hoary with age. Unlike the French vines, which creep lowly on the ground, they form rows of interlaced bower*, which, when the leaves are green and the red grapes are hanging among those hoary branches, will afford a delightful shadow to those who sit upon the moss underneath. The vices an sometimes planted in the open fields, and sometimes among lofty orchards of apple and pear trees, the twins arf which were just becoming purple with the bursting blossoms.
We dined at Les Echelles, a village at the foot of the mountain of the same name, the boundaries of France and Savoy. Before this we had been stopped at Peat Uonvoisin, where the legal limits of the French and Sardinian territories are placed. We here heard that a Milanese bad been sent back all the way to Lyons, because his passport was unauthorised by the Sardinian Cunsul, a few days before, and that we should be subjected bi the same treatment. We, in respect to the character of our nation I suppose, were Buffered to pass. Our book*, however, were, after a long discussion, sent to Chambery, to be submitted to the censor ; a priest, who admits nodus; of Rousseau, Voltaire, &o-, into the dominions of the tuag of Sardinia, All such books are burned.
After dinner we ascended Les Echelles, winding along a road cut through perpendicular rocks, of immecsa elevation, by Charles Emanuel, Duke of Savoy, tn 15*3. The rocks, which cannot be less than a thousand fert in perpendicular height, sometimes overhang the road oe, each bide, and almost shut out the sky. The scene » like that described in the Prometheus of JEschylus. Vast rifts and caverns in the granite precipices, wintry mountains with ice and snow above ; the loud sounds of unseen waters within the caverns, and walla of toppling rucks, only to be sealed as he describes, by the winged chariot of the ocean nymphs.
Under the dominion of this tyranny, the inhabitant! of the fertile valleys, bounded by these mountains, are taa state of most frightful poverty and disease. At the foot %4 this ascent, were out into the rocks in several (daces. stories of the misery of the inhabitants, to move the denpassion of the traveller. One old man, lame and blind, crawled out of a hole in tho rock, wet with the perprtml melting of the snows of above, and dripping like a showvrbath.
The country, as we descended to Chambery, contioaed as beautiful; though marked with somewhat of a nf:cr character than before , we arrived a little after night-Call" course I except the Alps themselves; but no sooner had we arrived at Italy, than the loveliness of the earth and the serenity of the sky made the greatest difference in my sensations. I depend on these things for life ; for in the smoke of cities, and the tumult of human kind, and the chilling fogs and rain of our own country, I can hardly be said to live. With what delight did I hear the woman, who conducted us to see the triumphal arch of Augustus at Susa, speak the clear and complete language of Italy, though half unintelligible to me, after that nasal and abbreviated cacophony of the French! A ruined arch of magnificent proportions in the Greek taste, standing in a kind of road of green lawn, overgrown with violets and primroses, and in the midst of stupendous mountains, and a blonde woman, of light and graceful manners, something in tho style of Fuseli's Eve, were the first things we met in Italy.
This city is very agreeable. We went to the opera last night—which is a most splendid exhibition. The opera itself was not a favourite, and the singers very inferior to our own. But the ballet, or rather a kind of melodrame or pantomimic drama, was tho most splendid spectacle I ever saw. We have no Miss Melanie here—in every other respect, Milan is unquestionably superior. The manner in which language is translated into gesture, the complete and full effect of the whole as illustrating the history in question, the unaffected selfpossession of each of the actors, even to the children, made this choral drama more impressive than I could have conceived possible. The story is Otiullo, and strange to say, it left no disagreeable impression.
I write, but I am not in the humour to write, and you must expect longer, if not more entertaining, letters soon—that is, in a week or so—when I am'a little recovered from my journey. Pray tell us all the news with regard to our own offspring, whom we left at nurse in England; as well as those of our friends. Mention Cobbett and politics too—and Hunt—to whom Mary is now writing— and particularly your own plans and yourself. You shall hear more of me and my plans soon. My health is improved already—and my spirits something—and I have many literary schemes, and one in particular—which I thirst to be settled that I may begin. I have ordered Oilier to send you some sheets &c., for revision.
Adieu.—Always faithfully yours,
Milan, ApriliO, 181R
My Dear P.—I had no conception that the distance between us, measured by time in respect of letters, was so great. I have but just received yours dated the 2nd—and when you will receive mine written from this city somewhat later than the same date, I cannot know. I am sorry to hear that you have been obliged to remain at Marlow; a certain degree of society being almost a necessity of life, particularly as we are not to see you this summer in Italy. But this, I suppose, must be as it is. I often revisit Marlow in thought. The curse of this life is, that whatever is once known, can never be unknown. You inhabit a spot, which before you inhabit it, is as indifferent to you as any other spot upon earth, and when, persuaded by some necessity, you think to leave it, you leave it not ; it clings to you—and with memories of things, which, in your experience of them, gave no such promise, revenges your desertion. Time flows on, places are changed; friends who were with us, are no longer with us ; yet what has been seems yet to be, but barren and stripped of life. See, I have sent you a study for Nightmare Abbey.
Since I last wrote to you we have been to Como, looking for a house. This lake exceeds any thing
I ever beheld in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests. We sailed from the town of Como to a tract of country called the Tremezina, and saw the various aspects presented by that part of the lake. The mountains between Como and that village, or rather cluster of villages, are covered on high with ches
II tit forests (the eating chesnuts, on which the inhabitants of the country subsist in time of scarcity), which sometimes descend to the very verge of the lake, overhanging it with their hoary branches. But usually the immediate border of this shore is composed of laurel-trees, and bay, and myrtle, and wild fig-trees, and olives which grow in the crevices of the rocks, and overhang the caverns, and shadow the deep glens, which are filled with the flashing light of the waterfalls. Other flowering shrubs, which I cannot name, grow there also. On high, the towers of village churches are seen white among the dark forests. Beyond, on tho opposite shore, which faces tho south, the mountains descend less precipitously to the lake, and although they are much higher, and
some covered with perpetual snow, there intervenes between them and the lake a range of lower hills, which have glens and rifts opening to the other, such as I should fancy the abysses of Ida or Parnassus. Here are plantations of olive, and orange, and lemon trees, which are now so loaded with fruit, that there is more fruit than leaves,— and vineyards. This shore of the lake is one continued village, and the Milanese nobility have their villas here. The union of culture and the untameable profusion and loveliness of nature is here so close, that the line where they are divided can hardly be discovered. But the finest scenery is that of the Villa Pliniana; go called from a fountain which ebbs and flows every three hours, described by the younger Pliny, which is in the court-yard. This house, which was once a magnificent palace, and is now half in ruins, we are endeavouring to procure. It is built upon terraces raited from the bottom of the lake, together with its garden, at the foot of a semicircular precipice, overshadowed by profound forests of chesnut. The scene from the colonnade is the most extraordinary, at once, and the most lovely that eye ever beheld. On one side is the mountain, and immediately over you are clusters of cypress-trees of an astonishing height, which seem to pierce the sky. Above you, from among the clouds, as it were, descends a waterfall of immense size, broken by the woody rocks into a thousand channels to the lake. On the other side is seen the blue extent of the lake and the mountains, speckled with sails and spires. The apartments of the Pliniana are immensely large, but ill furnished and antique. The terraces, which overlook the lake, and conduct under the shade of such immense laurel-trees as deserve the epithet of Pythian, are most delightful. We staid at Como two days, and have now returned to Milan, waiting the issue of our negotiation about a house. Como is only six leagues from Milan, and its mountains are seen from the cathedral.
This cathedral is a most astonishing work of art It is built of wihte marble, and cut into pinnacles of immense height, and the utmost delicacy of workmanship, and loaded with sculpture. The efTect of it, piercing the solid blue with those groups of dazzling spires, relieved by the sereno depth of this Italian heaven, or by moonlight when the stars seem gathered among those clustered shapes, is beyond any thing I had imagined architecture capable of producing. The ulterior, though very sublime, is of a more earthly character, and with its stained glass and massy granite columns overloaded with antique figures, and tho silver lamps, that burn for ever under the canopy of lilnck cloth
beside the brazen altar and the marble fretwork of the dome, give it the aspect of some gorgeous sepulchre. There is one solitary spot among those aisles, behind the altar, where the light of day is dim and yellow under the storied window, which I have chosen to visit, and read Dante there.
I have devoted this summer, and indeed the next year, to the composition of a tragedy on the subject of Tasso's madness, which I find upon inspection is, if properly treated, admirably dimmatic and poetical. But, you will say, I have no dramatic talent; very true, in a certain sense; but I have taken the resolution to see what kind of a tragedy a person without dramatic talent could write. It shall be better morality than Fazio, and better poetry than Bertram, at least. You tell me nothing of Rhododaphne, a book from which, I confess, I expected extraordinary success.
Who lives in my house at Marlow now, or what is to be done with it 1 I am seriously persuaded that the situation was injurious to my health, or I should be tempted to feel a very absurd interest in who is to be its next possessor. The expense of our journey here has been very considerable—but we are now living at the hotel here, in a kind of Pension, which is very reasonable in respect of price, and when we get into a menage of our own, we havo every reason to expect that we shall experience something of the boasted cheapness of Italy. The finest bread, made of a sifted flour, the whitest and the best I ever tasted, is only <mi English penny a pound. All the necessaries of life bear a proportional relation to this. But then the luxuries, tea, &c, are very dear,—and the Engiub, as usual, arc cheated in a way that is quite ridiculous, if they have not their wits about them. We do not know a single human being, and the open, until last night, has been always the same. Lord Byron, we hear, has taken a house for three years, at Venice ; whether we shall see him or not, I do not know. The number of F.ngli»h who pass through this town is very great. They ought to be in their own country in the present crisis. Their conduct is wholly inexcusable. The people here, though inoffensive enough, aeem both in body and soul a miserable race. The men are hardly men; they look like a tribe of stupid and shrivelled slaves, and I do not think that I hare seen a gleam of intelligence in the countenance i-f man since I passed the Alps. The women m enslaved countries arc always better than the men; but they have tight-laced figures, and figure* and mien which express (Ohow unlike the French:) a mixture of the coquette and prude, which reminds me of the worst characteristics of the English.* Everything but humanity is in much greater perfection here than in France. The cleanliness and comfort of the inns is something quite English. The country is beautifully cultivated; and altogether, if you can, as one ought always to do, find your happiness in yourself, it is a most delightful and commodious place to live in.
Adieu.—Your affectionate friend,
Milan, April sou, mm. Mt Dear P.,—I write, simply to tell you, to direct your next letters, Poste Restante, Pisa. We have engaged a vetturino for that city, and leave Milan to-morrow morning. Our journey will occupy six or seven days.
Pisa is not six miles from the Mediterranean, with which it communicates by the river Arno. We shall pass by Piacenza, Parma, Bologna, the Apennines, and Florence, and I will endeavour to tell you something of these celebrated places in my next letter; but I cannot promise much, for, though my health is much improved, my spirits are unequal, and seem to desert me when I attempt to write.
Pisa, they say, is uninhabitable in the midst of summer—we shall do, therefore, what other people do, retire to Florence, or to tho mountains. But I will write to you our plans from Pisa, when I shall understand them better myself.
Yon may easily conjecture the motives which led us to forego the divine solitude of Como. To me, whose chief pleasure in lifo is the contemplation of nature, you may imagine how great is this loss.
Let us hear from you once a fortnight. Do not forget those who do not forget you.
Adieu.—Ever most sincerely yours,
Livorno, June 5, 1818. Mt Dear P.,—We have not heard from you since the middle of April.—that is, we have received only one letter from you since our departure from
* These Impressions of Shelley, with regard to the Italians, formed in ignorance, and with precipitation, became altogether altered after a longer stay in Italy. lie quickly discovered the extraordinary intelligence and genius of this wonderful people, amidst the ignorance in which they are carefully kept by their rulers, and tho vices, fostered by a religious system, which theec same ruWra hare used as their most successful engine.
England. It necessarily follows that some accident has intercepted them. Address, in future, to the care of Mr. Gisborne, Livorno—and I shall receive them, though sometimes somewhat circuitously, yet always securely.
We left Milan on the 1st of May, and travelled across the Apennines to Pisa. This part of the Apennine is far less beautiful than the Alps; the mountains are wide and wild, and the whole scenery broad and undetermined—tho imagination cannot find a home in it. The plain of the Milanese, and that of Parma, is exquisitely beautiful—it is like one garden, or rather cultivated wilderness; because the corn and the meadow-grass grow under high and thick trees, festooned to one another by regular festoons of vines. On the seventh day we arrived at Pisa, where we remained three or four days. A large disagreeable city, almost without inhabitants. We then proceeded to this great trading town, where we have remained a month, and which, in a few days, we leave for the Bagni di Lucca, a kind of watering-place situated in the depth of the Apennines; the scenery surroundiug this village is very fine.
We have made some acquaintance with a very amiable and accomplished lady, Mrs. Gisborne, who is the sole attraction in this most unattractive of cities. We had no idea of spending a month here, but she has made it even agreeable. Wo shall see something of Italian society at the Bagni di Lucca, where the most fashionable people resort.
When yon send my parcel—which, by-the-bye, I should request you to direct to Mr. Gisborne— I wish you could contrive to enclose the two last parts of Clarke's Travels, relating to Greece, and belonging to Hookham. You know I subscribe there still—and I have determined to take the Examiner here. You would, therefore, oblige me, by sending it weekly, after having read it yourself, to the same direction, and so clipped, as to make as little weight as possible.
I write as if writing where perhaps my letter may never arrive.
With every good wish from all of us,
Believe mo most sincerely yours,
P. B. S.
You cannot know, as some friends in England do, to whom my silence is still more inexcusable, that this silence is no proof of forgetfulncss or neglect.