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once has the appearance of a newly-painted scene on the stage. Most of the houses look as if they had been kept in a case, and were now just uncovered for some public occasion. The Prince Regent has lately been staying at a palace he has here; and I inquired whether the houses had been newly beautified on this account, as the people are compelled to do in Spain when the king travels. All the answer I got to the inquiry was a “ No, Sir!" accompanied by a rude smile, I suppose at my ignorance in making it.
The houses are mostly built in rows or sets of from ten to twenty, each being a fac-simile of all the rest in the set; or rather each set looking like one long low house, with a door between every two or three windows. But what seems to me to give the peculiar effect, is the extreme cleanness and newness of every thing. The paint looks as if just laid on, the windows shine like crystal, the stone steps are as white as snow; and in some parts of the town the houses are faced with coloured and varnished tiles or bricks, which glitter so when the sun shines, that you cannot look at them steadily.
From what I can judge of the Regent's palace by seeing it at a distance, it seems to be built in a very strange taste indeed. The most conspicuous part of it is a large dome, almost as large as that of the Invalids, composed entirely of glass. The palace is nearly surrounded, and all the lower part of it hid, by a range of odd-looking buildings, which are the stables.
There are public libraries, where the people meet together in the evening; besides a theatre, assembly-rooms, exhibitions of various kinds, baths, public walks, &c., all included in a town containing not more than twelve thousand inhabitants. So that, if Brighton may be taken as a fair specimen of an English county town, we must have been strangely misinformed as to the people's love of amusement.
D. S. F.
Brighton, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 1817. You know part of our plan is never to be in a hurry; never to mistake moving for travelling ; or to arrive at a place for no other purpose than to quit it. I was too happy at home to have been induced to leave it in search of mere pleasure—even if pleasure were to be found in the rattle of wheels. I am certain I shall spend no day so happily while I am away, as I should have done at V-- with every thing that is dear to me about me. But I hope to return there, less unworthy of the love that will greet me, and capable of loving the givers of it better than ever-more I cannot. In the mean time, I shall continue to fulfil the condition on which we mutually consented to separate, namely, that I should tell you all I see and think and feel; in short, that I should talk to you as I do when we are sitting together on the terrace, or sauntering under the chesnut-trees; talk, by the way, which if you hear with delight, it is because your hearts are the chief listeners to it.
I made an odd mistake in my last, about the Regent's palace. I described the stables as the palace, and the palace as the stables. I suppose the architect, or his employers, just at the time of forming the plan, must have been reading the English Rabelais' account of a nation, in which horses governed and men served them ; and so raised the buildings according to that writer's ideas of the comparative nobility of those two races of animals. I was quite mistaken, too, in supposing this to be a fair specimen of an English provincial town. We find it has very peculiar features, and seems extremely well adapted to exhibit the manners, habits, &c. of almost all classes of the people. We shall therefore remain here for a few days.
Fashion, you must know, is as peremptory in her decrees here, as she is in France; and as effectually destroys all natural and simple tastes and habits of feeling. But both here and there, in spite of the remonstrances of her votaries, she seems obstinately determined, for her health's sake, to transfer her shrine, during the summer months, to a distance from the great cities and the metropolis. What is to be done in this case ? For a person of fashion to vegetate among green fields, trees, flowers, and running brooks, would doubtless be a most lamentable waste of life; but then not to be a person of fashion would be still worse. In this dilemma a compromise has been made between inclination and duty. Fashion forbids them to live in London, and habit prevents them from living out of it; so they contrive to live in and out of it at the same time, by establishing on the sea-coast, and in different parts of the island, certain little Londons, of which this at Brighton is said to be the most in favour-I suppose because it is the least of all others like the country. The centre of Paris, with its Tuileries and Champs Elysées, is a garden of Eden to it. The country, for leagues round, is one uninterrupted range of brown, barren, chalk-hills; on which a few lean dirty-looking sheep tantalize their appetites by nibbling at the dry turf. Nature has, to be sure, scattered a tree here and there, to shew that the want of vegetation is not her fault; and a few spots of land have been cultivated ; — but I imagine this has been done only to make the rest look more barren (that is to say more beautiful) by the contrast—as coquettes put black patches on their faces, to make the white and red look more brilliant. Never have our own vinecovered hills and delicious valleys of Languedoc shone out upon my memory in absence, with such luxuriance as during the few days I have been here. But they tell us we must not judge of the face of their island by any thing we see in the near neighbourhood of this town; and have referred us to a spot about two leagues distant, for a most extensive and beautiful view of the adjacent country. We intend going there to-morrow. Till then, adieu.
Brighton, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 1817. We have just returned from visiting what is called the Devil's Dyke. The view from the top of this singular place has a very peculiar character; and is certainly most beautiful. The road to the spot from whence the view is seen is admirably calculated to enhance its beauties by direct and sudden contrast. It lies, at first, through corn-fields; but all the latter part is what they call here Downs : that is, an immense tract of country undulating on all sides, so that you have nowhere a single receding distance, as far as the eye can reach ; but several separate distances, each distinctly marked, but more and more faintly, as they recede behind each other; and all shifting and varying with the position of the eye, or the rise and fall of the track (for there
is no road) over which you are passing. The whole is covered with a short brown turf, and unbroken by a single tree or a single habitation : and, with the exception of a view of the sea now and then on the left, bounded only by the horizon. The effect of this, besides being exceedingly fine in itself
, adds greatly to that of the noble prospect which, at a turn of the hill, bursts upon the eye suddenly, and at once.
The character of this view is, in almost every thing, different from those we are accustomed to in France; but if it wants their grandeur and variety, it is still extremely beautiful. The spectator stands on the ridge of a range of Downs, such as I have been describing to you, which seem, as far as the eye can reach on either side, to form an inaccessible barrier to the sea.
Smooth brown turf covers their almost perpendicular declivity down to the very foot; and then the country lies before the eye in one immense flat, or plain, which, in the front, stretches out interminably, till the blue distance becomes lost in the blue sky. Nothing can be more luxuriant than the cultivation with which the whole of this plain is covered ; and yet it is totally different from any thing I have seen before. That part which lies near enough for the eye to distinguish the detail of it, consists of square patches of from one to three or four arpents*, completely divided from each other by thick hedge-rows. This, together with the wood which is scattered about in small quantities everywhere, gives to the scene the appearance of a vast garden-at this season almost of a flower-garden, from the endless variety of tints with which the whole is covered. To complete the effect of the picture, narrow roads wind about like the course of a river, and lead to little villages, which are seen here and there, with their small simple-looking church-spires rising out of clumps of trees, which seem to have been planted there not by man, but by Nature. This appearance, both of the roads and the trees, is almost unknown with us; but it is extremely pleasing. Indeed, I am half-inclined not to confess to you how very much I have been delighted by this view; for, if I have succeeded in giving you any thing like a distinct idea of it, you will see how entirely it differs from our own favourite ones. Here are no forest-crowned mountains rising majestically in the distance; no laughing valleys which seem to exult in their own beauty; no rivers winding and glittering between their banks, till they become lost to the eye, but not to the fancy; no vine-covered hills jutting out in the foreground on either side, round the corners of which the imagination is enticed to wander, and paint for itself pictures even more lovely than the one it leaves. Here every thing is seen; but then neither the eye nor the mind has a desire to wander: they feel as if they could rest for ever on the beautiful creation which seems to lie breathing and basking in the sunshine before them. You know I am accustomed to find, or to fancy, everywhere in external nature symbols of the mind. Our favourite French landscapes seem, then, like the song of the nightingale, to talk of joy. This English one, like the voice of the stock-dove, seems to breathe and to murmur of happiness. The one laughs outwardly like a bacchante of Titian ; the other smiles inwardly, like a Madonna of Corregio. Adieu for a day or two.
CASANOVA's visIT TO HALLER AND VOLTAIRE. [The following article is extracted from a MS. consisting of 600 closely-written sheets that fell in the hands of the Editor of the “ Ura
a periodical publication at Leipsic, and was written by J.J. Casanova. It includes a period of nearly fifty years, commencing with the year 1730 ; and contains a history of the author's life, from his youth to his latter years, with notices of the principal characters with whom he became acquainted in all the great courts of Europe. The writer was brother to Casanova, late Director of the Royal Academy of Arts in Dresden, whose name is mentioned in Mensel's “Gelehrtes Deutschland;" or, “ The History of the Learned Germans of the 18th Century." The ancestors of J.J. Casanova are said to have been Spaniards, but he himself states Venice to have been his birth-place. He received his first education at Padua ; he then entered a seminary, and again returned to Venice. In 1743 he went to Constantinople, where, besides others, he formed an interesting acquaintance with Bonneval. Twelve years after, i. e. in 1755, we find him again at Venice, confined in the lead prisons, from which, by the most astonishing efforts, he escaped in 1756. In 1757 he went to Paris, and after a variety of adventures he removed in 1757 to Spain. During a journey which he made thence to the South of France, he passed through Aix in Provence, in his way to Italy. At Madrid he became acquainted with the Count of Aranda, the Duke Medina Celi, and with Olavides; but he was induced, or rather obliged, for various reasons, to leave that country. In 1774, after having passed eighteen years in travelling, he was declared free by the Republic of Venice. From the year 1785 he lived at Dux, in Bohemia, as librarian to the Count Waldstein, and completely gave himself up to the study of the sciences till his death, which was nearly at the end of the century.]
I was introduced to Haller by letters of recommendation. He was a man of tall stature, being about six feet high, and his features displayed a perfect symmetry.
Whatever can be reasonably expected from a hospitable man, was offered to me by this great philosopher. Whenever I put a question to him, he displayed to me his knowledge with a correctness and precision that merited my warmest admiration. This was done with such modesty, that a man like myself might have imagined it was carried to excess. He appeared to be receiving instruction himself, when he was in reality conveying instruction to me. When he questioned me on any scientific subject, there was always enough in the question to guide me, and to render it impossible to answer him erroneously.
Haller was eminent as a philosopher, a physician, and an anatomist. Like Morgagni, whom he called his preceptor, he had made many discoveries in physiology. He shewed me several letters of Morgagni and Pontevedra, who were Professors of the same University. Pontevedra had directed his attention principally to botany: Haller had also made it his study. The conversation we held concerning these distinguished men, by whom I also had been instructed, induced him to complain of Pontevedra. His letters, he observed, gave him much trouble, partly because it was difficult to decipher his writing, and partly because he wrote in obscure Latin.
Haller had just received, from a member of the Academy of Berlin, the intelligence, that the king of Prussia, after the receipt of his letter, had given up his intention of suppressing the Latin language in his dominions. “A sovereign," said Haller, in his letter to this monarch, “ who should succeed in banishing from the republic of letters the language of Cicero and Horace, would erect an eternal monument of his own ignorance. If the learned must have a language for communicating their discoveries to each other, the Latin language is of all the fittest; for the dominion of the Greek and Arabic has ceased."
Haller was also a great lyric poet, and an able statesman: his country derived great advantages from his abilities. His morals were distinguished by a purity that is very rare. He once said to me, that the best means of teaching morality to others, is to prove its value by our own example. So good-a citizen could not but be at the same time an excellent father to his family; and such I found him. He had contracted a second marriage; both his wife and daughter were very interesting the latter, then in her eighteenth year, took no share in the conversation during dinner, except that she occasionally addressed a few words in a low voice, to a young gentleman who sat next to her. After dinner I asked Haller, who this young man was, and he informed me, he was the tutor of his daughter. I said, " It is not improbable that such a tutor and such a pupil may feel a mutual inclination for each other.” He replied, “ Let it be so if Heaven ordains it.” This answer was so dignified and wise, that I reproached myself for having made such a hasty observation ; and, in order to change the subject, I opened an octavo volume of Haller's works, and seeing the words : “ Utrum memoria post mortem, dubito," I said, “ You, then, consider the recollection as no essential part of the soul ?" And thus I obliged the philosopher to give a qualified explanation ; for he did not wish his orthodoxy to be doubted. I inquired during dinner, whether Voltaire often visited him? He smiled, and answered :— Vetabo, qui Cereris sacrum vulgarit arcanum, sub iisdem sit trabibus. During the three days I remained with him, I did not again venture to converse with him on religious subjects. When I observed, that I rejoiced at my approaching acquaintance with the great Voltaire, he answered, without appearing to be in the least hurt at my observation, “ Voltaire is a man whose acquaintance I had cause to seek, but many persons have found him, contrary to the laws of physics, greater when beheld at a distance."
Haller was very abstemious, although his table was abundantly provided. His usual drink was water ; but at the desert he generally took a small glass of spirits, which he poured into a large glass of water. He related many things of Boerhaave, whose favourite pupil he had been. After Hippocrates, he considered him as the greatest physician; and, as a surgeon, he considered him superior to Hippocrates and all others. This induced me to ask him, why Boerhaave himself had not been able to attain an advanced age. He replied, “ Quia contra vim mortis nullum est medicamen in hortis." Had not Haller been born a physician, a poisoned wound, which no other person could heal, would have caused his death; but he cured himself by washing the wound with a lotion, which he made by dissolving in his own urine a certain portion of common salt.