[from A Six Day Tour, 1836]
" Aurora now, fair daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkles with rosy light the dewy morn."
WITH what delight do we exchange the bright yet confused dream of anticipated pleasure for its actual enjoyment! Never did delphic virgin worship the morning radiance of the bright Apollo with purer fervency of devotion. I awoke after a refreshing sleep, and peeped through my windows over the beautiful shrubbery at the north of the castle, not a little gratified in having my chamber so delightfully situated; for such, I understand, is the crowded state of the hotel at this moment, that many gentlemen are contented to sleep in the cellars, (in good rooms, to be sure, but under ground,) in temporary accomodations in the billiard room, or the bath, rather than forego the attractions of the castle.
People are not over fastidious in watering-places, and I should almost recommend American beds under such circumstances. According to an old French traveller's account of America, it was not an unusual thing in that country for a dozen people to sleep together; and the way they managed was this a large square room was generally allotted by the host for the travellers' bed, which was circular, and about twelve feet diameter, having a post in the middle; to this they all put their feet and sleep comfortably enough, like the spokes in a wheel.
The castle is situated in the centre of the bay of Douglas, surrounded by about thirty five acres of beautiful gardens and pleasure grounds; but to have a proper view of its site and aspect, we must climb to the summit of yon projecting rock, which overhangs the shrubbery, known by the name of the Falcon's Cliff, now the property of Sir William Hillary, Bart.; and by many a lovely walk do we wind up to this beetling crag, amply repaid, however, by the prospect therefrom.
The late Duke of Atholl was very particular about his breed of falcons; for a pair of falcons was the original homage exacted from the lords of Man to the kings of England, as the tenure of their possession; and from some circumstance or other connected with these birds, this rock was named by the late Duke "The Falcon's Cliff," by which it is now known.
The plunging view we have from hence is immediately upon the shrubbery. Yon terrace or mound of earth which lines the sea wall, the favorite promenade of the castle, was thrown up with a view of protecting the young plantations behind from the cutting effects of the south-west winds j and under the shelter and protection of this has sprung up in rich and rapid luxuriance the beautiful shrubbery below, among which you may perceive (as a proof of the mild and genial climate) the myrtle, the arbutus, the fuschia, the hydrangea, and other exotics, attaining a perfection scarce known on the other side of the water.
And immediately under our feet, beneath those tall elms whose tops are far below us, is the bowling green, which has not, however, been used as such since the opening of the castle as an hotel; but, in its agreeable privacy and seclusion, offering many enticements to the lovers of this sport. Another year may possibly see at the foot of those majestic trees some bower or harbour dedicated to this service.
On our left is a lonely and sequestered glen, where many a love-tale produces its desired effect on the ear of lovely maiden. Through the midst babbles a small brook or rivulet, (in the early spring lined with the violet and the primrose,) which, under the arch of a picturesque bridge, whose battlements we but just descry below, throws its waters, in a beautiful cascade of sixty or seventy feet, over a precipitous channel, past the beautiful "Old English" mansion of James M`Crone, Esq.
On our right we have the extensive and wellgrown woods which form the back-ground of the castle, intersected by numerous walks; each offering to the stranger separate charms, and fresh combinations of landscape beauty. Still on our right, a little beyond the castle, is another glen, at the top of which is situated the productive garden which supplies the hotel with every variety of fruit; and such, indeed, is its general forwardness, as to be able to supply the Liverpool and Dublin markets with the best and earliest fruit of the season.
Of a fine mellow evening, among these woods and walksthrough these glens and gardens on the terrace and on the lawnare to be seen in every direction groups of the young, and gay, and beautiful, brushing with light foot the first gentle dew of the green sward, or with merry hearts plucking the gay flowers profusely scattered around them.
" And oh ! the loveliness at times we see
In momentary gliding; the soft grace
The youth, the bloom, the beauty, which agree
In many a nameless being, Ye retrace,
Whose course and home we know not, nor shall know,
Like the lost Pleiad, seen no more below."
The man of rank and the votary of fashion, the mirthful citizen and the wealthy merchant, all consenting for a time to enjoy life, and throw behind them the cares and troubles of the world
The Castle itself, except from its magnitude and interior finishing, is not an object of much interest; and has externally no marked feature or dignity to rivet the eye. From the summit of the tower, which rises from the centre, generally hangs the large flag,
So idly, that rapt fancy deemeth it
A metaphor of peace."
Yon young and tender plantation beyond the Castle is the boundary of the establishment; beyond which is what was formerly called the Castle Lawn, now formed into building lots, which are rapidly being taken up with houses: at the termination of the lawn, the gates, lodges and stables; in the extremity of the bay, the town, sheltered from the south-west by the head, at the point of which is the lighthouse; and in a direct line intervening between the lighthouse and the Castle, the rock and tower of St. Mary's, in the middle of the bay.
We will now descend again to the Castle, whence, after we have broken our fast, we can commence our rambles.
Castle Mona was built by the late Duke of Atholl, and completed in the year 1802, costing no less a sum than £30,000. It was opened with great solemnity; the House of Keys, the Clergy, and all the authority and respectability of the isle partaking of the splendid entertainment on that occasion. The external is faced with Isle of Arran stone, brought here at an enormous expense. The foundations of the north wing were also laid and carried to the surface of the ground when the main structure was built. In order to meet the exigencies of the public, it will be necessary (as an hotel) to carry this wing very shortly into execution. The accommodation of the Castle is far too limited.
This superb mansion, with 180 acres of land, was purchased by foul enterprising and spirited gentlemen in 1832, and by them converted into an hotel, and the land cut up in building lots for sale. To the public spirit of these gentle men the country stands indebted. No circumstance that has latterly occurred has given such an impetus to the rising prosperity of the island. I should question even whether the establishment of the superior steam communication with the surrounding shores has been much more productive of the rapid advancement of the place, than the elegant accommodation afforded at the castle to the man of rank and fashion when he arrives.
That so superb an edifice should ever have become an hotel, was certainly far beyond the expectations of its noble and venerable founder; who, could he but view for one moment the unholy revelry which has taken place of his own princely cheer, might well shudder at the profanity and sacrilege. However it is a question whether the one is not much more conducive to the wants and requirements of the community than the other.
Taking together the superior steam communication with the surrounding shores, and the throwing open the doors of the castle as a place of public entertainment and accommodation, there can be little uncertainty as to the future prospects of this lovely little isle. She has just risen from her long night of obscurity, fresh, vigorous, and beautiful as the ocean wave, and is preparing for a lengthened march of flourishing greatness. If she proceeds as she seems to promise, with what pleasure might we not be allowed to anticipate her state and condition fifty years hence. What changes must she not have seen! What improvements must she not have undergone!
In front of the castle is the beautiful and extensive beach called the Sands, on which about this time commence the ablution of thousands from a twelve month's accumulation. The Turkish bath of soaping, scrubbing, and steaming, one would fancy would be the best preliminary of the bathing season here.
Droves of raw Lancashire men and women are seen simultaneously g dipping together, like devotees along the banks of the Ganges, stretching for the space of two miles along the shore, the principal recreation seeming to be splashing each other.
No regulation seems to have been hitherto thought desirable, in allotting one particular station for the gentlemen, and another for the ladies; no disposition to copy from those primitive and buttonless innocents called Quakers, who, even in a place of worship, think it consistent with their simplicity to separate the men from the women.
On the banks of the Tagus, it is no unusual thing for a young lady to ask a young gentlemen to go with her to bathe, to assist her in and out of the water; but there the gentlemen as well as ladies, wear bathing dresses. I should [have] recommended that practice to be adopted here, unless indeed some discrimination can be made as to the space allotted for each: and in order to prevent mistakes, the dresses of the gentlemen should be of one colour, while those of the ladies were of another, like two opposing armies, some neutral personage presiding over the solemnities, and distributing to each their proper covering, who should also have a beadle's staff and gown, or cap and bands, as insignia of office, to whom also all disputes in the water might be referred, as all matters connected with the coast, within three miles of the shore, are referred to the judgment of the water-bailiff. I would suggest he should be denominated the Bathing-Bailiff, or Admiral of the Beach. There are two or three elderly gentlemen resident in the town, who have been what is called rather gay in early life, and whose candle is now well nigh burnt out, to whom this office might be very judiciously entrusted.
A noble string of public baths might be constructed at a very trifling cost on these sands, about half-tide mark, connected with the proposed new road by a slip or jetty, and thus obviate the present indelicate, if not indecent practice, of bathing openly.
The space between the castle and the gates, about a quarter of a mile in extent, is being rapidly taken up with villas and terraces, and promises to be the most enticing residence near Douglas.
The communication past these to the town, by foot, being along the top of the beach wall, no very safe road, by the bye, for an over-cozy disciple of Bacchus, sundry awkward tumbles being made every now and then by way of warning to the unwary. It is not long since some poor gentleman, by way of recreation, broke his collar bone here, getting topheavy and making a summerset over the wall.
"Man, being reasonable, must get drunk;
The best of life is but intoxication."
It was the opinion of Sheridan, that no man could be called drunk as long as he could lie on the road and call for a coach; but I should prefer testing a gentleman suspected of such an indiscretion, by asking him to steer along this wall of a moonlight evening, as sailors are tried by walking along a plank hung overboard. Are there no humane society philanthropists, or patrons of the Act " against cruelty to animals," who could instigate a subscription to carry a parapet wall about eighteen high along the outer edge of this precipice ? The speedy completion of the new line of road under the castle walls, will, it is hoped, preclude the necessity of any more experiments of this nature being made.
In order that I might have a birds eye view of the bay from the water, I had ordered a boat to be on the beach at ten, into which, with some difficulty, on account of the extreme shallowness of the shore, I entered, and first steered to the headland called Bank's Howe, passing a long range of beautiful marine villas and terraces called the Crescent, terminating with Castle Pollock, or, as it has been recently re-christened, Derby Castle, stuck close under the hill, like a man with his back against a wall to keep it up. It would not have been politic, in the feudal times, to have built their strongholds or defences under abrupt rocks or precipices, or the garrisons might have been very seriously incommoded by the enemas rolling stones down from above. However, as this is in reality no place of defence, but a peaceful habitation, it lies under the same interpretation, in one sense, which was reflected on
" London's great column, pointing to the skies
That, like a tall bully, lifts its head and lies."
'The beach wall along the whole of the crescent, built at a great expense by the late Duke, forms a noble barrier against the seaan everlasting protection to the property of this portion of the bay.
As we passed Pollock Castle we saw one or two beautiful inlets or bays, in one of which I could perceive some fair nymphs courting the lucid tide, like fawns, almost afraid of their own reflection in the water. These inlets are no unusual resorts for pic-nic parties, which the good folks of this country seem partial to.
We now made across from Banks Howe to Douglas Head, enjoying as we passed (through the medium of a small telescope) the animated scene along the beach, no less than between two and three hundred beings in the water at the same time, men, women, and children. Some paddling only ankle deep, a few plunging vigorously in, while a third party ventured hand in hand up to the middle, and alternately dipped, supporting each other.
Nothing can exceed the brilliant transparency of the waters of this bay; you see the bottom distinctly, and every shell, weed, and pebble, several fathoms deep.
The Castle, with its hanging woods, has a very imposing appearance a little distance from shore. A little further on, behind the stables of the Castle, on the brow of the hill, are several houses; and, further back, the commencement of what was facetiously termed, when first projected, the city of New Jerusalem.
Before many summers are over, it is probable the whole line of the Castle estate, bordering the bay, will be dotted with villas; this, and the property of Villa Marina, being the only available land now left for such purposes.
The site of Villa Marina is beautiful in the extreme; bedded in young and healthy plantations, luxuriant shrubs, and evergreensand enamelled with sweet and delicate flowers, altogether forming a voluptuous abode and fit receptacle for the blooming Hoiuries, could we believe them other than the passionate phantoms of the distempered prophet's dreams. It was, a few years ago, the residence of Colonel Stuart; now converted into a seminary for young ladies, where, with every grace and accomplishment, valuable or fascinating, in life, these lovely creatures are but too irresistibly qualified for expert "fishers of men."
The Bay of Douglas will, I am persuaded, become in a very short time one of the most favourite and fashionable watering places in the kingdom. Its beautiful, soft, sandy beach, and the brilliant transparency of its waters, its genial climate (the summer sun tem pered by the fresh and invigorating breeze, and the winter's cold modified by the soft sea air), the romantic beauty of its bounding rocksall contribute to point out this lovely amphitheatre to the attention of the surrounding countries.
I can conceive of nothing that would either add more materially to the effect from the water, or contribute more directly to the comfort and luxury of the inhabitants generally, than the extending of the new line of road now forming under the Castle to the very end of Fort-street, thus making a communication and splendid drive by way of the Parade, from the Pier to the Crescent, without passing through the wretched outskirts which now form the only direct avenue to the Castle.
It were to be wished the whole of the line of mouldering hovels which constitute Sand street and part of Fort street were totally demolished, and in their place substituted some good houses fronting the sea and the proposed road.
A vast deal of land may, it is very evident, be gained from the sea below the town, besides what is merely requisite for the road above mentioned.
To effect this undertaking, £3000 would, I am sure, go a great way towards constructing a sufficient barrier against the sea; and the rubbish of the town might be thrown in to form the road.
It is a trite observation, that "Rome was not built in a day ;" the point of which is meant to apply to the folly of expecting the work of years, perhaps of generations, to be done in a few brief days; but how much is it to the good fortune of a country, where its existing generation has forecast enough to lay the foundations of future advantages, and leave it to posterity to add only the superstructure.
Why not (in this island in particular, isolated as it were from the mother country by the nature of its municipal laws and regulations,) have a committee of public improvement, as in France during the empire, whose province it should be to direct the tide of national prosperity, now it has so strongly set in. For there is a tide in the affairs of nations, as well as of individuals, whose hour should be regarded, and which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
The houses along Finch-road give an air of dignity to the town it would otherwise much want; yet there is a sameness about them that might as well have been avoided. It shows a poverty of resource and conception to copy the same filing a hundred times over.
The east end of the new church called St. Barnabas, with its noble group of lancet-windows, should be open to the bay. The spire (though, in a diabolical taste, painted black) appears well from here. Some pity should be taken upon the miserable tower of St. George's, on the hill, which might be rendered much less ugly at a comparatively trifling cost. The architect of that structure seems to have been labouring under some extraordinary convulsion of mind while it was in progress: the inside is very good; externally it is the rankest compound of villainous taste that ever offended vision.
We are now come opposite the Pollock Rocks, at the end of which the ancient Fort used to stand; and here, where the ship-yard and public baths have their sites at present, the rivers Dhoo and Glas (which unite a little above the town, and thence originate its name) were wont to disembogue themselves into the sea; this, also, was the entrance into the harbour not forty years ago.
We will sail past the rock of Connister, or St. Mary's, with its beautiful and picturesque tower, and take another opportunity of visiting this refuge for the shipwrecked mariner. We must now proceed with our appointed plan of taking a general view.
In leaving the Pollock Rocks for the Head, we pass the Pier, a useless structure, as far as any advantages accruing to the harbour go, though built at a great expense, no less than £22,000 having been spent upon it. Its site has been sadly mistaken, the Pollock Rocks offering a beautiful, natural, and efficient foundation, at a comparatively trifling cost; neither is the material of which it is composed half so durable as the limestone blocks of Port Le Mary, which might also have been obtained at half the price. The pier, however, serves as a promenade for the beauty and fashion of the place, a matter of serious consideration where the females are to the males as seven is to one; that fearful and calamitous time predicted in Isaiah seeming in this place to be drawing near to a fulfilment, when "seven women shall take hold of one man."
Here, of a fine evening, "fair women and brave men" parade in measured steps their daily rounds, and are seen from six till nine, a neverending galaxy of beauty, like the Milky Way across the clear blue sky.
" From the rich peasant's cheek of ruddy bronze,
And large black eyes, that flash on you a volley
Of rays, that say a thousand things at once.
To the high dame's brow, more melancholy,
But clear, and with a mild and liquid glance,
Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies."
Any gentleman, like Coelebs, in search of a wife, and beauty the desideratum, may surely pluck a rose without a thorn in this luxurious garden of indigenous and exotic flowers. If already suited, let him not trespass o'er these preserves, where so many man-traps are set for the unwary.
" For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs,
Sighs wishes, wishes words, and words a letter."
Neither can the lamentation of Gray
" Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness in the desert air"
be here justified, while this opportunity for the complete display of charms is afforded.
We are now in the basin of the proposed Channel Harbour (including a superficial extent of eighty acres), first projected by that truly patriotic and enlightened man, Sir William Hillary, Baronet, whose residence is just above us. It is to be hoped (for the sake of his own reward) that he will yet live to see the fruit of his labours brought to maturity, and behold that great undertaking from its commencement to its close, assume a real and tangible form. The proposition for constructing an immense breakwater from Douglas Head to Connister, for this purpose, is now seriously entertained, the reports of Sir John Rennie and Captain Denham having strewn the advantages of such in a national point of view and drawn public attention to the same. Should this stupendous project ever be carried into effect, there would be no setting limits to the prospects of the country.
If, in these times of clipping and close-shaving, it be too much to expect assistance from the Government in cash, could not this be made the military depot of three or four regiments of the line for a few years, who, idle all the day, or in drill but a few hours, might be employed, very advantageously to both parties, in turning the better part of Douglas Head over on its back in the sea. Human labour is the lever we want, to bear upon this mighty fulcrum. And if through circumstances, in the event of foreign war or civil disturbance, wanted for service what situation in the three kingdoms so conveniently situated for embarkation.
Notwithstanding the apparent absurdity of such a proposition, the possibility of putting so much unemployed power into active operation, will one day, I am persuaded, induce the general government to give to such a mighty engine an object beneficial to itself as well as the community. If short of a precedent for such a step, let us for a moment gaze upon the eagle spirit who presided over the destinies of France in her severest hour of trial and conflict, who thus directed all her energies to their purpose, and left no resource without its application. It was thus the ports and quays of Antwerp, Boulogne, and Vimereaux were formed as if by magic. It was thus the road across the Alps (at the prodigy of which human daring even now quails) was effected; the French soldiers, after the manner of the Romans, laying down the musket to take up the mattock, and the mattock to resume the musket.
No storm, however violent, ever affects the ocean for more than nine feet below the surface; unto this level the stone of Douglas Head will therefore be perfectly efficient; then, indeed, it will be necessary to have the limestone blocks of Port Le Mary, averaging three tons weight, to resist the impetuous fury of a south-west wind.
We are now arrived at Douglas Head, and climb up the steps that lead from the water's edge to the Light house, built on the very point of a precipitous rock overlooking the wave, from the top of which we have a commanding view of the Bay.
View of the I have heard indeed of the beauty Bay of the Bays of Genoa, Naples, and Rio de Janeiro, but I question (apart from the lovely climate of those countries, which might, if examined minutely, constitute the real charm) whether either or any of them could afford a nobler spectacle than the one before me, or possessing greater physical capabilities of im provement. The plantations of a few years' growth, here and there thrown over the land scape, would give the finishing touch to this splendid picture.
It is only within the last few years that any decided disposition to beautify the country by means of plantations has been evinced, and this feeling is happily making rapid strides. Twenty years hence the lovely dells and glens which abound in this country will present to the eye of the traveller irresistible attraction.
I cannot help admiring the spirit of a late traveller, exploring the trackless regions of Western Australia. He was constantly in the habit of carrying with him a bag of peach-stones, which he scattered pretty freely where no human foot had before trod; having experienced much refreshment, in an hour of privation and distress through want of water, *from accidentally falling upon a tree of this kind in full bearing, overloaded with ripe and luscious fruit.
The Light-house supplies, in a better degree, the Beacon on the top of the Head; built for the purpose of enabling vessels making the port to distinguish this Headland from Clay Head and Santon Head, which were not Infrequently mistaken for it.
Near this place, and commanding Battery the entrance of the harbour, is a three-gun Battery, erected during the panic which the threatened French invasion excited. It was perhaps to be under cover of this battery that the entrance to the harbour was changed from beyond the Pollock Rocks to its present channel.
The pleasantly situated village of Kirk Onchan on the other side of the bay, with its white spire among the trees, is seen to great advantage from here, as well as the numberless gentlemen's seats on the slope from the brows overlooking the beach, which terminate with the mountains; not the least beautiful and conspicuous of which are Bemahague and Glen Crutchery, and, lower down, Summer-hill, seeming to overhang the rocks above the Crescent.
We must now descend again to the water, and enter the harbour. The first object which presents itself to our notice on the left is the castellated mansion of James Newton, Esq., but recently completed, romantically situated, and commanding a fine view of the bay and town; next to which is the seat of Sir William Hillary,Kt A Baronet, before alluded to, Fort Anne, where the lover of the arts will find the best gallery of paintings in the Island. The external appearance of Fort Anne does not at all correspond with its internal elegance and comfort; neither is it possible by any species of mending (unless at an enormous cost) to make it better; such was the surpassing genius of its first founder. The nearest approach to any thing like style to which it is possible to bring it, is perhaps to the mixed Italian style of the middle ages, with its terraces and towers. There is no finer site in the Bay of Douglas for a gentleman's seat than Fort Anne, and none whose capabilities have been put to better account than this by its worthy occupant. Every thing at Fort Anne has a classic air and elegance about it, which shews a mind imbued with the fine feeling of the ancient Greek and Roman in the palmiest day of their country's glory; in every trifling feature you discover its noble proprietor, the greatness and benevolence of whose character cannot, however, be duly appreciated by minds immeasurably below his own.
The unoccupied land adjoining Fort Anne, called Bowling-green Field, directly Bowling-green, fronting the pier, it is to be hoped Field will soon be built upon, which would much improve the first impression we have of the town. On the site of the dram-shop now occupied by Handy, on the other side, at the root of the tongue of masonry called the pier, is a noble stand for an hotel; and connected as these premises are with the extensive yard and stables adjoining, and, from their contiguity to the water, affording an extraordinary facility for constructing an extensive and beautiful range of baths of every description, there can be no hesitation in asserting, that if an establishment of this kind were effected here, it would take precedence of all the hotels in the town, and skim the cream of all their business; for there it would stand, with open arms as it were, at the very mouth of the country, and catch all who attempted to enter. It would, moreover, be a public benefit, as well as a capital private invest meet. Some substitute is wanting for the present baths, which are not of a kind to suit this generation. The luxury and elegance latterly introduced into the science and arrangement of public baths will bear no comparison with the antiquated system.
If the contemplated breakwater should ever be carried into execution, it will be necessary to have some more permanent communication from one side of the harbour to the other than what is afforded by the present inconvenient system of boating. The best situation for a communication of this kind would be half-way up, opposite Lawrence's corner. If nothing more substantial could be afforded, a rope bridge might, at a very trifling cost, be thrown over here for foot passengers only, similar to the one which connected the small island of South Stack (on the Holyhead coast) with the main land. Very little machinery would be required to wind this up when wanted, to allow vessels to pass and repass.
The harbour of Douglas extends the whole length of the town from east to west, the best shops facing the quay; the town being in the form of a triangle, of which the base is the quay.
Midway up is the spot which is denominated the Market-place, forwant of a better, their being neither shelter for man or beast; but the site for a new market in Duke-street has been latterly obtained, and 50 per cent on the requisite capital already advanced, so that it may be anticipated that twelve months hence may see a convenient and commodious accommodation of this kind provided for public occupation. The large heavy building before us, now occupied as the Customhouse, was formerly the residence of the Duke of Atholl.
The open space now used as a market is well adapted for public offices, Magistrates' Office, Post Office, Harbour Office, &c. At the present moment these places are as difficult to be found as a needle in a bundle of hay, or a grain of wheat in a bushel of chaff. Of the Post Office, it is scarcely necessary to say, that of all the circuitous windings and twistings of the Cretan labyrinth, it could present nothing more complex or intricate than the road to this hole. Had another Ariadne, in extricating her lover by a clue of thread from a dismal maze, a similar experiment again to make, the model for the scene of her constancy should without doubt be taken hence. It would only be merciful to the stranger to have some kind of line chalked, or by some other means marked, along the lanes and alleys from the various outlets leading to this point, in the town compass, as they have along the ceiling of the catacombs at Paris to prevent visitors losing themselves.
The town itself (that is to say, the Old Town) is a wretched collection of disjointed lanes and alleys, which seem to have been thrown together like dice upon a backgammon board, without the slightest reference to order or regularity, being built, I believe, for the convenience of smuggling, every lane end and corner assisting your imagination in conceiving of the zig-zag race of the pursuer and pursued, the smuggler and the customhouse officer. Here is a fine opportunity for some Jonathan Martin to acquire immortality by mistaken patriotism.
I must leave the further description of Douglas, and its vicinity, until the morrow. The sun has run his course, and the half hour Castle bell announces the time of cheer, and I am hungry and faint.
" Oh Hesperus, thou bringest all good things,
Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer
To the young bird the parent's brooding ~vi~-~gs,
The welcome stall to the o'~r-laboured steer;
Whateter of peace about our hearth-stone clings,
Whate'er our household gods protect, of dear,
Are gathered round us by thy look of rest;
Thou bring's" the child, too, to the mother's breast."
The company were all assembled in the saloon when I got to the Castle; and, after spending a few minutes at the toilette, I was barely in time to take my place among them at table. The party appeared to be really very select, and bent on nothing more earnestly than being in good humour with each other. I was much charmed with this first introduction to the dinners at the Castle.
The ladies retired early, for I found there was to be a grand ball this evening, one of the monthly assemblies kept up through the season. After the departure of our fair companions, we did not stay long indulging "the feast of reason and the flow of soul," the merry music and the lovely girls having far more attractions for " us youth " than wine or politics. A few old coders, how ever, " in the sear and yellow leaf," whose time for tripping the light fantastic toe had some dozen summers gone by, still lingered round the bottle, scarcely yet reconciled to part with so dear and true a friend. I had so little expectation of being thrown into such a blaze of beauty, I confess I was for some time over powered with its brilliancy.
" Who doth not feel, until his failing sight
Faints into dimness with its oven delight
His changing cheek, his sinking heart, confess
The might, the majesty of loveliness ! "
It was really a splendid sight, the saloon at that momentthe noble room, the brilliant lights, the gorgeous assemblage, surpassed any thing I had for a long time seen; and as is the awful pause between two contending armies before that moment w hen the thunder of artillery gives the signal of battle, such was now the dread silence and suspense of " beaux and belles" ere the fiddlers, with uplifted bow, had as yet placed " mettle in every heel."
" A thousand hearts beat happily, and when
Music arose with its voluptuous Novell,
Soft eyes shake love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell."
Such a concentration of loveliness in so small a compass it would be difficult to find; there was one beautiful star, however, which surpassed competition, to whom I was not happy enough in gaining an introduction, and I am still unacquainted with her name
" Her glossy hair was clustered o'er a brow
Bright with intelligence, and fair and smooth
Her eyebrow's form was like the aerial bow,
Her cheek all purple with the beam of youth.''
Nor did the spirit of the dance slacken with the midnight hour. Too dear are those golden moments of existence to be severed from us without reluctance and regret.
" No rest till morn, when youth and pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."