Imagens das páginas

and destroyed. At the centre is a third circle, or rather oval, composed of ten high pillars with their cross pieces in pairs ; like five gates 30 feet high, and a number of smaller piilars standing or thrown down, over a sort of altar of a stone dif. ferent from the others. On the top of the pillars, a sort of globular mortice, fitting a corresponding hollow in the horizontal piece above, 'serves to keep the blocks united; this sort of joining is most observable in the blocks which have been thrown down. The great pillars may contain 600 cubic feet of stone, and weigh 45 tons each. There is no quarry on the spot. Fifteen or sixteen miles from thence, on Marlborough Downs, there is, I am told, a quarry of sandstone like these ; but by what means could a barbarous people transport these enormous blocks, and, what is full as incomprehensible, plant ihem upright in the ground, and place the cross blocks on the top ? There is another monument of this sort at a little distance, at Abury near Devizes, less known, although dear. ly as extraordinary. Brittany in France possesses druidical monuments on the same plan. The arts in the first stages of civilization are mostly applied to the erection of great masses, of which Egypt affords the most remarkable examples. Refinements of taste aim at another sort of luxury, far less durable.

The soil is a bed of clay, slightly covered with vegetable mould, as in Norfolk, and equally capable of cultivation; an acre would then furnish as much subsistence as twenty do now. The plough encroaches every day upon this desart, but there is still a great space in reserve for future generations. .

July 6.-Salisbury is a little old city, very ugly, and of which there is nothing to say, except that the steeple of its cathedral, which is immensely high, and built of stone to its very summit, is twenty inches out of the perpendicular, which is really enough to take off the attention of the most devout congregation. We went to the morning service, and did not find a single person in the church except those officiating. It is not the first time we have observed this desertion of the metropolitan churches,

even where the steeples were quite perpendicular. This church seems to lose in zeal and fervour what the sectaries have gained; and the regular clergy are accused of giving themselves too little trouble in the cause.

Three miles beyond Salisbury we visited Wilton, Lord Pembroke's. It is an old house, built in part by Inigo Jones. A whole wing was dismantled and thrown open ten years ago, to make a gallery of antiques. The floors, exposed to the injuries of the weather, are half rotten, and

[merged small][ocr errors]

the poor antiques, thrown about higgledy piggledy, sans nose, sans fingers, sans every other prominent member, form a marble field of battle, half melancholy, half ridiculous, the sight of which would distress me beyond measure, were I their master, and could not afford to finish the work so unfortunately begun. Sancho might well have said here, " qui trop embrasse mal étreint.Had the antiques been simply arranged along the walls of the apartments as they happened to be, without tearing down doors and windows, it would have been an interesting and respectable sight, which the possessor and the public would have enjoyed all this time. The site is low and flat; a velvet lawn, level as a piece of water, unites to a real piece of water, artificial, and by no means bright, but of a good effect notwithstanding, and prodigious fine trees everywhere., They are such as are met with nowhere in the world except in an English park. Nature always plants in a crowd. Here a young and vigorous subject, picked out of the nursery-bed, is placed alone in a good soil, properly prepared ; it is merely protected for some years by a fence, in other respects left to itself; it soon forms a pyramid, round, regular, and formal, yet pretty from the plumpness of youth. In the progress of years this roundness is angularized ; the strongest boughs kill the others the lowest, as

[ocr errors]

they extend further in search of air and light,
yielding to their own weight, incline towards the
ground, which they sometimes touch, forty or
fifty feet from their trunk ;-above, other boughs,
each according to their several positions, project
at right angles, towards the open space ;-high-
er and higher, the boughs incline more to the
vertical, till at last, towards the summit, some re-
mains of the conical form is observed, -exuber.
ant masses of foliage, spread in inclined layers
all around, mingling gracefully with each other.
Here and there, through irregular vacancics of
cavernous obscurity, you perceive the large na-
ked limbs which support all this magnificence.
For ages after this first period of youth these fine
trees continue growing in beauty, in strength,
and in majesty. During another succession of
ages the extremities begin to grow thin and
perish,--the head becomes bald,--the heart is
sound still, but the limbs give way; they are
paralysed and die, and the trunk alone continues
to vegetate, while generations of men appear and
die in succession. The beginning of this last
state is the best to make a picture of, the second
state is the best to look at for the picturesque
beauties are not those of gay and flourishing
· I measured an evergreen oak (not a large tree
paturally ;) it covered a space of seventeen paces

in diameter, and the trunk was twelve feet in circumference. An elm was sixteen feet in cir cumference, and many appeared about equal. Beyond the water, which, before it spreads out into a stagnant lake, is a lively stream, you see an insulated hill covered with wood. We went to it by a very beautiful bridge. The view from that eminence is fine, and its slope would have afforded a healthier and pleasanter situation for the house. The deer came to the call, and ate leaves held to them ;-too tame for beauty, as they lose by it their graceful inquietude and activity, and become mere fat cattle for the shambles. Deer are a good deal out of fashion, and have given way to sheep in many parks.

From Wilton we went to Stourhead. The inn, close to the grounds, is in a romantic little lane, buried in laurels and fine trees, with a picturesque little Gotbic church, all


mossy. After dinner, we were conducted to the house of Sir Richard Hoare. You go up a number of steps, too many by half, to the door, and enter a fine hall, leading to a large room in front, probably sixty by forty feet, and on each side a wing connected with the ball by a short gallery. These apartments are full of pictures, none of which are very remarkable. One of the ladies and myself having sat down a moment to look at a picture more conveniently, a young girl who showed the

« AnteriorContinuar »