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LETTERS TO MRS. CARR.
Pit Cot, near Bridgend, July 18, 1797. We flattered ourselves with seeing some of the beauties of South Wales in coming hither, but we were completely disappointed by the state of the weather. This country is bleak and bare, with fine views of the sea, and a bold rocky coast, with a beach of fine hard sand. We have been much pleased with watching the coming in of the tide among the rocks, against which it dashes, forming columns of spray twenty and thirty foot high, accompanied with rainbows, and with a roar like distant cannon. There are fine caverns and recesses amongst the rocks; one particularly, which we took the opportunity of visiting yesterday, as it can only be entered at the ebb of the spring-tides. It is very spacious, beautifully arched, and composed of granite rocks finely veined with alabaster, which the imagination may easily form into a resemblance of a female figure, and is of course the Nereid of the grotto. We wished to have stayed longer; but our friend hurried us away, lest the tide should rush in,
which it is supposed to do from subterraneous caverns, as it fills before the tide covers the sand of the adjacent beach. I was particularly affected with the fate of two lovers, (a young gentleman and lady from Clifton,) whose friends were here for the sake of sea-bathing. They stole out early one morning by themselves, and strolled along the beach till they came to this grotto, which, being then empty, they entered. They admired the strata of rock leaning in different directions : they admired the incrustation which covers part of the sides, exactly resembling honeycomb; various shells imbedded in the rock; the sea-anemone spreading its purple fringe,—an animal flower clinging to the rocks. They admired the first efforts of vegetation in the purple and green tints occasioned by the lichens and other mosses creeping over the bare stone. They admired these together; they loved each other the more for having the same tastes; and they taught the echoes of the cavern to repeat the vows which they made of eternal constancy. In the mean time the tide was coming in : of this they were aware, as they now and then glanced their eye on the waves, which they saw advancing at a distance; but not knowing the peculiar nature of the cavern, they thought themselves safe ; when on a sudden, as they were in the furthest part of it, the waters rushed in from fissures in the rock with terrible
roaring. They climbed from ledge to ledge of the rocks-but in vain; the water rose impetuously, and at length filled the whole grotto. Their bodies were found the next day, when the tide was out, reclining on a shelf of rock; he in the tender attitude of supporting her, in the very highest accessible part, and leaning his own head in her lap,--so that he must have died first. Poor lovers! If, however, you should be too much grieved for them, you may impute the whole, if you please, to a waking dream which I had in the grotto.
Bristol, August 1797. We are here very comfortably with our friend Mr. Estlin, who, like some other persons that I know, has the happy art of making his friends feel entirely at home with him :
-he and Mrs. E. follow their occupations in the morning, and we our inclinations. The walks here on both sides the river are delightful; and the scenery at St. Vincent's rocks, whether viewed from above or below, is far superior, in my opinion, even to the beautifully dressed scenes that border the Thames, though these exceed it in fine trees ......
I have seen Dr. Beddoes, who is a very pleasant man: his favourite prescription at present to ladies is, the inhaling the breath of cows; and as he does not, like the German doctors, send the ladies
to the cow-house, the cows are to be brought into the lady's chamber, where they are to stand all night with their heads within the curtains. Mrs., who has a good deal of humour, says the benefit cannot be mutual; and she is afraid, if the fashion takes, we shall eat diseased beef. It is fact, however, that a family have been turned out of their lodgings, because the people of the house would not admit the cows: they said they had not built and furnished their rooms for the hoofs of cattle.
Hampstead, Oct. 1801. MY DEAR Mrs. CARR, Though I hope the time approaches when we shall be within reach of one another again, I feel the wantof our accustomed intercourse too strongly not to wish to supply it in some manner by a letter. Besides, I want to wish you joy on the peace, which came at last so unexpectedly, and almost overwhelmed us with the good news. We have hardly done illuminating and bouncing and popping upon the occasion. The spontaneous joy and mutual congratulations of all ranks show plainly what were the wishes of the people, though they dared not declare them. And now France lies like a huge loadstone on the other side the Channel, and will draw every mother's child of us to it. Those who know French are
refreshing their memories,-those who do not, are learning it; and every one is planning in some way or other to get a sight of the promised land.
Our Hampstead neighbours are returning to us from the lakes, and the sea, and the ends of the earth. I have been puzzling myself to account for this universal disposition amongst us to migrate at a certain time of the year and change our way of life; and I have been fancying that we English lie under the same spell which the fairies are said to do,-by which during a month every year they are obliged to be transformed, and to wander about exposed to adventures. So some of our nymphs are turned into butterflies for the season, others into Naiads, and sport about till the sober months come, when they resume their usual
appearance and occupation of notable housewives, perhaps in Cheapside or the Borough. As to you, you carry your cares with you, and therefore must be pretty much the same, except the dripping locks of the Naiad ; but Sarah, I imagine, is at this moment skimming along the shore like a swallow, or walking with naked feet like a slender heron in the water, or nestling among the cliffs. Wherever she is, my love to her.