Gambar halaman
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]


GÆNTLE READER, The title of this little book may, perhaps, suggest to you the idea of its being an elaborate description of the famous gardens belonging to the Marquis, now Duke of Buckingham, similar to the “ Bath Guides," “ Sea-Side Companion,” &c. Let meentreat your perusal of a few pages, and you will be convinced that such is not the object of my seeking an acquaintance with you ; and, not doubting your courtesy, I will proceed to show whence this title arose, together with a few introductory words concerning myself, which I hope will induce you henceforward to consider me as l'ami de famille; and as this is a title I am very ambitious of acquiring with my readers, I will begin, first, with myself. Ladies, I am an old batchelor; yet do not, on that account, despise me; believe that disappointment, the impossibility of fixing my choice, or any other gallant and romantic motive, may have caused me thus to live in single unblessedness; but never think it want of love or admiration for your dear sex. My age is upwards of fifty, (I forbear to name precisely how near it reaches another decimal;)

yet why should I shrink from the avowal? I am healthful, joyous, and contented—love a long walk in the country, and feel grateful that my eyes can still rejoice in the beauties of nature. My person, I fear, ranks as plain; but I flatter myself there is something agreeable in my tout ensemble. My disposition is social; my temper, “ a good easy man,” probably because I have had little to make me uneasy. Thus much descriptive of myself, though I am loth to leave the subject, fancying a few finishing touches might prepossess you more agreeably in my favour.

Now for the origin of this book of mine, and its title; and this leads me back to speak further of myself. My usual residence is London ; but customarily I visit some charming spot in the country, during every summer. A few years since, I visited a friend at Oxford, and from thence proceeded to Stowe, celebrated by Pope, and others, for its tasteful gardens, The then Marquis and his family were from home; but this allowed me greater freedom in viewing their domains, and having paid my introductory fee to the gardener, I strolled thither whenever I chose. I had taken up my abode at the New Inn, a pleasant hostelrie, situate half-way between Stowe and Buckingham, and wearing more the aspect of a snug farmhouse, than of a noisy comfortless inn.

One morning I sauntered with a book to a favorite haunt of mine in Stowe Gardens; it was a little hidden nook apart from the footpath, and I believe not usually shown to visitors. I discovered it but a few

days before, when seeking to screen myself from the mid-day sun among the thick trees, I perceived a little winding path leading inwards, which following, I was conducted to where the Druids might have been supposed to hold their councils. Thick and lofty trees were completely interwoven over head. The grass beneath was moist and tenderly green; birds trooped hither, fearless and sportive, unsuspicious of man from being familiar with seven stone representatives of the human species, who kept their silent stand in this retreat,-harmless, majestic and awful. I faney they were meant to represent the seven days of the week; but from the solitude and mystery of the place, I felt, on first entering, as though I intruded upon these venerable inmates, and half expected their marble worships would advance and bid me welcome. There is, however, a charm sometimes in having a little fear mingled with ones admiration. A gothic castle, a lonely heath, a gloomy forest, or stupendous precipice, are not without the lurking dread of robber, spectre, or brain-sick fancies. By degrees, however, these imaginings passed away, and the coolness of the place refreshed and delighted me. Again, therefore, I sought its shade, and throwing myself at the feet of one of these statues, alternately amused myself with reading and watching the glimpses of blue sky that showed among the leaves. Suddenly my ears were regaled with the sound of sweet music, drawn from the breathing tones of several wind instruments, which floated upon the rapturous air like angel wooings;

and presently after came a company of ladies and gentlemen into the very place where I lay. At first, I imagined they were sight-seers, who would pass on and leave me unobserved and unmolested; but I was disappointed; they seemed equally with myself desirous of remaining, and I was reluctantly concluding to withdraw, when I observed a beautiful vision approach, and examine the statue under which I couched. It seemed the resemblance of Belphoebe, or some young and shapely wood nymph ; but, from its white dress and straw hat, I was tempted to believe it a woman. The pleasure I experienced in looking upon this lovely creature, kept me motionless, until at length, warmed into a beļief of her being a divinity, I lifted the end of her scarf and kissed it fervently. This motion alarmed her, and she looked down, expecting no doubt to find a serpent or some other venomous reptile. I trust she was pleasantly deceived, although she could not have exhibited much more surprise bad she really discovered some such hideous deformity; but, checking an exclamation that had nearly escaped her, she with most ineffable grace apologised for having disturbed me. I, in my turn, sought to excuse the alarm I had occasioned her; and we were thus reciprocating compliments, when a gentleman interrupted us, whom I instantly recollected to be an old young friend of mine, an excellent and accomplished gentleman, by name Florio. He appeared delighted with the meeting, and pressed me earnestly to join

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »