L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by C. S. RANN, OXFORD;
Mess. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Mess. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Mess. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, January 2, 1790.
—— Tandem fessus dormire viator.
THERE is a kind of active curiosity in the mind of man, which Continually prompts him to extend his views beyond the small circle of his own neighbourhood, and renders him desirous of being acquainted with the manners and customs of those, who from difference of climate or education, have each imbibed some peculiar and characteristic habits of thinking. Nor is the thirst for information confined solely to human or even to animated nature, since many are more amused by a delineation of the features of a country, than a disquisition on the manners of its inhabitants; and almost all feel gratified by a description of those places which were either celebrated for natural beauty, or have the adventitious advantage of having been the residence of Valour, Learning, or Genius. — Hence the avidity with which travels of every kind are perused, not merely by the Philosopher, the Politician, or the Naturalist, but by those, Who having no particular attachment to any one branch of Science, read rather to lose time, than to gain information; in short, by that respectable body of men, the Loiterers. — And, considering this prevailing rage after knowledge, it is a most fortunate circumstance, that the number of these volumes has increased in proportion to the demand for them, and that so many able-bodied men are found, who voluntarily, and cheerfully undergo the difficulties, and brave the dangers of travelling, and commit their persons to crazy Cabriolets, Diligences, and Gondolas, for the sake of amusing their countrymen with an account of their adventures. — Not, indeed, that at present there is any necessity for encountering such imminent dangers, in order to obtain the reputation of an Author, since it is now discovered, that our own country, if properly examined, will furnish an almost inexhaustible stock of materials for compositions of this kind; — and a man may pack up his portmanteau and himself into the first stage which passes the White Horse Cellar, travel a couple of hundred miles (no matter which way) and, at his return home, produce three very pretty volumes in duodecimo; which with the addition of a handsome vignette frontispiece, will cut a respectable figure in the bookseller’s window. So numerous, indeed, are the publications which, under the title of Northern, Eastern, Western, and Southern tours, have lately made their appearance, that we have fair reason to hope, that in a little time every part of this island will be minutely examined, and accurately displayed to the great edification of all his Majesty’s subjects, who may by this means, obtain a tolerable insight into the manners and customs of their remote count1YflW Thus a native of Thames Street may perhaps be made to comprehend, that there are human beings that exist at the distance of some hundred miles from the Metropolis, and an inhabitant of South Britain acknowledge that there are other eatables besides sheep’s heads to be procured in Scotland. — A reflection which must give every philanthropic mind the most pleasing sensations. But as human pleasures are always fated to be imperfect, it has been lamented as a misfortune, that travellers should often differ from each other; and, sometimes, from themselves, in the descriptions they draw both of persons and places; a circumstance which must greatly diminish the pleasure of those who read works of this kind with a laudable desire of gaining information.
I know not whether it is from being myself an author, but I confess, that the generality of readers appear to me in this respect to be a little deficient in candour, and to impute the trifling misrepresentations and mistakes they may meet with in works of this kind to a design of deceiving others, when, in reality, they only arose from the writers having been deceived themselves. They should remember, that the same objects sometimes appear differently to the same people, and consequently may often do so to others. — Something in these cases should be allowed to variety of taste, something to diversity of seasons, and still more to the particular state of the traveller’s mind arising from the good or ill fortune he has met with in his tour. For instance, — the traveller may have been burned by hot, or drenched by wet weather; his horse may have broken his knees, or he himself suffered in a more tender part; — the turnpike men may have given him bad halfpence, the boys in the streets pelted him, and the chambermaid slapped his face, when he offered to kiss her. — Now it must be owned, that such accidents as these (and what traveller is not liable to them all?) may very naturally have soured his temper; nor can it reasonably be expected, that he will give the same flattering account of the country and its inhabitants, as the more fortunate adventurer, whose good stars have preserved him from more Complicated misfortunes. I would therefore wish my readers, whenever in the course of their studies they may meet with contradictions between travellers, Would be charitable enough to impute them to some of the above mentioned Causes, rather than any wilful intention of concealment or misrepresentation. I am the more inclined to make this request by the following letters, which I received this Autumn from two of my most intimate acquaintance, who went together to pay a visit to a nobleman of large fortune in a distant country, from whom I had, previous to their departure, exacted a promise, that they would each send me a minute account of the situation of the house and environs, as well as the character and manners of their entertainer.
November the 1st.My dear friend,
I set down with pleasure to fulfil my promise, not merely because it is a promise, but because I can do it in a manner satisfactory both to you and myself. We arrived, after a pleasant journey, within sight of this venerable mansion on Wednesday evening, and never to I remember being so struck with the coup d’oeil of any place in my life. C —— Castle is one of those few remaining gothic edifices, whose grand and spacious rooms seem to mock the frippery style of our mock noblemen’s houses; and, unlike them too, is comfortably placed in a bottom, securely sheltered by a range of sheep downs and romantic cliffs, (whose tops are veil’d in fogs) from the North and East winds, and open only to the South, where the eye is carried over a woody lawn to a considerable lake, terminated by a most picturesque village which, half lost in elm hedge rows, shuts the prospect. — Such is the place from whence I now write; but what shall I say of its owner? Candid, sincere, generous, hospitable; Lord C —— has not a failing except that trifling attachment to family, for which few have so good an apology as himself. Never so happy as when surrounded by his friends and neighbours, he takes care to have his house constantly filled with the best company in the county; in which he is so much and so justly beloved, that it is almost universally believed, that his brother will be returned at the next general election without the least opposition whatever. Nothing can be more pleasant than our way of life here; the morning is spent in the diversions of the field, or in riding or walking with the ladies by those who are not sportsmen; at dinner we all meet, and the evening passes away in the most social, yet not intemperate manner. Charles R. who came with me, (you know his failing) took offence at something, and left us last week. As for myself, I am so comfortably settled here, that you must not expect me to come back to college commons in a hurry. Remember, however, that wherever I am, I shall always be,
Your’s sincerely,P.S. I had almost forgot to tell you, that his Lordship has already written to the Minister in my behalf, and assures me, that I may depend upon the place as soon as it falls.
London, November 20th.Dear ——,
I should sooner have complied with your injunctions had I been able to perform it, but really my spirits were so hurried by the various torments which attend the keeping your great company, that I required some little time to recover myself. — I do not in the least wonder that Ned H —— should have given you a pompous account of Lord C —— and his place; — poor fellow! he is easily satisfied, and, perhaps, it is well for him that he is so, You, who know him, will not therefore be surprised when I tell you, that C—— Castle is a wretched, irregular, heavy, and rambling pile of building, whose front presents you with nothing but pointed gable ends, and windows where the stone predominates over the glass in a most unfair proportion. Of the back front I cannot speak, as I never trusted myself within fifty yards of it for very good reasons. The situation of this precious mansion is, if possible, worse, and is, indeed, the sink, of the whole country; it is particularly calculated to catch the water which descends in streams from a long ridge of naked and barren hills, on whose top it is either rain or fog eight months of the year. The only prospect it can boast is over a lawn, or Paddock, or goose common, for each name is equally applicable; at the end of Which is a swampy fen, which his Lordship’s friends are so obliging as to call a lake, and the whole scenery is terminated by a miserable hamlet, whose ragged cottages present the mind with no image than those of want, cold, and wretchedness. As for Lord C ——, he is like most other great men, proud of his family without reason, and without pretending to one. His generosity consists in giving away money which he cannot spend, and provisions which he cannot consume; and he proves his hospitality by getting together a house full of company, (in which, by the way, he is not over nice) with whom he passes his whole time in the alternate states of exercise and inebriety. — In this plan he is also confirmed by the idea, that he is securing an interest for his brother against the next vacancy for the county, for which (I am told by those who are in the secret) he has not the most distant chance. — In such a place, and with such people, you cannot wonder if my stay was short; but I know not whether I ought not to have told you, that I soon found that my hopes of preferment were very fallacious; — one of the livings being already given away, notwithstanding his promise to my uncle, and the other intended for the son of a dirty attorney, who can command about a dozen votes for the county. To any other than yourself I should scarce have mentioned this at all; but you know me to well to suppose, that in the least could have warp’d my judgement, or rendered me a severer critic than I should otherwise have been. Wishing that you may never have any thing to do with Great Men,
I remain, your’s,
C —. C.R.
N.B. This work will in future be sold by Messrs. Prince and Cooke; to whom our Correspondents are requested to direct their communications.
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