Page images
PDF
EPUB

The cave in Stanemore is in the bottom of a perpendicular mountain of a vast height, the east side

Oppos’d to these, a secret grotto stands,
The haunt of Nereids, fram’d by nature's hands ;
Where polish'd seats appear of living stone,
And limpid rills, that tinkle as they run.

P.

There lies a harbour far within the land,
Commodious form'd by an opposing isle :
Which breaking as a mound the furious waves,
They run divided, calmer then unite.
On each side rocks, and two with steepy height
Aspiring touch the clouds, safe at whose feet
The waters far and near pacific sleep.
Distant from these a sylvan scene, beyond,
To bound the prospect, woods with horrent shade.
Op'ning to view, beneath the hanging rocks
A cave; within, a fountain pure; and seats
Form’d from the living stone; the cool recess
Of nymphs.

S.

This grot within a mountain over-shaded with trees, and lying open to the sea, with a cliff on each side, and not far from Carthage, answers so well to the Nympharum domus of Virgil*, that I think we need not doubt of

* The kingdom of Tunis in the west of Barbary in Afric, was once the celebrated republic of Carthage. The city of Carthage was about four miles from the spot of the lake, and four yards from the shore. The entrance is a grand sweep, high and broad as the

its being the cave into which the gallant Æneas led the gracious queen: but that it ever was a quarry, and that pillars were made by the workmen to support the roof, as Dr. Shaw says, does not seem to be the case. The whole grot, which goes in thirty-six fathoms under the hill, its arches, and pillars were undoubtedly by the hand of nature ; like many others I have seen. So it appeared to me. I could not see the least sign of a labouring hand in this cave.

+ St. Donat's Cave, by the vulgar called Reynard's Church, in Glamorganshire, is one hundred and sixty feet in length, the breadth forty-three, and the height thirty-four. Every spring tide fills it with water, and has smoothed it to perfection. At the upper end of it, there is a grand seat, arched into the stone, and near it a

It

the city of Tunis now stands on. Many ruins of it are still remaining. This glorious city, was twenty-three miles round, and built near an hundred years before Rome, was taken and utterly raised by young Africanus, that is, Scipio Æmilianus, before Christ 146

years. had disputed with Rome for the empire of the world, for the space of 118 years. The most beautiful village in the world, called Marsa, now stands in the western point of ancient Carthage, and from thence it is a fine walk to Dido's Cave under Cape-Bonn

grot, that is, in breadth fifty two feet, in height fifty nine. It is an hundred and forty seven feet long. The stone of it is extremely beautiful; of a yellow and redish colour, bright and glittering, and beautifully variegated with arched and undulated veins of various tinges. I broke off a piece of it, and found it a congeries of plates of spar, stained with a fine mixture of colours. It is a species of the alabaster, called Marmor Onychites, on account of its tabulated zones, resembling those of the onyx, and is very little inferior to the Ægyptian alabaster. This Stanemore stone is far beyond the Cornish and Derbyshire alabaster. The caverns there are but incrusted with a sparry substance, as I have found upon various examinations; and, as is evident to every eye that sees the workmen making the elegant vases and chimney-columns we have of the alabaster of those

falling-spring of fresh water drops into a cistern it has made. The rushing tides have made good seats in the sides of the rock, and from them you have a view of the channel, which is seven leagues. Every ship that sails to and from Bristol, is seen, and the mountains of Somersetshire bound the prospect that way. The cliff over the cave is almost double the height of the grot, and to the very edge of the precipice, the cattle come to graze, to avoid the insects, who will not approach the sea-breezes. The whole is a charming scene.

counties; whereas in Stanemore this alabaster consists of strata of sparry substance, though somewhat coarser than this kind of Ægyptian stone.

The top of the cave is a bold arch, finished beyond all that art could do, and the floor as smooth as it is possible to make the stone. At the far end of the grot, there are a dozen rows of seats like benches, that rise one above another. The uppermost will hold but two people, on each of the others a dozen

may sit with ease; they make the place look as if it was the assembly room, or council chamber of the water-nymphs. There was no water dropping from the roof of this cave; but in a thousand places, where moss had agreeably covered the walls, it crept through the sides, and formed streams that ran softly over the ground, and had worn it smooth. It brought to my remembrance some very poetical lines in Lucretius :

“Noctivagi Sylvestria templa tenebant
Nympharum, quibus exibant humore fluenta
Lubrica, proluvie larga lavere humida Saxa,
Humida Saxa super viridi stillantia musco
Et partim piano scatere atque erumpere campo.”

And then by night they took their rest in caves,

re little streams roll on with silent waves ;

They bubble through the stones, and softly creep,
As fearful to disturb the nymphs that sleep.
The moss spread o’er the marbles, seems to weep."

This was exactly the case of the water in this fine cave. In the lowest harmony, it gently fell over the slanting floor, and has Oldham has it

Away the streams did with such softness creep, As 'twere by their own murmurs lulld asleep.”

Such was the delightful spot I at last discovered, when I thought I was come to the ne plus ultra, that is, had gone on till I could go no farther; and now seeing how my way lay, I departed from OrtonLodge betimes the next morning, June 19th, leaving my lad O'Fin to keep possession of the place till i returned, and with the other boy went through the lawns in the wood have mentioned at the end the vale. This brought me to a range of mountains most frightful to behold, and to the top of them, with great toil, we made a shift to climb, and from thence descended through many perils to a bottom between the hills we had come down, and some mountains that stood at a small distanee from them. This low ground trended north and north-west for an hour, and then turned north-east for three hours more, a

« PreviousContinue »