[Bonchurch—Tuesday, 19 July 1859]
Tuesday the 19th Took a delicious ramble on the sea-shore to see the land-slips. Noticed the peculiar formation of the rocks upon the shore and remembered that Tennyson said the geology of the island was inexhaustible in interest. The shore is strewn with stones resembling the bones of the dead but they are a combination of chalk and flint. The sea wears the chalk into these mysterious looking hollows. It was all like my dream of Italy. And we whiled away many hours drinking in the air newly refreshed by a glorious thunder-shower of the previous evening, and looking and listening to the ever-satisfying never-satisfying swaying of the waves. Clambering up we sat upon the verge of the cliff watching the ships like birds below us and listening to the childrens’ voices on the shore.
In the afternoon drove to Shanklin about 5 miles; up and down and winding about the cliffs for the whole distance. It must be because of the impossibility of describing anything so lovely that we have heard no more of this Paradise. The sea lies below us on the one side so far below that the ships are like doves or swans beneath while the hills on the other side tipped with gold rise to the very clouds.
Italy, if I cannot see you now I have already in this favored land seen somewhat of your beauty. May Heaven avert the curse of war! May peace to men abide in this peaceful island and the poet’s prophecy come to nought!!