[Leamington—Wednesday, 3 August 1859]
Wednesday August 3d At Leamington. A sweet town. More European than any English town we have seen. There was music last night in the Garden, Archery Games, dancing &c—all in the open air. We walked about or sat under the trees enjoying to our hearts content. Heard something of the old time talk recalling Shakspeare’s expressions. There was a fainting woman on the grass and the young man with her said “Ah! Wench, come my wench let us put thee on thy feet and thee’lt feel better”. Went out shooting at 12 o’clk today with Jamie. Hired out bows &c. on the way and kept at it one hour & ¼ steadily. Think of that for the 3d of August! Drove in the afternoon to Kenilworth. Sat on the ruined walls overlooking the exquisite landscape. A strange sight to see the famed and fair brought so low mingling with the dust and crowned with the grass of the field. The ivy stem round one of the towers was as large & round as the moderate sized American elms on our Common at home.
Returned home through Stoneleigh Park with a fine view of Stoneleigh Abbey. It has been restored and is now occupied. It was a lovely sight as we approached the mansion for the lawn was of that tender intense green which English grass will sometimes wear even in August after it is freshly mown while the oak trees impregnable by the sunlight and of a black green by contrast studded and shadowed it with their rich peculiar stateliness. On the lawn the cricketeers were disporting themselves in snowy shirt-sleeves and crimson caps giving animation and completeness to the scene and the fine abbey of cold grey stone made a majestic background for the whole. We feel continually here that the largest interest and highest truth is to be found by Pre-Raphaelistic study. The whole tendency of the age is now in that direction in literature as in art but why so long. The world was indeed “delaying long” to find this truth. We have seen more individuality among men and more beauty in art and more loveliness in Nature since we left than imagination could create. There is a sweet garden upon which our windows look belonging to this hotel (The Regent’s). It is about the size of our ground at home and we are picking up ideas and favorite trees and flowers to plant in ours.