[Dunster—Saturday, 10 July 1869]

Saturday. Woke early to find exquisite sunshine, stillness and the same quaint charm undisturbed. Hotel, formerly an old Abbey. Took post again for Lynton—walking up some of the long hills; starting very early we arrived soon after noon. An exquisite place—on the side of a cliff lovely with all possible beauties and vanity of sea & shore. Gentleness and severity are wonderfully combined in such weather as this where there is a silver veil of haze softening everything.

Tis a pity I could not find time to write out a little more fully the days at Low wood especially about Furness Abbey where we found a dwarf of the smallest possible proportions with an equal love for ruins and conversation. His hair and cap seeming exactly the same fibre and color were as if black grass had grown up tall through a barred helmet. When he pushed back the aforesaid cap in his excitement to show us “how he did it” that is how he went in among the lions and bears and pretended to be eaten, it was a sight worth going far to behold. I was disappointed when he looked first at Mr. Fields and then at the ruins with a dejected expression as if he thought they would either of them play the part of the bear too ill to make it worth while for him to try.

We saw a kind of perpetual motion man that day too—a man too mercurial to keep still, fortunately a carrier by profession, one could not help laughing at his absurdities.

We had a grand drive the day we called at Miss Martineau’s over Kirkstone Pass where is the highest house in England. It was warm and the horse made a tremendous noise; when we asked what was the matter, the man said “he was a roarer.” We entirely agreed with him but I had never heard the term used before though Mabel had.

What would I give to keep the memory of this place forever fresh. I am sitting at a window on the ground floor looking out over a little garden. There is a bed of mignonnette running along close to the house & flag-stone outside to walk upon, then a narrow walk of pebbles and then the turf with flower beds in it, then a bridge supported by a stone wall and then a steep descent toward the sea, with pines, chestnuts & beeches covering the slope to the shingly beach below. The perpetual sound of the waves comes up to me from here but in the distance the beach makes a curve like Baiae giving a perfect view of a distant beach and cliffs sloping in enormous waves of red and green declivity to the open sea.

Such is Lynton—where we see from my window.

Last night Jamie went down to Lynmouth to get Dickens’s novels. He asked the woman at the library if she had the Pickwick Papers no we haven’t it. “Is it a book sir?” she asked. “Who is it by?” “Dickens”—Ah!

“Have you Great Expectations”—No, who is that by—“By Dickens too”—Who is he?

Such is fame indeed. In America this could not have happened I believe anywhere.

Took out Shakespeare the other day and one line stuck in my heart and memory from the sonnets—

 

The soul’s best habit is in seeming trust.

 

Have been reading today Stopford’s [sic] Brooke’s sermons with great delight.


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