The Transport of Pleasure (c. 1778)
[ed. by Dick Claésson]

[From the published Summary:] This letter (or essay–letter) has come to occupy a marginal yet important place in Beckford research. Boyd Alexander saw it as he saw most other Beckford manuscripts; as a reflection of the Beckford biography. His extracts from the letter (published in his 1962 monograph, where he misleadingly named it »Fonthill Foreshadowed») emphasized its architectural content, and he noted the extraordinary similarities between the projected buildings in the letter, and the subsequent ’real’ buildings at Fonthill, Wilts.
My purpose has been to present a hitherto unpublished text by Beckford; a letter that by way of its unique synthesis of Enlightenment and Romanticism accurately defines the gradual transition between the two eras. At the same time the letter constitutes an unusually clear example of Beckford’s early letter–prose.
The text of the manuscript itself should be fairly self–explanatory. I follow mainly the second of the two manuscript versions (the fair copy in the hand of an amanuensis, with corrections in Beckford’s own hand). Beckford’s footnotes (in the MS. beautifully marked with various graphic characters) have not been retained in this online edition but may be consulted in the pdf-version of the entire publication, alongside textual variants and explanatory remarks.
The original pagination of the MS. has been retained within square brackets; everything else within square brackets are editorial comments and should not be confused with Beckford’s own text.
I have retained the idiosyncratic spelling of the MS., and have at least consciously changed very little of the punctuation. I have, however, corrected ’double words,’ such as »In In». Uncertain readings of words are marked by »[?]» following immediately upon a word; illegible words are marked in the same way, but the square brackets are in that case not connected to the preceding word.
I wish to express my gratitude to the Bodleian Library for their kind permission to publish the manuscript.

How can I describe the transport of pleasure with which I seized your Letter tore it open and read its inspired effusions — Now, now, I revoke all the complaints I made but a few hours ago of your neglect and disdain myself for harbo’ring such a notion I see you reflect my ideas as clearly as the Lake its shores, I see you intirely comprehend my whole train of ideas and sensations: I might at present write my fancies in mystic signs with the certainty of their not being concealed.
Full of your Letter I ascended yesterday a peaked Mountain; the path was rough and embarrassed, the way tedious and long but I was wrapt up in those Phantasies which are wont to haunt us and scarce was I awakened from them before I found myself standing on its summit The Sun was hid in clouds and but partially cast its gleams on the ancient Forests which appeared one mass of luxuriant Foliage extending from the base of the Hill to the agitated Lake [2] The air was cool: I sat peacefully down on the Turf the Peasant who had conducted me laid a Basket of Figs by my side with some bread from the Hamlet embossomed in the woods below and filled my Nautilus with the pure fresh water of the spring that bubbled by. The tints of the Landscape around were soft and melancholy, the forests darkly shaded the Cliffs, no longer glowing. The distant shore of the Lake many leagues off alone enjoyed the brightest sunshine, whilst the vast chain of Alps behind were veiled with a purple darkness A sound like Thunder from afar off rolled along them, the voice perhaps of a mighty Angel on some high mysterious errand visiting the Mountains. A moment of perfect stillness succeeded during which, reclined on the brow of the Mountain, I observed the shadows of the Clouds moving over the green slopes and the extensive plain beneath.
It was in this situation I read your Letter again. Yes there are Mountains in England to which we may resort and Woods as lovely as those I beheld from the Peak there are Rivers more limpid than those which flow from the Alps, on whose green Margin we may walk at midnight and trace the melancholy wanderings of the Moon.
[3] Yes the time will arrive when we may abstract ourselves at least One hundred Days from the World
I know many a little Hillock of the smoothest greenswerd and many a rocky seat shaded with woodbines where we will rest in the cool of day, recapitulate all that has befallen us, read our wild poesies and mutually admire those of Spencer and Ariosto — In these my native wildernesses is a Cave dark as the grot of a Sybil and shadowed by a mysterious Elm

Where Visions as poetic eyes avow
Cling to each leaf and swarm on every bough —

[4] In this recess we will hide ourselves in the meridian heats and call before us Moisasour and Nouronihar: there we will talk of the Labyrinths of the sage Locman, explore the antiquities of Egypt and say much of Sesostris and much of those Heroes and Sages famous when the Deluge was yet fresh in the memory of Man.
When every object is rendered more interesting by the setting Sun we will saunter to a hazel copse I have often frequented, that extends along a sloping Hill and contemplating the placid Waters and the steeps of wood which surround them, inbibe the rustic ideas of the Scene that looks the resort of Fawns and Woodnymphs and will remind us of Virgil’s pastorals and a long train of classical imaginations, the dreams of antient Poets, consecrated by the veneration of Ages.
Sometimes, when our minds are exalted by the sublime reveries of philosophy we will ascend a lofty Hill which till lately was a Mountain in my eyes. There I hope to erect a Tower dedicated to meditation on whose summit we will take our station and survey the vast range of countries beneath extending to the very sands of the Ocean that blends with the azure of the Sky. At midnight when the [5] planets roll brightest, and universal stilness prevails we will recline on stately couches placed on the roof of our Tower and our eyes shall wander amongst the stars. We will then hazard our conjectures of their destination and audaciously wing towards them our imaginary flight. Shall we not deem them like Milton

Fortunate Fields and groves and flow’ry vales
Thrice happy Isles? —

Shall we not recite the glorious ode of Pindar, where he sings of Islands far beyond the Towers of Saturn refreshed by eternal breezes from the Sea glowing with golden fruitage that hang from the boughs of Trees or float on the Ocean inhabited by the spirits of the just. After discoursing many a delightful moment on such subjects during the silence of the night sleep will overpower us nor shall we awake from our peaceful slumbers till the Sun appears on the Horizon The fragrance of the country all spangled with the dews of the Morning will chear us as we rise. We shall behold the vast Landscape emerging from the mists, hearken to the confused sounds in the villiages and distinguish far below the Birds fluttering amongst the Trees whose summits reach only the terraces of our Tower. Whilst a repast is preparing for us in its lower appartment our thoughts will still linger about [6] those happy Islands and we shall talk again of the Hesperides of the coasts of Africa and relate strange stories the Antients fabled of them. We shall think of Sertorius, who is said to have believed the relations of wandering Sailors, who pretended to have seen these temperate Climates; and after having experienced all the vicissitudes of an ambitious Life fondly imagined he had at length discovered a tranquil retirement; but alas a more severe change of fortune than any he had before experienced drove him back into the World and forced him to abandon his project. Growing more and more intent on these topics we may probably shut ourselves up several Days in our Tower and read of the great Atlantis, study the bright Volumes of Plato and those not less admirable of the Chancellor Bacon. He also loved to dwell upon the Atlantis, to which famous Island his imagination had taken a distinguished flight no less splendid than philosophical. If we quit our Tower during this literary Trance it will be to descend the Hill amongst the groves of Oaks and observe, whilst the sun beams glance between their branches, those Flies and Insects which nature has tinged with her liveliest colours. Many an hour have I already spent in this sequestered Forest which covers the side of the Hill the oaks in some places are old and fantastic in others tall and flourishing; here mingled with thickets of Laurels and blending with clumps of Firrs, there rising distinctly from the turf, sprinkled with [7] fallen leaves Ferns[?] and mossy fragments, whose crevices bloom with flowers and are the delight of Moths, that shun the daylight and flutter in the dusk of the Evening. I can conduct you to a steep bank in these woodlands overgrown with every shrub common to our English soil and thickly shaded by impending pines — the air is never sultry in this spot which is characterized by a wildness that will transport you into antient times — such is the primitive air of this retired nook that you will fancy yourself in the days when every tree inclosed a spirit: if the wind chance to rustle amongst the leaves as you lean on the Trunk below, you will think some one is muttering spells. When I sat in this Spot formerly all alone on a calm summer’s evening gazing one moment at the shades above me and the next at the long perspective of the forest, bounded by a track of solitary country but faintly seen, when no cottage or pasture appeared within ken, no smoke rose from behind the coppices, no path indicated human footsteps and no sound reached my ears but the stir of pheasants in the spray and the melancholy note of the Cuckoo, I thought myself existing in those old days when England was wild as the woods of California before the arrival of Brute, and when as Father Geofry tells [8] Giants inhabited its Caves. And so far has my Imagination sometimes roamed into antiquity that as night approached I began to grow alarmed, looked round me with suspicion, fancied I heard the howl of Wolves or saw in some aged Oak the form of the Giant whom Corineus destroyed — My heart began to beat; I deserted my haunt with precipitation, fled trembling across the Forest, caught flying glimpses of faint forms amongst the Trees, gladly left them behind, swiftly run along the shores of a little Lake that lurks amongst the Hills seemed to hear voices calling across it and running speedingly along a succession of meadows which lay beyond, arrived breathless at home chilled with fear.
How happy I felt at finding myself in a warm illuminated apartment, how glad I was then to see the Worldlings I had despised. And throwing myself on a Sopha whilst they buzzed like Flies around me, little understanding my guise, reflected on my past alarms with pleasure and then ventured to call clearly into my memory those terrible thoughts I feared to entertain when under the expanse of sky in the horror of darkness.
This Forest then where my youthful Fancy has met with such amusement shall be selected for our rambles when we inhabit [9] the Tower above. Think with what pleasure we shall return to our elevated apartments after conversing with Nature in the groves, after observing the flowers as they blow and the plants as they vegetate, after marking the Insects that glance above the stream, and the moths that flutter round the banks in the still twilight. Thus having gained every hour some new insight into the great volume of the Universe, we will ascend a winding path bordered by Larches and Acacias and perfumed with Thyme and Honeysuckle, that leads to the portals of our Tower, where we shall arrive just as the glow of the western sky blends with the soft hues of the rising Moon.
The freshness of the Evening will invite us to linger some moments on the grass plat before the Tower from whence our sight will be directed to the woods, the wilds, the Hills of pines, the rural Landscapes beneath. Lights will begin to glimmer in the Cottages and the song of Peasants plodding home mingled with the bleatings of distant Folds charm our attention Many a time we shall imagine ourselves catching the sounds of Musick afar off and be persuaded that it is wafted from the skies or believe it occasioned by flights of harmonious Birds that soar far above the reach of our feeble sight. Whilst [10] we are investigating its cause the painted windows of a Hall high above in the Tower will gleam with the light of many tapers and summon us to our evening’s repast. We shall ascend the hundred steps which lead to the spacious Hall wainscoted with Cedar, whose arched roof will be strangely sculptured with gothic devices. The pavement is ruddy marble and the seats are painted with achievements, the tall windows are crowded with gorgeous Figures coloured in antient times. Here are Knights, and Sovereigns clad in rich mosaic, Saints, distinguished by their glories and divers quaint forms unitelligable to modern Ages. Above the great window and below the others, is a broad and ample Gallery inclosed with gilt Lattices and supported by thin wasted pillars fretted with scrupulous dexterity. The Doors of old oak are large and folded; in the huge Chimney, useless in this Season, will be placed grotesque vases of antique china filled with Tube roses and on the Gallery you will find stout coffers of Cedar whose laborious carving will amuse you for some moments. Open them and you will discover, robes of state, rich chalices and censers, glistening apparel, coral rosaries and uncouth Trinkets, the treasure of the imaginary Lady of the Tower. The Hauberks [11] and Spears of her Knight and his valorous Companions shall hang suspended above. When you have thus gratified the first impulse of curiosity, I shall call you to a Table placed in the middle of the Hall spread with embroidered Linnen that trails on the ground and loaded with choice viands in dishes of embossed plate. Our Servants stand silently around, I read in your eyes that you wish them to depart. They understand my signs and setting down on the pavement the massy vases of wine on which they bore, will leave us alone. We shall enliven our repast with many legendary tales and relations of Launcelot and Tristram, who used after passing wild Forests and combating strange Monsters to discover such a Tower and be feasted in such a Hall and with such state as that which surrounds us.
In the same manner, we shall gaze at the Objects in our sight admire the rich imagery of the plate, the tapers flaming with the wind and diffusing so grand a lustre about the Hall and all its barbarous magnificence. Scarce shall we have finished our repast when our Ears will be struck with the sweepings of distant Harps. What means this are we deceived as before on the platform! In the midst of an uncertainty the [12] folding doors above in the Gallery will be thrown open, and four old Men rob’d in azure will appear majestically like antient Bards and striking all at once their Harps chaunt the Descent of Odin. The aweful Sound will ring amongst the pillars and the arches of the roof. We shall grow animated and rising hastily from our repast, walk to and fro across the pavement. Now agitated, now delighted, now fired, our enthusiasm increasing

Till full before our dauntless eyes
The portals nine of Hell arise

Their Song ended, the elders will disappear as they came and we resting ourselves on the sculptured Seats grow calm by degrees and filled with softer sensations, begin to enjoy the perfume of the Tuberoses, to notice the stilness of the Hall, the declining lamps and the Moon full behind the painted cazements mixing her Light with their vivid hues. The reflection of these paintings on the marble pavement, where they tremble like the undulating shades of water thrown by the Sun on the arches of a Bridge will tempt us to imagine we behold such visions as played before Shakespear’s fancy. When he makes Clarence relate his Dream when Macbeth sees prophetic apparitions or when Posthumus is ravished [13] with more gentle tho not less mystical Trances.
Struck with these Ideas I shall direct your Eye to a repository wherein I have inshrined the Works of those I love.
There lie the Volumes of Shakespear. Let us unlock them and seating ourselves opposite the great window read without interruption till we exclaim with Hamlet alas poor Ghost! then resume again the sad Story and continue till the Moon deserts the Sky, the lamps flash and expire and we are left in total Darkness. We shall retire in silence and sleep in security. The next Morning as soon as the Sun has dissipated the Dews, I shall invite you again to the woods and leading the way conduct you thro the Grove of Oaks to an extensive coppice from which rise here and there a tall pine or waving poplar that serve as marks to traverse this wild woodland whose freshness we shall imbibe with avidity. Having at length escaped from its intricate paths, we shall mount and descend many gentle acclivities, sometimes dotted with bushes of wild rasberries and stumps of decayed timber, sometimes shaded by beech Trees of a flourishing growth and generally fed by flocks of Sheep whose fleeces but lately washed in the stream contrast with the dark green of their pastures and dazzle with their whiteness.
We shall cheer our way with a long talk of the happiness of those Husbandmen, who ignorant of a superior state, ever delight [14] in such fields as these and never desire to desert them for Cities whose vanities they conceive but to despise. Our hearts will expand in proportion as we familiarize ourselves with such ideas, in proportion as we imagine the inhabitants of the goodly prospect before us happy in its enjoyment of it. For our own parts we shall be supremely so. Every object will convey to us some agreeable sensation, the richness of the Herbage which we tread, the bleating of the sheep that graze it the contentment and innocent hilarity of those that tend them and the vivacity of the Birds that flying from bough to bough and warbling upon every spray, seem to revel with the rest of nature in the beams of the morning Sun will fill us with gratitude and Love for the power that created it. Thus imperceptibly advancing amongst the meadows, we shall leave our Tower and with it our magnificent ideas far behind and gaining a more considerable eminence than those we have passed look down on the valley beyond. It is a valley pent in by swelling Hills in some places concealed with luxuriant woods whose thick shades seem formed for the mysteries of Pan and in others glowing with fields of ripe corn, or diversified by plats of greenswerd, from which every now and then a rocky fragment bulges forth and determines distinctly the boundaries of this rural region. A clear stream that flows briskly thro the pastures below lights up the whole scene and receiving thro [15] the Woods, which impend over its very brim, partial glimpses of Sunshine invite you by its chearfulness to descend and repose yourself on its banks. The Cattle which graze around them seem happy in their situation, they have clear waters and much shade, many flowers and wild thyme in abundance. I think I can anticipate your readiness to descend into this valley. We shall follow a little path that winds along the sides of the hills and pursuing it thro a clover field find ourselves on the margin of the stream by a little bridge of mossy stone, under whose arch every trout that passes is visible.
What sylvan Scenes, what still retirements! you will probably exclaim, with that enthusiasm that seized me when I first began to notice the charms of such sequestered valleys. Seating yourself with me on the edge of the rivulet we shall muse till the height of the Sun; and the Shepherds dining under the shade will remind us that it is noon and that we have taken no refreshment since we quitted our Tower. I shall now propose to you, walking towards a Cottage whose chimnies peep over a woody knole just above the next winding of the stream and crossing over the bridge we will make the best of our way thro’ a narrow path that steals along the edge of the waters, shaded by the bushy oaks and hazels that dangle over them and fringed with innumerable flag flowers and water lillies that we shall crop as we pass to drive away [16] the flies which may trouble us. A good old Woman who inhabites the Cottage, hearing our voices will come out to welcome us and offer her homely fare with an hospitable readiness that I know before hand will win your affection — she will open the little wicket of her Garden where she has many an herb of whose virtue she is by no means ignorant and pointing with her stick to the Cottage whose little casements are almost concealed with jessamine cry out »Tis but a poor Hut for such like Gentlefolks as you, so be it you have a hearty welcome and I must needs say it is not a dirty one.» I think we shall not refuse her invitation and feel not indifferent to the well rubbed oaken Table the large chimney and the comfortable chair in its corner not forgetting a purring black Cat, the sucurity of her fortune. The brightness of the Cups and jugs of earthen ware that stand on an ample Shelf by the Clock and the cleanliness of the pavement will justify the boast of our old Hostess and whilst she is busying herself about our Dinner we will cast a look on the ballads of King Arthur, Robinhood, and Chevy chace, that have amused her good neighbours many a winters evening and take up the Pilgrims progress, or some musty almanack filled with prognostications of Comets and Murrains that she declares came all to pass. We shall be pretty far advanced with our Pilgrim and bring him safe beyond the Lyons [17] when our Hostess will call us into an arbour where she has placed on her whitest linnen some brown bread, with Perch just taken from the stream, the best rasher from her Bacon and as many eggs as we desire. Do you think we shall despise it? After such rambles people must not be delicate and I assure you our old Hostess thinks, when she adds a Bowl of Cream with some Chesnuts of last Autumn and some strawberries from the neighbouring Copse to the rest of her fare, that she feasts you as sumptuously as if you had been King Solomon himself or the wandering Jew. Having finished our rustic meal, we will repay her civilities by asking many country questions such as whether the ears of Corn are heavy and if much Trees or Koutch grass have been burnt to year whether Vetches thrive and what Farmer Hawkins thinks of a new excise. Then we shall mutually lament the sad fate of the Barley which was all cut of in its prime the disastrous hail storm that spoiled the Beans and damaged a power of Oats, complain how the Seasons have been changed since the rebellion of 15 when the streamers first appeared and agree pathetically that the World is no more as it has been. The Evening stealing on a pace we shall bend our way along the slopes of a sunny Hill where our old Woman raises her Lavender, Marjoram and Lemon thyme. The view we shall survey from hence is confined, but so delightful as to make us wish it not more extensive. The [18] shadows cast by the declining Sun on the meads beneath and the reflection of a ruined Monastery in the water at this hour when the Merit of every little circumstance is enhanced, are exquisitely agreeable. A rising ground on the other side covered with inclosures, whose hedges are filled with Broom in blossom and a little Glen shaded with Underwood where the stream looses itself and gurgles unseen terminate the prospect characterized by a calmness and serenity that will sooth our minds. Descending the Hill in silence, let us saunter amongst the willows by the Stream which springs from heaps of mould’ring ruins and observe the faint Traces of a pile once dedicated to religious retirement now prophaned by the rude tread of herds and herdsmen neglected and forlorn. The fragment of tombs, where Abbots and holy benefactors were formerly interred are now strewed about the pasture and trodden under foot with indifference and indistinction. Here we shall remain lost in conjectures about those who once lived and walked and meditated by these banks till the sheep are penned in their folds and the waters darken with the shadow of the approaching night when glow worms begin to glimmer under an antient Yew once surrounded by melancholy Cloisters and the Owl, hoots from the tufts of Ivy depending from the wall. Shall we not naturally think of our beloved poet and repeat —»The Curfew tolls the Knell of parting day» — Scarcely shall we have repeated them when our old Cottager will come forth to seek us with her Lanthorn and call to us from the brow [19] of the eminence by her Hut with warnings of ill favoured Goblins that many a time have led her children astray and intreat us to hasten our steps, least we should never return for quoth she, things, which I care not to name, have befallen folks in the Valley and woe be to those that are surprized in it by the Moon. Most probably we shall suffer ourselves to be persuaded and feel by no means concerned when we find ourselves in her hospitable Chamber which she has garnished with flowers and where she has rubbed her oaken Table still brighter than ever for our reception. Our Supper consisting of the same simple food as our former repast will be soon dispatched and by the help of Master John Bunyan’s pilgrim, the old woman’s commentaries upon it and moral saws we shall soon be disposed to sleep and then she will shew each of us a little Chamber strewed with Lavender and almost intirely taken up by its homely Bed, just such chambers as would have delighted the heart of old Walton, whose saunterings by Brooks and Cottages we may remember perhaps in our Dreams, from which we shall be rouzed at the early dawn by the crowing of the Cocks and the clucking of all our old Hostesses poultry that begin to crowd around her and demand their daily maintenance. We shall soon be amongst them, light and refreshed by our slumbers; then bidding adieu to our Cottage and its good mistress who is milking her Cows before her wicket, hasten to the Cornfields moving with the fresh breeze of the Morning, then we shall observe the grey clouds rolling away in the East the glow that succeeds [20] them the red light and golden splendor of the rising Sun, which already begins to look over the azure hills and tinges the spires of our romantic habitation and the wide Landscape beneath with its rays. The Larks are already in the Skys warbling their wild notes high above us and cheering our walk to the Tower, where we arrive after traversing the Lawns and the Copses pleased and instructed with our rustic ramble. All the day we will consecrate to subjects of natural history we will explore Buffon whose animated eloquence deserves your admiration nor will you despise our Goldsmith tho he does but imitate him; and I know we shall dwell a long while on the Physica sacra of Sheutzer, whose learned investigations cannot be too much applauded.
I am certain you are like me never tired of reading where Paradise was situated, what beautiful groves flourished on the banks of the Hidekel what were the properties of the sacred Tree and what the shape of the Serpent whether a Dragon as some Rabbins have represented him or decked with the countenance of an Angel as others have supposed. Here too you find opinions innumerable and strange traditions of the Rabbins concerning Noah and his Ark and many wise observations of the learned Sheutzer on the Deluge and its physical causes. What can be more interesting to us than the ideas formed by various Nations in different Ages of the Tower of Babel and the mighty Nimrod; all which conjectures are here [21] carefully assembled; his opinions on Pharoah’s Magicians and all the miracles that happened whilst the Israelites were wandering in the Desert are not less remarkable. We shall be pleased too with reading extracts from apocryphal Books which tell in what secret Cave the Angels interred Moses and what difficult battles they fought with evil spirits to preserve his holy remains from the incursions of Satan. Much also is herein told of Hiram and of the Phenicians whose voyages to distant countries and knowledge of Navigation is well explained. We shall learn also in these volumes whatever has been recorded about Ophir and a particular description of those Animals and precious commodities which the Syrians brought from unknown regions and laid before Solomon’s Throne whose sage writings the Rabbins account far more wonderful and voluminous than we imagine. His palaces in the Forests of Lebanon, their construction and form, and above all the magnificence of the Temple, is treated at large with great erudition. What a moment was that of the dedication of the Temple when Solomon ascended with multitudes the Mountain of Moriah on which it was placed, beneath which all Jerusalem then in its splendor lay extended. When he was surrounded by the Ambassadors of an hundred Kings who reigned in Countries of which the Israelites till then were ignorant and encircled by the Levites bearing the Ark wherein were the Tables written by the Finger of God and those golden [22] Vessels and consecrated ornaments formed in the days of Moses when all these multitudes shouted and many Nations beheld the splendor of the Domes and Spires before them for the first time, and when the Monarch turned towards the waves of people that filled the courts and porticos of the Temple the platform before it, the slopes of the Mountain and the plains below like a great Ocean and blessed them; during which moment the shining frontispiece of the Oracle or most Holy place was partially obscured by exhalations of incense ascending from the Altar before which Solomon stood in the presence of all the congregation of Israel and spread forth his hands towards Heaven. With what aweful sensations we shall be struck at reading that when the Ark was deposited between the Cherubims that shadow the Holy of Holies with their wings, that sanctuary where none but the Successor of Aaron approached, the Temple was filled with the glory of the Lord so that the priests could not minister because of its insufferable brightness. We shall not be disposed after dwelling upon such subjects either to feast in the Hall or listen to the Song of the Bards, we shall rather ascend the winding stairs that lead to the highest platform of the Tower and there retiring into solemn obscure Chambers which I set sacred to lonely reflection, turn our thoughts to the end of those august institutions in which our senses have been just absorbed and rise in our meditations to the immortality of the Soul. When the most [23] solemn hour of Night is arrived when Orion and the pleiades glimmer distinctly above our heads we shall think of Job whose memory the Orientals still piously revere, think of his sufferings, think of those moments when Jehovah spoke to him from the Whirlwind and said »where wast thou when I cast the foundations of the Earth when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy.» Half the night will be spent before we shall have sufficiently revolved the fearful dream of Eliphaz pondered enough on the visions of Ezekial and recited the sublime poesies of Isaiah. At lenght spent with our Vigil a deep sleep will fall on us and we shall still seem meditating by the light of the stars when an image will be in our eyes and forms but faintly discovered and a sweet voice will sing of Futurity. How anxious are all Men to pry into the time to come to draw Destiny from her dark Asylum and behold at one glance the series of approaching days. A glimpse of dawning light discovers itself in the eastern sky the early breeze will whistle amongst the summits of the Woods beneath and cause the fanes on the Spires above us to swing to and fro with melancholy yet harmonious tones when we shall sink again upon our Couches, scarce conscious whether we exist in this World with mortals or in thin air, the habitation of Spirits filled with confused sensations of our discourse the preceding Night and lulled once more to sleep, by sad tho gentle sensations that will produce agreeable dreams dreams of a happier and more perfect existence [24] corresponding with our former meditations. We shall not awake till the Sun beams darting full in our eyes convince us we are yet in the Land of Men and that we are still subjected to their employments to their duties to their material subsistence. How unwilling shall we feel to quit the Regions of imaginary happiness! How loth to dissapate the soft illusions of the Night; but when we are arisen I shall say to you: If we are not actually in that state of perfect and entire happiness where our fancies were so lately transported at least we are in a situation that it depends but on ourselves to enjoy. Let us seize the present moment and chasing all disagreeable reflections of the past or the future indulge ourselves in imaginations characterized by gaiety and splendor. To Day we will devote to wandering over those great Empires of China, and Japan, which in my early years engrossed far too considerable a share of my attention and led me like an unlucky meteor from the root of instruction and knowledge to Gardens of idle Flowers and fruitless vegetation. But the Sun gains height it has already risen to the tenth degree. Come follow me and I will shew you an apartment in my Tower with which you are as yet unacquainted. It occupies the same space as the Gothic Hall where if you recollect we dedicated to Shakespear; but it is as different as the western from the eastern quarter of the Globe. You will not, I think refuse my offer of leading you to the extremity of the platform where [25] I shall discover an iron ring hid beneath the parapet. This we will lay hold of and jointly lifting up a Door, coloured like the rest of the pavement, and by deception concealed from your eyes, perceive a few winding stairs of marble that bring us to a Balcony in the open air, which before you imagined inaccessible calculated merely for ornament or symmetry. Now your attention will be attracted by a portal fronting the gilt rails and inscribed with unintelligable characters.
I shall throw open its valves and admit you into an apartment, the appearance of which is so strange and exotic that you will pause at the entrance for some moments and question yourself, whether you are still under the influence of a Dream. All your senses will be at once invaded by novelty: you will smell a soft and delightful perfume like the odour of Arabian Jessamine blended with that of Ananas: you will hear the chirping of Birds whose note is as strange as their plumage. You will tread the finest mats that ever were imparted from the Japanese Islands and you will be a long while wandering from one object to another before knowing on which to fix your attention. The Ceiling of this Apartment is to consist of one ample Arch of a pale blue and almost intirely covered with light arabesque foliages penciled with gold and slender branches charged with fantastic flowers, coloured with the soft tints of the peach blossom. A Sopha spread with rich chinese silks and raised about two feet from the ground will be continued [26] all round the Chamber except where the portals intervene. The walls of the same blue and adorned with the same foliages as the Cieling are diversified with niches in which Cabinets of the rarest and most antient Japan and Vases of porcelain esteemed even in China, are placed. At one end you will observe a Basen of green variegated marble filled with the purest water and supported by a small artificial Rock in the true costume of Chinese drawings, where are preserved some blue Fish with silver fins of that species which comes originally from the Island of Haynang, and at the other several japanese tables of different forms and constructions covered with curiosities from the same Island and baskets of Ananas. The light which illuminates this apartment proceeds from semicircular windows above the cornice that admit no other view than that of the Sky, least it should remind us of Europe and those Frenguis we hold in such abhorrence. Opposite the portal we come in at is another circular entrance shaded with silk curtains which opens to another Balcony intirely inclosed and arched over with trellis=work of golden wire twined round with convulvulus and jessamine that screen it from the Sun and maintain a freshness equally agreeable and necessary to the Birds from the Phillipine and Molucca Islands that fill the air with their sprightly warblings. Here stand several vases uncouthly shaped and painted with gay Indian colours where I shall rear the roses of China the Hiliatropes and variety of other flowers that remind me of their native Countries and bring a charming association of ideas into my imagination. When we are in this [27] retreat we shall forget all inquietude banish every anxiety and wholly abandoned to the suggestions of our fancy neither read nor turn our thoughts to any other subjects than such, as may facilitate its excursions. I seem already to behold the joy and animation of your countenance when you stand freed from the embarrasements of the World in this lofty Tower exulting in the pride and novelty of your situation How eagerly you will examine every ornament, every decoration of this undisturbed abode, all which are replete with meaning and work upon your memory like the finest springs. When you cast your eyes on several large folios of paintings which lie scattered on the Tables representing those delightful Gardens where Cam=hi: Yong=Ching and Kien=long used to unbend their minds from the fatigues of royalty, the descriptions of Attiret and the Poem of See–ma Couang will present themselves to your recollection. When reposing on the Sophas that surround the Chamber you survey the azure Ceiling, the mild tints thrown on it by the light of the Sky and all the soft hues reflected thro the medium of quivering leaves and silken curtains at a single glance, you will imagine yourself transported to one of those Miau=ting or Halls of the Moon which an English Architect has described with such vivacity. As soon as your curiosity is a little satisfied and you have enjoyed sufficiently the last [28] mentioned Idea I will touch a Silver chime which hangs on a Model of the Temple Tugangu and one of my attendants, the only one priviledged to penetrate into this apartment and who alone understands this summons will shortly appear and place a lacquered Table with vases of Tea, conveyed by the Russian Caravan from Peking, and light baskets of such Cates as are served up in Chinese Palaces before us. The curling vapour which rises from the Tea its delicate perfume and exquisite flavour may not improbably remind us of that little Poem attributed to Kien–long where he celebrates its charms and its virtues and as we are drinking it we shall think of that Emperor who when wearied with affairs of state would retire to a lonely Tent in his Gardens and read the works of the antient Sages of his Empire whilst the coolness of the Evening the sound of a distant Bell and the brightness of the Moon inspired him with poetical Ideas.
When we have finished our Morning repast in this simple manner and tasted our Ananas we will observe the figures of plants and animals on the different Cabinets of Japan with which the niches are adorned and whose aromatic odour together with the quaintness of the designs and the excellence of the workmanship would please and surprize even an European. On the leaves of these Cabinets, indeed on almost every part of them we shall notice the representations of lakes and rivers with their shores and the Animals that inhabit them, drawn with a meritorious [29] exactness, particularly pleasing to those who are conversant with Kaemfer’s history of the Islands in which they were fabricated. There we shall distinguish the Mooki or emblematical Tortoise the Fuka=samme and many more too numerous to admit of a detail. If we open the drawers of these Cabinets, you who delight in Japan and its productions will be not a little amused to discover in them the glittering Fan=mios and those beautiful shells whose polish and lustre recommended them to a place in the fairest apartments of Miaco and Yedo. There too you will find those precious japanese coffers of the finest grain, such as were formed by the artists of old when the Dairo enjoyed the fulness of power of colour like polished Gold when it has been breathed upon and adorned with scrolls of flowers, fantastic branches and figures of animals, superstitiously revered. These little monuments of the ingenuity of former days are not more agreeable to the sight than to the smell and the extreme purity of the varnish the delicacy of the relievo and the exquisite finishing of the whole please me beyond expression; for I cannot but admire perfection tho’ in trifles. After examining these rarities we will seat ourselves on the Sophas and [30] converse of those Edifices and Gardens in Japan which Travellers have described in such pompous Terms, especially that Palace esteemed the most splendid under the Heavens raised by the famous Taico samma at Ossaccea destined to strike the Chinese Ambassadors with admiration whose Courts and Galleries contained such multitudes as I fear to mention least I should pass in your opinion for a Fabulist and all whose magnificence was levelled with the ground by one of the most dreadful of Earthquakes. We will next run over in our memory the journeys of the Portuguese Missionaries, thro this vast Empire and figure to ourselves their astonishment when they ascended Mountains whose productions were so novel in their eyes and beheld Landscapes, so different from any others in the World and even from those of China which People little acquainted with these Countries, imagine very nearly alike. What a new Scene opened to their sight when arrived at Miaco in prospect of the Diaro’s residence the splendor of which even according to the flegmatic relations of the Dutch, far exceeds the bounds of an European imagination. The innumerable Terraces on which it is raised the spacious squares beneath thronged by Night as by Day with multitudes of Guards and attendants, the Towers and Domes high above on the Rocks, the mysterious residence of the Dairo and his Court are admirably calculated to inspire a superstitious awe.
[31] Transport yourself to Miaco for a moment and imagine what an august spectacle this Scene must offer when the Emperor arrives to entreat the Dario’s benediction. All the Monarchs of the dependant isles with their Nobles and different insignia compose his train, the plains before the City are covered with standards and Chariots glittering in the Sun all various and characteristic of the Kingdoms, Provinces, and Islands, from whence they issue, to shew their loyalty to the Emperor and partake of the Dairo’s benediction, a benediction to which they attach their hopes of future welfare. The next Subject of our discourse shall be the Travels of Kaemfer which I think will afford us great amusement. We shall there learn the sad fate of Constantine Phaulkon that intriguing Greek who rasied himself to such a pitch of consideration in Siam as to attempt a Revolution and after lamenting his cruel end and moralizing on disappointed ambition let us follow our Author to Japan and when no more remains to be told of the Temple of Kiomidzou, its hallowed Rock and Fountain shaded by the flowering Tsubacki, when we have visited every Castle belonging to the great Japonese Nobles ascended their Towers and explored the labyrinths of their voluptuous Gardens, when we have sailed on the Jedogawa mounted Trenojosamme[?] and seen the Adorations paid by [32] torchlight at the Tombs of their deceased Emperors, let us desert the Islands and pass over into the great Continent of China; but before we enter into any details upon this Subject let us repose ourselves: we have great need of refreshment.