[41] Italy. –
Mr Cozens
Fonthill May 10th 1780

Thank Heaven I am at length quiet and can write to you once more from a peaceful Abode! I was received with great Tumult; but with such transports of affection that I should not find it in my Heart to be displeased. – When the Hurry was over and all desert and silent I ran across the Lawn, mounted the Hill of Pan and addressed my vows to the Sylvan Deities in the the midst of their consecrated Foliage. The reviving fragrance of the vegation is not to be described nor need it to the Worshippers of Nature they know the perfume she diffuses when awakened from her Winter’s repose. – The Sun beams heightening the dewy verdure of the Grove inspired me with innumerable sensations lively and youthful as spring. - The Birds were not more delighted with their comfortable Nests than I was with the green boughs that hung over them. – [42]
I have every reason to think we live in the best intelligence and am half inclined to believe they are aware of my protection. – The Rooks this year, build ten Trees nearer than before and whilst I sat on an Oak branch, whose yellow transparent leaves were just beginning to unfold themselves, a flight of Bullfinches perched immediately on the Sprays above my Head warbling their own Language and arranging their Feathers with perfect freedom. – I left the little Group conversing together and walked full in the Evening Sun to a Meadow on the opposite Side of the River embroidered all over with Cowslips which sent forth such fresh vernal Odours that I could not help throwing myself down amongst them. Some propitious Being seemed to have endowed this Spot with the power of relieving my anxieties, for no sooner did I breathe the perfume of the Flowers which blew all around me than a soft delusion stole oer my senses – every passion was hushed, every Care vanished, the past and the future were equally [43] indifferent and I enjoyed the present without reserve. – But dont imagine this fortunate State was of long duration – after a few Instants the Charm disolved and I found myself again the Victim of restless Desires. – Now too plainly I perceived how vacant were these Meadows, – how imperfect the pleasures they afforded and rising from the Turf I stepped into my Canoe and rowed disconsolately about I know not whither till the last Sun beams faded away on the Hills and the Forests were lost in Shade. – Then walking slowly across the Lawn I entered the peaceful Palace where Silence and Solitude reign undisturbed and I think you will give me Credit for not invading their repose. – One glimmering Lamp directed me to my apartment, twas all I desired: more Light might have alarmed those ancient and venerable Spirits who reside in Vases ranged mysteriously around the Cell. – Having preferred a short prayer to those concealed Intelligences – I stretched myself out on Indian Carpets and drank my solitary Tea – Guess who I wish’d by my Side! –

[44] From the Summit of the Mountain of
Saleve 9 o Clock Sept: 13 1777 –

From whence do you think I date this Letter, not from a neat precise Study, with a mahogany inlaid table, nicely lined with baze and placed in a central situation, having two Quires of gilt paper on my right hand, a silver ink stand at my elbow, an almanack in a superb case, pens, pounce, wafers, dutch wax and all other implements, in abundance. – Not one of these Circumstances – On the Summit of a lofty Mountain, I gaze at an assemblage of of substantial Vapours, which hover above, beneath, and around me. – This very sheet of paper which barring accidents I trust you will receive, is cast carelessly on a rugged fragment, mouldered from the peak of the mountain, or torn from the bosom of its native Rock, by the Hand of an ancient Helvetian in defence of his Liberty. A Cot awkardly put together just screens my head from the wet Vapour, which seems to have fixed its Residence on these extensive Eminences. A flock of Goats, and a peasant, that looks as if he descended from Pan in a right [45] line, stare at me with all their Eyes and all their horns. Full five hours have I waited the dissipation of this fog; but hark! a sullen rustling amongst the Forests far below which are intirely concealed by mists, proclaims that the North wind is arisen. Look! – the blasts begin to range thro the Atmosphere. What majesty in those Volumes of gray cloud that sweep along, directing their course Eastward – Mark! they are succeeded by curling volumes of blueish grey, like the smoke of a declining Volcano. How gently they bend and then fly downwards in a musty haze! What are those objects just emerging? horrid forms, like crucified Malefactors, start from the gloom, another blast discovers them in the shape of weather beaten Oaks, whose fantastic branches have stood the brunt of Tempests, for ages. A gleam of pale yellow Light mellows the white surface of the boundless Cloud before my Eyes it gives way, it seems to rock, it opens and discloses a long line of distant Alps; but another cloud fleets from the North and closes the faint glimpse, which wavers a moment and again opening, not only the Alps, but the summit of the Woods [46] appear. – The Sun struggles with the vapours, the clouds chase one another; the white cloud so universal a moment ago is broken, it fleets it dissipates; the Beams pierce the vapours on every side long streaks of azure sky, partial prospects open like an Heaven Rivers and extensive Regions all unfold, my senses are confounded I know not where to fix my sight. See the Lake appears, in all its azure glory – A boundless Scene is unveiled, the creation of an instant. Objects crowd too swiftly for me to continue, I must abandon my pen and gaze. – Five hours are elapsed. Hours of wonder and gratitude I have been steeped in those sensations which arise from the contemplation of the great objects of Nature. –
7 o Clock Eve: The mellow tints of the Evening begin to prevail I shall wait the Moon er’e I descend the Mountain – half past 8 – Night draws on the stars glow in the firmament – From the promontory of a Rock I overlook a vast extent of inhabited Country the lights glimmer in a thousand Houses like the reflection – [47] of the Stars – The Moon appears – Farewell I must descend the Mountain –

Rome 29th June 1782

You think I write from the Moon – Would to God I was there ensphered in soft azure light – reclining on clouds and uncorking my wits. – Are you still in the Palace of Atlant: your poor Friend is in Pandemonium – stunned with noise and poisoned with sulphur. – The Heat of Rome and the culinary perfumes in honour of St Peter are such that I am ready to faint away and can hardly gather strength to tell you that I thank God you are recovering that I am happy Elmsley has bought the Books for me – that I hope – Don Quixotte will soon arrive, that I beg you will see Cipriani paid, that you will have patience a fortnight longer when I shall have finish’d the conclusive Epistle, that I reckon much upon Crofts collection and that – I am yours from
the depth of my Spirit. –

[48] Mr. Hamilton
Rome June 29th 1782

I am in the midst of St Peter’s Festival – cannon bouncing, trumpets flourishing, Pope gabbling, Cardinals stinking and Fish frying in every corner. – You would admire the Fireworks or I am much mistaken. Last Night five thousand rockets flew up from the Summit of Castle St Angelo like a Plume of Fire and filled the Air with millions of Stars. The effect was beautiful and according to Custom – I wished for you to enjoy it. –

This morn: I have been walking in the Galleries of Raphael – which command a full prospect of St Peters collonade the Fountains – and the woods of the Barbarini Gardens beyond. – I hope you attend to the delights of Harrow – the deeper you drink of them at present – the sooner you will see the glories of Rome and the more we shall be together – Adieu my dear Ham: you will have longer Letters when I am settled for the Summer at Naples. Write as often [49] as you can – the oftener – the happier you will make
Your sincerely aff: Cousin
W. Beckford

Mr A. Hamilton
Rome June 29th 1782

My dear Archy
If you love sleep as dearly as Hamilton says you do keep away from Rome; for here is such a whizzing of Rockets such a thundering of Cannon and such a prating of prelates of Cardinals that I am half distracted. At this very moment two or three Monsignori, as round and as gossipping as our good Friend Lady M: H– are pouring fine long compliments down my ears – so that I hardly know what I am about and write all a one side and up and down – like Hampstead and Highgate and blot my paper and black my thumbs – My dear little Archy if you know a Witch – borrow her Besom, mount it and be at the firework this Evening; but be sure get back again into your nest – it is much more comfortable than [50] Rome with all its Fountains and Amphitheatres – Your Letter I have just received and it is just like yourself short and entertaining – I hope you will grow taller and your Letters in proportion; but if you was no higher than Thomas Thumb I should love and esteem you – Good Night you will certainly sleep better than Your sin: Friend
and aff: W. Beckford

Mrs B:d
Brussels May 19th 1782

My dear Louisa.
After tossing and tumbling on the Sea grunting and turning up the nose at Ostend – squashing and splashing thro’ Meadows and Morasses – here am I at length – pretty peaceably at Brussels. – Like the Sky I am neither wholly in Clouds nor in Sunshine – My Spirits like the Weather are far from settled but seem on the verge of clearing – How briskly would they flow – could I sooth myself with the hope of seeing you at Naples! Lose not the view of that beloved scheme it may succeed if you persevere and lay aside your Lambishness.


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