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MY FIRST VISIT TO THE ISLE OF WIGHT.
Of all the islands that it has ever been perhaps, after all, it does not exactly conmy lot to visit, the Isle of Wight is cer- vey to others my feelings on the subject, tainly the most beautiful—that is, if you but I would say, that it is a miniature rehappen to see it on a fine day, which fine semblance of all that is beautiful in many day, in the dark humid climate of Hamp- countries, combining in itself their various shire, occurs about once every two or three attributes. To see it in this point of view, months. In this blessed county, the visits however, you must burn your guide-book, of the sun are something like the appear- and break the neck of your guide if he is ances of a comet in other parts of the world, not to be got rid of on easier terms; the a matter for speculation, and the good peo- moment you take a companion either in the ple of Vectis would do well to have an al- shape of a human being, or of a book, the manack of their own, in which such rare whole beauty of this, as of every scene, events might be calculated after the fashion vanishes after a fashion truly marvellous. of eclipses ; as thus—"on such a day, there The fact is, you may teach a man, or at will be a cloudless sky, and the sun will least some men, to reason, but to teach make his first and only appearance for the them to admire is a thing not to be thought spring quarter," whereupon the islanders of. should all turn out to give him welcome The back of the island is, as I have as a stranger who comes but seldom, and is just observed, the only place for a winter likely to make but a brief stay amongst excursion ; and this, notwithstanding the them.
many villages that figure in the map, is But, though I abhor. these days of pretty a piece of desolation as a reasonable drizzle—drizzle—drizzle, in which Dame traveller would desire. I should have Nature may be compared to a great sulky walked over all these villages in broad dayschoolboy, blubbering over his bread and light, without being aware of their existbutter, with red eyes, and dirty streaked ence, but from the natural spirit of enface, I have no objection whatever to a quiry excited by hunger; then, indeed, I thorough storm, which lends a grandeur found that some half dozen hovels, placed to the scene, superior perhaps to the quiet tolerably close to each other,, constitubeauty of a bright blue sky. And just ted a village ; so on I went, famishing and such a day it was, about the time of the edified, but in high good lumour with the autumnal equinox, when I paid my first whole course of the Undercliff, which comvisit to Vectis. Cowes, Newport, Ryde, prehends somewhat more than half the and all the more inhabited portions, which way from Shanklin Chine to Black Gang are completely summer pictures, appeared Chine. It is astonishing how many, and dreary enough; but once upon the high downs how different from each other, are the obthe scene was glorious beyond description. jects to be seen in this short space; and if Certainly, a hill is not a mountain, nor the walk be extended to Freshwater, the can a little slip of salt water be dignified route will be complete. I will not stop to into an ocean by any one except a cock- describe all of them, nor will I take those ney; and yet, for all that, the scenery of described in their actual order ; but will the Island, as the natives term it, may, un- present them to my readers, as the halfder certain aspects of the season, be called faded images brighten and revive upon the sublime. When, on à rough winter's recollection. And how singularly, in remorning, you stand upon one of these verting to the past, does one idea act like a downs and look around you, it is with the talisman in calling up another. A little same sort of feeling that you gaze upon a while since, before I took the pen into my painted landscape, which, in its image of hand, not a single image of the island was desolation, awakens all the ideas of the present to memory, yet now, in an instant, sublime without any of the dangers that à veil seems to have dropped away from belong to the reality. It may seem an odd between the past and present, and I rememway to describe the Isle of Wight,—and ber a thousand minute circumstances that
VOL. X.-NO. 111.-MARCH 1837.