Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth/Volume 1/Letter 60

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ROSSTREVOR, March 21, 1806.

I have spent a very happy week at Collon;[1] I never saw your mother in such excellent spirits. She and Dr. Beaufort were so good as to bring me to Dundalk, where my aunt had appointed to meet me; but her courage failed her about going over the Mountain road, and she sent Mr. Corry's chaise with hired horses. I foresaw we should have a battle about those horses, and so we had—only a skirmish, in which I came off victorious! Your father, who, next to mine, is, I think, the best and most agreeable traveller in the world, walked us about Dundalk and to the Quay, etc., whilst the horses were resting, and we ate black cherries and were very merry. They pitied me for the ten-mile stage I was to go alone, but I did not pity myself, for I had Sir William Jones's and Sir William Chambers's Asiatic Miscellany. The metaphysical poetry of India, however, is not to my taste; and though the Indian Cupid, with his bow of sugar-cane and string of bees and five arrows for the five senses, is a very pretty and very ingenious little fellow, I have a preference in favour of our own Cupid, and of the two would rather leave orders with "my porter" to admit the "well-known boy."[2]

Besides the company of Sir William Jones, I had the pleasure of meeting on the road Mr. Parkinson Ruxton and Sir Chichester Fortescue, who had been commissioned by my aunt to hail me; they accordingly did so, and after a mutual broadside of compliments, they sheered off. The road to Newry is like Wales—Ravensdale, three miles of wood, glen, and mountain.

My aunt and Sophy were on the steps of the inn at Newry to receive me. The road from Newry to Rosstrevor is both sublime and beautiful. The inn at Rosstrevor is like the best sort of English breakfasting inn. But to proceed with my journey, for I must go two miles and a half from Rosstrevor to my aunt's house. Sublime mountains and sea—road, a flat gravelled walk, walled on the precipice side. You see a slated English or Welsh-looking farmhouse amongst some stunted trees, apparently in the sea; you turn down a long avenue of firs, only three feet high, but old-looking, six rows deep on each side. The two former proprietors of this mansion had opposite tastes—one all for straight, and the other all for serpentine lines; and there was a war between snug and picturesque, of which the traces appear every step you proceed. You seem driving down into the sea, to which this avenue leads; but you suddenly turn and go back from the shore, through stunted trees of various sorts scattered over a wild common, then a dwarf mixture of shrubbery and orchard, and you are at the end of the house, which is pretty. The front is ugly, but from it you look upon the bay of Carlingford—Carlingford Head opposite to you—vessels under sail, near and distant—little islands, sea-birds, and landmarks standing in the sea. Behind the house the mountains of Morne. I saw all this with admiration, tired as I was, for it was seven o'clock. In the parlour is a surprising chimney-piece, as gigantic as that at Grandsire's at Calais, with wonderful wooden ornaments and a tablet representing Alexander's progress through India, he looking very pert, driving four lions.

After dinner I was so tired, that in spite of all my desire to see and hear, I was obliged to lie down and refit. After resting, but not sleeping, I groped my way down the broad old staircase, felt my road, passed two clock-cases on the landing-place, and arrived in the parlour, where I was glad to see candles and tea, and my dear aunt, and Sophy, and Margaret's illumined, affectionate faces. Tea. "Come, now," says my aunt, "let us show Maria the wonderful passage; it looks best by candlelight." I followed my guide through a place that looks like Mrs. Radcliffe in lower life—passage after passage, very low-roofed, and full of strange lumber; came to a den of a bed-chamber, then another, and a study, all like the hold of a ship, and fusty; but in this study were mahogany bookcases, glass doors, and well-bound, excellent books. All kinds of tables, broken and stowed on top of each other, and parts of looking-glasses, looking as if they had been there a hundred years, and jelly glasses on a glass stand, as if somebody had supped there the night before. Turn from the study and you see a staircase, more like a step-ladder, very narrow, but one could squeeze up at a time, by which we went into a place like that you may remember at the post-house in the Low Countries—two chambers, if chambers they could be called, quite remote from the rest of the house, low ceilings, strange scraps of many-coloured paper on the walls, an old camp bed, a feather bed with half the feathers out; one window, low, but wide.

"Out of that window," said my aunt, "as Isabella told us, the corpse was carried."

"Who is Isabella?" cried I; but before my aunt could answer I was struck with new wonder at the sight of two French looking-glasses, in gilt frames, side by side, reaching from the ceiling to the floor, and placed exactly opposite the bed![3]

I was now so tired that I could neither see, hear, nor understand, imagine, or wonder any longer. Sophy somehow managed to get my clothes off, and literally put me into bed. The images of all these people and things flitted before my eyes for a few seconds, and then I was fast asleep.

Mrs. and Miss Fortescue came in the morning, and among other things mentioned the fancy ball in Dublin. Mrs. Sheridan[4] was the handsomest woman there. The Duchess of Bedford was dressed as Mary Queen of Scots, and danced with Lord Darnley. At supper the Duchess motioned to Lady Darnley to come to her table; but Lady Darnley refused, as she had a party of young ladies. The Duchess reproached her rather angrily. "Oh," said Lady Darnley, "when the Queen of Scots was talking to Darnley, it would not have done for me to have been too near them."


  1. Dr. Beaufort, father of the fourth Mrs. Edgeworth, was Vicar of Collon.
  2. From an Address to Cupid, by the Duc de Nivernois, translated by Mr. Edgeworth.
  3. This mysterious apartment had belonged to a poor crazed lady who died there, and who had, as Isabella, the gardener's wife, related, a passion for fine papers, different patterns of which were put on the walls to please her, and also the French mirrors, on which she delighted to look from her bed. And when she died her coffin was, to avoid the crooked passages, taken out of the window.
  4. Mrs. Tom Sheridan.