The Mountain Inn
[Greek text] How sweet to minds that love not sordid ways Is solitude!--
The Captain wandered despondingly up and down hill for several days, passing
many hours of each in sitting on rocks; making, almost mechanically, sketches of
waterfalls, and mountain pools; taking care, nevertheless, to be always before
nightfall in a comfortable inn, where, being a temperate man, he whiled away the
evening with making a bottle of sherry into negus. His rambles brought him at
length into the interior of Merionethshire, the land of all that is beautiful in nature,
and all that is lovely in woman.
Here, in a secluded village, he found a little inn, of small pretension and much
comfort. He felt so satisfied with his quarters, and discovered every day so much
variety in the scenes of the surrounding mountains, that his inclination to proceed
farther diminished progressively.
It is one thing to follow the high road through a country, with every principally
remarkable object carefully noted down in a book, taking, as therein directed, a
guide, at particular points, to the more recondite sights: it is another to sit down
on one chosen spot, especially when the choice is unpremeditated, and from
thence, by a series of explorations, to come day by day on unanticipated scenes.
The latter process has many advantages over the former; it is free from the
disappointment which attends excited expectation, when imagination has
outstripped reality, and from the accidents that mar the scheme of the tourist's
single day, when the valleys may be drenched with rain, or the mountains
shrouded with mist.
The Captain was one morning preparing to sally forth on his usual exploration,
when he heard a voice without, inquiring for a guide to the ruined castle. The
voice seemed familiar to him, and going forth into the gateway, he recognised
Mr. Chainmail. After greetings and inquiries for the absent: "You vanished very
abruptly, Captain," said Mr. Chainmail, "from our party on the canal."
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. To tell you the truth, I had a particular reason for trying
the effect of absence from a part of that party.
MR. CHAINMAIL. I surmised as much: at the same time, the unusual melancholy
of an in general most vivacious young lady made me wonder at your having
acted so precipitately. The lady's heart is yours, if there be truth in signs.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Hearts are not now what they were in the days of the
old song: "Will love be controlled by advice?"
MR. CHAINMAIL. Very true; hearts, heads, and arms have all degenerated, most
sadly. We can no more feel the high impassioned love of the ages, which some
people have the impudence to call dark, than we can wield King Richard's
battleaxe, bend Robin Hood's bow, or flourish the oaken graft of the Pindar of
Wakefield. Still we have our tastes and feelings, though they deserve not the
name of passions; and some of us may pluck up spirit to try to carry a point,
when we reflect that we have to contend with men no better than ourselves.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. We do not now break lances for ladies.