Your last called for no answer; and I have so little to tell you, that I only write to-day to avoid the air of remissness. I came hither on Friday, for this last week has been too hot to stay in London; but March is arrived this morning with his northeasterly malice, and I suppose will assert his old-style claim to the third of April. The poor infant apricots will be the victims to that Herod of the almanack. I have been much amused with new travels through Spain by a Mr. Swinburne(349)—at least with the Alhambra, of the inner parts of which there are two beautiful prints. The Moors were the most polished, and had the most taste of any people in the Gothic ages; and I hate the knave Ferdinand and his bigoted Queen for destroying them. These new travels are simple, and do tell you a little more than late voyagers, by whose accounts one would think there was nothing in Spain but muleteers and fandangos. In truth, there does not seem to be much worth seeing but prospects; and those, unless I were a bird, I would never visit, when the accommodations are so wretched.
Mr. Cumberland has given the town a masque, called Calypso,(350) which is a prodigy of dulness. Would you believe, that such a sentimental Writer would be so gross as to make cantharides one of the ingredients of a love-potion, for enamouring Telemachus? If you think I exaggerate, here are the lines:
“To these, the hot Hispanian fly
Shall bid his languid pulse beat high.”
Proteus and Antiope are Minerva’s missioners for securing the prince’s virtue, and in recompense they are married and crowned king and queen!
I have bought at Hudson’s sale a fine design of a chimney-piece, by Holbein, for Henry viii. If I had a room left I would erect. It is certainly not so Gothic as that in my Holbein room; but there is a great deal of taste for that bastard style; perhaps it was executed at Nonsuch. I do intend, under Mr. Essex’s inspection, to begin my offices next spring. It is late in my day, I confess, to return to brick and mortar but I shall be glad to perfect my plan, or the’ next possessor will marry my castle to a Doric stable. There is a perspective through two or three rooms in the Alhambra, that might easily be improved into Gothic, though there seems but small affinity between them; and they might be finished within with Dutch tiles, and painting, or bits of ordinary marble, as there must be gilding. Mosaic seems to be their chief ornaments, for walls, ceilings, and floors. Fancy must sport in the furniture, and mottos might be gallant, and would be very Arabesque. I would have a mixture of colours, but with a strict attention to harmony and taste; and some one should predominate, as supposing it the favourite colour of the lady who was sovereign of the knight’s affections who built the house.