How I love to see My numeros increase.(827) I trust they will not reach sixty! in short, I try every nostrum to make absence seem shorter; and yet, with all my conjuration, I doubt the next five or six weeks will, like the harvest-moon, appear of a greater magnitude than all the moons of the year, its predecessors. I wish its successor, the hunter’s moon, could seem less in proportion; but, on the contrary! I hate travelling, and roads. and inns myself: while you are on your way, I shall fancy, like Don Quixote, that every inn is the castle of some necromancer, and every windmill a giant; and these will be my smallest terrors.
Whether this will meet or follow you, I know not. Yours of the 5th of this month arrived yesterday, but could not direct me beyond Basle. I must, then, remain still 11 in ignorance whether you will take the German or French route. It is now, I think, certain that there will no attempt against France be made this year. Still I trust that you will not decide till you are assured that you may come through France without trouble or molestation; and I still prefer Germany, though it will protract your absence.
I am sorry you were disappointed of going to Valombroso. Milton has made every body wish to have seen it; which is my wish, for though I was thirteen months at Florence (at twice ), I never did see it. In fact, I was so tired of seeing when I was abroad, that I have several of these pieces of repentance on my conscience, when they come into my head; and yet I saw too much for the quantity left such a confusion in my head, that I do not remember a quarter clearly. Pictures, statues, and buildings were always so much my passion, that, for the time, I surfeited myself; especially as one is carried to see a vast deal that is not worth seeing. They who are industrious and correct, and wish to forget nothing, should go to Greece, where there is nothing left to be seen, but that ugly pigeon-house, the Temple of the Winds, that fly-cage, Demosthenes’s lanthorn, and one or two fragments of a portico, or a piece of a column crushed into a mud wall; and with such a morsel, and many quotations, a true classic antiquary can compose a whole folio, and call it Ionian Antiquities!(828) Such gentry do better still when they journey to Egypt to visit the pyramids, which are of a form which one think nobody could conceive without seeing, though their form is all that is to be seen; for it seems that even prints and measures do not help one to an idea of magnitude: indeed, the measures do not; for no two travellers have agreed on the measures. In that scientific country, too, you may guess that such or such a vanished city stood within five or ten miles of such a parcel of land; and when you have conjectured in vain, at what some rude birds, or rounds or squares, on a piece of an old stone may have signified,