MATLOCK is delightfully situated in a beautiful and picturesque ravine
on the north side of the river Derwent, formed by rocks and mountains
which rise abruptly from the water's edge, particularly on the southern
or opposite bank. The approach from the Derby road is enchantingly
romantic, its effect being heightened by the contrast presented in
the sudden transition from fertile plains to rugged perpendicular
rocks, projecting in all directions ; while the rapid stream of the
Derwent rolls murmuring at their base, or sweeps along in solemn and
inaudible flow, occasionally shaded by trees, of which tile profuse
foliage exhibits a rich and exquisite variety of tints,
especially when their verdure has been mellowed by autumnal suns.
THE new road from Derby extends along the margin of this noble
stream, through the villages of Alestree, Duffield, Milford, and
Belper. After leaving the last mentioned place, you arrive at an
iron forge, situated in a gloomy ravine, enlivened by a beautiful
break of the river; having advanced from thence to Hotstandwell
bridge, a distance of two miles, you cross the Derwent, and proceed
along a range of scenery which may be truly characterized as wild,
romantic, and sublime, to the busy village of Cromford. Here you
cross a ravine by a road formed on arches uniting two mountains,
and proceed along a gentle declivity to SCARTHING NICK, which is
a passage cut thirty feet perpendicular through a limestone mountain.
This bold undertaking is deservedly the admiration of strangers.
ON the other side of the rock, you obtain a full view of that
beautiful chateau, Willersley Castle, built by the late Sir Richard
Arkwright, and now the residence of his worthy son, whose good
taste and liberality are highly honourable and becoming in the
possessor of such a mansion. The site could not have been more
happily chosen ; and
for varied picturesque beauty, it may indeed be deemed unique;
almost at every turn of the stream a change of scene is presented
in the various combinations of the mills, cottages, and lodging-houses,
with the natural features of the landscape, until you pass the toll-gate,
when three houses of public resort appear in view.
THE first of these is the NEW BATH; having passed this and proceeded
a short distance to the right, you arrive at the OLD BATH, and THE
TEMPLE, which are very near each other.
ON the left of the road below, is a pile of well built and commodious
lodging-houses, among which is situated the celebrated MUSEUM. From
hence you have the most interesting view of the river, the road continuing
along its margin for about two miles farther, to Matlock bridge,
where the mountains, ranging in different directions, form a termination
to this beautiful valley, which offers an inexhaustible abundance
of objects for contemplation to the eye and to the mind. From the
foot of this bridge numerous roads diverge, to Chesterfi6ld, Ashover,
CHATESWORTH, Castleton, Buxton, and Manchester.
RESUMING our position at Matlock Bath, we have to
notice, in this charming abode of HYGEIA, several houses appropriately
adapted for the residence of strangers, The three already mentioned
are the principal inns, to which the affluent generally resort :
two of them only, the Old Bath and the New Bath, keep post horses.
THE OLD BATH, which is esteemed the first inn, has
all the requisites and appendages that can be desired to render
such an establishment complete - an extensive dining room, a spacious
and elegant assembly room, numerous parlours and other apartments
suitable for families or small parties, together with every domestic
accommodation on so extensive a scale, that beds can be made up
for one hundred persons. The reputation of the place, and the healthy
situation of this and the other two houses, contribute to render
Matlock a most desirable retreat during that portion of the year
which is devoted to rural excursions, and as such it has been eulogized
by writers of distinguished eminence, occasionally even by poets
of the first order.
THAT pleasant hotel, THE TEMPLE, which I visited during my stay,
is beautifully situated on the same range with the Old Bath, and
attracts a considerable portion of visitants.
THE NEW BATH has a fine lawn before the
door, and commands a delightful view of the river and the road.
THE gardens and grounds of these excellent houses are almost always
filled with elegant company, especially during the summer months,
when the season may be said to be at its height. The delightful walks
and rides among the diversified scenes of this mountainous region,
affording an almost continued view of the refreshing stream of the
Derwent, present abundant exercise for the pencil, and tempt, while
they set at defiance, the power of description by any pen, however
THE regulations established by usage at the several inns are,
generally speaking, uniform. You breakfast when you please; and,
among the ordinary accompaniments of that repast, you maybe supplied
with water-cresses of excellent quality. At half past four in the
afternoon the first dinner bell rings, in order that sufficient
time may be devoted .to the occupations of the toilette. At five
it is again sounded, when those of the company who chuse to dine
in public, assemble, and sit down to a table sumptuously covered.
The courses are regularly served and replaced according to the
pursued in hotels of the first rank : each guest calls for what
wine he may prefer, and rises from table whenever he may be so
disposed. According to a custom which is now pretty generally prevalent,
that visitant who has resided longest in the house takes precedence,
and sits at the head of the table ; the other guests taking their
places, and being entitled to the same distinguished post, according
to their seniority.
I MAY here be permitted to allude to a remark often made by foreigners,
especially by the French, who assert generally that the Englishmen
are more unsocial, even among themselves, than persons of any other
civilized country. Though this imputation would, on a candid inquiry,
be found to proceed from an imperfect and erroneous estimate of the
national character, yet it seems hardly possible to deny, that of
all nations the English, when strangers to each other, are longest
in becoming acquainted. This reserve, however, proceeds less from
pride than from diffidence; and if in a mixed company the silence
be once interrupted, the ice once broken, by some individual
endowed with sufficient tact, good humour, and assurance, it will
give way to a communicative and cordial openness of converse, more
truly social than the
complimentary, and often unmeaning garrulity that passes current
among the southern nations of Europe. It often depends on the spirit
of a single person, whether the partie quarrée of a
mail coach shall be as cheerful as mirth can make them, or as melancholy
as mutes at a funeral.
BALLS and assemblies are held once or twice a-week at Matlock
Bath, but it is universally allowed with regret, that the music
might be a great deal better than it is. Some attempts have been
made to establish a band, and with a little more strenuous co-operation
among the visitants for so great a desideratum, it is hoped that
the effort will speedily be successful. Exclusive of its indispensable
utility in the ball-room music would form a peculiarly delightful
addition to the enjoyments of Matlock, especially in the cool of
the evening and the stillness of night, when the waters of the
Derwent would give a more potent charm to the concord of sweet
"And make heaven drowsy with the harmony."
BESIDES the Hotel, almost every house accommodates visitors with
lodgings, at very reasonable charges; and among them may be particularly
noticed the comfortable
residence of Mrs. Smith, next door to the Museum Along the Parade
are several other good houses, and up the hill are the Villa; and
some cottages, beautifully situated.
Which originally obtained for this retreat its distinction as a watering
place, are lightly tepid, as they issue from the springs, being about
68° Fahrenheit, and therefore extremely agreeable for bathing.
THE gradual increase of visitants has given rise to the erection of
residences around these springs, collectively designated MATLOCK BATH,
to distinguish this place from the village of Matlock, which is about
two miles distant. The two principal houses as I have already observed,
possess each a large and commodious bath, and are in summer much frequented.
Hence they are respectively called the OLD and the NEW BATH.
THE Water is not taken internally for medicinal effect ; it contains
a large portion of calcareous earth, with
carbonic gas. The elevated ground which forms the site
of these three houses, as well as the banks of the Derwent; consist
of tuffa; a calcareous deposit. This substance being extremely
porous, is considered highly favourable to vegetation, especially
of vines and creeping plants, many of the latter are to be found here
in the greatest luxuriance. A considerable number of tons of tuffa,
are annually carried away for horticultural purposes. Desirous of
making a present of some to the Earl of Mountnorris, a nobleman distinguished
for his zeal and success in horticulture, I ordered a few tons from
Mr. ValIance of the Museum to be sent to his Lordship's garden.
Water restrained gives birth
To grass and plants, that thicken into earth ;
Diffused, it rises in a higher sphere,
Dilates its drops, and softens into air.
[footnote on page 9]
.A Physician resident at Matlock some years ago, assured me that the
waters, taken with a small portion of Cheltenham salts, a quarter
of an ounce to a pint of the water, he considered to he a peculiarly
mild aperient, equal to No.4 of the Montpelier Pump-room.
THE botanist will find the adjacent mountains a great variety of indigenous
plants to compensate his diligent research. Many of the most curious
are industriously collected, and with great care and order preserved
by Mrs. Bown of the Botanic Garden, whose specimens pf the Orchi family,
are particularly numerous and remarkable. There are few residents
at Matlock who, during their stay, do not visit the Botanic Garden
*, which is celebrated for producing the best fruits, especially strawberries,
that are to be met with in this neighbourhood.
A MOST agreeable effect is produced on the reflecting mind, by seeing
the visitors so intent on the pursuit of some branch of natural history,
and busily occupied.- The volatile butterfly has many pursuers ; and
here are some species said to be peculiar to the neighbourhood.- Entomology
is extensively cultivated, especially among the juvenile frequenters
of the Bath; and some are attached to botany: so that by all these
ardent votaries of science, the environs in fine weather present an
animated scene ;
[footnote on page 10]
*The road to the grand DEVONSHIRE CAVERN is through this garden. Mrs.
Down provides tea, &c. for parties who require it.
and the heights are studded by the lovely fair, intent on collecting
bulbs and indigenous plants, The rose is said to have, in some situations,
peculiar fragrance; and that flower is here so attractive, as to have
given rise to the custom, among the ladies, of decorating the hair
with it, for morning dress.
In every flower that blooms around,
Some pleasing emblem we may trace;
Young Love is in the myrtle found,
And Memory in the pansy's grace.
Peace in the olive branch we see ?
Hope in the half shut iris glows;
In the bright laurel, Victory ;
And lovely Woman in the rose.
THUS mineralogy, botany, and entomology, enter into the circle of
elegant amusements at Matlock, Every mine produces fine specimens
of minerals, and every hillock may be searched to advantage. To the
explorer a small hammer and a pick will be very useful and almost
indispensable, as well as a net and forceps for catching insects.
[End of page 11]