"My landlord, who dwells next door, has a very respectable library, which he has put with mine; histories, encyclopedias, and all the modern poetry, etc. etc. etc. A more truly disinterested man I never met with; severely frugal, yet almost carelessly generous; and yet he got all his money as a common carrier, by hard labour, and by pennies and pennies. He is one instance among many in this country of the salutary effect of the love of knowledge—he was from a boy a lover of learning."
(See 'Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey,' vol. ii. pp. 147, 148.)
Charles Lamb—to whom 'The Waggoner' was dedicated—wrote thus to Wordsworth on 7th June 1819:
"My dear Wordsworth,—You cannot imagine how proud we are here of the dedication. We read it twice for once that we do the poem. I mean all through; yet 'Benjamin' is no common favourite; there is a spirit of beautiful tolerance in it. It is as good as it was in 1806; and it will be as good in 1829, if our dim eyes shall be awake to peruse it. Methinks there is a kind of shadowing affinity between the subject of the narrative and the subject of the dedication. ... "I do not know which I like best,—the prologue (the latter part especially) to 'P. Bell,' or the epilogue to 'Benjamin.' Yes, I tell stories; I do know I like the last best; and the 'Waggoner' altogether is a pleasanter remembrance to me than the 'Itinerant.' ... "C. LAMB."
(See 'The Letters of Charles Lamb,' edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. ii. pp. 24-26.)
To this may be added what Southey wrote to Mr. Wade Browne on 15th June 1819:
"I think you will be pleased with Wordsworth's 'Waggoner', if it were only for the line of road which it describes. The master of the waggon was my poor landlord Jackson, and the cause of his exchanging it for the one-horse cart was just as is represented in the poem; nobody but Benjamin could manage it upon these hills, and Benjamin could not resist the temptations by the wayside."
(See 'The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey', vol. iv. p. 318.)—Ed.
* * * * *
OR, GROWTH OF A POET'S MIND;
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL POEM
Composed 1799-1805.—Published 1850
The following Poem was commenced in the beginning of the year 1799, and completed in the summer of 1805.
The design and occasion of the work are described by the Author in his Preface to the EXCURSION, first published in 1814, where he thus speaks:
"Several years ago, when the Author retired to his native mountains with the hope of being enabled to construct a literary work that might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should take a review of his own mind, and examine how far Nature and Education had qualified him for such an employment.
"As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was acquainted with them.
"That work, addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the author's intellect is deeply indebted, has been long finished; and the result of the investigation which gave rise to it, was a determination to compose a philosophical Poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and Society, and to be entitled 'The Recluse;' as having for its principal subject the sensations and opinions of a poet living in retirement.
"The preparatory poem is biographical, and conducts the history of the Author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous labour which he had proposed to himself; and the two works have the same kind of relation to each other, if he may so express himself, as the Ante-chapel has to the body of a Gothic Church. Continuing this allusion, he may be permitted to add, that his minor pieces, which have been long before the public, when they shall be properly arranged, will be found by the attentive reader to have such connection with the main work as may give them claim to be likened to the little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily included in those edifices."
Such was the Author's language in the year 1814.
It will thence be seen, that the present Poem was intended to be introductory to the RECLUSE, and that the RECLUSE, if completed, would have consisted of Three Parts. Of these, the Second Part alone, viz. the EXCURSION, was finished, and given to the world by the Author.
The First Book of the First Part of the RECLUSE still remains in manuscript; but the Third Part was only planned. The materials of which it would have been formed have, however, been incorporated, for the most part, in the Author's other Publications, written subsequently to the EXCURSION.
The Friend, to whom the present Poem is addressed, was the late SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, who was resident in Malta, for the restoration of his health, when the greater part of it was composed.
Mr. Coleridge read a considerable portion of the Poem while he was abroad; and his feelings, on hearing it recited by the Author (after his return to his own country) are recorded in his Verses, addressed to Mr. Wordsworth, which will be found in the 'Sibylline Leaves,' p. 197, edition 1817, or 'Poetical Works, by S. T. Coleridge,' vol. i. p. 206.
RYDAL MOUNT, July 13th, 1850.
This "advertisement" to the first edition of 'The Prelude,' published in 1850—the year of Wordsworth's death—was written by Mr. Carter, who edited the volume. Mr. Carter was for many years the poet's secretary, and afterwards one of his literary executors. The poem was not only kept back from publication during Wordsworth's life-time, but it remained without a title; being alluded to by himself, when he spoke or wrote of it, as "the poem on my own poetical education," the "poem on my own life," etc.
As 'The Prelude' is autobiographical, a large part of Wordsworth's life might be written in the notes appended to it; but, besides breaking up the text of the poem unduly, this plan has many disadvantages, and would render a subsequent and detailed life of the poet either unnecessary or repetitive. The notes which follow will therefore be limited to the explanation of local, historical, and chronological allusions, or to references to Wordsworth's own career that are not obvious without them. It has been occasionally difficult to decide whether some of the allusions, to minute points in ancient history, mediaeval mythology, and contemporary politics, should be explained or left alone; but I have preferred to err on the side of giving a brief clue to details, with which every scholar is familiar.
'The Prelude' was begun as Wordsworth left the imperial city of Goslar, in Lower Saxony, where he spent part of the last winter of last century, and which he left on the 10th of February 1799. Only lines 1 to 45, however, were composed at that time; and the poem was continued at desultory intervals after the settlement at Grasmere, during 1800, and following years. Large portions of it were dictated to his devoted amanuenses as he walked, or sat, on the terraces of Lancrigg. Six books were finished by 1805.
"The seventh was begun in the opening of that year; ... and the remaining seven were written before the end of June 1805, when his friend Coleridge was in the island of Malta, for the restoration of his health."
(The late Bishop of Lincoln.)
There is no uncertainty as to the year in which the later books were written; but there is considerable difficulty in fixing the precise date of the earlier ones. Writing from Grasmere to his friend Francis Wrangham—the letter is undated—Wordsworth says,
"I am engaged in writing a poem on my own earlier life, which will take five parts or books to complete, three of which are nearly finished."
The late Bishop of Lincoln supposed that this letter to Wrangham was written "at the close of 1803, or beginning of 1804." (See 'Memoirs of Wordsworth,' vol. i. p. 303.) There is evidence that it belongs to 1804. At the commencement of the seventh book, p. 247, he says:
Six changeful years have vanished since I first Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze Which met me issuing from the City's walls) A glad preamble to this Verse: I sang Aloud, with fervour irresistible Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting, From a black thunder-cloud, down Scafell's side To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth (So willed the Muse) a less impetuous stream, That flowed awhile with unabating strength, Then stopped for years; not audible again Before last primrose-time.
I have italicised the clauses which give some clue to the dates of composition. From these it would appear that the "glad preamble," written on leaving Goslar in 1799 (which, I think, included only the first two paragraphs of book first), was a "short-lived transport"; but that "soon" afterwards "a less impetuous stream" broke forth, which, after the settlement at Grasmere, "flowed awhile with unabating strength," and then "stopped for years." Now the above passage, recording these things, was written in 1805, and in the late autumn of that year; (as is evident from the reference which immediately follows to the "choir of redbreasts" and the approach of winter). We must therefore assign the flowing of the "less impetuous stream," to 1802; in order to leave room for the intervening "years," in which it ceased to flow, till it was audible again in the spring of 1804, "last primrose-time."
A second reference to date occurs in the sixth book, p. 224, entitled "Cambridge and the Alps," in which he says,
Four years and thirty, told, this very week, Have I been now a sojourner on earth.
This fixes definitely enough the date of the composition of that part of the work, viz. April 1804, which corresponds exactly to the "last primrose-time" of the previous extract from the seventh book, in which he tells us that after its long silence, his Muse was heard again. So far Wordsworth's own allusions to the date of 'The Prelude.'
But there are others supplied by his own, and his sister's letters, and also by the Grasmere Journal. In the Dove Cottage household it was known, and talked of, as "the Poem to Coleridge;" and Dorothy records, on 11th January 1803, that her brother was working at it. On 13th February 1804, she writes to Mrs. Clarkson that her brother was engaged on a poem on his own life, and was "going on with great rapidity." On the 6th of March 1804, Wordsworth wrote from Grasmere to De Quincey,
"I am now writing a poem on my own earlier life: I have just finished that part of it in which I speak of my residence at the University." ... It is "better than half complete, viz. four books, amounting to about 2500 lines."[A]
On the 24th of March, Dorothy wrote to Mrs. Clarkson, that since Coleridge left them (which was in January 1804), her brother had added 1500 lines to the poem on his own life. On the 29th of April 1804, Wordsworth wrote to Richard Sharpe,
"I have been very busy these last ten weeks: having written between two and three thousand lines—accurately near three thousand—in that time; namely, four books, and a third of another. I am at present at the Seventh Book."
On the 25th December 1804, he wrote to Sir George Beaumont,
"I have written upwards of 2000 verses during the last ten weeks."
We thus find that Books I. to IV. had been written by the 6th of March 1804, that from the 19th February to the 29th of April nearly 3000 lines were written, that March and April were specially productive months, for by the 29th April he had reached Book VII. while from 16th October to 25th December he wrote over 2000 lines.
Dorothy and Mary Wordsworth transcribed the earlier books more than once, and a copy of some of them was given to Coleridge to take with him to Malta.
It is certain that the remaining books of 'The Prelude' were all written in the spring and early summer of 1805; the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and part of the twelfth being finished about the middle of April; the last 300 lines of book twelfth in the last week of April; and the two remaining books—the thirteenth and fourteenth—before the 20th of May. The following extracts from letters of Wordsworth to Sir George Beaumont make this clear, and also cast light on matters much more important than the mere dates of composition.
GRASMERE, Dec. 25, 1804.
"My dear Sir George,—You will be pleased to hear that I have been advancing with my work: I have written upwards of 2000 verses during the last ten weeks. I do not know if you are exactly acquainted with the plan of my poetical labour: It is twofold; first, a Poem, to be called 'The Recluse;' in which it will be my object to express in verse my most interesting feelings concerning man, nature, and society; and next, a poem (in which I am at present chiefly engaged) on my earlier life, or the growth of my own mind, taken up upon a large scale. This latter work I expect to have finished before the month of May; and then I purpose to fall with all my might on the former, which is the chief object upon which my thoughts have been fixed these many years. Of this poem, that of 'The Pedlar,' which Coleridge read to you, is part; and I may have written of it altogether about 2000 lines. It will consist, I hope, of about ten or twelve thousand."
GRASMERE, May 1, 1805.
"Unable to proceed with this work, [B] I turned my thoughts again to the 'Poem on my own Life', and you will be glad to hear that I have added 300 lines to it in the course of last week. Two books more will conclude it. It will not be much less than 9000 lines,—not hundred but thousand lines long,—an alarming length! and a thing unprecedented in literary history that a man should talk so much about himself. It is not self-conceit, as you will know well, that has induced me to do this, but real humility. I began the work because I was unprepared to treat any more arduous subject, and diffident of my own powers. Here, at least, I hoped that to a certain degree I should be sure of succeeding, as I had nothing to do but describe what I had felt and thought, and therefore could not easily be bewildered. This might have been done in narrower compass by a man of more address; but I have done my best. If, when the work shall be finished, it appears to the judicious to have redundancies, they shall be lopped off, if possible; but this is very difficult to do, when a man has written with thought; and this defect, whenever I have suspected it or found it to exist in any writings of mine, I have always found it incurable. The fault lies too deep, and is in the first conception."
GRASMERE, June 3, 1805.
"I have the pleasure to say that I finished my poem about a fortnight ago. I had looked forward to the day as a most happy one; ... But it was not a happy day for me; I was dejected on many accounts: when I looked back upon the performance, it seemed to have a dead weight about it,—the reality so far short of the expectation. It was the first long labour that I had finished; and the doubt whether I should ever live to write 'The Recluse', and the sense which I had of this poem being so far below what I seemed capable of executing, depressed me much; above all, many heavy thoughts of my poor departed brother hung upon me, the joy which I should have had in showing him the manuscript, and a thousand other vain fancies and dreams. I have spoken of this, because it was a state of feeling new to me, the occasion being new. This work may be considered as a sort of portico to 'The Recluse', part of the same building, which I hope to be able, ere long, to begin with in earnest; and if I am permitted to bring it to a conclusion, and to write, further, a narrative poem of the epic kind, I shall consider the task of my life as over. I ought to add, that I have the satisfaction of finding the present poem not quite of so alarming a length as I apprehended."
These letters explain the delay in the publication of 'The Prelude'. They show that what led Wordsworth to write so much about himself was not self-conceit, but self-diffidence. He felt unprepared as yet for the more arduous task he had set before himself. He saw its faults as clearly, or more clearly, than the critics who condemned him. He knew that its length was excessive. He tried to condense it; he kept it beside him unpublished, and occasionally revised it, with a view to condensation, in vain. The text received his final corrections in the year 1832.
Wordsworth's reluctance to publish these portions of his great poem, 'The Recluse', other than 'The Excursion', during his lifetime, was a matter of surprise to his friends; to whom he, or the ladies of his household, had read portions of it. In the year 1819, Charles Lamb wrote to him,
"If, as you say, 'The Waggoner', in some sort, came at my call, oh for a potent voice to call forth 'The Recluse' from his profound dormitory, where he sleeps forgetful of his foolish charge—the world!"
('The Letters of Charles Lamb', edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. ii. p. 26.)
The admission made in the letter of May 1st, 1805, is note-worthy:
"This defect" (of redundancy) "whenever I have suspected it or found it to exist in any writings of mine, I have always found incurable. The fault lies too deep, and is in the first conception."
The actual result—in the Poem he had at length committed to writing—was so far inferior to the ideal he had tried to realise, that he could never be induced to publish it. He spoke of the MS. as forming a sort of portico to his larger work—the poem on Man, Nature, and Society—which he meant to call 'The Recluse', and of which one portion only, viz. 'The Excursion', was finished. It is clear that throughout the composition of 'The Prelude', he felt that he was experimenting with his powers. He wished to find out whether he could construct "a literary work that might live," on a larger scale than his Lyrics; and it was on the writing of a "philosophical poem," dealing with Man and Nature, in their deepest aspects, that his thoughts had been fixed for many years. From the letter to Sir George Beaumont, December 25, 1804, it is evident that he regarded the autobiographical poem as a mere prologue to this larger work, to which he hoped to turn "with all his might" after 'The Prelude' was finished, and of which he had already written about a fifth or a sixth (see 'Memoirs', vol. i. p. 304). This was the part known in the Grasmere household as "The Pedlar," a title given to it from the character of the Wanderer, but afterwards happily set aside. He did not devote himself, however, to the completion of his wider purpose, immediately after 'The Prelude' was finished. He wrote one book of 'The Recluse' which he called "Home at Grasmere"; and, though detached from 'The Prelude', it is a continuation of the narrative of his own life at the point where it is left off in the latter poem. It consists of 733 lines. Two extracts from it were published in the 'Memoirs of Wordsworth' in 1851 (vol. i. pp. 151 and 155), beginning,
'On Nature's invitation do I come,'
'Bleak season was it, turbulent and bleak.'
These will be found in vol. ii. of this edition, pp. 118 and 121 respectively.
The autobiographical poem remained, as already stated, during Wordsworth's lifetime without a title. The name finally adopted—'The Prelude'—was suggested by Mrs. Wordsworth, both to indicate its relation to the larger work, and the fact of its having been written comparatively early.
As the poem was addressed to Coleridge, it may be desirable to add in this place his critical verdict upon it; along with the poem which he wrote, on hearing Wordsworth read a portion of it to him, in the winter of 1806, at Coleorton.
In his 'Table Talk' (London, 1835, vol. ii. p. 70), Coleridge's opinion is recorded thus:
"I cannot help regretting that Wordsworth did not first publish his thirteen (fourteen) books on the growth of an individual mind—superior, as I used to think, upon the whole to 'The Excursion'. You may judge how I felt about them by my own Poem upon the occasion. Then the plan laid out, and, I believe, partly suggested by me, was, that Wordsworth should assume the station of a man in mental repose, one whose principles were made up, and so prepared to deliver upon authority a system of philosophy. He was to treat man as man,—a subject of eye, ear, touch, and taste in contact with external nature, and informing the senses from the mind, and not compounding a mind out of the senses; then he was to describe the pastoral and other states of society, assuming something of the Juvenalian spirit as he approached the high civilisation of cities and towns, and opening a melancholy picture of the present state of degeneracy and vice; thence he was to infer and reveal the proof of, and necessity for, the whole state of man and society being subject to, and illustrative of a redemptive process in operation, showing how this idea reconciled all the anomalies, and promised future glory and restoration. Something of this sort was, I think, agreed on. It is, in substance, what I have been all my life doing in my system of philosophy.
"I think Wordsworth possessed more of the genius of a great Philosopher than any man I ever knew, or, as I believe, has existed in England since Milton; but it seems to me that he ought never to have abandoned the contemplative position which is peculiarly—perhaps, I might say exclusively—fitted for him. His proper title is 'Spectator ab extra'."
The following are Coleridge's Lines addressed to Wordsworth:
TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
COMPOSED ON THE NIGHT AFTER HIS RECITATION OF A POEM ON THE GROWTH OF AN INDIVIDUAL MIND
Friend of the wise! and teacher of the good! Into my heart have I received that lay More than historic, that prophetic lay Wherein (high theme by thee first sung aright) Of the foundations and the building up Of a Human Spirit thou hast dared to tell What may be told, to the understanding mind Revealable; and what within the mind By vital breathings secret as the soul Of vernal growth, oft quickens in the heart Thoughts all too deep for words!— Theme hard as high, Of smiles spontaneous, and mysterious fears (The first-born they of Reason and twin-birth), Of tides obedient to external force, And currents self-determined, as might seem, Or by some inner power; of moments awful, Now in thy inner life, and now abroad, When power streamed from thee, and thy soul received The Light reflected, as a light bestowed— Of fancies fair, and milder hours of youth, Hyblean murmurs of poetic thought Industrious in its joy, in vales and glens, Native or outland, lakes and famous hills! Or on the lonely high-road, when the stars Were rising; or by secret mountain-streams, The guides and the companions of thy way! Of more than Fancy, of the Social Sense Distending wide, and man beloved as man, Where France in all her towns lay vibrating Like some becalmed bark beneath the burst Of Heaven's immediate thunder, when no cloud Is visible, or shadow on the main. For thou wert there, thine own brows garlanded, Amid the tremor of a realm aglow, Amid a mighty nation jubilant, When from the general heart of humankind Hope sprang forth like a full-born Deity! —Of that dear Hope afflicted and struck down, So summoned homeward, thenceforth calm and sure, From the dread watch-tower of man's absolute self, With light unwaning on her eyes, to look Far on—herself a glory to behold. The Angel of the vision! Then (last strain) Of Duty, chosen laws controlling choice, Action and joy!—An Orphic song indeed, A song divine of high and passionate thoughts To their own music chanted! O great Bard! Ere yet that last strain dying awed the air, With stedfast eye I viewed thee in the choir Of ever-enduring men. The truly great Have all one age, and from one visible space Shed influence! They, both in power and act, Are permanent, and Time is not with them, Save as it worketh for them, they in it. Nor less a sacred roll, than those of old, And to be placed, as they, with gradual fame Among the archives of mankind, thy work Makes audible a linked lay of Truth, Of Truth profound a sweet continuous lay, Not learnt, but native, her own natural notes! Ah! as I listened with a heart forlorn, The pulses of my being beat anew: And even as life returns upon the drowned, Life's joy rekindling roused a throng of pains— Keen pangs of Love, awakening as a babe Turbulent, with an outcry in the heart; And fears self-willed, that shunned the eye of hope; And hope that scarce would know itself from fear; Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain, And genius given, and knowledge won in vain; And all which I had culled in wood-walks wild, And all which patient toil had reared, and all, Commune with thee had opened out—but flowers Strewed on my corse, and borne upon my bier, In the same coffin, for the self-same grave!
... Eve following eve, Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of Home Is sweetest! moments for their own sake hailed, And more desired, more precious for thy song, In silence listening, like a devout child, My soul lay passive, by thy various strain Driven as in surges now beneath the stars, With momentary stars of my own birth, Fair constellated foam, [C] still darting off Into the darkness; now a tranquil sea, Outspread and bright, yet swelling to the moon.
And when—O Friend! my comforter and guide! Strong in thyself, and powerful to give strength!— Thy long-sustained Song finally closed, And thy deep voice had ceased—yet thou thyself Wert still before my eyes, and round us both That happy vision of beloved faces— Scarce conscious, and yet conscious of its close I sate, my being blended in one thought (Thought was it? or aspiration? or resolve?) Absorbed, yet hanging still upon the sound— And when I rose I found myself in prayer.
It was at Coleorton, in Leicestershire,—where the Wordsworths lived during the winter of 1806-7, in a farm-house belonging to Sir George Beaumont, and where Coleridge visited them,—that 'The Prelude' was read aloud by its author, on the occasion which gave birth to these lines.—Ed.
[Footnote A: See the 'De Quincey Memorials,' vol. i. p. 125.—Ed.]
[Footnote B: A poem on his brother John.—Ed.]
[Footnote C: Compare
"A beautiful white cloud of foam at momentary intervals, coursed by the side of the vessel with a roar, and little stars of flame danced and sparkled and went out in it: and every now and then light detachments of this white cloud-like foam darted off from the vessel's side, each with its own small constellation, over the sea, and scoured out of sight like a Tartar troop over a wilderness."
S. T. C. in 'Biographia Literaria', Satyrane's Letters, letter i. p. 196 (edition 1817).—Ed.]
* * * * *
INTRODUCTION.—CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL-TIME
O there is blessing in this gentle breeze, A visitant that while it fans my cheek Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings From the green fields, and from yon azure sky. Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come 5 To none more grateful than to me; escaped From the vast city, [A] where I long had pined A discontented sojourner: now free, Free as a bird to settle where I will. What dwelling shall receive me? in what vale 10 Shall be my harbour? underneath what grove Shall I take up my home? and what clear stream Shall with its murmur lull me into rest? The earth is all before me. [B] With a heart Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty, 15 I look about; and should the chosen guide Be nothing better than a wandering cloud, I cannot miss my way. I breathe again! Trances of thought and mountings of the mind Come fast upon me: it is shaken off, 20 That burthen of my own unnatural self, The heavy weight of many a weary day [C] Not mine, and such as were not made for me. Long months of peace (if such bold word accord With any promises of human life), 25 Long months of ease and undisturbed delight Are mine in prospect; whither shall I turn, By road or pathway, or through trackless field, Up hill or down, or shall some floating thing Upon the river point me out my course? 30
Dear Liberty! Yet what would it avail But for a gift that consecrates the joy? For I, methought, while the sweet breath of heaven Was blowing on my body, felt within A correspondent breeze, that gently moved 35 With quickening virtue, but is now become A tempest, a redundant energy, Vexing its own creation. Thanks to both, And their congenial powers, that, while they join In breaking up a long-continued frost, 40 Bring with them vernal promises, the hope Of active days urged on by flying hours,— Days of sweet leisure, taxed with patient thought Abstruse, nor wanting punctual service high, Matins and vespers of harmonious verse! 45
Thus far, O Friend! [D] did I, not used to make A present joy the matter of a song, Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains That would not be forgotten, and are here Recorded: to the open fields I told 50 A prophecy: poetic numbers came Spontaneously to clothe in priestly robe A renovated spirit singled out, Such hope was mine, for holy services. My own voice cheered me, and, far more, the mind's 55 Internal echo of the imperfect sound; To both I listened, drawing from them both A cheerful confidence in things to come.
Content and not unwilling now to give A respite to this passion, I paced on 60 With brisk and eager steps; and came, at length, To a green shady place, [E] where down I sate Beneath a tree, slackening my thoughts by choice, And settling into gentler happiness. 'Twas autumn, and a clear and placid day, 65 With warmth, as much as needed, from a sun Two hours declined towards the west; a day With silver clouds, and sunshine on the grass, And in the sheltered and the sheltering grove A perfect stillness. Many were the thoughts 70 Encouraged and dismissed, till choice was made Of a known Vale, [F] whither my feet should turn, Nor rest till they had reached the very door Of the one cottage [G] which methought I saw. No picture of mere memory ever looked 75 So fair; and while upon the fancied scene I gazed with growing love, a higher power Than Fancy gave assurance of some work Of glory there forthwith to be begun, Perhaps too there performed. Thus long I mused, 80 Nor e'er lost sight of what I mused upon, Save when, amid the stately groves of oaks, Now here, now there, an acorn, from its cup Dislodged, through sere leaves rustled, or at once To the bare earth dropped with a startling sound. 85 From that soft couch I rose not, till the sun Had almost touched the horizon; casting then A backward glance upon the curling cloud Of city smoke, by distance ruralised; Keen as a Truant or a Fugitive, 90 But as a Pilgrim resolute, I took, Even with the chance equipment of that hour, The road that pointed toward the chosen Vale. [F] It was a splendid evening, and my soul Once more made trial of her strength, nor lacked 95 AEolian visitations; but the harp Was soon defrauded, and the banded host Of harmony dispersed in straggling sounds, And lastly utter silence! "Be it so; Why think of any thing but present good?" [H] 100 So, like a home-bound labourer I pursued My way beneath the mellowing sun, that shed Mild influence; nor left in me one wish Again to bend the Sabbath of that time To a servile yoke. What need of many words? 105 A pleasant loitering journey, through three days Continued, brought me to my hermitage, [I] I spare to tell of what ensued, the life In common things—the endless store of things, Rare, or at least so seeming, every day 110 Found all about me in one neighbourhood— The self-congratulation, and, from morn To night, unbroken cheerfulness serene. [K] But speedily an earnest longing rose To brace myself to some determined aim, 115 Reading or thinking; either to lay up New stores, or rescue from decay the old By timely interference: and therewith Came hopes still higher, that with outward life I might endue some airy phantasies 120 That had been floating loose about for years, And to such beings temperately deal forth The many feelings that oppressed my heart. That hope hath been discouraged; welcome light Dawns from the east, but dawns to disappear 125 And mock me with a sky that ripens not Into a steady morning: if my mind, Remembering the bold promise of the past, Would gladly grapple with some noble theme, Vain is her wish; where'er she turns she finds 130 Impediments from day to day renewed.
And now it would content me to yield up Those lofty hopes awhile, for present gifts Of humbler industry. But, oh, dear Friend! The Poet, gentle creature as he is, 135 Hath, like the Lover, his unruly times; His fits when he is neither sick nor well, Though no distress be near him but his own Unmanageable thoughts: his mind, best pleased While she as duteous as the mother dove 140 Sits brooding, lives not always to that end, But like the innocent bird, hath goadings on That drive her as in trouble through the groves; [L] With me is now such passion, to be blamed No otherwise than as it lasts too long. 145
When, as becomes a man who would prepare For such an arduous work, I through myself Make rigorous inquisition, the report Is often cheering; for I neither seem To lack that first great gift, the vital soul, 150 Nor general Truths, which are themselves a sort Of Elements and Agents, Under-powers, Subordinate helpers of the living mind: Nor am I naked of external things, Forms, images, nor numerous other aids 155 Of less regard, though won perhaps with toil And needful to build up a Poet's praise. Time, place, and manners do I seek, and these Are found in plenteous store, but nowhere such As may be singled out with steady choice; 160 No little band of yet remembered names Whom I, in perfect confidence, might hope To summon back from lonesome banishment, And make them dwellers in the hearts of men Now living, or to live in future years. 165 Sometimes the ambitious Power of choice, mistaking Proud spring-tide swellings for a regular sea, Will settle on some British theme, some old Romantic tale by Milton left unsung; More often turning to some gentle place 170 Within the groves of Chivalry, I pipe To shepherd swains, or seated harp in hand, Amid reposing knights by a river side Or fountain, listen to the grave reports Of dire enchantments faced and overcome 175 By the strong mind, and tales of warlike feats, Where spear encountered spear, and sword with sword Fought, as if conscious of the blazonry That the shield bore, so glorious was the strife; Whence inspiration for a song that winds 180 Through ever changing scenes of votive quest Wrongs to redress, harmonious tribute paid To patient courage and unblemished truth, To firm devotion, zeal unquenchable, And Christian meekness hallowing faithful loves. 185 Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate How vanquished Mithridates northward passed, And, hidden in the cloud of years, became Odin, the Father of a race by whom Perished the Roman Empire: [M] how the friends 190 And followers of Sertorius, [N] out of Spain Flying, found shelter in the Fortunate Isles, [O] And left their usages, their arts and laws, To disappear by a slow gradual death, To dwindle and to perish one by one, 195 Starved in those narrow bounds: [P] but not the soul Of Liberty, which fifteen hundred years Survived, and, when the European came With skill and power that might not be withstood, Did, like a pestilence, maintain its hold 200 And wasted down by glorious death that race Of natural heroes: or I would record How, in tyrannic times, some high-souled man, Unnamed among the chronicles of kings, Suffered in silence for Truth's sake: or tell, 205 How that one Frenchman, [Q] through continued force Of meditation on the inhuman deeds Of those who conquered first the Indian Isles, Went single in his ministry across The Ocean; not to comfort the oppressed, 210 But, like a thirsty wind, to roam about Withering the Oppressor: how Gustavus sought Help at his need in Dalecarlia's mines: [R] How Wallace fought for Scotland; left the name Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower, 215 All over his dear Country; [S] left the deeds Of Wallace, like a family of Ghosts, To people the steep rocks and river banks, Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul Of independence and stern liberty. 220 Sometimes it suits me better to invent A tale from my own heart, more near akin To my own passions and habitual thoughts; Some variegated story, in the main Lofty, but the unsubstantial structure melts 225 Before the very sun that brightens it, Mist into air dissolving! Then a wish, My best and favourite aspiration, mounts With yearning toward some philosophic song Of Truth that cherishes our daily life; 230 With meditations passionate from deep Recesses in man's heart, immortal verse [T] Thoughtfully fitted to the Orphean lyre; [U] But from this awful burthen I full soon Take refuge and beguile myself with trust 235 That mellower years will bring a riper mind And clearer insight. Thus my days are past In contradiction; with no skill to part Vague longing, haply bred by want of power, From paramount impulse not to be withstood, 240 A timorous capacity from prudence, From circumspection, infinite delay. Humility and modest awe themselves Betray me, serving often for a cloak To a more subtle selfishness; that now 245 Locks every function up in blank reserve, Now dupes me, trusting to an anxious eye That with intrusive restlessness beats off Simplicity and self-presented truth. Ah! better far than this, to stray about 250 Voluptuously through fields and rural walks, And ask no record of the hours, resigned To vacant musing, unreproved neglect Of all things, and deliberate holiday. Far better never to have heard the name 255 Of zeal and just ambition, than to live Baffled and plagued by a mind that every hour Turns recreant to her task; takes heart again, Then feels immediately some hollow thought Hang like an interdict upon her hopes. 260 This is my lot; for either still I find Some imperfection in the chosen theme, Or see of absolute accomplishment Much wanting, so much wanting, in myself, That I recoil and droop, and seek repose 265 In listlessness from vain perplexity, Unprofitably travelling toward the grave, Like a false steward who hath much received And renders nothing back. Was it for this That one, the fairest of all rivers, [V] loved 270 To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song, And, from his alder shades and rocky falls, And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice That flowed along my dreams? For this, didst thou, O Derwent! winding among grassy holms 275 Where I was looking on, a babe in arms, Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts To more than infant softness, giving me Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm 280 That Nature breathes among the hills and groves? When he had left the mountains and received On his smooth breast the shadow of those towers [W] That yet survive, a shattered monument Of feudal sway, the bright blue river passed 285 Along the margin of our terrace walk; [X] A tempting playmate whom we dearly loved. Oh, many a time have I, a five years' child, In a small mill-race severed from his stream, Made one long bathing of a summer's day; 290 Basked in the sun, and plunged and basked again Alternate, all a summer's day, or scoured The sandy fields, leaping through flowery groves Of yellow ragwort; or when rock and hill, The woods, and distant Skiddaw's lofty height, 295 Were bronzed with deepest radiance, stood alone Beneath the sky, as if I had been born On Indian plains, and from my mother's hut Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport A naked savage, in the thunder shower. 300
Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up Fostered alike by beauty and by fear: Much favoured in my birth-place, and no less In that beloved Vale to which erelong We were transplanted [Y]—there were we let loose 305 For sports of wider range. Ere I had told Ten birth-days, [Z] when among the mountain slopes Frost, and the breath of frosty wind, had snapped The last autumnal crocus, [a] 'twas my joy With store of springes o'er my shoulder hung 310 To range the open heights where woodcocks run Along the smooth green turf. [b] Through half the night, Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied That anxious visitation;—moon and stars Were shining o'er my head. I was alone, 315 And seemed to be a trouble to the peace That dwelt among them. Sometimes it befel In these night wanderings, that a strong desire O'erpowered my better reason, and the bird Which was the captive of another's toil 320 Became my prey; and when the deed was done I heard among the solitary hills Low breathings coming after me, and sounds Of undistinguishable motion, steps Almost as silent as the turf they trod. 325
Nor less when spring had warmed the cultured Vale, [c] Moved we as plunderers where the mother-bird Had in high places built her lodge; though mean Our object and inglorious, yet the end Was not ignoble. Oh! when I have hung 330 Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock But ill sustained, and almost (so it seemed) Suspended by the blast that blew amain, Shouldering the naked crag, [d] oh, at that time 335 While on the perilous ridge I hung alone, With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind Blow through my ear! the sky seemed not a sky Of earth—and with what motion moved the clouds!
Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows 340 Like harmony in music; there is a dark Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles Discordant elements, makes them cling together In one society. How strange that all The terrors, pains, and early miseries, 345 Regrets, vexations, lassitudes interfused Within my mind, should e'er have borne a part, And that a needful part, in making up The calm existence that is mine when I Am worthy of myself! Praise to the end! 350 Thanks to the means which Nature deigned to employ; Whether her fearless visitings, or those That came with soft alarm, like hurtless light Opening the peaceful clouds; or she may use Severer interventions, ministry 355 More palpable, as best might suit her aim.
One summer evening (led by her) I found A little boat tied to a willow tree Within a rocky cave, [e] its usual home. Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in 360 Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on; Leaving behind her still, on either side, Small circles glittering idly in the moon, 365 Until they melted all into one track Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows, Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point With an unswerving line, I fixed my view Upon the summit of a craggy ridge, 370 The horizon's utmost boundary; far above Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky. She was an elfin pinnace; lustily I dipped my oars into the silent lake, And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat 375 Went heaving through the water like a swan; When, from behind that craggy steep till then The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge, As if with voluntary power instinct Upreared its head. [f] I struck and struck again, 380 And growing still in stature the grim shape Towered up between me and the stars, and still, For so it seemed, with purpose of its own And measured motion like a living thing, Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned, 385 And through the silent water stole my way Back to the covert of the willow tree; There in her mooring-place I left my bark,— And through the meadows homeward went, in grave And serious mood; but after I had seen 390 That spectacle, for many days, my brain Worked with a dim and undetermined sense Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts There hung a darkness, call it solitude Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes 395 Remained, no pleasant images of trees, Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields; But huge and mighty forms, that do not live Like living men, moved slowly through the mind By day, and were a trouble to my dreams. 400
Wisdom and Spirit of the universe! Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought, That givest to forms and images a breath And everlasting motion, not in vain By day or star-light thus from my first dawn 405 Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me The passions that build up our human soul; Not with the mean and vulgar works of man, But with high objects, with enduring things— With life and nature, purifying thus 410 The elements of feeling and of thought, And sanctifying, by such discipline, Both pain and fear, until we recognise A grandeur in the beatings of the heart. Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me 415 With stinted kindness. In November days, When vapours rolling down the valley made A lonely scene more lonesome, among woods At noon, and 'mid the calm of summer nights, When, by the margin of the trembling lake, 420 Beneath the gloomy hills homeward I went In solitude, such intercourse was mine; Mine was it in the fields both day and night, And by the waters, all the summer long.
And in the frosty season, when the sun 425 Was set, and visible for many a mile The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom, I heeded not their summons: happy time It was indeed for all of us—for me It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud 430 The village clock tolled six,—I wheeled about, Proud and exulting like an untired horse That cares not for his home. All shod with steel, We hissed along the polished ice in games Confederate, imitative of the chase 435 And woodland pleasures,—the resounding horn, The pack loud chiming, and the hunted hare. So through the darkness and the cold we flew, And not a voice was idle; with the din Smitten, the precipices rang aloud; 440 The leafless trees and every icy crag Tinkled like iron; [g] while far distant hills Into the tumult sent an alien sound Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars Eastward were sparkling clear, and in the west 445 The orange sky of evening died away. Not seldom from the uproar I retired Into a silent bay, or sportively Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng, To cut across the reflex of a star 450 That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed Upon the glassy plain; and oftentimes, When we had given our bodies to the wind, And all the shadowy banks on either side Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still 455 The rapid line of motion, then at once Have I, reclining back upon my heels, Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs Wheeled by me—even as if the earth had rolled With visible motion her diurnal round! 460 Behind me did they stretch in solemn train, Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep. [h]
Ye Presences of Nature in the sky And on the earth! Ye Visions of the hills! 465 And Souls of lonely places! can I think A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed Such ministry, when ye through many a year Haunting me thus among my boyish sports, On caves and trees, upon the woods and hills, 470 Impressed upon all forms the characters Of danger or desire; and thus did make The surface of the universal earth With triumph and delight, with hope and fear, Work like a sea? Not uselessly employed, 475 Might I pursue this theme through every change Of exercise and play, to which the year Did summon us in his delightful round.
We were a noisy crew; the sun in heaven Beheld not vales more beautiful than ours; 480 Nor saw a band in happiness and joy Richer, or worthier of the ground they trod. I could record with no reluctant voice The woods of autumn, and their hazel bowers With milk-white clusters hung; the rod and line, 485 True symbol of hope's foolishness, whose strong And unreproved enchantment led us on By rocks and pools shut out from every star, All the green summer, to forlorn cascades Among the windings hid of mountain brooks. [i] 490 —Unfading recollections! at this hour The heart is almost mine with which I felt, From some hill-top on sunny afternoons, [j] The paper kite high among fleecy clouds Pull at her rein like an impetuous courser; 495 Or, from the meadows sent on gusty days, Beheld her breast the wind, then suddenly Dashed headlong, and rejected by the storm.
Ye lowly cottages wherein we dwelt, A ministration of your own was yours; 500 Can I forget you, being as you were So beautiful among the pleasant fields In which ye stood? or can I here forget The plain and seemly countenance with which Ye dealt out your plain comforts? Yet had ye 505 Delights and exultations of your own. [k] Eager and never weary we pursued Our home-amusements by the warm peat-fire At evening, when with pencil, and smooth slate In square divisions parcelled out and all 510 With crosses and with cyphers scribbled o'er, We schemed and puzzled, head opposed to head In strife too humble to be named in verse: Or round the naked table, snow-white deal, Cherry or maple, sate in close array, 515 And to the combat, Loo or Whist, led on A thick-ribbed army; not, as in the world, Neglected and ungratefully thrown by Even for the very service they had wrought, But husbanded through many a long campaign. 520 Uncouth assemblage was it, where no few Had changed their functions; some, plebeian cards [l] Which Fate, beyond the promise of their birth, [m] Had dignified, and called to represent The persons of departed potentates. 525 Oh, with what echoes on the board they fell! Ironic diamonds,—clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades, A congregation piteously akin! Cheap matter offered they to boyish wit, Those sooty knaves, precipitated down 530 With scoffs and taunts, like Vulcan out of heaven: The paramount ace, a moon in her eclipse, Queens gleaming through their splendour's last decay, And monarchs surly at the wrongs sustained By royal visages. Meanwhile abroad 535 Incessant rain was falling, or the frost Raged bitterly, with keen and silent tooth; And, interrupting oft that eager game, From under Esthwaite's splitting fields of ice The pent-up air, struggling to free itself, 540 Gave out to meadow grounds and hills a loud Protracted yelling, like the noise of wolves Howling in troops along the Bothnic Main. [n]
Nor, sedulous as I have been to trace How Nature by extrinsic passion first 545 Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair, And made me love them, may I here omit How other pleasures have been mine, and joys Of subtler origin; how I have felt, Not seldom even in that tempestuous time, 550 Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense Which seem, in their simplicity, to own An intellectual charm; that calm delight Which, if I err not, surely must belong To those first-born affinities that fit 555 Our new existence to existing things, And, in our dawn of being, constitute The bond of union between life and joy.
Yes, I remember when the changeful earth, And twice five summers on my mind had stamped 560 The faces of the moving year, even then I held unconscious intercourse with beauty Old as creation, drinking in a pure Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths Of curling mist, or from the level plain 565 Of waters coloured by impending clouds. [o]
The sands of Westmoreland, the creeks and bays Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade, And to the shepherd's hut on distant hills 570 Sent welcome notice of the rising moon, How I have stood, to fancies such as these A stranger, linking with the spectacle No conscious memory of a kindred sight, And bringing with me no peculiar sense 575 Of quietness or peace; yet have I stood, Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league Of shining water, gathering as it seemed Through every hair-breadth in that field of light New pleasure like a bee among the flowers. 580
Thus oft amid those fits of vulgar joy Which, through all seasons, on a child's pursuits Are prompt attendants, 'mid that giddy bliss Which, like a tempest, works along the blood And is forgotten; even then I felt 585 Gleams like the flashing of a shield;—the earth And common face of Nature spake to me Rememberable things; sometimes, 'tis true, By chance collisions and quaint accidents (Like those ill-sorted unions, work supposed 590 Of evil-minded fairies), yet not vain Nor profitless, if haply they impressed Collateral objects and appearances, Albeit lifeless then, and doomed to sleep Until maturer seasons called them forth 595 To impregnate and to elevate the mind. —And if the vulgar joy by its own weight Wearied itself out of the memory, The scenes which were a witness of that joy Remained in their substantial lineaments 600 Depicted on the brain, and to the eye Were visible, a daily sight; and thus By the impressive discipline of fear, By pleasure and repeated happiness, So frequently repeated, and by force 605 Of obscure feelings representative Of things forgotten, these same scenes so bright, So beautiful, so majestic in themselves, Though yet the day was distant, did become Habitually dear, and all their forms 610 And changeful colours by invisible links Were fastened to the affections.
I began My story early—not misled, I trust, By an infirmity of love for days Disowned by memory—ere the breath of spring 615 Planting my snowdrops among winter snows: [p] Nor will it seem to thee, O Friend! so prompt In sympathy, that I have lengthened out With fond and feeble tongue a tedious tale. Meanwhile, my hope has been, that I might fetch 620 Invigorating thoughts from former years; Might fix the wavering balance of my mind, And haply meet reproaches too, whose power May spur me on, in manhood now mature To honourable toil. Yet should these hopes 625 Prove vain, and thus should neither I be taught To understand myself, nor thou to know With better knowledge how the heart was framed Of him thou lovest; need I dread from thee Harsh judgments, if the song be loth to quit 630 Those recollected hours that have the charm Of visionary things, those lovely forms And sweet sensations that throw back our life, And almost make remotest infancy A visible scene, on which the sun is shining? [q] 635
One end at least hath been attained; my mind Hath been revived, and if this genial mood Desert me not, forthwith shall be brought down Through later years the story of my life. The road lies plain before me;—'tis a theme 640 Single and of determined bounds; and hence I choose it rather at this time, than work Of ampler or more varied argument, Where I might be discomfited and lost: And certain hopes are with me, that to thee 645 This labour will be welcome, honoured Friend!
* * * * *
FOOTNOTES TO BOOK THE FIRST
[Footnote A: On the authority of the poet's nephew, and others, the "city" here referred to has invariably been supposed to be Goslar, where he spent the winter of 1799. Goslar, however, is as unlike a "vast city" as it is possible to conceive. Wordsworth could have walked from end to end of it in ten minutes.
One would think he was rather referring to London, but there is no evidence to show that he visited the metropolis in the spring of 1799. The lines which follow about "the open fields" (l. 50) are certainly more appropriate to a journey from London to Sockburn, than from Goslar to Gottingen; and what follows, the "green shady place" of l. 62, the "known Vale" and the "cottage" of ll. 72 and 74, certainly refer to English soil.—Ed.]
[Footnote B: Compare 'Paradise Lost', xii. l. 646.
'The world was all before them, where to choose.'
[Footnote C: Compare 'Lines composed above Tintern Abbey', II. 52-5 (vol. ii. p. 53.)—Ed.]
[Footnote D: S. T. Coleridge.—Ed.]
[Footnote E: At Sockburn-on-Tees, county Durham, seven miles south-east of Darlington.—Ed.]
[Footnote F: Grasmere.—Ed.]
[Footnote G: Dove Cottage at Town-end.—Ed.]
[Footnote H: This quotation I am unable to trace.—Ed.]
[Footnote I: Wordsworth spent most of the year 1799 (from March to December) at Sockburn with the Hutchinsons. With Coleridge and his brother John he went to Windermere, Rydal, Grasmere, etc., in the autumn, returning afterwards to Sockburn. He left it again, with his sister, on Dec. 19, to settle at Grasmere, and they reached Dove Cottage on Dec. 21, 1799.—Ed.]
[Footnote K: See Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal, passim.—Ed.]
[Footnote L: Compare the 2nd and 3rd of the 'Stanzas written in my pocket-copy of Thomson's Castle of Indolence', vol. ii. p. 306, and the note appended to that poem.—Ed.]
[Footnote M: Mithridates (the Great) of Pontus, 131 B.C. to 63 B.C. Vanquished by Pompey, B.C. 65, he fled to his son-in-law, Tigranes, in Armenia. Being refused an asylum, he committed suicide. I cannot trace the legend of Mithridates becoming Odin. Probably Wordsworth means that he would invent, rather than "relate," the story. Gibbon ('Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', chap. x.) says,
"It is supposed that Odin was the chief of a tribe of barbarians, who dwelt on the banks of Lake Maeotis, till the fall of Mithridates, and the arms of Pompey menaced the north with servitude; that Odin, yielding with indignant fury to a power which he was unable to resist, conducted his tribe from the frontiers of Asiatic Sarmatia into Sweden."
See also Mallet, 'Northern Antiquities', and Crichton and Wheaton's 'Scandinavia' (Edinburgh Cabinet Library):
"Among the fugitive princes of Scythia, who were expelled from their country in the Mithridatic war, tradition has placed the name of Odin, the ruler of a potent tribe in Turkestan, between the Euxine and the Caspian."
[Footnote N: Sertorius, one of the Roman generals of the later Republican era (see Plutarch's biography of him, and Corneille's tragedy). On being proscribed by Sylla, he fled from Etruria to Spain; there he became the leader of several bands of exiles, and repulsed the Roman armies sent against him. Mithridates VI.—referred to in the previous note—aided him, both with ships and money, being desirous of establishing a new Roman Republic in Spain. From Spain he went to Mauritania. In the Straits of Gibraltar he met some sailors, who had been in the Atlantic Isles, and whose reports made him wish to visit these islands.—Ed.]
[Footnote O: Supposed to be the Canaries.—Ed.]
"In the early part of the fifteenth century there arrived at Lisbon an old bewildered pilot of the seas, who had been driven by tempests he knew not whither, and raved about an island in the far deep upon which he had landed, and which he had found peopled, and adorned with noble cities. The inhabitants told him that they were descendants of a band of Christians who fled from Spain when that country was conquered by the Moslems."
(See Washington Irving's 'Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost', etc.; and Baring Gould's 'Curious Myths of the Middle Ages'.)—Ed.]
[Footnote Q: Dominique de Gourgues, a French gentleman, who went in 1568 to Florida, to avenge the massacre of the French by the Spaniards there. (Mr. Carter, in the edition of 1850.)—Ed.]
[Footnote R: Gustavus I. of Sweden. In the course of his war with Denmark he retreated to Dalecarlia, where he was a miner and field labourer.—Ed.]
[Footnote S: The name—both as Christian and surname—is common in Scotland, and towns (such as Wallacetown, Ayr) are named after him.
"Passed two of Wallace's caves. There is scarcely a noted glen in Scotland that has not a cave for Wallace, or some other hero."
Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland in 1803' (Sunday, August 21).—Ed.]
[Footnote T: Compare 'L'Allegro', l. 137.—Ed.]
[Footnote U: Compare 'Paradise Lost', iii. 17.—Ed.]
[Footnote V: The Derwent, on which the town of Cockermouth is built, where Wordsworth was born on the 7th of April 1770.—Ed.]
[Footnote W: The towers of Cockermouth Castle.—Ed.]
[Footnote X: The "terrace walk" is at the foot of the garden, attached to the old mansion in which Wordsworth's father, law-agent of the Earl of Lonsdale, resided. This home of his childhood is alluded to in 'The Sparrow's Nest', vol. ii. p. 236. Three of the "Poems, composed or suggested during a Tour, in the Summer of 1833," refer to Cockermouth. They are the fifth, sixth, and seventh in that series of Sonnets: and are entitled respectively 'To the River Derwent'; 'In sight of the Town of Cockermouth'; and the 'Address from the Spirit of Cockermouth Castle'. It was proposed some time ago that this house—which is known in Cockermouth as "Wordsworth House,"—should be purchased, and since the Grammar School of the place is out of repair, that it should be converted into a School, in memory of Wordsworth. This excellent suggestion has not yet been carried out—Ed.]
[Footnote Y: The Vale of Esthwaite.—Ed.]
[Footnote Z: He went to Hawkshead School in 1778.—Ed.]
[Footnote a: About mid October the autumn crocus in the garden "snaps" in that district.—Ed.]
[Footnote b: Possibly in the Claife and Colthouse heights to the east of Esthwaite Water; but more probably the round-headed grassy hills that lead up and on to the moor between Hawkshead and Coniston, where the turf is always green and smooth.—Ed.]
[Footnote c: Yewdale: see next note. "Cultured Vale" exactly describes the little oat-growing valley of Yewdale.—Ed.]
[Footnote d: As there are no "naked crags" with "half-inch fissures in the slippery rocks" in the "cultured vale" of Esthwaite, the locality referred to is probably the Hohne Fells above Yewdale, to the north of Coniston, and only a few miles from Hawkshead, where a crag, now named Raven's Crag, divides Tilberthwaite from Yewdale. In his 'Epistle to Sir George Beaumont', Wordsworth speaks of Yewdale as a plain
'spread Under a rock too steep for man to tread, Where sheltered from the north and bleak north-west Aloft the Raven hangs a visible nest, Fearless of all assaults that would her brood molest.'
[Footnote e: Dr. Cradock suggested the reading "rocky cove." Rocky cave is tautological, and Wordsworth would hardly apply the epithet to an ordinary boat-house.—Ed.]
[Footnote f: The "craggy steep till then the horizon's bound," is probably the ridge of Ironkeld, reaching from high Arnside to the Tom Heights above Tarn Hows; while the "huge peak, black and huge, as if with voluntary power instinct," may he either the summit of Wetherlam, or of Pike o'Blisco. Mr. Rawnsley, however, is of opinion that if Wordsworth rowed off from the west bank of Fasthwaite, he might see beyond the craggy ridge of Loughrigg the mass of Nab-Scar, and Rydal Head would rise up "black and huge." If he rowed from the east side, then Pike o'Stickle, or Harrison Stickle, might rise above Ironkeld, over Borwick Ground.—Ed.]
[Footnote g: Compare S. T. Coleridge.
"When very many are skating together, the sounds and the noises give an impulse to the icy trees, and the woods all round the lake tinkle."
'The Friend', vol. ii. p. 325 (edition 1818).—Ed.]
[Footnote h: The two preceding paragraphs were published in 'The Friend', December 28, 1809, under the title of the 'Growth of Genius from the Influences of Natural Objects on the Imagination, in Boyhood and Early Youth', and were afterwards inserted in all the collective editions of Wordsworth's poems, from 1815 onwards. For the changes of the text in these editions, see vol. ii. pp. 66-69.—Ed.]
[Footnote i: The becks amongst the Furness Fells, in Yewdale, and elsewhere.—Ed.]
[Footnote j: Possibly from the top of some of the rounded moraine hills on the western side of the Hawkshead Valley.—Ed.]
[Footnote k: The pupils in the Hawkshead school, in Wordsworth's time, boarded in the houses of village dames. Wordsworth lived with one Anne Tyson, for whom he ever afterwards cherished the warmest regard, and whose simple character he has immortalised. (See especially in the fourth book of 'The Prelude', p. 187, etc.) Wordsworth lived in her cottage at Hawkshead during nine eventful years. It still remains externally unaltered, and little, if at all, changed in the interior. It may be reached through a picturesque archway, near the principal inn of the village (The Lion); and is on the right of a small open yard, which is entered through this archway. To the left, a lane leads westwards to the open country. It is a humble dwelling of two storeys. The floor of the basement flat-paved with the blue flags of Coniston slate—is not likely to have been changed since Wordsworth's time. The present door with its "latch" (see book ii. l. 339), is probably the same as that referred to in the poem, as in use in 1776, and onwards. For further details see notes to book iv.—Ed.]
[Footnote l: Compare Pope's 'Rape of the Lock', canto iii. l. 54:
'Gained but one trump, and one plebeian card.'
[Footnote m: Compare Walton's 'Compleat Angler', part i. 4:
'I was for that time lifted above earth, And possess'd joys not promised in my birth.'
[Footnote n: The notes to this edition are explanatory rather than critical; but as this image has been objected to—as inaccurate, and out of all analogy with Wordsworth's use and wont—it may be mentioned that the noise of the breaking up of the ice, after a severe winter in these lakes, when it cracks and splits in all directions, is exactly as here described. It is not of course, in any sense peculiar to the English lakes; but there are probably few districts where the peculiar noise referred to can be heard so easily or frequently. Compare Coleridge's account of the Lake of Ratzeburg in winter, in 'The Friend', vol. ii. p. 323 (edition of 1818), and his reference to "the thunders and 'howlings' of the breaking ice."—Ed.]
[Footnote o: I here insert a very remarkable MS. variation of the text, or rather (I think) one of these experiments in dealing with his theme, which were common with Wordsworth. I found it in a copy of the Poems belonging to the poet's son:
I tread the mazes of this argument, and paint How nature by collateral interest And by extrinsic passion peopled first My mind with beauteous objects: may I well Forget what might demand a loftier song, For oft the Eternal Spirit, He that has His Life in unimaginable things, And he who painting what He is in all The visible imagery of all the World Is yet apparent chiefly as the Soul Of our first sympathies—O bounteous power In Childhood, in rememberable days How often did thy love renew for me Those naked feelings which, when thou would'st form A living thing, thou sendest like a breeze Into its infant being! Soul of things How often did thy love renew for me Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense Which seem in their simplicity to own An intellectual charm: That calm delight Which, if I err not, surely must belong To those first-born affinities which fit Our new existence to existing things, And, in our dawn of being, constitute The bond of union betwixt life and joy. Yes, I remember, when the changeful youth And twice five seasons on my mind had stamped The faces of the moving year, even then A child, I held unconscious intercourse With the eternal beauty, drinking in A pure organic pleasure from the lines Of curling mist, or from the smooth expanse Of waters coloured by the clouds of Heaven.
[Footnote p: Snowdrops still grow abundantly in many an orchard and meadow by the road which skirts the western side of Esthwaite Lake.—Ed.]
[Footnote q: Compare the 'Ode, Intimations of Immortality', stanza ix.—Ed.]
* * * * *
Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving much Unvisited, endeavoured to retrace The simple ways in which my childhood walked; Those chiefly that first led me to the love Of rivers, woods, and fields. The passion yet 5 Was in its birth, sustained as might befal By nourishment that came unsought; for still From week to week, from month to month, we lived A round of tumult. Duly were our games Prolonged in summer till the day-light failed: 10 No chair remained before the doors; the bench And threshold steps were empty; fast asleep The labourer, and the old man who had sate A later lingerer; yet the revelry Continued and the loud uproar: at last, 15 When all the ground was dark, and twinkling stars Edged the black clouds, home and to bed we went, Feverish with weary joints and beating minds. Ah! is there one who ever has been young, Nor needs a warning voice to tame the pride 20 Of intellect and virtue's self-esteem? One is there, though the wisest and the best Of all mankind, who covets not at times Union that cannot be;—who would not give, If so he might, to duty and to truth 25 The eagerness of infantine desire? A tranquillising spirit presses now On my corporeal frame, so wide appears The vacancy between me and those days Which yet have such self-presence in my mind, 30 That, musing on them, often do I seem Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself And of some other Being. A rude mass Of native rock, left midway in the square Of our small market village, was the goal 35 Or centre of these sports; [A] and when, returned After long absence, thither I repaired, Gone was the old grey stone, and in its place A smart Assembly-room usurped the ground That had been ours. There let the fiddle scream, 40 And be ye happy! Yet, my Friends! I know That more than one of you will think with me Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame From whom the stone was named, who there had sate, And watched her table with its huckster's wares 45 Assiduous, through the length of sixty years.
We ran a boisterous course; the year span round With giddy motion. But the time approached That brought with it a regular desire For calmer pleasures, when the winning forms 50 Of Nature were collaterally attached To every scheme of holiday delight And every boyish sport, less grateful else And languidly pursued. When summer came, Our pastime was, on bright half-holidays, 55 To sweep, along the plain of Windermere With rival oars; [B] and the selected bourne Was now an Island musical with birds That sang and ceased not; now a Sister Isle Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert, sown 60 With lilies of the valley like a field; [C] And now a third small Island, where survived In solitude the ruins of a shrine Once to Our Lady dedicate, and served Daily with chaunted rites. [D] In such a race 65 So ended, disappointment could be none, Uneasiness, or pain, or jealousy: We rested in the shade, all pleased alike, Conquered and conqueror. Thus the pride of strength, And the vain-glory of superior skill, 70 Were tempered; thus was gradually produced A quiet independence of the heart; And to my Friend who knows me I may add, Fearless of blame, that hence for future days Ensued a diffidence and modesty, 75 And I was taught to feel, perhaps too much, The self-sufficing power of Solitude.
Our daily meals were frugal, Sabine fare! More than we wished we knew the blessing then Of vigorous hunger—hence corporeal strength 80 Unsapped by delicate viands; for, exclude A little weekly stipend, and we lived Through three divisions of the quartered year In penniless poverty. But now to school From the half-yearly holidays returned, 85 We came with weightier purses, that sufficed To furnish treats more costly than the Dame Of the old grey stone, from her scant board, supplied. Hence rustic dinners on the cool green ground, Or in the woods, or by a river side 90 Or shady fountains, while among the leaves Soft airs were stirring, and the mid-day sun Unfelt shone brightly round us in our joy. Nor is my aim neglected if I tell How sometimes, in the length of those half-years, 95 We from our funds drew largely;—proud to curb, And eager to spur on, the galloping steed; And with the courteous inn-keeper, whose stud Supplied our want, we haply might employ Sly subterfuge, if the adventure's bound 100 Were distant: some famed temple where of yore The Druids worshipped, [E] or the antique walls Of that large abbey, where within the Vale Of Nightshade, to St. Mary's honour built, [F] Stands yet a mouldering pile with fractured arch, 105 Belfry, [G] and images, and living trees, A holy scene! Along the smooth green turf Our horses grazed. To more than inland peace Left by the west wind sweeping overhead From a tumultuous ocean, trees and towers 110 In that sequestered valley may be seen, Both silent and both motionless alike; Such the deep shelter that is there, and such The safeguard for repose and quietness.
Our steeds remounted and the summons given, 115 With whip and spur we through the chauntry flew In uncouth race, and left the cross-legged knight, And the stone-abbot, [H] and that single wren Which one day sang so sweetly in the nave Of the old church, that—though from recent showers 120 The earth was comfortless, and touched by faint Internal breezes, sobbings of the place And respirations, from the roofless walls The shuddering ivy dripped large drops—yet still So sweetly 'mid the gloom the invisible bird 125 Sang to herself, that there I could have made My dwelling-place, and lived for ever there To hear such music. Through the walls we flew And down the valley, and, a circuit made In wantonness of heart, through rough and smooth 130 We scampered homewards. Oh, ye rocks and streams, And that still spirit shed from evening air! Even in this joyous time I sometimes felt Your presence, when with slackened step we breathed Along the sides of the steep hills, or when 135 Lighted by gleams of moonlight from the sea We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand.
Midway on long Winander's eastern shore, Within the crescent of a pleasant bay, [I] A tavern stood; [K] no homely-featured house, 140 Primeval like its neighbouring cottages, But 'twas a splendid place, the door beset With chaises, grooms, and liveries, and within Decanters, glasses, and the blood-red wine. In ancient times, and ere the Hall was built 145 On the large island, had this dwelling been More worthy of a poet's love, a hut, Proud of its own bright fire and sycamore shade. But—though the rhymes were gone that once inscribed The threshold, and large golden characters, 150 Spread o'er the spangled sign-board, had dislodged The old Lion and usurped his place, in slight And mockery of the rustic painter's hand—[L] Yet, to this hour, the spot to me is dear With all its foolish pomp. The garden lay 155 Upon a slope surmounted by a plain Of a small bowling-green; beneath us stood A grove, with gleams of water through the trees And over the tree-tops; [M] nor did we want Refreshment, strawberries and mellow cream. 160 There, while through half an afternoon we played On the smooth platform, whether skill prevailed Or happy blunder triumphed, bursts of glee Made all the mountains ring. But, ere night-fall, When in our pinnace we returned at leisure 165 Over the shadowy lake, and to the beach Of some small island steered our course with one, The Minstrel of the Troop, and left him there, [N] And rowed off gently, while he blew his flute Alone upon the rock—oh, then, the calm 170 And dead still water lay upon my mind Even with a weight of pleasure, and the sky, Never before so beautiful, sank down Into my heart, and held me like a dream! Thus were my sympathies enlarged, and thus 175 Daily the common range of visible things Grew dear to me: already I began To love the sun; a boy I loved the sun, Not as I since have loved him, as a pledge And surety of our earthly life, a light 180 Which we behold and feel we are alive; [O] Nor for his bounty to so many worlds— But for this cause, that I had seen him lay His beauty on the morning hills, had seen The western mountain [P] touch his setting orb, 185 In many a thoughtless hour, when, from excess Of happiness, my blood appeared to flow For its own pleasure, and I breathed with joy. And, from like feelings, humble though intense, To patriotic and domestic love 190 Analogous, the moon to me was dear; For I could dream away my purposes, Standing to gaze upon her while she hung Midway between the hills, as if she knew No other region, but belonged to thee, [Q] 195 Yea, appertained by a peculiar right To thee and thy grey huts, thou one dear Vale! [R]
Those incidental charms which first attached My heart to rural objects, day by day Grew weaker, and I hasten on to tell 200 How Nature, intervenient till this time And secondary, now at length was sought For her own sake. But who shall parcel out His intellect by geometric rules, Split like a province into round and square? 205 Who knows the individual hour in which His habits were first sown, even as a seed? Who that shall point as with a wand and say "This portion of the river of my mind Came from yon fountain?" [S] Thou, my Friend! art one 210 More deeply read in thy own thoughts; to thee Science appears but what in truth she is, Not as our glory and our absolute boast, But as a succedaneum, and a prop To our infirmity. No officious slave 215 Art thou of that false secondary power By which we multiply distinctions; then, Deem that our puny boundaries are things That we perceive, and not that we have made. To thee, unblinded by these formal arts, 220 The unity of all hath been revealed, And thou wilt doubt, with me less aptly skilled Than many are to range the faculties In scale and order, class the cabinet Of their sensations, and in voluble phrase 225 Run through the history and birth of each As of a single independent thing. Hard task, vain hope, to analyse the mind, If each most obvious and particular thought, Not in a mystical and idle sense, 230 But in the words of Reason deeply weighed, Hath no beginning. Blest the infant Babe, (For with my best conjecture I would trace Our Being's earthly progress,) blest the Babe, Nursed in his Mother's arms, who sinks to sleep 235 Rocked on his Mother's breast; who with his soul Drinks in the feelings of his Mother's eye! For him, in one dear Presence, there exists A virtue which irradiates and exalts Objects through widest intercourse of sense. 240 No outcast he, bewildered and depressed: Along his infant veins are interfused The gravitation and the filial bond Of nature that connect him with the world. Is there a flower, to which he points with hand 245 Too weak to gather it, already love Drawn from love's purest earthly fount for him Hath beautified that flower; already shades Of pity cast from inward tenderness Do fall around him upon aught that bears 250 Unsightly marks of violence or harm. Emphatically such a Being lives, Frail creature as he is, helpless as frail, An inmate of this active universe. For feeling has to him imparted power 255 That through the growing faculties of sense Doth like an agent of the one great Mind Create, creator and receiver both, Working but in alliance with the works Which it beholds. Such, verily, is the first 260 Poetic spirit of our human life, By uniform control of after years, In most, abated or suppressed; in some, Through every change of growth and of decay, Pre-eminent till death.
From early days, 265 Beginning not long after that first time In which, a Babe, by intercourse of touch I held mute dialogues with my Mother's heart, I have endeavoured to display the means Whereby this infant sensibility, 270 Great birthright of our being, was in me Augmented and sustained. Yet is a path More difficult before me; and I fear That in its broken windings we shall need The chamois' sinews, and the eagle's wing: 275 For now a trouble came into my mind From unknown causes. I was left alone Seeking the visible world, nor knowing why. The props of my affections were removed, And yet the building stood, as if sustained 280 By its own spirit! All that I beheld Was dear, and hence to finer influxes The mind lay open to a more exact And close communion. Many are our joys In youth, but oh! what happiness to live 285 When every hour brings palpable access Of knowledge, when all knowledge is delight, And sorrow is not there! The seasons came, And every season wheresoe'er I moved Unfolded transitory qualities, 290 Which, but for this most watchful power of love, Had been neglected; left a register Of permanent relations, else unknown. Hence life, and change, and beauty, solitude More active even than "best society"—[T] 295 Society made sweet as solitude By silent inobtrusive sympathies— And gentle agitations of the mind From manifold distinctions, difference Perceived in things, where, to the unwatchful eye, 300 No difference is, and hence, from the same source, Sublimer joy; for I would walk alone, Under the quiet stars, and at that time Have felt whate'er there is of power in sound To breathe an elevated mood, by form 305 Or image unprofaned; and I would stand, If the night blackened with a coming storm, Beneath some rock, listening to notes that are The ghostly language of the ancient earth, Or make their dim abode in distant winds. 310 Thence did I drink the visionary power; And deem not profitless those fleeting moods Of shadowy exultation: not for this, That they are kindred to our purer mind And intellectual life; but that the soul, 315 Remembering how she felt, but what she felt Remembering not, retains an obscure sense Of possible sublimity, whereto With growing faculties she doth aspire, With faculties still growing, feeling still 320 That whatsoever point they gain, they yet Have something to pursue.
And not alone, 'Mid gloom and tumult, but no less 'mid fair And tranquil scenes, that universal power And fitness in the latent qualities 325 And essences of things, by which the mind Is moved with feelings of delight, to me Came, strengthened with a superadded soul, A virtue not its own. My morning walks Were early;—oft before the hours of school [U] 330 I travelled round our little lake, [V] five miles Of pleasant wandering. Happy time! more dear For this, that one was by my side, a Friend, [W] Then passionately loved; with heart how full Would he peruse these lines! For many years 335 Have since flowed in between us, and, our minds Both silent to each other, at this time We live as if those hours had never been. Nor seldom did I lift—our cottage latch [X] Far earlier, ere one smoke-wreath had risen 340 From human dwelling, or the vernal thrush Was audible; and sate among the woods Alone upon some jutting eminence, [Y] At the first gleam of dawn-light, when the Vale, Yet slumbering, lay in utter solitude. 345 How shall I seek the origin? where find Faith in the marvellous things which then I felt? Oft in these moments such a holy calm Would overspread my soul, that bodily eyes Were utterly forgotten, and what I saw 350 Appeared like something in myself, a dream, A prospect in the mind. [Z] 'Twere long to tell What spring and autumn, what the winter snows, And what the summer shade, what day and night, Evening and morning, sleep and waking, thought 355 From sources inexhaustible, poured forth To feed the spirit of religious love In which I walked with Nature. But let this Be not forgotten, that I still retained My first creative sensibility; 360 That by the regular action of the world My soul was unsubdued. A plastic power Abode with me; a forming hand, at times Rebellious, acting in a devious mood; A local spirit of his own, at war 365 With general tendency, but, for the most, Subservient strictly to external things With which it communed. An auxiliar light Came from my mind, which on the setting sun Bestowed new splendour; the melodious birds, 370 The fluttering breezes, fountains that run on Murmuring so sweetly in themselves, obeyed A like dominion, and the midnight storm Grew darker in the presence of my eye: Hence my obeisance, my devotion hence, 375 And hence my transport. Nor should this, perchance, Pass unrecorded, that I still had loved The exercise and produce of a toil, Than analytic industry to me More pleasing, and whose character I deem 380 Is more poetic as resembling more Creative agency. The song would speak Of that interminable building reared By observation of affinities In objects where no brotherhood exists 385 To passive minds. My seventeenth year was come; And, whether from this habit rooted now So deeply in my mind; or from excess In the great social principle of life Coercing all things into sympathy, 390 To unorganic ratures were transferred My own enjoyments; or the power of truth Coming in revelation, did converse With things that really are; I, at this time, Saw blessings spread around me like a sea. 395 Thus while the days flew by, and years passed on, From Nature and her overflowing soul, I had received so much, that all my thoughts Were steeped in feeling; I was only then Contented, when with bliss ineffable 400 I felt the sentiment of Being spread O'er all that moves and all that seemeth still; O'er all that, lost beyond the reach of thought And human knowledge, to the human eye Invisible, yet liveth to the heart; 405 O'er all that leaps and runs, and shouts and sings, Or beats the gladsome air; o'er all that glides Beneath the wave, yea, in the wave itself, And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not If high the transport, great the joy I felt, 410 Communing in this sort through earth and heaven With every form of creature, as it looked Towards the Uncreated with a countenance Of adoration, with an eye of love. One song they sang, and it was audible, 415 Most audible, then, when the fleshly ear, O'ercome by humblest prelude of that strain, Forgot her functions, and slept undisturbed.
If this be error, and another faith Find easier access to the pious mind, 420 Yet were I grossly destitute of all Those human sentiments that make this earth So dear, if I should fail with grateful voice To speak of you, ye mountains, and ye lakes And sounding cataracts, ye mists and winds 425 That dwell among the hills where I was born. If in my youth I have been pure in heart, If, mingling with the world, I am content With my own modest pleasures, and have lived With God and Nature communing, removed 430 From little enmities and low desires, The gift is yours; if in these times of fear, This melancholy waste of hopes o'erthrown, If, 'mid indifference and apathy, And wicked exultation when good men 435 On every side fall off, we know not how, To selfishness, disguised in gentle names Of peace and quiet and domestic love, Yet mingled not unwillingly with sneers On visionary minds; if, in this time 440 Of dereliction and dismay, I yet Despair not of our nature, but retain A more than Roman confidence, a faith That fails not, in all sorrow my support, The blessing of my life; the gift is yours, 445 Ye winds and sounding cataracts! 'tis yours, Ye mountains! thine, O Nature! Thou hast fed My lofty speculations; and in thee, For this uneasy heart of ours, I find A never-failing principle of joy 450 And purest passion. Thou, my Friend! wert reared In the great city, 'mid far other scenes; [a] But we, by different roads, at length have gained The self-same bourne. And for this cause to thee I speak, unapprehensive of contempt, 455 The insinuated scoff of coward tongues, And all that silent language which so oft In conversation between man and man Blots from the human countenance all trace Of beauty and of love. For thou hast sought 460 The truth in solitude, and, since the days That gave thee liberty, full long desired, To serve in Nature's temple, thou hast been The most assiduous of her ministers; In many things my brother, chiefly here 465 In this our deep devotion. Fare thee well! Health and the quiet of a healthful mind Attend thee! seeking oft the haunts of men, And yet more often living with thyself, And for thyself, so haply shall thy days 470 Be many, and a blessing to mankind. [b]
* * * * *
FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT
[Footnote A: The "square" of the "small market village" of Hawkshead still remains; and the presence of the new "assembly-room" does not prevent us from realising it as open, with the "rude mass of native rock left midway" in it—the "old grey stone," which was the centre of the village sports.—Ed.]
[Footnote B: Compare 'The Excursion', book ix. ll. 487-90:
'When, on thy bosom, spacious Windermere! A Youth, I practised this delightful art; Tossed on the waves alone, or 'mid a crew Of joyous comrades.'
[Footnote C: Compare 'The Excursion', book ix. l. 544, describing "a fair Isle with birch-trees fringed," where they gathered leaves of that shy plant (its flower was shed), the lily of the vale.—Ed.]
[Footnote D: These islands in Windermere are easily identified. In the Lily of the Valley Island the plant still grows, though not abundantly; but from Lady Holme the
'ruins of a shrine Once to Our Lady dedicate'
have disappeared as completely as the shrine in St. Herbert's Island, Derwentwater. The third island:
'musical with birds, That sang and ceased not—'
may have been House Holme, or that now called Thomson's Holme. It could hardly have been Belle Isle; since, from its size, it could not be described as a "Sister Isle" to the one where the lily of the valley grew "beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert."—Ed.]
[Footnote E: Doubtless the circle was at Conishead Priory, on the Cartmell Sands; or that in the vale of Swinside, on the north-east side of Black Combe; more probably the former. The whole district is rich in Druidical remains, but Wordsworth would not refer to the Keswick circle, or to Long Meg and her Daughters in this connection; and the proximity of the temple on the Cartmell Shore to the Furness Abbey ruins, and the ease with which it could be visited on holidays by the boys from Hawkshead school, make it almost certain that he refers to it.—Ed.]
[Footnote F: Furness Abbey, founded by Stephen in 1127, in the glen of the deadly Nightshade—Bekansghyll—so called from the luxuriant abundance of the plant, and dedicated to St. Mary. (Compare West's 'Antiquities of Furness'.)—Ed.]
[Footnote G: What was the belfry is now a mass of detached ruins.—Ed.]
[Footnote H: Doubtless the Cartmell Sands beyond Ulverston, at the estuary of the Leven.—Ed.]
[Footnote I: At Bowness.—Ed.]
[Footnote K: The White Lion Inn at Bowness.—Ed.]
[Footnote L: Compare the reference to the "rude piece of self-taught art," at the Swan Inn, in the first canto of 'The Waggoner', p. 81. William Hutchinson, in his 'Excursion to the Lakes in 1773 and 1774' (second edition, 1776, p. 185), mentions "the White Lion Inn at Bownas."—Ed.]
[Footnote M: Dr. Cradock told me that William Hutchinson—referred to in the previous note—describes "Bownas church and its cottages," as seen from the lake, arising "'above the trees'." Wordsworth, reversing the view, sees "gleams of water through the trees and 'over the tree tops'"—another instance of minutely exact description.—Ed.]
[Footnote N: Robert Greenwood, afterwards Senior Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.—Ed.]
[Footnote O: Compare 'Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey', vol. ii. p. 51.—Ed.]
[Footnote P: Wetherlam, or Coniston Old Man, or both.—Ed.]
"The moon, as it hung over the southernmost shore of Esthwaite, with Gunner's How, as seen from Hawkshead rising up boldly to the spectator's left hand, would be thus described."
(H. D. Rawnsley.)—Ed.]
[Footnote R: Esthwaite. Compare 'Peter Bell' (vol. ii. p. 13):
'Where deep and low the hamlets lie Beneath their little patch of sky And little lot of stars.'
[Footnote S: See in the Appendix to this volume, Note II, p. 388.—Ed.]
[Footnote T: See 'Paradise Lost', ix. l. 249.—Ed.]
[Footnote U: The daily work in Hawkshead School began—by Archbishop Sandys' ordinance—at 6 A.M. in summer, and 7 A.M. in winter.—Ed.]
[Footnote V: Esthwaite.—Ed.]
[Footnote W: The Rev. John Fleming, of Rayrigg, Windermere, or, possibly, the Rev. Charles Farish, author of 'The Minstrels of Winandermere' and 'Black Agnes'. Mr. Carter, who edited 'The Prelude' in 1850, says it was the former, but this is not absolutely certain.—Ed.]
[Footnote X: A "cottage latch"—probably the same as that in use in Dame Tyson's time—is still on the door of the house where she lived at Hawkshead.—Ed.]
[Footnote Y: Probably on the western side of the Vale, above the village. There is but one "'jutting' eminence" on this side of the valley. It is an old moraine, now grass-covered; and, from this point, the view both of the village and of the vale is noteworthy. The jutting eminence, however, may have been a crag, amongst the Colthouse heights, to the north-east of Hawkshead.—Ed.]
[Footnote Z: Compare in the 'Ode, Intimations of Immortality':
'... those obstinate questionings Of sense and outward things, Fallings from us, vanishings,' etc.
[Footnote a: Coleridge's school days were spent at Christ's Hospital in London. With the above line compare S. T. C.'s 'Frost at Midnight':