'Five years have passed,' &c.
22. Charles Farish.
'And hovering, round it often did a raven fly.'
From a short MS. poem read to me when an undergraduate, by my schoolfellow and friend, Charles Farish, long since deceased. The verses were by a brother of his, a man of promising genius, who died young. ['Guilt and Sorrow,' st. ix. l. 9.]
23. *The Forsaken. Poems founded on the Affections. [XII.]
This was an overflow from the affliction of Margaret, and excluded as superfluous there; but preserved in the faint hope that it may turn to account, by restoring a shy lover to some forsaken damsel; my poetry having been complained of as deficient in interests of this sort, a charge which the next piece, beginning,
'Lyre! though such power do in thy magic live!'
will scarcely tend to obviate. The natural imagery of these verses was supplied by frequent, I might say intense, observation of the Rydal Torrent. What an animating contrast is the ever-changing aspect of that, and indeed of every one of our mountain brooks, to the monotonous tone and unmitigated fury of such streams among the Alps as are fed all the summer long by glaciers and melting snows! A traveller, observing the exquisite purity of the great rivers, such as the Rhone at Geneva, and the Reuss at Lucerne, where they issue out of their respective lakes, might fancy for a moment that some power in Nature produced this beautiful change, with a view to make amends for those Alpine sullyings which the waters exhibit near their fountain heads; but, alas! how soon does that purity depart, before the influx of tributary waters that have flowed through cultivated plains and the crowded abodes of men.
24. *The Borderers: a Tragedy.
Of this dramatic work I have little to say in addition to the short printed note which will be found attached to it. It was composed at Racedown in Dorset, during the latter part of the year 1795, and in the course of the following year. Had it been the work of a later period of life, it would have been different in some respects from what it is now. The plot would have been something more complex, and a greater variety of characters introduced, to relieve the mind from the pressure of incidents so mournful; the manners also would have been more attended to. My care was almost exclusively given to the passions and the characters, and the position in which the persons in the drama stood relatively to each other, that the reader (for I never thought of the stage at the time it was written) might be moved, and to a degree instructed, by lights penetrating somewhat into the depths of our nature. In this endeavour, I cannot think, upon a very late review, that I have failed. As to the scene and period of action, little more was required for my purpose than the absence of established law and government, so that the agents might be at liberty to act on their own impulses. Nevertheless, I do remember, that having a wish to colour the manners in some degree from local history more than my knowledge enabled me to do, I read Redpath's History of the Borders, but found there nothing to my purpose. I once made an observation to Sir W. Scott, in which he concurred, that it was difficult to conceive how so dull a book could be written on such a subject. Much about the same time, but a little after, Coleridge was employed in writing his tragedy of Remorse; and it happened soon after that, through one of the Mr. Pooles, Mr. Knight, the actor, heard that we had been engaged in writing plays, and, upon his suggestion, mine was curtailed, and (I believe, with Coleridge's) was offered to Mr. Harris, manager of Covent Garden. For myself, I had no hope, nor even a wish (though a successful play would in the then state of my finances have been a most welcome piece of good fortune), that he should accept my performance; so that I incurred no disappointment when the piece was judiciously returned as not calculated for the stage. In this judgment I entirely concurred; and had it been otherwise, it was so natural for me to shrink from public notice, that any hope I might have had of success would not have reconciled me altogether to such an exhibition. Mr. C.'s play was, as is well known, brought forward several years after, through the kindness of Mr. Sheridan. In conclusion, I may observe, that while I was composing this play, I wrote a short essay, illustrative of that constitution and those tendencies of human nature, which make the apparently motiveless actions of bad men intelligible to careful observers. This was partly done with reference to the character of Oswald, and his persevering endeavour to lead the man he disliked into so heinous a crime; but still more to preserve in my distinct remembrance what I had observed of transitions in character, and the reflections I had been led to make, during the time I was a witness of the changes through which the French Revolution passed.
25. The following is the 'short printed note' mentioned in above:
This Dramatic Piece, as noticed in its title-page, was composed in 1795-6. It lay nearly from that time till within the last two or three months unregarded among my papers, without being mentioned even to my most intimate friends. Having, however, impressions upon my mind which made me unwilling to destroy the MS., I determined to undertake the responsibility of publishing it during my own life, rather than impose upon my successors the task of deciding its fate. Accordingly it has been revised with some care; but, as it was at first written, and is now published, without any view to its exhibition upon the stage, not the slightest alteration has been made in the conduct of the story, or the composition of the characters; above all, in respect to the two leading Persons of the Drama, I felt no inducement to make any change. The study of human nature suggests this awful truth, that, as in the trial to which life subjects us, sin and crime are apt to start from their very opposite qualities, so are there no limits to the hardening of the heart, and the perversion of the understanding to which they may carry their slaves. During my long residence in France, while the Revolution was rapidly advancing to its extreme of wickedness, I had frequent opportunities of being an eye-witness of this process, and it was while that knowledge was fresh upon my memory that the Tragedy of the Borderers was composed.
26. Later, this was prefixed: 'Readers already acquainted with my Poems will recognise, in the following composition, some eight or ten lines which I have not scrupled to retain in the places where they originally stood. It is proper, however, to add, that they would not have been used elsewhere, if I had foreseen the time when I might be induced to publish this Tragedy. February 28. 1842.'
II. POEMS REFERRING TO THE PERIOD OF CHILDHOOD.
27. *My Heart leaps up when I behold. Ị
This was written at Grasmere, Town-End, 1804.
28. *To a Butterfly. [II.]
Grasmere, Town-End. Written in the Orchard, 1801. My sister and I were parted immediately after the death of our mother, who died in 1777, both being very young. [Corrected in pencil on opposite page—' March 1778.']
29. *The Sparrow's Nest, [III.]
The Orchard, Grasmere, Town-End, 1801. At the end of the garden of my Father's house at Cockermouth was a high terrace that commanded a fine view of the river Derwent and Cockermouth Castle. This was our favourite play-ground. The terrace wall, a low one, was covered with closely-clipt privet and roses, which gave an almost impervious shelter to birds that built their nests there. The latter of these stanzas alludes to one of these nests.
30. *Foresight, [IV.]
Also composed in the Orchard, Grasmere, Town-End.
31. *Characteristics of a Child three Years old. Ṿ
Picture of my daughter Catharine, who died the year after. Written at Allan-Bank, Grasmere, 1811.
32. *Address to a Child, [VI.]
During a boisterous Winter's Evening. Town-End, Grasmere, 1806.
33. *The Mother's Return, [VII.]
Ditto. By Miss Wordsworth [i.e. both poems].
34. *Alice Fell; or Poverty. [VIII.]
1801. Written to gratify Mr. Graham, of Glasgow, brother of the Author of 'The Sabbath.' He was a zealous coadjutor of Mr. Clarkson, and a man of ardent humanity. The incident had happened to himself, and he urged me to put it into verse for humanity's sake. The humbleness, meanness if you like, of the subject, together with the homely mode of treating it, brought upon me a world of ridicule by the small critics, so that in policy I excluded it from many editions of my Poems, till it was restored at the request of some of my friends, in particular my son-in-law, Edward Quillinan.
35. *Lucy Gray; or Solitude. [IX.]
Written at Goslar, in Germany, in 1799. It was founded on a circumstance told me by my sister, of a little girl, who, not far from Halifax, in Yorkshire, was bewildered in a snow-storm. Her footsteps were tracked by her parents to the middle of the lock of a canal, and no other vestige of her, backward or forward, could be traced. The body, however, was found in the canal. The way in which the incident was treated, and the spiritualising of the character, might furnish hints for contrasting the imaginative influences, which I have endeavoured to throw over common life, with Crabbe's matter-of-fact style of handling subjects of the same kind. This is not spoken to his disparagement, far from it; but to direct the attention of thoughtful readers into whose hands these notes may fall, to a comparison that may enlarge the circle of their sensibilities, and tend to produce in them a catholic judgment.
36. *We are Seven. X The Ancient Mariner and Coleridge, &c. &c. &c.&c.
Written at Alfoxden in the spring of 1798, under circumstances somewhat remarkable. The little girl who is the heroine, I met within the area of Goderich Castle in the year 1793. Having left the Isle of Wight, and crost Salisbury Plain, as mentioned in the preface to 'Guilt and Sorrow,' I proceeded by Bristol up the Wye, and so on to N. Wales to the Vale of Clwydd, where I spent my summer under the roof of the father of my friend, Robert Jones.
In reference to this poem, I will here mention one of the most remarkable facts in my own poetic history, and that of Mr. Coleridge. In the spring of the year 1798, he, my sister, and myself, started from Alfoxden pretty late in the afternoon, with a view to visit Linton, and the Valley of Stones near to it; and as our united funds were very small, we agreed to defray the expense of the tour by writing a poem, to be sent to the New Monthly Magazine, set up by Phillips, the bookseller, and edited by Dr. Aikin. Accordingly we set off, and proceeded, along the Quantock Hills, towards Watchet; and in the course of this walk was planned the poem of the 'Ancient Mariner,' founded on a dream, as Mr. Coleridge said, of his friend Mr. Cruikshank. Much the greatest part of the story was Mr. Coleridge's invention; but certain parts I myself suggested; for example, some crime was to be committed which would bring upon the Old Navigator, as Coleridge afterwards delighted to call him, the spectral persecution, as a consequence of that crime and his own wanderings. I had been reading in Shelvocke's Voyages, a day or two before, that, while doubling Cape Horn, they frequently saw albatrosses in that latitude, the largest sort of sea-fowl, some extending their wings twelve or thirteen feet. 'Suppose,' said I, 'you represent him as having killed one of these birds on entering the South Sea, and that the tutelary spirits of these regions take upon them to avenge the crime.' The incident was thought fit for the purpose, and adopted accordingly. I also suggested the navigation of the ship by the dead men, but do not recollect that I had anything more to do with the scheme of the poem. The gloss with which it was subsequently accompanied was not thought of by either of us at the time, at least not a hint of it was given to me, and I have no doubt it was a gratuitous after-thought. We began the composition together, on that to me memorable evening: I furnished two or three lines at the beginning of the poem, in particular—
'And listen'd like a three years' child; The Mariner had his will.'
These trifling contributions, all but one, (which Mr. C. has with unnecessary scrupulosity recorded,) slipt out of his mind, as they well might. As we endeavoured to proceed conjointly (I speak of the same evening), our respective manners proved so widely different, that it would have been quite presumptuous in me to do anything but separate from an undertaking upon which I could only have been a clog. We returned after a few days from a delightful tour, of which I have many pleasant, and some of them droll enough, recollections. We returned by Dulverton to Alfoxden. The 'Ancient Mariner' grew and grew till it became too important for our first object, which was limited to our expectation of five pounds; and we began to talk of a volume which was to consist, as Mr. Coleridge has told the world, of Poems chiefly on natural subjects, taken from common life, but looked at, as much as might be, through an imaginative medium. Accordingly I wrote 'The Idiot Boy,' 'Her Eyes are wild,' &c., and 'We are Seven,' 'The Thorn,' and some others. To return to 'We are Seven,' the piece that called forth this note:—I composed it while walking in the grove of Alfoxden. My friends will not deem it too trifling to relate, that while walking to and fro I composed the last stanza first, having begun with the last line. When it was all but finished, I came in and recited it to Mr. Coleridge and my sister, and said, 'A prefatory stanza must be added, and I should sit down to our little tea-meal with greater pleasure if my task was finished.' I mentioned in substance what I wished to be expressed, and Coleridge immediately threw off the stanza, thus:
'A little child, dear brother Jem.'
I objected to the rhyme, 'dear brother Jem,' as being ludicrous; but we all enjoyed the joke of hitching in our friend James Tobin's name, who was familiarly called Jem. He was the brother of the dramatist; and this reminds me of an anecdote which it may be worth while here to notice. The said Jem got a sight of the 'Lyrical Ballads' as it was going through the press at Bristol, during which time I was residing in that city. One evening he came to me with a grave face, and said, 'Wordsworth, I have seen the volume that Coleridge and you are about to publish. There is one poem in it which I earnestly entreat you will cancel, for, if published, it will make you everlastingly ridiculous.' I answered, that I felt much obliged by the interest he took in my good name as a writer, and begged to know what was the unfortunate piece he alluded to. He said, 'It is called "We are Seven."' 'Nay,' said I, 'that shall take its chance, however;' and he left me in despair. I have only to add, that in the spring of 1841, I visited Goodrich Castle, not having seen that part of the Wye since I met the little girl there in 1793. It would have given me greater pleasure to have found in the neighbouring hamlet traces of one who had interested me so much, but that was impossible, as, unfortunately, I did not even know her name. The ruin, from its position and features, is a most impressive object. I could not but deeply regret that its solemnity was impaired by a fantastic new castle set up on a projection of the same ridge, as if to show how far modern art can go in surpassing all that could be done by antiquity and Nature with their united graces, remembrances, and associations. I could have almost wished for power, so much the contrast vexed me, to blow away Sir —— Meyrick's impertinent structure and all the possessions it contains.
37. *The Idle Shepherd Boys; or Dungeon-Ghyll Force: a Pastoral. [XI.]
Grasmere, Town-End, 1800. I will only add a little monitory anecdote concerning this subject. When Coleridge and Southey were walking together upon the Fells, Southey observed that, if I wished to be considered a faithful painter of rural manners, I ought not to have said that my shepherd boys trimmed their rustic hats as described in the poem. Just as the words had past his lips, two boys appeared with the very plant entwined round their hats. I have often wondered that Southey, who rambled so much about the mountains, should have fallen into this mistake; and I record it as a warning for others who, with far less opportunity than my dear friend had of knowing what things are, and with far less sagacity, give way to presumptuous criticism, from which he was free, though in this matter mistaken. In describing a tarn under Helvellyn, I say,
'There sometimes doth a leaping fish Send through the tarn a lonely cheer.'
This was branded by a critic of those days, in a review ascribed to Mrs. Barbauld, as unnatural and absurd. I admire the genius of Mrs. Barbauld, and am certain that, had her education been favourable to imaginative influences, no female of her day would have been more likely to sympathise with that image, and to acknowledge the truth of the sentiment.
Heading: 'Dungeon-ghyll Force.' Ghyll, in the dialect of Cumberland and Westmoreland, is a short and, for the most part, a steep narrow valley, with a stream running through it. Force is the word universally employed in these dialects for waterfall.
39. *Anecdote for Fathers. [XII.]
This was suggested in front of Alfoxden. The boy was a son of my friend Basil Montagu, who had been two or three years under our care. The name of Kilve is from a village in the Bristol Channel, about a mile from Alfoxden; and the name of Liswin Farm was taken from a beautiful spot on the Wye. When Mr. Coleridge, my sister, and I had been visiting the famous John Thelwall, who had taken refuge from politics, after a trial for high treason, with a view to bring up his family by the profits of agriculture; which proved as unfortunate a speculation as that he had fled from. Coleridge and he had been public lecturers: Coleridge mingling with his politics theology; from which the other abstained, unless it were for the sake of a sneer. This quondam community of public employment induced Thelwall to visit Coleridge at Nether Stowey, where he fell in my way. He really was a man of extraordinary talent, an affectionate husband, and a good father. Though brought up in the city on a tailor's board, he was truly sensible of the beauty of natural objects. I remember once when Coleridge, he and I were seated together upon the turf, on the brink of a stream in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful glen of Alfoxden, Coleridge exclaimed, 'This is a place to reconcile one to all the jarrings and conflicts of the wide world.' 'Nay,' said Thelwall, 'to make one forget them altogether.' The visit of this man to Coleridge was, as I believe Coleridge has related, the occasion of a spy being sent by Government to watch our proceedings; which were, I can say with truth, such as the world at large would have thought ludicrously harmless.
40. Rural Architecture. [XIII.]
These structures, as every one knows, are common among our hills, being built by shepherds, as conspicuous marks, and occasionally by boys in sport. It was written at Town-End, in 1801.
41. Foot-note: Great How (l. 4).
Great How is a single and conspicuous hill, which rises towards the foot of Thirlmere, on the western side of the beautiful dale of Legberthwaite.
42. *The Pet Lamb: a Pastoral. [XIV.]
Town-End, 1800. Barbara Lewthwaite, now living at Ambleside (1843), though much changed as to beauty, was one of two most lovely sisters. Almost the first words my poor brother John said, when he visited us for the first time at Grasmere, were, 'Were those two angels that I have just seen?' and from his description I have no doubt they were those two sisters. The mother died in childbed; and one of our neighbours, at Grasmere, told me that the loveliest sight she had ever seen was that mother as she lay in her coffin with her [dead] babe in her arm. I mention this to notice what I cannot but think a salutary custom, once universal in these vales: every attendant on a funeral made it a duty to look at the corpse in the coffin before the lid was closed, which was never done (nor I believe is now) till a minute or two before the corpse was removed. Barbara Lewthwaite was not, in fact, the child whom I had seen and overheard as engaged in the poem. I chose the name for reasons implied in the above, and will here add a caution against the use of names of living persons. Within a few months after the publication of this poem, I was much surprised, and more hurt, to find it in a child's school-book, which, having been compiled by Lindley Murray, had come into use at Grasmere school, where Barbara was a pupil. And, alas, I had the mortification of hearing that she was very vain of being thus distinguished; and in after life she used to say that she remembered the incident, and what I said to her upon the occasion.
43. *Influence of Natural Objects, &c. [XVI.]
Written in Germany, 1799.
44. *The Longest Day. [XVII.]
1817. Suggested by the sight of my daughter (Dora) playing in front of Rydal Mount, and composed in a great measure the same afternoon. I have often wished to pair this poem upon the 'longest' with one upon the 'shortest' day, and regret even now that it has not been done.
45. *The Norman Boy. [XVIII.]
The subject of this poem was sent me by Mrs. Ogle, to whom I was personally unknown, with a hope on her part that I might be induced to relate the incident in verse. And I do not regret that I took the trouble; for not improbably the fact is illustrative of the boy's early piety, and may concur, with my other little pieces on children, to produce profitable reflection among my youthful readers. This is said, however, with an absolute conviction that children will derive most benefit from books which are not unworthy the perusal of persons of any age. I protest with my whole heart against those productions, so abundant in the present day, in which the doings of children are dwelt upon as if they were incapable of being interested in anything else. On this subject I have dwelt at length in the Poem on the growth of my own mind. ['Prelude.']
* * * * *
III. POEMS FOUNDED ON THE AFFECTIONS.
46. The Brothers. Ị
1800. This poem was composed in a grove at the north-eastern end of Grasmere Lake, which grove was in a great measure destroyed by turning the high-road along the side of the water. The few trees that are left were spared at my intercession. The poem arose out of the fact mentioned to me, at Ennerdale, that a shepherd had fallen asleep upon the top of the rock called the 'pillar,' and perished as here described, his staff being left midway on the rock.
47. Great Gavel. (Foot-note.)
'From the Great Gavel down by Leeza's banks' (l. 324).
The Great Gavel, so called, I imagine, from its resemblance to the gable end of a house, is one of the highest of the Cumberland mountains. The Leeza is a river which flows into the Lake of Ennerdale.
48. Artegal and Elidure. [II.]
Rydal Mount. This was written in the year 1815, as a token of affectionate respect for the memory of Milton. 'I have determined,' says he, in his preface to his History of England, 'to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales, be it for nothing else but in favour of our English Poets and Rhetoricians, who by their wit well know how to use them judiciously.' See the Chronicle of Geoffrey of Monmouth and Milton's History of England.
49. *To a Butterfly. [III.]
1801. Written at the same time and place.
50 *A Farewell. [IV.]
1802. Composed just before my sister and I went to fetch Mary from Gallowhill, near Scarborough.
51. *Stanzas written in my Pocket-copy of Thomson's 'Castle of Indolence.' Ṿ
Composed in the Orchard, Grasmere, Town-End. Coleridge living with us much at the time, his son Hartley has said that his father's character and history are here preserved in a livelier way than in anything that has been written about him.
52. *Louisa. After accompanying her on a mountain Excursion. [VI.]
53. *Strange Fits of Passion have I known. [VII.] *She dwelt among the Springs of Dove. [VIII.] *I travelled among unknown Men. [IX.]
These three poems were written in Germany, 1799.
54. *Ere with cold Beads of midnight Dew. X
Rydal Mount, 1826. Suggested by the condition of a friend.
55. *To ——. [XI.]
Rydal Mount, 1824. Prompted by the undue importance attached to personal beauty by some dear friends of mine. [In opposite page in pencil—S. C.]
56. *'Tis said that some have died for Love. [XIII.]
57. *A Complaint. [XIV.]
Suggested by a change in the manners of a friend. Coleorton, 1806. [Town-End marked out and Coleorton written in pencil; and on opposite page in pencil—Coleridge, S. T.]
58. *To ——. [XV.]
Rydal Mount, 1824. Written on [Mrs.] Mary Wordsworth.
59. * 'How rich that Forehead's calm Expanse!'[XVII.]
Rydal Mount, 1824. Also on M. W.
60. *To ——. [XIX]
Rydal Mount, 1824. To M. W., Rydal Mount.
61. *Lament of Mary Queen of Scots. [XX.]
This arose out of a flash of Moonlight that struck the ground when I was approaching the steps that lead from the garden at Rydal Mount to the front of the house. 'From her sunk eye a stagnant tear stole forth,' is taken, with some loss, from a discarded poem, 'The Convict,' in which occurred, when he was discovered lying in the cell, these lines:
'But now he upraises the deep-sunken eye; The motion unsettles a tear; The silence of sorrow it seems to supply, And asks of me, why I am here.'
62. The Complaint of a forsaken Indian Woman. [XXI.]
When a Northern Indian, from sickness, is unable to continue his journey with his companions, he is left behind, covered over with deer-skins, and is supplied with water, food, and fuel, if the situation of the place will afford it. He is informed of the track which his companions intend to pursue, and if he be unable to follow, or overtake them, he perishes alone in the desert; unless he should have the good fortune to fall in with some other tribes of Indians. The females are equally, or still more, exposed to the same fate. See that very interesting work, Hearne's Journey from Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean. In the high northern latitudes, as the same writer informs us, when the northern lights vary their position in the air, they make a rustling and a crackling noise, as alluded to in the following poem.
At Alfoxden, in 1798, where I read Hearne's Journey with great interest. It was composed for the volume of 'Lyrical Ballads.'
64. *The Last of the Flock. [XXII.]
Produced at the same time [as 'The Complaint,' No. 62] and for the same purpose. The incident occurred in the village of Holford, close by Alfoxden.
65. *Repentance [XXIII.]
Town-End, 1804. Suggested by the conversation of our next neighbour, Margaret Ashburner.
66. *The Affliction of Margaret ——. [XXIV.]
Town-End, 1804. This was taken from the case of a poor widow who lived in the town of Penrith. Her sorrow was well known to Mary, to my sister, and I believe to the whole town. She kept a shop, and when she saw a stranger passing by, she was in the habit of going out into the street to inquire of him after her son.
67. *The Cottager to her Infant. [XXV.]
By my sister. Suggested to her while beside my sleeping children.
68. *Maternal Grief.
This was in part an overflow from the Solitary's description of his own and his wife's feelings upon the decease of their children; and I will venture to add, for private notice solely, is faithfully set forth from my wife's feelings and habits after the loss of our two children, within half a year of each other.
69. *The Sailor's Mother. [XXVII.]
Town-End, 1800. I met this woman near the Wishing-Gate, on the high-road that then led from Grasmere to Ambleside. Her appearance was exactly as here described, and such was her account, nearly to the letter.
70. *The Childless Father. [XXVIII.]
Town-End, 1800. When I was a child at Cockermouth, no funeral took place without a basin filled with sprigs of boxwood being placed upon a table covered with a white cloth in front of the house. The huntings (on foot) which the Old Man is suffered to join as here described were of common, almost habitual, occurrence in our vales when I was a boy; and the people took much delight in them. They are now less frequent.
71. Funeral Basin.
'Filled the funeral basin at Timothy's door.'
In several parts of the North of England, when a funeral takes place, a basin full of sprigs of boxwood is placed at the door of the house from which the coffin is taken up, and each person who attends the funeral ordinarily takes a sprig of this boxwood, and throws it into the grave of the deceased.
72. *The Emigrant Mother. [XXIX.]
1802. Suggested by what I have noticed in more than one French fugitive during the time of the French Revolution. If I am not mistaken, the lines were composed at Sockburn when I was on a visit to Mary and her brothers.
73. Vaudracour and Julia. [XXX.]
The following tale was written as an Episode, in a work from which its length may perhaps exclude it. The facts are true; no invention as to these has been exercised, as none was needed.
Town-End, 1805. Faithfully narrated, though with the omission of many pathetic circumstances, from the mouth of a French lady, who had been an eye and ear-witness of all that was done and said. Many long years after I was told that Dupligne was then a monk in the Convent of La Trappe.
75. The Idiot Boy.
Alfoxden, 1798. The last stanza, 'The cocks did crow, and the sun did shine so cold,' was the foundation of the whole. The words were reported to me by my dear friend Thomas Poole; but I have since heard the same reported of other idiots. Let me add, that this long poem was composed in the groves of Alfoxden, almost extempore; not a word, I believe, being corrected, though one stanza was omitted. I mention this in gratitude to those happy moments, for, in truth, I never wrote anything with so much glee.
76. *Michael. [XXXII.]
Town-End, 1807. Written about the same time as 'The Brothers.' The sheepfold on which so much of the poem turns, remains, or rather the ruins of it. The character and circumstances of Luke were taken from a family to whom had belonged, many years before, the house we lived in at Town-End, along with some fields and woodlands on the eastern shore of Grasmere. The name of the Evening Star was not in fact given to this house, but to another on the same side of the valley more to the north. [On opposite page in pencil—' Greenhead Ghyll.']
'The Clipping Tree, a name which yet it bears' (foot-note on 1. 169).
Clipping is the word used in the North of England for shearing.
78. *The Widow on Windermere Side. [XXXIV.]
The facts recorded in this Poem were given me and the character of the person described by my highly esteemed friend the Rev. R.P. Graves, who has long officiated as Curate at Bowness, to the great benefit of the parish and neighbourhood. The individual was well known to him. She died before these Verses were composed. It is scarcely worth while to notice that the stanzas are written in the sonnet-form; which was adopted when I thought the matter might be included in 28 lines.
79. The Armenian Lady's Love. [XXXIV.]
The subject of the following poem is from the 'Orlandus' of the author's friend, Kenelm Henry Digby: and the liberty is taken of inscribing it to him as an acknowledgment, however unworthy, of pleasure and instruction derived from his numerous and valuable writings, illustrative of the piety and chivalry of the olden time. *Rydal Mount, 1830.
80. Percy's 'Reliques' (foot-note on 1. 2).
'You have heard "a Spanish Lady How she wooed an English man."'
See in Percy's Reliques that fine old ballad, 'The Spanish Lady's Love'; from which Poem the form of stanza, as suitable to dialogue, is adopted.
81. *Loving and Liking. [XXXV.]
By my Sister. Rydal Mount, 1832. It arose, I believe, out of a casual expression of one of Mr. Swinburne's children.
82. *Farewell Lines. [XXXVI.]
These Lines were designed as a farewell to Charles Lamb and his Sister, who had retired from the throngs of London to comparative solitude in the village of Enfield, Herts, [sic.]
83. (1) The Redbreast.
'Of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John Blessing the bed she lies upon.'
'Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John, Bless the bed that I lie on,'
are part of a child's prayer still in general use through the northern counties.
Rydal Mount, 1834. Our cats having been banished the house, it was soon frequented by Red-breasts. Two or three of them, when the window was open, would come in, particularly when Mary was breakfasting alone, and hop about the table picking up the crumbs. My Sister being then confined to her room by sickness, as, dear creature, she still is, had one that, without being caged, took up its abode with her, and at night used to perch upon a nail from which a picture had hung. It used to sing and fan her face with its wings in a manner that was very touching. [In pencil—- But who was the pale-faced child?]
85. *Her Eyes are wild. [XXXVIII.]
Alfoxden, 1798. The subject was reported to me by a lady of Bristol, who had seen the poor creature.
* * * * *
IV. POEMS ON THE NAMING OF PLACES.
By persons resident in the country and attached to rural objects, many places will be found unnamed or of unknown names, where little Incidents must have occurred, or feelings been experienced, which will have given to such places a private and peculiar interest. From a wish to give some sort of record to such Incidents, and renew the gratification of such feelings, Names have been given to Places by the Author and some of his Friends, and the following Poems written in consequence.
87. *It was an April Morn, &c. Ị
Grasmere, 1800. This poem was suggested on the banks of the brook that runs through Easedale, which is, in some parts of its course, as wild and beautiful as brook can be. I have composed thousands of verses by the side of it.
88. *'May call it Emmas Dell' (I. 47).
[In pencil, with reference to the last line is this—Emma's Dell—Who was Emma?]
89. *To Joanna Hutchinson. [II.]
Grasmere, 1800. The effect of her laugh is an extravagance; though the effect of the reverberation of voices in some parts of these mountains is very striking. There is, in 'The Excursion,' an allusion to the bleat of a lamb thus re-echoed and described, without any exaggeration, as I heard it on the side of Stickle Tarn, from the precipice that stretches on to Langdale Pikes.
In Cumberland and Westmoreland are several Inscriptions upon the native rock, which, from the wasting of time, and the rudeness of the workmanship, have been mistaken for Runic. They are without doubt Roman. The Rotha mentioned in the poem is the River which, flowing through the lakes of Grasmere and Ryedale, falls into Wynandermere. On Helmcrag, that impressive single mountain at the head of the Vale of Grasmere, is a rock which from most points of view bears a striking resemblance to an old woman cowering. Close by this rock is one of those fissures or caverns which in the language of the country are called dungeons. Most of the mountains here mentioned immediately surround the Vale of Grasmere; of the others, some are at a considerable distance, but they belong to the same cluster.
91. *There is an Eminence, &c. [III.]
1800. It is not accurate that the eminence here alluded to could be seen from our orchard seat. It arises above the road by the side of Grasmere Lake, towards Keswick, and its name is Stone Arthur.
92. *'A narrow Girdle of rough Stones and Crags' [IV.]
'——Point Kash Judgment' (last line).
1800. The character of the eastern shore of Grasmere Lake is quite changed since these verses were written, by the public road being carried along its side. The friends spoken of were Coleridge and my sister, and the fact occurred strictly as recorded.
93. *To Mary Hutchinson. Ṿ
Two years before our marriage. The pool alluded to is in Rydal Upper Park.
94. *When to the Attractions, &c. [VI.]
1805. The grove still exists; but the plantation has been walled in, and is not so accessible as when my brother John wore the path in the manner here described. The grove was a favourite haunt with us all while we lived at Town-End.
95. Captain Wordsworth.
'When we, and others whom we love, shall meet A second time, in Grasmere's happy Vale' (last lines).
This wish was not granted; the lamented Person not long after perished by shipwreck, in discharge of his duty as Commander of the Honourable East India Company's Vessel, the Earl of Abergavenny.
V. POEMS OF THE FANCY.
96. *A Morning Exercise. Ị
Rydal Mount, 1825. I could wish the last five stanzas of this to be read with the poem addressed to the Skylark. [No. 158.]
'A feathered task-master cries, "Work away!" And, in thy iteration, "Whip Poor Will!" Is heard the spirit of a toil-worn slave' (II. 15-17).
See Waterton's Wanderings in South America.
98. *A Flower-garden. [II.]
Planned by my friend Lady Beaumont in connexion with the garden at Coleorton.
99. *A Whirl-blast from behind the Hill. [III.]
Observed in the holly grove at Alfoxden, where these verses were written in the spring of 1799. I had the pleasure of again seeing, with dear friends, this Grove in unimpaired beauty forty-one years after. [The 'dear friends' were Mrs. Wordsworth, Miss Fenwick, Mr. and Mrs. Quillinan, and Mr. William Wordsworth, May 18, 1841. Memoirs, i. 112.]
100. *The Waterfall and the Eglantine. [IV.]
Suggested nearer to Grasmere on the same mountain track. The eglantine remained many years afterwards, but is now gone. [In pencil on opposite page—Mr. W. shewed me the place 1848. E.Q.]
101. *The Oak and the Broom; a Pastoral. Ṿ
1800. Suggested upon the mountain pathway that leads from Upper Rydal to Grasmere. The ponderous block of stone, which is mentioned in the poem, remains, I believe, to this day, a good way up Nab-Scar. Broom grows under it, and in many places on the side of the precipice.
102. *To a Sexton. [VI.]
Written in Germany, 1799.
103. *To the Daisy. [VII.]
This Poem, and two others to the same flower, were written in the year 1802; which is mentioned, because in some of the ideas, though not in the manner in which those ideas are connected, and likewise even in some of the expressions, there is a resemblance to passages in a Poem (lately published) of Mr. [James] Montgomery's, entitled a 'Field Flower.' This being said, Mr. Montgomery will not think any apology due to him; but I cannot, however, help addressing him in the words of the Father of English Poets:
'Though it happe me to rehersin That ye han in your freshe songes saied, Forberith me, and beth not ill apaied, Sith that ye se I doe it in the honour Of Love, and eke in service of the Flour.'
1807. [Note.] See, in Chaucer and the older Poets, the honours formerly paid to this flower.
104. *To the same Flower. [VIII.]
'To the Daisy,' 'To the same Flower,' and 'The Green Linnet'—all composed at Town-End Orchard, where the bird was often seen as here described.
105. *To the small Celandine. [XI.]
Grasmere, Town-End. It is remarkable that this flower coming out so early in the spring as it does, and so bright and beautiful, and in such profusion, should not have been noticed earlier in English verse. What adds much to the interest that attends it, is its habit of shutting itself up and opening out according to the degree of light and temperature of the air. [In pencil on opposite page—Has not Chaucer noticed it?] [Note.] Common Pilewort.
106. The Seven Sisters.
The story of this Poem is from the German of Frederica Brun.
107. *The Redbreast chasing the Butterfly. [XV.]
Observed as described in the then beautiful Orchard at Town-End.
108. *Song for the Spinning-wheel. [XVI.]
1806. The belief on which this is founded I have often heard expressed by an old neighbour of Grasmere.
109. *Hint from the Mountains. [XVII.]
Bunches of fern may often be seen wheeling about in the wind, as here described. The particular bunch that suggested these verses was noticed in the Pass of Dunmail-Raise. The verses were composed in 1817, but the application is for all times and places.
110. *On seeing a Needle-case in the Form of a Harp. [XVIII.] 1827.
111. *The Contrast: the Parrot and the Wren.
This parrot belonged to Mrs. Luff while living at Fox-Ghyll. The wren was one that haunted for many years the Summer-house between the two terraces at Rydal Mount. [In pencil on opposite page—Addressed to Dora.]
112. *The Danish Boy. [XXII.]
Written in Germany, 1799. It was entirely a fancy; but intended as a prelude to a ballad poem never written.
113. *Song for the Wandering Jew. [XXIII.] 1800.
114. *Stray Pleasures. [XXIV.]
Suggested on the Thames by the sight of one of those floating mills that used to be seen there. This I noticed on the Surrey side, between Somerset House and Blackfriars Bridge. Charles Lamb was with me at the time; and I thought it remarkable that I should have to point out to him, an idolatrous Londoner, a sight so interesting as the happy group dancing on the platform. Mills of this kind used to he, and perhaps still are, not uncommon on the Continent. I noticed several upon the river Saone in the year 1799; particularly near the town of Chalons, where my friend Jones and I halted a day when we crossed France, so far on foot. There we embarked and floated down to Lyons.
115. *The Pilgrim's Dream; or the Star and the Glowworm. [XXV.]
I distinctly recollect the evening when these verses were suggested in 1818. It was on the road between Rydal and Grasmere, where glow-worms abound. A star was shining above the ridge of Loughrigg Fell just opposite. I remember a blockhead of a critic in some Review or other crying out against this piece. 'What so monstrous,' said he, 'as to make a star talk to a glowworm!' Poor fellow, we know well from this sage observation what the 'primrose on the river's brim was to him.'
Further—In writing to Coleridge he says: 'I parted from M—— on Monday afternoon, about six o'clock, a little on this side Rushyford. Soon after I missed my road in the midst of the storm.... Between the beginning of Lord Darlington's park at Raby, and two or three miles beyond Staindrop, I composed the poem on the opposite page ['The Pilgrim's Dream,' &c.]. I reached Barnard Castle about half-past ten. Between eight and nine evening I reached Eusemere.' [Memoirs, i. pp. 181-2.]
116. *The Poet and the caged Turtle-dove. [XXVI.]
Rydal Mount, 1830. This dove was one of a pair that had been given to my daughter by our excellent friend Miss Jewsbury, who went to India with her husband Mr. Fletcher, where she died of cholera. The dove survived its mate many years, and was killed, to our great sorrow, by a neighbour's cat that got in at the window and dragged it partly out of the cage. These verses were composed extempore, to the letter, in the Terrace Summer-house before spoken of. It was the habit of the bird to begin cooing and murmuring whenever it heard me making my verses. [In pencil on opposite page—Dora.]
117. *A Wren's Nest. [XXVII.]
In Dora's Field, 1833: Rydal Mount. This nest was built as described, in a tree that grows near the pool in Dora's field next the Rydal Mount Garden.
118. *Love lies bleeding. [XXVIII.]
It has been said that the English, though their country has produced so many great poets, is now the most unpoetical nation in Europe. It is probably true; for they have more temptation to become so than any other European people. Trade, commerce, and manufactures, physical science and mechanic arts, out of which so much wealth has arisen, have made our countrymen infinitely less sensible to movements of imagination and fancy than were our forefathers in their simple state of society. How touching and beautiful were in most instances the names they gave to our indigenous flowers, or any other they were familiarly acquainted with! Every month for many years have we been importing plants and flowers from all quarters of the globe, many of which are spread through our gardens, and some, perhaps, likely to be met with on the few commons which we have left. Will their botanical names ever be displaced by plain English appellations which will bring them home to our hearts by connection with our joys and sorrows? It can never be, unless society treads back her steps towards those simplicities which have been banished by the undue influence of towns spreading and spreading in every direction, so that city life with every generation takes more and more the lead of rural. Among the ancients, villages were reckoned the seats of barbarism. Refinement, for the most part false, increases the desire to accumulate wealth; and, while theories of political economy are boastfully pleading for the practice, inhumanity pervades all our dealings in buying and selling. This selfishness wars against disinterested imagination in all directions, and, evils coming round in a circle, barbarism spreads in every quarter of our island. Oh, for the reign of justice! and then the humblest man among us would have more peace and dignity in and about him than the highest have now.
119. *Rural Illusions. [XXV.]
Rydal Mount, 1832. Observed a hundred times in the grounds at Rydal Mount.
120. *The Kitten and the falling Leaves. [XXXI.]
1805. Seen at Town-End, Grasmere. The elder bush has long since disappeared; it hung over the wall near the cottage, and the kitten continued to leap up, catching the leaves as here described. The infant was Dora.
121. The Waggoner. [XXXIII.]
'In Cairo's crowded streets The impatient Merchant, wondering, waits in vain, And Mecca saddens at the long delay.'
To CHARLES LAMB, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
When I sent you, a few weeks ago, 'The Tale of Peter Bell,' you asked 'why "The Waggoner" was not added?'—To say the truth,—from the higher tone of imagination, and the deeper touches of passion aimed at in the former, I apprehended, this little Piece could not accompany it without disadvantage. In the year 1806, if I am not mistaken, 'The Waggoner' was read to you in manuscript, and, as you have remembered it for so long a time, I am the more encouraged to hope that, since the localities on which the Poem partly depends did not prevent its being interesting to you, it may prove acceptable to others. Being therefore in some measure the cause of its present appearance, you must allow me the gratification of inscribing it to you; in acknowledgment of the pleasure I have derived from your Writings, and of the high esteem with which I am very truly yours,
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. Rydal Mount, May 20, 1819.
122. *The Waggoner.
Town-End, 1805. The character and story from fact.
123. Benjamin 'the Waggoner.'
Several years after the event that forms the subject of the Poem, in company with my friend, the late Mr. Coleridge, I happened to fall in with the person to whom the name of Benjamin is given. Upon our expressing regret that we had not, for a long time, seen upon the road either him or his waggon, he said:—'They could not do without me; and as to the man who was put in my place, no good could come out of him; he was a man of no ideas.'
The fact of my discarded hero's getting the horses out of a difficulty with a word, as related in the poem, was told me by an eye-witness.
124. The Dor-Hawk.
'The buzzing Dor-hawk round and round is wheeling' (c. i. l. 3).
When the Poem was first written the note of the bird was thus described:—
'The Night-hawk is singing his frog-like tune, Twirling his watchman's rattle about'—
but from unwillingness to startle the reader at the outset by so bold a mode of expression, the passage was altered as it now stands.
125. Helmcrag (c. i. l. 168).
A mountain of Grasmere, the broken summit of which presents two figures, full as distinctly shaped as that of the famous Cobbler near Arroquhar in Scotland.
126. Merrynight (c. ii. l. 30).
A term well known in the North of England, and applied to rural festivals where young persons meet in the evening for the purpose of dancing.
'The fiddles squeak—that call to bliss' (c. ii. l. 97).
At the close of each strathspey, or jig, a particular note from the fiddle summons the Rustic to the agreeable duty of saluting his partner.
127. Ghimmer-Crag (c. iii. l. 21).
The crag of the ewe-lamb.
VI. POEMS OF THE IMAGINATION.
128. *There was a Boy. Ị
Written in Germany, 1799. This is an extract from the Poem on my own poetical education. This practice of making an instrument of their own fingers is known to most boys, though some are more skilful at it than others. William Raincock of Rayrigg, a fine spirited lad, took the lead of all my schoolfellows in this art.
129. *To the Cuckoo. [II.] Composed in the Orchard at Town-End, 1804.
130. *A Night-piece. [III.]
Composed on the road between Nether Stowey and Alfoxden, extempore. I distinctly remember the very moment when I was struck, as described, 'He looks up at the clouds,' &c.
131. *Yew-trees. Ṿ
Grasmere, 1803. These Yew-trees are still standing, but the spread of that at Lorton is much diminished by mutilation. I will here mention that a little way up the hill on the road leading from Rossthwaite to Stonethwaite lay the trunk of a yew-tree which appeared as you approached, so vast was its diameter, like the entrance of a cave, and not a small one. Calculating upon what I have observed of the slow growth of this tree in rocky situations, and of its durability, I have often thought that the one I am describing must have been as old as the Christian era. The tree lay in the line of a fence. Great masses of its ruins were strewn about, and some had been rolled down the hill-side and lay near the road at the bottom. As you approached the tree you were struck with the number of shrubs and young plants, ashes, &c. which had found a bed upon the decayed trunk and grew to no inconsiderable height, forming, as it were, a part of the hedgerow. In no part of England, or of Europe, have I ever seen a yew-tree at all approaching this in magnitude, as it must have stood. By the bye, Hutton, the Old Guide of Keswick, had been so imprest with the remains of this tree that he used gravely to tell strangers that there could be no doubt of its having been in existence before the Flood.
132. *Nutting. [VI.]
Written in Germany: intended as part of a poem on my own life, but struck out as not being wanted there. Like most of my schoolfellows I was an impassioned Nutter. For this pleasure the Vale of Esthwaite, abounding in coppice wood, furnished a very wide range. These verses arose out of the remembrance of feelings I had often had when a boy, and particularly in the extensive woods that still stretch from the side of Esthwaite Lake towards Graythwaite, the seat of the ancient family of Sandys.
133. *She was a Phantom of Delight. [VIII.]
1804. Town-End. The germ of this Poem was four lines composed as a part of the verses on the Highland Girl. Though beginning in this way, it was written from my heart, as is sufficiently obvious.
134. *The Nightingale. [IX.]
Town-End, 1806. [So, but corrected in pencil 'Written at Coleorton.']
135. *Three Years she grew, &c. X
1799. Composed in the Hartz Forest. [In pencil on opposite page—Who?]
136. I wandered lonely as a Cloud. [XII.] [= 'The Daffodils.']
Town-End, 1804. 'The Daffodils.' The two best lines in it are by Mary. The daffodils grew and still grow on the margin of Ulswater, and probably may be seen to this day as beautiful in the month of March nodding their golden heads beside the dancing and foaming waves. [In pencil on opposite page—Mrs. Wordsworth—but which? See the answer to this, infra.]
137. The Daffodils. [xii.]
Grasmere, Nov. 4.
MT DEAR WRANGHAM,
I am indeed much pleased that Mrs. Wrangham and yourself have been gratified by these breathings of simple nature; the more so, because I conclude from the character of the Poems which you have particularised that the Volumes cannot but improve upon you. I see that you have entered into the spirit of them. You mention 'The Daffodils.' You know Butler, Montagu's friend: not Tom Butler, but the Conveyancer: when I was in town in spring, he happened to see the Volumes lying on Montagu's mantle-piece, and to glance his eye upon the very poem of 'The Daffodils.' 'Aye,' says he, 'a fine morsel this for the Reviewers.' When this was told me (for I was not present), I observed that there were two lines in that little poem which, if thoroughly felt, would annihilate nine-tenths of the reviews of the kingdom, as they would find no readers; the lines I alluded to were these:
'They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude.'
[These two lines were composed by Mrs. Wordsworth: Memoirs, i. 183-4.]
138. *The Reverie of poor Susan. [XIII.]
Written 1801 or 1802. This arose out of my observations of the affecting music of these birds, hanging in this way in the London streets during the freshness and stillness of the Spring morning.
139. *Power of Music. [XIV.]
Taken from life, 1806.
140. *Star-gazers. [XV.] Observed by me in Leicester Square, as here described, 1806.
141. *Written in March. [XVI.]
Extempore, 1801. This little poem was a favourite with Joanna Baillie.
142. *Beggars. [XVIII.]
Town-End, 1802. Met and described by me to my sister near the Quarry at the head of Rydal Lake—a place still a chosen resort of vagrants travelling with their families.
143. *Gipsies. [XX.]
Composed at Coleorton, 1807. I had observed them, as here described, near Castle Donnington on my way to and from Derby.
Written in Germany, 1799. Suggested by an account I had of a wanderer in Somersetshire.
145. *Resolution and Independence. [XXII.]
Town-End, 1807. This old man I met a few hundred yards from my cottage at Town-End, Grasmere; and the account of him is taken from his own mouth. I was in the state of feeling described in the beginning of the poem, while crossing over Barton Fell from Mr. Clarkson's at the foot of Ullswater, towards Askham. The image of the hare I then observed on the ridge of the Fell.
146. *The Thorn. [XXIII.]
Alfoxden, 1798. Arose out of my observing on the ridge of Quantock Hill, on a stormy day, a thorn, which I had often past in calm and bright weather without noticing it. I said to myself, cannot I by some invention do as much to make this Thorn permanently an impressive object as the storm has made it to my eyes at this moment? I began the poem accordingly, and composed it with great rapidity. Sir George Beaumont painted a picture from it, which Wilkie thought his best. He gave it to me; though, when he saw it several times at Rydal Mount afterwards, he said, 'I could make a better, and would like to paint the same subject over again.' The sky in this picture is nobly done, but it reminds one too much of Wilson. The only fault however, of any consequence, is the female figure, which is too old and decrepit for one likely to frequent an eminence on such a call.
147. Hart-Leap Well. [XXIV.]
Hart-Leap Well is a small spring of water, about five miles from Richmond in Yorkshire, and near the side of the road that leads from Richmond to Askrigg. Its name is derived from a remarkable Chase, the memory of which is preserved by the monuments spoken of in the second Part of the following Poem, which monuments do now exist as I have there described them.
Town-End, 1800. The first eight stanzas were composed extempore one winter evening in the cottage; when, after having tired and disgusted myself with labouring at an awkward passage in 'The Brothers,' I started with a sudden impulse to this, to get rid of the other, and finished it in a day or two. My sister and I had past the place a few weeks before in our wild winter journey from Sockburn on the banks of the Tees to Grasmere. A peasant whom we met near the spot told us the story, so far as concerned the name of the well, and the hart, and pointed out the stones. Both the stones and the well are objects that may easily be missed: the tradition by this time may be extinct in the neighbourhood: the man who related it to us was very old.
[In pencil on opposite page—See Dryden's dog and hare in Annus Mirabilis.]
149. Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle. [XXV.]
Henry Lord Clifford, &c. &c., who is the subject of this Poem, was the son of John Lord Clifford, who was slain at Towton Field, which John Lord Clifford, as is known to the reader of English history, was the person who after the battle of Wakefield slew, in the pursuit, the young Earl of Rutland, son of the Duke of York, who had fallen in the battle, 'in part of revenge' (say the Authors of the History of Cumberland and Westmoreland); 'for the Earl's father had slain his.' A deed which worthily blemished the author (saith Speed); but who, as he adds, 'dare promise anything temperate of himself in the heat of martial fury? chiefly, when it was resolved not to leave any branch of the York line standing; for so one maketh this Lord to speak.' This, no doubt, I would observe by the bye, was an action sufficiently in the vindictive spirit of the times, and yet not altogether so bad as represented; 'for the Earl was no child, as some writers would have him, but able to bear arms, being sixteen or seventeen years of age, as is evident from this, (say the Memoirs of the Countess of Pembroke, who was laudably anxious to wipe away, as far as could be, this stigma from the illustrious name to which she was born,) that he was the next child to King Edward the Fourth, which his mother had by Richard Duke of York, and that King was then eighteen years of age: and for the small distance betwixt her children, see Austin Vincent, in his Book of Nobility, p. 622, where he writes of them all. It may further he observed, that Lord Clifford, who was then himself only 25 years of age, had been a leading man and commander, two or three years together in the army of Lancaster, before this time; and, therefore, would be less likely to think that the Earl of Rutland might be entitled to mercy from his youth.—But, independent of this act, at best a cruel and savage one, the Family of Clifford had done enough to draw upon them the vehement hatred of the House of York: so that after the battle of Towton there was no hope for them but in flight and concealment. Henry, the subject of the poem, was deprived of his estate and honours during the space of twenty-four years; all which time he lived as a shepherd in Yorkshire, or in Cumberland, where the estate of his father-in-law (Sir Lancelot Threlkeld) lay. He was restored to his estate and honours in the first year of Henry the Seventh. It is recorded that, 'when called to Parliament, he behaved nobly and wisely; but otherwise came seldom to London or the Court; and rather delighted to live in the country, where he repaired several of his castles, which had gone to decay during the late troubles.' Thus far is chiefly collected from Nicholson and Burn; and I can add, from my own knowledge, that there is a tradition current in the village of Threlkeld and its neighbourhood, his principal retreat, that, in the course of his shepherd-life, he had acquired great astronomical knowledge. I cannot conclude this note without adding a word upon the subject of those numerous and noble feudal Edifices, spoken of in the Poem, the ruins of some of which are, at this day, so great an ornament to that interesting country. The Cliffords had always been distinguished for an honourable pride in these Castles; and we have seen that after the wars of York and Lancaster they were rebuilt; in the civil wars of Charles the First they were again laid waste, and again restored almost to their former magnificence by the celebrated Mary Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, &c. &c. Not more than twenty-five years after this was done, when the estates of Clifford had passed into the family of Tufton, three of these castles, namely, Brough, Brougham, and Pendragon, were demolished, and the timber and other materials sold by Thomas Earl of Thanet. We will hope that, when this order was issued, the Earl had not consulted the text of Isaiah, 58th chap. 12th verse, to which the inscription placed over the gate of Pendragon Castle, by the Countess of Pembroke (I believe his grandmother), at the time she repaired that structure, refers the reader:—'And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.' The Earl of Thanet, the present possessor of the estates, with a due respect for the memory of his ancestors, and a proper sense of the value and beauty of these remains of antiquity, has (I am told) given orders that they shall be preserved from all depredations.
See the note attached. This poem was composed at Coleorton, while I was walking to and fro along the path that led from Sir George Beaumont's farm-house, where we resided, to the Hall, which was building at that time.
151. Sir John Beaumont.
'Earth helped him with the cry of blood' (l. 27).
This line is from 'The Battle of Bosworth Field,' by Sir John Beaumont (brother to the dramatist), whose poems are written with much spirit, elegance, and harmony; and have deservedly been reprinted in Chalmers' Collection of English Poets.
152. The undying Fish of Bowscale Tarn (l. 122).
It is believed by the people of the country that there are two immortal fish, inhabitants of this Tarn, which lies in the mountains not far from Threlkeld—Blencathara, mentioned before, is the old and proper name of the mountain vulgarly called Saddle-back.
153. The Cliffords.
'Armour rusting in his Halls On the blood of Clifford calls' (ll. 142-3).
The martial character of the Cliffords is well known to the readers of English history; but it may not be improper here to say, by way of comment on these lines and what follows, that besides several others who perished in the same manner, the four immediate Progenitors of the Person in whose hearing this is supposed to be spoken all died on the Field.
154. *Tintern Abbey. [XXVI.]
July 1798. No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for me to remember than this. I began it upon leaving Tintern, after crossing the Wye, and concluded it just as I was entering Bristol in the evening, after a ramble of four or five days with my sister. Not a line of it was altered, and not any part of it written down till I reached Bristol. It was published almost immediately after in the little volume of which so much has been said in these notes, the 'Lyrical Ballads,' as first published at Bristol by Cottle.
155. *It is no Spirit, &c. [XXVII.]
1803. Town-End. I remember the instant my sister Sarah Hutchinson called me to the window of our cottage saying, 'Look, how beautiful is yon star! It has the sky all to itself.' I composed the verses immediately.
156. French Revolution. [XXVIII.]
An extract from the long poem on my own poetical education. It was first published by Coleridge in his Friend, which is the reason of its having had a place in every edition of my poems since.
157. *Yes, it was the Mountain Echo. [XXIX.]
Town-End, 1806. The Echo came from Nabscar, when I was walking on the opposite side of Rydal Mere. I will here mention, for my dear sister's sake, that while she was sitting alone one day, high up on this part of Loughrigg Fell, she was so affected by the voice of the cuckoo, heard from the crags at some distance, that she could not suppress a wish to have a stone inscribed with her name among the rocks from which the sound proceeded. On my return from my walk I recited those verses to Mary, who was then confined with her son Thomas, who died in his seventh year, as recorded on his headstone in Grasmere Churchyard.
158. To a Skylark. [XXX.]
Rydal Mount, 1825. [In pencil—Where there are no skylarks; but the poet is everywhere.]
159. *Laodamia. [XXXI.]
Rydal Mount, 1814. Written at the same time as 'Dion,' and 'Artegal,' and 'Elidure.' The incident of the trees growing and withering put the subject into my thoughts, and I wrote with the hope of giving it a loftier tone than, so far as I know, has been given it by any of the ancients who have treated of it. It cost me more trouble than almost anything of equal length I have ever written.
160. Withered Trees (foot-note).
'The trees' tall summits withered at the sight' (l. 73).
For the account of long-lived trees, see King's [Natural] History, lib. xvi. cap. 44; and for the features in the character of Protesilaus, see the Iphigenia in Aulis of Euripides.
161. *Dion. [XXXII.]
This poem was first introduced by a stanza that I have since transferred to the notes, for reasons there given; and I cannot comply with the request expressed by some of my friends, that the rejected stanza should be restored. I hope they will be content if it be hereafter immediately attached to the poem, instead of its being degraded to a place in the notes.
The 'reasons' (supra) are thus given: This poem began with the following stanza, which has been displaced on account of its detaining the reader too long from the subject, and as rather precluding, than preparing for, the due effect of the allusion to the genius of Plato.
162. Fair is the Swan, &c. [XXXIII.] (See supra, 161.)
163. *The Pass of Kirkstone.
Rydal Mount, 1817. Thoughts and feelings of many walks in all weathers by day and night over this Pass alone, and with beloved friends.
164. *To ——. [XXXV.]
Rydal Mount, 1816. The lady was Miss Blackett, then residing with Mr. Montague Burgoyne, at Fox-Ghyll. We were tempted to remain too long upon the mountain, and I imprudently, with the hope of shortening the way, led her among the crags and down a steep slope, which entangled us in difficulties, that were met by her with much spirit and courage.
165. *To a Young Lady. [XXXVI.]
Composed at the same time, and on the same vein, as 'I met Louisa in the Shade.' Indeed they were designed to make one piece. [See No. 52.]
166. *Water-fowl. [XXXVII.]
Observed frequently over the lakes of Rydal and Grasmere.
167. *View from the Top of Black Comb. [XXXVIII.]
1813. Mary and I, as mentioned in the Epistle to Sir G. Beaumont, lived some time under its shadow.
168. *The Haunted Tree. [XXXIX.]
1819. This tree grew in the park of Rydal, and I have often listened to its creaking as described.
169. *The Triad. [XL.]
'Rydal Mount, 1828. The girls Edith Mary Southey, my daughter Dora, and Sarah Coleridge.' More fully on this and others contemporaneously written, is the following letter:
To G.H. GORDON, ESQ. Rydal Mount, Dec. 15, 1828.
How strange that any one should be puzzled with the name 'Triad' after reading the poem! I have turned to Dr. Johnson, and there find 'Triad, three united,' and not a word more, as nothing more was needed. I should have been rather mortified if you had not liked the piece, as I think it contains some of the happiest verses I ever wrote. It had been promised several years to two of the party before a fancy fit for the performance struck me; it was then thrown off rapidly, and afterwards revised with care. During the last week I wrote some stanzas on the Power of Sound, which ought to find a place in my larger work if aught should ever come of that.
In the book on the Lakes, which I have not at hand, is a passage rather too vaguely expressed, where I content myself with saying, that after a certain point of elevation the effect of mountains depends much more upon their form than upon their absolute height. This point, which ought to have been defined, is the one to which fleecy clouds (not thin watery vapours) are accustomed to descend. I am glad you are so much interested with this little tract; it could not have been written without long experience.
I remain, most faithfully, Your much obliged, WILLIAM WORDSWORTH.
170. The Wishing-gate. [XLI.]
In the Vale of Grasmere, by the side of the old highway leading to Ambleside, is a gate which, time out of mind, has been called the 'Wishing-gate,' from a belief that wishes formed or indulged there have a favourable issue.
171. The Wishing-gate destroyed.
Having been told, upon what I thought good authority, that this gate had been destroyed, and the opening, where it hung, walled up, I gave vent immediately to my feelings in these stanzas. But going to the place some time after, I found, with much delight, my old favourite unmolested. [*Rydal Mount, 1828.]
172. *The Primrose of the Rock. [XLIII.]
Rydal Mount, 1821. It stands on the right hand, a little way leading up the vale from Grasmere to Rydal. We have been in the habit of calling it the glow-worm rock, from the number of glow-worms we have often seen hanging on it as described. The tuft of primrose has, I fear, been washed away by heavy rains.
173. *Presentiments. [XLIV.]
Rydal Mount, 1830.
174. *Vernal Ode. [XLV.]
Rydal Mount, 1817. Composed to place in view the immortality of succession where immortality is denied, so far as we know, to the individual creature.
175. *Devotional Incitements. [XLVI.]
Rydal Mount, 1832.
176. *The Cuckoo-Clock. [XLVII.]
Of this clock I have nothing further to say than what the poem expresses, except that it must be here recorded that it was a present from the dear friend for whose sake these notes were chiefly undertaken, and who has written them from my dictation.
177. *To the Clouds. [XLVIII.]
These verses were suggested while I was walking on the foot-road between Rydal Mount and Grasmere. The clouds were driving over the top of Nab-Scar across the vale; they set my thoughts agoing, and the rest followed almost immediately.
178. *Suggested by a Picture of the Bird of Paradise. [XLIX.]
This subject has been treated of before (see a former note). I will here only, by way of comment, direct attention to the fact, that pictures of animals and other productions of Nature, as seen in conservatories, menageries and museums, &c., would do little for the national mind, nay, they would be rather injurious to it, if the imagination were excluded by the presence of the object, more or less out of the state of Nature. If it were not that we learn to talk and think of the lion and the eagle, the palm-tree, and even the cedar, from the impassioned introduction of them so frequently in Holy Scripture, and by great poets, and divines who write as poets, the spiritual part of our nature, and therefore the higher part of it, would derive no benefit from such intercourse with such subjects.
179. *A Jewish Family. Ḷ
Coleridge and my daughter and I in 1828 passed a fortnight upon the banks of the Rhine, principally under the hospitable roof of Mr. Aders at Gotesburg, but two days of the time were spent at St. Goa or in rambles among the neighbouring vallies. It was at St. Goa that I saw the Jewish family here described. Though exceedingly poor, and in rags, they were not less beautiful than I have endeavoured to make them appear. We had taken a little dinner with us in a basket, and invited them to partake of it, which the mother refused to do both for herself and her children, saying it was with them a fast-day; adding diffidently, that whether such observances were right or wrong, she felt it her duty to keep them strictly. The Jews, who are numerous in this part of the Rhine, greatly surpass the German peasantry in the beauty of their features and in the intelligence of their countenances. But the lower classes of the German peasantry have, here at least, the air of people grievously opprest. Nursing mothers at the age of seven or eight and twenty often look haggard and far more decayed and withered than women of Cumberland and Westmoreland twice their age. This comes from being under-fed and over-worked in their vineyards in a hot and glaring sun. [In pencil on opposite page—The three went from my house in Bryanston-street, London—E.Q.]
180. *On the Power of Sound. [LI.]
Rydal Mount, 1828. I have often regretted that my tour in Ireland, chiefly performed in the short days of October in a carriage and four (I was with Mr. Marshall), supplied my memory with so few images that were new and with so little motive to write. The lines, however, in this poem, 'Thou too he heard, lone eagle!' &c., were suggested near the Giant's Causeway, or rather at the promontory of Fairhead, where a pair of eagles wheeled above our heads, and darted off as if to hide themselves in a blaze of sky made by the setting sun.
181. Peter Bell: a Tale.
DEDICATION. 'What's in a Name?' 'Brutus will start a Spirit as soon as Caesar!'
To ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQ., P.L., ETC., ETC. MY DEAR FRIEND,
The Tale of 'Peter Bell,' which I now introduce to your notice, and to that of the Public, has, in its Manuscript state, nearly survived its minority:—for it first saw the light in the summer of 1798. During this long interval, pains have been taken at different times to make the production less unworthy of a favourable reception; or, rather, to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the Literature of our Country. This has, indeed, been the aim of all my endeavours in Poetry, which, you know, have been sufficiently laborious to prove that I deem the Art not lightly to be approached; and that the attainment of excellence in it may laudably be made the principal object of intellectual pursuit by any man who, with reasonable consideration of circumstances, has faith in his own impulses.
The Poem of 'Peter Bell,' as the Prologue will show, was composed under a belief that the Imagination not only does not require for its exercise the intervention of supernatural agency, but that, though such agency be excluded, the faculty may be called forth as imperiously and for kindred results of pleasure, by incidents, within the compass of poetic probability, in the humblest departments of daily life. Since that Prologue was written, you have exhibited most splendid effects of judicious daring, in the opposite and usual course. Let this acknowledgment make my peace with the lovers of the supernatural; and I am persuaded it will be admitted that to you, as a Master in that province of the art, the following Tale, whether from contrast or congruity, is not an inappropriate offering. Accept it, then, as a public testimony of affectionate admiration from one with whose name yours has been often coupled (to use your own words) for evil and for good; and believe me to be, with earnest wishes that life and health may be granted you to complete the many important works in which you are engaged, and with high respect,
Most faithfully yours, WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. Rydal Mount, April 7, 1819.
182. Peter Bell: the Poem.
Alfoxden, 1798. Founded upon an anecdote which I read in a newspaper, of an ass being found hanging his head over a canal in a wretched posture. Upon examination a dead body was found in the water, and proved to be the body of its master. The countenance, gait, and figure of Peter were taken from a wild rover with whom I walked from Builth, on the river Wye, downwards, nearly as far as the town of Hay. He told me strange stories. It has always been a pleasure to me, through life, to catch at every opportunity that has occurred in my rambles of becoming acquainted with this class of people. The number of Peter's wives was taken from the trespasses, in this way, of a lawless creature who lived in the county of Durham, and used to be attended by many women, sometimes not less than half a dozen, as disorderly as himself; and a story went in the country, that he had been heard to say while they were quarrelling, 'Why can't you be quiet, there's none so many of you.' Benoni, or the child of sorrow, I knew when I was a school-boy. His mother had been deserted by a gentleman in the neighbourhood, she herself being a gentlewoman by birth. The circumstances of her story were told me by my dear old dame, Ann Tyson, who was her confidante. The lady died broken-hearted. In the woods of Alfoxden I used to take great delight in noticing the habits, tricks, and physiognomy of asses; and I have no doubt that I was thus put upon writing the poem out of liking for the creature that is so often dreadfully abused. The crescent moon, which makes such a figure in the prologue, assumed this character one evening while I was watching its beauty in front of Alfoxden House. I intended this poem for the volume before spoken of, but it was not published for more than twenty years afterwards. The worship of the Methodists, or Ranters, is often heard during the stillness of the summer evening, in the country, with affecting accompaniments of rural beauty. In both the psalmody and voice of the preacher there is, not unfrequently, much solemnity likely to impress the feelings of the rudest characters under favourable circumstances.
'A Potter, Sir, he was by trade' (Pt. I. l. 11).
In the dialect of the North, a hawker of earthenware is thus designated.
VII. MISCELLANEOUS SONNETS.
183. *Commencement of writing of Sonnets.
In the cottage of Town-End, one afternoon in 1801, my sister read to me the sonnets of Milton. I had long been well acquainted with them, but I was particularly struck on that occasion with the dignified simplicity and majestic harmony that runs through most of them—in character so totally different from the Italian, and still more so from Shakespeare's fine sonnets. I took fire, if I may be allowed to say so, and produced three sonnets the same afternoon—the first I ever wrote, except an irregular one at school. Of these three, the only one I distinctly remember is 'I grieved for Buonaparte,' &c. One was never written down; the third, which was I believe preserved, I cannot particularise.
'Well mays't thou halt,' &c. [II.]
Intended more particularly for the perusal of those who have happened to be enamoured of some beautiful place of retreat in the Country of the Lakes.
185. *Sonnet IV.
'Beaumont! it was thy wish,' &c.
This was presented to me by Sir George Beaumont, with a view to the erection of a house upon it, for the sake of being near to Coleridge, then living, and likely to remain, at Greta Hall, near Keswick. The severe necessities that prevented this arose from his domestic situation. This little property, with a considerable addition that still leaves it very small, lies beautifully upon the banks of a rill that gurgles down the side of Skiddaw; and the orchard and other parts of the grounds command a magnificent prospect of Derwent Water, the Mountains of Borrowdale and Newlands. Not many years ago I gave the place to my daughter. [In pencil on opposite page in Mrs. Quillinan's handwriting—Many years ago, sir, for it was given when she was a frail feeble monthling.]
186. *Sonnet VI.
'There is a little unpretending rill.'
This rill trickles down the hill-side into Windermere near Lowood. My sister and I, on our first visit together to this part of the country, walked from Kendal, and we rested to refresh ourselves by the side of the Lake where the streamlet falls into it. This sonnet was written some years after in recollection of that happy ramble, that most happy day and hour.
187. *Sonnet VIII.
'The fairest, brightest hues,' &c.
Suggested at Hackett, which is the craggy ridge that rises between the two Langdales, and looks towards Windermere. The cottage of Hackett was often visited by us; and at the time when this sonnet was written, and long after, was occupied by the husband and wife described in 'The Excursion,' where it is mentioned that she was in the habit of walking in the front of the dwelling with a light to guide her husband home at night. The same cottage is alluded to in the Epistle to Sir G. Beaumont as that from which the female peasant hailed us on our morning journey. The musician mentioned in the sonnet was the Rev. P. Tilbrook of Peterhouse, who remodelled the Ivy Cottage at Rydal after he had purchased it.
188. 'The Genius.'
'Such strains of rapture as the Genius played.'
See the 'Vision of Mirza' in the Spectator.
189. *Sonnet IX.
Upon the sight of a beautiful picture.
This was written when we dwelt in the Parsonage at Grasmere. The principal features of the picture are Bredon Hill and Cloud Hill, near Coleorton. I shall never forget the happy feeling with which my heart was filled when I was impelled to compose this sonnet. We resided only two years in this house; and during the last half of this time, which was after this poem had been written, we lost our two children, Thomas and Catherine. Our sorrow upon these events often brought it to my mind, and cast me upon the support to which the last line of it gives expression:
'The appropriate calm of blest eternity.'
It is scarcely necessary to add that we still possess the picture.
190. *Sonnet XI.
A projecting point of Loughrigg, nearly in front of Rydal Mount. Thence looking at it, you are struck with the boldness of its aspect; but walking under it, you admire the beauty of its details. It is vulgarly called Holme-scar, probably from the insulated pasture by the waterside below it.
191. *Sonnet XV.
The Wild Duck's Nest.
I observed this beautiful nest on the largest island of Rydal Water.
192. *Sonnet XIX.
'Grief thou hast lost,' &c.
I could write a treatise of lamentation upon the changes brought about among the cottages of Westmoreland by the silence of the spinning-wheel. During long winter's nights and wet days, the wheel upon which wool was spun gave employment to a great part of a family. The old man, however infirm, was able to card the wool, as he sate in the corner by the fireside; and often, when a boy, have I admired the cylinders of carded wool which were softly laid upon each other by his side. Two wheels were often at work on the same floor, and others of the family, chiefly the little children, were occupied in teazing and clearing the wool to fit it for the hand of the carder. So that all, except the infants, were contributing to mutual support: Such was the employment that prevailed in the pastoral vales. Where wool was not at hand, in the small rural towns, the wheel for spinning flax was almost in as constant use, if knitting was not preferred; which latter occupation had the advantage (in some cases disadvantage) that not being of necessity stationary, it allowed of gossiping about from house to house, which good housewives reckoned an idle thing.
193. *Sonnet XXII.
Decay of Piety.
Attendance at church on prayer-days, Wednesdays and Fridays and holidays, received a shock at the Revolution. It is now, however, happily reviving. The ancient people described in this sonnet were among the last of that pious class. May we hope that the practice now in some degree renewed will continue to spread.
194. *Sonnets XXIV. XXV. XXVI.
Translations from Michael Angelo, done at the request of Mr. Duppa, whose acquaintance I made through Mr. Southey. Mr. Duppa was engaged in writing the life of Michael Angelo, and applied to Mr. Southey and myself to furnish some specimens of his poetic genius.
195. *Sonnet XXVII.
'Surprised by joy,' &c.
This was in fact suggested by my daughter Catherine long after her death.
196. *Sonnets XXVIII. XXIX.
'Methought I saw,' &c. 'Even so for me,' &c.
The latter part of the first of these was a great favourite with my sister, Sara Hutchinson. When I saw her lying in death, I could not resist the impulse to compose the sonnet that follows.
197. *Sonnet XXX.
'It is a beauteous evening,' &c.
This was composed on the beach near Calais, in the autumn of 1802.
198. *Sonnet XXXVI.
'Calvert! it must not be,' &c.
This young man, Raisley Calvert, to whom I was so much indebted, died at Penrith, 179-.
* * * * *
199. *Sonnet IV.
'From the dark chambers,' &c.
Composed in Edinburgh, during my Scotch tour with Mary and Sara, in the year 1814. Poor Gillies never rose above the course of extravagance in which he was at that time living, and which soon reduced him to poverty and all its degrading shifts, mendicity being far from the worst. I grieve whenever I think of him; for he was far from being without genius, and had a generous heart—which is not always to be found in men given up to profusion. He was nephew of Lord Gillies, the Scotch judge, and also of the historian of Greece. He was cousin of Miss Margaret Gillies, who painted so many portraits with success in our house.
200. *Sonnet V.
'Fool, prime of life,' &c.
Suggested by observation of the way in which a young friend, whom I do not choose to name, misspent his time and misapplied his talents. He took afterwards a better course, and became an useful member of society, respected, I believe, wherever he has been known.
201. *Sonnet VI.
'I watch, and long have watched,' &c.
Suggested in front of Rydal Mount, the rocky parapet being the summit of Loughrigg Fell opposite. Not once only but a hundred times have the feelings of this sonnet been awakened by the same objects from the same place.
202. Sonnet VII.
'The ungenial Hollow.'
See the 'Phaedon' of Plato, by which this sonnet was suggested.
203. Sonnet VIII.
'For the whole weight,' &c.
Composed, almost extempore, in a short walk on the western side of Rydal Lake.
204. *Sonnet X.
'Mark the concentred hazels,' &c.
Suggested in the wild hazel-wood at foot of Helm-Crag, where the stone still lies, with others of like form and character, though much of the wood that veiled it from the glare of day has been felled. This beautiful ground was lately purchased by our friend, Mrs. Fletcher, the ancient owners, most respected persons, being obliged to part with it in consequence of the imprudence, if not misconduct, of a son. It is gratifying to mention that instead of murmuring and repining at this change of fortune they offered their services to Mrs. Fletcher, the husband as an out-door labourer and the wife as a domestic servant. I have witnessed the pride and pleasure with which the man worked at improvements of the ground round the house. Indeed he expressed them to me himself, and the countenance and manner of his wife always denoted feelings of the same character. I believe a similar disposition to contentment under change of fortune is common among the class to which these good people belong. Yet, in proof that to part with their patrimony is most painful to them, I may refer to those stanzas entitled 'Repentance,' no inconsiderable part of which was taken verbatim from the language of the speaker himself. [In pencil—Herself, M.N.]
205. *Sonnet XI.
'Dark and more dark,' &c.
October 3d or 4th, 1802. Composed after a journey over the Hambleton Hills, on a day memorable to me—the day of my marriage. The horizon commanded by those hills is most magnificent.
The next day, while we were travelling in a post-chaise up Wensley Dale, we were stopt by one of the horses proving restiff, and were obliged to wait two hours in a severe storm before the post-boy could fetch from the Inn another to supply its place. The spot was in front of Bolton Hall, where Mary Queen of Scots was kept prisoner soon after her unfortunate landing at Workington. The place then belonged to the Scroopes, and memorials of her are yet preserved there. To beguile the time I composed a sonnet. The subject was our own confinement contrasted with hers; but it was not thought worthy of being preserved.
206. *Sonnet XIII.
'While not a leaf,' &c.
September 1815. 'For me, who under kindlier laws,' &c. (l. 9). This conclusion has more than once, to my great regret, excited painfully sad feelings in the hearts of young persons fond of poetry and poetic composition by contrast of their feeble and declining health with that state of robust constitution which prompted me to rejoice in a season of frost and snow as more favourable to the Muses than summer itself.
207. *Sonnet XIV.
'How clear, how keen,' &c.
November 1st. Suggested on the banks of the Brathay by the sight of Langdale Pikes. It is delightful to remember those moments of far-distant days, which probably would have been forgotten if the impression had not been transferred to verse. The same observation applies to the rest.
208. *Sonnet XV.
One who was suffering,' &c.
Composed during a storm in Rydal Wood by the side of a torrent.
209. *Sonnet XVIII.
'Lady, the songs of Spring,' &c.
1807. To Lady Beaumont. The winter garden of Coleorton, fashioned out of an old quarry under the superintendence and direction of Mrs. Wordsworth and my sister Dorothy, during the Winter and Spring of the year we resided there.
210. *Sonnet XIX.
'There is a pleasure,' &c.
Written on a journey from Brinsop Court, Herefordshire.
211. *Sonnet XXIX.
'Though narrow,' &c.
1807. Coleorton. This old man's name was Mitchell. He was, in all his ways and conversation, a great curiosity, both individually and as a representative of past times. His chief employment was keeping watch at night by pacing round the house at that time building, to keep off depredators. He has often told me gravely of having seen the 'Seven Whistlers and the Hounds' as here described. Among the groves of Coleorton, where I became familiar with the habits and notions of old Mitchell, there was also a labourer of whom I regret I had no personal knowledge; for, more than forty years after, when he was become an old man, I learnt that while I was composing verses, which I usually did aloud, he took much pleasure, unknown to me, in following my steps, that he might catch the words I uttered, and, what is not a little remarkable, several lines caught in this way kept their place in his memory. My volumes have lately been given to him, by my informant, and surely he must have been gratified to meet in print his old acquaintance.
212. *Sonnet XXX. 'Four fiery steeds,' &c.
Suggested on the road between Preston and Lancaster, where it first gives a view of the Lake country, and composed on the same day, on the roof of the coach.
213. *Sonnet XXXI. 'Brook! whose society,' &c.
Also composed on the roof of a coach, on my way to France, September 1802.
214. *Sonnets XXXIII.-V. 'Waters.'
Waters (as Mr. Westall informs us in the letter-press prefixed to his admirable views [of the Caves, &c. of Yorkshire]) are invariably found to flow through these caverns.
* * * * *
215. *Sonnet IV. 'Fame tells of Groves,' &c.
Wallachia is the country alluded to.
216. *Sonnet VII. 'Where lively ground,' &c.
This parsonage was the residence of my friend Jones, and is particularly described in another note.
217. *Sonnet IX. 'A stream to mingle,' &c.
In this Vale of Meditation ['Glen Mywr'] my friend Jones resided, having been allowed by his Diocesan to fix himself there without resigning his living in Oxfordshire. He was with my wife and daughter and me when we visited these celebrated ladies, who had retired, as one may say, into notice in this vale. Their cottage lay directly in the road between London and Dublin, and they were, of course, visited by their Irish friends as well as innumerable strangers. They took much delight in passing jokes on our friend Jones's plumpness, ruddy cheeks, and smiling countenance, as little suited to a hermit living in the Vale of Meditation. We all thought there was ample room for retort on his part, so curious was the appearance of these ladies, so elaborately sentimental about themselves and their caro Albergo, as they named it in an inscription on a tree that stood opposite, the endearing epithet being preceded by the word Ecco! calling upon the saunterer to look about him. So oddly was one of these ladies attired that we took her, at a little distance, for a Roman Catholic priest, with a crucifix and relics hung at his neck. They were without caps; their hair bushy and white as snow, which contributed to the mistake.
218. Sonnet XI. In the Woods of Rydal.
This Sonnet, as Poetry, explains itself, yet the scene of the incident having been a wild wood, it may be doubted, as a point of natural history, whether the bird was aware that his attentions were bestowed upon a human, or even a living creature. But a Redbreast will perch upon the foot of a gardener at work, and alight on the handle of the spade when his hand is half upon it. This I have seen. And under my own roof I have witnessed affecting instances of the creature's friendly visits to the chambers of sick persons, as described in the verses to the Redbreast [No. 83]. One of these welcome intruders used frequently to roost upon a nail in the wall, from which a picture had hung, and was ready, as morning came, to pipe his song in the hearing of the invalid, who had been long confined to her room. These attachments to a particular person, when marked and continued, used to be reckoned ominous; but the superstition is passing away.
219. *Sonnet XIII. 'While Anna's peers,' &c.
This is taken from the account given by Miss Jewsbury of the pleasure she derived, when long confined to her bed by sickness, from the inanimate object on which this Sonnet turns.
220. *Sonnet XV. 'Wait, prithee wait,' &c.
The fate of this poor dove, as described, was told to me at Brinsop Court by the young lady to whom I have given the name of Lesbia.
221. *Sonnet XVI. 'Unquiet childhood,' &c.
The infant was Mary Monkhouse, the only daughter of our friend and cousin Thomas Monkhouse.
222. *Sonnet XVII. 'Such age how beautiful!' &c.
Lady Fitzgerald as described to me by Lady Beaumont.