223. *Sonnet XVIIII. 'Rotha! my spiritual child,' &c.
Rotha, the daughter of my son-in-law Mr. Quillinan.
224. The Rotha. 'The peaceful mountain stream,' &c.
The river Rotha, that flows into Windermere from the Lakes of Grasmere and Rydal.
225. *Sonnet XIX. 'Miserrimus.'
Many conjectures have been formed as to the person who lies under this stone. Nothing appears to be known for a certainty. ?The Rev. Mr. Morris, a Nonconformist, a sufferer for conscience' sake; a worthy man, who having been deprived of his benefice after the accession of William III, lived to an old age in extreme destitution, on the alms of charitable Jacobites.
226. *Sonnet XX. 'While poring,' &c.
My attention to these antiquities was directed by Mr. Walker, son to the itinerant Eidouranian philosopher. The beautiful pavement was discovered within a few yards of the front door of his parsonage, and appeared (from the site in full view of several hills upon which there had formerly been Roman encampments) as if it might have been the villa of the commander of the forces; at least such was Mrs. W.'s conjecture.
227. *Sonnet XXI.
'Chatsworth! thy stately mansion,' &c.
I have reason to remember the day that gave rise to this Sonnet, the 6th of November 1830. Having undertaken—a great feat for me—to ride my daughter's pony from Westmoreland to Cambridge, that she might have the use of it while on a visit to her uncle at Trinity Lodge, on my way from Bakewell to Matlock I turned aside to Chatsworth, and had scarcely gratified my curiosity by the sight of that celebrated place before there came on a severe storm of wind and rain, which continued till I reached Derby, both man and pony in a pitiable plight. For myself I went to bed at noon-day. In the course of that journey I had to encounter a storm worse if possible, in which the pony could (or would) only make his way slantwise. I mention this merely to add, that notwithstanding this battering, I composed on pony-back the lines to the memory of Sir George Beaumont, suggested during my recent visit to Coleorton.
228. *Sonnet XXII.
'Tis said that to the brow,' &c.
This pleasing tradition was told me by the coachman at whose side I sate while he drove down the dale, he pointing to the trees on the hill as he related the story.
229. *Sonnet XXIII.
'Untouched through all severity of cold.'
This was also communicated to me by a coachman in the same way. In the course of my many coach rambles and journeys, which, during the daytime always, and often in the night, were taken on the outside of the coach, I had good and frequent opportunities of learning the character of this class of men. One remark I made, that is worth recording, that whenever I had occasion especially to notice their well-ordered, respectful, and kind behaviour to women, of whatever age, I found them, I may say almost always, to be married men.
230. *Sonnet XXIV.
'Go, faithful Tishart,' &c.
The six last lines of this sonnet are not written for poetical effect, but as a matter of fact, which in more than one instance could not escape my notice in the servants of the house.
231. *Sonnet XXV.
'Why art thou silent?'
In the month of January [blank], when Dora and I were walking from Town-End, Grasmere, across the vale, snow being on the ground, she espied in the thick though leafless hedge a bird's-nest half filled with snow. Out of this comfortless appearance arose this Sonnet, which was, in fact, written without the least reference to any individual object, but merely to prove to myself that I could, if I thought fit, write in a strain that poets have been fond of. On the 14th of February in the same year, my daughter, in a sportive mood, sent it as a Valentine under a fictitious name to her cousin C. W.
232. *Sonnet XXVI.
'Haydon! let worthier judges,' &c.
This Sonnet, though said to be written on seeing the portrait of Napoleon, was in fact composed some time after, extempore, in Rydal Mount. [In pencil—But it was said in prose in Haydon's studio, for I was present: relate the facts and why it was versified.]
233. *Sonnet XXVII.
'A poet!—He hath put,' &c.
I was impelled to write this Sonnet by the disgusting frequency with which the word artistical, imported with other impertinencies from the Germans, is employed by writers of the present day. For 'artistical' let them substitute 'artificial,' and the poetry written on this system, both at home and abroad, will be, for the most part, much better characterised.
234. *Sonnet XXVIII.
'The most alluring clouds,' &c.
Hundreds of times have I seen hanging about and above the Vale of Rydal, clouds that might have given birth to this Sonnet; which was thrown off, on the impulse of the moment, one evening when I was returning home from the favourite walk of ours along the Rotha, under Loughrigg.
235. *Sonnet XXIX.
'By Art's bold privilege,' &c.
This was composed while I was ascending Helvelyn in company with my daughter and her husband. She was on horseback, and rode to the very top of the hill without once dismounting: a feat which it was scarcely possible to perform except during a season of dry weather, and a guide with whom we fell in on the mountain told us he believed it had never been accomplished before by any one.
236. *Sonnet XXXII.
'All praise the likeness,' &c.
The picture which gave occasion to this and the following Sonnet was from the pencil of Miss M. Gillies, who resided for several weeks under our roof at Rydal Mount.
237. *Sonnet XXXVI.
'Oh, what a wreck,' &c.
The sad condition of poor Mrs. Southey put me upon writing this. It has afforded comfort to many persons whose friends have been similarly affected.
238. *Sonnet XXXVII.
'Intent on gathering wool,' &c.
Suggested by a conversation with Miss F., who along with her sister had during their childhood found much delight in such gatherings for the purpose here alluded to.
239. Sonnet XLII.
The Hill that rises to the south-east above Ambleside.
240. Sonnet XLIII.
——'a little rural town.'
VIII. MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN SCOTLAND, 1803.
241. *Setting out.
Mr. Coleridge, my sister, and myself started together from Town-End, to make a tour in Scotland, August [14th]. Poor Coleridge was at that time in bad spirits, and somewhat too much in love with his own dejection, and he departed from us, as is recorded in my sister's Journal, soon after we left Loch Lomond. The verses that stand foremost among these memorials were not actually written for the occasion, but transplanted from my Epistle to Sir G. Beaumont.
242. *To the Sons of Burns after visiting the Grave of their Father. [iv.]
See, in connection with these verses, two other poems upon Burns, one composed actually at the time, and the other, though then felt, not put into words till several years afterwards [viz. 'At the Grave of Burns, 1803, Seven Years after his Death (II.);' and 'Thoughts suggested the Day following, on the Banks of Nith, near the Poet's Residence.' (III.) Another Note in I.F. MSS. is nearly the same as this: viz. To be printed among the Poems relating to my first Tour in Scotland: for illustrations see my Sister's Journal. It may be proper to add that the second of these pieces, though felt at the time, was not composed till many years after].
243. *Ellen Irwin, or the Braes of Kirtle. ṿ
It may be worth while to observe, that as there are Scotch poems on this subject, in the simple ballad strain, I thought it would be both presumptuous and superfluous to attempt treating it in the same way; and accordingly, I chose a construction of stanza quite new in our language; in fact, the same as that of Buergher's 'Leonora,' except that the first and third lines do not in my stanzas rhyme. At the outset, I threw out a classical image, to prepare the reader for the style in which I meant to treat the story, and so to preclude all comparison. [Note.—The Kirtle is a river in the southern part of Scotland, on the banks of which the events here related took place.]
244. *To a Highland Girl. [VI.]
This delightful creature, and her demeanour, are particularly described in my sister's Journal. The sort of prophecy with which the verses conclude has, through God's goodness, been realised; and now, approaching the close of my seventy-third year, I have a most vivid remembrance of her, and the beautiful objects with which she was surrounded. She is alluded to in the poem of 'The Three Cottage Girls,' among my continental memorials. In illustration of this class of poems, I have scarcely anything to say beyond what is anticipated in my sister's faithful and admirable Journal.
245. Stepping Westward. [VII.]
While my fellow-traveller and I were walking by the side of Loch Ketterine [Katrine] one fine evening after sunset, in our road to a Hut where, in the course of our Tour, we had been hospitably entertained some weeks before, we met, in one of the loneliest parts of that solitary region, two well-dressed women, one of whom said to us, by way of greeting, 'What, you are stepping westward?'
246. *Address to Kilchurn Castle. X
The first three lines were thrown off at the moment I first caught sight of the ruin from a small eminence by the wayside; the rest was added many years after. [Note.—The tradition is that the Castle was built by a Lady during the absence of her Lord in Palestine.]
247. *Rob Roys Grave. [XI.]
I have since been told that I was misinformed as to the burial-place of Bob Roy; if so, I may plead in excuse that I wrote on apparently good authority, namely, that of a well-educated lady, who lived at the head of the Lake, within a mile, or less, of the point indicated as containing the remains of one so famous in that neighbourhood. [Note prefixed.—The history of Rob Roy is sufficiently known; his grave is near the head of Loch Ketterine, in one of those small pinfold-like burial-grounds, of neglected and desolate appearance, which the traveller meets with in the Highlands of Scotland.]
248. *Sonnet composed at —— Castle, 1803. [XII.]
The castle here mentioned was Nidpath, near Peebles. The person alluded to was the then Duke of Queensberry. The fact was told me by Walter Scott.
249. Yarrow Unvisited. [XIII.]
See the various Poems the scene of which is laid upon the banks of the Yarrow; in particular the exquisite Ballad of Hamilton beginning
'Busk ye, busk ye, my bonnie, bonnie Bride, Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome Marrow.'
250. The Matron of Jedborough [Jedburgh] and her Husband. [XV.]
At Jedborough, my companion and I went into private lodgings for a few days; and the following Verses were called forth by the character and domestic situation of our Hostess.
251. *Sonnet, 'Fly, some kind Harbinger.' [XVI.]
This was actually composed the last day of our tour, between Dalston and Grasmere.
252. *The Blind Highland Boy. [XVII.]
The story was told me by George Mackreth, for many years parish-clerk of Grasmere. He had been an eye-witness of the occurrence. The vessel in reality was a washing-tub, which the little fellow had met with on the shore of the loch. [Appended Note.—It is recorded in Dampier's Voyages that a boy, son of the captain of a man-of-war, seated himself in a turtle-shell and floated in it from the shore to his father's ship, which lay at anchor at the distance of half a mile. In deference to the opinion of a friend, I have substituted such a shell for the less elegant vessel in which my blind Voyager did actually intrust himself to the dangerous current of Loch Leven, as was related to me by an eye-witness.]
IX. MEMORIALS OF A SECOND TOUR IN SCOTLAND, 1814.
253. *Suggested by a beautiful Ruin upon one of the islands of Loch Lomond: a place chosen for the retreat of a solitary individual, from whom this Habitation acquired the name of the Brownie's Cell,Ị
In this tour my wife and her sister Sara were my companions. The account of the Brownie's Cell, and the Brownies, was given me by a man we met with on the banks of Loch Lomond, a little above Tarbert, and in front of a huge mass of rock by the side of which, we were told, preachings were often held in the open air. The place is quite a solitude, and the surrounding scenery very striking. How much is it to be regretted that, instead of writing such poems as the 'Holy Fair,' and others in which the religious observances of his country are treated with so much levity, and too often with indecency, Burns had not employed his genius in describing religion under the serious and affecting aspects it must so frequently take.
254. *Composed at Corra Linn, in sight of Wallace Tower.[II.]
I had seen this celebrated waterfall twice before. But the feelings to which it had given birth were not expressed till they recurred in presence of the object on this occasion.
255. *Effusion in the Pleasure-ground on the Banks of the Braw, near Dunkeld.[III.]
I am not aware that this condemnatory effusion was ever seen by the owner of the place. He might be disposed to pay little attention to it; but, were it to prove otherwise, I should be glad, for the whole exhibition is distressingly puerile.
256. *Yarrow Visited.[IV.]
As mentioned in my verses on the death of the Ettrick Shepherd, my first visit to Yarrow was in his company. We had lodged the night before at Traquhair, where Hogg had joined us, and also Dr. Anderson, the editor of the British Poets, who was on a visit at the Manse. Dr. A. walked with us till we came in view of the vale of Yarrow, and being advanced in life he then turned back. The old man was passionately fond of poetry, though with not much of a discriminating judgment, as the volumes he edited sufficiently shew. But I was much pleased to meet with him and to acknowledge my obligation to his Collection, which had been my brother John's companion in more than one voyage to India, and which he gave me before his departure from Grasmere never to return. Through these volumes I became first familiar with Chaucer; and so little money had I then to spare for books, that, in all probability, but for this same work, I should have known little of Drayton, Daniel, and other distinguished poets of the Elizabethan age and their immediate successors, till a much later period of my life. I am glad to record this, not for any importance of its own, but as a tribute of gratitude to this simple-hearted old man, whom I never again had the pleasure of meeting. I seldom read or think of this poem without regretting that my dear sister was not of the party, as she would have had so much delight in recalling the time when, travelling together in Scotland, we declined going in search of this celebrated stream, not altogether, I will frankly confess, for the reasons assigned in the poem on the occasion.
* * * * *
X. POEMS DEDICATED TO NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE AND LIBERTY.
[HEADED IN I.F. NOTES 'SONNETS DEDICATED TO LIBERTY.']
257. Robert Jones.
'Jones! as from Calais,' &c. [Sonnet III.]
(See No. 9, Dedication to Descriptive Sketches.)
This excellent Person, one of my earliest and dearest friends, died in the year 1835. We were under-graduates together of the same year, at the same college, and companions in many a delightful ramble through his own romantic country of North Wales. Much of the latter part of his life he passed in comparative solitude; which I know was often cheered by remembrance of our youthful adventures, and of the beautiful regions which, at home and abroad, we had visited together. Our long friendship was never subject to a moment's interruption,—and, while revising these volumes for the last time, I have been so often reminded of my loss, with a not unpleasing sadness, that I trust the Reader will excuse this passing mention of a Man who well deserves from me something more than so brief a notice. Let me only add, that during the middle part of his life he resided many years (as Incumbent of the Living) at a Parsonage in Oxfordshire, which is the subject of the seventh of the 'Miscellaneous Sonnets,' Part III.
258. I grieved for Buonaparte. [Sonnet IV.]
[Note No. 183 is repeated here.]
259. The King of Sweden and Toussaint L'Ouverture.
[Sonnets VII. and VIII.]
In this and a succeeding Sonnet on the same subject, let me be understood as a Poet availing himself of the situation which the King of Sweden occupied, and of the principles AVOWED IN HIS MANIFESTOS; as laying hold of these advantages for the purpose of embodying moral truths. This remark might, perhaps, as well have been suppressed; for to those who may be in sympathy with the course of these Poems, it will be superfluous; and will, I fear, be thrown away upon that other class, whose besotted admiration of the intoxicated despot hereafter placed in contrast with him is the most melancholy evidence of degradation in British feeling and intellect which the times have furnished.
260. September 1, 1802. [Sonnet IX.]
Among the capricious acts of tyranny that disgraced these times was the chasing of all negroes from France by decree of the Government; we had a fellow-passenger who was one of the expelled.
261. *'Two Voices are there,' &c. [Sonnet XII.]
This was composed while pacing to and fro between the Hall of Coleorton, then rebuilding, and the principal Farm-house of the Estate, in which we lived for nine or ten months. I will here mention that the Song on the Restoration of Lord Clifford, as well as that on the Feast of Brougham Castle as mentioned [in the place], were produced on the same ground.
262. *'O Friend! I know not which Way.' [Sonnet XIII.]
This was written immediately after my return from France to London, when I could not but be struck, as here described, with the vanity and parade of our own country, especially in great towns and cities, as contrasted with the quiet, and I may say the desolation, that the Revolution had produced in France. This must be borne in mind, or else the reader may think that in this and succeeding sonnets I have exaggerated the mischief engendered and fostered among us by undisturbed wealth.
[In pencil—Query: Sonnets relating to the expected Invasion, &c., p. 189, vol. iii. (1837) to p. 200; Ode, p. 201 to 203; Sonnets, part second, p. 204 to 215]. [After three blank pages.]
263. *War in Spain.
It would not be easy to conceive with what a depth of feeling I entered into the struggle carried on by the Spaniards for their deliverance from the usurped power of the French. Many times have I gone from Allan Bank, in Grasmere Vale, where we were then residing, to the top of the Raise-Gap, as it is called, so late as two o'clock in the morning, to meet the carrier bringing the newspaper from Keswick. Imperfect traces of the state of mind in which I then was may be found in my tract on the Convention of Cintra, as well as in these Sonnets.
264. *Zaragossa. [Sonnet XVI.]
In this sonnet I am under some obligations to one of an Italian author, to which I cannot refer.
265. *Lines on the expected Invasion, 1803. [Sonnet XXVI.]
To take their place among the political pieces.
266. Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke. [Sonnet XXVII.]
'Danger which they fear, and honour which they understand not.'
Words in Lord Brooke's Life of Sir Philip Sidney.
So in the 'Thanksgiving Ode' (vi. 10) on 'And discipline was passion's dire excess' is quoted, 'Discipline the rule whereof is passion.'
267. The Oak of Guernica. [Part II. Sonnet XXVI.]
The ancient oak of Guernica, says Laborde, in his account of Biscay, is a most venerable natural monument. Ferdinand and Isabella, in the year 1476, after hearing mass in the church of Santa Maria de la Antigua, repaired to this tree, under which they swore to the Biscayans to maintain their fueros (privileges). What other interest belongs to it in the minds of the people will appear from the following 'Supposed Address to the Same.'
268. Thanksgiving Ode. [Part II. XLVI.]
Wholly unworthy of touching upon the momentous subject here treated would that Poet be, before whose eyes the present distresses under which this kingdom labours could interpose a veil sufficiently thick to hide, or even to obscure, the splendour of this great moral triumph. If I have given way to exultation, unchecked by these distresses, it might be sufficient to protect me from a charge of insensibility, should I state my own belief that the sufferings will be transitory. Upon the wisdom of a very large majority of the British nation rested that generosity which poured out the treasures of this country for the deliverance of Europe; and in the same national wisdom, presiding in time of peace over an energy not inferior to that which has been displayed in war, they confide who encourage a firm hope that the cup of our wealth will be gradually replenished. There will, doubtless, be no few ready to indulge in regrets and repinings; and to feed a morbid satisfaction by aggravating these burthens in imagination; in order that calamity so confidently prophesied, as it has not taken the shape which their sagacity allotted to it, may appear as grievous as possible under another. But the body of the nation will not quarrel with the gain, because it might have been purchased at a less price; and, acknowledging in these sufferings, which they feel to have been in a great degree unavoidable, a consecration of their noble efforts, they will vigorously apply themselves to remedy the evil.
Nor is it at the expense of rational patriotism, or in disregard of sound philosophy, that I have given vent to feelings tending to encourage a martial spirit in the bosoms of my countrymen, at a time when there is a general outcry against the prevalence of these dispositions. The British army, both by its skill and valour in the field, and by the discipline which rendered it, to the inhabitants of the several countries where its operations were carried on, a protection from the violence of their own troops, has performed services that will not allow the language of gratitude and admiration to be suppressed or restrained (whatever be the temper of the public mind) through a scrupulous dread lest the tribute due to the past should prove an injurious incentive for the future. Every man deserving the name of Briton adds his voice to the chorus which extols the exploits of his countrymen, with a consciousness, at times overpowering the effort, that they transcend all praise.—But this particular sentiment, thus irresistibly excited, is not sufficient. The nation would err grievously, if she suffered the abuse which other States have made of military power to prevent her from perceiving that no people ever was or can be independent, free, or secure, much less great, in any sane application of the word, without a cultivation of military virtues. Nor let it be overlooked, that the benefits derivable from these sources are placed within the reach of Great Britain, under conditions peculiarly favourable. The same insular position which, by rendering territorial incorporation impossible, utterly precludes the desire of conquest under the most seductive shape it can assume, enables her to rely, for her defence against foreign foes, chiefly upon a species of armed force from which her own liberties have nothing to fear. Such are the privileges of her situation; and, by permitting, they invite her to give way to the courageous instincts of human nature, and to strengthen and refine them by culture.
But some have more than insinuated that a design exists to subvert the civil character of the English people by unconstitutional applications and unnecessary increase of military power. The advisers and abettors of such a design, were it possible that it should exist, would be guilty of the most heinous crime, which, upon this planet, can be committed. Trusting that this apprehension arises from the delusive influences of an honourable jealousy, let me hope that the martial qualities which I venerate will be fostered by adhering to those good old usages which experience has sanctioned; and by availing ourselves of new means of indisputable promise: particularly by applying, in its utmost possible extent, that system of tuition whose master-spring is a habit of gradually enlightened subordination;—by imparting knowledge, civil, moral, and religious, in such measure that the mind, among all classes of the community, may love, admire, and be prepared and accomplished to defend, that country under whose protection its faculties have been unfolded, and its riches acquired:—by just dealing towards all orders of the State, so that no members of it being trampled upon, courage may everywhere continue to rest immoveably upon its ancient English foundation, personal self-respect;—by adequate rewards, and permanent honours, conferred upon the deserving;—by encouraging athletic exercises and manly sports among the peasantry of the country;—and by especial care to provide and support institutions, in which, during a time of peace, a reasonable proportion of the youth of the country may be instructed in military science.
I have only to add, that I should feel little satisfaction in giving to the world these limited attempts to celebrate the virtues of my country, if I did not encourage a hope that a subject, which it has fallen within my province to treat only in the mass, will by other poets be illustrated in that detail which its importance calls for, and which will allow opportunities to give the merited applause to PERSONS as well as to THINGS.
The ode was published along with other pieces, now interspersed through this Volume.
The first stanza of this Ode was composed almost extempore, in front of Rydal Mount before Church-time, on such a morning and precisely with such objects before my eyes as are here described. The view taken of Napoleon's character and proceedings is little in accordance with that taken by some Historians and critical philosophers. I am glad and proud of the difference, and trust that this series of Poems, infinitely below the subject as they are, will survive to counteract in unsophisticated minds the pernicious and degrading tendency of those views and doctrines that lead to the idolatry of power as power, and in that false splendour to lose sight of its real nature and constitution, as it often acts for the gratification of its possessor without reference to a beneficial end—an infirmity that has characterised men of all ages, classes, and employments, since Nimrod became a mighty hunter before the Lord, [In pencil is the following by Mr. Quillinan—In a letter to Southey about the rhythm of this Ode Wordsworth, comparing the first paragraph of the 'Aeneid' with that of the 'Jerusalem Liberated,' says, that 'the measure of the latter has the pace of a set of recruits shuffling to vulgar music upon a parade, and receiving from the adjutant or drill-sergeant the command to halt at every twenty steps.' Mr. W. had no ear for instrumental music; or he would not have applied this vulgar sarcasm to military march-music. Besides, awkward recruits are never drilled to music at all. The Band on parade plays to perfectly-drilled troops. Ne sutor ultra crepidam.]
270. Spenser. [Part II. Sonnet XLIII.]
'Assoiled from all encumbrance of our time.' 'From all this world's encumbrance did himself assoil.'
* * * * *
XI. MEMORIALS OF A TOUR ON THE CONTINENT, 1820.
271. *Introductory Remarks.
I set out in company with my wife and sister, and Mr. and Mrs. Monkhouse, then just married, and Miss Horrocks. These two ladies, sisters, we left at Berne, while Mr. Monkhouse took the opportunity of making an excursion with us among the Alps, as far as Milan. Mr. H. C. Robinson joined us at Lucerne, and when this ramble was completed we rejoined at Geneva the two ladies we had left at Berne, and proceeded to Paris, where Mr. Monkhouse and H. C. R. left us, and where we spent five weeks, of which there is not a record in these poems.
272. The Fishwomen of Calais, Ị
If in this Sonnet [I. of 'Memorials of a Tour on the Continent,' 1820] I should seem to have borne a little hard upon the personal appearance of the worthy Poissardes of Calais, let me take shelter under the authority of my lamented friend, the late Sir George Beaumont. He, a most accurate observer, used to say of them, that their features and countenances seemed to have conformed to those of the creatures they dealt in; at all events the resemblance was striking.
273. *Incident at Bruges. [IV.]
This occurred at Bruges in the year 1828. Mr. Coleridge, my daughter, and I, made a tour together in Flanders, upon the Rhine, and returned by Holland. Dora and I, while taking a walk along a retired part of the town, heard the voice as here described, and were afterwards informed that it was a convent, in which were many English. We were both much touched, I might say affected, and Dora moved as appears in the verses.
274. Between Namur and Liege. [VI.]
The scenery on the Meuse pleases me more, upon the whole, than that of the Rhine, though the river itself is much inferior in grandeur. The rocks, both in form and colour, especially between Namur and Liege, surpass any upon the Rhine, though they are in several places disfigured by quarries, whence stones were taken for the new fortifications. This is much to be regretted, for they are useless, and the scars will remain, perhaps, for thousands of years. A like injury to a still greater degree has been inflicted, in my memory, upon the beautiful rocks at Clifton, on the banks of the Avon. There is probably in existence a very long letter of mine to Sir Uvedale Price, in which was given a description of the landscapes on the Meuse as compared with those on the Rhine.
Details in the spirit of these sonnets are given both in Mary's Journal and my sister's; and the reperusal of them has strengthened a wish long entertained, that somebody would put together, as in one work, the notes contained in them, omitting particulars that were written down merely to aid our memory, and bringing the whole into as small a compass as is consistent with the general interests belonging to the scenes, circumstances, and objects touched on by each writer.
275. 'Miserere Domine.' X
See the beautiful song on Mr. Coleridge's Tragedy, 'The Remorse.' Why is the harp of Quantock silent?
276. The Danube. [XI.]
'Not, like his great Compeers, indignantly Doth Danube spring to life!'
Before this quarter of the Black Forest was inhabited, the source of the Danube might have suggested some of those sublime images which Armstrong has so finely described; at present, the contrast is most striking. The Spring appears in a capacious stone Basin in front of a Ducal palace, with a pleasure-ground opposite; then, passing under the pavement, takes the form of a little, clear, bright, black, vigorous rill, barely wide enough to tempt the agility of a child five years old to leap over it,—and entering the garden, it joins, after a course of a few hundred yards, a stream much more considerable than itself. The copiousness of the spring at Doneschingen must have procured for it the honour of being named the Source of the Danube.
277. The Staub-bach. [XII.]
'The Staub-bach' is a narrow Stream, which, after a long course on the heights, comes to the sharp edge of a somewhat overhanging precipice, overleaps it with a bound, and, after a fall of 930 feet, forms again a rivulet. The vocal powers of these musical Beggars may seem to be exaggerated; but this wild and savage air was utterly unlike any sounds I had ever heard; the notes reached me from a distance, and on what occasion they were sung I could not guess, only they seemed to belong, in some way or other, to the Waterfall—and reminded me of religious services chanted to Streams and Fountains in Pagan times. Mr. Southey has thus accurately characterised the peculiarity of this music: 'While we were at the Waterfall, some half-score peasants, chiefly women and girls, assembled just out of reach of the Spring, and set up—surely, the wildest chorus that ever was heard by human ears,—a song not of articulate sounds, but in which the voice was used as a mere instrument of music, more flexible than any which art could produce,—sweet, powerful, and thrilling beyond description.'—See Notes to 'A Tale of Paraguay.'
278. Memorial near the Outlet of the Lake of Thun. [XIV.]
Dem Andenken Meines Freundes ALOYS REDING MDCCCXVIII.
Aloys Reding, it will be remembered, was Captain-General of the Swiss Forces, which with a courage and perseverance worthy of the cause, opposed the flagitious and too successful attempt of Buonaparte to subjugate their country.
279. Engelbery. [XVIII.]
The Convent whose site was pointed out, according to tradition, in this manner, is seated at its base. The architecture of the building is unimpressive, but the situation is worthy of the honour which the imagination of the mountaineers has conferred upon it.
280. Our Lady of the Snow. [XIX.]
281. Effusion in presence of the painted Tower of Tell at Altorf. [XX.]
This Tower stands upon the spot where grew the Linden Tree against which his Son is said to have been placed, when the Father's archery was put to proof under circumstances so famous in Swiss Story.
282. The Town of Schwytz. [XXI.]
Nearly 500 years (says Ebel, speaking of the French Invasion) had elapsed, when, for the first time, foreign soldiers were seen upon the frontiers of this small Canton, to impose upon it the laws of their governors.
283. The Church of San Salvador, seen from the Lake of Lugano. [XXIV.]
This Church was almost destroyed by lightning a few years ago, but the altar and the image of the Patron Saint were untouched. The Mount, upon the summit of which the Church is built, stands amid the intricacies of the Lake of Lugano; and is, from a hundred points of view, its principal ornament, rising to the height of 2000 feet, and, on one side, nearly perpendicular. The ascent is toilsome; but the traveller who performs it will be amply rewarded. Splendid fertility, rich woods and dazzling waters, seclusion and confinement of view contrasted with sea-like extent of plain fading into the sky; and this again, in an opposite quarter, with an horizon of the loftiest and boldest Alps—unite in composing a prospect more diversified by magnificence, beauty, and sublimity, than perhaps any other point in Europe, of so inconsiderable an elevation, commands.
284. Foot-note on lines 31-36.
'He, too, of battle martyrs chief! Who, to recall his daunted peers, For victory shaped an open space, By gathering with a wide embrace, Into his single breast, a sheaf Of fatal Austrian spears.'
Arnold Winkelried, at the battle of Sampach, broke an Austrian phalanx in this manner.
285. 'The Last Supper' of Leonardo da Vinci. [xxvi.]
'Though searching damps and many an envious flaw Have marred this Work.'
This picture of the Last Supper has not only been grievously injured by time, but the greatest part of it, if not the whole, is said to have been retouched, or painted over again. These niceties may be left to connoisseurs,—I speak of it as I felt. The copy exhibited in London some years ago, and the engraving by Morghen, are both admirable; but in the original is a power which neither of those works has attained, or even approached.
286. Statues on Milan Cathedral. [XXVII.]
'Of figures human and divine.'
The Statues ranged round the spire and along the roof of the Cathedral of Milan, have been found fault with by persons whose exclusive taste is unfortunate for themselves. It is true that the same expense and labour, judiciously directed to purposes more strictly architectural, might have much heightened the general effect of the building; for, seen from the ground, the Statues appear diminutive. But the coup-d'oeil, from the best point of view, which is half way up the spire, must strike an unprejudiced person with admiration; and surely the selection and arrangement of the Figures is exquisitely fitted to support the religion of the country in the imaginations and feelings of the spectator. It was with great pleasure that I saw, during the two ascents which we made, several children, of different ages, tripping up and down the slender spire, and pausing to look around them, with feelings much more animated than could have been derived from these or the finest works of art, if placed within easy reach.—Remember also that you have the Alps on one side, and on the other the Apennines, with the plain of Lombardy between!
287. A Religious Procession. [XXXII.]
'Still, with those white-robed Shapes—a living Stream, The glacier pillars join in solemn guise.'
This Procession is a part of the sacramental service performed once a month. In the valley of Engleberg we had the good fortune to be present at the Grand Festival of the Virgin—but the Procession on that day, though consisting of upwards of 1000 persons, assembled from all the branches of the sequestered valley, was much less striking (notwithstanding the sublimity of the surrounding scenery): it wanted both the simplicity of the other and the accompaniment of the Glacier-columns, whose sisterly resemblance to the moving Figures gave it a most beautiful and solemn peculiarity.
288. Elegiac Stanzas. [XXXIII.]
The lamented Youth whose untimely death gave occasion to these elegiac verses was Frederick William Goddard, from Boston in North America. He was in his twentieth year, and had resided for some time with a clergyman in the neighbourhood of Geneva for the completion of his education. Accompanied by a fellow-pupil, a native of Scotland, he had just set out on a Swiss tour when it was his misfortune to fall in with a friend of mine who was hastening to join our party. The travellers, after spending a day together on the road from Berne and at Soleure, took leave of each other at night, the young men having intended to proceed directly to Zurich. But early in the morning my friend found his new acquaintances, who were informed of the object of his journey, and the friends he was in pursuit of, equipped to accompany him. We met at Lucerne the succeeding evening, and Mr. G. and his fellow-student became in consequence our travelling companions for a couple of days. We ascended the Righi together; and, after contemplating the sunrise from that noble mountain, we separated at an hour and on a spot well suited to the parting of those who were to meet no more. Our party descended through the valley of our Lady of the Snow, and our late companions, to Art. We had hoped to meet in a few weeks at Geneva; but on the third succeeding day (on the 21st of August) Mr. Goddard perished, being overset in a boat while crossing the lake of Zurich. His companion saved himself by swimming, and was hospitably received in the mansion of a Swiss gentleman (M. Keller) situated on the eastern coast of the lake. The corpse of poor Goddard was cast ashore on the estate of the same gentleman, who generously performed all the rites of hospitality which could be rendered to the dead as well as to the living. He caused a handsome mural monument to be erected in the church of Kuesnacht, which records the premature fate of the young American, and on the shores too of the lake the traveller may read an inscription pointing out the spot where the body was deposited by the waves.
289. Mount Righi (foot-note).
—'the dread summit of the Queen Of Mountains.'
Mount Righi—Regina Montium.
290. The Tower of Caligula. [XXXV.]
Near the town of Boulogne, and overhanging the beach, are the remains of a tower which bears the name of Caligula, who here terminated his western expedition, of which these sea-shells were the boasted spoils. And at no great distance from these ruins, Buonaparte, standing upon a mound of earth, harangued his 'Army of England,' reminding them of the exploits of Caesar, and pointing towards the white cliffs, upon which their standards were to float. He recommended also a subscription to be raised among the Soldiery to erect on that ground, in memory of the foundation of the 'Legion of Honour,' a Column—which was not completed at the time we were there.
291. Herds of Cattle. [XXXVI.]
'We mark majestic herds of cattle, free To ruminate.'
This is a most grateful sight for an Englishman returning to his native land. Every where one misses in the cultivated grounds abroad, the animated and soothing accompaniment of animals ranging and selecting their own food at will.
292. The Forks. ['Desultory Stanzas,' l. 37.]
Les Fourches, the point at which the two chains of mountains part, that enclose the Valais, which terminates at St. Maurice.
292[a]. The Landenberg. [Ibid. ll. 49-51.]
—'ye that occupy Your Council-seats beneath the open sky, On Sarnen's Mount.'
Sarnen, one of the two capitals of the Canton of Underwalden; the spot here alluded to is close to the town, and is called the Landenberg, from the tyrant of that name, whose chateau formerly stood there. On the 1st of January 1308, the great day which the confederated Heroes had chosen for the deliverance of their country, all the castles of the Governors were taken by force or stratagem; and the Tyrants themselves conducted, with their creatures, to the frontiers, after having witnessed the destruction of their strong-holds. From that time the Landenberg has been the place where the Legislators of this division of the Canton assemble. The site, which is well described by Ebel, is one of the most beautiful in Switzerland.
293. Pictures in Bridges of Switzerland. [Ibid. l. 56.]
'Calls me to pace her honoured Bridge.'
The bridges of Lucerne are roofed, and open at the sides, so that the passenger has, at the same time, the benefit of shade, and a view of the magnificent country. The pictures are attached to the rafters; those from Scripture History, on the Cathedral-bridge, amount, according to my notes, to 240. Subjects from the Old Testament face the passenger as he goes towards the Cathedral, and those from the New as he returns. The pictures on these bridges, as well as those in most other parts of Switzerland, are not to be spoken of as works of art; but they are instruments admirably answering the purpose for which they were designed.
294. *At Dover. [XXXVII.]
For the impressions on which this Sonnet turns I am indebted to the experience of my daughter during her residence at Dover with our dear friend Miss Fenwick.
* * * * *
XII. MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN ITALY, 1837.
295. *Introductory Remarks.
During my whole life I had felt a strong desire to visit Rome and the other celebrated cities and regions of Italy, but did not think myself justified in incurring the necessary expense till I received from Mr. Moxon, the publisher of a large edition of my poems, a sum sufficient to enable me to gratify my wish without encroaching upon what I considered due to my family. My excellent friend H.C. Robinson readily consented to accompany me, and in March 1837 we set off from London, to which we returned in August—earlier than my companion wished, or I should myself have desired, had I been, like him, a bachelor. These Memorials of that Tour touch upon but a very few of the places and objects that interested me; and in what they do advert to are for the most part much slighter than I could wish. More particularly do I regret that there is no notice in them of the south of France, nor of the Roman antiquities abounding in that district; especially of the Pont de Degard, which, together with its situation, impressed me full as much as any remains of Roman architecture to be found in Italy. Then there was Vaucluse, with its fountain, its Petrarch, its rocks [query—roses?] of all seasons, its small plots of lawn in their first vernal freshness, and the blossoms of the peach and other trees embellishing the scene on every side. The beauty of the stream also called forcibly for the expression of sympathy from one who from his childhood had studied the brooks and torrents of his native mountains. Between two and three hours did I run about, climbing the steep and rugged craggs, from whose base the water of Vaucluse breaks forth. 'Has Laura's lover,' often said I to myself, 'ever sat down upon this stone? Or has his foot ever pressed that turf?' Some, especially of the female sex, could have felt sure of it; my answer was (impute it to my years), 'I fear, not.' Is it not in fact obvious that many of his love-verses must have flowed, I do not say from a wish to display his own talent, but from a habit of exercising his intellect in that way, rather than from an impulse of his heart? It is otherwise with his Lyrical Poems, and particularly with the one upon the degradation of his country. There he pours out his reproaches, lamentations, and aspirations like an ardent and sincere patriot. But enough; it is time to turn to my own effusions, such as they are.
The Tour, of which the following Poems are very inadequate remembrances, was shortened by report, too well founded, of the prevalence of cholera at Naples. To make some amends for what was reluctantly left unseen in the south of Italy, we visited the Tuscan Sanctuaries among the Apennines, and the principal Italian Lakes among the Alps. Neither of those lakes, nor of Venice, is there any notice in these poems, chiefly because I have touched upon them elsewhere. See in particular 'Descriptive Sketches,' 'Memorials of a Tour on the Continent in 1820,' and a Sonnet upon the extinction of the Venetian Republic.
297. *Musings at Aquapendente, April 1837. Ị
The following note refers to Sir W. Scott:
'Had his sunk eye kindled at those dear words That spake of Bards and Minstrels' (ll. 60-1).
His, Sir W. Scott's, eye did in fact kindle at them, for the lines 'Places forsaken now,' and the two that follow, were adopted from a poem of mine, which nearly forty years ago was in part read to him, and he never forgot them.
'Old Helvellyn's brow, Where once together in his day of strength We stood rejoicing' (ll. 62-4).
Sir Hy. Davy was with us at the time. We had ascended from Paterdale, and I could not but admire the vigour with which Scott scrambled along that horn of the mountain called 'Striding Edge.' Our progress was necessarily slow, and beguiled by Scott's telling many stories and amusing anecdotes, as was his custom. Sir H. Davy would have probably been better pleased if other topics had occasionally been interspersed and some discussion entered upon; at all events, he did not remain with us long at the top of the mountain, but left us to find our way down its steep side together into the vale of Grasmere, where at my cottage Mrs. Scott was to meet us at dinner. He said:
'When I am there, although 'tis fair, 'Twill be another Yarrow.'
See among these Notes the one upon Yarrow Revisited. [In the printed Notes there is the following farther reference to the touching quotation by Scott—These words were quoted to me from 'Yarrow Unvisited' by Sir Walter Scott, when I visited him at Abbotsford, a day or two before his departure for Italy; and the affecting condition in which he was when he looked upon Rome from the Janicular Mount was reported to me by a lady who had the honour of conducting him thither.]
298. A few short steps, painful they were, apart From Tasso's convent-haven and retired grave'_(ll. 83-5).
This, though introduced here, I did not know till it was told me at Rome by Miss Mackenzie of Seaforth, a lady whose friendly attentions, during my residence at Rome, I have gratefully acknowledged with expressions of sincere regret that she is no more. Miss M. told me that she had accompanied Sir Walter to the Janicular Mount, and, after showing him the grave of Tasso in the church upon the top, and a mural monument there erected to his memory, they left the church, and stood together on the brow of the hill overlooking the city of Rome. His daughter Anne was with them, and she, naturally desirous, for the sake of Miss Mackenzie especially, to have some expression of pleasure from her father, half reproached him for showing nothing of that kind either by his looks or voice. 'How can I,' replied he, 'having only one leg to stand upon, and that in extreme pain?' so that the prophecy was more than fulfilled.
299. 'Over waves rough and deep' (line 122).
We took boat near the lighthouse at the point of the right horn of the bay, which makes a sort of natural port for Genoa; but the wind was high, and the waves long and rough, so that I did not feel quite recompensed by the view of the city, splendid as it was, for the danger apparently incurred. The boatman (I had only one) encouraged me, saying, we were quite safe; but I was not a little glad when we gained the shore, though Shelley and Byron—one of them at least who seemed to have courted agitation from every quarter—would have probably rejoiced in such a situation. More than once, I believe, were they both in extreme danger even on the Lake of Geneva. Every man, however, has his fears of some kind or other, and, no doubt, they had theirs. Of all men whom I have ever known, Coleridge had the most of passive courage in bodily trial, but no one was so easily cowed when moral firmness was required in miscellaneous conversation or in the daily intercourse of social life.
'How lovely—didst thou appear, Savona' (ll. 209-11).
There is not a single bay along this beautiful coast that might not raise in a traveller a wish to take up his abode there; each as it succeeds seems more inviting than the other; but the desolated convent on the cliff in the bay of Savona struck my fancy most; and had I, for the sake of my own health or of that of a dear friend, or any other cause, been desirous of a residence abroad, I should have let my thoughts loose upon a scheme of turning some part of this building into a habitation, provided as far as might be with English comforts. There is close by it a row, or avenue (I forget which), of tall cypresses. I could not forbear saying to myself, 'What a sweet family walk, or one for lonely musings, would be found under the shade!' but there probably the trees remain little noticed and seldom enjoyed.
301. /p 'This flowering Broom's dear Neighbourhood' (l. 378). p/
The Broom is a great ornament through the months of March and April to the vales and hills of the Apennines, in the wild part of which it blows in the utmost profusion, and of course successively at different elevations as the season advances. It surpasses ours in beauty and fragrance; but, speaking from my own limited observation only, I cannot affirm the same of several of their wild Spring flowers, the primroses in particular, which I saw not unfrequently but thinly scattered and languishing as compared with ours.
302. The Religious Movement in the English Church.
In the printed Notes there is the following on Aquapendente: 'It would be ungenerous not to advert to the religious movement that, since the composition of these verses in 1837, has made itself felt, more or less strongly, throughout the English Church; a movement that takes for its first principle a devout deference to the voice of Christian antiquity. It is not my office to pass judgment on questions of theological detail; but my own repugnance to the spirit and system of Romanism has been so repeatedly, and I trust feelingly, expressed that I shall not be suspected of a leaning that way, if I do not join in the grave charges, thrown out, perhaps, in the heat of controversy, against the learned and pious men to whose labours I allude. I speak apart from controversy, but with a strong faith in the moral temper which would elevate the present by doing reverence to the past. I would draw cheerful auguries for the English Church from this movement as likely to restore among us a tone of piety more earnest and real than that produced by the mere formalities of the understanding, refusing, in a degree which I cannot but lament, that its own temper and judgment shall be controlled by those of antiquity.' From the I.F. MSS. we learn that the preceding note was written by the Rev. F.W. Faber, D.D., as thus: 'The Note at the close of the poem upon the Oxford movement was intrusted to my friend Mr. Frederick Faber. I told him what I wished to be said, and begged that as he was intimately acquainted with several of the Leaders of it, he would express my thought in the way least likely to be taken amiss by them. Much of the work they are undertaking was grievously wanted, and God grant their endeavours may continue to prosper as they have done.'
302[a]. *'The Pine-tree of Monte Mario,' [II.]
Rescued by Sir G. Beaumont from destruction. Sir G. Beaumont told me that when he first visited Italy, pine-trees of this species abounded; but that on his return thither, which was more than thirty years after, they had disappeared from many places where he had been accustomed to admire them, and had become rare all over the country, especially in and about Rome. Several Roman villas have within these few years passed into the hands of foreigners, who, I observed with pleasure, have taken care to plant this tree, which in course of years will become a great ornament to the city and to the general landscape.
May I venture to add here, that having ascended the Monte Mario I could not resist embracing the trunk of this interesting monument of my departed friend's feelings for the beauties of nature and the power of that art which he loved so much and in the practice of which he was so distinguished.
[Among the printed Notes is the following—Within a couple of hours of my arrival at Rome, I saw from Monte Pincio the Pine-tree as described in the Sonnet; and while expressing admiration at the beauty of its appearance, I was told by an acquaintance of my fellow-traveller, who happened to join us at the moment, that a price had been paid for it by the late Sir G. Beaumont, upon condition that the proprietor should not act upon his known intention of cutting it down.]
303. 'Is this, ye gods.' [III. l. 1.]
Sight is at first a sad enemy to imagination, and to those pleasures belonging to old times with which some exertions of that power will always mingle. Nothing perhaps brings this truth home to the feelings more than the city of Rome, not so much in respect to the impression made at the moment when it is first seen and looked at as a whole, for then the imagination may be invigorated, and the mind's eye quickened to perceive as much as that of the imagination; but when particular spots or objects are sought out, disappointment is, I believe, invariably felt. Ability to recover from this disappointment will exist in proportion to knowledge, and the power of the mind to reconstruct out of fragments and parts, and to make details in the present subservient to more adequate comprehension of the past.
304. 'At Rome.'
'They who have seen the noble Roman's scorn.' [VII. l. 1.]
I have a private interest in this sonnet, for I doubt whether it would ever have been written, but for the lively picture given me by Anna Ricketts of what they had witnessed of the indignation and sorrow expressed by some Italian noblemen of their acquaintance upon the surrender, which circumstances had obliged them to make, of the best portion of their family mansions to strangers.
305. *At Albano. [IX]
This sonnet is founded on simple fact, and was written to enlarge, if possible, the views of those who can see nothing but evil in the intercessions countenanced by the Church of Rome. That they are in many respects lamentably pernicious must be acknowledged; but, on the other hand, they who reflect while they see and observe cannot but be struck with instances which will prove that it is a great error to condemn in all cases such mediation, as purely idolatrous. This remark bears with especial force upon addresses to the Virgin.
306. *Cuckoo at Laverna. [XIV.]
May 25th, 1837. Among a thousand delightful feelings connected in my mind with the voice of the cuckoo, there is a personal one which is rather melancholy. I was first convinced that age had rather dulled my hearing, by not being able to catch the sound at the same distance as the younger companions of my walks; and of this failure I had proof upon the occasion that suggested these verses. I did not hear the sound till Mr. Robinson had twice or thrice directed my attention to it.
307. Camaldoli. [XV.]
This famous sanctuary was the original establishment of Saint Romualdo, (or Rumwald, as our ancestors saxonised the name) in the 11th century, the ground (campo) being given by a Count Maldo. The Camaldolensi, however, have spread wide as a branch of Benedictines, and may therefore be classed among the gentlemen of the monastic orders. The society comprehends two orders, monks and hermits; symbolised by their arms, two doves drinking out of the same cup. The monastery in which the monks here reside is beautifully situated, but a large unattractive edifice, not unlike a factory. The hermitage is placed in a loftier and wilder region of the forest. It comprehends between 20 and 30 distinct residences, each including for its single hermit an inclosed piece of ground and three very small apartments. There are days of indulgence when the hermit may quit his cell, and when old age arrives, he descends from the mountain and takes his abode among the monks.
My companion had, in the year 1831, fallen in with the monk, the subject of these two sonnets, who showed him his abode among the hermits. It is from him that I received the following particulars. He was then about 40 years of age, but his appearance was that of an older man. He had been a painter by profession, but on taking orders changed his name from Santi to Raffaello, perhaps with an unconscious reference as well to the great Sanzio d'Urbino as to the archangel. He assured my friend that he had been 13 years in the hermitage and had never known melancholy or ennui. In the little recess for study and prayer, there was a small collection of books. 'I read only,' said he, 'books of asceticism and mystical theology.' On being asked the names of the most famous mystics, he enumerated Scaramelli, San Giovanni della Croce, St. Dionysius the Areopayite (supposing the work which bears his name to be really his), and with peculiar emphasis Ricardo di San Vittori. The works of Saint Theresa are also in high repute among ascetics. These names may interest some of my readers.
We heard that Raffaello was then living in the convent; my friend sought in vain to renew his acquaintance with him. It was probably a day of seclusion. The reader will perceive that these sonnets were supposed to be written when he was a young man.
308. Monk-visitors of Camaldoli.
'What aim had they the pair of Monks?' (XVII. l. 1.)
In justice to the Benedictines of Camaldoli, by whom strangers are so hospitably entertained, I feel obliged to notice, that I saw among them no other figures at all resembling, in size and complexion, the two monks described in this Sonnet. What was their office, or the motive which brought them to this place of mortification, which they could not have approached without being carried in this or some other way, a feeling of delicacy prevented me from inquiring. An account has before been given of the hermitage they were about to enter. It was visited by us towards the end of the month of May; yet snow was lying thick under the pine-trees, within a few yards of the gate.
309. *At Vallombrosa. [XVIII.]
I must confess, though of course I did not acknowledge it in the few lines I wrote in the strangers' book kept at the Convent, that I was somewhat disappointed at Vallombrosa. I had expected, as the name implies, a deep and narrow valley, over-shadowed by enclosing hills: but the spot where the convent stands is in fact not a valley at all, but a cove or crescent open to an extensive prospect. In the book before mentioned I read the notice in the English language, that if any one would ascend the steep ground above the convent, and wander over it, he would be abundantly rewarded by magnificent views. I had not time to act upon the recommendation, and only went with my young guide to a point, nearly on a level with the site of the convent, that overlooks the Vale of Arno for some leagues.
To praise great and good men has ever been deemed one of the worthiest employments of poetry; but the objects of admiration vary so much with time and circumstances, and the noblest of mankind have been found, when intimately known, to be of characters so imperfect, that no eulogist can find a subject which he will venture upon with the animation necessary to create sympathy, unless he confines himself to a particular act, or he takes something of a one-sided view of the person he is disposed to celebrate. This is a melancholy truth, and affords a strong reason for the poetic mind being chiefly exercised in works of fiction. The poet can then follow wherever the spirit of admiration leads him, unchecked by such suggestions as will be too apt to cross his way if all that he is prompted to utter is to be tested by fact. Something in this spirit I have written in the note attached to the Sonnet on the King of Sweden; and many will think that in this poem, and elsewhere, I have spoken of the author of 'Paradise Lost' in a strain of panegyric scarcely justifiable by the tenour of some of his opinions, whether theological or political, and by the temper he carried into public affairs, in which, unfortunately for his genius, he was so much concerned.
[Among the printed Notes is this—The name of Milton is pleasingly connected with Vallombrosa in many ways. The pride with which the Monk, without any previous question from me, pointed out his residence, I shall not readily forget. It may be proper here to defend the Poet from a charge which has been brought against him, in respect to the passage in 'Paradise Lost' where this place is mentioned. It is said, that he has erred in speaking of the trees there being deciduous, whereas they are, in fact, pines. The fault-finders are themselves mistaken: the natural woods of the region of Vallombrosa are deciduous and spread to a great extent; those near the convent are, indeed, mostly pines; but they are avenues of trees planted within a few steps of each other, and thus composing large tracts of wood, plots of which are periodically cut down. The appearance of those narrow avenues, upon steep slopes open to the sky, on account of the height which the trees attain by being forced to grow upwards, is often very impressive. My guide, a boy of about fourteen years old, pointed this out to me in several places.]
310. *Sonnet at Florence. [XIX.]
'Under the shadow of a stately pile.'
Upon what evidence the belief rests that this stone was a favourite seat of Dante, I do not know; but a man would little consult his own interest as a traveller, if he should busy himself with doubts as to the fact. The readiness with which traditions of this character are received, and the fidelity with which they are preserved from generation to generation, are an evidence of feelings honourable to our nature. I remember now, during one of my rambles in the course of a college vacation, I was pleased at being shown at —— a seat near a kind of rocky cell at the source of the river ——, on which it was said that Congreve wrote his Old Bachelor. One can scarcely hit on any performance less in harmony with the scene; but it was a local tribute paid to intellect by those who had not troubled themselves to estimate the moral worth of that author's comedies. And why should they? he was a man distinguished in his day, and the sequestered neighbourhood in which he often resided was perhaps as proud of him as Florence of her Dante. It is the same feeling, though proceeding from persons one cannot bring together in this way without offering some apology to the shade of the great visionary.
311. *The Baptist. [XX.]
It was very hot weather during the week we stayed at Florence; and, having never been there before, I went through much hard service, and am not, therefore, ashamed to confess, I fell asleep before this picture, and sitting with my back towards the Venus de Medicis. Buonaparte, in answer to one who had spoken of his being in a sound sleep up to the moment when one of his great battles was to be fought, as a proof of the calmness of his mind and command over anxious thoughts, said frankly, 'that he slept because, from bodily exhaustion, he could not help it.' In like manner it is noticed that criminals, on the night previous to their execution, seldom awake before they are called, a proof that the body is the master of us far more than we need be willing to allow.
Should this note by any possible chance be seen by any of my countrymen who might have been in the Gallery at the time (and several persons were there) and witnessed such an indecorum, I hope he will give up the opinion which he might naturally have formed to my prejudice.
'Rapt above earth,' and the following one. [XXI.-II.]
However, at first, these two Sonnets from M. Angelo may seem in their spirit somewhat inconsistent with each other, I have not scrupled to place them side by side as characteristic of their great author, and others with whom he lived. I feel, nevertheless, a wish to know at what periods of his life they were respectively composed. The latter, as it expresses, was written in his advanced years, when it was natural that the Platonism that pervades the one should give way to the Christian feeling that inspired the other. Between both, there is more than poetic affinity.
312a. *Among the Ruins of a Convent in the Apennines. [XXIII.]
The political revolutions of our time have multiplied on the Continent objects that unavoidably call forth reflections such as are expressed in these verses, but the ruins in those countries are too recent to exhibit in anything like an equal degree the beauty with which time and Nature have invested the remains of our convents and abbeys. These verses, it will be observed, take up the beauty long before it is matured, as one cannot but wish it may be among some of the desolations of Italy, France, and Germany.
313. *Sonnets after leaving Italy. [XXV.]
I had proof in several instances that the Carbonari, if I may still call them so, and their favourers, are opening their eyes to the necessity of patience, and are intent upon spreading knowledge actively, but quietly as they can. May they have resolution to continue in this course, for it is the only one by which they can truly benefit their country.
We left Italy by the way which is called the 'Nuova Strada d'Allemagna,' to the east of the high passes of the Alps, which take you at once from Italy into Switzerland. The road leads across several smaller heights, and winds down different vales in succession, so that it was only by the accidental sound of a few German words I was aware we had quitted Italy; and hence the unwelcome shock alluded to in the two or three last lines of the Sonnet with which this imperfect series concludes.
314. *Composed at Rydal on May morning, 1838.
This and the following Sonnet [now XXVI.] were composed on what we call the 'far terrace' at Rydal Mount, where I have murmured out many thousands of my verses.
315. *Pillar of Trajan. [XXVIII.]
These verses had better, perhaps, be transferred to the class of 'Italian Poems.' I had observed in the newspaper that 'The Pillar of Trajan' was given as a subject for a Prize Poem in English verse. I had a wish, perhaps, that my son, who was then an undergraduate at Oxford, should try his fortune; and I told him so: but he, not having been accustomed to write verse, wisely declined to enter on the task; whereupon I showed him these lines as a proof of what might, without difficulty, be done on such a subject.
316. *The Egyptian Maid.
In addition to the short notice prefixed to this poem, it may be worth while here to say, that it rose out of a few words casually used in conversation by my nephew Henry Hutchinson. He was describing with great spirit the appearance and movement of a vessel which he seemed to admire more than any other he had ever seen, and said her name was the Water Lily. This plant has been my delight from my boyhood, as I have seen it floating on the lake; and that conversation put me upon constructing and composing the poem. Had I not heard those words it would never have been written. The form of the stanza is new, and is nothing but a repetition of the first five lines as they were thrown off, and is, perhaps, not well suited to narrative, and certainly would not have been trusted to had I thought at the beginning that the poem would have gone to such a length. [The short note referred to supra is as follows: 'For the names and persons in the following poem see the History of the Renowned Prince Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table; for the rest the author is answerable; only it may be proper to add that the Lotus, with the bust of the goddess appearing to rise out of the full-blown flower, was suggested by the beautiful work of ancient art once included among the Townley Marbles, and now in the British Museum.']
XIII. THE RIVER DUDDON: A SERIES OF SONNETS.
The River Duddon rises upon Wrynose Fell, on the confines of Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire: and, having served as a boundary to the two last counties for the space of about twenty-five miles, enters the Irish Sea, between the Isle of Walney and the Lordship of Millum.
318. 'The River Duddon.'
A Poet, whose works are not yet known as they deserve to be, thus enters upon his description of the 'Ruins of Rome:'
'The rising Sun Flames on the ruins in the purer air Towering aloft;'
and ends thus—
'The setting sun displays His visible great round, between yon towers, As through two shady cliffs.'
Mr. Crowe, in his excellent loco-descriptive Poem, 'Lewesdon Hill,' is still more expeditious, finishing the whole on a May-morning, before breakfast.
'Tomorrow for severer thought, but now To breakfast, and keep festival to-day.'
No one believes, or is desired to believe, that those Poems were actually composed within such limits of time; nor was there any reason why a prose statement should acquaint the Reader with the plain fact, to the disturbance of poetic credibility. But, in the present case, I am compelled to mention, that the above series of Sonnets was the growth of many years;—the one which stands the 14th was the first produced; and others were added upon occasional visits to the Stream, or as recollections of the scenes upon its banks awakened a wish to describe them. In this manner I had proceeded insensibly, without perceiving that I was trespassing upon ground pre-occupied, at least as far as intention went, by Mr. Coleridge; who, more than twenty years ago, used to speak of writing a rural Poem, to be entitled 'The Brook,' of which he has given a sketch in a recent publication. But a particular subject cannot, I think, much interfere with a general one; and I have been further kept from encroaching upon any right Mr. C. may still wish to exercise, by the restriction which the frame of the Sonnet imposed upon me, narrowing unavoidably the range of thought, and precluding, though not without its advantages, many graces to which a freer movement of verse would naturally have led.
May I not venture, then, to hope, that, instead of being a hindrance, by anticipation of any part of the subject, these Sonnets may remind Mr. Coleridge of his own more comprehensive design, and induce him to fulfil it?—There is a sympathy in streams,—'one calleth to another;' and I would gladly believe, that 'The Brook' will, ere long, murmur in concert with 'The Duddon.' But, asking pardon for this fancy, I need not scruple to say, that those verses must indeed be ill-fated which can enter upon such pleasant walks of Nature, without receiving and giving inspiration. The power of waters over the minds of Poets has been acknowledged from the earliest ages;—through the 'Flumina amem sylvasque inglorius' of Virgil, down to the sublime apostrophe to the great rivers of the earth, by Armstrong, and the simple ejaculation of Burns, (chosen, if I recollect right, by Mr. Coleridge, as a motto for his embryo 'Brook,')—
The Muse nae Poet ever fand her, Till by himsel' he learned to wander Adown some trotting burn's meander AND NA' THINK LANG.'
319. *The Sonnets on the River Duddon.
It is with the little River Duddon as it is with most other rivers, Ganges and Nile not excepted,—many springs might claim the honour of being its head. In my own fancy, I have fixed its rise near the noted Shire Stones placed at the meeting point of the counties Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire. They stand by the wayside, on the top of the Wrynose Pass, and it used to be reckoned a proud thing to say, that by touching them at the same time with feet and hands, one had been in three counties at once. At what point of its course the stream takes the name of Duddon, I do not know. I first became acquainted with the Duddon, as I have good reason to remember, in early boyhood. Upon the banks of the Derwent, I had learnt to be very fond of angling. Fish abound in that large river,—not so in the small streams in the neighbourhood of Hawkshead; and I fell into the common delusion, that the farther from home the better sport would be had. Accordingly, one day I attached myself to a person living in the neighbourhood of Hawkshead, who was going to try his fortune, as an angler, near the source of the Duddon. We fished a great part of the day with very sorry success, the rain pouring torrents; and long before we got home, I was worn out with fatigue; and if the good man had not carried me on his back, I must have lain down under the best shelter I could find. Little did I think then it would have been my lot to celebrate, in a strain of love and admiration, the stream which for many years I never thought of without recollections of disappointment and distress.
During my college vacation, and two or three years afterwards, before taking my bachelor's degree, I was several times resident in the house of a near relative, who lived in the small town of Broughton. I passed many delightful hours upon the banks of this river, which becomes an estuary about a mile from that place. The remembrances of that period are the subject of the 21st Sonnet. The subject of the 27th Sonnet is, in fact, taken from a tradition belonging to Rydal Hall, which once stood, as is believed, upon a rocky and woody hill on the right hand as you go from Rydal to Ambleside, and was deserted, from the superstitious fear here described, and the present site fortunately chosen instead. The present Hall was erected by Sir Michael le Fleming, and it may be hoped that at some future time there will be an edifice more worthy of so beautiful a position. With regard to the 30th Sonnet, it is odd enough that this imagination was realised in the year 1840, when I made a tour through this district with my wife and daughter, Miss Fenwick and her niece, and Mr. and Miss Quillinan. Before our return from Seathwaite Chapel, the party separated. Mrs. Wordsworth, while most of us went further up the stream, chose an opposite direction, having told us that we would overtake her on our way to Ulpha. But she was tempted out of the main road to ascend a rocky eminence near it, thinking it impossible we should pass without seeing her. This however unfortunately happened; and then ensued vexation and distress, especially to me, which I should be ashamed to have recorded, for I lost my temper entirely. Neither I nor those who were with me saw her again till we reached the Inn at Broughton, seven miles. This may perhaps in some degree excuse my irritability on the occasion, for I could not but think she had been much to blame. It appeared, however, on explanation, that she had remained on the rock, calling out and waving her handkerchief as we were passing, in order that we also might ascend and enjoy a prospect which had much charmed her. 'But on we went, her signals proving vain.' How then could she reach Broughton before us? When we found she had not gone on to Ulpha Kirk, Mr. Quillinan went back in one of the carriages in search of her. He met her on the road, took her up, and by a shorter way conveyed her to Broughton, where we were all re-united and spent a happy evening.
I have many affecting remembrances connected with this stream. These I forbear to mention, especially things that occurred on its banks during the latter part of that visit to the sea-side, of which the former part is detailed in my Epistle to Sir George Beaumont.
[The following additional notices of his latter excursion to the banks of the Duddon are from a letter to Lady Frederick Bentinck.
'You will have wondered, dear Lady Frederick, what is become of me. I have been wandering about the country, and only returned yesterday. Our tour was by Keswick, Scale Hill, Buttermere, Loweswater, Ennerdale, Calder Abbey, Wastdale, Eskdale, the Vale of Duddon, Broughton, Furness Abbey, Peele Castle, Ulverston, &c.; we had broken weather, which kept us long upon the road, but we had also very fine intervals, and I often wished you had been present. We had such glorious sights! one, in particular, I never saw the like of. About sunset we were directly opposite that large, lofty precipice at Wastwater, which is called the Screes. The ridge of it is broken into sundry points, and along them, and partly along the side of the steep, went driving a procession of yellow vapoury clouds from the sea-quarter towards the mountain Scawfell. Their colours I have called yellow, but it was exquisitely varied, and the shapes of the rocks on the summit of the ridge varied with the density or thinness of the vapours. The effect was most enchanting; for right above was steadfastly fixed a beautiful rainbow. We were a party of seven, Mrs. Wordsworth, my daughter, and Miss Fenwick included, and it would be difficult to say who was most delighted. The Abbey of Furness, as you well know, is a noble ruin, and most happily situated in a dell that entirely hides it from the surrounding country. It is taken excellent care of, and seems little dilapidated since I first knew it, more than half a century ago.]
 Memoirs, ii. 97-8.
320. The Wild Strawberry: Sympson. [Sonnet VI. ll. 9-10.]
'There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness, The trembling eyebright showed her sapphire blue.'
These two lines are in a great measure taken from 'The Beauties of Spring, a Juvenile Poem,' by the Rev. Joseph Sympson. He was a native of Cumberland, and was educated in the vale of Grasmere, and at Hawkshead school: his poems are little known, but they contain passages of splendid description; and the versification of his 'Vision of Alfred' is harmonious and animated. In describing the motions of the Sylphs, that constitute the strange machinery of his Poem, he uses the following illustrative simile:
—'Glancing from their plumes A changeful light the azure vault illumes. Less varying hues beneath the Pole adorn The streamy glories of the Boreal morn, That wavering to and fro their radiance shed On Bothnia's gulf with glassy ice o'erspread, Where the lone native, as he homeward glides, On polished sandals o'er the imprisoned tides, And still the balance of his frame preserves, Wheeled on alternate foot in lengthening curves, Sees at a glance, above him and below, Two rival heavens with equal splendour glow. Sphered in the centre of the world he seems; For all around with soft effulgence gleams; Stars, moons, and meteors, ray opposed to ray, And solemn midnight pours the blaze of day.'
He was a man of ardent feeling, and his faculties of mind, particularly his memory, were extraordinary. Brief notices of his life ought to find a place in the History of Westmoreland.
321. 'Return' and 'Seathwaite Chapel.' [Sonnets XVII. and XVIII.]
The EAGLE requires a large domain for its support: but several pairs, not many years ago, were constantly resident in this country, building their nests in the steeps of Borrowdale, Wastdale, Ennerdale, and on the eastern side of Helvellyn. Often have I heard anglers speak of the grandeur of their appearance, as they hovered over Red Tarn, in one of the coves of this mountain. The bird frequently returns, but is always destroyed. Not long since, one visited Rydal lake, and remained some hours near its banks: the consternation which it occasioned among the different species of fowl, particularly the herons, was expressed by loud screams. The horse also is naturally afraid of the eagle.—There were several Roman stations among these mountains; the most considerable seems to have been in a meadow at the head of Windermere, established, undoubtedly, as a check over the Passes of Kirkstone, Dunmailraise, and of Hardknot and Wrynose. On the margin of Rydal lake, a coin of Trajan was discovered very lately.—The ROMAN FORT here alluded to, called by the country people 'Hardknot Castle,' is most impressively situated half-way down the hill on the right of the road that descends from Hardknot into Eskdale. It has escaped the notice of most antiquarians, and is but slightly mentioned by Lysons.—The DRUIDICAL CIRCLE is about half a mile to the left of the road ascending Stone-side from the vale of Duddon: the country people call it 'Sunken Church.'
The reader who may have been interested in the foregoing Sonnets, (which together may be considered as a Poem,) will not be displeased to find in this place a prose account of the Duddon, extracted from Green's comprehensive Guide to the Lakes, lately published. 'The road leading from Coniston to Broughton is over high ground, and commands a view of the River Duddon; which, at high water, is a grand sight, having the beautiful and fertile lands of Lancashire and Cumberland stretching each way from its margin. In this extensive view, the face of Nature is displayed in a wonderful variety of hill and dale; wooded grounds and buildings; amongst the latter Broughton Tower, seated on the crown of a hill, rising elegantly from the valley, is an object of extraordinary interest. Fertility on each side is gradually diminished, and lost in the superior heights of Blackcomb, in Cumberland, and the high lands between Kirkby and Ulverstone.
'The road from Broughton to Seathwaite is on the banks of the Duddon, and on its Lancashire side it is of various elevations. The river is an amusing companion, one while brawling and tumbling over rocky precipices, until the agitated water becomes again calm by arriving at a smoother and less precipitous bed, but its course is soon again ruffled, and the current thrown into every variety of form which the rocky channel of a river can give to water.'—Vide Green's Guide to the Lakes, vol. i. pp. 98-100.
After all, the traveller would be most gratified who should approach this beautiful Stream, neither at its source, as is done in the Sonnets, nor from its termination; but from Coniston over Walna Scar; first descending into a little circular valley, a collateral compartment of the long winding vale through which flows the Duddon. This recess, towards the close of September, when the after-grass of the meadow is still of a fresh green, with the leaves of many of the trees faded, but perhaps none fallen, is truly enchanting. At a point elevated enough to show the various objects in the valley, and not so high as to diminish their importance, the stranger will instinctively halt. On the foreground, a little below the most favourable station, a rude foot-bridge is thrown over the bed of the noisy brook foaming by the wayside. Russet and craggy hills, of bold and varied outline, surround the level valley, which is besprinkled with grey rocks plumed with birch trees. A few homesteads are interspersed, in some places peeping out from among the rocks like hermitages, whose site has been chosen for the benefit of sunshine as well as shelter; in other instances, the dwelling-house, barn, and byre compose together a cruciform structure, which, with its embowering trees, and the ivy clothing part of the walls and roof like a fleece, call to mind the remains of an ancient abbey. Time, in most cases, and Nature everywhere, have given a sanctity to the humble works of man that are scattered over this peaceful retirement. Hence a harmony of tone and colour, a consummation and perfection of beauty, which would have been marred had aim or purpose interfered with the course of convenience, utility, or necessity. This unvitiated region stands in no need of the veil of twilight to soften or disguise its features. As it glistens in the morning sunshine, it would fill the spectator's heart with gladsomeness. Looking from our chosen station, he would feel an impatience to rove among its pathways, to be greeted by the milkmaid, to wander from house to house, exchanging 'good-morrows' as he passed the open doors; but, at evening, when the sun is set, and a pearly light gleams from the western quarter of the sky, with an answering light from the smooth surface of the meadows; when the trees are dusky, but each kind still distinguishable; when the cool air has condensed the blue smoke rising from the cottage chimneys; when the dark mossy stones seem to sleep in the bed of the foaming brook; then, he would be unwilling to move forward, not less from a reluctance to relinquish what he beholds, than from an apprehension of disturbing, by his approach, the quietness beneath him. Issuing from the plain of this valley, the brook descends in a rapid torrent passing by the churchyard of Seathwaite. The traveller is thus conducted at once into the midst of the wild and beautiful scenery which gave occasion to the Sonnets from the 14th to the 20th inclusive. From the point where the Seathwaite brook joins the Duddon, is a view upwards, into the pass through which the river makes its way into the plain of Donnerdale. The perpendicular rock on the right bears the ancient British name of THE PEN; the one opposite is called WALLA-BARROW CRAG, a name that occurs in other places to designate rocks of the same character. The chaotic aspect of the scene is well marked by the expression of a stranger, who strolled out while dinner was preparing, and at his return, being asked by his host, 'What way he had been wandering?' replied, 'As far as it is finished!'
The bed of the Duddon is here strewn with large fragments of rocks fallen from aloft; which, as Mr. Green truly says, 'are happily adapted to the many-shaped waterfalls,' (or rather water-breaks, for none of them are high,) 'displayed in the short space of half a mile.' That there is some hazard in frequenting these desolate places, I myself have had proof; for one night an immense mass of rock fell upon the very spot where, with a friend, I had lingered the day before. 'The concussion,' says Mr. Green, speaking of the event, (for he also, in the practice of his art, on that day sat exposed for a still longer time to the same peril,) 'was heard, not without alarm, by the neighbouring shepherds.' But to return to Seathwaite Churchyard: it contains the following inscription:
In memory of the Reverend Robert Walker, who died the 25th of June, 1802, in the 93d year of his age, and 67th of his curacy at Seathwaite.
'Also, of Anne his wife, who died the 28th of January, in the 93d year of her age.'
In the parish-register of Seathwaite Chapel, is this notice:
'Buried, June 28th, the Rev. Robert Walker. He was curate of Seathwaite sixty-six years. He was a man singular for his temperance, industry, and integrity.'