* * * * *
XVI. EVENING VOLUNTARIES.
380. Lines composed on a high part of the coast of Cumberland, Easter Sunday, April 7th, the Author's sixty-third birthday. [II.]
The lines were composed on the road between Moresby and Whitehaven, while I was on a visit to my son, then rector of Moresby. This succession of Voluntaries, with the exception of the 8th and 9th, originated in the concluding lines of the last paragraph of this poem. With this coast I have been familiar from my earliest childhood, and remember being struck for the first time by the town and port of Whitehaven, and the white waves breaking against its quays and piers, as the whole came into view from the top of the high ground down which the road,—which has since been altered,—then descended abruptly. My sister, when she first heard the voice of the sea from this point, and beheld the scene spread before her, burst into tears. Our family then lived at Cockermouth, and this fact was often mentioned among us as indicating the sensibility for which she was so remarkable.
381. *By the Sea-side. [III.]
These lines were suggested during my residence under my son's roof at Moresby on the coast near Whitehaven, at the time when I was composing those verses among the Evening Voluntaries that have reference to the Sea. In some future edition I purpose to place it among that class of poems. It was in that neighbourhood I first became acquainted with the ocean and its appearances and movements. My infancy and early childhood were passed at Cockermouth, about eight miles from the coast, and I well remember that mysterious awe with which I used to listen to anything said about storms and shipwrecks. Sea-shells of many descriptions were common in the town, and I was not a little surprised when I heard Mr. Landor had denounced me as a Plagiarist from himself for having described a boy applying a sea-shell to his ear, and listening to it for intimation of what was going on in its native element. This I had done myself scores of times, and it was a belief among us that we could know from the sound whether the tide was ebbing or flowing.
382. Not in the lucid intervals of life. [IV.]
The lines following, 'Nor do words,' &c., were written with Lord Byron's character as a poet before me, and that of others among his contemporaries, who wrote under like influences.
383. The leaves that rustled on this oak-crowned hill. [VII.]
Composed by the side of Grasmere Lake. The mountains that enclose the vale, especially towards Easedale, are most favourable to the reverberation of sound: there is a passage in 'The Excursion,' towards the close of the 4th book, where the voice of the raven in flight is traced through the modifications it undergoes, as I have often heard it in that vale and others of this district.
384. Impromptu. [VIII.]
This Impromptu appeared, many years ago, among the Author's Poems, from which, in subsequent editions, it was excluded. It is reprinted at the request of the Friend in whose presence the lines were thrown off.
Reprinted at the request of my Sister, in whose presence the lines were thrown off.
385. *Composed upon an Evening of extraordinary Splendour and Beauty [IX.]
Felt, and in a great measure composed, upon the little mount in front of our abode at Rydal. In concluding my notices of this class of poems it may be as well to observe, that among the Miscellaneous Sonnets are a few alluding to morning impressions, which might be read with mutual benefit in connection with these Evening Voluntaries. See for example that one on Westminster Bridge, that on May 2d, on the song of the Thrush, and the one beginning 'While beams of orient light.'
386. Alston: American Painter.
'Wings at my shoulder seem to play' (IX. iii. l. 9).
In these lines I am under obligation to the exquisite picture of 'Jacob's Dream,' by Mr. Alston, now in America. It is pleasant to make this public acknowledgment to a man of genius, whom I have the honour to rank among my friends.
387. Mountain-ridges. [Ibid. IV. l. 20.]
The multiplication of mountain-ridges, described at the commencement of the third stanza of this Ode as a kind of Jacob's Ladder, leading to Heaven, is produced either by watery vapours or sunny haze; in the present instance by the latter cause. Allusions to the Ode, entitled 'Intimations of Immortality,' pervade the last stanza of the foregoing Poem.
XVII. POEMS COMPOSED OR SUGGESTED DURING A TOUR IN THE SUMMER OF 1833.
Having been prevented by the lateness of the season, in 1831, from visiting Staffa and Iona, the author made these the principal objects of a short tour in the summer of 1833, of which the following series of poems is a Memorial. The course pursued was down the Cumberland river Derwent, and to Whitehaven; thence (by the Isle of Man, where a few days were passed,) up the Frith of Clyde to Greenock, then to Oban, Staffa, Iona, and back towards England by Loch Awe, Inverary, Loch Goil-head, Greenock, and through parts of Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, and Dumfriesshire to Carlisle, and thence up the River Eden, and homeward by Ullswater.
389. The Greta.
'But if thou, like Cocytus,' &c. (IV. l. 5).
Many years ago, when I was at Greta Bridge, in Yorkshire, the hostess of the inn, proud of her skill in etymology, said, that 'the name of the river was taken from the bridge, the form of which, as every one must notice, exactly resembled a great A.' Dr. Whitaker has derived it from the word of common occurrence in the north of England, 'to greet;' signifying to lament aloud, mostly with weeping; a conjecture rendered more probable from the stony and rocky channel of both the Cumberland and Yorkshire rivers. The Cumberland Greta, though it does not, among the country people, take up that name till within three miles of its disappearance in the river Derwent, may be considered as having its source in the mountain cove of Wythburn, and flowing through Thirlmere, the beautiful features of which lake are known only to those who, travelling between Grasmere and Keswick, have quitted the main road in the vale of Wythburn, and, crossing over to the opposite side of the lake, have proceeded with it on the right hand.
The channel of the Greta, immediately above Keswick, has, for the purposes of building, been in a great measure cleared of the immense stones which, by their concussion in high floods, produced the loud and awful noises described in the sonnet.
'The scenery upon this river,' says Mr. Southey in his Colloquies, 'where it passes under the woody side of Latrigg, is of the finest and most rememberable kind:
——"ambiguo lapsu refluitque fluitque, Occurrensque sibi venturas aspicit undas."'
390. Brigham Church.
'By hooded votaresses,' &c. (VIII. l. 11).
Attached to the church of Brigham was formerly a chantry, which held a moiety of the manor; and in the decayed parsonage some vestiges of monastic architecture are still to be seen.
391. *Nun's Well, Brigham. [VIII.]
So named from the Religious House which stood close by. I have rather an odd anecdote to relate of the Nun's Well. One day the landlady of a public house, a field's length from it, on the road-side, said to me, 'You have been to see the Nun's Well, sir.' 'The Nun's Well! What is that?' said the postman, who in his royal livery stopt his mail-car at the door. The landlady and I explained to him what the name meant, and what sort of people the nuns were. A countryman who was standing by rather tipsy stammered out, 'Ay, those Nuns were good people; they are gone, but we shall soon have them back again.' The Reform mania was just then at its height.
392. *To a Friend. [IX.]
'Pastor and Patriot.'
My son John, who was then building a parsonage on his small living at Brigham.
393. Mary Queen of Scots landing at Workington. X
'The fears and impatience of Mary were so great,' says Robertson, 'that she got into a fisher-boat, and with about twenty attendants landed at Workington, in Cumberland; and thence she was conducted with many marks of respect to Carlisle.' The apartment in which the Queen had slept at Workington Hall (where she was received by Sir Henry Curwen as became her rank and misfortunes) was long preserved, out of respect to her memory, as she had left it; and one cannot but regret that some necessary alterations in the mansion could not be effected without its destruction.
394. *Mary Queen of Scots.X
'Bright as a star.'
I will mention for the sake of the friend who is writing down these Notes that it was among the fine Scotch firs near Ambleside, and particularly those near Green Bank, that I have over and over again paused at the sight of this image. Long may they stand to afford a like gratification to others! This wish is not uncalled for—several of their brethren having already disappeared.
N.B. The Poem of St. Bees to follow at this place.
395. St. Bees and Charlotte Smith. [XI.]
St. Bees' Heads, anciently called the Cliff of Baruth, are a conspicuous sea-mark for all vessels sailing in the N.E. parts of the Irish Sea. In a bay, one side of which is formed by the southern headland, stands the village of St. Bees; a place distinguished, from very early times, for its religious and scholastic foundations.
'St. Bees,' say Nicholson and Burns, 'had its name from Bega, an holy woman from Ireland, who is said to have founded here, about the year of our Lord 650, a small monastery, where afterwards a church was built in memory of her.
'The aforesaid religious house, being destroyed by the Danes, was restored by William de Meschiens, son of Ranulph, and brother of Ranulph de Meschiens, first Earl of Cumberland after the Conquest; and made a cell of a prior and six Benedictine monks to the Abbey of St. Mary at York.'
Several traditions of miracles, connected with the foundation of the first of these religious houses, survive among the people of the neighbourhood; one of which is alluded to in these Stanzas; and another, of a somewhat bolder and more peculiar character, has furnished the subject of a spirited poem by the Rev. R. Parkinson, M.A., late Divinity Lecturer of St. Bees' College, and now Fellow of the Collegiate Church of Manchester.
After the dissolution of the monasteries, Archbishop Grindal founded a free school at St. Bees, from which the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland have derived great benefit; and recently, under the patronage of the Earl of Lonsdale, a college has been established there for the education of ministers for the English Church. The old Conventual Church has been repaired under the superintendence of the Rev. Dr. Ainger, the Head of the College; and is well worthy of being visited by any strangers who might be led to the neighbourhood of this celebrated spot.
The form of stanza in this Poem, and something in the style of versification, are adopted from the 'St. Monica,' a poem of much beauty upon a monastic subject, by Charlotte Smith: a lady to whom English verse is under greater obligations than are likely to be either acknowledged or remembered. She wrote little, and that little unambitiously, but with true feeling for rural Nature, at a time when Nature was not much regarded by English Poets; for in point of time her earlier writings preceded, I believe, those of Cowper and Burns.
'Are not, in sooth, their Requiems sacred ties?' (XI. l. 73.)
I am aware that I am here treading upon tender ground; but to the intelligent reader I feel that no apology is due. The prayers of survivors, during passionate grief for the recent loss of relatives and friends, as the object of those prayers could no longer be the suffering body of the dying, would naturally be ejaculated for the souls of the departed; the barriers between the two worlds dissolving before the power of love and faith. The ministers of religion, from their habitual attendance upon sick-beds, would be daily witnesses of these benign results; and hence would be strongly tempted to aim at giving to them permanence, by embodying them in rites and ceremonies, recurring at stated periods. All this, as it was in course of nature, so was it blameless, and even praiseworthy; since some of its effects, in that rude state of society, could not but be salutary. No reflecting person, however, can view without sorrow the abuses which rose out of thus formalising sublime instincts and disinterested movements of passion, and perverting them into means of gratifying the ambition and rapacity of the priesthood. But, while we deplore and are indignant at these abuses, it would be a great mistake if we imputed the origin of the offices to prospective selfishness on the part of the monks and clergy; they were at first sincere in their sympathy, and in their degree dupes rather of their own creed than artful and designing men. Charity is, upon the whole, the safest guide that we can take in judging our fellow-men, whether of past ages or of the present time.
397. Sir William Hillary.
'And they are led by noble Hillary' (XV. l. 14).
The TOWER OF REFUGE, an ornament to Douglas Bay, was erected chiefly through the humanity and zeal of Sir William Hillary; and he also was the founder of the lifeboat establishment at that place; by which, under his superintendence, and often by his exertions at the imminent hazard of his own life, many seamen and passengers have been saved.
398. Isle of Man. [XVI. l. 14.]
The sea-water on the coast of the Isle of Man is singularly pure and beautiful.
399. *Isle of Man. [XVII.]
My son William is here the person alluded to as saving the life of the youth; and the circumstances were as mentioned in the Sonnet.
400. *By a retired Mariner. [XIX.]
Mary's brother Henry.
401. *At Bala Sala. [XX.]
A thankful refuge. Supposed to be written by a friend (Mr. Cookson) who died there a few years after.
402. *Tynwald Hill.
Mr. Robinson and I walked the greater part of the way from Castle-Town to Peel, and stopped some time at Tynwald Hill. My companions were an elderly man, who in a muddy way (for he was tipsy) explained and answered as far as he could my enquiries about the place and the ceremonies held here. I found more agreeable company in some little children, one of whom, upon my request, recited the Lord's Prayer to me, and I helped her to a clearer understanding of it as well as I could; but I was not at all satisfied with my own part. Hers was much better done; and I am persuaded that, like other children, she knew more about it than she was able to express, especially to a stranger.
'Off with you cloud, old Snafell' (Sonnet XXI. l. 9).
The summit of this mountain is well chosen by Cowley as the scene of the 'Vision,' in which the spectral angel discourses with him concerning the government of Oliver Cromwell. 'I found myself,' says he, 'on the top of that famous hill in the Island Mona, which has the prospect of three great, and not long since most happy, kingdoms. As soon as ever I looked upon them, they called forth the sad representation of all the sins and all the miseries that had overwhelmed them these twenty years.' It is not to be denied that the changes now in progress, and the passions, and the way in which they work, strikingly resemble those which led to the disasters the philosophic writer so feelingly bewails. God grant that the resemblance may not become still more striking as months and years advance!
404. Eagle in Mosaic. [Sonnet XXV.]
'On revisiting Dunolly Castle.'
This ingenious piece of workmanship, as I afterwards learned, had been executed for their own amusement by some labourers employed about the place.
405. *In the Frith of Clyde.—Ailsa Crag during an eclipse of the sun, July 17, 1833. [XXIII.]
The morning of the eclipse was exquisitely beautiful while we passed the Crag, as described in the sonnet. On the deck of the steamboat were several persons of the poor and labouring class; and I could not but be struck with their cheerful talk with each other, while not one of them seemed to notice the magnificent objects with which we were surrounded; and even the phenomenon of the eclipse attracted but little of their attention. Was it right not to regret this? They appeared to me, however, so much alive in their own minds to their own concerns that I could not but look upon it as a misfortune that they had little perception for such pleasures as cannot be cultivated without ease and leisure. Yet, if one surveys life in all its duties and relations, such ease and leisure will not be found so enviable a privilege as it may at first appear. Natural philosophy, painting, and poetry, and refined taste, are no doubt great acquisitions to society; but among those who dedicate themselves to such pursuits it is to be feared that few are as happy and as consistent in the management of their lives as the class of persons who at that time led me into this course of reflection. I do not mean by this to be understood to derogate from intellectual pursuits, for that would be monstrous. I say it in deep gratitude for this compensation to those whose cares are limited to the necessities of daily life. Among them, self-tormentors, so numerous in the higher classes of society, are rare.
406. *On the Frith of Clyde.—In a Steamboat, [XXIV.]
The mountain outline on the north of this island [Arran], as seen from the Frith of Clyde, is much the finest I have ever noticed in Scotland or elsewhere.
407. 'There, said a Stripling.' [XXXVII.]
Mosgiel was thus pointed out to me by a young man, on the top of the coach on my way from Glasgow to Kilmarnock. It is remarkable, that though Burns lived some time here, and during much the most productive period of his poetical life, he nowhere adverts to the splendid prospects stretching towards the sea, and bounded by the peaks of Arran on one part, which in clear weather he must have had daily before his eyes. Yet this is easily explained. In one of his poetical effusions he speaks of describing 'fair Nature's face,' as a privilege on which he sets a high value; nevertheless, natural appearances rarely take a lead in his poetry. It is as a human being, eminently sensitive and intelligent, and not as a poet clad in his priestly robes and carrying the ensigns of sacerdotal office, that he interests and affects us.
Whether he speaks of rivers, hills, and woods, it is not so much on account of the properties with which they are absolutely endowed, as relatively to local patriotic remembrances and associations, or as they are ministerial to personal feelings, especially those of love, whether happy or otherwise; yet it is not always so. Soon after we had passed Mosgiel Farm we crossed the Ayr, murmuring and winding through a narrow woody hollow. His line,
'Auld hermit Ayr staw thro' his woods,' [=stole]
came at once to my mind, with Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, and Doon, Ayrshire streams over which he breathes a sigh, as being unnamed in song; and, surely, his own attempts to make them known were as successful as his heart could desire.
408. *Written on a Blank Leaf of Macpherson's 'Ossian.' [XXVII]
This poem should, for variety's sake, take its place among the itinerary Sonnets on one of the Scotch Tours.
409. Cave of Staffa. [XXIX.]
The reader may be tempted to exclaim, 'How came this and the two following Sonnets to be written, after the dissatisfaction expressed in the preceding one?' In fact, at the risk of incurring the reasonable displeasure of the master of the steamboat, I returned to the cave, and explored it under circumstances more favourable to those imaginative impressions which it is so wonderfully fitted to make upon the mind.
410. Ox-eyed Daisy.
'Hope smiled when your nativity was cast, Children of summer!' (XXXI. ll. 1-2.)
Upon the head of the columns which form the front of the cave, rests a body of decomposed basaltic matter, which was richly decorated with that large bright flower, the ox-eyed daisy. I had noticed the same flower growing with profusion among the bold rocks on the western coast of the Isle of Man; making a brilliant contrast with their black and gloomy surfaces.
411. Iona. [XXXIII.]
The four last lines of this Sonnet are adapted from a well-known Sonnet of Russel, as conveying my feeling better than any words of my own could do.
412. River Eden, [XXXVIII.]
'Yet fetched from Paradise.'
It is to be feared that there is more of the poet than the sound etymologist in this derivation of the name Eden. On the western coast of Cumberland is a rivulet which enters the sea at Moresby, known also in the neighbourhood by the name of Eden. May not the latter syllable come from the word Dean, a valley? Langdale, near Ambleside, is by the inhabitants called Langden. The former syllable occurs in the name Emont, a principal feeder of the Eden; and the stream which flows, when the tide is out, over Cartmel Sands, is called the Ea—eau, French—aqua, Latin.
'Nature gives thee flowers that have no rival amidst British bowers.'
This can scarcely be true to the letter; but without stretching the point at all, I can say that the soil and air appear more congenial with many upon the bank of this river than I have observed in any other parts of Great Britain.
414. *Monument of Mrs. Howard. [XXXIX.]
Before this monument was put up in the chapel at Wetheral, I saw it in the sculptor's studio. Nollekens, who, by the bye, was a strange and grotesque figure that interfered much with one's admiration of his works, showed me at the same time the various models in clay which he had made one after another of the mother and her infant. The improvement on each was surprising, and how so much grace, beauty, and tenderness had come out of such a head I was sadly puzzled to conceive. Upon a window-seat in his parlour lay two casts of faces; one of the Duchess of Devonshire, so noted in her day, and the other of Mr. Pitt, taken after his death—a ghastly resemblance, as these things always are, even when taken from the living subject, and more ghastly in this instance (of Mr. Pitt) from the peculiarity of the features. The heedless and apparently neglectful manner in which the faces of these two persons were left—the one so distinguished in London society, and the other upon whose counsels and public conduct during a most momentous period depended the fate of this great empire, and, perhaps, of all Europe—afforded a lesson to which the dullest of casual visitors could scarcely be insensible. It touched me the more because I had so often seen Mr. Pitt upon his own ground at Cambridge and upon the floor of the House of Commons.
415. Nunnery. [XLI.]
I became acquainted with the walks of Nunnery when a boy. They are within easy reach of a day's pleasant excursion from the town of Penrith, where I used to pass my summer holidays under the roof of my maternal grandfather. The place is well worth visiting, tho' within these few years its privacy, and therefore the pleasure which the scene is so well fitted to give, has been injuriously affected by walks cut in the rocks on that side the stream which had been left in its natural state.
416. Scene at Corby. [XLII.]
'Canal, and Viaduct, and Railway tell!'
At Corby, a few miles below Nunnery, the Eden is crossed by a magnificent viaduct; and another of these works is thrown over a deep glen or ravine at a very short distance from the main stream.
417. *Druidical Monument. [XLIII.]
'A weight of awe not easy to be borne.'
The daughters of Long Meg, placed in a perfect circle eighty yards in diameter, are seventy-two in number above ground; a little way out of the circle stands Long Meg herself, a single stone, eighteen feet high. When I first saw this monument, as I came upon it by surprise, I might over-rate its importance as an object; but, though it will not bear a comparison with Stonehenge, I must say, I have not seen any other relique of those dark ages, which can pretend to rival it in singularity and dignity of appearance.
418. *Lowther. [XLIV.]
It may be questioned whether this union was in the contemplation of the Artist when he planned the edifice. However this might be, a Poet may be excused for taking the view of the subject presented in this Sonnet.
419. To the Earl of Lonsdale. [XLV.]
This sonnet was written immediately after certain trials, which took place at the Cumberland Assizes, when the Earl of Lonsdale, in consequence of repeated and long-continued attacks upon his character, through the local press, had thought it right to prosecute the conductors and proprietors of three several journals. A verdict of libel was given in one case; and, in the others, the prosecutions were withdrawn, upon the individuals retracting and disavowing the charges, expressing regret that they had been made, and promising to abstain from the like in future.
420. *The Somnambulist. [XLVI.]
This poem might be dedicated to my friend Sir G. Beaumont and Mr. Rogers jointly. While we were making an excursion together in this part of the Lake District, we heard that Mr. Glover the artist, while lodging at Lyulph's Tower, had been disturbed by a loud shriek, and upon rising he learnt that it had come from a young woman in the house who was in the habit of walking in her sleep. In that state she had gone down stairs, and while attempting to open the outer door, either from some difficulty, or the effect of the cold stone upon her feet, had uttered the cry which alarmed him. It seemed to us all that this might serve as a hint for a poem, and the story here told was constructed, and soon after put into verse by me as it now stands.
[Note.—'Lyulph's Tower'—A pleasure-house built by the late Duke of Norfolk upon the banks of Ullswater. Force is the word used in the Lake District for Waterfall.]
XVIII. POEMS OF SENTIMENT AND REFLECTION.
421. Expostulation and Reply. Ị
This poem is a favourite among the Quakers, as I have learnt on many occasions. It was composed in front of the house at Alfoxden, in the spring of 1798.
422. The Tables turned. [II.]
Composed at the same time [as Expostulation and Reply].
423. *Lines written in early Spring. [III.]
1798. Actually composed while I was sitting by the side of the brook that runs down from the Comb, in which stands the village of Alford, through the grounds of Alfoxden. It was a chosen resort of mine. The brook fell down a sloping rock, so as to make a waterfall, considerable for that country; and, across the pool below, had fallen a tree, an ash, if I rightly remember, from which rose, perpendicularly, boughs in search of the light intercepted by the deep shade above. The boughs bore leaves of green, that for want of sunshine had faded into almost lily-white; and from the underside of this natural sylvan bridge depended long and beautiful tresses of ivy, which waved gently in the breeze, that might, poetically speaking, be called the breath of the waterfall. This motion varied, of course, in proportion to the power of water in the brook. When, with dear friends, I revisited this spot, after an interval of more than forty years, this interesting feature of the scene was gone. To the owner of the place I could not but regret that the beauty of this retired part of the grounds had not tempted him to make it more accessible, by a path, not broad or obtrusive, but sufficient for persons who love such scenes to creep along without difficulty.
424. *A Character.
The principal features are taken from that of my friend Robert Jones.
425. *To my Sister. Ṿ
Composed in front of Alfoxden House.
My little boy-messenger on this occasion was the son of Basil Montagu. The larch mentioned in the first stanza was standing when I revisited the place in May, 1841, more than forty years after. I was disappointed that it had not improved in appearance, as to size, nor had it acquired anything of the majesty of age, which, even though less perhaps than any other tree, the larch sometimes does. A few score yards from this tree grew, when we inhabited Alfoxden, one of the most remarkable beech-trees ever seen. The ground sloped both towards and from it. It was of immense size, and threw out arms that struck into the soil like those of the banyan-tree, and rose again from it. Two of the branches thus inserted themselves twice, which gave to each the appearance of a serpent moving along by gathering itself up in folds. One of the large boughs of this tree had been torn off by the wind before we left Alfoxden, but five remained. In 1841 we could barely find the spot where the tree had stood. So remarkable a production of nature could not have been wilfully destroyed.
426. *Simon Lee, the old Huntsman. [VI.]
This old man had been huntsman to the Squires of Alfoxden, which, at the time we occupied it, belonged to a minor. The old man's cottage stood upon the Common, a little way from the entrance to Alfoxden Park. But [in 1841] it had disappeared. Many other changes had taken place in the adjoining village, which I could not but notice with a regret more natural than well-considered. Improvements but rarely appear such to those who after long intervals of time revisit places they have had much pleasure in. It is unnecessary to add, the fact was as mentioned in the poem; and I have, after an interval of forty-five years, the image of the old man as fresh before my eyes as if I had seen him yesterday. The expression when the hounds were out, 'I dearly love their voice,' was word for word from his own lips.
427. *Lines written in Germany. 1798-9. [VII.]
'A plague,' &c.
A bitter winter it was when these verses were composed by the side of my sister, in our lodgings, at a draper's house, in the romantic imperial town of Goslar, on the edge of the Hartz Forest. In this town the German Emperors of the Franconian line were accustomed to keep their court, and it retains vestiges of ancient splendour. So severe was the cold of this winter, that when we passed out of the parlour warmed by the stove, our cheeks were struck by the air as by cold iron. I slept in a room over a passage that was not ceiled. The people of the house used to say rather unfeelingly, that they expected I should be frozen to death some night; but with the protection of a pelisse lined with fur, and a dog's-skin bonnet, such as was worn by the peasants, I walked daily on the ramparts, or on a sort of public ground or garden, in which was a pond. Here I had no companion but a kingfisher, a beautiful creature that used to glance by me. I consequently became much attached to it. During these walks I composed the poem that follows, 'The Poet's Epitaph.'
Foot-note.—The Reader must be apprised, that the Stoves in North Germany generally have the impression of a gallopping horse upon them, this being part of the Brunswick Arms.
428. *To the Daisy. [IX.]
This and the other poems addressed to the same flower were composed at Town-End, Grasmere, during the earlier part of our residence there. I have been censured for the last line but one, 'thy function apostolical,' as being little less than profane. How could it be thought so? The word is adopted with reference to its derivation, implying something sent on a mission; and assuredly, this little flower, especially when the subject of verse, may be regarded, in its humble degree, as administering both to moral and to spiritual purposes.
429. Matthew. X
In the school [of Hawkshead] is a tablet, on which are inscribed, in gilt letters, the names of the several persons who have been schoolmasters there since the foundation of the school, with the time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. Opposite to one of those names the Author wrote the following lines: 'If Nature,' &c.
430. *Matthew. X
Such a tablet as is here spoken of continued to be preserved in Hawkshead school, though the inscriptions were not brought down to our time. This and other poems connected with Matthew would not gain by a literal detail of facts. Like the wanderer in the 'Excursion,' this schoolmaster was made up of several, both of his class and men of other occupations. I do not ask pardon for what there is of untruth in such verses, considered strictly as matters of fact. It is enough if, being true and consistent in spirit, they move and teach in a manner not unworthy of a Poet's calling.
431. *Personal Talk. [XIII.]
Written at Town-End. The last line but two stood at first, better and more characteristically, thus:
'By my half-kitchen and half-parlour fire.'
My sister and I were in the habit of having the teakettle in our little sitting-room; and we toasted the bread ourselves, which reminds me of a little circumstance not unworthy of being set down among these minutiae. Happening both of us to be engaged a few minutes one morning, when we had a young prig of a Scotch lawyer to breakfast with us, my dear sister, with her usual simplicity, put the toasting-fork with a slice of bread into the hands of this Edinburgh genius. Our little book-case stood on one side of the fire. To prevent loss of time, he took down a book, and fell to reading, to the neglect of the toast, which was burnt to a cinder. Many a time have we laughed at this circumstance and other cottage simplicities of that day. By the bye, I have a spite at one of this series of sonnets (I will leave the reader to discover which), as having been the means of nearly putting off for ever our acquaintance with dear Miss Fenwick, who has always stigmatised one line of it as vulgar, and worthy only of having been composed by a country squire.
432. *To the Spade of a Friend. 1804. [XIV.]
This person was Thomas Wilkinson, a Quaker by religious profession; by natural constitution of mind—or, shall I venture to say, by God's grace? he was something better. He had inherited a small estate, and built a house upon it, near Yanwath, upon the banks of the Emont. I have heard him say that his heart used to beat, in his boyhood, when he heard the sound of a drum and fife. Nevertheless, the spirit of enterprise in him confined itself in tilling his ground, and conquering such obstacles as stood in the way of its fertility. Persons of his religious persuasion do now, in a far greater degree than formerly, attach themselves to trade and commerce. He kept the old track. As represented in this poem, he employed his leisure hours in shaping pleasant walks by the side of his beloved river, where he also built something between a hermitage and a summer-house, attaching to it inscriptions, after the manner of Shenstone at his Leasowes. He used to travel from time to time, partly from love of Nature, and partly with religious friends, in the service of humanity. His admiration of genius in every department did him much honour. Through his connection with the family in which Edmund Burke was educated, he became acquainted with that great man, who used to receive him with great kindness and condescension; and many times have I heard Wilkinson speak of those interesting interviews. He was honoured also by the friendship of Elizabeth Smith, and of Thomas Clarkson and his excellent wife, and was much esteemed by Lord and Lady Lonsdale, and every member of that family. Among his verses (he wrote many), are some worthy of preservation; one little poem in particular, upon disturbing, by prying curiosity, a bird while hatching her young in his garden. The latter part of this innocent and good man's life was melancholy. He became blind, and also poor, by becoming surety for some of his relations. He was a bachelor. He bore, as I have often witnessed, his calamities with unfailing resignation. I will only add, that while working in one of his fields, he unearthed a stone of considerable size, then another, and then two more; and observing that they had been placed in order, as if forming the segment of a circle, he proceeded carefully to uncover the soil, and brought into view a beautiful Druid's temple, of perfect, though small dimensions. In order to make his farm more compact, he exchanged this field for another, and, I am sorry to add, the new proprietor destroyed this interesting relic of remote ages for some vulgar purpose. The fact, so far as concerns Thomas Wilkinson, is mentioned in the note on a sonnet on 'Long Meg and her Daughters.'
433. *A Night Thought. [XV.]
These verses were thrown off extempore upon leaving Mr. Luff's house at Fox Ghyll one evening. The good woman is not disposed to look at the bright side of things, and there happened to be present certain ladies who had reached the point of life where youth is ended, and who seemed to contend with each other in expressing their dislike of the country and the climate. One of them had been, heard to say she could not endure a country where there was 'neither sunshine nor cavaliers.' [In pencil on opposite page—Gossip.]
434. *An Incident characteristic of a favourite Dog. [XVI.]
This dog I knew well. It belonged to Mrs. Wordsworth's brother, Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, who then lived at Sockburn-on-the-Tees, a beautiful retired situation, where I used to visit him and his sisters before my marriage. My sister and I spent many months there after my return from Germany in 1799.
435. Tribute to the Memory of the same Dog. [XVII.]
Was written at the same time, 1805. The dog Music died, aged and blind, by falling into a draw-well at Gallow Hill, to the great grief of the family of the Hutchinsons, who, as has been before mentioned, had removed to that place from Sockburn.
436. Fidelity. [XVIII.]
The young man whose death gave occasion to this poem was named Charles Gough, and had come early in the Spring to Patterdale for the sake of angling. While attempting to cross over Helvellyn to Grasmere he slipped from a steep part of the rock where the ice was not thawed, and perished. His body was discovered as described in this poem. Walter Scott heard of the accident, and both he and I, without either of us knowing that the other had taken up the subject, each wrote a poem in admiration of the dog's fidelity. His contains a most beautiful stanza:
'How long didst thou think that his silence was slumber! When the wind waved his garment how oft didst thou start!'
I will add that the sentiment in the last four lines of the last stanza of my verses was uttered by a shepherd with such exactness, that a traveller, who afterwards reported his account in print, was induced to question the man whether he had read them, which he had not.
437. *Ode to Duty. [XIX.]
This Ode, written in 1805, is on the model of Gray's 'Ode to Adversity,' which is copied from Horace's 'Ode to Fortune.'
Many and many a time have I been twitted by my wife and sister for having forgotten this dedication of myself to the stern law-giver. Transgressor indeed I have been, from hour to hour, from day to day; I would fain hope however not more flagrantly or in a worse way than most of my tuneful brethren. But these last words are in a wrong strain. We should be rigorous to ourselves, and forbearing, if not indulgent, to others, and if we make comparisons at all it ought to be with those who have morally excelled us. [In pencil—But is not the first stanza of Gray's from a chorus of Aeschylus? And is not Horace's Ode also modelled on the Greek?]
438. *Character of the Happy Warrior. [XX.]
The course of the great war with the French naturally fixed one's attention upon the military character; and, to the honour of our country, there are many illustrious instances of the qualities that constitute its highest excellence. Lord Nelson carried most of the virtues that the trials he was exposed to in his department of the service necessarily call forth and sustain, if they do not produce the contrary vices. But his public life was stained with one great crime, so that, though many passages of these lines were suggested by what was generally known as excellent in his conduct, I have not been able to connect his name with the poem as I could wish, or even to think of him with satisfaction in reference to the idea of what a warrior ought to be. For the sake of such of my friends as may happen to read this note I will add, that many elements of the character here portrayed were found in my brother John, who perished by shipwreck, as mentioned elsewhere. His messmates used to call him 'the Philosopher;' from which it must be inferred that the qualities and dispositions I allude to had not escaped their notice. He often expressed his regret, after the war had continued some time, that he had not chosen the Naval instead of the East India Company's Service, to which his family connection had led him. He greatly valued moral and religious instruction for youth, as tending to make good sailors. The best, he used to say, came from Scotland; the next to them from the north of England, especially from Westmoreland and Cumberland, where, thanks to the piety and local attachments of our ancestors, endowed, or, as they are called, free-schools abound.
439. *The Force of Prayer. [XXI.]
An appendage to 'The White Doe.' My friend, Mr. Rogers, has also written on the subject. The story is preserved in Dr. Whitaker's History of Craven, a topographical writer of first-rate merit in all that concerns the past; but such was his aversion from the modern spirit, as shown in the spread of manufactories in those districts of which he treated, that his readers are left entirely ignorant, both of the progress of these arts, and their real bearing upon the comfort, virtues, and happiness of the inhabitants.
While wandering on foot through the fertile valleys, and over the moorlands of the Apennine that divides Yorkshire from Lancashire, I used to be delighted with observing the number of substantial cottages that had sprung up on every side, each having its little plot of fertile ground, won from the surrounding waste. A bright and warm fire, if needed, was always to be found in these dwellings. The father was at his loom, the children looked healthy and happy. Is it not to be feared that the increase of mechanic power has done away with many of these blessings, and substituted many evils? Alas, if these evils grow, how are they to be checked, and where is the remedy to be found? Political economy will not supply it, that is certain. We must look to something deeper, purer, and higher.
440. *A Fact and an Imagination. [XXII.]
The first and last four lines of this poem each make a sonnet, and were composed as such. But I thought that by intermediate lines they might be connected so as to make a whole. One or two expressions are taken from Milton's History of England.
441. *A little Onward. [XXIII.]
The complaint in my eyes which gave occasion to this address to my daughter first showed itself as a consequence of inflammation, caught at the top of Kirkstone, when I was over-heated by having carried up the ascent my eldest son, a lusty infant. Frequently has the disease recurred since, leaving the eyes in a state which has often prevented my reading for months, and makes me at this day incapable of bearing without injury any strong light by day or night. My acquaintance with books has therefore been far short of my wishes, and on this account, to acknowledge the services daily and hourly done me by my family and friends, this note is written.
442. Ode to Lycoris. [XXIV.]
This, as well as the preceding and the two that follow, were composed in front of Rydal Mount, and during my walks in the neighbourhood. Nine-tenths of my verses have been murmured out in the open air. And here let me repeat what I believe has already appeared in print. One day a stranger, having walked round the garden and grounds of Rydal Mount, asked of one of the female servants, who happened to be at the door, permission to see her master's Study. 'This,' said she, leading him forward, 'is my master's library, where he keeps his books; but his study is out of doors.' After a long absence from home, it has more than once happened that some one of my cottage neighbours (not of the double-coach-house cottages) has said, 'Well, there he is; we are glad to hear him booing about again.' Once more, in excuse for so much egotism, let me say these notes are written for my familiar friends, and at their earnest request. Another time a gentleman, whom James had conducted through the grounds, asked him what kind of plants throve best there. After a little consideration, he answered, 'Laurels.' 'That is,' said the stranger, 'as it should be. Don't you know that the laurel is the emblem of poetry, and that poets used, on public occasions, to be crowned with it?' James stared when the question was first put, but was doubtless much pleased with the information.
The discerning reader who is aware that in the poem of 'Ellen Irwin' I was desirous of throwing the reader at once out of the old ballad, so as if possible to preclude a comparison between that mode of dealing with the subject and the mode I meant to adopt, may here, perhaps, perceive that this poem originated in the four last lines of the first stanza. These specks of snow reflected in the lake, and so transferred, as it were, to the subaqueous sky, reminded me of the swans which the fancy of the ancient classic poets yoked to the car of Venus. Hence the tenor of the whole first stanza and the name of Lycoris, which with some readers, who think mythology and classical allusion too far-fetched, and therefore more or less unnatural or affected, will tend to unrealise the sentiment that pervades these verses. But surely one who has written so much in verse as I have done may be allowed to retrace his steps into the regions of fancy which delighted him in his boyhood, when he first became acquainted with the Greek and Roman Poets. Before I read Virgil I was so strongly attached to Ovid, whose Metamorphoses I read at school, that I was quite in a passion whenever I found him, in books of criticism, placed below Virgil. As to Homer, I was never weary of travelling over the scenes through which he led me. Classical literature affected me by its own beauty. But the truths of Scripture having been entrusted to the dead languages, and these fountains having been recently laid open at the Reformation, an importance and a sanctity were at that period attached to classical literature that extended, as is obvious in Milton's Lycidas, for example, both to its spirit and form in a degree that can never be revived. No doubt the hackneyed and lifeless use into which mythology fell towards the close of the 17th century, and which continued through the 18th, disgusted the general reader with all allusion to it in modern verse. And though, in deference to this disgust, and also in a measure participating in it, I abstained in my earlier writings from all introduction of pagan fable,—surely, even in its humble form, it may ally itself with real sentiment—as I can truly affirm it did in the present case.
444. *Memory. [XXVIII.]
The verses 'Or strayed from hope and promise, self-betrayed,' were, I am sorry to say, suggested from apprehensions of the fate of my friend H.C., the subject of the verses addressed to H.C. when six years old. The piece which follows, to 'Memory,' arose out of similar feelings.
445. *This Lawn. [XXIX.]
This lawn is the sloping one approaching the kitchen-garden, and was made out of it. Hundreds of times have I here watched the dancing of shadows amid a press of sunshine, and other beautiful appearances of light and shade, flowers and shrubs. What a contrast between this and the cabbages and onions and carrots that used to grow there on a piece of ugly-shaped unsightly ground! No reflection, however, either upon cabbages or onions. The latter, we know, were worshipped by the Egyptians; and he must have a poor eye for beauty who has not observed how much of it there is in the form and colour which cabbages and plants of this genus exhibit through the various stages of their growth and decay. A richer display of colour in vegetable nature can scarcely be conceived than Coleridge, my sister, and I saw in a bed of potatoe plants in blossom near a hut upon the moor between Inversneyd and Loch Katrine. These blossoms were of such extraordinary beauty and richness that no one could have passed them without notice. But the sense must be cultivated through the mind before we can perceive those inexhaustible treasures of Nature—for such they truly are—without the least necessary reference to the utility of her productions, or even to the laws whereupon, as we learn by research, they are dependent. Some are of opinion that the habit of analysing, decomposing, and anatomising, is inevitably unfavourable to the perception of beauty. People are led into this mistake by overlooking the fact that such processes being to a certain extent within the reach of a limited intellect, we are apt to ascribe to them that insensibility of which they are in truth the effect, and not the cause. Admiration and love, to which all knowledge truly vital must tend, are felt by men of real genius in proportion as their discoveries in Natural Philosophy are enlarged; and the beauty in form of a plant or an animal is not made less but more apparent as a whole by a more accurate insight into its constituent properties and powers. A Savant, who is not also a poet in soul and a religionist in heart, is a feeble and unhappy creature.
446. *Humanity. [XXX.]
These verses and the preceding ones, entitled 'Liberty,' were composed as one piece, which Mrs. W. complained of as unwieldy and ill-proportioned; and accordingly it was divided into two, on her judicious recommendation.
[Printed notes: 'The rocking-stones alluded to in the beginning of the following verses are supposed to have been used, by our British ancestors, both for judicial and religious purposes. Such stones are not uncommonly found, at this day, both in Great Britain and in Ireland.' On l. 32, 'Descending to the worm in charity:' 'I am indebted here to a passage in one of Mr. Digby's valuable works.']
447. *Thought on the Seasons. [XXXI.]
Written at Rydal Mount, 1829.
448. *To ——, on the Birth of her first Child. [XXXII.]
Written at Moresby near Whitehaven, 1833, when I was on a visit to my son, then incumbent of that small living. While I am dictating these Notes to my friend Miss Fenwick, Jan. 24th, 1843, the child, upon whose birth these verses were written, is under my roof, and is of a disposition so promising that the wishes and prayers and prophecies which I then breathed forth in verse are, thro' God's mercy, likely to be realised. [In pencil—Jane?]
449. *The Warning: a Sequel to the Foregoing. [XXXIII.]
These lines were composed during the fever spread through the nation by the Reform Bill. As the motives which led to this measure, and the good or evil which has attended or has risen from it, will be duly appreciated by future historians, there is no call for dwelling on the subject in this place. I will content myself with saying that the then condition of the people's mind is not, in these verses, exaggerated.
450. *The Labourer's Noon-day Hymn. [XXXV.]
Bishop Ken's Morning and Evening Hymns are, as they deserve to be, familiarly known. Many other hymns have also been written on the same subjects; but not being aware of any being designed for noon-day I was induced to compose these verses. Often we had occasion to observe cottage children carrying in their baskets dinner to their fathers engaged with their daily labours in the fields and woods. How gratifying would it be to me could I be assured that any portion of these stanzas had been sung by such a domestic concert under such circumstances. A friend of mine has told me that she introduced this Hymn into a village-school which she superintended; and the stanzas in succession furnished her with texts to comment upon in a way which without difficulty was made intelligible to the children, and in which they obviously took delight; and they were taught to sing it to the tune of the old 100th Psalm.
451. *Ode composed on May Morning. [XXXVI.]
*To May. [XXXVII.]
These two Poems originated in these lines 'How delicate, &c.' My daughter and I left Rydal Mount upon a Tour through our mountains with Mr. and Mrs. Carr, in the month of May 1826; and as we were going up the Vale of Newlands I was struck with the appearance of the little chapel gleaming through the veil of half-opened leaves, and the feeling which was then conveyed to my mind was expressed in the stanza that follows. As in the case of 'Liberty' and 'Humanity,' mentioned before, my first intention was to write only one Poem; but subsequently I broke it into two, making additions to each part, so as to produce a consistent and appropriate whole.
452. *Lines suggested by a Portrait from the Pencil of F. Stone. [XXXVIII.]
*The foregoing Subject resumed. [XXXIX.]
This Portrait has hung for many years in our principal sitting-room, and represents J.Q. as she was when a girl. The picture, though it is somewhat thinly painted, has much merit in tone and general effect. It is chiefly valuable, however, from the sentiment that pervades it. The anecdote of the saying of the monk in sight of Titian's picture was told in this house by Mr. Wilkie, and was, I believe, first communicated to the public in this poem, the former portion of which I was composing at the time. Southey heard the story from Miss Hutchinson, and transferred it to the 'Doctor;' but it is not easy to explain how my friend Mr. Rogers, in a note subsequently added to his 'Italy,' was led to speak of the same remarkable words having many years before been spoken in his hearing by a monk or priest in front of a picture of the Last Supper placed over a refectory-table in a convent at Padua. [Printed note on XXXVIII., last line: 'The Escurial. The pile of buildings composing the palace and convent of San Lorenzo has, in common usage, lost its proper name in that of the Escurial, a village at the foot of the hill upon which the splendid edifice, built by Philip the Second, stands. It need scarcely be added, that Wilkie is the painter alluded to.' On XXXIX.:
'Frail ties, dissolving or dissolved On earth, will be revived, we trust, in heaven.'
'In the class entitled "Musings," in Mr. Southey's Minor Poems, is one upon his own miniature picture, taken in childhood, and another upon a landscape painted by Gaspar Poussin. It is possible that every word of the above verses, though similar in subject, might have been written had the author been unacquainted with those beautiful effusions of poetic sentiment. But, for his own satisfaction, he must be allowed thus publicly to acknowledge the pleasure those two Poems of his friend have given him, and the grateful influence they have upon his mind as often as he reads them or thinks of them.']
453. *Upon seeing a coloured Drawing of the Bird of Paradise in an Album. [XLI.]
I cannot forbear to record that the last seven lines of this poem were composed in bed, during the night of the day on which my sister S.H. died, about six P.M., and it was the thought of her innocent and beautiful life that through faith prompted the words:
'On wings that fear no glance of God's pure sight, No tempest from His breath.'
The reader will find two Poems on pictures of this bird among my Poems. I will here observe, that in a far greater number of instances than have been mentioned in these Notes one Poem has, as in this case, grown out of another, either because I felt the subject had been inadequately treated or that the thoughts and images suggested in course of composition have been such as I found interfered with the unity indispensable to every work of art, however humble in character.
XIX. SONNETS DEDICATED TO LIBERTY AND ORDER.
454. Change, [iv. 1. 14.]
'Perilous is sweeping change, all chance unsound.' 'All change is perilous, and all chance unsound.' SPENSER.
455. American Repudiation. [VIII.]
'Men of the Western World.'
These lines were written several years ago, when reports prevailed of cruelties committed in many parts of America, by men making a law of their own passions. A far more formidable, as being a more deliberate mischief, has appeared among those States, which have lately broken faith with the public creditor in a manner so infamous. I cannot, however, but look at both evils under a similar relation to inherent good, and hope that the time is not distant when our brethren of the West will wipe off this stain from their name and nation.
456. To the Pennsylvanians. [IX.]
Happily the language of expostulation in which this Sonnet is written is no longer applicable. It will be gratifying to Americans and Englishmen (indignos fraternum rumpere foedus) to read the following particulars communicated in a letter from Mr. Reed, dated October 28, 1850. 'In Mr. Wordsworth's letters to me you will have observed that a good deal is said on the Pennsylvania Loans, a subject in which, as you are aware, he was interested for his friends rather than for himself. Last December, when I learned that a new edition of his poems was in press, I wrote to him (it was my last letter) to say frankly that his Sonnet "To Pennsylvanians" was no longer just, and to desire him not to let it stand so for after time. It was very gratifying to me on receiving a copy of the new edition, which was not till after his death, to find the 'additional note' at the end of the fifth volume, showing by its being printed on the unusual place of a fly-leaf, that he had been anxious to attend to such a request. It was characteristic of that righteousness which distinguished him as an author; and it has this interest (as I conjecture) that it was probably the last sentence he composed for the press. It is chiefly on this account that I mention it to you.'
 Memoirs, ii. p. 114.
457. *Feel for the Wrongs, &c. [XIV.]
This Sonnet is recommended to the perusal of the Anti-Corn-Law-Leaguers, the Political Economists, and of all those who consider that the evils under which we groan are to be removed or palliated by measures ungoverned by moral and religious principles.
458. Sonnets upon the Punishment of Death,[XX.]
Of these Sonnets the author thus wrote to John Peace, Esq., Bristol:
Rydal Mount, Feb. 23. 1842.
MY DEAR SIR,
I was truly pleased with the receipt of the letter which you were put upon writing by the perusal of my 'Penal Sonnets' in the Quarterly Review. Being much engaged at present, I might have deferred making my acknowledgments for this and other favours (particularly your 'Descant') if I had not had a special occasion for addressing you at this moment. A Bristol lady has kindly undertaken to be the bearer of the walking-stick which I spoke to you of some time since. It was cut from a holly-tree planted in our garden by my own hand.
* * * * *
Your 'Descant' amused me, but I must protest against your system, which would discard punctuation to the extent you propose. It would, I think, destroy the harmony of blank verse when skilfully written. What would become of the pauses at the third syllable followed by an and, or any such word, without the rest which a comma, when consistent with the sense, calls upon the reader to make, and which being made, he starts with the weak syllable that follows, as from the beginning of a verse? I am sure Milton would have supported me in this opinion. Thomson wrote his blank verse before his ear was formed as it was when he wrote the 'Castle of Indolence,' and some of his short rhyme poems. It was, therefore, rather hard in you to select him as an instance of punctuation abused. I am glad that you concur in my view on the Punishment of Death. An outcry, as I expected, has been raised against me by weak-minded humanitarians. What do you think of one person having opened a battery of nineteen fourteen-pounders upon me, i.e. nineteen sonnets, in which he gives himself credit for having blown me and my system to atoms? Another sonneteer has had a solitary shot at me from Ireland.
Ever faithfully yours, W. WORDSWORTH.
 Memoirs, ii. pp. 386-7.
* * * * *
XX. MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
459. Epistle to Sir G. H. Beaumont, Bart.[1.]
From the South-west Coast of Cumberland,—1811. This poem opened, when first written, with a paragraph that has been transferred as an introduction to the first series of my 'Scotch Memorials.' The journey, of which the first part is here described, was from Grasmere to Bootle, on the south-west coast of Cumberland, the whole along mountain-roads, through a beautiful country, and we had fine weather. The verses end with our breakfast at the Head of Yewdale, in a yeoman's house, which, like all the other property in that sequestered vale, has passed, or is passing, into the hands of Mr. James Marshall, of Monk Coniston, in Mr. Knott's, the late owner's time, called Waterhead. Our hostess married a Mr. Oldfield, a lieutenant in the navy; they lived together for some time at Hackett, where she still resides as his widow. It was in front of that house, on the mountain-side, near which stood the peasant who, while we were passing at a distance, saluted us, waving a kerchief in his hand, as described in the poem. The dog which we met soon after our starting, had belonged to Mr. Rowlandson, who for forty years was curate at Grasmere, in place of the rector, who lived to extreme old age, in a state of insanity. Of this Mr. R. much might be said, both with reference to his character, and the way in which he was regarded by his parishioners. He was a man of a robust frame, had a firm voice and authoritative manner, of strong natural talents, of which he was himself conscious, for he has been heard to say (it grieves me to add with an oath), 'If I had been brought up at college by —— I should have been a Bishop.' Two vices used to struggle in him for mastery, avarice and the love of strong drink. But avarice, as is common in like cases, always got the better of its opponent, for though he was often intoxicated it was never, I believe, at his own expense. As has been said of one in a more exalted station, he could take any given quantity. I have heard a story of him which is worth the telling. One Summer's morning our Grasmere curate, after a night's carouse in the Vale of Langdale, on his return home having reached a point near which the whole Vale of Grasmere might be seen with the Lake immediately below him, he stept aside and sat down upon the turf. After looking for some time at the landscape, then in the perfection of its morning beauty, he exclaimed, 'Good God! that I should have led so long such a life in such a place!' This no doubt was deeply felt by him at the time, but I am not authorised to say that any noticeable amendment followed. Penuriousness strengthened upon him as his body grew feebler with age. He had purchased property and kept some land in his own hands, but he could not find in his heart to lay out the necessary hire for labourers at the proper season, and consequently he has often been seen in half dotage working his hay in the month of November by moonlight—a melancholy sight, which I myself have witnessed. Notwithstanding all that has been said, this man, on account of his talents and superior education, was looked up to by his parishioners, who, without a single exception, lived at that time (and most of them upon their own small inheritances) in a state of republican equality, a condition favourable to the growth of kindly feelings among them, and, in a striking degree, exclusive to temptations to gross vice and scandalous behaviour. As a pastor, their curate did little or nothing for them; but what could more strikingly set forth the efficacy of the Church of England, through its Ordinances and Liturgy, than that, in spite of the unworthiness of the minister, his church was regularly attended; and though there was not much appearance in his flock of what might be called animated piety, intoxication was rare, and dissolute morals unknown? With the Bible they were, for the most part, well acquainted, and, as was strikingly shown when they were under affliction, must have been supported and comforted by habitual belief in those truths which it is the aim of the Church to inculcate. [Notes: 'Sled' (l.110)—a local word for sledge; 'bield' (l. 175)—a word common in the country, signifying shelter, as in Scotland.]
460. *Upon perusing the foregoing Epistle, thirty Years after its Composition.
This beautiful pool, and the surrounding scene, are minutely described in my little book on the Lakes.
Sir G.H.B., in the earlier part of his life, was induced, by his love of Nature and the art of painting, to take up his abode at Old Brathay, about three miles from this spot, so that he must have seen it [the Tarn] under many aspects; and he was so much pleased with it, that he purchased the Tarn with a view to build such a residence as is alluded to in this 'Epistle.' Baronets and knights were not so common in that day as now, and Sir M. le Fleming, not liking to have a rival in this kind of distinction so near him, claimed a sort of lordship over the territory, and showed dispositions little in unison with those of Sir G. Beaumont, who was eminently a lover of peace. The project of building was given up, Sir G.B. retaining possession of the Tarn. Many years afterwards, a Kendal tradesman, born upon its banks, applied to me for the purchase of it, and, accordingly, it was sold for the sum that had been given for it, and the money was laid out, under my direction, upon a substantial oak fence for a certain number of yew-trees, to be planted in Grasmere Churchyard. Two were planted in each enclosure, with a view to remove, after a certain time, the one which throve the least. After several years, the stouter plant being left, the others were taken up, and placed in other parts of the same churchyard, and were adequately fenced at the expense and under the care of the late Mr. Barber, Mr. Greenwood, and myself. The whole eight are now thriving, and are an ornament to a place which, during late years, has lost much of its rustic simplicity by the introduction of iron palisades, to fence off family burying-grounds, and by numerous monuments, some of them in very bad taste, from which this place of burial was in my memory quite free: see the lines in the sixth book of 'The Excursion,' beginning,
'Green is the Churchyard.'
The 'Epistle,' to which these notes refer, though written so far back as 1811, was carefully revised so late as 1842, previous to its publication. I am loath to add, that it was never seen by the person to whom it is addressed. So sensible am I of the deficiencies in all that I write, and so far does every thing that I attempt fall short of what I wish it to be, that even private publication, if such a term may be allowed, requires more resolution than I can command. I have written to give vent to my own mind, and not without hope that, some time or other, kindred minds might benefit by my labours; but I am inclined to believe I should never have ventured to send forth any verses of mine to the world, if it had not been done on the pressure of personal occasions. Had I been a rich man, my productions, like this 'Epistle,' the 'Tragedy of the Borderers,' &c., would most likely have been confined to MS.
Loughrigg Tarn, alluded to in the foregoing Epistle, resembles, though much smaller in compass, the Lake Nemi, or Speculum Dianae as it is often called, not only in its clear waters and circular form, and the beauty immediately surrounding it, but also as being overlooked by the eminence of Langdale Pikes as Lake Nemi is by that of Monte Calvo. Since this Epistle was written Loughrigg Tarn has lost much of its beauty by the felling of many natural clumps of wood, relics of the old forest, particularly upon the farm called 'The Oaks,' from the abundance of that tree which grew there.
It is to be regretted, upon public grounds, that Sir George Beaumont did not carry into effect his intention of constructing here a Summer Retreat in the style I have described; as his taste would have set an example how buildings, with all the accommodations modern society requires, might be introduced even into the most secluded parts of this country without injuring their native character. The design was not abandoned from failure of inclination on his part, but in consequence of local untowardness which need not be particularised.
462. *Gold and Silver Fishes in a Vase.[II.]
They were a present from Miss Jewsbury, of whom mention is made in the Note at the end of the next poem. The fish were healthy to all appearance in their confinement for a long time, but at last, for some cause we could not make out, languished; and one of them being all but dead, they were taken to the pool under the old pollard oak. The apparently dying one lay on its side unable to move. I used to watch it, and about the tenth day it began to right itself, and in a few days more was able to swim about with its companions. For many months they continued to prosper in their new place of abode; but one night by an unusually great flood they were swept out of the pool and perished, to our great regret.
463. *Liberty (Sequel to the above). [III.]
The connection of this with the preceding poem is sufficiently obvious.
464. Liberty. [III.]
'Life's book for thee may be unclosed, till age Shall with a thankful tear bedrop its latest page.'
There is now, alas! no possibility of the anticipation, with which the above Epistle concludes, being realised: nor were the verses ever seen by the Individual for whom they were intended. She accompanied her husband, the Rev. Wm. Fletcher, to India, and died of cholera, at the age of thirty-two or thirty-three years, on her way from Shalapore to Bombay, deeply lamented by all who knew her.
Her enthusiasm was ardent, her piety steadfast; and her great talents would have enabled her to be eminently useful in the difficult path of life to which she had been called. The opinion she entertained of her own performances, given to the world under her maiden name, Jewsbury, was modest and humble, and, indeed, far below their merits; as is often the case with those who are making trial of their powers, with a hope to discover what they are best fitted for. In one quality, viz., quickness in the motions of her mind, she had, within the range of the Author's acquaintance, no equal.
465. Poor Robin. [IV.]
The small wild Geranium known by that name.
I often ask myself what will become of Rydal Mount after our day. Will the old walls and steps remain in front of the house and about the grounds, or will they be swept away with all the beautiful mosses and ferns and wild geraniums and other flowers which their rude construction suffered and encouraged to grow among them? This little wild flower, 'Poor Robin,' is here constantly courting my attention and exciting what may be called a domestic interest with the varying aspects of its stalks and leaves and flowers. Strangely do the tastes of men differ, according to their employment and habits of life. 'What a nice well would that be,' said a labouring man to me one day, 'if all that rubbish was cleared off.' The 'rubbish' was some of the most beautiful mosses and lichens and ferns and other wild growths, as could possibly be seen. Defend us from the tyranny of trimness and neatness, showing itself in this way! Chatterton says of Freedom, 'Upon her head wild weeds were spread,' and depend upon it, if 'the marvellous boy' had undertaken to give Flora a garland, he would have preferred what we are apt to call weeds to garden-flowers. True taste has an eye for both. Weeds have been called flowers out of place. I fear the place most people would assign to them is too limited. Let them come near to our abodes, as surely they may without impropriety or disorder.
467. *To the Lady le Fleming. [IX.]
After thanking in prose Lady Fleming for the service she had done to her neighbourhood by erecting this Chapel, I have nothing to say beyond the expression of regret that the architect did not furnish an elevation better suited to the site in a narrow mountain pass, and what is of more consequence, better constructed in the interior for the purposes of worship. It has no chancel. The Altar is unbecomingly confined. The Pews are so narrow as to preclude the possibility of kneeling. There is no vestry, and what ought to have been first mentioned, the Font, instead of standing at its proper place at the entrance, is thrust into the farthest end of a little pew. When these defects shall be pointed out to the munificent patroness, they will, it is hoped, be corrected. [In pencil—Have they not been corrected in part at least? 1843.]
468. *To a Redbreast (in Sickness). [VI.]
Almost the only Verses composed by our lamented sister S.H. [=Miss Sarah Hutchinson, sister of Mrs. Wordsworth].
469. *Floating Island. [VII.]
My poor sister takes a pleasure in repeating these Verses, which she composed not long before the beginning of her sad illness.
470. *Once I could hail, &c. [VIII.]
'No faculty yet given me to espy the dusky shape.' Afterwards, when I could not avoid seeing it, I wondered at this, and the more so because, like most children, I had been in the habit of watching the moon thro' all her changes, and had often continued to gaze at it while at the full, till half-blinded.
471. *The Gleaner (suggested by a Picture).
This poem was first printed in the Annual called 'The Keep-sake.' The Painter's name I am not sure of, but I think it was Holmes.
472. Nightshade. [IX. ii. 6.]
Bekangs Ghyll—or the dell of Nightshade—in which stands St. Mary's Abbey in Low Furness.
473. Churches—East and West. X
Our churches, invariably perhaps, stand east and west, but why is by few persons exactly known; nor that the degree of deviation from due east often noticeable in the ancient ones was determined, in each particular case, by the point on the horizon at which the sun rose upon the day of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. These observances of our ancestors, and the causes of them, are the subject of the following stanzas.
474. The Horn of Egremont Castle. [XI.]
This story is a Cumberland tradition. I have heard it also related of the Hall of Hutton John, an ancient residence of the Huddlestons, in a sequestered valley upon the river Dacor. [In the I.F. MSS. the Note runs thus: '1806. A tradition transferred from the ancient mansion of Hutton John, the seat of the Huddlestons, to Egremont Castle.']
475. *Goody Blake and Harry Gill. [XII.]
Written at Alfoxden, 1798. The incident from Dr. Darwin's Zoonomia.
476. *To a Child: written in her Album. [XIV.]
This quatrain was extempore on observing this image, as I had often done, on the lawn of Rydal Mount. It was first written down in the Album of my god-daughter, Rotha Quillinan.
477. *Lines written in the Album of the Countess of Lonsdale. [XV.]
This is a faithful picture of that amiable Lady as she then was. The youthfulness of figure and demeanour and habits, which she retained in almost unprecedented degree, departed a very few years after, and she died without violent disease by gradual decay, before she reached the period of old age. [In pencil—Was she not 70? Mr. J.]
478. The Russian Fugitive. [XVII.]
Peter Henry Bruce, having given in his entertaining Memoirs the substance of this Tale, affirms that, besides the concurring reports of others, he had the story from the lady's own mouth. The Lady Catherine, mentioned towards the close, is the famous Catherine, then bearing that name as the acknowledged wife of Peter the Great.
Early in life this story had interested me; and I often thought it would make a pleasing subject for an Opera or musical drama.
480. *(I.) In the grounds of Coleorton these verses are engraved on a stone, placed near the tree, which was thriving and spreading when I saw it in the summer of 1841.
481. *(II.) This Niche is in the sandstone rock in the winter-garden at Coleorton, which garden, as has been elsewhere said, was made under our direction out of an old unsightly quarry. While the labourers were at work Mrs. Wordsworth, my sister, and I used to amuse ourselves occasionally in scooping this seat out of the soft stone. It is of the size, with something of the appearance, of a stall in a cathedral. This inscription is not engraven, as the former and the two following are, in the grounds.
482. *(VI.) The circumstance alluded to at the conclusion of these verses was told me by Dr. Satterthwaite, who was Incumbent of Boodle, a small town at the foot of Black Combe. He had the particulars from one of the engineers, who was employed in making trigonometrical surveys of that region.
483. *(VIII.) Engraven, during my absence in Italy, upon a brass plate inserted in the stone.
484. *(IX.) The walk is what we call the far-terrace, beyond the summer-house, at Rydal Mount. The lines were written when we were afraid of being obliged to quit the place to which we were so much attached.
485. *(XI.) The monument of ice here spoken of I observed while ascending the middle road of the three ways that lead from Rydal to Grasmere. It was on my right hand, and my eyes were upon it when it fell, as told in these lines.
486. *(XII.) Where the second quarry now is, as you pass from Rydal to Grasmere, there was formerly a length of smooth rock that sloped towards the road on the right hand. I used to call it tadpole slope, from having frequently observed there the water bubbles gliding under the ice, exactly in the shape of that creature.
* * * * *
XXII. SELECTIONS FROM CHAUCER MODERNISED.
487. Of the Volume in which the 'Selections' appeared.
Of these 'Selections' the Author wrote as follows to Professor Reed, of Philadelphia:
'There has recently been published in London a volume of some of Chaucer's tales and poems modernised. This little specimen originated in what I attempted with the "Prioress's Tale;" and if the book should find its way to America, you will see in it two further specimens from myself. I had no further connection with the publication than by making a present of these to one of the contributors. Let me, however, recommend to your notice the "Prologue" and the "Franklin's Tale;" they are both by Mr. Horne, a gentleman unknown to me, but are, the latter in particular, very well done. Mr. Leigh Hunt has not failed in the "Manciple's Tale," which I myself modernised many years ago; but, though I much admire the genius of Chaucer as displayed in this performance, I could not place my version at the disposal of the editor, as I deemed the subject somewhat too indelicate, for pure taste, to be offered to the world at this time of day. Mr. Horne has much hurt this publication by not abstaining from the "Reve's Tale;" this, after making all allowance for the rude manners of Chaucer's age, is intolerable, and by indispensably softening down the incidents, he has killed the spirit of that humour, gross and farcical, that pervades the original. When the work was first mentioned to me, I protested as strongly as possible against admitting any coarseness or indelicacy; so that my conscience is clear of countenancing aught of that kind. So great is my admiration of Chaucer's genius, and so profound my reverence for him as an instrument in the hands of Providence for spreading the light of literature through his native land, that, notwithstanding the defects and faults in this publication, I am glad of it, as a mean for making many acquainted with the original who would otherwise be ignorant of everything about him but his name.'
 Extract: January 13th, 1841 (Memoirs, ii. p. 374-5).
488. The Prioress's Tale.
'Call up him who left half told The story of Cambuscan bold.'
In the following Poem no further deviation from the original has been made than was necessary for the fluent reading and instant understanding of the Author: so much, however, is the language altered since Chaucer's time, especially in pronunciation, that much was to be removed, and its place supplied with as little incongruity as possible. The ancient accent has been retained in a few conjunctions, as also and alway, from a conviction that such sprinklings of antiquity would be admitted, by persons of taste, to have a graceful accordance with the subject. The fierce bigotry of the Prioress forms a fine back-ground for her tender-hearted sympathies with the Mother and Child; and the mode in which the story is told amply atones for the extravagance of the miracle.
XXIII. POEMS REFERRING TO THE PERIOD OF OLD AGE.
489. The Old Cumberland Beggar. Ị
The class of Beggars to which the Old Man here described belongs will probably soon be extinct. It consisted of poor, and mostly old and infirm persons, who confined themselves to a stated round in their neighbourhood, and had certain fixed days, on which, at different houses, they regularly received alms, sometimes in money, but mostly in provisions.
Observed, and with great benefit to my own heart, when I was a child. Written at Racedown and Alfoxden in my 23d year. The political economists were about that time beginning their war upon mendicity in all its forms, and by implication, if not directly, on alms-giving also. This heartless process has been carried as far as it can go by the AMENDED Poor Law Bill, tho' the inhumanity that prevails in this measure is somewhat disguised by the profession that one of its objects is to throw the poor upon the voluntary donations of their neighbours, that is, if rightly interpreted, to force them into a condition between relief in the Union Poor House and alms robbed of their Christian grace and spirit, as being forced rather from the avaricious and selfish; and all, in fact, but the humane and charitable are at liberty to keep all they possess from their distressed brethren.
491. The Farmer of Tilsbury Vale.
With this picture, which was taken from real life, compare the imaginative one of 'The Reverie of Poor Susan,' and see (to make up the deficiencies of the class) 'The Excursion' passim.
The character of this man was described to me, and the incident upon which the verses turn was told me by Mr. Pool, of Nether Stowey, with whom I became acquainted through our common friend S.T.C. During my residence at Alfoxden, I used to see a great deal of him, and had frequent occasions to admire the course of his daily life, especially his conduct to his labourers and poor neighbours. Their virtues he carefully encouraged, and weighed their faults in the scales of charity. If I seem in these verses to have treated the weaknesses of the farmer and his transgression too tenderly, it may in part be ascribed to my having received the story from one so averse to all harsh judgment. After his death was found in his escritoir a lock of gray hair, carefully preserved, with a notice that it had been cut from the head of his faithful shepherd, who had served him for a length of years. I need scarcely add that he felt for all men as brothers. He was much beloved by distinguished persons:—Mr. Coleridge, Mr. Southey, Sir H. Davy, and many others, and in his own neighbourhood was highly valued as a magistrate, a man of business, and in every other social relation. The latter part of the poem, perhaps, requires some apology, as being too much of an echo to the 'Reverie of Poor Susan.'
493. The small Celandine. [III.]
See 'Poems of the Fancy' [XI.].
494. *The two Thieves. [IV.]
This is described from the life, as I was in the habit of observing when a boy at Hawkshead School. Daniel was more than 80 years older than myself when he was daily thus occupied under my notice. No book could have so early taught me to think of the changes to which human life is subject, and while looking at him I could not but say to myself, We may, any of us, I or the happiest of my playmates, live to become still more the object of pity than the old man, this half-doating pilferer.
495. *Animal Tranquillity and Decay. Ṿ
If I recollect right, these verses were an overflow from the 'Old Cumberland Beggar.'
* * * * *
XXIV. EPITAPHS AND ELEGIAC PIECES.
496. *From Chiabrera. [I. to IX.]
Those from Chiabrera were chiefly translated when Mr. Coleridge was writing his Friend, in which periodical my Essay on Epitaphs, written about that time, was first published. For further notice of Chiabrera in connection with his Epitaphs see 'Musings at Aquapendente.'
497. *By a blest Husband, &c.
This lady was named Carleton. She, along with a sister, was brought up in the neighbourhood of Ambleside. The Epitaph, a part of it at least, is in the church at Bromsgrove, where she resided after her marriage.
In affectionate remembrance of Frances Fermor, whose remains are deposited in the Church of Claines, near Worcester, this stone is erected by her sister, Dame Margaret, wife of Sir George Beaumont, Bart., who, feeling not less than the love of a brother for the deceased, commends this memorial to the care of his heirs and successors in the possession of this place. (See the verses on Mrs. F.)
499. *Epitaph in the Chapel-yard of Langdale, Westmoreland. [IV.]
Owen Lloyd, the subject of this Epitaph, was born at Old Brathay, near Ambleside, and was the son of Charles Lloyd and his wife Sophia (nee Pemberton), both of Birmingham. They had many children, both sons and daughters, of whom the most remarkable was the subject of this Epitaph. He was educated under Dawes of Ambleside, Dr. Butler of Shrewsbury, and lastly at Trin. Coll., Cambridge, where he would have been greatly distinguished as a scholar, but for inherited infirmities of bodily constitution, which from early childhood affected his mind. His love for the neighbourhood in which he was born and his sympathy with the habits and characters of the mountain yeomanry, in conjunction with irregular spirits, that unfitted him for facing duties in situations to which he was unaccustomed, inclined him to accept the retired curacy of Langdale. How much he was beloved and honoured there and with what feelings he discharged his duty under the oppressions of severe malady is set forth, though imperfectly, in this Epitaph.
500. *Address to the Scholars of the Village School.
Were composed at Goslar in Germany. They will be placed among the Elegiac pieces.
501. *Elegiac Stanzas suggested by a Picture of Peel Castle. [VI.]
Sir George Beaumont painted two pictures of this subject, one of which he gave to Mrs. Wordsworth, saying she ought to have it: but Lady B. interfered, and after Sir George's death she gave it to Sir Uvedale Price, in whose house at Foxley I have seen it—rather grudgingly I own.
502. Elegiac Verses. [VIII.]
In memory of my Brother, John Wordsworth, Commander of the E.I. Company's ship the Earl of Abergavenny, in which he perished by calamitous shipwreck, Feb. 6, 1805. Composed near the Mountain track that leads from Grasmere through Grisdale Hawes, where it descends towards Patterdale. 1805.
503. Moss Campion (Silene acaulis). [Ibid. II. l. 5.]
This most beautiful plant is scarce in England, though it is found in great abundance upon the mountains of Scotland. The first specimen I ever saw of it, in its native bed, was singularly fine, the tuft or cushion being at least eight inches in diameter, and the root proportionably thick. I have only met with it in two places among our mountains, in both of which I have since sought for it in vain.
Botanists will not, I hope, take it ill, if I caution them against carrying off, inconsiderately, rare and beautiful plants. This has often been done, particularly from Ingleborough and other mountains in Yorkshire, till the species have totally disappeared, to the great regret of lovers of Nature living near the places where they grew.
Composed at Grasmere, during a walk one evening after a stormy day, the Author having just read in a newspaper that the dissolution of Mr. Fox was hourly expected, 'Loud is the Vale,' &c. [IX.]
505. *Invocation to the Earth. x
Composed immediately after the Thanksgiving Ode, to which it may be considered as a second part.
506. *Elegiac Stanzas. Addressed to Sir G.H.B. [XII.]
On Mrs. Fermor. This lady had been a widow long before I knew her. Her husband was of the family of the lady celebrated in the 'Rape of the Lock,' and was, I believe, a Roman Catholic. The sorrow which his death caused her was fearful in its character, as described in this Poem, but was subdued in course of time by the strength of her religious faith. I have been for many weeks at a time an inmate with her at Coleorton Hall, as were also Mary and my sister. The truth in the sketch of her character here given was acknowledged with gratitude by her nearest relatives. She was eloquent in conversation, energetic upon public matters, open in respect to these, but slow to communicate her personal feelings. Upon these she never touched in her intercourse with me, so that I could not regard myself as her confidential friend, and was accordingly surprised when I learnt she had left me a legacy of 100l. as a token of her esteem. See in further illustration, the second stanza inscribed upon her cenotaph in Coleorton Church.
507. *Elegiac Musings in the Grounds of Coleorton Hall.[XIII.]
These verses were in fact composed on horseback during a storm, whilst I was on my way from Coleorton to Cambridge. They are alluded to elsewhere. [Intercalated by Mrs. Quillinan—My father was on my pony, which he rode all the way from Rydal to Cambridge that I might have the comfort and pleasure of a horse at Cambridge. The storm of wind and rain on this day was so violent that the coach in which my mother and I travelled, the same coach, was all but blown over, and had the coachman drawn up as he attempted to do at one of his halting-places, we must have been upset. My father and his pony were several times actually blown out of the road. D.Q.]
508. Charles Lamb. [XIV.]
From the most gentle creature nursed in fields.
This way of indicating the name of my lamented friend has been found fault with; perhaps rightly so; but I may say in justification of the double sense of the word, that similar allusions are not uncommon in epitaphs. One of the best in our language in verse I ever read, was upon a person who bore the name of Palmer; and the course of the thought, throughout, turned upon the Life of the Departed, considered as a pilgrimage. Nor can I think that the objection in the present case will have much force with any one who remembers Charles Lamb's beautiful sonnet addressed to his own name, and ending—
'No deed of mine shall shame thee, gentle name!'
Light will be thrown upon the tragic circumstance alluded to in this Poem when, after the death of Charles Lamb's sister, his biographer, Mr. Serjeant Talfourd, shall be at liberty to relate particulars which could not, at the time when his Memoir was written, be given to the public. Mary Lamb was ten years older than her brother, and has survived him as long a time. Were I to give way to my own feelings, I should dwell not only on her genius and intellectual powers, but upon the delicacy and refinement of manner which she maintained inviolable under most trying circumstances. She was loved and honoured by all her brother's friends, and others, some of them strange characters whom his philanthropic peculiarities induced him to countenance. The death of C. Lamb himself was doubtless hastened by his sorrow for that of Coleridge, to whom he had been attached from the time of their being schoolfellows at Christ's Hospital. Lamb was a good Latin scholar, and probably would have gone to college upon one of the School foundations but for the impediment in his speech. Had such been his lot, he would have probably been preserved from the indulgences of social humours and fancies which were often injurious to himself and causes of severe regret to his friends, without really benefiting the object of his misapplied kindness.
510. *Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg. [XV.]
These verses were written extempore immediately after reading a notice of the Ettrick Shepherd's death in the Newcastle Paper, to the Editor of which I sent a copy for publication. The persons lamented in these Verses were all either of my friends or acquaintance. In Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott an account is given of my first meeting with him in 1803. How the Ettrick Shepherd and I became known to each other has already been mentioned in these Notes. He was undoubtedly a man of original genius, but of coarse manners and low and offensive opinions. Of Coleridge and Lamb I need not speak here. Crabbe I have met in London at Mr. Rogers', but more frequently and favourably at Mr. Hoare's upon Hampstead Heath. Every Spring he used to pay that family a visit of some length, and was upon terms of intimate friendship with Mrs. Hoare, and still more with her daughter-in-law, who has a large collection of his letters addressed to herself. After the Poet's decease application was made to her to give up these letters to his biographer, that they, or at least a part of them, might be given to the public. She hesitated to comply, and asked my opinion on the subject. 'By no means,' was my answer, grounded not upon any objection there might be to publishing a selection from those letters, but from an aversion I have always felt to meet idle curiosity by calling back the recently departed to become the object of trivial and familiar gossip. Crabbe obviously for the most part preferred the company of women to that of men; for this among other reasons, that he did not like to be put upon the stretch in general conversation. Accordingly, in miscellaneous society his talk was so much below what might have been expected from a man so deservedly celebrated, that to me it seemed trifling. It must upon other occasions have been of a different character, as I found in our rambles together on Hampstead Heath; and not so much so from a readiness to communicate his knowledge of life and manners as of natural history in all its branches. His mind was inquisitive, and he seems to have taken refuge from a remembrance of the distresses he had gone through in these studies and the employments to which they led. Moreover such contemplations might tend profitably to counterbalance the painful truths which he had collected from his intercourse with mankind. Had I been more intimate with him I should have ventured to touch upon his office as a Minister of the Gospel, and how far his heart and soul were in it, so as to make him a zealous and diligent labourer. In poetry, tho' he wrote much, as we all know, he assuredly was not so. I happened once to speak of pains as necessary to produce merit of a certain kind which I highly valued. His observation was, 'It is not worth while.' You are right, thought I, if the labour encroaches upon the time due to teach truth as a steward of the mysteries of God; but if poetry is to be produced at all, make what you do produce as good as you can. Mr. Rogers once told me that he expressed his regret to Crabbe that he wrote in his late works so much less correctly than in his earlier. 'Yes,' replied he, 'but then I had a reputation to make; now I can afford to relax.' Whether it was from a modest estimate of his own qualifications or from causes less creditable, his motives for writing verse and his hopes and aims were not so high as is to be desired. After being silent for more than twenty years he again applied himself to poetry, upon the spur of applause he received from the periodical publications of the day, as he himself tells us in one of his Prefaces. Is it not to be lamented that a man who was so conversant with permanent truth, and whose writings are so valuable an acquisition to our country's literature, should have required an impulse from such a quarter?