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Title: Dorothy Wordsworth - The Story of a Sister's Love
Author: Lee, Edmund
Language: English
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[Transcriber's Note: Every effort has been made to replicate this text
as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings and
other inconsistencies.]

Dorothy Wordsworth.


















This little book owes its origin to the fact that, with the exception of
Professor Shairp's Sketch contained in the preface to the "Tour in
Scotland," no biography or memoir of the subject of it has hitherto been
written. Seeing what an important part Miss Wordsworth occupied in
influencing the revival of English poetry at the close of the last
century, this has frequently been to me a matter of surprise. To the
best of my knowledge, she does not even occupy any place in the numerous
sketches of famous women which have from time to time appeared. At the
same time the references to her in the biographies of her brother and in
the reviews of his works are many.

My main object in the present work has been, so far as permissible, to
gather together into the form of a Memoir of her life various allusions
to Miss Wordsworth, together with such further particulars as might be
procurable, and with some reflections to which such a life gives rise.
My task has, therefore, been one of a compiler rather than an author.

I acknowledge my great indebtedness to all sources from whence
information has been obtained. In addition to the authorities after
mentioned, I desire especially to mention the kindness of Dr. Sadler for
his permission to reprint the letters of Miss Wordsworth to the late
Mr. Henry Crabb Robinson, published in his "Diary and Reminiscences";
and of Mr. F. W. H. Myers for the like permission to make use of some
letters which for the first time appeared in his "Wordsworth."

However far I have failed in my original design, and however imperfectly
I may have performed my self-appointed task of love, it cannot be
doubted that no name can more fittingly have a place in female biography
than that of Dorothy Wordsworth.

  BRADFORD, 1886.



  Introductory                                                       1


  Childhood and Early Life--Early Influence--Wordsworth
    in France--Settlement at Racedown                                6


  Raisley Calvert--Residence at Racedown--Coleridge--Removal
  to Alfoxden                                                       17


  Alfoxden--Hazlitt--Charles and Mary Lamb--Cottle--Residence
  in Germany                                                        29


  The Lake District                                                 44


  Life at Grasmere                                                  59


  Some Memorial Nooks--Lancrigg Wood--Emma's Dell--William's
  Peak--Point Rash Judgment--Rock of Names                          71


  The Circle Widened--Mrs. Wordsworth                               81


  Tour in Scotland--Miss Wordsworth's Journal                       93


  Life at Grasmere--Capt. Wordsworth                               112


  De Quincey--His Description of Miss Wordsworth--Removal
  to Allan Bank                                                    120


  The Children of Blentarn Ghyll--Deaths of Wordsworth's
  Children                                                         131


  Removal to Rydal Mount--Dora Wordsworth                          139


  Friends--Tour on Continent                                       146


  Further Influence                                                155


  Illness and Last Years                                           169


  A Quiet Resting-place                                            186


  Miss Wordsworth's Poems                                          194


  Journal of Tour at Ullswater                                     203


  _The Poetical Works of Wordsworth._

  _Memoirs of Wordsworth_, by the late Bishop of Lincoln.

  _Wordsworth's Prose Works._

  _Miss Wordsworth's Tour in Scotland._ Edited by Principal Shairp.

  _Wordsworth's Description of the Lakes._

  _Tait's Edinburgh Magazine_, 1839 and 1840.

  _Recollections of the Lakes_, by De Quincey.

  _Life of De Quincey_, by H. A. Page.

  _Memoirs of Hazlitt_, by W. Carew Hazlitt.

  _Diary and Reminiscences of Henry Crabb Robinson._

  _Wordsworth_, by F. W. H. Myers (_English Men of Letters_).

  _Autobiography of Sir Henry Taylor._

  _Memoir of Sara Coleridge._

  _Autobiography of Mrs. Fletcher._

  _Cottle's Early Recollections of Coleridge._

  _Howitt's Homes and Haunts of the British Poets._

  _Letters of Charles Lamb_, by T. N. Talfourd.

  _The Lake Country_, by Mrs. E. Lynn Linton.

  _The English Lake District as Interpreted in the Works of Wordsworth_,
  by Professor Knight.

  _Blackwood's Magazine._

  _The Transactions of the Wordsworth Society._

                                  "I knew a maid,

        .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Birds in the bower, and lambs in the green fields
    Could they have known her, would have loved; methought
    Her very presence such a sweetness breathed,
    That flowers, and trees, and even the silent hills,
    And everything she looked on, should have had
    An intimation how she bore herself
    Towards them, and to all creatures. God delights
    In such a being; for, her common thoughts
    Are piety, her life is gratitude."

                                    THE PRELUDE.




The influences which help to shape human destiny are many and varied. At
some period in the early history of two lives, beginning their course
separately, one of them, by coming into contact with the other, is
quickened into deeper vitality, and the germ of a great and unthought-of
future is formed. Lives touch each other, and from thenceforth, like
meeting waters, their onward course is destined, and flows through
deeper and broader channels.

Among the most commanding of human influences is that of _woman_. As
mother, or sister, or wife we find her, at every period of a man's
existence, occupying a prominent part as his guide, comforter, and
friend. Not unfrequently it happens that the influence of a sister is
the greatest, and that to which a career is due. Especially is this so
when the mother dies whilst the brother and sister are young. The
influence of the wife, all-powerful though it may be, is of a later
date, when character and conduct have to a great extent become formed,
and the tendency of genius settled. When the sister's companionship
gives place to that of the wife, a career may have become developed. In
this way the most dominant power may remain unrevealed; and the
blossoming and perfection of character may never be traced to their
original source.

Many pleasant stories of affection between brothers and sisters, and of
their inspiration of each other, have been told; and many more have
existed among those who have lived unhistoric lives, and whose annals
are recorded only among memories which linger round lonely hearths.
Lovely and pleasant in their saddened lives were Charles and Mary Lamb.
The way in which they were each devoted to the other, and in which they
were bound up in each other's well-being to the complete forgetfulness
of self, suggests a pleasing and pathetic picture of fraternal fidelity,
while it reveals a domestic history the most touching and tragic the
world has known.

We have a companion picture, but a more happy and pleasant one, in the
lives of William and Dorothy Wordsworth.

The culture and well-being of a nation depend largely upon the
character, purity, and progress of its literature. To no class of
writers has the world been more indebted than to its poets--those "rare
souls, whose thoughts enrich the blood of the world." It was well said
by one of these: "Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward.
It has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my
enjoyments; it has endeared solitude; and it has given me the habit of
wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and
surrounds me."

Among those who have permanently elevated and enriched our English
literature during the present century, none is entitled to a more
honoured place than is William Wordsworth, our greatest laureate; and
none of the influences which entered into his life, and served to build
up his great career, and to complete his great work, can fail to be of
interest. And of all the world's benefactors--of all who in any of the
primary departments, have achieved most signal distinction, has none
been more indebted to the aid of another, than was Wordsworth to the
devoted aid and the constraining and softening power of his sister.

In many respects there is a marked similarity between the lives of
Charles and Mary Lamb and those of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. The
burden of the story of each is that of a brother's and sister's love.
But there is also a great difference. While one is the tale of an elder
sister's affection, and of the brother's self-sacrifice for the tender
care of her during periods of nature's saddest affliction, the other
tells how a younger sister consecrated her life to her brother's
greatest good, relinquishing for herself everything outside him in such
a way that she became absorbed in his own existence. But as a
self-sacrificing love always brings its own reward, the poet's sister
attained hers. She is for all time identified and associated with her
brother, who, with a grateful love, has "crowned her for immortality."
As Mr. Paxton Hood remarks: "Not Laura with Petrarch, nor Beatrice with
Dante, nor the fair Geraldine with Surrey, are more really connected
than is Wordsworth with his sister Dorothy."



Dorothy Wordsworth was the only daughter and third child of John and
Anne Wordsworth. She was born on Christmas Day, 1771, at Cockermouth, in
Cumberland, being a year and nine months younger than her famous
brother, the poet. John Wordsworth, the father, was an attorney-at-law,
who had attained considerable success in his profession, being the
solicitor of the then Earl of Lonsdale, in an old manor-house belonging
to whose family he resided. Miss Wordsworth's mother was, on the
maternal side, descended from an old and distinguished family, being the
only daughter of William Cookson, of Penrith, who had married Dorothy
Crackenthorp, whose family, we are informed, had, since the early part
of the fourteenth century, resided at Newbiggen Hall, Westmoreland. The
Wordsworths themselves traced their descent from a Yorkshire family of
that name who had settled in the county about the time of the Norman

Dorothy had the misfortune to lose her excellent mother when she was a
little more than six years old. After this great loss her father's
health declined, and she was left an orphan at the early age of twelve.
The sources of information concerning her childhood are very meagre.

We cannot doubt that for the qualities of mind and heart which
distinguished her she was, in common with the other members of her
family--her four brothers, who all won for themselves successful
careers--indebted to her parenthood, and especially to her mother, of
whom the poet says:--

                      "She was the heart
    And hinge of all our learning and our loves."

The beauty and gentleness of disposition by which, in after years,
Dorothy Wordsworth developed into such a perfect woman were not absent
in her early childhood. Although we know so little, we have abundant
testimony that as a child she was fittingly named _Dorothea_--the gift
of God--and that then her life of ministry to her poet-brother began. We
can well imagine how the little dark-eyed brunette, sparkling and
impulsive damsel as she was, and the only girl in the family, became the
darling of the circle. In after years, when her favourite and famous
brother had entered on the career which she helped so much to stimulate
and to perfect, we find in his poems many allusions to her, as well in
her prattling childhood as in her mature years. The sight of a butterfly
calls to the poet's mind the pleasures of the early home, the time when
he and his little playmate "together chased the butterfly." The kindness
of her child heart is told in a few expressive words. He says:--

    "A very hunter did I rush
      Upon the prey;--with leaps and springs
    I followed on from brake to bush;
    But she--God love her!--_feared to brush
      The dust from off its wings_."

The sight of a sparrow's nest, many years after, also served to bring to
the poet's remembrance his father's home and his sister's love. The
"bright blue eggs" appeared to him "a vision of delight." In them he saw
another sparrow's nest, in the years gone by daily visited in company
with his little sister.

    "Behold, within that leafy shade,
    Those bright blue eggs together laid!
    On me the chance-discovered sight
    Gleamed like a vision of delight.
    I started, seeming to espy
      The home and sheltered bed,
    The Sparrow's dwelling, which, hard by
    My Father's house, in wet or dry,
    My sister Emmeline and I
      Together visited.
    She looked at it and seemed to fear it,
    Dreading, though wishing, to be near it:
    Such heart was in her, being then
    A little Prattler among men.
    The Blessing of my later years
      Was with me when a boy:
    She gave me eyes, she gave me ears;
    And humble cares, and delicate fears;
    A heart, the fountain of sweet tears,
      And love, and thought, and joy."

It is to her early thoughtfulness that the poet alludes in another poem
having reference to the same period. In this poem he represents his
sister and her young play-fellows gathering spring flowers, and thus
records her prudent "Foresight":--

    "Here are daisies, take your fill;
      Pansies, and the cuckoo-flower:
    Of the lofty daffodil
      Make your bed or make your bower;
    Fill your lap and fill your bosom;
    Only spare the strawberry-blossom!

           *       *       *       *       *

    God has given a kindlier power
    To the favoured strawberry-flower.
    Hither soon as spring is fled
      You and Charles and I will walk;
    Lurking berries, ripe and red,
      Then will hang on every stalk,
    Each within the leafy bower;
    And for that promise spare the flower!"

An incident showing the tender sensibility of her nature when a child is
also deserving of special mention. In a note to the "Second Evening
Voluntary," Wordsworth says: "My sister, when she first heard the voice
of the sea from this point (the high ground on the coast of Cumberland
overlooking Whitehaven and the sea beyond it) and beheld the sea 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."

The death of their mother was, however, the signal for separation. Her
brother William was sent to school at Hawkshead, in North Lancashire,
and Dorothy went to reside with her maternal grandfather at Penrith.
Subsequently, during her brother's school and college days, we are
informed that she lived chiefly at Halifax with her cousin, occasionally
making lengthened visits at Forncett, to her cousin, Dr. Cookson, Canon
of Windsor. Although they were in this way for some years deprived of
each other's society, except during occasional college vacations, they
were not forgotten by each other, and their early love did not grow
cold. Wordsworth, having gone to Cambridge in 1787, during one of his
early vacations visited his relations at Penrith, when he was for a
short period restored to his sister's society. In his autobiographical
poem, "The Prelude," he has thus recorded the fact:--

    "In summer, making quest for works of art,
    Or scenes renowned for beauty, I explored
    That streamlet whose blue current works its way
    Between romantic Dovedale's spiry rocks;
    Pried into Yorkshire dales, or hidden tracts
    Of my own native region, and was blest
    Between these sundry wanderings with a joy
    Above all joys, that seemed another morn
    Risen on mid noon; blest with the presence
    Of that sole Sister ----
    Now, after separation desolate,
    Restored to me--such absence that she seemed
    A gift then first bestowed."

It cannot be doubted that the poetic tendency of Dorothy Wordsworth's
mind, like that of her brother, was fostered by the beauties of the
natural scenery in the midst of which a large portion of her childhood
was cast. The beauty of wood, and lake, and mountain early sank into
their receptive minds, and helped to make them what they became, both to
each other, and to the world. To the influence of Nature in the maturing
of their intellect, the development of both mind and heart, it may be
necessary to refer later.

During the last of his college vacations--that of the year 1790, so
remarkable in French history--Wordsworth made a three months' tour on
the Continent with his friend, Mr. Robert Jones. Writing to his sister,
then budding into womanhood, from the Lake of Constance, a fine
description of the scenery through which they were passing, he says: "I
have thought of you perpetually; and never have my eyes rested upon a
scene of great loveliness but I have almost instantly wished that you
could for a moment be transported to the place where I stood to enjoy
it. I have been more particularly induced to form those wishes, because
the scenes of Switzerland have no resemblance to any I have found in
England; consequently it may probably never be in your power to form an
idea of them." And he concludes by saying: "I must now bid you adieu,
with assuring you that you are perpetually in my thoughts."

Wordsworth took his degree, and left Cambridge in 1791. Being undecided
as to his future occupation, he spent the succeeding twelve months in
France. His life for some time was wandering and uncertain. He has
himself stated that he was once told by an intimate friend of his
mother's that she had said the only one of her five children about
whose future life she was anxious was William; and he, she said, would
be remarkable either for good or for evil.

Wordsworth's experience of the French Revolution was far from being
happy. His expectations were ruthlessly disappointed. With his ardent
spirit he could not be an unconcerned observer of the stirring events
which then agitated that ill-fated country. He had bright hopes of great
results from the Revolution--of signal benefits to mankind. How bitterly
he was disappointed we learn something from "The Prelude." The awful
scenes of the time of blood and terror which followed were so deeply
imaged on his mind, that for years afterwards they haunted his dreams,
and he seemed

    "To hear a voice that cried,
    To the whole city, sleep no more."

Fortunately for him he was obliged to return home, led, as he afterwards
acknowledged, "by the gracious Providence of heaven."

It was now quite time that Wordsworth should determine upon his future
career; and this important subject seems to have occasioned some anxiety
amongst his friends. His father, having been taken away in the prime of
life, had not been able to make much provision for his children,
especially as a considerable sum which had been due to him from the Earl
of Lonsdale remained unpaid. It had been intended that, after leaving
the University, Wordsworth should enter the Church. To this, however, he
had conscientious objections. On other grounds the profession of the law
was equally distasteful to him. His three brothers had chosen their
pursuits, in which they all lived to distinguish themselves; but the one
who was destined to be the greatest of them all, we find, at the age of
twenty-three, still undetermined as to his future course of life. He
had, indeed, at an early age, begun to write some of his earlier poems,
to which, it is worthy of remark, he was incited and encouraged by his
sister. Among other pieces, his "Evening Walk," addressed to his sister,
had been composed when, at school and during his college vacations, he
had been "far from that dearest friend."

However much Wordsworth's relatives and friends generally may have been
disappointed in his want of decision, Dorothy's confidence in him and
her love to him never wavered. In a letter, written to a dear friend,
dated February, 1792, she says, speaking of her brothers Christopher and
William: "Christopher is steady and sincere in his attachments. William
has both these virtues in an eminent degree, and a sort of violence of
affection--if I may so term it--which demonstrates itself every moment
of the day, when the objects of his affection are present with him, in a
thousand almost imperceptible attentions to their wishes, in a sort of
restless watchfulness which I know not how to describe, a tenderness
that never sleeps, and, at the same time, such a delicacy of manner as I
have observed in few men." Again, writing in June, 1792, to the same
friend, she says: "I have strolled into a neighbouring meadow, where I
am enjoying the melody of birds and the busy sounds of a fine summer's
evening. But, oh! how imperfect is my pleasure whilst I am alone! Why
are you not seated with me? and my dear William, why is he not here
also? I could almost fancy that I see you both near me. I hear _you_
point out a spot, where, if we could erect a little cottage and call it
our own, we should be the happiest of human beings. I see my brother
fired with the idea of leading his sister to such a retreat. Our parlour
is in a moment furnished; our garden is adorned by magic; the roses and
honeysuckles spring at our command; the wood behind the house lifts its
head, and furnishes us with a winter's shelter and a summer's noonday
shade. My dear friend, I trust that ere long you will be, without the
aid of imagination, the companion of my walks, and my dear William may
be of our party.... He is now going upon a tour in the West of England
with a gentleman who was formerly a schoolfellow--a man of fortune, who
is to bear all the expenses of the journey, and only requests the favour
of William's company. He is perfectly at liberty to quit this companion
as soon as anything more advantageous offers. But it is enough to say
that I am likely to have the happiness of introducing you to my beloved
brother. You must forgive me for talking so much of him. My affection
hurries me on, and makes me forget that you cannot be so much interested
in the subject as I am. You do not know him; you do not know how amiable
he is. Perhaps you may reply: 'But I know how blinded you are.' Well, my
dearest, I plead guilty at once; I _must_ be blind; he cannot be so
pleasing as my fondness makes him. I am willing to allow that half the
virtues with which I fancy him endowed are the creation of my love; but
surely I may be excused! He was never afraid of comforting his sister;
he never left her in anger; he always met her with joy; he preferred her
society to every other pleasure--or, rather, when we were so happy as to
be within each other's reach, he had no pleasure when we were compelled
to be divided. Do not, then, expect too much from this brother, of whom
I have delighted so to talk to you. In the first place, you must be with
him more than once before he will be perfectly easy in conversation. In
the second place, his person is not in his favour--at least, I should
think not--but I soon ceased to discover this; nay, I almost thought
that the opinion I had formed was erroneous. He is, however, certainly
rather plain, though otherwise has an extremely thoughtful countenance;
but when he speaks, it is often lighted up by a smile which I think very
pleasing. But enough, he is my brother; why should I describe him? I
shall be launching again into panegyric." Again she says: "William
writes to me regularly, and is a most affectionate brother."

It is gratifying to know that this warm attachment of Miss Wordsworth to
her brother was at all times returned. In the year 1793, when they were
discussing the means of realising their cherished idea of retiring to
their little cottage, Wordsworth writes: "I will write to my uncle, and
tell him I cannot think of going anywhere before I have been with you.
Whatever answer he gives me, I certainly will make a point of once more
mingling my transports with yours. Alas! my dear sister, how soon must
this happiness expire; yet there are moments worth ages." Again he says:
"Oh, my dear, dear sister, with what transport shall I again meet you!
with what rapture shall I again wear out the day in your sight!... I see
you in a moment running, or rather flying, to my arms."

In the early part of 1794, having still no fixed residence, we find
Wordsworth staying at Halifax. Writing in February of that year to a
friend, he says: "My sister is under the same roof with me; indeed, it
was to see her that I came into the country. I have been doing nothing,
and still continue to do nothing. What is to become of me I know not."
About this time the brother and sister together made a tour in the Lake
District. She writes: "After having enjoyed the company of my brother
William at Halifax, we set forward by coach towards Whitehaven, and
thence to Kendal. I walked, with my brother at my side, from Kendal to
Grasmere, eighteen miles, and afterwards from Grasmere to Keswick,
fifteen miles, through the most delightful country that was ever seen.
We are now at a farmhouse about half a mile from Keswick. When I came I
intended to stay only a few days; but the country is so delightful, and,
above all, I have so full an enjoyment of my brother's company, that I
have determined to stay a few weeks longer."

In his uncertainty of mind Wordsworth projected the publishing of a
periodical, and afterwards contributing to the London Newspaper Press.
That the latter scheme was not put into practice was owing to the fact
that just at this time an incident occurred which had no small influence
upon what may be considered the turning point in his life.



To all lovers of Wordsworth it is well known how, while he was yet
undecided as to his future calling, he went to nurse a young friend
named Raisley Calvert, who was afflicted with a malady which threatened
to prove fatal, and by whose side he felt it his duty to remain. After a
protracted illness his friend died, and bequeathed him a legacy of £900.
It is probable that in this generous act, to which Wordsworth has more
than once recorded his indebtedness, Mr. Calvert was actuated by mixed
motives; that it was to be regarded not only as an expression of
gratitude, but that he also perceived in his friend talents which others
were slow to recognise, and desired thus to provide him with the means
of devoting himself, at any rate for a time, to the pursuit of poetry.
However this may be, the incident cannot but be regarded as a link in
the chain of providential circumstances which combined to prepare the
poet for his future high calling. It is not, however, intended in this
sketch to refer to Wordsworth himself more than is necessary for the
purpose of elucidating any events in the life and character of his
sister, or of tracing her influence upon him. Having thus obtained the
means of livelihood for a few years, one of their cherished hopes was
realised. His childhood's playmate became his constant and lifelong
companion, devoting herself to him and his interests and aims as only a
noble woman could have done.

At what a critical time Miss Wordsworth thus entered more closely into
the life of her brother we learn from his biography, as well as from his
works. Dejected and despondent by reason of the scenes of which he had
been an eyewitness in France, and the terrible days which followed,
Wordsworth was at this time greatly in danger of becoming misanthropic,
and of giving way to a melancholy which might have coloured all his
life, and deprived his works of the healthful and educating influence
which they breathe. All disappointment and sorrow may become the
precursor of blessing, the mother of a great hope. It is the bruised
herb that exudes its fragrance; the broken heart that, when bound,
pulsates most truly. It was a saying of Goethe that he never had an
affliction which did not turn into a poem. But disappointment may also
be the parent of gloom, and pave the way to a spirit of morose
indifference. At such junctures a life may, by the skilful leading of a
wise affection, be saved for beauty and happiness, for greater good and
more exalted attainment and enjoyment, by reason of the very sorrow
which, unhallowed, would have plunged it into bitterness.

However much Wordsworth's goodness of heart and ardent love of Nature
helped to protect him, it was at this critical period that he was
chiefly indebted to the soothing and cheering power of his sister for
uplifting him from the gloom which had gathered around him, and for
restoring and maintaining that equable frame of mind which from
thenceforth unvaryingly characterised him. Her clear insight and womanly
instinct at this time saw deeper into the sources of real satisfaction;
and her helpful and healing sympathy came to his aid. By her tact she
led him from the distracting cares of political agitation to those more
elevating and satisfying influences which an ardent and contemplative
love of Nature and poetry cultivate, and which sweet and kindred human
affections strengthen and develop. It remained for Miss Wordsworth, if
not to awaken, to draw out and stimulate her brother's better nature, to
deaden what was unworthy, and to encourage, by tender care and patient
endeavour, that higher life towards which his mind and soul were turned.
She became, and for many years continued to be, the loadstar of his
existence, and affords one of the most pleasing instances of sisterly
devotion and fidelity on record. In her brother was verified the poet's

    "True heart and shining star shall guide thee right."

Well was it for Wordsworth, and for us, that he had a sister, and that
it was to this brother--one after her own heart--she at this juncture
devoted herself. In this we may see another of the providential
circumstances that beset the career of Wordsworth. As Spenser says:--

                    "It chanced--
    Eternal God that chance did guide."

Writing of Miss Wordsworth at this time, her nephew, the late Bishop of
Lincoln, says: "She was endowed with tender sensibility, with an
exquisite perception of beauty, with a retentive recollection of what
she saw, with a felicitous tact in discerning and admirable skill in
delineating natural objects with graphic accuracy and vivid
gracefulness. She weaned him from contemporary politics, and won him to
beauty and truth."

A writer in _The Quarterly Review_, many years ago (I believe the late
Mr. J. G. Lockhart), referring to this period, writes: "Depressed and
bewildered, he turned to abstract science, and was beginning to torment
his mind with fresh problems, when, after his long voyage through
unknown seas in search of Utopia, with sails full set and without
compass or rudder, his sister came to his aid, and conducted him back to
the quiet harbour from which he started. His visits to her had latterly
been short and far between, until his brightening fortunes enabled them
to indulge the wish of their hearts to live together, and then she
convinced him that he was born to be a poet, and had no call to lose
himself in the endless labyrinth of theoretical puzzles. The calm of a
home would alone have done much towards sobering his mind. While he
roamed restlessly about the world he was drawn in by every eddy, and
obeyed the influence of every wind; but when once he had escaped from
the turmoil, into the pure and peaceful pleasures of domestic existence,
he felt the vanity and vexation of his previous course."

Wordsworth himself, afterwards writing of this same period of his life,

    "Depressed, bewildered thus, I did not walk
    With scoffers, seeking light and gay revenge
    From indiscriminate laughter, nor sit down
    In reconcilement with an utter waste
    Of intellect.

           *       *       *       *       *

                            Then it was--
    Thanks to the bounteous Giver of all good!--
    That the beloved sister in whose sight
    Those days were passed, now speaking in a voice
    Of sudden admonition--like a brook
    That did but _cross_ a lonely road, now
    Is seen, heard, felt, and caught at every turn,
    Companion never lost through many a league--
    Maintain'd for me a saving intercourse
    With my true self; for, though bedimmed and changed
    Much, as it seemed, I was no further changed
    Than as a clouded, and a waning moon;
    She whispered still that brightness would return.
    She in the midst of all preserved me still
    A poet; made me seek beneath that name,
    And that alone, my office upon earth."

We thus find Miss Wordsworth keeping house with her brother, who, having
at length determined upon his course of life, was, in 1795, living at
Racedown Lodge in Dorsetshire. From this time forth, amid all the
changes of fortune and condition, they were close and life-long

However great may have been her influence upon him previously, it now
became a moulding and educating power. They were both in the strength of
their youth--that time of radiant enjoyment--bound not only by that most
endearing of natural ties, but by tastes, aims, and hopes most
singularly mutual. The close association of daily intercourse and
community of thought, together with a thorough sympathy, seemed now, as
only an ardent enthusiasm and devoted love of kindred objects can do, to
cement their lives. In this their first home, the only one which they
had really known since childhood, and to which they had so longingly
looked forward, they were all in all to each other. Separation from the
busy world, and from society, was no hardship to them, so long as they
were uninterrupted in the society of each other, and in the pursuits
they loved. Though in a part of the country, then so remote that they
had only a post once a week, they went into raptures over their lot. The
house which they temporarily occupied was, we are informed, pretty well
stocked with books, and they were industrious in both indoor and outdoor
occupations. They read, and thought, and talked together, rambling
through the lovely combs and by the ever-changing sea. "My brother," she
says, "handles the spade with great dexterity," while she herself was
engaged in reading Italian authors.

A writer in _Blackwood_, a few years ago, referring to Miss Wordsworth
at this time, says: "She had been separated from her brother since their
childhood, and now at the first moment when their re-union was possible,
seems to have rushed to him with all the impetuosity of her nature.
Without taking his sister into consideration, no just estimate can be
formed of Wordsworth. He was, as it were, henceforward, the spokesman to
the world of two souls. It was not that she visibly or consciously aided
and stimulated him, but that she _was_ him--a second pair of eyes to
see, a second and more delicate intuition to discern, a second heart to
enter into all that came before their mutual observation. This union was
so close, that in many instances it becomes difficult to discern which
is the brother and which the sister. She was part not only of his life,
but of his imagination. He saw by her, felt through her, at her touch
the strings of the instrument began to thrill, the great melodies awoke.
Her journals are Wordsworth in prose, just as his poems are Dorothy in
verse. The one soul kindled at the other. The brother and sister met
with all the enthusiasm of youthful affection, strengthened and
concentrated by long separation, and the delightful sense that here at
last was the possibility of making for themselves a home." After
referring to their pecuniary means, the writer adds: "And with this, in
their innocent frugality and courage, they faced the world like a new
pair of babes in the wood. Their aspirations in one way were infinite,
but in another modest as any cottager's. Daily bread sufficed them, and
the pleasure to be derived from Nature, who is cheap, and gives herself
lavishly without thought or hope of reward."

Although at this remote place friends and visitors were few, it was here
the Wordsworths first made the acquaintance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
who, in conjunction with Southey, had already begun to make a name. This
acquaintance ripened into a close and uninterrupted friendship, only to
be ended by death. It was here also that Wordsworth composed his tragedy
_The Borderers_ and "The Ruined Cottage," which latter poem afterwards
formed the first part of the "Excursion." The ardour with which the
young poets entered into each other's plans, and the enthusiasm of the
sister, who was in such perfect _rapport_ with them, is gathered from
her statement that the "first thing that was read when he (Coleridge)
came was William's new poem, 'The Ruined Cottage,' with which he was
much delighted; and after tea he repeated to us two acts and a half of
his tragedy _Osorio_. The next morning William read his tragedy _The

The following description of Coleridge, from the pen of Miss Wordsworth,
cannot fail to be of interest. Writing to a friend, she says: "You had a
great loss in not seeing Coleridge. He is a wonderful man. His
conversation teems with soul, mind, and spirit. Then he is so
benevolent, so good-tempered and cheerful, and, like William, excites
himself so much about every little trifle. At first I thought him very
plain--that is, for about three minutes. He is pale, thin, has a wide
mouth, thick lips, and not very good teeth; longish, loose-growing,
half-curling, rough, black hair. But if you hear him speak for five
minutes, you think no more about them. His eye is large and full, and
not very dark, but grey--such an eye as would receive from a heavy soul
the dullest expression; but it speaks every emotion of his animated
mind. It has more of the 'poet's eye in fine frenzy rolling' than I ever
witnessed. He has fine dark eyebrows and an overhanging forehead."

By the side of this striking picture of Coleridge may be fittingly
placed his first impressions of Miss Wordsworth. Writing to Mr. Cottle
from Nether Stowey, in Somersetshire, where he was then residing, he
says: "Wordsworth and his exquisite sister are with me. She is a woman,
indeed!--in mind, I mean, and heart; for her person is such that, if you
expected to see a pretty woman, you would think her ordinary; if you
expected to see an ordinary woman, you would think her pretty; but her
manners are simple, ardent, impressive. In every motion her most
innocent soul outbeams so brightly that who saw her would say:

    'Guilt was a thing impossible in her.'

Her information various; her eye watchful in minutest observation of
Nature; and her taste a perfect electrometer. It bends, protrudes, and
draws in at subtlest beauties and most recondite faults."

From this description of Coleridge it might appear that Miss Wordsworth
was one of those happy possessors of a face and features which though in
repose might appear homely, became illumined by the sweet smiles of
love--flashed into beauty by the gleam of the soul-lit eye.

The pleasure which the friendship of Coleridge afforded them induced
Wordsworth and his sister to change their residence in order to be near
him. Accordingly, in the summer of 1797, they settled at Alfoxden, near
Nether Stowey. Alfoxden is described by Hazlitt as a "romantic old
family mansion of the St. Aubins," and he gives the additional
information that it was then in the possession of a friend of the poet,
who gave him the free use of it. De Quincey states that he understood
that the Wordsworths had the use of the house on condition of keeping it
in repair.

Although Miss Wordsworth afterwards spoke of Racedown as the dearest
place of her recollections upon the whole surface of the island, as the
first home she had, she was soon enamoured of her new abode, and the
scenery of Somersetshire. Of the neighbourhood of Nether Stowey she
says, in a letter to a friend, dated 4th July: "There is everything
there--sea, woods wild as fancy ever painted; brooks clear and pebbly as
in Cumberland; villages as romantic; and William and I, in a wander by
ourselves, found out a sequestered waterfall in a dell formed by steep
hills, covered by full-grown timber-trees. The woods are as fine as
those at Lowther, and the country more romantic; it has the character of
the less grand parts of the neighbourhood of the lakes."

Being settled at Alfoxden, she writes again, on 14th August: "Here we
are, in a large mansion, in a large park, with seventy head of deer
around us. But I must begin with the day of leaving Racedown to pay
Coleridge a visit. You know how much we were delighted with the
neighbourhood of Stowey. The evening that I wrote to you, William and I
had rambled as far as this house, and pryed into the recesses of our
little brook, but without any more fixed thoughts upon it than some
dreams of happiness in a little cottage, and passing wishes that such a
place might be found out. We spent a fortnight at Coleridge's: in the
course of that time we heard that this house was to let, applied for it,
and took it. Our principal inducement was Coleridge's society. It was a
month yesterday since we came to Alfoxden.

"The house is a large mansion, with furniture enough for a dozen
families like ours. There is a very excellent garden, well stocked with
vegetables and fruit. The garden is at the end of the house, and our
favourite parlour, as at Racedown, looks that way. In front is a little
court, with grass-plot, gravel-walk, and shrubs; the moss roses were in
full beauty a month ago. The front of the house is to the south; but is
screened from the sun by a high hill which rises immediately from it.
This hill is beautiful, scattered irregularly and abundantly with trees,
and topped with fern, which spreads a considerable way down it. The deer
dwell here, and sheep, so that we have a living prospect. From the end
of the house we have a view of the sea, over a woody, meadow country;
and exactly opposite the window, where I now sit, is an immense wood,
whose round top from this point has exactly the appearance of a mighty
dome. In some parts of this wood there is an under-grove of hollies,
which are now very beautiful. In a glen at the bottom of the wood is the
waterfall of which I spoke, a quarter of a mile from the house. We are
three miles from Stowey, and not two miles from the sea. Wherever we
turn we have woods, smooth downs, and valleys with small brooks running
down them, through green meadows, hardly ever intersected with
hedgerows, but scattered over with trees. The hills that cradle these
valleys are either covered with fern and bilberries, or oak woods, which
are cut for charcoal.... Walks extend for miles over the hill-tops; the
great beauty of which is their wild simplicity: they are perfectly
smooth, without rocks.

"The Tor of Glastonbury is before our eyes during more than half of our
walk to Stowey; and in the park, wherever we go, keeping about fifteen
yards above the house, it makes a part of our prospect."



The year succeeding the time when Miss Wordsworth and her brother became
resident at Alfoxden was one of glowing enjoyment and fruitful industry.
We are not without a few pleasing pictures of this charmed primitive
period of their lives--its profitable intercourse, its delightful

    "Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge we roamed,
    Unchecked, or loitered 'mid his sylvan combs;
    Thou, in bewitching words with happy heart,
    Didst chant the vision of that ancient man,
    The bright-eyed mariner; and rueful woes
    Didst utter of the Lady Christabel--
    And I, associate with such labours, steeped
    In soft forgetfulness the livelong hours,
    Murmuring of him who, joyous hap, was found
    After the perils of his moonlight ride,
    Near the loud waterfall; or her who sate
    In misery near the miserable thorn."

We can imagine the happy meetings and rapturous feelings of the two
young poets in the company of the bright young woman, who was gifted
with a no less poetic soul, wandering amid the delightful scenery of
Somersetshire, revelling in the beauties of woodland and ocean, and the
pleasant evenings, when each read to the other his growing poems; and
they together discussed their ambitious schemes for the golden future,
receiving the suggestions and approval of the ever-sympathetic sister
and friend. Wordsworth has described this as a "very pleasant and
productive time" of his life.

It was during one of the short tours of Wordsworth and Coleridge, with
the bright and faithful Dorothy by their side, inspiring and stimulating
(the expenses of which tour they desired to defray by writing a poem),
that the story of "The Ancient Mariner" was conceived. Wordsworth has
said of it in a passage oft-repeated:--

"In the autumn of 1797, Mr. Coleridge, my sister, and myself, started
from Alfoxden pretty late in the afternoon, with a view of visiting
Linton and the valley of stones near it; and as our united funds were
very small, we agreed to defray the expense of the tour by writing a
poem, to be sent to the new Monthly Magazine. In the course of this walk
was planned the poem of 'The Ancient Mariner,' founded on a dream, as
Mr. Coleridge said, of his friend, Mr. Cruikshank. Much the greatest
part of the story was Mr. Coleridge's invention; but certain parts I
suggested. For example, some crime to be committed, which was to bring
upon the Old Navigator, as Coleridge afterwards delighted to call him,
the spectral persecution, as a consequence of that crime and his own
wanderings. I had been reading in 'Shelvocke's Voyages,' a day or two
before, that, while doubling Cape Horn, they frequently saw albatrosses
in that latitude--the largest sort of sea-fowl, some extending their
wings 12 or 13 feet. Suppose, said I, you represent him as having killed
one of these birds on entering the South Sea, and that the tutelary
spirits of these regions take upon them to avenge the crime. The
incident was thought fitting for the purpose, and adopted accordingly. I
also suggested the navigation of the ship by the dead man; but I do not
recollect that I had anything more to do with the scheme of the poem."

It was about this time that the Wordsworths made the acquaintance of
Hazlitt. He was then staying with Coleridge, who took him over to
Alfoxden. Of this visit Hazlitt says:--

"Wordsworth himself was from home; but his sister kept house, and set
before us a frugal repast; and we had free access to her brother's
poems, the lyrical ballads, which were still in manuscript, or in the
form of sybilline leaves. I dipped into a few of these with great
satisfaction, and with the faith of a novice. I slept that night in an
old room, with blue hangings, and covered with the round-faced family
portraits, of the age of George I. and II., and from the woody declivity
of the adjoining park that overlooked my window, at the dawn of day,

    'Heard the loud stag speak.'

"Next morning, as soon as breakfast was over, we strolled out into the
park, and, seating ourselves on the trunk of an old ash tree, that
stretched along the ground, Coleridge read aloud, with a sonorous and
musical voice, the ballad of 'Betty Foy.' I was not critically or
sceptically inclined. I saw touches of truth and nature, and took the
rest for granted. But in 'The Thorn,' 'The Mad Mother,' and 'The
Complaint of the Poor Indian Woman,' I felt that deeper power and
pathos, which have been since acknowledged,

    'In spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,'

as the characteristics of this author, and the sense of a new style and
a new spirit in poetry, came over me. It had to me something of the
effect that arises from the turning up of the fresh soil, or of the
first welcome breath of spring,

    'While yet the trembling year is unconfirmed.'

"Coleridge and myself walked back to Stowey that evening, and his voice
sounded high,

    'Of Providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
    Fixt fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,'

as we passed through the echoing groves, by fairy stream or waterfall,
gleaming in the solemn moonlight.... We went over to Alfoxden again the
day following, and Wordsworth read us the story of 'Peter Bell' in the
open air. There is a _chant_ in the recitation, both of Coleridge and
Wordsworth, which acts as a spell upon the hearer, and disarms the
judgment. Perhaps they have deceived themselves by making habitual use
of this ambiguous accompaniment. Coleridge's manner is more full,
animated, and varied; Wordsworth's more equable, sustained, and
internal. Coleridge has told me that he himself liked to compose in
walking over uneven ground, or breaking through the straggling branches
of a copsewood, whereas Wordsworth always composed walking up and down
a straight gravel walk, or in some spot where the continuity of his
verse met with no collateral interruptions.... Returning the same
evening, I got into a metaphysical argument with Wordsworth, while
Coleridge was explaining the different notes of the nightingale to his
sister, in which we neither of us succeeded in making ourselves
perfectly clear and intelligible."

This year was also celebrated by an introduction to Charles Lamb (the
quaint and gentle-hearted "Elia") and his excellent sister Mary. Lamb
was an old schoolfellow, and a close friend of Coleridge. They had been
boys together at the Christ's Hospital, where the sympathy between them
had been formed which became a life-long bond. A short emancipation from
the toils of the East India House found Lamb and his sister spending a
little time with Coleridge at Nether Stowey. From the time of the
commencement of the acquaintance of Mary Lamb and Dorothy Wordsworth in
this manner, their friendship was constant and their correspondence
frequent. While, in temperament, they were totally unlike each other,
there was that in the tenor of their lives, in the tender and helpful
devotion of each of them to her brother--a devotion in both cases so
warmly reciprocated--together with much in common in their tastes and
pursuits, which served to cement a friendship begun under such
pleasurable circumstances.

The poem "To my Sister," written in front of Alfoxden, is suggestive of
the happy rural life at this time enjoyed by the poet and his sister.
What lover of Wordsworth does not remember how on "the first mild day
of March," when, to the receptive spirit of the poet, each minute of the
advancing, balmy day appeared to be lovelier than the preceding one,
while, sauntering on the lawn, he wrote, desiring her to hasten with her
household morning duties, and share his enjoyment of the genial

    "It is the first mild day of March:
      Each minute sweeter than before
    The red-breast sings from the tall larch
      That stands beside our door.

    "There is a blessing in the air,
      Which seems a sense of joy to yield
    To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
      And grass in the green field.

    "'My sister! ('tis a wish of mine),
      Now that our morning meal is done,
    Make haste, your morning task resign;
      Come forth and feel the sun.

    "'Edward will come with you--and, pray,
      Put on with speed your woodland dress;
    And bring no book; for this one day
      We'll give to idleness.

    "'No joyless forms shall regulate
      Our living calendar:
    We from to-day, my Friend, will date
      The opening of the year.

    "'Love, now a universal birth,
      From heart to heart is stealing,
    From earth to man, from man to earth;
      --It is the hour of feeling.

    "'One moment now may give us more
      Than years of toiling reason:
    Our minds shall drink at every pore
      The spirit of the season.

    "'Some silent laws our hearts will make,
      Which they shall long obey;
    We for the year to come may take
      Our temper from to-day.

    "'And from the blessed power that rolls
      About, below, above,
    We'll frame the measure of our souls:
      They shall be tuned to love.

    "'Then come, my Sister! come, I pray,
      With speed put on your woodland dress;
    And bring no book: for this one day
      We'll give to idleness.'"

It was also during their residence at Alfoxden that Miss Wordsworth and
her brother made their tour on the banks of the Wye, so signally
memorialised in his famous lines on Tintern Abbey, of which he says, no
poem of his was composed under circumstances more pleasant for him to
remember. Its elevating reflections and rhythmic strains take captive
the affections of the lover of Nature, and linger in his memory like the
music of youth. In this place our interest in it arises from the
allusions it contains to his beloved companion. He refers to the sweet
sensations which, in hours of weariness in towns and cities, he has owed
to the beauteous forms of Nature to which his mind has turned. He calls
to memory the time when he had, indeed, loved Nature more passionately,
and compares it with his present more mature and thoughtful affection,
concluding with a fervid address to her who was by his side, and whose
presence imparted an added charm--that of double vision--to every object
and feeling; a sense of blessing shared:--

    "For thou art with me here upon the banks
    Of this fair river: thou, my dearest Friend,
    My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
    The language of my former heart, and read
    My former pleasures in the shooting lights
    Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
    May I behold in thee what I was once,
    My dear, dear Sister! And this prayer I make,
    Knowing that Nature never did betray
    The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege
    Thro' all the years of this our life, to lead
    From joy to joy: for she can so inform
    The mind that is within us, so impress
    With quietness and beauty, and so feed
    With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
    Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
    Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
    The dreary intercourse of daily life,
    Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
    Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
    Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
    Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
    And let the misty mountain-winds be free
    To blow against thee; and, in after years,
    When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
    Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
    Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
    Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
    For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
    If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
    Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
    Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
    And these, my exhortations! Nor, perchance,
    If I should be where I no more can hear
    Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
    Of past existence--wilt thou then forget
    That on the banks of this delightful stream
    We stood together....
            Nor wilt thou then forget
    That after many wanderings, many years
    Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
    And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
    More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!"

Although Coleridge was at this time married, his wife does not seem to
have entered very warmly into his pursuits--not, indeed, with the same
interest that Miss Wordsworth did. It cannot be out of place, since it
is a matter of almost common knowledge, to remark that we have in
Coleridge one more instance of the many men of genius who have not been
very suitably mated. Mrs. Coleridge did not feel the sympathy in her
husband's aims to enable her to take pleasure in their intellectual
conversations or perpetual rambles. In both of these Miss Wordsworth
delighted. De Quincey, in his uncontrollable propensity to chatter, has
taken occasion from this fact to suggest that Mrs. Coleridge resented
the familiar friendship of the poetic trio. Although not mentioning Miss
Wordsworth by name, he refers to a young lady who became a neighbour and
a daily companion of Coleridge's walks, and who was "intellectually much
superior to Mrs. Coleridge," in a way that shows that none other than
Miss Wordsworth could be alluded to. He adds: "Mrs. Coleridge, not
having the same relish for long walks or rural scenery, and their
residence being at this time in a very sequestered village, was
condemned to a daily renewal of this trial. Accidents of another kind
embittered it still further. Often it would happen that the walking
party returned drenched with rain; in which case the young lady, with a
laughing gaiety, and evidently unconscious of any liberty that she was
taking, or any wound that she was inflicting, would run up to Mrs.
Coleridge's wardrobe, array herself, without leave asked, in Mrs.
Coleridge's dresses, and make herself merry with her own
unceremoniousness and Mrs. Coleridge's gravity. In all this she took no
liberty that she would not most readily have granted in return; she
confided too unthinkingly in what she regarded as the natural privileges
of friendship, and as little thought that she had been receiving or
exacting a favour as, under an exchange of their relative positions,
she would have claimed to confer one." Although De Quincey states that
the feelings of Mrs. Coleridge were moderated by the consideration of
the kind-heartedness of the young lady, that she was always attended by
her brother, and that mere intellectual sympathies in reference to
literature and natural scenery associated them, it is to be regretted
that the perfectly innocent friendship should have been the cause of
this small gossip, a thing in which De Quincey rather delighted, and
which sometimes mars the pleasurableness of his otherwise felicitous
recollections. He was not at this time acquainted either with Coleridge
or the Wordsworths, and the information could only have been derived
from them during subsequent years of confidential friendship, and not
intended for repetition. However it may have appeared to her then, Mrs.
Coleridge had in the future much cause to be thankful for the
disinterested friendship of Miss Wordsworth.

How conducive to the best interests of her brother at this time was the
companionship of Miss Wordsworth, and how complete was his restoration
to a healthy and vigorous life after the political distractions of his
Continental experience we gather from an allusion in the _Biographia
Literaria_ of Coleridge. Referring to his life at Nether Stowey, he
says: "I was so fortunate as to acquire, shortly after my settlement
there, an invaluable blessing in the society of one to whom I could look
up with equal reverence, whether I regarded him as a poet, a
philosopher, or a man. His conversation extended to almost all subjects,
except physics and politics; with the latter he never troubled

The residence of Miss Wordsworth and her poet brother at Alfoxden, was
terminated by circumstances which serve to illustrate at once something
of the political attitude of the times, and also of the mental condition
of their rustic neighbours in Somersetshire. Coleridge tells an amusing
story how he and Wordsworth were followed and watched in their rambles
by a person who was suspected to be a spy on their proceedings employed
by the Government of the day. Whether this be well founded or not, the
mere fact of two men living in their midst, without any apparent object,
appears to have rather discomposed their neighbours. Why should they be
continually spending their time in taking long and apparently
purposeless rambles, engaged in earnest conversation? It was
inconceivable that any one should walk a few miles in the light of the
moon merely to look at the sea! They must be engaged in smuggling, or
have other nefarious designs. In connection with this subject, there is
one good story told. Some country gentlemen of the neighbourhood
happened to be in the company of a party who were discussing the
question whether Wordsworth and Coleridge might be traitors, and in
correspondence with the French Administration, when one of them
answered: "Oh! as to that Coleridge, he is a rattlebrain that will say
more in a week than he will stand to in a twelvemonth. But Wordsworth,
he is the traitor. Why, bless you! he is so close that you'll never hear
him open his lips on the subject from year's end to year's end." The
public belief in the absurd theory of Wordsworth's traitorous designs
was, however, sufficient to induce the owner of the mansion in which he
lived to put an end to the occupation.

The reputation of his friends and visitors suffered with his. In
allusion to this, Mr. Howitt says: "The grave and moral Wordsworth, the
respectable Wedgewoods, the correct Robert Southey, and Coleridge,
dreaming of glorious intellectualities beyond the moon, were set down
for a very disreputable gang. Innocent Mrs. Coleridge and poor Dolly
Wordsworth were seen strolling about with them, and were pronounced no
better than they should be. Such was the character that they
unconsciously acquired that Wordsworth was at length actually driven out
of the country."

It may not be out of place to repeat here Mr. Cottle's version of the
affair. He says: "Mr. Wordsworth had taken the Alfoxden house, near
Stowey, for one year (during the minority of the heir), and the reason
why he was refused a continuance by the ignorant man who had the letting
of it arose, as Mr. Coleridge informed me, from a whimsical cause, or
rather a series of causes. The wiseacres of the village had, it seemed,
made Mr. Wordsworth the subject of their serious conversation. One said
that he had seen him wandering about by night and look rather strange at
the moon! And then he roamed over the hills like a partridge! Another
said he had heard him mutter, as he walked, in some outlandish brogue
that nobody could understand! Another said: 'It is useless to talk,
Thomas. I think he is what people call a wise man (a conjurer).' Another
said: 'You are every one of you wrong. I know what he is. We have all
met him tramping away toward the sea. Would any man in his senses take
all that trouble to look at a parcel of water? I think he carries on a
snug business in the smuggling line, and in these journeys is on the
look-out for some _wet_ cargo!' Another very significantly said: 'I know
that he has got a private still in his cellar; for I once passed his
house at a little better than a hundred yards' distance, and I could
smell the spirits as plain as an ashen faggot at Christmas!' Another
said, 'However that was, he was surely a desperd (desperate) French
Jacobin; for he is so silent and dark that nobody ever heard him say one
word about politics!' And thus these ignoramuses drove from their
village a greater ornament than will ever again be found amongst them."

After leaving Alfoxden, in the autumn of 1798, Miss Wordsworth
accompanied her brother during a residence of six months in Germany,
their chief object being the attainment of a knowledge of the language.
Although, from the absence of society at Goslar, where they were, they
do not seem to have been fortunately circumstanced in this respect,
Wordsworth was, according to his sister, very industrious, and here
composed several poems.

Their life in Germany was not altogether without adventure. Mr. Howitt
gives an account of an incident related to him by the poet of his
arriving late one evening, accompanied by Miss Wordsworth and Coleridge,
at a hamlet in Hesse Cassel, where they were unable to gain admittance
to the inn, and feared having to pass the night in the open street. A
continued knocking at the inhospitable doors only brought out the
landlord armed with a huge cudgel, with which he began to beat them.
Regardless of their personal danger, and thinking of their female
companion, to whom the prospect of an inclement night in the open air
was by no means cheering, Wordsworth and his friend managed, after
warding off the blows of the cudgel, to force their way into the house,
and by reasoning with the surly landlord, and appealing to his better
feelings, induced him to afford them a scanty lodging for the night. It
appears that strangers travelling in these remote parts at this time
received scant courtesy, even from those professing to provide them with
entertainment, and that personal violence and plunder were not
unfrequently resorted to.

On returning to England in the spring of 1799, Wordsworth, after
spending some months with friends at Sockburn-on-Tees, wisely determined
to have a fixed place of abode for himself, and, of course, his sister;
eventually selecting that spot which is more than all others associated
with his name and memory. A walking tour in company with his friend
Coleridge in Westmoreland and Cumberland, resulted in his fixing upon
Grasmere as the future home of himself and his faithful sister. To this
place they accordingly repaired, walking a considerable part of the
way--that from Wensleydale to Kendal--"accomplishing as much as twenty
miles in a day over uneven roads, frozen into rocks, in the teeth of a
keen wind and a driving snow," amid the crisp and biting blasts of a
winter day, arriving at Grasmere--so long the scene of their future
labours and rambles--on the shortest day of the last year in the last



The lake and mountain district of England, which has now become so
famous, was happily chosen by these children of Nature as their
residence. Born as they both were on its outskirts, they had long been
familiar with its beauties, and the only matter for surprise is that
they had not earlier turned their faces to their native hills instead of
spending some intervening years elsewhere.

No region could have been more in harmony with their sympathies and
pursuits. The hardy inhabitants of these dales, and the simplicity of
their lives and manners, formed fitting objects of study and reflection
for the single-minded poet of Nature, who came to live and die amongst
them. It is quite unnecessary, in these days of travel and of
guide-books, which have done so much to make the district familiar
ground, to give any description of it. It may not, however, be out of
place to quote an extract or two from Wordsworth's own Description of
the lakes. Referring to the aspect of the district at different seasons
of the year, he says:--"It has been said that in human life there are
moments worth ages. In a more subdued tone of sympathy may we affirm
that in the climate of England there are, for the lover of Nature, days
which are worth whole months--I might say even years. One of these
favoured days sometimes occurs in spring-time, when that soft air is
breathing over the blossoms and new-born verdure which inspired Buchanan
with his beautiful 'Ode to the First of May'; the air which, in the
luxuriance of his fancy, he likens to that of the golden age--to that
which gives motion to the funereal cypresses on the banks of Lethe; to
the air which is to salute beatified spirits when expiatory fires shall
have consumed the earth, with all her habitations. But it is in autumn
that days of such affecting influence most frequently intervene. The
atmosphere becomes refined, and the sky rendered more crystalline, as
the vivifying heat of the year abates; the lights and shadows are more
delicate; the colouring is richer and more finely harmonised; and, in
this season of stillness, the ear being unoccupied, or only gently
excited, the sense of vision becomes more susceptible of its appropriate
enjoyments. A resident in a country like this we are treating of will
agree with me that the presence of a lake is indispensable to exhibit in
perfection the beauty of one of these days; and he must have
experienced, while looking on the unruffled waters, that the imagination
by their aid is carried into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.
The reason of this is that the heavens are not only brought down into
the bosom of the earth, but that the earth is mainly looked at, and
thought of, through the medium of a purer element. The happiest time is
when the equinoctial gales are departed; but their fury may probably be
called to mind by the sight of a few shattered boughs, whose leaves do
not differ in colour from the faded foliage of the stately oaks from
which these relics of the storm depend; all else speaks of tranquillity;
not a breath of air, no restlessness of insects, and not a moving object
perceptible, except the clouds gliding in the depth of the lake, or the
traveller passing along, an inverted image, whose motion seems governed
by the quiet of a time to which its archetype, the living person, is
perhaps insensible; or it may happen that the figure of one of the
larger birds--a raven or a heron--is crossing silently among the
reflected clouds, while the voice of the real bird, from the element
aloft, gently awakens in the spectator the recollection of appetites and
instincts, pursuits and occupations, that deform and agitate the world,
yet have no power to prevent Nature from putting on an aspect capable of
satisfying the most intense cravings for the tranquil, the lovely, and
the perfect, to which man, the noblest of her creatures, is subject."

His description of the Cumbrian cottages--

    "Clustered like stars some few, but single most,
    And lurking dimly in their shy retreats,
    Or glancing on each other cheerful looks,
    Like separated stars with clouds between--"

is exceedingly happy.

"The dwelling-houses and contiguous outhouses are, in many instances, of
the colour of the native rock, out of which they have been built; but
frequently the dwelling or fire-house, as it is ordinarily called, has
been distinguished from the barn or byre by rough-cast and whitewash,
which, as the inhabitants are not hasty in renewing it, in a few years
acquires, by the influence of weather, a tint at once sober and
variegated. As these houses have been, from father to son, inhabited by
persons engaged in the same occupations, yet necessarily with changes in
their circumstances, they have received without incongruity additions
and accommodations adapted to the needs of each successive occupant,
who, being for the most part proprietor, was at liberty to follow his
own fancy; so that these humble dwellings remind the contemplative
spectator of a production of Nature, and may (using a strong expression)
rather be said to have grown than to have been erected--to have risen,
by an instinct of their own, out of the native rock--so little is there
of formality, such is their wildness and beauty. Among the numerous
recesses and projections in the walls, and in the different stages of
their roofs, are seen bold and harmonious effects of contrasted sunshine
and shadow. It is a favourable circumstance that the strong winds which
sweep down the valleys induced the inhabitants, at a time when the
materials for building were easily procured, to furnish many of these
dwellings with substantial porches; and such as have not this defence
are seldom unprovided with a projection of two large slates over their
thresholds. Nor will the singular beauty of the chimneys escape the eye
of the attentive traveller. Sometimes a low chimney, almost upon a level
with the roof, is overlaid with a slate, supported upon four slender
pillars, to prevent the wind from driving the smoke down the chimney.
Others are of a quadrangular shape, rising one or two feet above the
roof; which low square is often surmounted by a tall cylinder, giving
to the cottage chimney the most beautiful shape in which it is ever
seen. Nor will it be too fanciful or refined to remark that there is a
pleasing harmony between a tall chimney of this circular form, and the
living column of smoke, ascending from it through the still air. These
dwellings, mostly built, as has been said, of rough unhewn stone, are
roofed with slates, which were rudely taken from the quarry before the
present art of splitting them was understood; and are, therefore, rough
and uneven in their surface, so that both the coverings and sides of the
houses have furnished places of rest for the seeds of lichens, mosses,
ferns, and flowers. Hence buildings, which in their very form call to
mind the processes of Nature, do thus, clothed in part with a vegetable
garb, appear to be received into the bosom of the living principle of
things, as it acts and exists among the woods and fields; and, by their
colour and their shape, affectingly direct the thoughts to that tranquil
course of Nature and simplicity, along which the humble-minded
inhabitants have, through so many generations been led. Add the little
garden with its shed for beehives, its small bed of pot-herbs, and its
borders and patches of flowers for Sunday posies, with sometimes a
choice few too much prized to be plucked; an orchard of proportioned
size; a cheese-press, often supported by some tree near the door; a
cluster of embowering sycamores for summer shade; with a tall fir
through which the winds sing when other trees are leafless; the little
rill, or household spout, murmuring in all seasons; combine these
incidents and images together, and you have the representative idea of
a mountain cottage in this country so beautifully formed in itself, and
so richly adorned by the hand of Nature.

"Till within the last sixty years[1] there was no communication between
any of these vales by carriage-roads; all bulky articles were
transported on pack-horses. Owing, however, to the population not being
concentrated in villages, but scattered, the valleys themselves were
intersected, as now, by innumerable lanes and pathways leading from
house to house and from field to field. These lanes, where they are
fenced by stone walls, are mostly bordered with ashes, hazels, wild
roses, and beds of tall fern, at their base; while the walls themselves,
if old, are overspread with mosses, small ferns, wild strawberries, the
geranium, and lichens; and if the wall happen to rest against a bank of
earth, it is sometimes almost wholly concealed by a rich facing of
stone-fern. It is a great advantage to a traveller or resident, that
these numerous lanes and paths, if he be a zealous admirer of Nature,
will lead him on into all the recesses of the country, so that the
hidden treasures of its landscapes may, by an ever-ready guide, be laid
open to his eyes."

A much more recent writer, Mrs. E. Lynn Linton, in her charming work,
full of graceful description and exquisite poetry, thus writes of the
scenery of one of the lakes after a storm:--

"The woods glittered and sparkled in the sun, each dripping branch a
spray of golden light, and the light was married to the loud music of
the birds flowing out in rivulets of song. Countless flies shot through
the air, and vibrated on the water; and the fish leaped up to catch
them, dimpling the shining surface with concentric ripples, and throwing
up small jets of light in the smooth black bays. Every crag and stone,
and line of wall, and tuft of gorse, was visible on the nearer hills,
where the colouring was intense and untranslatable; and on the more
distant mountains, we could see, as through a telescope, the scars on
the steeps, the slaty shingles, and the straight cleavings down the
sides, the old grey watercourses, threaded now like a silver line--those
silver lines, after the storm, over all the craggy faces everywhere; we
could see each green knoll set like an island among the grey boulders,
each belt of mountain wood, each purple rift, each shadowed pass, slope
and gully, and ghyll and scaur--we could count them all glistening in
the sun, or clear and tender in the shade; while the sky was of a deep,
pure blue above, and the cumulus clouds were gathered into masses white
and dazzling as marble, and almost as solid-looking.

"And over all, and on all, and lying in the heart of everything,
warming, creating, fashioning the dead matter into all lovely forms, and
driving the sweet juices like blood through the veins of the whole of
earth, shone the glad sun, free, boundless, loving--life of the world's
life, glory of its glory, shaper and creator of its brightest beauty.
Silver on the lake, gold in the wood, purple over the hills, white and
lazuli in the heavens--what infinite splendour hanging through this
narrow valley! What a wealth of love and beauty pouring out for the
heart of all Nature, and for the diviner soul of man!"

Of the mountain tarns, which in their solitary grandeur gleam like
diamonds, she writes:--

"It is very lovely to watch the ripple of a tarn: a wonderful lesson in
wave curvature, if small in scale, yet as true as the wildest ocean
storm could give. Ever changing in line, and yet so uniform in law, the
artist and the hydrographer might learn some valuable truths from half a
day's study of one of these small mountain sheets of water. Now the
broad, smooth, silky curves flow steadily across; now a fine network
spreads over these, and again another network, smaller and finer still,
breaks up the rest into a thousand fragments; then the tarn bursts out
into tiny silver spangles, like a girl's causeless laughter; and then
comes a grey sweep across the water, as if it shivered in the wind; and
then again all subsides, and the long, silky flow sets in again, with
quiet shadows and play of green and grey in the transparent shallows. It
is like a large diamond set in emerald; for the light of the water is
radiance simply, not colour; and the grass, with the sun striking
through, is as bright as an emerald."

If one more extract from Mrs. Linton may be culled, it is to the
following reflections that a day spent on Helvellyn gives rise:--

"Ah! what a world lies below! But grand as it is on the earth, it is
mated by the grandeur of the sky. For the cloud scenery is of such
surpassing nobleness while it lasts, and before it is drawn up into one
volume of intensest blue, that no kind or manner of discord mars the
day's power and loveliness. Of all forms and of all colours are those
gracious summer clouds, ranging from roseate flakes of dazzling white
masses and torn black remnants, like the last fragments of a widow's
weeds thrust aside for her maturer bridal; from solid substances, firm
and marble-like, to light baby curls set like pleasant smiles about the
graver faces: words and pictures, in all their changes, unspeakably
precious to soul and sense. And when, finally, they all gather
themselves away, and leave the sky a vault of undimmed blue, and leave
the earth a gorgeous picture of human industry and dwelling--when field
and plain, and mountain and lake, and tarn and river are fashioned into
the beauty of a primeval earth by the purity of the air and the
governing strength of the sun and the fragrant sweetness of the summer,
and when the very gates of heaven seem opening for our entering where
the southern sun stands at gaze in his golden majesty--is it wonder if
there are tears more glad than many smiles, and a thrill of love more
prayerful than many a litany chanted in the church service? In the very
passion of delight that pours like wine through the veins is a solemn
outfall--in the very deliciousness of joy an intensity that is almost
pain. It is all so solemn and so grand, so noble and so loving, surely
we cannot be less than what we live in!

"Let any one haunted by small cares, by fears worse than cares, and by
passions worse than either, go up on a mountain height on such a
summer's day as this, and there confront his soul with the living soul
of Nature. Will the stately solitude not calm him? Can the nobleness of
beauty not raise him to like nobleness? Is there no Divine voice for him
in the absolute stillness? No loving hand guiding through the pathless
wilds? No tenderness for man in the lavishness of Nature? Have the
clouds no lesson of strength in their softness? the sun no cheering in
its glory? Has the earth no hymn in all its living murmur? the air no
shaping in its clearness? the wind no healing in its power? Can he stand
in the midst of that great majesty the sole small thing, and shall his
spirit, which should be the noblest thing of all, let itself be crippled
by self and fear, till it lies crawling on the earth when its place is
lifting to the heavens? Oh! better than written sermon or spoken
exhortation is one hour on the lonely mountain tops, when the world
seems so far off, and God and His angels so near. Into the Temple of
Nature flows the light of the Shekinah, pure and strong and holy, and
they are wisest who pass into it oftenest, and rest within its glory
longest. There was never a church more consecrated to all good ends than
the stone waste on Helvellyn top, where you sit beneath the sun and
watch the bright world lying in radiant peace below, and the quiet and
sacred heavens above."

Probably there is no spot of English ground to which more pilgrimages
have, during the last half-century, been made than the vale of Grasmere,
which has for all time been rendered classic by the residence therein of
Wordsworth and those sons of genius who loved to gather around him; and
almost every prominent object and scene in which has been immortalised
by his pen.

To lovers of his poetry the spirit of Wordsworth yet casts a spell over
the landscape; and mountain and vale and lake are almost as articulate
to the hearing ear as are the storied stones of Rome. But Life's
grandest music is audible only to the ready ear. It is to the "inward
eye" of love, gathering its treasured harvest, that the brightest halo
is revealed. Earth may be

                    "Crammed with heaven,"--
    "But only he who sees takes off his shoes."

As Nature whispers her secrets to her true lovers; so it is to the
searching eye that the historic pile presents a vision of years, and the
decaying cottage or hoary mountain speak of those who consecrated its
stones or roamed beneath its shade.

Apart, however, from the interest which attaches to this locality from
its many cherished associations, it is of unsurpassed beauty and
loveliness. The scenery of this favoured district, so pleasingly varied
as to inspire at once with gladness and awe, to thrill with rapture or
to charm into repose, culminates in the transcendent loveliness of the
mountain-guarded vale of Grasmere. It takes captive the affections like
the features of a familiar friend.

The poet Gray, writing concerning it more than a century ago, says:
"Passed by the little chapel of Wiborn [Wythburn], out of which the
Sunday congregation were then issuing. Passed by a beck near Dunmail
Raise, and entered Westmoreland a second time; now began to see Helm
crag, distinguished from its rugged neighbours, not so much by its
height, as by the strange, broken outline of its top, like some
gigantic building demolished, and the stones that composed it flung
across each other in wild confusion. Just beyond it opens one of the
sweetest landscapes that Art ever attempted to imitate. The bosom of the
mountains here spreading into a broad basin, discovers in the midst
Grasmere Water; its margin is hollowed into small bays, with eminences,
some of rock, some of soft turf, that half conceal and half vary the
figure of the little lake they command. From the shore a low promontory
pushes itself into the water, and on it stands a white village, with a
parish church rising in the midst of it, having enclosures, cornfields,
and meadows, green as an emerald, which, with trees, and hedges, and
cattle, fill up the whole space from the edge of the water, and just
opposite to you is a large farmhouse at the bottom of a steep, smooth
lawn, embosomed in old woods, which climb half way up the mountain
sides, and discover above a broken line of crags that crown the scene.
Not a single red tile, no staring gentleman's house breaks in upon the
repose of this unsuspected paradise; but all is peace, rusticity, and
happy poverty, in its sweetest, most becoming attire."

This description must, of course, at the present day be somewhat
modified. The scene upon which the eyes of the author of the Elegy
rested is now varied by many residences and signs of human contact then

In an account of a visit to Grasmere at a much later period, the late
Nathaniel Hawthorne says: "This little town seems to me as pretty a
place as ever I met with in my life. It is quite shut in by hills that
rise up immediately around it, like a neighbourhood of kindly giants.
These hills descend steeply to the verge of the level on which the
village stands, and there they terminate at once, the whole site of the
little town being as even as a floor. I call it a village, but it is no
village at all; all the dwellings stand apart, each in its own little
domain, and each, I believe, with its own little lane leading to it,
independently of the rest. Many of these are old cottages, plastered
white, with antique porches, and roses, and other vines, trained against
them, and shrubbery growing about them, and some are covered with ivy.
There are a few edifices of more pretension and of modern build, but not
so strikingly as to put the rest out of countenance. The Post Office,
when we found it, proved to be an ivied cottage, with a good deal of
shrubbery round it, having its own pathway, like the other cottages. The
whole looks like a real seclusion, shut out from the great world by
those encircling hills, on the sides of which, whenever they are not too
steep, you see the division lines of property and tokens of
cultivation--taking from them their pretensions of savage majesty, but
bringing them nearer to the heart of man."


[1] This was written in 1810.

    "Only a sister's part--yes, that was all;
      And yet her life was bright, and full, and free.
    She did not feel, 'I give up all for him;'
      She only knew, ''Tis mine his friend to be.'

    "So what she saw and felt the poet sang--
      She did not seek the world should know her share;
    Her one great hunger was for 'William's' fame,
      To give his thoughts a voice her life-long prayer.

    "And when with wife and child his days were crowned
      She did not feel that she was left alone,
    Glad in their joy, she shared their every care,
      And only thought of baby as 'our own.'

    "His 'dear, dear sister,' that was all she asked,
      Her gentle ministry, her only fame;
    But when we read his page with grateful heart,
      Between the lines we'll spell out Dora's name."

                                --ANON. IN _The Spectator_.



The unpretentious cottage which became the first Grasmere home of
Wordsworth and his sister in those days when they were still sole
companions, though changed in its surroundings, is happily still allowed
to retain its old features. It stands on the right of the highway, just
on the entry into Grasmere, on the road from Rydal--the old coach
road--a little distance beyond the "Wishing Gate," and at the part of
the village called Town End. It was formerly an inn, called "The Dove
and Olive Bough," and is still known by the name of Dove Cottage. It
overlooks from the front the beauteous lake of Grasmere, though the view
from the lower rooms is now considerably obstructed by buildings since
erected. Behind is a small garden and orchard, in which is a spring of
pure water, round which the primroses and daffodils bloom, as they did
when lovingly reared by Miss Wordsworth. A dozen steps or so, cut in the
rocky slope lead up to a little terrace walk, on a bit of mountain
ground, enclosed in the domain, and sheltered in the rear by a fir-clad
wood. Altogether it was an ideal cottage-home for the enthusiastic young
couple. From the orchard are obtained views almost unrivalled of
mountain, vale, and lake, embracing the extensive range from Helm Crag
and the vales of Easdale and Wythburn, down to the wooded heights of
Loughrigg. Words cannot do justice to the idyllic sweetness and beauty
of this poet's home, as it must have been when Wordsworth described his
chosen retreat as the

    "Loveliest spot that man hath ever found."

The "sweet garden-orchard, eminently fair," has now, however, a
neglected appearance, and must be very different from the time when the
loving hands of the poet and his sister carefully tended the trees and
flowers, of which he says:--

    "This plot of orchard ground is ours,
    My trees they are, my sister's flowers."

De Quincey speaks of the house as being immortal in his
remembrance--just two bow shots from the water--"a little white cottage,
gleaming in the midst of trees, with a vast and seemingly never-ending
series of ascents rising above it, to the height of more than three
thousand feet."

Wordsworth's satisfaction at finding himself, at length, in the
companionship of his beloved sister, in this his first permanent and
peaceful abode, is thus expressed in a portion of a poem which was
intended to form part of the "Recluse," of which, as is well known, the
Prelude and the Excursion only were completed. I am indebted for the
extract to the "Memoirs of Wordsworth," by the late Bishop of Lincoln.
It will be observed that the poet's ardent attachment to his sister was
in no degree abated, and that he ungrudgingly bestowed upon her the
generous praise so much merited:--

    "On Nature's invitation do I come,
    By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead,
    That made the calmest, fairest spot on earth,
    With all its unappropriated good,
    My own, and not mine only, for with me
    Entrenched--say rather, peacefully embowered--
    Under yon orchard, in yon humble cot,
    A younger orphan of a home extinct,
    The only daughter of my parents dwells;
    Aye, think on that, my heart, and cease to stir;
    Pause upon that, and let the breathing frame
    No longer breathe, but all be satisfied.
    Oh, if such silence be not thanks to God
    For what hath been bestowed, then where, where then
    Shall gratitude find rest? Mine eyes did ne'er
    Fix on a lovely object, nor my mind
    Take pleasure in the midst of happy thought,
    But either she, whom now I have, who now
    Divides with me that loved abode, was there,
    Or not far off. Where'er my footsteps turned,
    Her voice was like a hidden bird that sang;
    The thought of her was like a flash of light
    Or an unseen companionship, a breath
    Or fragrance independent of the wind.
    In all my goings, in the new and old
    Of all my meditations, and in this
    Favourite of all, in this, the most of all....
    Embrace me, then, ye hills, and close me in.
    Now, on the clear and open day I feel
    Your guardianship: I take it to my heart;
    'Tis like the solemn shelter of the night.
    But I would call thee beautiful; for mild
    And soft, and gay, and beautiful thou art,
    Dear valley, having in thy face a smile,
    Though peaceful, full of gladness. Thou art pleased,
    Pleased with thy crags, and woody steeps, thy lake,
    Its one green island, and its winding shores,
    The multitude of little rocky hills,
    Thy church, and cottages of mountain stone
    Clustered like stars some few, but single most
    And lurking dimly in their shy retreats,
    Or glancing at each other cheerful looks
    Like separated stars with clouds between."

The early years of their residence at Grasmere were signalised by calm
enjoyment, no less than by active industry. Miss Wordsworth's life
retained its characteristic unselfishness, its devoted ministry. The
cottage itself was furnished at a cost of about £100--a legacy left to
her by a relative, and their joint annual income at that time amounted
to about as much. That they were still poor did not detract from their
happiness, but probably served only to promote it. We find this refined,
sensitive young woman (she was now twenty-eight), engaged very much in
domestic duties, doing a considerable part of the work of the house,
without a thought of discontent. Her poetic enthusiasm and cultured mind
did not unfit her for the common duties of life, or detract from her
high sense of duty and service. Happily she had learnt--as every true
woman does--that there is no degradation in work; that it is not in the
nature of our tasks, but the spirit in which they are performed, that
the test of fitness is to be found. Notwithstanding, however, her other
duties, Miss Wordsworth found time to be a true help to her brother. As
his amanuensis she wrote or transcribed his poems, read to him, and
accompanied him in his daily walks. She had also that rare gift of the
perfect companion of being able to be silent with and for him,
recognising the apparently little-known truth that a loved presence is
in itself society. In one of his poems, "Personal Talk," he says:--

    "I am not one who much or oft delight
    To season my fireside with personal talk,--
    Of friends, who live within an easy walk,
    Or neighbours, daily, weekly, in my sight:
    And, for my chance acquaintance, ladies bright,
    Sons, mothers, maidens withering on the stalk,
    These all wear out of me, like forms with chalk
    Painted on rich men's floors, for one feast-night.
    Better than such discourse doth silence long,
    Long, barren silence, square with my desire;
    To sit without emotion, hope, or aim,
    In the loved presence of my cottage-fire,
    And listen to the flapping of the flame,
    Or kettle whispering its faint undersong."

In one of the MSS. notes, alluding to this sonnet, Wordsworth has said:
"The last line but two stood at first better and more characteristically

    "'By my half-kitchen and half-parlour fire,'"

And he adds: "My sister and I were in the habit of having the tea-kettle
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 _minutiæ_. 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."

Miss Wordsworth, at this period, also kept a diary, or journal, which,
we are informed, is "full of vivid descriptions of natural beauty." The
few extracts from it which the world has hitherto been allowed to see
are of deep interest, affording, as they do, a pleasing picture of their
daily occupations, the incidents which gave birth to many of her
brother's poems, and the circumstances under which they were written.
For the subject of many of them he was indebted to her ever-watchful and
observant eye, and several were composed while wandering over woodland
paths, by her side. The knowledge of this not only serves to remind us
of the sustained character of Miss Wordsworth's directing and
controlling influence upon her brother, but gives an additional interest
to the poems. Thus, in her journal, she writes: "William walked to
Rydal.... The lake of Grasmere beautiful. The Church an image of peace;
he wrote some lines upon it.... The mountains indistinct; the lake calm,
and partly ruffled, a sweet sound of water falling into the quiet lake.
A storm gathering in Easedale, so we returned; but the moon came out,
and opened to us the church and village. Helm Crag in shade; the larger
mountains dappled like a sky." Again: "We went into the orchard after
breakfast, and sat there. The lake calm, the sky cloudy. William began
poem on 'The Celandine.'" The next day: "Sowed flower-seeds: William
helped me. We sat in the orchard. W. wrote 'The Celandine.' Planned an
arbour; the sun too hot for us." "W. wrote the 'Leech Gatherer.'" These
instances might be multiplied. Wordsworth has himself recorded how that
about this time he composed his first sonnets, "taking fire" one
afternoon after his sister had been reading to him those of Milton. Her
helpful aid, as a literary companion, is thus referred to by Mr.
Lockhart: "His sister, without any of the aids of learned ladies, had a
refined perception of the beauties of literature, and her glowing
sympathy and delicate comments cast new light upon the most luminous
page. Wordsworth always acknowledged that it was from her and Coleridge
that his otherwise very independent intellect had derived great

In a letter, dated September 10, 1800, Miss Wordsworth thus describes
their home and home-life: "We are daily more delighted with Grasmere and
its neighbourhood. Our walks are perpetually varied, and we are more
fond of the mountains as our acquaintance with them increases. We have a
boat upon the lake, and a small orchard, and smaller garden, which, as
it is the work of our own hands, we regard with pride and partiality.
Our cottage is quite large enough for us, though very small, and we have
made it neat and comfortable within doors, and it looks very nice on the
outside; for though the roses and honeysuckles which we have planted
against it are only of this year's growth, yet it is covered all over
with green leaves and scarlet flowers; for we have trained scarlet beans
upon threads, which are not only exceedingly beautiful but very useful,
as their produce is immense. We have made a lodging-room of the parlour
below stairs, which has a stone floor, therefore we have covered it all
over with matting. We sit in a room above stairs; and we have one
lodging-room, with two single beds, a sort of lumber-room, and a small,
low, unceiled room, which I have papered with newspapers, and in which
we have put a small bed. Our servant is an old woman of sixty years of
age, whom we took partly out of charity. She was very ignorant, very
foolish, and very difficult to teach. But the goodness of her
disposition, and the great convenience we should find, if my
perseverance was successful, induced me to go on."

It is recorded in the transactions of the Wordsworth Society for 1882,
that Professor Knight thus alluded to the journals of Miss Wordsworth,
written during the years 1800, 1801, 1802, and 1803: "These journals
were a singularly interesting record of 'plain living and high
thinking;'--of very plain living, and of very lofty thought,
imagination, and feeling. They were the best possible commentary on the
poems belonging to that period; because they shewed the manner of life
of the brother and the sister, the character of their daily work, the
influences of Nature to which they were subjected, the homeliness of
their ways, and the materials on which the poems were based, as well as
the sources of their inspiration. One read in these journals the tales
of travelling sailors and pedlars who came through the lake country, of
gipsy women and beggar boys, which were afterwards, if not immediately,
translated into verse. Then the whole scenery of the place and its
accessories, the people of Grasmere Vale, Wordsworth's neighbours and
friends, were photographed in that journal. The Church, the lake, its
Island, John's Grove, White Moss Common, Point Rash Judgment, Easedale,
Dunmail Raise--everything given in clearest outline and vivid colour.
Miss Wordsworth's delineations of Nature in these daily jottings were
quite as subtle and minute, quite as delicate and ethereal, as anything
in her brother's poems. Above all there was in these records a most
interesting disclosure of Dorothy Wordsworth's friendship with
Coleridge--and a very remarkable friendship it was. One also saw the
sister's rare appreciation of her brother's genius, amounting almost to
a reverence for it; and her continuous self-sacrifice that she might
foster and develop her brother's powers. Well might Wordsworth say, 'She
gave me eyes, she gave me ears,' Another very interesting fact
disclosed in those journals was the very slow growth of many of the
poems, such, for example, as 'Michael' and the 'Excursion,' and the
constant revisions to which they were subjected."

The poem, "To a Young Lady, who had been reproached for taking long
walks in the country," written about this time, was, I am informed on
excellent authority, addressed to Miss Wordsworth. It will be observed
that the prophecy therein contained did not in all respects meet with

    "Dear Child of Nature, let them rail!
    --There is a nest in a green dale,
    A harbour and a hold;
    Where thou, a Wife and Friend, shalt see
    Thy own heart-stirring days, and be
    A light to young and old.

    "There, healthy as a shepherd-boy,
    And treading among flowers of joy,
    Which at no season fade,
    Thou, while thy babes around thee cling,
    Shalt shew us how divine a thing
    A Woman may be made.

    "Thy thoughts and feelings shall not die,
    Nor leave thee, when grey hairs are nigh,
    A melancholy slave;
    But an old age serene and bright,
    And lovely as a Lapland night,
    Shall lead thee to thy grave."

Thus were passed, in happy converse and mutual love and help, the three
years which intervened between Miss Wordsworth and her brother going to
Grasmere, and the marriage of the latter. A tour which they together
made on the Continent in 1802 pleasantly varied this period. A sonnet of
Wordsworth's composed when on this occasion, they were, in the early
morning, passing Westminster Bridge is well known. It is here repeated
only that his sister's account of her impressions may be placed along
with it. He says:--

    "Earth hath not anything to shew more fair;
    Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
    A sight so touching in its majesty;
    This City now doth, like a garment, wear
    The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
    Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
    Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
    All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
    Never did sun more beautifully steep
    In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
    Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
    The river glideth at his own sweet will:
    Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
    And all that mighty heart is lying still!"

Miss Wordsworth in her almost equally graceful prose writes: "Left
London between five and six o'clock of the morning, outside the Dover
coach. A beautiful morning. The city, St. Paul's, with the river--a
multitude of boats--made a beautiful sight as we crossed Westminster
Bridge; the houses not overhung by their clouds of smoke, and were
spread out endlessly; yet the sun shone so brightly, with such a pure
light, that there was something like the purity of one of Nature's own
grand spectacles." She adds: "Arrived at Calais at four in the morning
of July 31st. Delightful walks in the evening; seeing, far off in the
west, the coast of England, like a cloud, crested with Dover Castle, the
evening star and the glory of the sky; the reflections in the water were
more beautiful than the sky itself; purple waves brighter than precious
stones for ever melting away upon the sands."



It may not be inopportune to mention, in this place, a few of the spots
in the neighbourhood of this, their early home, with which the memory of
Miss Wordsworth is more especially associated. By Wordsworth himself,
indeed, the whole of the Lake district of England has been immortalised,
and is more associated with his name and life than is the country of the
Trossachs with that of Sir Walter Scott. In illustration of this it is
only necessary to refer to his poems on the naming of places and
inscriptions. This fact alone, no less than the exalted teaching and
beauty of many of his works, will serve to preserve the memory of
Wordsworth; and probably thousands, to whom he would otherwise be only a
name, will become acquainted with him as a loved and trusted teacher. If
the spirits of the departed ever return and hover over the scenes of
earth which were loved and hallowed in the old-world life, it needs no
force of the imagination to fancy that of this most spiritual of women,
lingering by sunny noon or shady evening near the haunts, where, with
her kindred companion, she walked in happy converse. Among such favoured
nooks probably the next in interest to their loved "garden-orchard"
would be found the beauteous vale of Easedale. Here is a terrace walk in
Lancrigg wood which Wordsworth many years after said he and his sister
discovered three days after they took up their abode at Grasmere; and
which long remained their favourite haunt. The late Lady Richardson, in
an article in "Sharpe's London Magazine," referring at a later period to
this place, says: "It was their custom to spend the fine days of summer
in the open air, chiefly in the valley of Easedale. The 'Prelude' was
chiefly composed in a green mountain terrace, on the Easedale side of
Helm Crag, known by the name of Under Lancrigg, a place which he used to
say he knew by heart. The ladies sat at their work on the hill-side,
while he walked to and fro, on the smooth green mountain turf, humming
out his verses to himself, and then repeating them to his sympathising
and ready scribes, to be noted down on the spot and transcribed at

The winding path leading up to the tarn on the west of Easedale brook,
on the other side of the valley, is, perhaps, still more closely
identified with Miss Wordsworth. The first of his "Poems on the Naming
of Places" was, he has stated, suggested on the banks of the brook that
runs through Easedale, by the side of which he had composed thousands of
verses. The poem is as follows:--

    "It was an April morning: fresh and clear
    The Rivulet, delighting in its strength,
    Ran with a young man's speed; and yet the voice
    Of waters which the winter had supplied
    Was softened down into a vernal tone.
    The spirit of enjoyment and desire,
    And hopes and wishes, from all living things
    Went circling, like a multitude of sounds.
    The budding groves seemed eager to urge on
    The steps of June; as if their various hues
    Were only hindrances that stood between
    Them and their object: but, meanwhile, prevailed
    Such an entire contentment in the air
    That every naked ash, and tardy tree
    Yet leafless, shewed as if the countenance
    With which it looked on this delightful day
    Were native to the summer.--Up the brook
    I roamed in the confusion of my heart,
    Alive to all things, and forgetting all.
    At length I to a sudden turning came
    In this continuous glen, where down a rock
    The Stream, so ardent in its course before,
    Sent forth such sallies of glad sound that all
    Which I till then had heard appeared the voice
    Of common pleasure: beast and bird, the lamb,
    The shepherd's dog, the linnet and the thrush
    Vied with this waterfall, and made a song
    Which, while I listened, seemed like the wild growth
    Or like some natural produce of the air,
    That could not cease to be. Green leaves were here;
    But 'twas the foliage of the rocks--the birch,
    The yew, the holly, and the bright green thorn,
    With hanging islands of resplendent furze:
    And, on a summit, distant a short space,
    By any who should look beyond the dell,
    A single mountain-cottage might be seen.
    I gazed and gazed, and to myself I said,
    'Our thoughts at least are ours; and this wild nook,
    MY EMMA, I will dedicate to thee.'
    --Soon did the spot become my other home,
    My dwelling, and my out-of-doors abode.
    And, of the Shepherds who have seen me there,
    To whom I sometimes in our idle talk
    Have told this fancy, two or three, perhaps,
    Years after we are gone and in our graves,
    When they have cause to speak of this wild place,
    May call it by the name of EMMA'S DELL."

It is hardly necessary to mention that Miss Wordsworth is more than once
in the poems referred to as the poet's sister "Emma" or "Emmeline." It
is, perhaps, rather difficult to determine on what precise spot they
stood when this poem was composed, and to which the name of "Emma's
Dell" was given. Professor Knight, in his very interesting work, "The
English Lake District, as interpreted by Wordsworth," concludes that the
place is where the brook takes a "sudden turning" a few hundred yards
above Goody Bridge; but there are other spots in the brook a little
further up the valley to which the description in the poem is probably
equally applicable.

Another poem of the same series may appropriately here find a place,
containing, as it does, a loving allusion to Dorothy. This time it is
Miss Wordsworth herself who gives the name of _William's Peak_ to the
rugged summit of Stone Arthur, situated between Green Head Ghyll (the
scene of Wordsworth's pastoral poem "Michael") and Tongue Ghyll, a short
distance on the right-hand, side of the road leading from Grasmere to

    "There is an Eminence,--of these our hills
    The last that parleys with the setting sun;
    We can behold it from our orchard-seat;
    And, when at evening we pursue our walk
    Along the public way, this Peak, so high
    Above us, and so distant in its height,
    Is visible; and often seems to send
    Its own deep quiet to restore our hearts.
    The meteors make of it a favourite haunt:
    The star of Jove, so beautiful and large,
    In the mid heavens, is never half so fair
    As when he shines above it. 'Tis in truth
    The loneliest place we have among the clouds.
    _And She who dwells with me, whom I have loved
    With such communion, that no place on earth
    Can ever be a solitude to me_,
    Hath to this lonely Summit given my Name."

As this poem was written in the first year of their residence at
Grasmere, the reference in the closing lines can be to no other person
than Miss Wordsworth.

Still another poem of the series owes its origin to a walk by the poet,
in the company of his sister and Coleridge. The path here referred to,
by the side of the lake has, we are informed, lost its privacy and
beauty, by reason of the making of the new highway from Rydal to

      "A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags,
      A rude and natural causeway, interposed
      Between the water and a winding slope
      Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
      Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy:
      And there, myself and two beloved Friends,
      One calm September morning, ere the mist
      Had altogether yielded to the sun,
      Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.

    --"Ill suits the road with one in haste; but we
      Played with our time; and, as we strolled along,
      It was our occupation to observe
      Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore--
      Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough,
      Each on the other heaped, along the line
      Of the dry wreck. And, in our vacant mood,
      Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft
      Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,
      That skimmed the surface of the dead calm lake,
      Suddenly halting now--a lifeless stand!
      And starting off again with freak as sudden;
      In all its sportive wanderings, all the while
      Making report of an invisible breeze
      That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse,
      Its playmate, rather say, its moving soul.

    --"And often, trifling with a privilege
      Alike indulged to all, we paused, one now,
      And now the other, to point out, perchance
      To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair
      Either to be divided from the place
      On which it grew, or to be left alone
      To its own beauty."

The poem goes on to relate how they saw in the distance, angling by the
margin of the lake, a man in the garb of a peasant, while from the
fields the merry noise of the reapers fell upon their ears. They
somewhat hastily came to the conclusion that the man was an idler, who,
instead of spending his time at the gentle craft, might have been more
profitably engaged in the harvest. Upon a near approach they, however,
found that he was a feeble old man, wasted by sickness, and too weak to
labour, who was doing his best to gain a scanty pittance from the lake.
It concludes by alluding to the self-upbraiding of the three friends, in
consequence of their too rashly formed opinion:--

                              "I will not say
    What thoughts immediately were ours, nor how
    The happy idleness of that sweet morn,
    With all its lovely images, was changed
    To serious musing and to self-reproach.
    Nor did we fail to see within ourselves
    What need there is to be reserved in speech,
    And temper all our thoughts with charity.
    --Therefore, unwilling to forget that day,
    My Friend, Myself, and She who then received
    The same admonishment, have called the place
    By a memorial name, uncouth indeed,
    As e'er by mariner was given to bay
    Or foreland, on a new-discovered coast;
    And _Point Rash-Judgment_ is the name it bears."

Another memorial of Miss Wordsworth in her prime is to be found in the
"Rock of Names," which stands on the right-hand side of the road from
Grasmere to Keswick, near the head of Thirlmere, and about a mile beyond
"Wytheburn's modest House of Prayer." This was a meeting-place of
Wordsworth and Coleridge, who was then resident at Keswick, and their
friends. On the surface of this "upright mural block of stone,"
moss-crowned, smooth-faced, and lichen-patched, are cut the following

    W. W.
    M. H.
    D. W.
  S. T. C.
    J. W.
    S. H.

It is hardly necessary to state that the initials are those of William
Wordsworth, Mary Hutchinson (afterwards his wife), Dorothy Wordsworth,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Wordsworth (the poet's brother), and Sarah
Hutchinson (the sister of Mrs. Wordsworth). It is greatly to be
regretted that on the completion of the projected reservoir of the
Manchester Corporation, this rock, unless steps are taken for its
preservation, will be submerged in its waters. Seldom did half-a-dozen
more poetic and fervent natures meet and leave a more unique, and
attractive memorial. It is to be hoped that means will be adopted not
only to have the rock removed to a place of safety, but also to preserve
it from further mutilation. Although these initials have withstood the
storms and blasts of more than four score winters, they are yet
perfectly distinct and legible, and their original character is
preserved. Whilst there are, unfortunately, now other initials and marks
upon the face of the rock, it is more free from them than might have
been expected. The very fact of attention being called to such an
interesting memento, while being a source of pleasure to the admirers of
the gifted children of genius who made this their trysting-place, also
arouses the puerile ambition of those whose interest centres in
themselves, and to whom no associations are dear, to inscribe their own
scratch. In this way there has already been added the letter J. before
the original D. W. of Miss Wordsworth. Wordsworth's allusion to this
rock, in a note to some editions of his poem, "The Waggoner," is as

               ROCK OF NAMES!

    "Light is the strain, but not unjust
    To Thee, and thy memorial-trust
    That once seemed only to express
    Love that was love in idleness;
    Tokens, as year hath followed year,
    How changed, alas, in character!
    For they were graven on thy smooth breast
    By hands of those my soul loved best;
    Meek women, men as true and brave
    As ever went to a hopeful grave:
    Their hands and mine, when side by side,
    With kindred zeal and mutual pride,
    We worked until the Initials took
    Shapes that defied a scornful look.--
    Long as for us a genial feeling
    Survives, or one in need of healing,
    The power, dear Rock, around thee cast,
    Thy monumental power, shall last
    For me and mine! O thought of pain,
    That would impair it or profane!

    *       *       *       *       *

    And fail not Thou, loved Rock! to keep
    Thy charge when we are laid asleep."

In this place a reference by Wordsworth to his little poem, commencing
"Yes, it was the mountain echo," will be of interest. "The echo came
from Nab-scar, when I was walking on the opposite side of Rydal Mere. I
will here mention, for my dear sister's sake, that while she was sitting
alone one day, high up on this part of Loughrigg fell, she was so
affected by the voice of the cuckoo, heard from the crags at some
distance, that she could not suppress a wish to have a stone inscribed
with her name among the rocks from which the sound proceeded."



The year 1802 was a memorable one to Miss Wordsworth no less than to her
brother. With interests so inseparable, the happiness of one was that of
the other. After the somewhat agitated period of his early life, when he
was for a time in danger of shipwreck, and his noble-hearted sister came
to his rescue and helped to steer his course into the placid waters of
content and well-grounded hope, Wordsworth was in all respects
remarkably fortunate, and his life more than usually serene and happy.
Next to the blessing which he possessed in his sister, Wordsworth was
largely indebted to his admirable wife. In October of this year he had
the good fortune to marry his cousin, Mary Hutchinson, of Penrith--a
lady whom it would be almost presumption to "even dare to praise." As
his early friend (and they had in childhood attended the same dame's
school together) they had strong sympathies in common, with, at the same
time, much of that contrast of temperament which, in married life,
renders one the complement of the other, and contributes not a little to
the completion and unity of the dual life. The marriage of those whom
"friendship has early paired" can hardly be otherwise than serenely
happy; beginning their life, as they thus do, each with the same store
of early memories, they have a common history into which to engraft
their new experiences and hopes. Speaking of his marriage, the poet's
nephew says: "It was full of blessings to himself, as ministering to the
exercise of his tender affections, in the discipline and delight which
married life supplies. The boon bestowed upon him in the marriage union
was admirably adapted to shed a cheering and soothing influence upon his
mind." In a poem, entitled "A Farewell," Wordsworth has thus expressed
the thoughts with which he left his cottage with his sister to bring
home the bride and friend:--

    "Farewell, thou little Nook of mountain-ground,
    Thou rocky corner in the lowest stair
    Of that magnificent temple which doth bound
    One side of our whole vale with grandeur rare;
    Sweet garden-orchard, eminently fair,
    The loveliest spot that man hath ever found,
    Farewell!--we leave thee to Heaven's peaceful care,
    Thee, and the Cottage which thou dost surround.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Fields, goods, and far-off chattels we have none:
    These narrow bounds contain our private store
    Of things earth makes, and sun doth shine upon;
    Here are they in our sight--we have no more.

    "Sunshine and shower be with you, bud and bell!
    For two months now in vain we shall be sought;
    We leave you here in solitude to dwell
    With these our latest gifts of tender thought;
    Thou, like the morning, in thy saffron coat,
    Bright gowan, and marsh-marigold, farewell!
    Whom from the borders of the Lake we brought,
    And placed together near our rocky Well.

    "We go for One to whom ye will be dear;
    And she will prize this Bower, this Indian shed,
    Our own contrivance, Building without peer!
    --A gentle Maid, whose heart is lowly bred,
    Whose pleasures are in wild fields gatherèd,
    With joyousness, and with a thoughtful cheer,
    Will come to you--to you herself will wed--
    And love the blessed life that we lead here.

    "Dear Spot! which we have watched with tender heed,
    Bringing thee chosen plants and blossoms blown
    Among the distant mountains, flower and weed,
    Which thou hast taken to thee as thy own,
    Making all kindness registered and known;
    Thou for our sakes, though Nature's child indeed,
    Fair in thyself and beautiful alone,
    Hast taken gifts which thou dost little need.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Help us to tell Her tales of years gone by,
    And this sweet spring, the best beloved and best;
    Joy will be flown in its mortality;
    Something must stay to tell us of the rest.
    Here, thronged with primroses, the steep rock's breast
    Glittered at evening like a starry sky;
    And in this bush our sparrow built her nest,
    Of which I sang one song that will not die.

    "Oh happy Garden! whose seclusion deep
    Hath been so friendly to industrious hours;
    And to soft slumbers, that did gently steep
    Our spirits, carrying with them dreams of flowers,
    And wild notes warbled among leafy bowers;
    Two burning months let summer overleap,
    And, coming back with Her who will be ours,
    Into thy bosom we again shall creep."

I cannot refrain from also quoting here the exquisite picture of Mrs.
Wordsworth, written after the experience of two years of married life.

    "She was a Phantom of delight
    When first she gleamed upon my sight;
    A lovely Apparition, sent
    To be a moment's ornament:
    Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair,
    Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
    But all things else about her drawn
    From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
    A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
    To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

    "I saw her upon nearer view,
    A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
    Her household motions light and free,
    And steps of virgin-liberty;
    A countenance in which did meet
    Sweet records, promises as sweet;
    A Creature not too bright or good
    For human nature's daily food;
    For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
    Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

    "And now I see with eye serene
    The very pulse of the machine;
    A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
    A traveller between life and death;
    The reason firm, the temperate will,
    Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
    A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
    To warn, to comfort, and command;
    And yet a Spirit still, and bright
    With something of angelic light."

Without the exultant spirits or rare mental endowment of Miss
Wordsworth, the poet's wife was eminently fitted for his companionship,
one which lasted during the fifty following years. Mr. Lockhart speaks
of her as having one of the most benignant tempers that ever diffused
peace and cheerfulness through a home. Although not written till some
years after, perhaps the present is the most fitting place in which to
quote De Quincey's description of Mrs. Wordsworth:[2]

"I saw sufficiently to be aware of two ladies just entering the room,
through a doorway opening upon a little staircase. The foremost, a
tallish young woman, with the most winning expression of benignity upon
her features, advanced to me, presenting her hand with so frank an air,
that all embarrassment must have fled in a moment before the native
goodness of her manner. This was Mrs. Wordsworth, cousin of the poet,
and, for the last five years or more, his wife. She was now mother of
two children, a son and a daughter; and she furnished a remarkable proof
how possible it is for a woman, neither handsome nor even comely,
according to the rigour of criticism--nay, generally pronounced very
plain--to exercise all the practical fascination of beauty, through the
mere compensatory charms of sweetness all but angelic, of simplicity the
most entire, womanly self-respect and purity of heart speaking through
all her looks, acts, and movements. _Words_, I was going to have added;
but her words were few. In reality, she talked so little, that Mr.
Slave-Trade Clarkson used to allege against her, that she could only
say, '_God bless you!_' Certainly, her intellect was not of an active
order; but, in a quiescent, reposing, meditative way, she appeared
always to have a genial enjoyment from her own thoughts; and it would
have been strange, indeed, if she, who enjoyed such eminent advantages
of training, from the daily society of her husband and his sister,
failed to acquire some power of judging for herself, and putting forth
some functions of activity. But, undoubtedly, that was not her element:
to feel and to enjoy in a luxurious repose of mind--there was her
_forte_ and her peculiar privilege; and how much better this was adapted
to her husband's taste, how much more adapted to uphold the comfort of
his daily life, than a blue-stocking loquacity, or even a legitimate
talent for discussion, may be inferred from his verses, beginning--

    'She was a Phantom of delight,
    When first she gleamed upon my sight.'

...I will add to this abstract of her _moral_ portrait, these few
concluding traits of her appearance in a physical sense. Her figure was
tolerably good. In complexion she was fair, and there was something
peculiarly pleasing even in this accident of the skin, for it was
accompanied by an animated expression of health, a blessing which, in
fact, she possessed uninterruptedly. Her eyes, the reader may already
know, were

    'Like stars of Twilight fair,
    Like Twilight, too, her dark brown hair,
    But all things else about her drawn
    From May-time and the cheerful Dawn.'

Yet strange it is to tell that, in these eyes of vesper gentleness,
there was a considerable obliquity of vision; and much beyond that
slight obliquity which is often supposed to be an attractive foible in
the countenance: this _ought_ to have been displeasing or repulsive;
yet, in fact, it was not. Indeed all faults, had they been ten times
more and greater, would have been neutralised by that supreme expression
of her features, to the unity of which every lineament in the fixed
parts, and every undulation in the moving parts of her countenance,
concurred, viz., a sunny benignity--a radiant graciousness--such as in
this world I never saw surpassed."

It will be observed that De Quincey here speaks rather slightingly of
Mrs. Wordsworth's intellect, almost in such a way as suggests a desire
to "damn with faint praise." Notwithstanding the unique charm of his
style and power of language, of which his extensive learning and reading
had made him such a master, his pen, even when portraying his most
cherished friends, seems to be slightly touched with an envious venom.
That Mrs. Wordsworth's intellect was of no mean order there are in her
life abundant traces. The dignified repose and simplicity of her manner,
doubtless, formed a striking contrast to that of the impassioned and
ardent Dorothy. But it could hardly be other than a lofty intellect that
added two of the most exquisite and thoughtful lines to one of the
poet's most charming of pieces. Who, having once read, does not remember
the lines on the daffodils?--

    "I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    "Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay;
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    "The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed, and gazed, but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought;

    "For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    _They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude_;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils."

The lines in italics, suggested by Mrs. Wordsworth, here form the kernel
of truth, the central gem around which the lesser beauties are

What a true "inmate of the heart" the poet's wife was, and continued to
be, to him, we well know. Among other tributes to her soothing and
sustaining aid might be mentioned the dedication to her of the "White
Doe of Rylstone," and many other pieces. Happy is the man who, after
twenty years of married companionship, can thus write of his wife:--

    "Oh, DEARER far than light and life are dear,
    Full oft our human foresight I deplore;
    Trembling, through my unworthiness, with fear
    That friends, by death disjoined, may meet no more!

    "Misgivings, hard to vanquish or control,
    Mix with the day, and cross the hour of rest;
    While all the future, for thy purer soul,
    With 'sober certainties' of love is blest,

    "That sigh of thine, not meant for human ear,
    Tells that these words thy humbleness offend;
    Yet bear me up--else faltering in the rear
    Of a steep march; support me to the end.

    "Peace settles where the intellect is meek,
    And Love is dutiful in thought and deed;
    Through Thee Communion with that Love I seek:
    The faith Heaven strengthens where _He_ moulds the Creed."

And when many following years had passed over them, and they had
together grown old, their love and devotion, which had increased with
their years, retained that freshness and fervour of youth which enables
aged hearts to rejoice in all things young and beautiful:--

    "Morn into noon did pass, noon into eve,
    And the old day was welcome as the young,
    As welcome, and as beautiful--in sooth
    More beautiful, as being a thing more holy:
    Thanks to thy virtues, to the eternal youth
    Of all thy goodness, never melancholy;
    To thy large heart and humble mind, that cast
    Into one vision, future, present, past."

The marriage of the poet only introduced into the circle another kindred
spirit, and did not to any extent deprive him of the society of his
sister, who, as before, continued to reside with him, finding a genial
companion in one who had long been a cherished friend. Shall we not then
say that Wordsworth was in his companionships at this period happy in a
degree to which most of his brother bards have been strangers? With
these two high-souled and appreciative women to encircle him with their
love and minister to him, to stimulate to lofty thought and high
endeavour, what wonder that his life and work attained a fulness and
completion seldom reached?

_On Reading Miss Wordsworth's Recollections of a Journey in Scotland, in
1803, with her Brother and Coleridge._

    "I close the book, I shut my eyes,
    I see the Three before me rise,--
    Loving sister, famous brother,
    Each one mirrored in the other;
    Brooding William, artless Dora,
    Who was to her very core a
    Lover of dear Nature's face,
    In its perfect loveliness,--
    Lover of her glens and flowers,
    Of her sunlit clouds and showers,
    Of her hills and of her streams,
    Of her moonlight--when she dreams;
    Of her tears and of her smiles,
    Of her quaint delicious wiles;
    Telling what best pleasures lie
    In the loving, unspoiled eye,
    In the reverential heart,
    That in great Nature sees God's art.

    "And him--the man 'of large discourse,'
    Of pregnant thought, of critic force,
    That grey-eyed sage, who was not wise
    In wisdom that in doing lies,
    But who had 'thoughts that wander through
    Eternity,'--the old and new.
    Who, when he rises on our sight,
    Spite of his failings, shines all bright,
    With something of an angel-light.

    "We close the book with thankful heart,
    Father of Lights, to Thee, who art
    Of every good and perfect gift
    The Giver,--unto Thee we lift
    Our souls in prayer, that all may see
    Thy hand, Thy heart, in all they see."

                      ANON. IN _The Spectator_.


[2] For the copious description here given of Mrs. Wordsworth, and that,
on a subsequent page, of Miss Wordsworth, I am indebted to the
contributions of De Quincey to "Tait's Edinburgh Magazine," which
afterwards formed part of his collected works.



It was in the months of August and September, in the year following that
of his marriage, that Wordsworth and his sister made their memorable six
week's tour in Scotland. The character of this tour, as well as the
remarkable memorial of it given to the world after a lapse of seventy
years, render it, in this place, deserving of more than a mere passing
notice. Of the daily incidents of this journey, and the impressions and
reflections caused by it, Miss Wordsworth kept a minute journal.
Although not intended as a literary production, and written only for the
perusal and information of friends, the style is not only pleasing but
elegant; and it is a matter for congratulation that the family of the
writer at length consented to its publication. This was done in 1874,
under the able editorship of Principal Shairp, of St. Andrews, and the
work rapidly passed through several editions. Not only is it of much
value to those taking an interest in the lives of the poet and his
sister; but, containing as it does descriptions at once graceful and
graphic of the scenes through which they passed, it cannot fail to
afford pleasure to the general reader. The Editor, in his preface, says
of it, that he does not remember any other book "more capable of
training heart and eye to look with profit on the face of Nature, as it
manifests itself in our northern land."

Mrs. Wordsworth was not of the party, being detained at home by maternal
duties. For the first fortnight the Wordsworths were accompanied by
Coleridge, who does not, however, on this occasion, seem to have been
the desirable companion of old. Wordsworth has said of him that he was
at the time "in bad spirits, and somewhat too much in love with his own

The manner of their travelling was altogether in keeping with the humble
character of their lives. The Irish car, and the ancient steed--which,
from his various wayward freaks, and the difficulty with which he was on
certain occasions managed by the poets, must have been somewhat of a
screw--were not calculated to afford much luxury or ease. But the object
of the tourists was not to make a fashionable holiday. The very love of
Nature drew them to her wildest solitudes, and to woo her in her varied
moods, as well when frowning and repellant as when smiling and inviting.
As they were harvesting for future memories the deep experiences and
lingering harmonies which are reaped and garnered by a loving
companionship with Nature, it mattered little to them that these were
frequently obtained at the cost of weariness and discomfort.

It need not be repeated that for the in-gathering of Nature's most
beneficent gifts the poet could not have had a more fitting companion
than his sister. Not only did she idolise him from the depth of the warm
and tender heart of young womanhood, but she was possessed of a mind
singularly sympathetic with his own, and with a kindred enthusiasm as
to the objects in view. Her splendid health, also, at this time, and
strength of limb, made her such a comrade that this tour became to them
an enduring joy, to be remembered for all life: She was

          "Fleet and strong--
    And down the rocks could leap along
    Like rivulets in May."

In giving a short account of this tour, it will be permissible to take
the liberty of a reviewer of quoting a few extracts. What strikes a
reader the most in Miss Wordsworth's record is her quickness of
observation. Nothing seemed to escape her notice. It was not only the
general aspect of Nature in both storm and sunshine, and the diversity
of scenes, that spoke to them; but Miss Wordsworth's eye took in objects
the most minute, she was alive to those subtle influences, which serve
so much to impart an interest to any journey or circumstance it would
not otherwise possess. She took with her her warm loving heart, so full,
for all with whom she came into contact, of the milk of human
kindness--grateful for little attentions given or favours bestowed, and
touched by those traits of humanity which make the whole world kin.
There is the constant loving remembrance of small events, to which
association sometimes lends such a charm. It was a very simple thing for
Miss Wordsworth, writing to her sister-in-law at Grasmere, at an inn by
no means remarkable for comfort, to mention that she wrote on the same
window-ledge on which her brother had written to her two years before;
but it reveals a loving heart.

On the second day of their journey we find the following entry in Miss
Wordsworth's diary: "Passed Rose Castle upon the Caldew, an ancient
building of red stone with sloping gardens, an ivied gateway, velvet
lawns, old garden walls, trim flower-borders, with stately and luxuriant
flowers. We walked up to the house and stood some minutes watching the
swallows that flew about restlessly, and flung their shadows upon the
sunbright walls of the old building; the shadows glanced and twinkled,
interchanged and crossed each other, expanded and shrunk up, appeared
and disappeared every instant; as I observed to William and Coleridge,
seeming more like living things than the birds themselves."

Going by way of Carlisle, the small party entered Scotland near Gretna,
and proceeded by Dumfries and the Vale of Nith. At Dumfries, the grave
and house of Burns had a melancholy interest for them, Miss Wordsworth
stating that "there is no thought surviving in Burns's daily life that
is not heart depressing."

On leaving the Nith, Miss Wordsworth thus describes the scenery: "We now
felt indeed that we were in Scotland; there was a natural peculiarity in
this place. In the scenes of the Nith it had not been the same as
England, but yet not simple, naked Scotland. The road led us down the
hill, and now there was no room in the vale but for the river and the
road; we had sometimes the stream to the right, sometimes to the left.
The hills were pastoral, but we did not see many sheep; green smooth
turf on the left, no ferns. On the right the heath plant grew in
abundance, of the most exquisite colour; it covered a whole hill-side,
or it was in streams and patches. We travelled along the vale, without
appearing to ascend, for some miles; all the reaches were beautiful, in
exquisite proportion, the hills seeming very high from being so near to
us. It might have seemed a valley which Nature had kept to herself for
pensive thoughts and tender feelings, but that we were reminded at every
turn of the road of something beyond by the coal-carts which were
travelling towards us. Though these carts broke in upon the tranquility
of the glen, they added much to the picturesque effect of the different
views, which indeed wanted nothing, though perfectly bare, houseless,
and treeless.

"After some time our road took us upwards towards the end of the valley.
Now the steeps were heathy all around. Just as we began to climb the
hill we saw three boys who came down the cleft of a brow on our left;
one carried a fishing-rod, and the hats of all were braided with
honeysuckles; they ran after one another as wanton as the wind. I cannot
express what a character of beauty those few honeysuckles in the hats of
the three boys gave to the place; what bower could they have come from?
We walked up the hill, met two well-dressed travellers, the woman
barefoot. Our little lads, before they had gone far, were joined by some
half-dozen of their companions, all without shoes and stockings. They
told us they lived at Wanlockhead, the village above, pointing to the
top of the hill; they went to school and learned Latin, Virgil, and some
of them Greek, Homer; but when Coleridge began to inquire further, off
they ran, poor things! I suppose afraid of being examined."

The following anecdote is related of Coleridge, when at the falls of
Cora Linn: "We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of the
views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open
country, and saw a ruined tower, called Wallace's Tower, which stands at
a very little distance from the fall, and is an interesting object. A
lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to
the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another
station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good natured enough to
enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to
talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a _majestic_
waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet,
particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning
of the words grand, majestic, sublime, &c, and had discussed the subject
at some length with William the day before. 'Yes, sir,' says Coleridge,
'it _is_ a majestic waterfall.' 'Sublime and beautiful,' replied his
friend. Poor Coleridge could make no answer, and, not very desirous to
continue the conversation, came to us and related the story, laughing

Of the falls of the Clyde, Miss Wordsworth observes: "We had been told
that the Cartland Crags were better worth going to see than the falls of
the Clyde. I do not think so; but I have seen rocky dells resembling
these before, with clear water instead of that muddy stream, and never
saw anything like the falls of the Clyde. It would be a delicious spot
to have near one's house; one would linger out many a day in the cool
shadow of the caverns, and the stream would soothe one by its murmuring;
still, being an old friend, one would not love it the less for its
homely face. Even we, as we passed along, could not help stopping for a
long while to admire the beauty of the lazy foam, for ever in motion,
and never moved away, in a still place of the water, covering the whole
surface of it with streaks and lines and ever-varying circles."

The Highlands were entered at Loch Lomond, of which Miss Wordsworth
writes:--"On a splendid evening, with the light of the sun diffused over
the whole islands, distant hills, and the broad expanse of the lake,
with its creeks, bays, and little slips of water among the islands, it
must be a glorious sight." ... "We had not climbed far before we were
stopped by a sudden burst of prospect, so singular and beautiful, that
it was like a flash of images from another world. We stood with our
backs to the hill of the island, which we were ascending, and which shut
out Ben Lomond entirely, and all the upper part of the lake, and we
looked towards the foot of the lake, scattered over with islands without
beginning and without end. The sun shone, and the distant hills were
visible, some through sunny mists, others in gloom with patches of
sunshine; the lake was lost under the low and distant hills, and the
islands lost in the lake, which was all in motion with travelling fields
of light, or dark shadows under rainy clouds. There are many hills, but
no commanding eminence at a distance to confine the prospect, so that
the land seemed endless as the water."

In her description of their adventures at Loch Katrine and the
Trossachs, Miss Wordsworth is very happy. Writing of the view from one
point she says:--"We saw Benvenue opposite to us--a high mountain but
clouds concealed its top; its side, rising directly from the lake, is
covered with birch trees to a great height, and seamed with innumerable
channels of torrents; but now there was no water in them, nothing to
break in upon the stillness and repose of the scene; nor do I recollect
hearing the sound of water from any side, the wind being fallen and the
lake perfectly still; the place was all eye, and completely satisfied
the sense and heart. Above and below us, to the right and to the left,
were rocks, knolls, and hills, which, wherever anything could grow--and
that was everywhere between the rocks--were covered with trees and
heather; the trees did not in any place grow so thick as an ordinary
wood; yet I think there was never a bare space of twenty yards, it was
more like a natural forest, where the trees grow in groups or singly,
not hiding the surface of the ground, which, instead of being green and
mossy, was of the richest purple. The heather was indeed the most
luxuriant I ever saw; it was so tall that a child of ten years old
struggling through it would often have been buried head and shoulders,
and the exquisite beauty of the colour, near or at a distance, seen
under the trees, is not to be conceived. But if I were to go on
describing for evermore, I should give but a faint, and very often a
false idea of the different objects and the various combinations of them
in this most intricate and delicious place; besides, I tired myself out
with describing at Loch Lomond, so I will hasten to the end of my tale.
This reminds me of a sentence in a little pamphlet written by the
minister of Callander, descriptive of the environs of that place. After
having taken up at least six closely-printed pages with the Trossachs,
he concludes thus:--'In a word, the Trossachs beggar all description,' a
conclusion in which everybody who has been there will agree with him. I
believe the word 'Trossachs' signifies 'many hills'; it is a name given
to all the eminences at the foot of Loch Ketterine, and about half a
mile beyond."

As an illustration of the expedients to which they were obliged to
resort, and the scanty accommodation afforded to them, may be quoted the
following:--"Our companion from the Trossachs, who, it appeared, was an
Edinburgh drawing-master, going, during a vacation, on a pedestrian tour
to John o'Groat's house, was to sleep in the barn with William and
Coleridge, where the man said he had plenty of dry hay. I do not believe
that the hay of the Highlands is often very dry; but this year it had a
better chance than usual. Wet or dry, however, the next morning they
said they had slept comfortably. When I went to bed the mistress,
desiring me to 'go ben,' attended me with a candle, and assured me that
the bed was dry, though not 'sic as I had been used to.' It was of
chaff; there were two others in the room, a cupboard, and two chests, on
one of which stood the milk in wooden vessels, covered over. I should
have thought that milk so kept could not have been sweet; but the cheese
and butter were good. The walls of the whole house were of stone
unplastered. It consisted of three apartments--the cow-house at one end;
the kitchen, or house, in the middle; and the spence at the other end.
The rooms were divided, not up to the rigging, but only to the
beginning of the roof, so that there was a free passage for light and
smoke from one end of the house to the other.

"I went to bed sometime before the family. The door was shut between us,
and they had a bright fire, which I could not see; but the light it sent
up among the varnished rafters and beams, which crossed each other in
almost as intricate and fantastic a manner, as I have seen the
under-boughs of a large beech-tree, withered by the depth of the shade
above, produced the most beautiful effect that can be conceived. It was
like what I should suppose an underground cave or temple to be, with a
dripping or moist roof, and the moonlight entering in upon it by some
means or other and yet the colours were more like melted gems. I lay
looking up till the light of the fire faded away, and the man and his
wife and child had crept into their bed at the other end of the room. I
did not sleep much, but passed a comfortable night--for my bed, though
hard, was warm and clean; the unusualness of my situation prevented me
from sleeping. I could hear the waves beat against the shore of the
lake; a little 'syke' close to the door made a much louder noise; and
when I sat up in my bed I could see the lake through an open
window-place at the bed's-head. Add to this, it rained all night. I was
less occupied by remembrance of the Trossachs, beautiful as they were,
than the vision of the Highland hut which I could not get out of my
head. I thought of the Fairyland of Spenser, and what I had read in
romance at other times, and then what a feast would it be for a London
pantomime-maker, could he but transplant it to Drury Lane, with all its
beautiful colours!"

Extracts from this admirable and fascinating book might be multiplied;
but I must resist the temptation. It is a book which must be read to be
enjoyed. The tourists received impressions not only from the natural
scenery, but also from the simple-minded and hospitable Highlanders,
with whom they from time to time met. They were so delighted with two
Highland girls, in their fresh, youthful beauty, whom they met at the
ferry at Inversneyde, that Wordsworth made them the subject of a
pleasant poem. Miss Wordsworth, after describing her pleasurable meeting
with these girls, says:--"At this day the innocent merriment of the
girls, with their kindness to us, and the beautiful figure and face of
the elder, come to my mind whenever I think of the ferry-house and
waterfall of Loch Lomond; and I never think of the two girls but the
whole image of that romantic spot is before me--a living image, as it
will be, to my dying day."

The poem of her brother, which cannot be much more poetic than the
graceful prose of the sister, is as follows:--

    "Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
    Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
    Twice seven consenting years have shed
    Their utmost beauty on thy head:
    And these grey rocks; that household lawn;
    Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
    This fall of water that doth make
    A murmur near the silent Lake;
    This little Bay, a quiet road
    That holds in shelter thy abode;
    In truth, together do ye seem
    Like something fashioned in a dream;
    Such Forms as from their covert peep
    When earthly cares are laid asleep!
    But, O fair Creature! in the light
    Of common day, so heavenly bright,
    I bless thee, Vision as thou art,
    I bless thee with a human heart:
    God shield thee to thy latest years!
    Thee neither know I, nor thy peers;
    And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

    "With earnest feeling I shall pray
    For thee when I am far away:
    For never saw I mien or face,
    In which more plainly I could trace
    Benignity and home-bred sense
    Ripening in perfect innocence.
    Here, scattered like a random seed,
    Remote from men, Thou dost not need
    Th' embarrass'd look of shy distress,
    And maidenly shamefacedness;
    Thou wear'st upon thy forehead clear
    The freedom of a Mountaineer;
    A face with gladness overspread!
    Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
    And seemliness complete, that sways
    Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
    With no restraint but such as springs
    From quick and eager visitings
    Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach
    Of thy few words of English speech:
    A bondage sweetly brook'd, a strife
    That gives thy gestures grace and life!
    So have I, not unmoved in mind,
    Seen birds of tempest-loving kind--
    Thus beating up against the wind.

    "What hand but would a garland cull
    For thee, who art so beautiful?
    O, happy pleasure! here to dwell
    Beside thee in some heathy dell;
    Adopt your homely ways, and dress,
    A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!
    But I could frame a wish for thee
    More like a grave reality:
    Thou art to me but as a wave
    Of the wild sea: and I would have
    Some claim upon thee if I could,
    Though but of common neighbourhood.
    What joy to hear thee, and to see!
    Thy elder Brother I would be,
    Thy Father--anything to thee.

    Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
    Hath led me to this lonely place!
    Joy have I had; and going hence
    I bear away my recompence.
    In spots like these it is we prize
    Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes;
    Then, why should I be loth to stir?
    I feel this place was made for her;
    To give new pleasure like the past,
    Continued long as life shall last.
    Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
    Sweet Highland Girl, from thee to part;
    For I, methinks, till I grow old,
    As fair before me shall behold,
    As I do now, the Cabin small,
    The Lake, the Bay, the Waterfall,
    And Thee, the Spirit of them all."

In a somewhat primitive way, and having to contend with bad roads,
accidents to their car, and sometimes hard lodging and scanty fare, they
managed to traverse a great part of the country which has since become
so familiar to tourists, taking on their way Inverary, Glen Coe, Loch
Tay, the Pass of Killicrankie, Dunkeld, Callander, back by the Trossachs
to Loch Lomond, and eventually to Edinburgh. Approaching Loch Lomond for
the second time, Miss Wordsworth remarks that she felt it much more
interesting to visit a place where they had been before than it could
possibly be for the first time. By the lake they met two women, without
hats but neatly dressed, who seemed to have been taking their Sunday
evening's walk. One of them said, in a soft, friendly voice, "What! you
are stepping westward?" She adds: "I cannot describe how affecting this
simple expression was in that remote place, with the western sky in
front, yet glowing with the departed sun." Wordsworth himself some time
afterwards, in remembrance of the incident, wrote the following poem:--

    "'_'What! you are stepping westward?_' '_Yea._'
    --'Twould be a _wildish_ destiny,
    If we, who thus together roam
    In a strange Land, and far from home,
    Were in this place the guests of Chance;
    Yet who would stop or fear to advance,
    Though home or shelter he had none,
    With such a sky to lead him on?

    "The dewy ground was dark and cold,
    Behind all gloomy to behold,
    And stepping westward seem'd to be
    A kind of _heavenly_ destiny;
    I liked the greeting; 'twas a sound
    Of something without place or bound;
    And seemed to give me spiritual right
    To travel through that region bright.

    "The voice was soft; and she who spake
    Was walking by her native lake;
    The salutation was to me
    The very sound of courtesy;
    Its power was felt, and while my eye
    Was fix'd upon the glowing Sky,
    The echo of the voice enwrought
    A human sweetness, with the thought
    Of travelling through the world that lay
    Before me in my endless way."

With Edinburgh Miss Wordsworth was delighted. She says; "It was
impossible to think of anything that was little or mean, the goings on
of trade, the strife of men, or every-day city business; the impression
was one, and it was visionary; like the conceptions of our childhood of
Bagdad or Balsora, when we have been reading the 'Arabian Nights'

Not the least memorable part of their tour was a visit to Sir--then
Mr.--Walter Scott, who was then unknown to fame as a novelist, but who,
as Sheriff of Selkirk, and considered a very clever and amiable man, was
universally respected. With him they visited Melrose and other places of
interest. Miss Wordsworth writes: "Walked up to Ferniehurst--an old
hall, in a secluded situation, now inhabited by farmers; the
neighbouring ground had the wildness of a forest, being irregularly
scattered over with fine old trees. The wind was tossing their branches,
and sunshine dancing among the leaves, and I happened to exclaim, 'What
a life there is in trees!' on which Mr. Scott observed that the words
reminded him of a young lady who had been born and educated on an island
of the Orcades, and came to spend a summer at Kelso, and in the
neighbourhood of Edinburgh. She used to say that in the new world into
which she was come nothing had disappointed her so much as trees and
woods; she complained that they were lifeless, silent, and, compared
with the grandeur of the ever-changing ocean, even insipid. At first I
was surprised, but the next moment I felt that the impression was
natural. Mr. Scott said that she was a very sensible young woman, and
had read much. She talked with endless rapture and feeling of the power
and greatness of the ocean; and, with the same passionate attachment,
returned to her native island without any probability of quitting it
again. The Valley of the Jed is very solitary immediately under
Ferniehurst; we walked down the river, wading almost up to the knees in
fern, which in many parts overspread the forest-ground. It made me think
of our walks at Alfoxden, and of _our own_ park--though at Ferniehurst
is no park at present--and the slim fawns that we used to startle from
their couching-places, among the fern at the top of the hill."

The journal contains many short passages which might be quoted to show
its poetic character. The following are selected almost at random: "I
can always walk over a moor with a light foot; I seem to be drawn more
closely to Nature in such places than anywhere else; or, rather, I feel
more strongly the power of Nature over me, and am better satisfied with
myself, for being able to find enjoyment in what, unfortunately to many
persons, is either dismal or insipid." "The opposite bank of the river
is left in its natural wildness, and nothing was to be seen higher up
but the deep dell, its steep banks being covered with fine trees, a
beautiful relief or contrast to the garden, which is one of the most
elaborate old things ever seen--a little hanging garden of Babylon."
Again, she writes: "The greatest charm of a brook or river is in the
liberty to pursue it through its windings; you can then take it in
whatever mood you like--silent or noisy, sportive or quiet. The beauties
of the brook or river must be sought, and the pleasure is in going in
search of them; those of the lake or of the sea come to you of
themselves." "The sky was grey and heavy--floating mists on the
hillsides, which softened the objects, and where we lost sight of the
lake it appeared so near to the sky that they almost touched one
another, giving a visionary beauty to the prospect." From the reflection
of the crimson clouds the water appeared of a deep red, like melted
rubies, yet with a mixture of a grey or blackish hue; the gorgeous light
of the sky, with the singular colour of the lake, made the scene
exceedingly romantic; yet it was more melancholy than cheerful. With all
the power of light from the clouds there was an overcasting of the gloom
of evening--a twilight upon the hills."

This tour was rich in its results, not only in the sister's journal but
also in the poems of the brother, to which it gave birth. Alluding to
these a contributor to _Blackwood_, so long ago as 1835, says:
"Wordsworth in Scotland as in England and Switzerland, and Italy and the
Tyrol, is still Wordsworth. Here, too, he reaps:--

    'The harvests of a quiet eye
    That broods and sleeps on his own heart.'"

His thoughts, and feelings, and visions, and dreams, and fancies, and
imaginations, are all his own, by some divine right which no other
mortal shares along with him; and, true as they all are to nature, are
all distinguished by some indefinable, but delightful charm peculiar to
his own being, which assuredly is the most purely spiritual that ever
was enshrined in human dust. Safe in his originality he fears not to
travel the same ground that has been travelled by thousands--and
beaten, and barren, and naked as it may seem to be--he is sure to detect
some loveliest family of wild flowers that had lurked unseen in some
unsuspected crevices--to soothe his ears with a transient murmur, the
spirit of the wilderness awakens--the bee that had dropped on the moss
as if benumbed by frost--the small moorland bird revivified by sunshine,
sent from heaven for the poet's sake, goes twittering in circles in the
air above his head, nor is afraid that its nest will be trodden by his
harmless feet; and should a sudden summer shower affront the sunshine,
it is that a rainbow may come and go for his delight, and leave its
transitory splendours in some immortal song. On the great features of
Nature--lochs and mountains, among which he has lived his days--he looks
with a serene but sovereign eye, as if he held them all in fee, and they
stood there to administer to the delight--we must not say the pride--of
him, 'Sole king of rocky Cumberland;' and true it is that from the
assemblage of their summits, in the sunset, impulses of deeper mood have
come to him in solitude than ever visited the heart of any other
poet.... The true Highland spirit is there; but another spirit, too,
which Wordsworth carries with him wherever he goes in the sanctuary of
his own genius, and which colours all it breathes on--lending lovelier
light to the fair, and more awful gloom to the great, and ensouling what
else were but cold death."



A visit paid by Coleridge to Grasmere, shortly after the Scottish tour,
is thus alluded to in a letter written by him to his friend, Mr. Thomas
Wedgewood, in January, 1804. He says:--"I left my home December 20th,
1803, intending to stay a day and a half at Grasmere and then walk to
Kendal, whither I had sent all my clothes and viatica, from thence to go
to London, and to see whether or no I could arrange my pecuniary
matters, so as, leaving Mrs. Coleridge all that was necessary to her
comforts, to go myself to Madeira, having a persuasion strong as the
life within me, that one winter spent in a really warm, genial climate,
would completely restore me.... I stayed at Grasmere (Mr. Wordsworth's)
a month; three-fourths of the time bedridden; and deeply do I feel the
enthusiastic kindness of Wordsworth's wife and sister, who sat up by me,
the one or the other, in order to awaken me at the first symptoms of
distressful feeling; and even when they went to rest continued often and
often to weep and watch for me even in their dreams."

The death of her brother, Captain John Wordsworth, in the early part of
1805, was a great sorrow to Miss Wordsworth, as well as to the other
members of the family. Captain Wordsworth was a younger brother of the
poet, and a great favourite with him and his sister. In consequence of
their early orphaned condition, and subsequent separation, they had not
enjoyed much of each other's society until the time of Wordsworth's
residence at Grasmere. Previously to this, and since the two brothers
had been at school together at Hawkshead, they had only occasionally
seen each other.

After the settlement of Wordsworth and his sister at Grasmere, this
brother, who was in the service of the East India Company, had paid them
a prolonged visit, extending over eight months. The fraternal ties were
then renewed and strengthened, cemented as they became by mature
sympathies. A kinship of thought and feeling, added to warm natural
affections, bound together these three poetic souls in mutual love more
than usually devoted. Captain Wordsworth recognised his brother's genius
and greatness of soul, and felt assured that the time would arrive when
they would be widely acknowledged. Writing of him to Miss Wordsworth,
Coleridge says:--"Your brother John is one of you--a man who hath
solitary usings of his own intellect, deep in feeling, with a subtle
tact, and swift instinct of true beauty." Himself so thoroughly in
harmony with his brother's pursuits, and an ardent lover of the
beautiful in Nature, as well as in life, he became, as Wordsworth says,
"a silent poet," and was known among those of his own craft as "The
Philosopher." Captain Wordsworth had so identified himself in heart with
his brother's pursuits, and had become so enamoured of the life led by
him and their sister in this quiet and beautiful vale, "far from the
madding crowd's ignoble strife," that he had formed the idea, if
prospered during a few voyages, of settling at Grasmere, and adding his
worldly store to theirs, in the hope of thus enabling Wordsworth to
devote his attention to his muse, unfettered by anxious thoughts of a
monetary character. With this loving object before him, he had made a
voyage in the year 1801 without success. Again, in the spring of 1803,
he sailed with the same hope in his heart, but only on this occasion
also to return, without having in any degree been able to further its

In the meantime, money which had been long withheld from the Wordsworths
by the former Earl of Lonsdale, had been honourably paid by his
successor. Although the main object which Captain Wordsworth had in view
in his former expeditions thus no longer existed, he decided once more
to brave the fortunes of the deep. Being, in the year 1804, appointed to
the command of the East Indiaman, _Abergavenny_, bound for the East, he
sailed from Portsmouth, in the early part of 1805, upon a voyage on
which many hopes were built. We are informed that on this occasion the
value of the cargo (including specie) was £270,000, and that there were
on board 402 persons. Not only did Captain Wordsworth take with him the
share which had come to him of the money paid by the Earl of Lonsdale,
but also £1,200 belonging to his brother William and his sister. The
bright hopes were, however, doomed to end in the saddest of disaster.
Owing to the incompetence of a pilot, the ship struck off the Bill of
Portland on the 5th February, 1805. Captain Wordsworth died, as he had
lived, cheerfully doing his duty. Though he might have saved his own
life, he bravely remained at his post to the last, and perished with
most of the crew.

Writing of the sad occurrence to Sir George Beaumont shortly after,
Wordsworth says:--"My poor sister and my wife, who loved him almost as
we did (for he was one of the most amiable of men) are in miserable
affliction, which I do all in my power to alleviate; but, Heaven knows,
I want consolation myself. I can say nothing higher of my ever-dear
brother than that he was worthy of his sister, who is now weeping beside
me, and of the friendship of Coleridge; meek, affectionate, silently
enthusiastic, loving all quiet things, and a poet in everything but
words." In a postscript he adds:--"I shall do all in my power to sustain
my sister under her sorrow, which is, and long will be, bitter and
poignant. We did not love him as a brother merely, but as a man of
original mind, and an honour to all about him. Oh! dear friend, forgive
me for talking thus. We have had no tidings from Coleridge. I tremble
for the moment when he is to hear of my brother's death; it will
distress him to the heart,--and his poor body cannot bear sorrow. He
loved my brother, and he knows how we at Grasmere loved him."

The friendship between the Wordsworths and Charles and Mary Lamb, formed
during the Nether Stowey period, had continued, and they had been
regular correspondents. Shortly after the sad death of her brother Miss
Wordsworth had, in the fulness of her heart, written to Miss Lamb.
Although the response to the communication is well known it should find
a place here. Miss Lamb's reply shows how well qualified she was to
sympathise in her friend's sufferings. She had, indeed, been taught in
the same school. She says:--"I thank you, my kind friend, for your most
comfortable letter; till I saw your own handwriting I could not persuade
myself that I should do well to write to you, though I have often
attempted it; but I always left off dissatisfied with what I had
written, and feeling that I was doing an improper thing to intrude upon
your sorrow. I wished to tell you that you would one day feel the kind
of peaceful state of mind, and sweet memory of the dead, which you so
happily describe as now almost begun; but I felt that it was improper
and most grating to the feelings of the afflicted to say to them that
the memory of their affliction would in time become a constant part, not
only of their dream, but of their most wakeful sense of happiness. That
you would see every object with and through your lost brother, and that
that would at last become a real and everlasting source of comfort to
you I felt, and well knew from my own experience in sorrow; but till you
yourself began to feel this I didn't dare tell you so; but I send you
some poor lines, which I wrote under this conviction of mind, and before
I heard Coleridge was returning home. I will transcribe them now before
I finish my letter, lest a false shame prevent me then, for I know they
are much worse than they ought to be, written as they were with strong
feeling and on such a subject; every line seems to me to be borrowed;
but I had no better way of expressing my thoughts, and I never have the
power of altering or amending anything I have once laid aside with

    "'Why is he wandering on the sea?
    Coleridge should now with Wordsworth be.
    By slow degrees he'd steal away
    Their woe and gently bring a ray
    (So happily he'd time relief)
    Of comfort from their very grief.
    He'd tell them that their brother dead,
    When years have passed o'er their head,
    Will be remembered with such holy,
    True, and perfect melancholy,
    That ever this lost brother John
    Will be their heart's companion.
    His voice they'll always hear,
    His face they'll always see;
    There's nought in life so sweet
    As such a memory.'"

Miss Wordsworth's reply to this letter has not been preserved. It came
to the hands of Charles Lamb when his sister was undergoing one of her
temporary but most sad confinements, in the asylum she periodically
visited. On the 14th of June, 1805, Charles wrote for her to acknowledge
the letter, one from which the following extract may be given:--"Your
long, kind letter has not been thrown away (for it has given me great
pleasure to find you are all resuming your old occupations and are
better); but poor Mary, to whom it is addressed, cannot yet relish it.
She has been attacked by one of her severe illnesses, and is at present
_from home_. Last Monday week was the day she left me, and I hope I may
calculate upon having her again in a month or little more. I am rather
afraid late hours have, in this case, contributed to her indisposition.
I have every reason to suppose that this illness, like all the former
ones, will be but temporary; but I cannot always feel so. Meantime she
is dead to me, and I miss a prop. All my strength is gone, and I am like
a fool, bereft of her co-operation. I dare not think lest I should think
wrong, so used am I to look up to her in the least as in the biggest
perplexity. To say all that I know of her would be more than I think
anybody could believe, or even understand; and when I hope to have her
well again with me, it would be sinning against her feelings to go about
to praise her, for I can conceal nothing that I do from her. She is
older and wiser and better than I, and all my wretched imperfections I
cover to myself by resolutely thinking on her goodness. She would share
life and death, heaven and hell with me. She lives but for me; and I
know I have been wasting and teasing her life for five years past
incessantly with my cursed drinking and ways of going on. But even in
this upbraiding of myself I am offending against her, for I know that
she has clung to me for better for worse; and if the balance has been
against her hitherto it was a noble trade."

The following letter of Charles Lamb, addressed "to Mr. and Miss
Wordsworth," on the 28th of September, 1805, enclosing his "Farewell to
Tobacco" may also find a place here:--"I wish you may think this a
handsome farewell to my 'Friendly Traitress.' Tobacco has been my
evening comfort and my morning curse for nearly five years; and you
know how difficult it is from refraining to pick one's lips even, when
it has become a habit. This poem is the only one which I have finished
since so long as when I wrote 'Hester Savory.' I have had it in my head
to do this two years, but tobacco stood in its own light when it gave me
headaches that prevented my singing its praises. Now you have got it,
you have got all my store, for I have absolutely not another line. No
more has Mary. We have nobody about us that cares for poetry; and who
will rear grapes when he shall be the sole eater? Perhaps if you
encourage us to show you what we may write, we may do something now and
then before we absolutely forget the quantity of an English line for
want of practice. The 'Tobacco' being a little in the way of Withers
(whom Southey so much likes) perhaps you will somehow convey it to him
with my kind remembrances. Then, everybody will have seen it that I wish
to see it, I having sent it to Malta.

  "I remain, dear W. and D.,

          "Yours truly,

                  "C. LAMB."



It was in the year 1807 that De Quincey was added to the number of the
literary friends of the Wordsworths. He has given an interesting account
of the way in which the acquaintanceship was first formed. He had,
indeed, been for some years an ardent admirer of the poet, and had had
some correspondence with him in 1803. The characteristic timidity of
this wayward genius is illustrated by the fact, that although De Quincey
had conceived an eager longing to form the personal acquaintance of
Wordsworth, and had been favoured with a standing invitation to visit
him, he allowed upwards of four years to pass without availing himself
of the privilege of the meeting, "for which, beyond all things under
heaven, he longed."

He has recorded how he had on two occasions taken a long journey with no
other object. On one of these occasions he had proceeded as far only as
Coniston--a distance from Grasmere of eight miles--when, his courage
failing him, he returned.

The second time he actually so far kept up his courage as to traverse
the distance between Coniston and the Vale of Grasmere, and came in
sight of the "little white cottage gleaming among trees," which was the
goal of his desire. After, however, he had caught "one hasty glimpse of
this loveliest of landscapes," he "retreated like a guilty thing." This
was in 1806. During the following year circumstances combined to bring
about the much desired meeting.

A short time after an introduction to Coleridge, in the summer of this
year, De Quincey learnt that Coleridge, who was engaged to lecture in
town, desired to send his family to Keswick, and he was glad to accept
De Quincey's offer to escort them. As Grasmere lay in their route, and
Mrs. Coleridge was a cherished friend of the Wordsworths, a call upon
them was the most natural thing, as was also an invitation to spend the
night, and resume their journey on the following day.

Describing the cottage, De Quincey says: "A little semi-vestibule
between two doors prefaces the entrance into what may be considered the
principal room. It was an oblong square, not above eight and a-half feet
high, sixteen feet long, and twelve feet broad; very prettily
wainscotted from the floor to the ceiling with dark-polished oak,
slightly embellished with carving. One window there was, a perfect and
unpretending cottage window, with little diamond panes, embowered at
almost every season of the year with roses, and, in the summer and
autumn, with a profusion of jasmine, and other fragrant shrubs."

After a description of Mrs. Wordsworth, as before alluded to, he follows
with a most interesting account of the appearance of Miss Wordsworth:
"Immediately behind her moved a lady shorter, slighter, and, perhaps,
in all other respects, as different from her in personal
characteristics, as could have been wished for the most effective
contrast. Her face was of Egyptian brown; rarely in a woman of English
birth had I seen a more determinate Gipsy tan. Her eyes were not soft,
as Mrs. Wordsworth's, nor were they fierce or bold; but they were wild
and startling, and hurried in their motion. Her manner was warm, and
even ardent; her sensibility seemed constitutionally deep; and some
subtle fire of impassioned intellect apparently burned within her,
which, being alternately pushed forward into a conspicuous expression,
by the irrepressible instincts of her temperament, and then immediately
checked, in obedience to the decorum of her sex and age, and her
maidenly condition, gave to her whole demeanour, and to her
conversation, an air of embarrassment, and even of self-conflict, that
was almost distressing to witness. Even her very utterance and
enunciation often suffered in point of clearness and steadiness from the
agitation of her excessive organic sensibility. At times the
self-counteraction and self-baffling of her feelings caused her even to
stammer, and so determinately to stammer, that a stranger who should
have seen her, and quitted her in that state of feeling, would certainly
have set her down for one plagued with that infirmity of speech as
distressingly as Charles Lamb himself. This was Miss Wordsworth, the
only sister of the poet--his 'Dorothy,' who naturally owed so much to
the life-long intercourse with her great brother, in his most solitary
and sequestered years; but, on the other hand, to whom he has
acknowledged obligations of the profoundest nature; and, in particular,
this mighty one, through which we also, the admirers and worshippers of
this great poet, are become equally her debtors--that whereas the
intellect of Wordsworth was, by its original tendency, too stern, too
austere, too much enamoured of an ascetic harsh sublimity, she it
was,--the lady who paced by his side continually through sylvan and
mountain tracts--in Highland glens and in the dim recesses of German
charcoal burners--that first _couched_ his eye to the sense of beauty,
humanised him by the gentler charities, and engrafted with her delicate
female touch those graces upon the ruder growths of his nature, which
have since clothed the forest of his genius with a foliage corresponding
in loveliness and beauty to the strength of its boughs and the massiness
of its trunks. The greatest deductions from Miss Wordsworth's
attractions, and from the exceeding interest which surrounded her in
right of her character, of her history, and of the relation which she
fulfilled towards her brother, were the glancing quickness of her
motions, and other circumstances in her deportment (such as her stooping
attitude when walking) which gave an ungraceful, and even unsexual,
character to her appearance when out of doors. She did not cultivate the
graces which preside over the person and its carriage. But, on the other
hand, she was a person of very remarkable endowments, intellectually;
and, in addition to the other great services which she rendered to her
brother, this I may mention as greater than all the rest, and it was one
which equally operated to the benefit of every casual companion in a
walk--viz., the exceeding sympathy, always ready and always profound,
by which she made all that one could tell her, all that one could
describe, all that one could quote from a foreign author, reverberate,
as it were, _à plusieurs reprises_, to one's own feelings, by the
manifest impression it made upon _hers_. The pulses of light are not
more quick or more inevitable in their flow and undulation than were the
answering and echoing movements of her sympathising attention. Her
knowledge of literature was irregular and thoroughly unsystematic. She
was content to be ignorant of many things; but what she knew and had
really mastered lay where it could not be disturbed--in the temple of
her own most fervid heart."

Proceeding to compare his impressions of the two ladies he adds:--"Miss
Wordsworth had seen more of life, and even of good company; for she had
lived, when quite a girl, under the protection of Dr. Cookson, a near
relative, Canon of Windsor, and a personal favourite of the Royal
family, especially of George III. Consequently she ought to have been
the more polished of the two; and yet, from greater natural aptitudes
for refinement of manner in her sister-in-law, and partly, perhaps, from
her more quiet and subdued manner, Mrs. Wordsworth would have been
pronounced very much the more lady-like person."

De Quincey excuses the large latitude used in his descriptions on the
ground of "the interest which attaches to any one so nearly connected
with a great poet," and the repetition of them is, perhaps, to be
justified only for the same reason.

In further allusion to Miss Wordsworth he says:--"Miss Wordsworth was
too ardent and fiery a creature to maintain the reserve essential to
dignity; and dignity was the last thing one thought of in the presence
of one so natural, so fervent in her feelings, and so embarrassed in
their utterance--sometimes, also, in the attempt to check them. It must
not, however, be supposed, that there was any silliness, or weakness of
enthusiasm, about her. She was under the continual restraint of severe
good sense, though liberated from that false shame which, in so many
persons, accompanies all expressions of natural emotion; and she had too
long enjoyed the ennobling conversation of her brother, and his
admirable comments on the poets, which they read in common, to fail in
any essential point of logic or propriety of thought. Accordingly, her
letters, though the most careless and unelaborate--nay, the most hearty
that can be imagined--are models of good sense and just feeling. In
short, beyond any person I have known in this world, Miss Wordsworth was
the creature of impulse; but, as a woman most thoroughly virtuous and
well principled, as one who could not fail to be kept right by her own
excellent heart, and as an intellectual creature from her cradle, with
much of her illustrious brother's peculiarity of mind--finally as one
who had been, in effect, educated and trained by that very brother--she
won the sympathy and respectful regard of every man worthy to approach

De Quincey subsequently relates how he was entertained for the night in
the best bedroom of the poet's home, and on the following morning
discovered Miss Wordsworth preparing the breakfast in the little
sitting-room. He adds:--"On the third morning the whole family, except
the two children, prepared for the expedition across the mountains. I
had heard of no horses, and took it for granted that we were to walk;
however, at the moment of starting, a cart--the common farmer's cart of
the country--made its appearance; and the driver was a bonny young woman
of the vale. Accordingly, we were carted along to the little town, or
village, of Ambleside--three and a half miles distant. Our style of
travelling occasioned no astonishment; on the contrary, we met a smiling
salutation wherever we appeared--Miss Wordsworth being, as I observed,
the person the most familiarly known of our party, and the one who took
upon herself the whole expenses of the flying colloquies exchanged with
stragglers on the road."

Although the little home at Town End is so closely identified with
Wordsworth as being his residence in his poetic prime he this year
(1807) found it necessary, in consequence of his increasing family, to
remove to a larger house. He went to Allan Bank, about a mile distant,
and remained there four years. This residence is not nearly so closely
connected with the memory of the Wordsworths as either Dove Cottage or
Rydal Mount. The time was not, however, by any means an unproductive
one, for here he composed the greater part of the "Excursion," the whole
of which poem is said to have been transcribed by his faithful and
industrious sister. It is interesting to know that the now historic
cottage, which is possessed of such a charm as the first mountain home
of Miss Wordsworth in this district, was afterwards for some years the
residence of De Quincey himself. After his first visit, of which he has
given such a graphic account, it appears that he paid another towards
the end of 1808; and that he then enjoyed the hospitality of the
Wordsworths until the February following, when, having assisted during a
stay in London in the correction in its progress through the press of
Wordsworth's pamphlet, "The Convention of Cintra," he formed the project
of settling in Grasmere. Writing to him Miss Wordsworth says:--"Soon you
must have rest, and we shall all be thankful. You have indeed been a
treasure to us while you have been in London, having spared my brother
so much anxiety and care. We are very grateful to you."

Whatever service De Quincey rendered to Wordsworth in assisting in the
publication of "The Convention of Cintra" was much more than repaid in
the active kindness of Miss Wordsworth herself, who, was for some months
engaged in preparing the cottage at Town End for its new resident. It
was, indeed, no small service for her to undertake the multifarious and
exhausting duties in connection with the furnishing and fitting up of a
home; and shows not only her unflagging activity and energy, but also
her sound sense and excellent judgment. As an instance of her thoughtful
economy on the occasion may be mentioned her reason for choosing
mahogany for book shelves instead of deal, for she says:--"Native woods
are dear; and that in case De Quincey should leave the country and have
a sale, no sort of wood sells so well at second-hand as mahogany." To
Miss Wordsworth was also entrusted the duty of engaging a housekeeper
for De Quincey.

The frequent allusions in these pages to De Quincey, and his close
association for some years with the Wordsworths, render it necessary
that some further reference should be made to his subsequent connection
with Grasmere. The following is a description given by him of his own
life in 1812:--

"And what am I doing among the mountains? Taking opium. Yes; but what
else? Why, reader, in 1812, the year we are now arrived at, as well as
for some years previous, I have been chiefly studying German
metaphysics, as the writings of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, &c. And how,
and in what manner do I live? In short, what class or description of men
do I belong to? I am at this period,--viz., in 1812,--living in a
cottage; and with a single female servant, who, amongst my neighbours,
passes by the name of my 'housekeeper.' And, as a scholar and a man of
learned education, I may presume to class myself as an unworthy member
of that indefinite body called _gentlemen_. Partly on the ground I have
assigned,--partly because, from having no visible calling or business,
it is rightly judged that I must be living on my private fortune,--I am
so classed by my neighbours; and by the courtesy of modern England, I am
usually addressed on letters, &c., _Esquire_.... Am I married? Not yet.
And I still take opium? On Saturday nights.... And how do I find my
health after all this opium-eating? In short, how do I do? Why, pretty
well, I thank you, reader. In fact, if I dared to say the simple truth
(though, in order to satisfy the theories of some medical men, I ought
to be ill), I was never better in my life than in the spring of 1812;
and I hope, sincerely, that the quantity of claret, port, or 'London
particular Madeira,' which, in all probability, you, good reader, have
taken, and design to take, for every term of eight years during your
natural life, may as little disorder your health as mine was disordered
by all the opium I had taken (though in quantity such that I might well
have bathed and swum in it) for the eight years between 1804 and 1812."

In 1816 De Quincey married a young woman named Margaret Simpson, the
daughter of a farmer living in a cottage under Nab Scar, not far from
his own at Town End, who became devoted to his interests. He continued
to reside partly at Grasmere until the year 1830, although his literary
duties necessitated his being much at London and Edinburgh. It was in
1821 that his now famous "Confessions of an Opium Eater" began to appear
in the pages of the _London Magazine_. Afterwards his connection with
Blackwood took him a good deal to Edinburgh. Although he and his wife
did not like the idea of quitting altogether the peaceful vale where she
had been reared, it became evident that it was undesirable to keep up
two houses, leaving his wife and children so much alone at Grasmere. The
following extract from a letter written by Miss Wordsworth to him in
November of this year shows her warm interest in him and his family, and
her readiness to give well-timed sympathy and aid. After alluding to a
visit paid by her to Mrs. De Quincey, and the health of the children,
she says:--"Mrs. De Quincey seemed, on the whole, in very good spirits;
but, with something of sadness in her manner, she told me you were not
likely very soon to be at home. She then said that you had, at present,
some literary employments at Edinburgh, and had, besides, an offer (or
something to this effect) of a permanent engagement, the nature of which
she did not know, but that you hesitated about accepting it, as it might
necessitate you to settle in Edinburgh. To this I replied, 'Why not
settle there, for the time, at least, that this engagement lasts?
Lodgings are cheap at Edinburgh, and provisions and coals not dear. Of
this fact I had some weeks' experience four years ago.' I then added
that it was my firm opinion that you could never regularly keep up your
engagements at a distance from the press, and, said I, 'pray tell him so
when you write.' She replied, 'do write yourself.' Now I could not
refuse to give her pleasure by so doing, especially being assured that
my letter would not be wholly worthless to you, having such agreeable
news to send of your family."

This excellent advice was soon afterwards acted upon, and Edinburgh
became the scene of De Quincey's further life and labours. Here he died
on the 8th of December, 1859, aged 74 years.




A melancholy incident which occurred during her residence at Allan Bank
may be mentioned, since Miss Wordsworth took such an active, sympathetic
interest in the relief and succour of the sufferers. It is not, however,
necessary to relate in detail the sad story, as this has been done by De
Quincey and others.

Nestling in the valley of Easedale still stands a humble farm-house
called Blentarn Ghyll, which takes its name from a mountain ravine near
by. Here, in the year 1808, lived an industrious farmer and his wife
named George and Sarah Green, with their six children, the youngest a
baby, and the eldest a girl of nine or ten. On the morning of a day long
to be remembered George Green and his wife started off over the
mountains--a distance of five or six miles--to Langdale, to attend a
sale of furniture (on which occasions these scattered neighbours used to
meet) intending to return the same evening. Notwithstanding that some of
their friends endeavoured to dissuade them from returning by the
mountains, they, in the afternoon, started on their return journey. And
neither of them was ever seen in life again. A fall of snow came, in
which they hopelessly lost their way, and, as De Quincey says, "they
disappeared into the cloud of death." Meanwhile, the poor little
children sat round the fire waiting in vain for their parents' return.
The eldest, little Agnes Green, whose emotions were, during that and
subsequent days, changed from those of a child of tender years to those
of a mother, became heroic in her devotion to her tiny brothers and
sisters. The lonely farmhouse, with its little inhabitants, was for some
days surrounded by drifts of snow, which prevented their leaving it.
Meantime, as day succeeded day, the brave Agnes cheered up the others as
best she could, preparing their scanty meals, and making the elder ones
say their prayers night and morning. It was not until the third day that
she was able to force her way through the snow and tell the sad tale,
inquiring with tearful face whether her father and mother had been seen.

Such was the interest felt in the story of their loss, that all the
able-bodied men of Grasmere formed themselves into a search band; but it
was not until after the expiration of three days that the bodies of the
faithful couple were found near Dungeon Ghyll, the husband being at the
bottom of a rock, from which he had fallen, where his wife had crept
round to him. They were only a few hundred yards from a farmhouse, to
which, however, their cries for help had not reached, or had been
mistaken. In the future of the helpless orphans Miss Wordsworth took an
active interest, and raised a considerable sum of money for their
benefit. The Royal Family were made acquainted with the sad history, and
the Queen herself and her daughters became subscribers to the fund. The
children were taken into different families in the neighbourhood, one of
them going to live with the Wordsworths. The heroic little Agnes died
many years ago, and is buried in Grasmere Churchyard beside her parents.
Three of these children yet survive, the eldest of whom, now 85 years
old, has given me some of the foregoing particulars. He still well
remembers the circumstances of that fatal journey, and the vain waiting,
during the hours of night, for the father and mother who never returned.
Another survivor--the one who was at the time a little baby girl--is now
blind, and, I believe, a great grandmother.

Among other lasting friendships of the Wordsworths which we find
existing about this period is that with Mr. Henry Crabb Robinson, whose
"Diary and Reminiscences" afford some pleasant recollections of many of
the _literati_ of his time among whom he had a very extensive
acquaintance. In 1810 Miss Wordsworth had been paying a visit to Mr. and
Mrs. Clarkson (of anti-slave trade celebrity) at Bury. Mr. Robinson met
her there, and, being about to return to London when Miss Wordsworth was
intending to pay a visit to Charles and Mary Lamb, he undertook to
escort her thither. Upon her return home she wrote to him the following

                                        "_Grasmere, November 6, 1810_.

      "MY DEAR SIR,--I am very proud of the commission my brother has
      given me, as it affords me an opportunity of expressing the
      pleasure with which I think of you, and of our long journey side
      by side in the pleasant sunshine, our splendid entrance into the
      great city, and our rambles together in the crowded streets. I
      assure you I am not ungrateful for even the least of your kind
      attentions, and shall be happy in return to be your guide amongst
      these mountains, where, if you bring a mind free from care, I can
      promise you a rich store of noble enjoyments. My brother and
      sister will be exceedingly happy to see you; and, if you tell him
      stories from Spain of enthusiasm, patriotism, and detestation of
      the usurper, my brother will be a ready listener; and in presence
      of these grand works of nature you may feed each other's lofty
      hopes. We are waiting with the utmost anxiety for the issue of
      that battle which you arranged so nicely by Charles Lamb's
      fireside. My brother goes to seek the newspapers whenever it is
      possible to get a sight of one, and he is almost out of patience
      that the tidings are delayed so long.

             *       *       *       *       *

      "Pray, as you are most likely to see _Charles_ at least from time
      to time, tell me how they are going on. There is nobody in the
      world out of our house for whom I am more deeply interested. You
      will, I know, be happy that our little ones are all going on well.
      The delicate little Catherine, the only one for whom we had any
      serious alarm, gains ground daily. Yet it will be long before she
      can be or have the appearance of being a stout child. There was
      great joy in the house at my return, which each showed in a
      different way. They are sweet wild creatures, and I think you
      would love them all. John is thoughtful with his wildness; Dora
      alive, active, and quick; Thomas, innocent and simple as a
      new-born babe. John had no feeling but of bursting joy when he saw
      me. Dorothy's first question was, 'Where is my doll?' We had
      delightful weather when I first got home; but on the first morning
      Dorothy roused me from my sleep with, 'It is time to get up, Aunt;
      it is a blasty morning--it does blast so.' And the next morning,
      not more encouraging, she said, 'It is a hailing morning--it hails
      so hard.' You must know that our house stands on a hill, exposed
      to all hails and blasts....

                                        "D. WORDSWORTH."

From the above letter it will be seen, as can be well understood, that
Miss Wordsworth was a great favourite with the poet's children, of whom
there were then born the four mentioned. To these children, and the
interests and enjoyments of their young lives, she devoted herself with
the unselfish devotion and zeal which so pervaded her life and animated
her conduct.

Sara Coleridge, the daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, between whose
family and that of Wordsworth the most cordial relations always existed,
in the record of her early life has a pleasant recollection of a visit
paid by her to Allan Bank when she was six years old. She writes:--"That
journey to Grasmere gleams before me as the shadow of a shade. Allan
Bank is a large house on the hill overlooking Easedale on one side and
Grasmere on the other. Dorothy, Mr. Wordsworth's only daughter, was at
the time very picturesque in her appearance, with her long thick yellow
locks, which were never cut, but curled with papers, a thing which seems
much out of keeping with the poetic, simple household. I remember being
asked by my father and Miss Wordsworth, the poet's sister, if I did not
think her very pretty. 'No,' said I, bluntly, for which I met with a
rebuff, which made me feel as if I was a culprit."

Miss Coleridge also gives the following reminiscence:--"Miss Wordsworth,
Mr. Wordsworth's sister, of most poetic eye and temper, took a great
part with the children. She told us once a pretty story of a primrose, I
think, which she espied by the wayside when she went to see me soon
after my birth, though that was at Christmas, and how this same primrose
was still blooming when she went back to Grasmere."

The life of Miss Wordsworth had hitherto been, on the whole, one of
serene and calm enjoyment. In the social circle bound so closely in
mutual affection, and so richly endowed with the faculty of making
herself happy--of truly living--the only cloud during many years of
brightness had been the death of her brother John. It could not,
however, but have been expected that the happy circle would become still
more acquainted with the common lot of mortal life.

During their residence at the parsonage at Grasmere, where they were
living in 1812, the circle was broken by the loss of two of their
children, then five in number. In the case of one, the interesting and
delicate little Kate, then about four years old, the circumstances were
peculiarly distressing. The way in which her very brief illness was
caused has not been very clearly stated. De Quincey has attributed it to
what he calls by the harsh name of the "criminal negligence" of one of
the children of the George and Sarah Green before-mentioned, whom the
Wordsworths had taken to live with them. He relates that while little
Catherine was under the care of Sarah Green she was allowed to eat a
number of raw carrots, in consequence of which she was very shortly,
seized with strong convulsions. Although she partially recovered the
immediate effect, her left side remained in a disabled condition.

It was some months after this that little Kate, having gone to bed
bright and happy at the hour of a June sunset, was discovered in a
speechless condition about midnight, and died in convulsions after a few
hours' suffering. While, as may be imagined, the grief of her parents at
the loss was great, that of De Quincey (who was not at Grasmere at the
time, and was informed of the event by Miss Wordsworth) was so poignant
and extravagant as to become romantic. The dear child had got so near
the heart of the little dreamy opium-eater--had, in fact, found so warm
a corner there--that he seemed to be almost overwhelmed. The heart was
empty, and the eyes that could no longer gaze upon the living form were
filled with its image. He used to imagine that he saw her. So great was
his grief that we are told he often spent the night upon her grave. This
may appear very extravagant, as it doubtless is; but we cannot measure a
man like De Quincey by any ordinary standard. Possessing as he did a
gigantic and immortal genius, he was at the same time one of the most
unimaginable and eccentric, unreal and dreamy of beings that ever owned
a warm human heart. The Wordsworth children were especially dear to him,
and particularly so little Catherine. And they returned his affection.
Three weeks before her death he had seen her for the last time. In his
letter to Miss Wordsworth he says:--"The children were speaking to me
altogether, and I was saying one thing to one and another to another,
and she, who could not speak loud enough to overpower the other voices,
had got on a chair, and putting her hand upon my mouth, she said, with
her sweet importunateness of action and voice, 'Kinsey, Kinsey, what a
bring Katy from London?' I believe she said it twice; and I remember
that her mother noticed the earnestness and intelligence of her manner,
and looked at me and smiled. This was the last time that I heard her
sweet voice distinctly, and I shall never hear one like it again."

The death of Catherine was followed six months later by that of her
brother Thomas, six and a half years old. This double affliction made
the Wordsworths glad to remove from the neighbourhood of the churchyard,
which so constantly reminded them of their loss. It was for this reason
that, in 1813, they went to reside at Rydal Mount, which was thenceforth
the home of Miss Wordsworth until her death--a period of more than forty



Since their settlement in Grasmere, the worldly circumstances of
Wordsworth, as well as those of his sister, had considerably improved.
We have seen upon what slender, combined means they began housekeeping,
living in "noble poverty"--and were happy. Shortly afterwards the then
Earl of Lonsdale honourably paid to the Wordsworths the large sum of
money which, as has been before mentioned, had been withheld by his
father. The share of each of them of this is said to have been about
£1,800. In addition to this the poet's muse had begun to be more
profitable to him. Though he had not then been awarded that high and
foremost rank in the inspired choir which he has since attained, yet his
power as a great poet was beginning to be acknowledged by more than the
select number who had from the first recognised his genius.

About this time he also had conferred upon him the appointment as
distributor of stamps for Westmoreland. While the emoluments of this
office formed a substantial addition to the poet's income, its duties
were such that they could be chiefly performed by deputy.

In obtaining for their new home the now classic RYDAL MOUNT, the good
fortune of the Wordsworths did not fail them. The "modest mansion" is
well known, and many descriptions of it have been given. For the beauty
of its situation, and the amenities of its surroundings, it is almost
unsurpassed. It has been somewhere stated that whilst most persons, who,
having chosen their own residences, think them the first, they are all
ready to give the second place to Rydal Mount. I have on two occasions
since the poet's death had the good fortune to obtain admittance to the
grounds, and, with feelings of reverence and emotion, paced the
terrace-walks, worn by the footsteps of the great departed. We are on
such occasions strikingly reminded of the words of Foster: "What a tale
could be told by many a room were the walls endowed with memory and
speech." The house stands in an elevated position, being on a plateau on
the south side of Nab Scar. Striking off from the side of the house is a
walk called the Upper Terrace. From this path the views are exceedingly
lovely. Immediately in front is the Rothay Valley, backed by the
richly-wooded heights of Loughrigg, with Windermere in the distance to
the left, "a light thrown into the picture in the winter season, and in
the summer a beautiful feature, changing with every hue of the sky."
About halfway along the terrace we come to a rustic alcove, built of fir
poles, and lined with cones. Here, we should think, the walk ends, for
we are parallel with the boundary wall of the garden below; but opening
a door, we find the road branches slightly to the right, and, opening
into the far terrace, reveals a surprise view. Here we see beneath us
Rydal Water, gemmed with its romantic islands, and beyond, the green
heights of Loughrigg Terrace. Following the path, with its sloping banks
of fern and flowers, for about fifty yards, we find it terminated by a
little wicket-gate, which opens upon a field, whence the old, and now
grass-green, road to Grasmere is reached. On the left side of the Upper
Terrace is a dwarf wall, niched with ferns and mosses. Below this wall
is another terrace--a level one--formed by the poet himself, chiefly for
the sake of Miss Fenwick, who was a valued friend, and, in after years,
an inmate at Rydal Mount. To her the poet dictated the MSS. notes upon
his poems, referred to in the "Memoirs," and elsewhere, as the "MSS. I.

In speaking of the nocturnal aspect of Rydal Mount, Wordsworth mentions
"the beauty of the situation, its being backed and flanked by lofty
fells, which bring the heavenly bodies to touch, as it were, the earth
upon the mountain tops, while the prospect in front lies open to a
length of level valley, the extended lake, and a terminating ridge of
low hills."

A poetical description of this chosen retreat, by Miss Jewsbury, and
published in the _Literary Magnet_, for 1826, may be quoted here:--

            "THE POET'S HOME."

    "Low and white, yet scarcely seen,
    Are its walls for mantling green;
    Not a window lets in light,
    But through flowers clustering bright;
    Not a glance may wander there,
    But it falls on something fair;
    Garden choice, and fairy mound,
    Only that no elves are found;
    Winding walk, and sheltered nook,
    For student grave and graver book:
    Or a bird-like bower, perchance,
    Fit for maiden and romance.
    Then, far off, a glorious sheen
    Of wide and sunlit waters seen;
    Hills that in the distance lie,
    Blue and yielding as the sky;
    And nearer, closing round the nest,
    The home of all the 'living crest,'
    Other rocks and mountains stand,
    Rugged, yet a guardian band,
    Like those that did, in fable old,
    Elysium from the world enfold.

    ". . . . . . .  Companions meet
    Thou shalt have in thy retreat:
    One of long-tried love and truth;
    Thine in age as thine in youth;
    One, whose locks of partial grey,
    Whisper somewhat of decay;
    Yet whose bright and beaming eye
    Tells of more that cannot die.

    "Then a second form beyond,
    Thine, too, by another bond,
    Sportive, tender, graceful, wild--
    Scarcely woman, more than child--
    One who doth thy heart entwine,
    Like the ever-clinging vine;
    One to whom thou art a stay,
    As the oak that, scarred and grey,
    Standeth on, and standeth fast,
    Strong and stately to the last.

    "Poet's lot like this hath been;
    Such, perchance, may I have seen;
    Or in fancy's fairy land,
    Or in truth, and near at hand:
    If in fancy, then, forsooth,
    Fancy had the force of truth;
    If, again, a truth it were,
    Then were truth as fancy fair;
    But, which ever it might be,
    ''Twas a Paradise to me.'"

Of the "companions meet" referred to above it is evident that the
first-named "of long-tried love and truth" is Miss Wordsworth; the
second, Mrs. Wordsworth; and the third, Miss Dora Wordsworth, the poet's
daughter, to whom some further reference should now be made.

At the time of the removal to Rydal Mount, in the spring of 1813, the
family, in addition to the parents and Miss Wordsworth, consisted of
three children, of whom the second--Dorothy, or Dora, born in 1804--was
of the interesting age of nine years. She was named after her aunt, Miss
Wordsworth; for, although her father would have preferred to have called
her Mary, the name Dorothy, as he stated to Lady Beaumont, had been so
long devoted in his own thoughts to the first daughter he might have,
he could not break his promise to himself. By way of further
distinguishing her from her aunt, Mr. Crabb Robinson used to call her
Dorina. To this surviving daughter, as she grew up to womanhood,
Wordsworth was passionately attached. Inheriting as she did, in no
slight degree, the family genius, he seemed to see reproduced in her a
harmonious blending of the characteristics and mental lineaments of his
wife and sister, the two beings in the world whom he had most devotedly

Wordsworth's later poems contain several allusions to Dora. In this
place I will quote a stanza or two only, from one, entitled "The Triad,"
written in celebration of Edith Southey, Dora Wordsworth, and Sara

      "Open, ye thickets! let her fly,
      Swift as a Thracian Nymph o'er field and height!
      For She, to all but those who love her, shy,
      Would gladly vanish from a Stranger's sight;
      Though where she is beloved and loves,
      Light as the wheeling butterfly she moves;
      Her happy spirit as a bird is free,
      That rifles blossoms on a tree,
      Turning them inside out with arch audacity.
      Alas! how little can a moment show
      Of an eye where feeling plays
      In ten thousand dewy rays;
      A face o'er which a thousand shadows go!
    --She stops--is fastened to that rivulet's side;
      And there (while, with sedater mien,
      O'er timid waters that have scarcely left
      Their birth-place in the rocky cleft,
      She bends) at leisure may be seen
      Features to old ideal grace allied,
      Amid their smiles and dimples dignified--
      Fit countenance for the soul of primal truth:
      The bland composure of eternal youth!

      "What more changeful than the sea?
      But over his great tides
      Fidelity presides;
      And this light-hearted Maiden, constant is as he.
      High is her aim as heaven above,
      And wide as ether her good-will;
      And, like the lowly reed, her love
      Can drink its nurture from the scantiest rill:
      Insight as keen as frosty star
      Is to _her_ charity no bar,
      Nor interrupts her frolic graces
      When she is, far from these wild places,
      Encircled by familiar faces."

Writing of Dora Wordsworth, Miss Coleridge says:--"There is truth in the
sketch of Dora--poetic truth, though such as none but a poetic father
would have seen. She was unique in her sweetness and goodness. I mean
that her character was most peculiar--a compound of vehemence of feeling
and gentleness, sharpness and lovingness, which is not often seen."



Some reference more special than hitherto should be made to the more
outer influences which entered into the life of Miss Wordsworth.
Although so bound up in her brother, her life presented many sides, and
her sympathies, as will have been seen, were by no means limited in
their operation to the household circle. Her brother's friends were
hers. Probably few have been more independent of outside friendships,
and of society, than the family at Rydal; and at the same time few have
been blessed with such genial and cultured associates.

We have seen how close had, for many years, been the companionship with
Coleridge, whom Lamb has called "an archangel a little
damaged"--Coleridge, the incomprehensible, versatile genius, poet,
philosopher, theologian, metaphysician, and critic--of whom it has
recently been said that "even in the dilapidation of his powers, due
chiefly, if you will, to his own unthrifty management of them, we might,
making proper deductions, apply to him what Mark Antony says of the dead

    'He was the ruins of the noblest man
    That ever lived in the tide of time.'"

Then we have the sedate and scholarly Southey, the brother-in-law of
Coleridge, and both of whom, up to 1810, when Coleridge left the
district, resided at Greta Hall, near Keswick. Charles and Mary Lamb,
also, although they could seldom be lured from their beloved London,
were, as we have seen, among the earliest friends of the Wordsworths,
and their home generally the abode of Miss Wordsworth during her
occasional visits to the metropolis. Charles Lloyd, of Brathay--the
dreamy Quaker, and bosom friend of Lamb--also became a neighbour, and an
esteemed friend. Later, we have seen De Quincey, the intellectual opium
eater, whose growth seems to have been almost entirely in the direction
of brain (and of whom Southey said he wished he was not so very little,
and did not always forget his great coat!) received into the charmed
circle; Crabb Robinson, also, who, though not a writer himself, counted
amongst his friends some of the most eminent literary men of the day.
Professor Wilson, of Elleray, the physical and mental giant, who resided
within, what was to the Wordsworths and himself, fair walking distance;
afterwards Hartley Coleridge, loving and lovable, who inherited no small
portion of the poetic genius of his more illustrious father; and Dr.
Arnold, of Rugby fame, who settled almost within a stone's-throw of
Rydal Mount, added to the _coterie_ of men of genius, among whom,
Wordsworth, from time to time, if not at the same time, moved as a
revered master, added to the interest of this warm centre of
intellectual activity.

Among many other sons of genius who should be ranked as friends of
Wordsworth was Haydon, the painter. He painted Wordsworth on several
occasions, and introduced him into his famous picture of "Christ's Entry
into Jerusalem." Of this Hazlitt said it was the "most like his drooping
weight of thought and expression." Of this picture Haydon, in his
autobiography, says: "During the progress of the picture of Jerusalem, I
resolved to put into it (1816), in a side group, Voltaire, as a sneerer,
and Newton, as a believer. I now (1817) put Hazlitt's head into my
picture, looking at Christ as an investigator. It had a good effect. I
then put in Keats into the background, and resolved to introduce
Wordsworth, bowing with reverence and awe.... The Centurion, the
Samaritan Woman, Jairus and his daughter, St. Peter, St. John, Newton,
Voltaire, the anxious mother of the penitent girl, and the girl blushing
and hiding her face, many heads behind; in fact the leading groups were
accomplished, when down came my health again, eyes and all." This
painting, so enthusiastically received in England, was, unfortunately,
sent to America, whence it has never returned. Haydon writes, under date
September 23, 1831: "My 'Jerusalem' is purchased, and is going to
America. Went to see it before it was embarked. It was melancholy to
look, for the last time, at a work which had excited so great a
sensation in England and Scotland. It was now leaving my native country
for ever."

In speaking of the friends of the Wordsworths, some allusion should be
made to others, who, if they were less widely known, were not less
warmly appreciative of their worth, or less closely identified with
them. Sir George Beaumont, of Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire, was for
many years a close friend and admirer; and from time to time we find
Miss Wordsworth visiting there.

Among the ladies who, in after years, became closely intimate with the
inmates of Rydal Mount were Mrs. Fletcher, herself a lady of some
literary distinction, and her daughter Mary, afterwards Lady Richardson.
For the sake chiefly of the society of the Arnolds and Wordsworths, Mrs.
Fletcher--who speaks of a tea-party at Rydal Mount as "perhaps the
highest point in man's civilised life, in all its bearings"--became the
purchaser of the little mountain farm of Lancrigg before-mentioned, so
nearly identified with Miss Wordsworth's Easedale rambles, and which she
converted into the charming retreat it is at the present time. Miss
Fenwick also, to whom the world owes the valuable notes upon the poems,
dictated to her, at her urgent request, by the poet, after having, for
very love of the Wordsworths, resided for some time in the
neighbourhood, became, and was for many years, a resident at the Mount.
From the recently-published autobiography of Sir Henry Taylor, we learn
that this amiable lady, many years before she became an inmate at Rydal
Mount, had stated she would be content to be a servant in that house,
that she might hear the poet's wisdom. Of the life of Miss Fenwick
herself, Sir Henry says, it was "a life of love and beneficence, as
nearly divine as any life upon earth that I have known, or heard of, or
been capable of conceiving."

From the time of taking up her abode at Rydal Mount, the outward life
of Miss Wordsworth was passed without much change. After the trials
which had preceded, life in this ideal home appears to have been for
many years unbroken by any sorrow. It is needless to say that Miss
Wordsworth's close interest in her brother and his career, and in all
the incidents of his life, never waned. A letter of Miss Wordsworth,
which has recently been given to the world, written when "The White Doe
of Rylstone" was about to be published (in 1815), shows that he and his
work were still the first objects of her thought and affection. She
writes: "My brother was very much pleased with your frankness in telling
us that you did not perfectly like his poem. He wishes to know what your
feelings were--whether the tale itself did not interest you, or whether
you could not enter into the conception of Emily's character, or take
delight in that visionary union which is supposed to have existed
between her and the doe. Do not fear to give him pain. He is far too
much accustomed to be abused to receive pain from it (at least, so far
as he himself is concerned). My reason for asking you these questions
is, that some of your friends, who are equally admirers of the 'White
Doe,' and of my brother's published poems, think that _this_ poem will
sell on account of the story; that is, that the story will bear up those
points which are above the level of the public taste; whereas the two
last volumes--except by a few solitary individuals, who are passionately
devoted to my brother's works--are abused by wholesale.

"Now, as his sole object in publishing this poem at present would be for
the sake of the money, he would not publish it if he did not think,
from the several judgments of his friends, that it would be likely to
have a sale. He has no pleasure in publishing--he even detests it; and
if it were not that he is not over wealthy he would leave all his works
to be published after his death. William himself is sure that the 'White
Doe' will not sell or be admired, except by a very few at first, and
only yields to Mary's entreaties and mine. We are determined, however,
if we are deceived this time to let him have his own way in future."

The year 1820 was signalised by a lengthened tour on the Continent,
including France, the Rhine, Italy, and Switzerland, in which Miss
Wordsworth accompanied her brother and Mrs. Wordsworth, and their
kinspeople--Mr. and Mrs. Monkhouse. Mr. Crabb Robinson was also of the
party, and his diary contains some pleasant reminiscences of the tour.
It is interesting to note such an entry as the following: "On the 5th
September the Wordsworths went back to the Lake of Como, in order to
gratify Miss Wordsworth, who _wished to see every spot which her brother
saw in his first journey_--a journey made when he was young." "The women
wear black caps, fitting the head closely, with prodigious black gauze
wings. Miss Wordsworth calls it the 'butterfly cap.'"

The "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent," published by Wordsworth, in
1822, did not constitute the only literary result of the tour. Mrs. and
Miss Wordsworth kept a journal of events and impressions, which it is to
be greatly regretted has not been published, notwithstanding the
expressed desire of the poet to the contrary. As a charming memorial of
this interesting journey, it could not fail to prove of great interest.

Shortly after the publication of these poems we find the following
letter written by Miss Wordsworth to Mr. Crabb Robinson:--

                                             "_3rd March, 1822._

      "My brother will, I hope, write to Charles Lamb in the course of a
      few days. He has long talked of doing it; but you know how the
      mastery of his own thoughts (when engaged in composition, as he
      has lately been) often prevents him from fulfilling his best
      intentions; and since the weakness of his eyes has returned, he
      has been obliged to fill up all spaces of leisure by going into
      the open air for refreshment and relief to his eyes. We are very
      thankful that the inflammation, chiefly in the lids, is now much
      abated. It concerns us very much to hear so indifferent an account
      of Lamb and his sister; the death of their brother no doubt has
      afflicted them much more than the death of any brother, with whom
      there had, in near neighbourhood, been so little personal or
      family communication, would afflict any other minds. We deeply
      lamented their loss, and wished to write to them as soon as we
      heard of it; but it not being the particular duty of any one of
      us, and a painful task, we put it off, for which we are now sorry,
      and very much blame ourselves. They are too good and too confiding
      to take it unkindly, and that thought makes us feel it more....
      With respect to the tour poems, I am afraid you will think my
      brother's notes not sufficiently copious; prefaces he has none,
      except to the poem on Goddard's death. Your suggestion as to the
      bridge at Lucerne set his mind to work; and if a happy mood comes
      on he is determined even yet, though the work is printed, to add a
      poem on that subject. You can have no idea with what earnest
      pleasure he seized the idea, yet before he began to write at all,
      when he was pondering over his recollections, and asking me for
      hints and thoughts, I mentioned that very subject, and he then
      thought he could make nothing of it. You certainly have the gift
      of setting him on fire. When I named (before your letter was read
      to him) your scheme for next autumn his countenance flushed with
      pleasure, and he exclaimed: 'I'll go with him.' Presently,
      however, the conversation took a sober turn, and he concluded that
      the journey would be impossible; 'and then,' said he, 'if you or
      Mary, or both, were not with me, I should not half enjoy it; and
      that is impossible.' ... We have had a long and interesting letter
      from Mrs. Clarkson. Notwithstanding bad times, she writes in
      cheerful spirits, and talks of coming into the North this summer,
      and we really hope it will not end in talk, as Mr. Clarkson joins
      with her; and, if he once determines, a trifle will not stop him.
      Pray read a paper in the _London Magazine_ by Hartley Coleridge on
      the uses of the 'Heathen Mythology in Poetry.' It has pleased us
      very much. The style is wonderful for so young a man--so little of
      effort and no affectation....

                                        "DOROTHY WORDSWORTH."

The following extract from a letter written by Mr. Robinson, in June,
1825, shortly after Lamb's retirement from the East India Office, will
be of interest. He writes: "I have not seen the Lambs so often as I used
to do, owing to a variety of circumstances. Nor can I give you the
report you naturally looked for of his conduct at so great a change in
his life.... The expression of his delight has been child-like (in the
good sense of that word). You have read the 'Superannuated Man.' I do
not doubt, I do not fear, that he will be unable to sustain 'the weight
of chance desires.' Could he--but I fear he cannot--occupy himself in
some great work requiring continued and persevering attention and
labour, the benefit would be equally his and the world's. Mary Lamb has
remained so well, that one might almost advise, or rather permit, a
journey to them. But Lamb has no desire to travel. If he had, few things
would give me so much pleasure as to accompany him. I should be proud of
taking care of him. But he has a passion for solitude, he says, and
hitherto he finds that his retirement from business has not brought



Before alluding to the affliction which for many years darkened the
later life of Miss Wordsworth, and gathering together some of the
remaining threads of her history, it is fitting that something further
should be said in relation to her sustained influence upon her brother
and her devotion to him, although it is with a feeling of how impossible
it is adequately to do this, or that the fruit of her dominant presence
should ever be fully known.

Those who know Wordsworth, and who, recognising his commanding place in
literature, have had their sympathies enlarged, their eyes opened to
discern in Nature and Providence their boundless sources of satisfaction
and delight--whose hearts have been expanded by his high and holy
teaching--will be ready to recognise all the spiritual aids by which he
was himself inspired. It would be unjust to others, who held high sway
over his heart, to say that everything was due to his sister. At the
same time it is manifest that she bore no insignificant part, and during
his early life the largely predominant part in that work, and thus was
to a great extent instrumental in introducing the new evangel of song
by which the century's literature has been uplifted. The elevating
presence of such a woman, in the delightful and close relationship of
sister, was to a man of Wordsworth's character, itself an inspiration.
If it be good to learn to look on Nature with a reverential eye, seeing
therein the Creation of God brought near, then to this poet, as Nature's
high priest and interpreter is due the gratitude of generations.

As the close companion and stimulator of this great poet during the
years of preparation and discipline, who "first couched his eye to the
sense of beauty," we owe it indirectly to Miss Wordsworth that Nature
has become to us so much more than she was to our forefathers, has been
revealed in a clearer and brighter light; that she speaks to us in a new
language, calling us away from the lower cares of life, and uplifting us
to a higher soul-inbreathing and restoring atmosphere of repose; thus
begetting a dignity of soul and making us capable of higher good, of
nobler endeavour, of capacities for enjoyment before unknown--keener,
more satisfying, and enduring.

Probably few natures are capable of receiving the more subtle
impressions of beauty in such a way as was that of Wordsworth, and fewer
still meet with the responsive soul able to touch them to the finest
issues. His boyhood's mind had been impregnated with thought, and his
young heart bounded with delight amid the beauties of earth. His sister
came, and together they seemed to possess the earth. His powers of
perception were intensified and rarified. The solitudes of Nature became
their home, their hearts grew still amidst its loveliness: the solemn
night breathed a benediction. They loved

    "The silence that is in the starry sky,
    The sleep that is among the lonely hills."

Shall we not say that, viewed in this way, the earth becomes almost as
an ante-chamber of Heaven, subduing, and awe-inspiring, leading us to

                    "Move along its shades,
    In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand
    Touch--for there is a spirit in the woods."

"What a life there is in trees," said Miss Wordsworth; and her own life
was one not only helping to reveal the living speech of the mute world,
not only finding life where it is by the duller eye unseen, and by the
dull sense unfelt, but helping to show what a noble thing all life may
be made.

It must not be supposed that in what may seem to have been a complete
abandonment to the worship of her brother and of Nature Miss Wordsworth
had no heart for others, no room for human sympathy. She was, on the
contrary, during their early years at Grasmere especially, widely known
and beloved; her ready ear was always open to the tale of sorrow, and
her helping hand ready to aid. It was after the commencement of her long
and tedious illness that Wordsworth said of her he did not believe her
tenderness of heart was ever exceeded by any of God's creatures, that
her loving kindness had no bounds. The following lines written by Mrs.
Fletcher, when 82 years of age, after reading Miss Wordsworth's
Grasmere journal, are very appropriate:--

    "If in thine inmost soul there chance to dwell
    Aught of the poetry of human life,
    Take thou this book, and with a humble heart
    Follow these pilgrims in their joyous walk;
    And mark their high commission--not to domes
    Of pomp baronial, or gay fashion's haunts,
    Where worldlings gather; but to rural homes,
    To cottages and hearths, where kindness dwelt,
    They bent their way; and not a gentle breeze
    Inhaled in all their wanderings, not a flower,
    Blooming by hedge-wayside, or mountain rill,
    But lent its inspiration, scent, and sound,
    Deepening the inward music of their hearts.
    _She_ touched the chord, and he gave forth its tone;
    Without her he had idly gazed and dreamed,
    In fancy's region of celestial things;
    But she--by sympathy disclosed the might,
    That slumbered in his soul, and drew it thence,
    In richest numbers of subduing power,
    To soften, harmonise, and soothe mankind;
    Nor less to elevate, and point the way
    To truth Divine--not with polemic skill,
    He sought from Nature and the human heart,
    That sacred wisdom from the fount of God."

It has been well said that with a masculine power of mind Miss
Wordsworth "had every womanly virtue, and presented with those splendid
gifts such a rare combination, that even the enthusiastic strains in
which her brother sang her praises borrowed no aid from his poetic
imagination. It was she who in childhood moderated the sternness of his
moody temper, and she carried on the work which she had begun. His chief
delight had been in scenes which were distinguished by terror and
grandeur, and she taught him the beauty of the simplest products and
mildest graces of Nature; while she was softening _his_ mind she was
elevating _herself_; and out of this interchange of gifts grew an
absolute harmony of thought and feeling." What was originally harsh in
Wordsworth was toned by the womanly sweetness of his sister, and his
spirit softened by her habitual delicacy of thought and act. Not only
so, but with a devotion (I will not say self-sacrifice, for it was none)
as rare as it is noble, she simply dedicated to him her life and
service, living in and for him. She read for him, saw for him, and heard
for him; found subjects for his reflection, and was always at hand--his
willing scribe. Rejecting for herself all thoughts of love and marriage,
she gave to him and his her mature life as willingly and cheerfully as
when he was alone and unfriended, she had done her bright girlhood. With
a mental capacity and literary skill, which would have enabled her to
carve out for herself an independent reputation and position of no mean
order, she preferred to sink herself, and her future, in that of her
brother, with whom she has thus become, for all time, so indelibly
associated. And he was grateful, and returned her devotedness with a
love, tender, and almost reverential. One other allusion to her in his
poems should be given. It may be thought that his praise of her is
exaggerated; but none so well as he himself knew the extent of his
obligation to her--and he was not one to bestow praise for the sake only
of poetic effect. Writing in the "Prelude," he says:--

    "Child of my parents! Sister of my soul!
    Thanks in sincerest verse have been elsewhere
    Poured out for all the early tenderness
    Which I from thee imbibed: and 'tis most true
    That later seasons owed to thee no less;
    For, spite of thy sweet influence, and the touch
    Of kindred hands that opened out the springs
    Of genial thought in childhood, and in spite
    Of all that, unassisted, I had marked
    In life, or Nature, of those charms minute,
    That win their way into the heart by stealth;
    Still, to the very going out of youth,
    I too exclusively esteemed _that_ love,
    And sought _that_ beauty, which, as Milton sings,
    Hath terror in it. But thou didst soften down
    This over-sternness; but for thee, dear Friend!
    My soul, too reckless of mild grace, had stood
    In her original self too confident,
    Retained too long a countenance severe;
    A rock with torrents roaring, with the clouds
    Familiar, and a favourite of the stars:
    But thou didst plant its crevices with flowers,
    Hang it with shrubs that twinkle in the breeze,
    And teach the little birds to build their nests
    And warble in its chambers. At a time
    When Nature, destined to remain so long
    Foremost in my affections, had fallen back
    Into a second place, pleased to become
    A handmaid to a nobler than herself,
    When every day brought with it some new sense
    Of exquisite regard for common things;
    And all the earth was budding with these gifts
    Of more refined humanity; thy breath,
    Dear Sister! was a kind of gentler spring,
    That went before my steps."

It has, by some, been stated, in the way of objection, that Wordsworth
was not a Christian poet, that he looked too exclusively to Nature as
his inspirer and guide, and sought from her the consolation which
Christianity alone can afford. His friend and admirer, Professor Wilson,
states that all his poetry, published previously to the "Excursion," is
but the "Religion of the Woods"; and that though in that poem there is a
high religion brought forward, it is not the religion of Christianity.
But it must be admitted that although a large proportion of the poetry
of Wordsworth does not contain any specific Christian teaching, yet it
breathes the spirit of devotion and of Christian charity. Some of the
earlier poems, especially the lines composed at Tintern Abbey, have been
referred to as evidence, that at the shrine of Nature alone Wordsworth,
in his earlier, and presumably wiser, years worshipped. As this subject
has been more than once exhaustively dealt with, it is not now necessary
to do more than mention it. It should be remembered, that the same pen
which wrote what have been styled the pantheistic poems, also wrote the
Ecclesiastical Sonnets, the Ninth Evening Voluntary, and the
Thanksgiving Odes. What is much more needed by the heart of mankind than
specific Christian doctrine, is the high and holy teaching with which
the works of Wordsworth abound. His work was most conscientious, ever
done under the "eye that hath kept watch o'er man's mortality." If
lessons of endurance and fortitude under the ills and privations of
life, and faith in the future, are needed, we have them taught us in
such poems as that containing the story of the poor leech gatherer; if
storms of passion and suffering are to be allayed, we are reminded of
"the sure relief of prayer," and the advice given to the Solitary to aid
in the restoration of a lost trust and hope:

                            "One adequate support
      For the calamities of mortal life
      Exists--one only: an assured belief
      That the procession of our fate, however
      Sad or disturbed, is ordered by a Being
      Of infinite benevolence and power;
      Whose everlasting purposes embrace
      All accidents, converting them to good.
    --The darts of anguish _fix_ not where the seat
      Of suffering hath been thoroughly fortified
      By acquiescence in the Will supreme
      For time and for eternity; by faith,
      Faith absolute in God, including hope,
      And the defence that lies in boundless love
      Of His perfections; that habitual dread
      Of aught unworthily conceived, endured
      Impatiently, ill done, or left undone,
      To the dishonour of His holy name.
      Soul of our Souls, and safeguard of the world!
      Sustain, thou only canst, the sick of heart;
      Restore their languid spirits, and recall
      Their lost affections unto Thee and Thine!"

If Wordsworth and his sister in their early life seem to have too
exclusively glorified Nature, it cannot with any shadow of reason be
said that they were at any period devoid of that faith and trust in the
Creator through which we receive Nature's most beneficent lessons. It
is, indeed, noticeable that during their Scottish tour no difference
seems to have been made in the days of the week--that their Sundays were
spent in travel. Such a thing is certainly to be regretted, which in
after years probably no one would have been more ready than they to
acknowledge. Thus the last entry in that journal--one made after an
interval of many years--we find as follows: October 4th, 1832.--"I find
that this tour was both begun and ended on a Sunday. I am sorry that it
should have been so, though I hope and trust that our thoughts and
feelings were not seldom as pious and serious as if we had duly attended
a place devoted to public worship. My sentiments have undergone a great
change since 1803 respecting the absolute necessity of keeping the
Sabbath by a regular attendance at church.--D. W." It cannot be doubted
that the feeling which dictated those words marks a distinct advance. I
doubt not that Miss Wordsworth was able to worship the Creator as
devoutly on the green slope of a sun-crowned mountain or in the solemn
woods, murmuring their eternal mysterious secrets, as in the public
assembly of saints. And such would be in accord with the glow of
youthful life with which she bounded to greet Nature's subtle
influences. But a longer experience brought its inevitable sobering
tendencies, accompanied by the longing for a closer approach towards the
Infinite which is felt by all searching and great souls. Wordsworth
could truly say, in view of his work, that it was a consolation to him
to feel that he had never written a line which he could wish to blot. To
this happy and rare result his sister contributed. Remembering the
exalted character of that work, there is no other conclusion than that
she had no mean part in a work, the issues of which were beneficial not
only for time--adding to the sweet influences and graces of life--but
will be far-reaching as eternity.

In illustration of Miss Wordsworth's own literary style, I take the
liberty to insert in later chapters a few poems which have been deemed
worthy to have a place with those of her brother, as well as a journal
of a tour on Ullswater. What most in her journals arrests the attention
is her unusual quickness and minuteness of observation, combined with a
graceful and poetic diction. With her ardent love of Nature, nothing
seems to have escaped her notice; and all the varying shades of beauty
in earth and sky, which, to the observant eye and loving heart, invest
with such a glory this old world, were duly appreciated. Describing a
birch tree, she says: "As we went along we were stopped at once, at a
distance of, perhaps, fifty yards from our favourite birch tree. It was
yielding to a gust of wind, with all its tender twigs; the sun shone
upon it, and it glanced in the wind like a flying sunshiny shower. It
was a tree in shape, with stem and branches; but it was like a spirit of
water." Noticing a number of daffodils near Ullswater, she writes: "When
we were in the woods below Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils close
to the water side. As we went along there were more and yet more; and at
last, under the boughs of the trees, we saw there was a long belt of
them along the shore. I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew
among the mossy stones about them. Some rested their heads on these
stones as on a pillow; the rest tossed, and reeled, and danced, and
seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, they looked so gay and
glancing." These daffodils suggested to her brother one of the most
beautiful of his short poems, that which has been previously quoted,

    "I wandered lonely as a cloud."

Of this description of Miss Wordsworth Mr. Lockhart says: "Few poets
ever lived who could have written a description so simple and original,
so vivid and picturesque. Her words are scenes, and something more."

Miss Wordsworth was for many years a great correspondent, and it is to
be regretted that more of her letters have not been given to the world.
From those quoted in this volume it will be seen that they exhibit the
same fluent, graceful, and animated style which characterised all her

                                        "I have seen
    That reverent form bowed down with age and pain,
    And rankling malady. Yet not for this
    Ceased she to praise her Maker, or withdraw
    Her trust in Him, her faith, and humble hope;
    So meekly had she learnt to bear her cross--
    For she had studied patience in the school
    Of Christ; much comfort she had thence derived,
    And was a follower of the NAZARENE."


    "So fails, so languishes, grows dim and dies.
    All that the world is proud of."



Reference must now be made, however reluctantly, to the sad illness with
which Miss Wordsworth was more or less afflicted for over twenty years.
At this distance of time particulars as to the commencement and progress
of this affliction are not easily procurable. It appears, however, to
have been about the year 1826 that her splendid physical energies began
to show signs of decay. In October of that year Mr. Crabb Robinson,
after mentioning a visit to Southey at Keswick, wrote in his diary:
"Miss D. Wordsworth's illness prevented me going to Rydal Mount." From
this illness it is, however, evident she successfully rallied. I am
indebted to _Notes and Queries_ for the following extract from a letter
by Miss Dora Wordsworth, dated 1st February, 1827: "Aunt Wordsworth has
not yet walked herself to death, which I often tell her she will do,
though she still continues the same tremendous pedestrian." Here we have
the key to the cause of her subsequent prostration. From her ardent and
impassioned nature her career had been what may be termed singularly
intense. De Quincey, who knew her well, speaks of there being clearly
observable in her "a self-consuming style of thought." Both as regards
her mental and physical nature, she appears to have run a race with
time. As her brother's companion, she had indeed been so exclusively and
passionately devoted to him as to identify herself not only with his
mental pursuits, but also, probably more than wisely, with his long
pedestrian and mountain rambles. If it were not that the great work of
her life was so signally achieved, and her satisfaction therein
abundant, we should be inclined to regret that she thus drew an
over-draft on the fountains of her life. It could not be expected that
her frailer frame could sustain, without any mischievous effects, the
physical fatigues and labours of her more robust brother; for with him
she was ever ready to explore the mountain force, to climb the rocky
heights, or walk over moor and fell apparently almost regardless of
distance. Within due limits, no doubt all this is as healthful as it is
delightful. But Nature's powers are limited; and Nature in Miss
Wordsworth eventually gave way. And her spirits suffered in sympathy
with her physical nature.

As an illustration of Miss Wordsworth's home rambles and adventures, I
may here mention a reminiscence which is given by Mr. Justice Coleridge,
of an excursion made with Wordsworth into Easedale. The poet, pointing
to a precipitous and rocky mountain above the tarn, told of an incident
which befell him and his sister on one occasion on their coming over the
mountains from Langdale. From some cause they had become a little
parted, when a heavy fog came on and Miss Wordsworth became bewildered.
After wandering about for some time she sat down and waited. When the
fog cleared away and she could see the valley before her, she found
that she had stopped very providentially, as she was standing almost on
the verge of the precipice.

It is not, however, to be supposed that Miss Wordsworth accompanied her
brother over the 200,000 miles which De Quincey calculated the poet must
have walked, nor is it stated by what means the figures are arrived at!
A twenty or thirty miles walk was not an uncommon thing. As an instance,
I find it stated that one summer afternoon, as the Keswick coach was
approaching Grasmere, it met Wordsworth, and stopped. A lady, who was
going on a visit to the poet, put out her head to speak to him,
whereupon he said to her: "How d'ye do? Mrs. Wordsworth will be
delighted to see you. I shall be back in the evening. I'm only going to
tea with Southey," who, it will be remembered, lived at a distance of
about fifteen miles, and the road by no means a good one.

It is stated by Principal Shairp, in the introduction to the "Tour in
Scotland," that in the year 1829 Miss Wordsworth "was seized with a
severe illness, which so prostrated her, body and mind, that she never
recovered from it." This can, however, hardly be the fact, as is
evidenced by the following letter to Mr. Crabb Robinson, which certainly
shows no indication of mental prostration, and contains no allusion to a
physical one:--

                                        "_FRIDAY, December 1st, 1831._

      "Had a rumour of your arrival in England reached us before your
      letter of yesterday's post you would ere this have received a
      welcome from me, in the name of each member of this family; and,
      further, would have been reminded of your promise to come to Rydal
      as soon as possible after again setting foot on English ground.
      When Dora heard of your return, and of my intention to write, she
      exclaimed after a charge that I would recall to your mind your
      written promise: 'He must come and spend Christmas with us. I wish
      he would!' Thus you see, notwithstanding your petty jarrings, Dora
      was always, and now is, a loving friend of yours. I am sure I need
      not add that if you can come at the time mentioned, so much the
      more agreeable to us all, for it is fast approaching; but that
      _whenever_ it suits you (for you may have Christmas engagements
      with your own family) to travel so far northward, we shall be
      rejoiced to see you; and whatever other visitors we may chance to
      have, we shall always be able to find a corner for you. We are
      thankful that you are returned with health unimpaired--I may say,
      indeed, amended--for you were not perfectly well when you left
      England. You do not mention rheumatic pains, so I trust they have
      entirely left you. As to your being grown older--if you mean
      _feebler_ in mind--my brother says, 'No such thing; your judgment
      has only attained autumnal ripeness.' Indeed, my dear friend, I
      wonder not at your alarms, or those of any good man, whatever may
      have been his politics from youth to middle age, and onward to the
      decline of life. But I will not enter upon this sad and perplexing
      subject. I find it much more easy to look with patience on the
      approach of pestilence, or any affliction which it may please God
      to cast upon us without the intervention of man, than on the
      dreadful results of sudden and rash changes, whether arising from
      ambition, or ignorance, or brute force. I am, however, getting
      into the subject without intending it, so will conclude with a
      prayer that God may enlighten the heads and hearts of our men of
      power, whether Whigs or Tories, and that the madness of the
      deluded people may settle. This last effect can only be produced,
      I fear, by exactly and severely executing the law, seeking out and
      punishing the guilty, and letting all persons see that we do not
      _willingly_ oppress the poor. One possible blessing seems already
      to be coming upon us through the alarm of the cholera. Every rich
      man is now obliged to look into the bye-lanes and corners
      inhabited by the poor, and many crying abuses are (even in our
      little town of Ambleside) about to be remedied.

      "But to return to pleasant Rydal Mount, still cheerful and
      peaceful--if it were not for the newspapers we should know nothing
      of the turbulence of our great towns and cities; yet my poor
      brother is often heart-sick and almost desponding--and no wonder,
      for, until this point at which we are arrived, he has been a true
      prophet as to the course of events, dating from the 'Great Days of
      July' and the appearance of 'the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing
      but the Bill.' It remains for us to hope that now Parliament may
      meet in a different temper from that in which they parted, and
      that the late dreadful events may make each man seek only to
      promote the peace and prosperity of the country. You will see that
      my brother looks older. He is certainly thinner, and has lost some
      of his teeth; but his bodily activity is not at all diminished,
      and if it were not for public affairs, his spirits would be as
      cheerful as ever. He and Dora visited Sir Walter Scott just before
      his departure, and made a little tour in the Western Highlands;
      and such was his leaning to old pedestrian habits, that he often
      walked from fifteen to twenty miles in a day, following or keeping
      by the side of the little carriage, of which his daughter was the
      charioteer. They both very much enjoyed the tour, and my brother
      actually brought home a set of poems, the product of that

It was not, however, long after the date of this letter, which shows
that Miss Wordsworth was still in possession of her vigorous and clear
intellect, that she was seized with a more severe illness. Her growing
weakness was, in the year 1832, accompanied by an alarming attack of
brain fever, from the effects of which she never altogether recovered.
Mr. Myers states that the illness "kept her for many months in a state
of great prostration, and left her, when the physical symptoms abated,
with her intellect painfully impaired, and her bright nature permanently

In June, 1833, Mr. Crabb Robinson again writes in his diary: "Strolled
up to Rydal Mount, where I met with a cordial reception from my kind
friends; but Miss Wordsworth I did not see. I spent a few hours very
delightfully, and enjoyed the improved walk in Mr. Wordsworth's garden,
from which the views are admirable, and had most agreeable conversation,
with no other drawback than Miss Wordsworth's absence from the state of
her health."

Wordsworth himself felt very keenly the affliction of his sister.
Writing to his brother, the Rev. Dr. Wordsworth, on April 1, 1832, he
says: "Our dear sister makes no progress towards recovery of strength.
She is very feeble, never quits her room, and passes most of the day in,
or upon, the bed. She does not suffer much pain, and is very cheerful,
and nothing troubles her but public affairs and the sense of requiring
so much attention. Whatever may be the close of this illness, it will be
a profound consolation to you, my dear brother, and to us all, that it
is borne with perfect resignation; and that her thoughts are such as the
good and pious would wish. She reads much, both religious and
miscellaneous works." On June 25 of the same year, writing to Professor
Hamilton, after referring to Coleridge, he says: "He and my beloved
sister are the two beings to whom my intellect is most indebted, and
they are now proceeding, as it were, _pari passu_, along the path of
sickness, I will not say towards the grave; but I trust towards a
blessed immortality."

It does not, however, appear that all hope was abandoned of Miss
Wordsworth's recovery until the year 1836. In a note of his life
dictated by the poet, after referring to the deaths of his two young
children in 1812, he says: "We lived with no further sorrow till 1836,
when my sister became a confirmed invalid."

The outward life of Miss Wordsworth was now at an end. Her condition
became such that those who loved her so dearly could only hope to
relieve her pain and cheer her lonely hours. The buoyancy of spirit and
activity of limb which had so distinguished her young and mature life
ceased--had gradually given way to a decay of her physical energies,
which was accompanied at times, and especially during her later years by
a consequent natural depression of spirit, or loss of mental elasticity.
As years passed, what may be called the symptoms of mental decay became
intensified. I am, however, inclined to think that by some writers too
much prominence has been given to the deterioration of her intellect.
Principal Shairp says: "It is sad to think that when the world at last
knew him (Wordsworth) for what he was, the great original poet of the
century, she who had helped to make him so was almost past rejoicing in
it." Mr. Howitt, writing while Miss Wordsworth was still living, said:
"The mind of that beloved sister has for many years gone, as it were,
before her, and she lives on in a second infancy, gratefully cherished
in the poet's home."

The condition into which Miss Wordsworth had declined is not, however,
an unusual one when a severe and protracted illness lays hold upon one
advancing in years. The "nervous depression" or "nervous irritation"
which clouded her later years, apart from the prostration of the body,
was most manifest in the lapse of memory, which is frequently the case
with those who have not, indeed, suffered the affliction of Miss
Wordsworth. Her physical frame having succumbed to the overtaxing of her
energies, as an almost natural consequence her mind lost its youthful
buoyancy and brightness, and suffered in sympathy. An aged inhabitant of
the district, who knew her from youth to age, a little time ago informed
me that she could not be called low-spirited, but that she became "a
bit dull," adding that she always knew people, and was able to converse
with them.

Meanwhile, in the poet's home and circle, the inevitable flight of time
was bringing about other changes which tended to sadden the age of its
inhabitants. Intimate friends were departing. Coleridge, the friend of
his youth, who had, as before mentioned, left the district, and been
resident in London, died in 1834, to be followed to the grave only a
month later by the friend of both, the genial-hearted Charles Lamb. In
1835, also, to add to the sorrow caused by the confirmed affliction of
Miss Wordsworth, the beloved sister of Mrs. Wordsworth, Miss Sarah
Hutchinson, who had for many years alternately resided with them and her
brother at Brinsop Court, Hereford, was added to the number of the loved
and lost.

The year 1841 was brightened by the marriage of Miss Dora Wordsworth,
the only surviving daughter of the poet. The event was not, however, to
him one of unalloyed happiness. This daughter, having, for now some
years, grown up to bright and happy womanhood, was his cherished
companion, and in her his heart seemed to be bound up. She occupied in
his later poems, to some extent, the same position that his sister did
in his earlier. Mr. Edward Quillinan, who became the poet's son in-law,
was a gentleman of much literary culture and attainment. He was the
author of several poems, reviews, and other works, and had the
reputation of being the most accomplished Portuguese scholar in this
country. He was an officer in the Dragoon Guards, and had married for
his first wife a daughter of Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart. Long an admirer
of Wordsworth, he had become personally acquainted with him while his
regiment was stationed in Penrith in 1820. Quitting the service in 1821
he settled at the village of Rydal, chiefly for the sake of the poet's
society. Here he had in the following year the misfortune to lose his
wife. Notwithstanding the close friendship which existed between them,
Wordsworth did not like the idea of losing the companionship of his
daughter. Sir Henry Taylor, in reference to this, says: "His love for
his only daughter was passionately jealous, and the marriage which was
indispensable to her peace and happiness was intolerable to his
feelings. The emotions--I may say the throes and agonies of emotion--he
underwent were such as an old man could not have endured without
suffering in health, had he not been a very strong old man. But he was
like nobody else--old or young. He would pass the night, or most part of
it, in struggles and storms, to the moment of coming down to breakfast;
and then, if strangers were present, be as easy and delightful in
conversation as if nothing was the matter. But if his own health did not
suffer, his daughter's did, and this consequence of his resistance,
mainly aided, I believe, by the temperate but persistent pressure
exercised by Miss Fenwick, brought him at length, though far too
tardily, to consent to the marriage."

The marriage took place in Bath, in May, 1841; and afterwards Mr. and
Mrs. Wordsworth and Miss Fenwick made a short tour to Alfoxden and other
places so closely associated with the early life of Wordsworth and his
sister. Writing to Sir H. Taylor, Miss Fenwick says:--"We had two
perfect days for our visit to Wells, Alfoxden, &c. They were worthy of a
page or two in the poet's life. Forty-two years, perhaps, never passed
over any human head with more gain and less loss than over his. There he
was again, after that long period, in the full vigour of his intellect,
and with all the fervent feelings which have accompanied him through
life; his bodily strength little impaired, he, grey-headed, with an old
wife and not a young daughter. The thought of what his sister, who had
been his companion here, was then, and now is, seemed the only painful
feeling that moved in his mind. He was delighted to see again those
scenes (and they were beautiful in their kind) where he had been so
happy--where he had felt and thought so much. He pointed out the spots
where he had written so many of his early poems, and told us how they
had been suggested."

It was on the death of Southey, in 1843, that Wordsworth, then in his
seventy-fourth year, was offered, and, after some hesitation, on account
of his age, accepted the appointment of Poet Laureate--an office which
has not been filled by a worthier man or greater poet.

But other trials were in store for his advancing years. The health of
his daughter had for some years been delicate, and continued to be so
after her marriage. In 1845 Mr. and Mrs. Quillinan sought the more
genial clime of Spain and Portugal, where they remained until the summer
of the following year. Of this tour Mrs. Quillinan published a journal,
of which it has been said that it showed she "inherited no trivial
measure of her aunt's tastes and talents." It was hoped that by this
means her health had been restored; but the hope proved to be
short-lived. She gradually faded, and, to the great grief of all who
knew her, died in 1847. The effect on the poet was most saddening. Sir
Henry Taylor, referring to his cultivation of the muse in later years,
says: "At his daughter's death, a silence, _as_ of death, fell upon him;
and though during the interval between her death and his own his genius
was not at all times incapable of its old animation, I believe it never
broke again into song."

To return to Miss Wordsworth. Mr. Crabb Robinson, in a reminiscence of
the year 1835, writes: "Already her health had broken down. In her youth
and middle age she had stood in somewhat the same relation to her
brother William as poor Mary Lamb to her brother Charles. In her long
illness she was fond of repeating the favourite small poems of her
brother, as well as a few of her own. And this she did in so sweet a
tone as to be quite pathetic. The temporary obscurations of a noble mind
can never obliterate the recollections of its inherent and essential

In December, 1843, Mr. Quillinan, writing to Mrs. Clarkson, refers to
the pleasure with which they at Rydal had read Miss Martineau's "Life in
a Sick Room," and adds: "When I said all the Rydalites, I should have
excepted poor, dear Miss Wordsworth, who could not bear sustained
attention to any book, but who would be quite capable of appreciating a
little at a time." In a still later letter--one from Mr. Robinson to
Miss Fenwick, in 1849--referring to a visit paid to his friends at
Rydal, he says: "Poor Miss Wordsworth I found sunk still further in
insensibility. By the bye, Mrs. Wordsworth says that almost the only
enjoyment Wordsworth seems to feel is in his attendance on her, and that
her death would be to him a sad calamity." Lady Richardson has given the
following pathetic reminiscence: "There is," she says, "always something
very touching in his way of speaking of his sister. The tones of his
voice become very gentle and solemn, and he ceases to have that flow of
expression, which is so remarkable in him in all other subjects. It is
as if the sadness connected with her present condition was too much for
him to dwell upon in connection with the past, although habit and the
omnipotence of circumstances have made its daily presence less
oppressive to his spirits. He said that his sister spoke constantly of
their early days, but more of the years they spent together in other
parts of England than those at Grasmere."

To Miss Wordsworth the "sorrow's crown of sorrow" came with the death in
April, 1850, of the brother for whom she had lived and for whom she had
done so much. Having attained his eightieth year, he caught a cold,
which resulted in a bronchial attack. After lying for a few weeks in a
state of exhaustion, the great soul passed to its everlasting rest, to
swell the song of the eternal world.

Although cared for and dearly beloved by the survivors, the death of her
brother seemed to snap the strong tie by which she was bound to life. In
consequence of being herself confined to her room, she was not able to
witness the progress and end of her brother's illness. To the very last
they had been so completely devoted to each other that when his death
was communicated to her she was at first unable to realise it. When the
truth at length dawned upon her, she gave utterance to the pathetic
exclamation, that there was nothing left worth living for.

Miss Wordsworth, however, survived her brother by nearly five years. It
is a satisfaction to know that even her latest years were not without
gleams of brightness. Although, compared with her early mental vigour,
there was visible a melancholy wreck of mind, it was chiefly the result
of an uncertain and vanishing memory. She had, indeed, to the very last
perfectly lucid intervals during which she was remarkably clear and
quite herself. As a not uncommon result of loss of memory in aged
people, she forgot near events, and was what might be termed somewhat
childish. She could remember quite well what took place in her girlhood,
while if asked what she had been doing or talking about an hour
previously she would have no recollection of it.

During her latest years Miss Wordsworth was unable to read much, but
would frequently amuse herself by reciting poetry and other scraps,
which, learnt in previous years, she remembered wonderfully well. A
casual observer, who might see the placid old lady, of fourscore years,
wheeled on the terrace at Rydal Mount, her unwrinkled though somewhat
pensive face framed by a full-bordered cap, would have no suggestion of
the often vacant mind.

Although sometimes considerably depressed in spirits, her tedious
affliction was, on the whole, borne with exemplary Christian fortitude.
It has been said that "her loving-kindness in health had known no
bounds, and the sympathy she had ever felt for the sorrows of others was
now rivalled by the patience with which she bore her own."

When the end at length came it was calm and tolerably painless. Taking
cold early in the year 1855, her condition was aggravated by an attack
of bronchitis, and her spirit left the worn-out frame on the 25th of
January, in her eighty-third year.

Her remains were deposited in the peaceful churchyard of Grasmere, by
the murmuring waters of a mountain stream, the same sacred spot of earth
which contained those of her beloved brother, overshadowed by the same
yew trees.

It was from her own choice--a choice decided and happy--that Miss
Wordsworth was never married. De Quincey (who seems, by the way, to have
had a pretty universal knowledge) informs us that she had several offers
of marriage, and amongst them, to his knowledge, one from Hazlitt, all
of which she decisively rejected. Although he speaks so confidently, it
is probable that, with regard to Hazlitt, he was mistaken. With the
exception of a visit to Nether Stowey, and a short stay in the Lake
district some few years later, it does not appear that Hazlitt was
brought into contact with the Wordsworths, or that the relations between
them were at all familiar; and Hazlitt's grandson and biographer does
not attach much importance to the statement. Miss Wordsworth had a far
higher vocation. Her sacrifice, if it can be so called, to her brother
was complete; but her lot was not, therefore, less happy. Doubtless the
duties of marriage and maternity, had the poet's prophecy concerning her
been fulfilled, would have filled her life, in its maturity and decline,
with cares and interests which would have contributed to the keeping of
her mind in a condition of more continuous mental vigour and equipoise.
But the one great object of her life had been accomplished. She had
lived to know all slander and rancour, the effect of all spiteful
reviews, lived down; and--if not able fully to appreciate and rejoice in
the fact--to see her brother, whom she had helped so much to perfect,
universally acknowledged as a master of English song, occupying a
foremost niche in the Temple of Fame--the greatest poet since Milton.

And, although her old age was somewhat overclouded, it cannot be
considered altogether sad; and it is not with thoughts of sadness that
our reflections on such a beneficent career as hers should be closed.

If the latter portion of her life was overshadowed with gloom and
sickness; if the brightness of the morning and the serenity of noonday
too early gave place to a long twilight upon which the shadows fell
heavily, her bright and lucid intervals give abundant hope that gleams
of gladness revisited the mind which, for so long, had been a "mansion
for all lovely forms" treasured and garnered in her early years.

It is more befitting that we should turn away our thoughts from the
intervening period of age and decay; and that Dorothy Wordsworth should
live in our minds as she was in her eager-spirited and ardent youth,
when in company with her beloved companion, she bounded over the
familiar hills and roamed by the mountain streams, or by the household
fire scanned the classic page--a youth of beauty, and buoyancy, and joy,
because so full of love and goodness, of generous sympathy and unselfish
devotion--a youth which she has since renewed, unclouded by any shade,
in the same old society, and with the familiar love re-linked--_in



A few words only are desirable to be added in reference to the surviving
inmate of the home of which Miss Wordsworth was so long a cherished
member. The poet's aged widow survived her husband and sister-in-law for
some years. She was not solitary in her widowhood, but tenderly loved by
devoted friends. Miss Joanna Baillie, writing to Mrs. Fletcher in the
June succeeding the death of Wordsworth, says: "Many thanks to you for
sending to us a copy of these lines" (the lines upon the companionship
of Wordsworth and his sister, before mentioned), "and for letting us
know how his excellent wife, Mrs. Wordsworth, bears up under her severe
affliction. She was a mate worthy of him or any man, and his sister too,
such a devoted noble being as scarcely any other man ever possessed."

Mrs. Fletcher's diary, under date, Sunday, the 7th May, 1854, contains
the following entry: "Yesterday, Mrs. Davy brought Mrs. Wordsworth to
dinner. It is always a pleasure to see the placid old age of dear Mrs.
Wordsworth. Hers has been a life of duty, and it is now an old age of
repose, while her affections are kept in constant exercise by the tender
interest she takes in her grand-children."

During the last three years of her life Mrs. Wordsworth was blind; and
it is deeply pathetic to read how, in her last days, when her sightless
eyes could no longer peruse the sacred page, she loved to feel with her
trembling fingers a cross which she kept in her room, and which seemed
to remind her of the Christian's hope. Her life of calm devotion and
disinterested love, succeeded by an old age of resignation and peace,
was brought to a serene close on the 17th of January, 1859.

Among the quiet resting-places of the dead, few, if any, are of deeper
interest than the peaceful churchyard of Grasmere. Under the shadow of
the everlasting hills "girded with joy," and by the banks of the
murmuring stream singing in its onward course of hopes beyond the grave,
it is a spot which affection would choose for its most tenderly loved.
As "the Churchyard among the mountains," many of the annals of which are
recorded in that grand philosophic poem, "The Excursion," it could not
fail to draw thither the footsteps of the thoughtful. But there is one
corner on approaching which we seem to feel more solemnised, to breathe
more gently--where the footstep falls lighter and lingers longer. To us
it is as sacred a nook as the shadowy corner of the famous Abbey where
are laid England's greatest sons. The group of graves gathered there are
not glorified by the "religious light" of storied windows, but they are
warmed by summer suns, and covered with a garment of purity by winter
snows, and over-shadowed by aged yews, which gently shower around them
their peaceful and slumberous undersong.

In the south-east corner of this quiet God's Acre is to be found this
cluster of graves, surrounded by an iron palisade, to each of which a
history of more than common interest is attached. Behind the principal
group are three short graves, two of which, being the first formed of
the group, attract attention. These are the graves of little Catherine
and Thomas Wordsworth, the children of the poet, whose early and sudden
deaths have been mentioned. The stone indicating the resting-place of
the "loving, and tractable, though wild," Catherine bears the
inscription, "Suffer little children to come unto Me." That of her
brother contains a few memorial lines recording at once his age and
loving disposition:--

    "Six months to six years added he remained
    Upon this sinful earth, by sin unstained:
    O blessed Lord! Whose mercy then removed
    A Child whom every eye that looked on loved;
    Support us, teach us calmly to resign
    What we possessed, and now is wholly Thine!"

The next green mound, in point of date, is that which covers the remains
of the first Mrs. Quillinan, who died on the 25th May, 1822, at the
early age of twenty-seven years, six months after the birth of her
second daughter. She was a daughter of the late Sir Egerton Brydges,
Bart., of Denton Court, near Dover. There is in Grasmere Church a
monument to her designed by Sir F. Chantrey.

Miss Sarah Hutchinson, the younger sister of Mrs. Wordsworth, who has
been before mentioned, comes next in this remarkable group. Spending,
as she did, much of her time with the Wordsworths at Grasmere and Rydal
Mount, she was devoted to all the members of the family. Being herself
of poetic mould, the poet's home was most congenial to her. It was she,
who, during a sickness, the year before her death, wrote the following
lines to the Redbreast:--

    "Stay, cheerful little Robin! stay,
      And at my casement sing,
    Though it should prove a farewell lay
      And this our parting spring.

    "Though I, alas! may ne'er enjoy
      The promise in thy song;
    A charm, _that_ thought can not destroy,
      Doth to thy strain belong.

    "Methinks that in my dying hour
      Thy song would still be dear,
    And with a more than earthly power
      My passing Spirit cheer.

    "Then, little Bird, this boon confer,
      Come, and my requiem sing,
    Nor fail to be the harbinger
      Of everlasting Spring."

She died as before-mentioned in 1835. Her memorial stone states that she
was the beloved sister and faithful friend of mourners, who had caused
the stone to be erected, with the earnest wish that their remains might
be laid by her side, and a humble hope that through Christ they might
together be made partakers of the same blessed resurrection. Twelve
years afterwards the sod was again cut, to receive, not yet the aged
poet or his wife, but their idolised daughter Dora, the devoted wife of
Mr. Quillinan, who, in her forty-third year, after a brief period of
wedded happiness, died on the 9th July, 1847. Upon the stone at the head
of her grave is chiselled a lamb bearing a cross, and the consolatory
words: "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out."

The poet himself was the next to be added to the group, and the slab,
with the simple inscription "WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, 1850," has been gazed
upon by as many moistened eyes as the elaborate tombs of any of
England's greatest heroes.

Mr. Edward Quillinan, who died in July, 1851, rests near the two beloved
companions of his life.

The subject of this brief memoir--the most perfect sister the world hath
known--after her sunny youth, her strong maturity, and her afflicted
age, now sleeps in peace on the right side of the poet, to whom her
self-denying life was devoted, her resting-place, to all who have heard
her name being sufficiently indicated by the words


In a few years more the poet's grave received to its shelter the tried
and honoured partner of his long life, and the words were added: "Mary
Wordsworth, 1859."

From this time there is a break of many years, when the enclosure
received another member of the younger generation. Miss Rotha
Quillinan, named after the murmuring river, by the banks of which her
life was spent, died on the 1st February, 1876. She was the younger
daughter of Mr. Quillinan, and, apart from the subsequent relationship,
had been an object of especial interest to the poet as his god-daughter.
He wrote the following lines in her album:--

    "Rotha, my Spiritual Child! this head was grey
    When at the sacred font for thee I stood:
    Pledged till thou reach the verge of womanhood,
    And shalt become thy own sufficient stay;
    Too late, I feel, sweet Orphan! was the day
    For stedfast hope the contract to fulfil;
    Yet shall my blessing hover o'er thee still,
    Embodied in the music of this Lay,
    Breathed forth beside the peaceful mountain Stream,
    Whose murmur soothed thy languid Mother's ear
    After her throes, this Stream of name more dear
    Since thou dost bear it--a memorial theme
    For others; for thy future self, a spell
    To summon fancies out of Time's dark cell."

Her surviving sister still resides in the charming retreat at the foot
of Loughrigg Fell, overlooking the vale of Ambleside, which had so long
been the home of both.

The latest addition to the group was made so lately as the year 1883,
when Mr. William Wordsworth, the last surviving son of the poet, was
added to the number.

There is, however, one more grave, which, though not within the
enclosure, lies close behind it, and claims our notice. Hartley
Coleridge, the eldest son of his more distinguished father, was for many
years a familiar figure in the neighbourhood where he now rests. As a
child, quiet, intelligent, and promising; as a youth, encouraging the
hope that he was gifted with a genius which would lead to a career of no
ordinary character; as a collegian, fulfilling the bright hopes of his
friends, and attaining signal distinction;--his subsequent history
affords one more instance of the fact that the greatest genius may by
one failing be crippled, and the brightest promise be never followed by
its full fruition. But this is not the place to recount his story. His
published poems show that he inherited no small portion of his father's
poetic ability. In his subsequently rather aimless life, he endeared
himself not a little to the sympathetic inhabitants of the vale by his
gentle, warm-hearted, and loving disposition. He was passionately fond
of children, and would hardly pass through the village without taking a
little one into his arms. For his father's sake, as well as his own, he
was a favourite with the Wordsworths. It was by Mrs. Wordsworth, the
friend of his infancy, that in his fifty-third year his relatives were
summoned to his dying bed; and by Wordsworth himself (a year before his
own death) his last resting-place was chosen. "Let him lie by us," said
the aged poet, "he would have wished it;" adding to the sexton, "keep
the ground for us--we are old people, and it cannot be for long."

The following sonnet may be given as a specimen of Hartley Coleridge's
poetry, the closing line not inaptly expressing the prayerful attitude
with which he approached the eternal future.

                  "SHE LOVED MUCH.

    "She sat and wept beside His feet. The weight
    Of sin oppressed her heart; for all the blame,
    And the poor malice of the worldly shame,
    To her was past, extinct, and out of date;
    Only the _sin_ remained--the leprous state.
    She would be melted by the heat of love,
    By fires far fiercer than are blown to prove
    And purge the silver ore adulterate.
    She sat and wept, and with her untressed hair
    Still wiped the feet she was so blest to touch;
    And He wiped off the soiling of despair
    From her sweet soul, because she loved so much.
    I am a sinner, full of doubts and fears,
    Make me a humble thing of love and tears."



Miss Wordsworth did not write much poetry. The few pieces she has left
behind, though not of the highest order, are sufficient to show that had
she devoted herself to it, she might have attained distinction. She was
so devoted to her brother that she did not attempt for herself an
independent position. She preferred to find subjects for the more
skilful pen of her brother, and to act as his amanuensis. The poems that
she did write, and which have been published with those of her brother,
are worthy of a place here. The first of these, written in 1805, is--


(_Suggested to Miss Wordsworth when watching one of the Poet's

    "The days are cold, the nights are long,
    The north wind sings a doleful song;
    Then hush again upon my breast;
    All merry things are now at rest,
        Save thee, my pretty Love!

    "The kitten sleeps upon the hearth,
    The crickets long have ceased their mirth;
    There's nothing stirring in the house
    Save one _wee_, hungry, nibbling mouse,
        Then why so busy thou?

    "Nay! start not at that sparkling light;
    'Tis but the moon that shines so bright
    On the window pane, bedropped with rain:
    Then, little Darling! sleep again,
        And wake when it is day."

The following (written in 1806) has been described by Charles Lamb as


    "What way does the Wind come? What way does he go?
    He rides over the water, and over the snow;
    Through wood and through vale; and o'er rocky height
    Which the goat cannot climb, takes his sounding flight;
    He tosses about in every bare tree,
    As, if you look up, you plainly may see;
    But how he will come, and whither he goes,
    There's never a scholar in England knows.
    He will suddenly stop in a cunning nook,
    And ring a sharp 'larum;--but, if you should look,
    There's nothing to see but a cushion of snow
    Round as a pillow, and whiter than milk,
    And softer than if it were covered with silk.
    Sometimes he'll hide in the cave of a rock,
    Then whistle as shrill as the buzzard cock;
    --Yet seek him,--and what shall you find in the place?
    Nothing but silence and empty space;
    Save, in a corner, a heap of dry leaves,
    That he's left, for a bed, to beggars or thieves!
    As soon as 'tis daylight to-morrow, with me,
    You shall go to the orchard, and then you will see
    That he has been there, and made such a rout,
    And cracked the branches, and strewn them about;
    Heaven grant that he spare but that one upright twig
    That looked up at the sky so proud and big
    All last summer, as well you know,
    Studded with apples, a beautiful show!
    Hark! over the roof he makes a pause,
    And growls as if he would fix his claws
    Right in the slates, and with a huge rattle,
    Drive them down, like men in a battle:
    --But let him range round; he does us no harm,
    We build up the fire, we're snug and warm;
    Untouched by his breath, see the candle shines bright,
    And burns with a clear and steady light;
    Books have we to read,--but that half-stifled knell,
    Alas! 'tis the sound of the eight o'clock bell.
    --Come now, we'll to bed! and when we are there,
    He may work his own will, and what shall we care?
    He may knock at the door,--we'll not let him in;
    May drive at the windows,--we'll laugh at his din;
    Let him seek his own home, wherever it be;
    Here's a _cozie_ warm house for Edward and me."

The next (also a child's poem), written in 1807, was composed on the eve
of the return of Mrs. Wordsworth, after a month's absence in London.
Miss Wordsworth and the children were then staying at Coleorton:--

            "THE MOTHER'S RETURN.

    "A month, sweet little-ones, is past
    Since your dear Mother went away,--
    And she to-morrow will return;
    To-morrow is the happy day.

    "O blessed tidings! thought of joy!
    The eldest heard with steady glee;
    Silent he stood; then laughed amain,--
    And shouted, 'Mother, come to me!'

    "Louder and louder did he shout,
    With witless hope to bring her near;
    'Nay, patience! patience, little boy!
    Your tender mother cannot hear.'

    "I told of hills, and far-off towns,
    And long, long vales to travel through,--
    He listens, puzzled, sore perplexed,
    But he submits; what can he do?

    "No strife disturbs his sister's breast;
    She wars not with the mystery
    Of time and distance, night and day;
    The bonds of our humanity.

    "Her joy is like an instinct--joy
    Of kitten, bird, or summer fly;
    She dances, runs without an aim;
    She chatters in her ecstacy.

    "Her brother now takes up the note,
    And echoes back his sister's glee;
    They hug the infant in my arms,
    As if to force his sympathy.

    "Then, settling into fond discourse,
    We rested in the garden bower;
    While sweetly shone the evening sun,
    In his departing hour.

    "We told o'er all that we had done,--
    Our rambles by the swift brook's side,
    Far as the willow-skirted pool,
    Where two fair swans together glide.

    "We talked of change, of winter gone,
    Of green leaves on the hawthorn spray,
    Of birds that build their nests and sing,
    And all 'since Mother went away!'

    "To her these tales they will repeat,
    To her our new-born tribes will show,
    The goslings green, the ass's colt,
    The lambs that in the meadow go.

    "--But see, the evening star comes forth!
    To bed the children must depart;
    A moment's heaviness they feel,
    A sadness at the heart:

    "'Tis gone--and in a merry fit
    They run upstairs in gamesome race;
    I, too, infected by their mood,
    I could have joined the wanton chase.

    "Five minutes past--and, O the change!
    Asleep upon their beds they lie;
    Their busy limbs in perfect rest,
    And closed the sparkling eye."

The following poem was written at Rydal Mount in 1832. Wordsworth has
said he believed it arose out of a casual expression of one of Mr.
Swinburne's children:--


    "There's more in words than I can teach;
    Yet listen, Child!--I would not preach;
    But only give some plain directions
    To guide your speech and your affections.
    Say not you _love_ a roasted fowl,
    But you may love a screaming owl,
    And, if you can, the unwieldy toad
    That crawls from his secure abode
    Within the mossy garden wall
    When evening dews begin to fall.
    Oh mark the beauty of his eye:
    What wonders in that circle lie!
    So clear, so bright, our fathers said
    He wears a jewel in his head!

    "And when upon some showery day,
    Into a path or public way
    A frog leaps out from bordering grass,
    Startling the timid as they pass,
    Do you observe him, and endeavour
    To take the intruder into favour;
    Learning from him to find a reason
    For a light heart in a dull season.
    And you may love him in the pool,
    That is for him a happy school,
    In which he swims as taught by nature,
    Fit pattern for a human creature,
    Glancing amid the water bright,
    And sending upward sparkling light.

    "Nor blush if o'er your heart be stealing
    A love for things that have no feeling:
    The spring's first rose by you espied
    May fill your breast with joyful pride;
    And you may love the strawberry-flower,
    And love the strawberry in its bower;
    But when the fruit, so often praised
    For beauty, to your lip is raised,
    Say not you _love_ the delicate treat,
    But _like_ it, enjoy it, and thankfully eat.

    "Long may you love your pensioner mouse,
    Though one of a tribe that torment the house:
    Nor dislike for her cruel sport the cat,
    Deadly foe both of mouse and rat;
    Remember she follows the law of her kind,
    And Instinct is neither wayward nor blind.
    Then think of her beautiful gliding form,
    Her tread that would scarcely crush a worm,
    And her soothing song by the winter fire,
    Soft as the dying throb of the lyre.

    "I would not circumscribe your love:
    It may soar with the eagle and brood with the dove,
    May pierce the earth with the patient mole,
    Or track the hedgehog to his hole.
    Loving and liking are the solace of life,
    Rock the cradle of joy, smooth the death-bed of strife.

    "You love your father and your mother,
    Your grown-up and your baby brother;
    You love your sister, and your friends,
    And countless blessings which God sends:
    And while these right affections play,
    You _live_ each moment of your day;
    They lead you on to full content,
    And likings fresh and innocent,
    That store the mind, the memory feed,
    And prompt to many a gentle deed:
    But _likings_ come, and pass away;
    'Tis _love_ that remains till our latest day:
    Our heavenward guide is holy love,
    And will be our bliss with saints above."

The poem suggested by an island on Derwent-water, which is said to have
been composed so late as the year 1842, shows that, if the date be
correct, which is somewhat doubtful, Miss Wordsworth was at that time in
full possession of her faculties. These lines, we are informed, she used
to take pleasure in repeating during her last illness.

             "FLOATING ISLAND.

    "Harmonious Powers with Nature work
    On sky, earth, river, lake, and sea;
    Sunshine and cloud, whirlwind and breeze,
    All in one duteous task agree.

    "Once did I see a slip of earth
    (By throbbing waves long undermined)
    Loosed from its hold; how, no one knew,
    But all might see it float, obedient to the wind;

    "Might see it, from the mossy shore
    Dissevered, float upon the Lake,
    Float with its crest of trees adorned
    On which the warbling birds their pastime take.

    "Food, shelter, safety, there they find;
    There berries ripen, flowerets bloom;
    There insects live their lives, and die;
    A peopled world it is; in size a tiny room.

    "And thus through many seasons' space
    This little Island may survive;
    But Nature, though we mark her not,
    Will take away, may cease to give.

    "Perchance when you are wandering forth
    Upon some vacant sunny day,
    Without an object, hope, or fear,
    Thither your eyes may turn--the Isle is passed away;

    "Buried beneath the glittering Lake,
    Its place no longer to be found;
    Yet the lost fragments shall remain
    To fertilize some other ground."



_A.D. 1805._

On the 7th of November, on a damp and gloomy morning, we left Grasmere
Vale, intending to pass a few days on the banks of Ullswater. A mild and
dry autumn had been unusually favourable to the preservation and beauty
of foliage; and, far advanced as the season was, the trees on the larger
island of Rydal Mere retained a splendour which did not need the
heightening of sunshine. We noticed as we passed that the line of the
grey rocky shore of that island, shaggy with variegated bushes and
shrubs, and spotted and striped with purplish brown heath,
indistinguishably blending with its image reflected in the still water,
produced a curious resemblance, both in form and colour, to a
richly-coated caterpillar, as it might appear through a magnifying glass
of extraordinary power. The mists gathered as we went along: but when we
reached the top of Kirkstone, we were glad we had not been discouraged
by the apprehension of bad weather. Though not able to see a hundred
yards before us, we were more than contented. At such a time, and in
such a place, every scattered stone the size of one's head becomes a

Near the top of the Pass is the remnant of an old wall, which
(magnified, though obscured, by the vapour) might have been taken for a
fragment of some monument of ancient grandeur--yet that same pile of
stones we had never before even observed. This situation, it must be
allowed, is not favourable to gaiety; but a pleasing hurry of spirits
accompanies the surprise occasioned by objects transformed, dilated or
distorted, as they are when seen through such a medium. Many of the
fragments of rock on the top and slopes of Kirkstone, and of similar
places, are fantastic enough in themselves; but the full effect of such
impressions can only be had in a state of weather when they are not
likely to be sought for. It was not till we had descended considerably
that the fields of Hartshop were seen, like a lake tinged by the
reflection of sunny clouds. I mistook them for Brother's water, but soon
after we saw that lake gleaming faintly with a steely brightness,--then
as we continued to descend, appeared the brown oaks, and the birches of
lively yellow, and the cottages, and the lowly Hall of Hartshop, with
its long roof and ancient chimneys. During great part of our way to
Patterdale we had rain, or rather drizzling vapour; for there was never
a drop upon our hair or clothes larger than the smallest pearl upon a
lady's ring.

The following morning incessant rain till eleven o'clock, when the sky
began to clear, and we walked along the eastern shore of Ullswater
towards the farm of Blowick. The wind blew strong, and drove the clouds
forwards on the side of the mountain above our heads:--two
storm-stiffened, black yew-trees fixed our notice, seen through, or
under the edge of, the flying mists, four or five goats were bounding
among the rocks;--the sheep moved about more quietly, or cowered beneath
their sheltering places. This is the only part of the country where
goats are now found;[3] but this morning, before we had seen these, I
was reminded of that picturesque animal by two rams of mountain breed,
both with Ammonian horns, and with beards majestic as that which Michael
Angelo has given to his study of Moses.--But to return; when our path
had brought us to that part of the naked common which overlooks the
woods and bush-besprinkled fields of Blowick, the lake, clouds, and
mists were all in motion to the sound of sweeping winds;--the church and
cottages of Patterdale scarcely visible, or seen only by fits between
the shifting vapours. To the northward the scene was less
visionary;--Place Fell steady and bold;--the whole lake driving onward
like a great river--waves dancing round the small islands. The house at
Blowick was the boundary of our walk; and we returned, lamenting to see
a decaying and uncomfortable dwelling in a place where sublimity and
beauty seemed to contend with each other. But these regrets were
dispelled by a glance on the woods that clothe the opposite steeps of
the lake. How exquisite was the mixture of sober and splendid hues! The
general colouring of the trees was brown--rather that of ripe
hazel-nuts; but towards the water there were yet bays of green, and in
the higher parts of the wood was abundance of yellow foliage, which,
gleaming through a vapoury lustre, reminded us of masses of clouds, as
you see them gathered together in the west, and touched with the golden
light of the setting sun. After dinner we walked up the vale; I had
never had an idea of its extent and width in passing along the public
road on the other side. We followed the path that leads from house to
house; two or three times it took us through some of those copses or
groves that cover the little hillocks in the middle of the vale, making
an intricate and pleasant intermixture of lawn and wood. Our fancies
could not resist the temptation, and we fixed upon a spot for a cottage,
which we began to build, and finished as easily as castles are raised in
the air. Visited the same spot in the evening. I shall say nothing of
the moonlight aspect of the situation which had charmed us so much in
the afternoon; but I wish you had been with us when, in returning to our
friend's house, we espied his lady's large white dog lying in the
moonshine upon a round knoll under the old yew tree in the garden, a
romantic image--and the elegant creature, as fair as a spirit! The
torrents murmured softly: the mountains down which they were falling did
not, to my _sight_, furnish a background for this Ossianic picture; but
I had a consciousness of the depth of the seclusion, and that mountains
were embracing us on all sides; "I saw not, but I _felt_ that they were

       *       *       *       *       *

_Friday, November 9._--Rain, as yesterday, till ten o'clock, when we
took a boat to row down the lake. The day improved; clouds and sunny
gleams on the mountains. In the large bay under Place Fell three
fishermen were dragging a net--picturesque group beneath the high and
large crags. A raven was seen aloft; not hovering like the kite, for
that is not the habit of the bird, but passing on with a straightforward
perseverance, and timing the motion of its wings to its own croaking.
The waters were agitated, and the iron tone of the raven's voice, which
strikes upon the ear at all times as the more dolorous from its
regularity, was in fine keeping with the wild scene before our eyes.
This carnivorous bird is a great enemy to the lambs of these solitudes.
The fishermen drew their net ashore, and hundreds of fish were leaping
in their prison. They were all of the kind called skellies, a sort of
fresh water herring, shoals of which may sometimes be seen dimpling or
rippling the surface of the lake in calm weather. This species is not
found, I believe, in any other of these lakes; nor, as far as I know, is
the chevin, that _spiritless_ fish (though I am loth to call it so, for
it was a prime favourite with Izaac Walton), which must frequent
Ullswater, as I have seen a large shoal passing into the lake from the
river Eamont. Here are no pike, and the char are smaller than those of
the other lakes, and of inferior quality; but the grey trout attains a
very large size, sometimes weighing above twenty pounds. This lordly
creature seems to know that "retiredness is a piece of majesty," for it
is scarcely ever caught, or even seen, except when it quits the depths
of the lake in the spawning season, and runs up into the streams, where
it is too often destroyed in disregard of the law of the land and of

Quitted the boat in the bay of Sandwyke, and pursued our way towards
Martindale, along a pleasant path--at first through a coppice bordering
the lake, then through green fields--and came to the village (if village
it may be called, for the houses are few, and separated from each
other), a scattered spot, shut out from the view of the lake. Crossed
the one-arched bridge, below the chapel, with its bare ring of mossy
wall and single yew tree. At the last house in the dale we were greeted
by the master, who was sitting at his door, with a flock of sheep
collected round him, for the purpose of smearing them with tar
(according to the custom of the season) for protection against the
winter's cold. He invited us to enter and view a room, built by Mr.
Hasell, for the accommodation of his friends at the annual chase of red
deer in his forests, at the head of these dales. The room is fitted up
in the sportsman's style, with a cupboard for bottles and glasses,
strong chairs, and a dining-table; and ornamented with the horns of the
stags caught at these hunts for a succession of years--the length of the
last race each had run being recorded under his spreading antlers. The
good woman treated us with oaten cake, new and crisp; and after this
welcome refreshment and rest, we proceeded on our return to Patterdale
by a short cut over the mountains. On leaving the fields of Sandwyke,
while ascending up a gentle slope along the valley of Martindale, we had
occasion to observe that in thinly-peopled glens of this character the
general want of wood gives a peculiar interest to the scattered cottages
embowered in sycamore. Towards its head this valley splits into two
parts; and in one of these (that to the left) there is no house nor any
building to be seen but a cattle-shed on the side of a hill, which is
sprinkled over with trees, evidently the remains of an extensive forest.
Near the entrance of the other division stands the house where we were
entertained, and beyond the enclosures of that farm there are no other.
A few old trees remain--relics of the forest; a little stream hastens,
though with serpentine windings, through the uncultivated hollow where
many cattle were pasturing. The cattle of this country are generally
white, or light-coloured; but these were dark brown or black, which
heightened the resemblance this scene bears to many parts of the
Highlands of Scotland.

While we paused to rest on the hill-side, though well contented with the
quiet every-day sounds--the lowing of cattle, bleating of sheep, and the
very gentle murmuring of the valley stream--we could not but think what
a grand effect the music of the bugle-horn would have among these
mountains. It is still heard once every year at the chase I have spoken
of--a day of festivity for the inhabitants of this district, except the
poor deer, the most ancient of them all. Our ascent even to the top was
very easy. When it was accomplished we had exceedingly fine views, some
of the lofty fells being resplendent with sunshine, and others partly
shrouded by clouds. Ullswater, bordered by black steeps, was of dazzling
brightness; the plain beyond Penrith smooth and bright, or rather
gleamy, as the sea or sea-sands. Looked down into Boardale, which, like
Skybarrow, has been named from the wild swine that formerly abounded
here; but it has now no sylvan covert, being smooth and bare, a long,
narrow, deep, cradle-shaped glen lying so sheltered, that one would be
pleased to see it planted by human hand, there being a sufficiency of
soil; and the trees would be sheltered, almost like shrubs in a
green-house. After having walked some way along the top of the hill,
came in view of Glenridding, and the mountains at the head of
Grisedale.--Before we began to descend, we turned aside to a small ruin,
called at this day the chapel, where it is said the inhabitants of
Martindale and Patterdale were accustomed to assemble for worship. There
are now no traces from which you could infer for what use the building
had been erected; the loose stones, and the few that yet continued piled
up, resemble those which lie elsewhere on the mountain; but the shape of
the building having been oblong, its remains differ from those of the
common sheep-fold; and it has stood east and west. Scarcely did the
Druids, when they fled to these fastnesses, perform their rights in any
situation more exposed to disturbance from the elements. One cannot pass
by without being reminded that the rustic psalmody must have had the
accompaniment of many a wildly-whistling blast; and what dismal storms
must have often drowned the voice of the preacher!

As we descend, Patterdale opens upon the eye in grand simplicity,
screened by mountains, and proceeding from two heads--Deepdale and
Hartshop--where lies the little lake of Brothers Water, named in old
maps Broader Water, and probably rightly so; for Bassenthwaite Mere at
this side is familiarly called Broad Water; but the change in the
appelation of this small lake or pool (if it be a corruption) may have
been assisted by some melancholy incident, similar to what happened
about twenty years ago, when two brothers were drowned there, having
gone out to take their holiday-pleasure upon the ice on a New Year's

A rough and precipitous peat-track brought us down to our friends house.
Another fine moonlight night; but a thick fog rising from the
neighbouring river enveloped the rocky and wood-crested knoll on which
our fancy cottage had been erected; and, under the damp cast upon my
feelings, I consoled myself with moralising on the folly of hasty
decisions in matters of importance, and the necessity of having at least
one's knowledge of a place before you realise airy suggestions in solid

       *       *       *       *       *

_Saturday, November 10._--At the breakfast-table, tidings reached us of
the death of Lord Nelson, and of the victory of Trafalgar. Sequestered
as we were from the sympathy of a crowd, we were shocked to hear that
the bells had been ringing joyously at Penrith, to celebrate the
triumph. In the rebellion of the year 1745, people fled with their
valuables from the open country of Patterdale, as a place of refuge,
secure from the incursions of strangers. At that time news such as we
had heard might have been long in penetrating so far into the recesses
of the mountains; but now, as you know, the approach is easy, and the
communication in summer time almost hourly; nor is this strange, for
travellers after pleasure are become not less active, and more numerous
than those who formerly left their homes for the purposes of gain. The
priest on the banks of the remotest stream of Lapland will talk
familiarly of Bonaparte's last conquests, and discuss the progress of
the French Revolution, having acquired much of his information from
adventurers impelled by curiosity alone.

The morning was clear and cheerful, after a night of sharp frost. At ten
o'clock we took our way on foot towards Pooley Bridge, on the same side
of the lake we had coasted in a boat the day before. Looked backwards to
the south from our favourite station above Blowick. The dazzling
sunbeams striking upon the church and village, while the earth was
steaming with exhalations, not traceable in other quarters, rendered
their forms even more indistinct than the partial and flitting veil of
unillumined vapour had done two days before. The grass on which we trod,
and the trees in every thicket, were dripping with melted hoar frost. We
observed the lemon-coloured leaves of the birches, as the breeze turned
them to the sun, sparkle, or rather _flash_, like diamonds, and the
leafless purple twigs were tipped with globes of shining crystal.

The day continued delightful and unclouded to the end. I will not
describe the country which we slowly travelled through, nor relate our
adventures; and will only add that on the afternoon of the 13th we
returned along the banks of Ullswater by the usual road. The lake lay in
deep repose, after the agitations of a wet and stormy morning. The trees
in Gowbarrow Park were in that state when what is gained by the
disclosure of their bark and branches compensates, almost, for the loss
of foliage, exhibiting the variety which characterises the point of time
between autumn and winter. The hawthorns were leafless; their round
heads covered with rich green berries, and adorned with arches of green
brambles, and eglantines hung with glossy hips; and the grey trunks of
some of the ancient oaks, which, in the summer season, might have been
regarded only for their venerable majesty, now attracted notice by a
pretty embellishment of green mosses and fern, intermixed with russet
leaves, retained by those slender outstarting twigs, which the veteran
tree would not have tolerated in his strength. The smooth silver
branches of the ashes were bare; most of the alders as green as the
Devonshire cottage-myrtle that weathers the snows of Christmas.--Will
you accept it as some apology for my having dwelt so long on the
woodland ornaments of these scenes, that artists speak of the trees on
the banks of Ullswater, and especially along the bays of Stybarrow
crags, as having a peculiar character of picturesque intricacy in their
stems and branches, which their rocky stations and the mountain winds
have combined to give them? At the end of Gowbarrow Park a large herd of
deer were either moving slowly or standing still among the fern. I was
sorry when a chance companion, who had joined us by the way, startled
them with a whistle, disturbing an image of grave simplicity and
thoughtful enjoyment; for I could have fancied that those natives of
this wild and beautiful region were partaking with us a sensation of the
solemnity of the closing day.

The sun had been set some time, and we could perceive that the light was
fading away from the coves of Helvellyn; but the lake under the luminous
sky was more brilliant than before.

After tea at Patterdale set out again;--a fine evening; the seven stars
close to the mountain top; all the stars seemed brighter than usual. The
steeps were reflected in Brothers Water, and, above the lake, appeared
like enormous black, perpendicular walls. The Kirkstone torrents had
been swollen by the rains, and now filled the mountain pass with their
roaring, which added greatly to the solemnity of our walk. Behind us,
when we had climbed to a great height, we saw one light, very distinct,
in the vale, like a large red star--a solitary one in the gloomy region.
The cheerfulness of the scene was in the sky above us.

Reached home a little before midnight.


[3] They have since disappeared.

       *       *       *       *       *

         FETTER LANE.

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