Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The English Lakes
Author: Bradley, A. G.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The English Lakes" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



  [Illustration: WINDERMERE FROM ORREST HEAD]



  THE ENGLISH LAKES

  DESCRIBED BY A. G. BRADLEY
  PICTURED BY E. W. HASLEHUST

  [Illustration]

  BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED
  LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY
  1910



  Beautiful England


  _Volumes Ready_:

    OXFORD
    THE ENGLISH LAKES
    CANTERBURY
    SHAKESPEARE-LAND
    THE THAMES
    WINDSOR CASTLE



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                    Page

  Windermere from Orrest Head     _Frontispiece_

  Coniston Lake                          8

  Rydalmere                             12

  Grasmere from Loughrigg               16

  Thirlmere and Helvellyn               20

  Kirkstone Pass and Brothers Water     26

  Ullswater                             32

  Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw        36

  Derwentwater from Friars Crag         40

  Honister Pass--Dawn                   44

  Head of Buttermere and Honister Crag  48

  Scale Force, Crummock Water           52



[Illustration: THE ENGLISH LAKES]



WINDERMERE AND CONISTON


The luxuriance of Windermere is of course its dominant note, a quality
infinitely enhanced by that noble array of mountains which from
Kirkstone to Scafell trail across the northern sky beyond the broad
shimmer of its waters. The upward view from various points in the
neighbourhood of Bowness, for obvious reasons of railroad
transportation, has been the first glimpse of the Lake District for a
majority of two or three generations of visitors, and this alone gives
some further significance to a scene in any case so beautiful. Orrest
Head, a few hundred feet above the village of Windermere, is the point
to which the pilgrim upon the first opportunity usually betakes himself;
for from this modest altitude the entire lake with its abounding beauty
of detail, and half the mountain kingdom of Lakeland, are spread out
before him.

On the slopes of Orrest, too, is the house of Elleray, successor to that
older one in which Professor Wilson, by no means the least one of the
Wordsworthian band, led his breezy, strenuous life. Son of a wealthy
Glasgow merchant, winner of the Newdigate and a first classman at
Oxford, and scarcely less conspicuous for his athletic feats and
sporting wagers, young Wilson bought the land at Elleray while an
undergraduate and built a house on it later, after the passing of an
unsatisfactory love affair. As "Christopher North" every lover of the
rod with any sense of its literature knows him yet. Nor would all this
be worthy of record were it not that the brilliant little band who did
none of these things held Wilson of Elleray as one of themselves. Losing
his fortune ten years later through a defaulting trustee, he became the
brilliant supporter of _Blackwood_ and Professor of Moral Philosophy in
Edinburgh University, though always retaining his connection with
Windermere. In fact, when Scott made his memorable visit to the Lake
District, and with Lockhart and Canning stayed with the then owner of
Storrs Hall, now a hotel on the lake shore, we find Wilson doing the
honours of Windermere as commodore of its large fleet of yachts.

Country houses, villas, and rich woods cluster thickly up and down
either shore; here and there perhaps a little too thickly. But the
general prospect up to Ambleside on the one hand, and down past Curwen
Island--named after one of the oldest of Cumbrian families--to Newby
Bridge on the other, is no whit blemished. One feels it to be a region
rather of delightful residence, which indeed it is, than of temporary
sojourn for the tourist, with the mountains beckoning him into the
deeper heart of Lakeland and to more primitive forms of nature. Shapely
yachts flit hither and thither, less alluring steamboats plough white
furrows, while the irresponsible pleasure boat is in frequent evidence.
Occasionally, too, there are winters when the great lake glistens with
thick glassy ice from end to end beneath snow-peaked mountains, and the
glories of such a brief period--glories of scene and of physical
exhilaration--shine out in the memory yet more luminously than the
unfailing pageants of summer; even the pageants of early June when the
lake is quiet, and in sequestered bays the angler, like his neighbour of
Derwentwater, celebrates the festival of the May-fly, the only one
seriously observed by the lusty and wily trout of these two waters.

The personal associations of these opulent shores of Windermere are too
crowded for us here; but Dr. Arnold of Rugby had, of course, his holiday
home of Foxhowe near the Ambleside end, which is still occupied by his
daughter.

Calgarth and its fine woods, just under Orrest, is the oldest and
perhaps the most notable place on the lake, partly because in ancient
times the well-known family of Phillipson lived there, though in a
former house, a dare-devil race in the Civil War period, one of whom,
known as Robert the Devil, did all sorts of heady things. The _skulls of
Calgarth_, too, which occupied niches in the old hall and could never be
got rid of, wherever flung to, always returning to their place on the
wall, are a treasured legend of the district. But the present mansion
and woods of Calgarth are little more than a century old, and are the
work of another Lakeland luminary of the Wordsworthian period. Bishop
Watson, officially of Llandaff but otherwise of Calgarth, is famous in
ecclesiastical history and of immortal memory in Wales, not for the
things he did, but rather for the things he left undone. For he was
bishop of Llandaff for about thirty years, and only once visited his
diocese in that period, preferring the life of a country gentleman at
Windermere.

  [Illustration: CONISTON LAKE]

Precisely parallel to Windermere, a little more than half its length and
half its breadth, and four miles to the westward, lies Coniston, its
head in the mountains, its foot almost trenching on another, and
virtually lowland, country. There can be no doubt whatever about the
presiding genii of Coniston, the "Old Man" in the substance and Ruskin
in the shadow, if one may put it that way, having no rivals. The hills
crowd finely around their leader, the "Allt-maen" (lofty rock), at the
lake-head, as our artist well shows. As the lake shoots southward,
however, in a straight line, without any conspicuous curves or
headlands, and no heights comparable to those it leaves behind, one
feels upon thus looking down it that Coniston lacks something of the
fascination which never flags at any part of the other lakes. If
Windermere, too, trails away from the mountains, it does so in glorious
bends and headlands, curves and islands, and has an opulence of detail
and colouring all its own. But if Coniston, with its straight unbroken
stretch all fully displayed, and framed in a fashion less winsome than
Windermere, and less imposing than Ullswater, "lets you down" a little
on arriving at its head, looking upward from its centre it assuredly
lacks nothing, while the view from Ruskin's old home of Brantwood,
perched high among woods upon the eastern shore, commands all that is
best of it. After thirty years of intermittent residence here, Ruskin
was buried in the churchyard at Coniston, exactly half a century after
Wordsworth had been laid to rest at Grasmere. A generation later than
his great predecessor he has Coniston to himself. And if the points of
divergence between the two seers have been more than sufficiently
insisted upon, it is from the very fact, perhaps, that in intellect and
temperament they had so much in common.



THE HEART OF LAKELAND RYDAL AND GRASMERE


Those delectable little sister lakes of Rydal and Grasmere probably
suggest themselves to most of us as the heart of Lakeland. If we took a
map and measuring rule we might possibly be surprised to find, as we
should do, this vague intuition geometrically verified. How singularly
felicitous, then, one may surely deem it, that Wordsworth lived and died
here, and that the shrine of the sage and all thereby implied should be
thus planted in the very innermost sanctuary of the hills.

The intrinsic charm of these two little lakes and all that pertains to
them lies in the delightful variety exhibited within a small compass of
wood and water, of rugged crag and fern-clad slope, of velvety park-like
meadow and stately timber. The blithesome Rothay unites the upper and
larger lake of Grasmere with Rydal Water by a short half-mile display
in meadow and ravine of every winsome mood that a mountain stream has at
command. The broken, straggling heights and skirts of Loughrigg Fell
fill most of the western side of either lake, and on a minor scale, like
the stream below, show every type of form and colouring, of drapery
primeval or man-made, from naked crag to bowery lawn, all within the
compass of three miles and the modest altitude of a thousand feet.

Rydal Water has almost the air of being designed for the embellishment
of man's immediate haunts. With its occasionally reedy fringe, it
breathes the spirit of quiet, almost domestic beauty, and of the spirit
of solitude scarcely anything. Of Grasmere as much and as little might
be said. The atmosphere of seclusion that wraps at normal times so many
of the lakes seems here frankly absent. Nothing, indeed, is lost by this
sense of human propinquity; for all is exquisite. But the sign of
appreciative humanity, residential or transient, is more than commonly
strong. Yet Grasmere is a favourite haunt, too, of the serious
pedestrian, not merely because it is beautiful, but because it is
central. The lake tourist might be reasonably classified under four
heads: the crag climbers, the strenuous walkers, the saunterers, and the
roadsters. The first are a mere handful, for obvious reasons, and
greatly affect Wastdale Head. The second are not very numerous, and
seem on the decline. The third include a substantial number, whose
limitations are dictated either by lack of physical strength or an
indifference to the strenuous life; by a preference for the tennis
court, or croquet lawn, or a pair of sculls, with a further company,
always numerous among Britons, who have an unconquerable aversion to
missing a single one of the four conventional meals. Of the roadsters,
the cyclist may get a great deal out of the Lake country, and is
nowadays quite innocuous to others. As for the motor, it has proved for
all true lovers of this region an unmitigated curse. It is truly
pitiable to see these green vales half buried at times under dense
volumes of driving dust, or the same noisome clouds falling in heavy
masses on the fair surface and flowery banks of Rydal or Ullswater. The
roads, too, are often tortuous and narrow. There was a talk at one time
of prohibition within Lakeland, and there would seem in equity no
justification in this glorious holiday preserve for unlimited vehicles
roaring through it at twenty to thirty miles an hour. It lies on no main
highway. And for touring use within the district the motor has no single
point of sanity. One might almost as well thrash up and down Grasmere in
a steam yacht. Their exclusion, with a few exceptions for local purposes
or for genuine residents, would be an enormous gain, and any counter
plea ridiculously inadequate. I have here pictured Rydal Water as a
winsome summer lake, for this I am sure, before most of us who know it,
its image rises.

  [Illustration: RYDALMERE]

But upon a spring day some years ago I watched it raging with abnormal
frenzy under the influence of a helm wind, cleaving diligently myself in
the meantime to a stone wall, lest peradventure I should be blown into
its seething waters. These hurricanes are idiosyncrasies of the Lake
country, and are formed by the contact of winds from the North Sea with
the warmer temperature they meet as they leap over the Pennine range,
like a wave breaking over a sea wall. The disturbance thus created
drives them down in narrow tornadoes upon Lakeland. I have never
experienced anything else like it in these islands. The waters of Rydal
on this occasion, now here and now there, were lifted high into the air
in the fashion of successive waterspouts and hurled in hissing volumes
of sleet at a great elevation against the woody foot of Loughrigg Fell.
The sun, too, was shining brilliantly, and every hurtling cloud of spray
glittered in prismatic colours. But above all are these two lakes bound
up with the name and fame of Wordsworth. From one or other of the banks
of them for nearly half a century the great nature poet--the prophet,
sage, and interpreter of Lakeland--of whose fruits the world will pluck
as long as these hills endure, set forth on his almost daily ramble.
Whether this or that generation decide that Wordsworth is among the
elect of their fleeting day is an altogether trumpery question. Didactic
and complaisant youth have tilted against many a classic and passed into
oblivion while the subject of their convincing satire remains immovable
as a granite rock. Wordsworth has struck roots so deep into this
glorious country, has so identified it with his own personality, that
even if he were a much lesser poet, immortal fame would be as surely his
as the endurance of Skiddaw or Helvellyn. But Wordsworth has a firmer
grip than that of mere atmosphere on unborn generations, though this
almost alone would endear him to all those with any sense of feeling who
love the Lake country, and of such it is inconceivable that future
generations will not each supply their ample store. It is pedantry to
hector every man or woman who feels the spirit of our British Highlands
so perfectly expressed as they are in this Lake country into
Wordsworthian enthusiasm. But let them alone, and as the Lakeland fever
begins to develop more strongly with each visitation, and as spring and
summer come round, if they have the sense of song at all within them
they will put their Wordsworth at any rate within reach, and the process
thenceforward to some measure of intimacy and delight is merely an
affair of time.

Rydal Mount, standing embowered in foliage above the road which
afterwards skirts both lakes, is not accessible, but Dove Cottage on
Grasmere, where the poet, with his gifted sister and for a time with S.
T. Coleridge, spent the years preceding his long married life at Rydal
Mount, is open to the pilgrim, be he a devout or an indifferent one. It
will be hardly less interesting as the residence for twenty years of
that strange genius, stylist, and laudanum drinker, De Quincey. Apart
from the great literary obligations under which he has laid posterity,
the autobiographical volume which deals with this Lake country, and the
brilliant circle of which he was a member, is a book of extraordinary
interest. He married a local yeoman's daughter, and the domestic side of
his life, including a devoted and successful family, infinitely
alleviates the tragedy of his own long and indifferently successful
struggle with the fatal drug. The weak-willed but lovable and brilliant
Hartley Coleridge, too, who would dash off a sonnet in ten minutes,
lived at Nab Cottage, on Rydal Water, till he was laid in Grasmere
Churchyard, to be followed there by Wordsworth in the succeeding year of
1850. Wordsworth himself was never really in touch with his humbler
neighbours. He had not the temperament for that kind of thing, and
remained a continual mystery to most of them.

"Well, John, what's the news?" said the rather too sociable Hartley
Coleridge one morning to an old stone-breaker.

"Why, nowte varry particlar, only ald Wudsworth's brocken lowce ageean."
This had reference to the poet's habit of spouting his productions as he
walked along the roads, which was taken by the country folk as a sign of
mental aberration. On another occasion a stranger resting at a cottage
in Rydal enquired of the housewife as to Wordsworth's neighbourly
qualities.

"Well," said she, "he sometimes goes booin' his pottery about t' rooads
an' t' fields an' takes na nooatish o' neabody; but at udder times he'll
say 'Good morning, Dolly,' as sensible as oyder you or me."



THIRLMERE AND HELVELLYN


Lying beside the familiar and continuously beautiful road from Grasmere
to Keswick, Thirlmere has happily lost nothing of its pristine beauty in
becoming the source of Manchester's water supply. An engine house at one
point and the big dam, only visible at the far end, are more than
counterbalanced in the raising for many feet of a lake that is three
miles long and only a quarter of a mile wide. That first delicious view
of it which greets the pilgrim on the downward winding road from the
pass of Dunmaile Raise, deep channelled between the rugged wall of
Armboth Crags and the northern shoulders of Helvellyn, with the pale
cone of Skiddaw rising over the hidden interval beyond, will be among
the most familiar memories of the lake tourist. These grey Armboth
steeps, falling from the wild moorish table-land above so abruptly to
the water's edge, and planting everywhere their knotted pine-feathered
toes in the deep clear water, with the little promontories and islands
wooded in the like fashion, give a character all its own to the narrow
but beautiful lake. As a road now skirts both shores, those denied the
physical joy of walking this country can get all that the banks, at any
rate, of Thirlmere have to offer. The best of this, no doubt, is the
prospect here depicted from the lower end, with Old Helvellyn looming so
near and filling up the vista to the southward.

  [Illustration: GRASMERE FROM LOUGHRIGG]

The little inn at Wythburn on the highway near the lake-head where the
coaches halt, unpretending tavern in outward appearance though it is,
might yet be almost accounted as classic ground for the number of men of
note, from Scott and the lake poets onward, its modest walls have
sheltered. For it has not only been for all time a halfway
resting-place between Ambleside and Keswick, but for many either a
starting, or a finishing, point in the ascent of Helvellyn. It was in
the little parlour of this inn a century ago that Professor Wilson, the
athletic and breezy Scottish Intellectual, played an almost brutal
practical joke on his hyper-sensitive friends--the two Coleridges and De
Quincey--as they all sat resting here by the fire after a long walk one
winter night. Seeing a loaded gun in the corner, the Professor
introduced it stealthily into the group, and, pointing it up the
chimney, pulled the trigger. In the then diminutive bar parlour, hung
about with glass and crockery, the unexpected explosion on the
drug-weakened nerves of two, at any rate, of the brilliant trio must
have been almost more than the most hardened practical joker could have
wished for.

This is, of course, the smooth side of Helvellyn, and you may ascend it
from virtually any point. Roughly speaking, it represents a huge mound
cloven half down the middle and the refuse carted away. After climbing
the steep smooth slope from the Thirlmere side to the top, you find
yourself suddenly standing on the edge of a precipice, almost of a
crater, with the farther side of course wanting, and in its stead
beautiful sweeps of glen and crag dipping gradually to the vale where
the blue coils of Ullswater lie sleeping. Needless to add, this is but
a fraction of the prospect from Helvellyn, and to relate what can be
seen from it on a reasonably clear day would merely be to compile a
chart of the entire mountain system of Lakeland, and for an
exceptionally clear one it would be necessary to make many and remoter
additions.

To anyone in touch with these things, the summit of Helvellyn is an
inspiring spot, commanding in a single glance the entire dominion of a
race not merely homogeneous in breed, but till recently unique in
situation. Here were a people, ranging as individuals from peasant to
yeomen, to put it roughly; four hundred square miles, say, of freehold
farmers, who had never known a landlord since the Crown in the sixteenth
century held them as tenants on Border service; a complete democracy
among themselves, into whose lives the influence of an aristocracy, as
exerted everywhere else without exception in Great Britain, never
entered. For there was no such thing within all these wide bounds. These
primitive conditions passed away by degrees during the last century. But
it was such that bred the Lakelander much as you see him now, though
inevitably modified by the influx of large landlords who have bought him
out, of villa residents and countless tourists. But here he is still, a
type who till recently had virtually no experience of what social grades
and distinctions meant in his own daily life, though he dispatched from
his rugged stone homestead a steady stream of raw lads who rose to
power, wealth, and influence in the world. The Lakelander, too, like his
immediate neighbours, is of more definitely Scandinavian origin than any
other community in England. His country bristles with Norse place-names;
his genuine tongue is so full of it, that an expert in old Cumbrian, it
is said, can almost read the Norse Bible. His traditions give him an
easy and independent bearing. For two or three generations of more or
less contact with the outer world and its complications can only modify,
not efface, such things. He still remains a cheery, independent soul,
but absolutely one of Nature's gentlemen.

  [Illustration: THIRLMERE AND HELVELLYN]

Now from Helvellyn you can see the Pennines, and across the Pennines
lies Northumberland. We have nothing to do here with the Northumbrian,
but as an immediate neighbour of these others it is interesting to note
that he has less Norse blood in him, and together with his Lothian and
Berwickshire neighbours is accounted the purest Saxon of any Englishman.
His place-names have the Saxon flavour. Here in Lakeland we have _fells_
and _becks_ and _garths_ and _ghylls_; beyond the Pennines and the
Cheviots they are all _burns_ and _laws_ and _tons_. The Lakelanders
proper were not Border fighters as the word applies to their low
country neighbours and the Northumbrians. They were liable to service,
and frequently took a hand against the Scots, but their savage country
was not tempting to the Scottish freebooter nor worth the risk. Nor when
the tide set the other way were they accounted as actually of the
following of the great Border houses. When James I. ascended the throne
of a United Kingdom, and fondly fancied Border troubles were at an end,
that canny monarch thought to make some money by commuting the feudal
service nature of the Lakeland statesmen's holding to a money rent.
These military tenants of the Crown met to the number of two thousand
between Windermere and Kendal and swore that they would yield up their
lives rather than their title-deeds, which settled the matter. It
remained for the growth of national wealth, luxury, and what we call the
march of civilization to destroy by individual land purchase, assisted
by local conditions too complex to mention, the greater number of the
Lakeland freeholders or "statesmen".

There are still some few left in possession, but otherwise the man
himself, though now a tenant, has by no means parted with his qualities
because his father or his grandfather parted with his freehold.



KIRKSTONE AND ULLSWATER


Kirkstone Pass looms always large in one's Lakeland memories. For one
thing, it is the ladder over which all traffic laboriously climbs from
the comparatively populous shores of Windermere into the long
sequestered trough of Ullswater, while for the walker it links the
eastern block of mountains to the Helvellyn and central group. It is, I
think, the highest road pass in England, touching the line of 1500 feet
where a lonely inn claims, by a natural inference, the uncomfortable
distinction of being the highest habitation in the kingdom. But whatever
may be the measure of its winter solitude, the cheery turmoil of the
shepherds' meeting in November, attended by some three hundred more or
less interested persons, must put heart into its occupants for the
ordeal. For on that great day, crowned by a gargantuan feast, the stray
sheep that have wandered from their rightful ranges and mingled with a
neighbouring flock are handed over, accompanied by ceremonies of
immemorial use. Then, too, a hundred or so of collie dogs settle such
disputes among themselves as may be of old standing, or more often
perhaps excited thereto by such unparalleled opportunities. A hound
trail usually completes the long day which begins betimes, for every man
upon these mountains is an enthusiast on the chase in its literal sense,
and knows as much of hounds and foxes as many an M.F.H. elsewhere.

The steep descent into the narrow, verdant, stone-walled, thinly peopled
floor of the head of Patterdale, with its sprinkling of little
white-washed, scyamore-shaded homesteads, is not a theme for words but
for the brush; above all for the eye itself. Caudale Moor and Hartshope
Dodd loom largest above our right shoulder, shutting out the lofty
solitudes behind, while on the left Redscrees, Raven Crag, and Harts
Crag, and a fine confusion of rugged summits culminate in Helvellyn,
which upon this eastern side shows its nobler and precipitous front.
Brotherswater, though but a quarter of a mile in diameter, fills the
vale, and like a jewel catches every humour of these ever-restless
skies; gleaming betimes like molten gold, or on windless noons
reflecting the greys and greens of the overhanging steeps so vividly on
its glassy surface as almost to efface itself in its own shadows; at
other times, torn by the tempests that pour down from Kirkstone, into a
sheet of seething foam. For it is incredible to what a fury even a
little lake like this can lash itself, when exposed to the concentrated
volleys of two or three mountain glens.

The memory of one of these spectacles on Hayswater, but a mile or so
distant, is suggested by the little hamlet of Low Hartsop at the mouth
of a lateral glen that comes in just where the valley widens somewhat,
bringing with it Hayswater beck to join the Goldrill, which last has run
through Brotherswater. Hartsop Hall is a plain, rugged old manor house
overhung with trees on the Kirkstone shore of the lake, long the abode
of sheep farmers, but possessed of the inconvenient disability of a
public right-of-way through the centre, now presumably lapsed.

But till a few years ago a venerable champion of popular rights, or
perhaps merely a humorist with plenty of spare time, used to make an
annual pilgrimage here, and walk in at the front door and out at the
back without any ceremony.

Low Hartshope itself is a group of some half-dozen mellow and mossy
homesteads, planted irregularly above the beck at any time within the
last five centuries. Fine old trees of sycamore, ash, and oak spread a
protecting mantle of foliage over this snug and ancient haunt of
dalesmen--a little patch of leafy opulence between the stern walls of
fell that rise sharply on either hand. One or two houses of the group,
representing, one might fancy, the proportionate decline of population
in the dales, are falling or have long ago fallen into ruins. Moss and
ferns, stone-crop and saxifrage, have seized alike upon both the
abandoned and the fallen, upon the sagging flagstone roof which covers
neither more nor less of the exposed weather-stained oak rafters than it
did ten years ago, upon the fallen stones of a more completed ruin
slowly sinking into the ground. Here may be seen, too, the deep,
oldfashioned spinning galleries thrust out from the upper story and
covered by an extension of the roof, invaluable not merely for the
summer air, but for the lack of winter daylight in those massive,
low-browed, small-windowed fortresses where the thrifty dalesmen dwelt.
Wordsworth has celebrated a pretty old tradition that the spindles ran
truer after the sheep had mounted the hill for their night's rest.

  Now beneath the starry sky
  Crouch the widely scattered sheep,
  Ply the pleasant labour, ply,
  For the spindle while they sleep
  Runs with motion smooth and fine,
  Gathering up a trustier line.

A mile or so up the glen, the higher part a steep climb, down which a
beck comes leaping in successive cataracts over black rocks feathered
with fern and rowan trees, lies entrenched between mountain walls which
rise some fifteen hundred feet above its three sides, the lonely lake of
Hayswater. Scarce a mile in length and narrow in proportion, the scene
is one in fair weather of delightful and impressive solitude, in wild
weather awesome to a degree bordering on the uncanny. The mountain
ridges all round are grey, stern, and rugged, while their green,
rock-strewn lower slopes fall for the most part sharply to the water's
edge. There is nowhere even a suggestion of humanity, but a rude boat
half full of water chained to a rock. So lonely a sheet of water of this
size, and thus nobly encompassed about and shut off from the world,
there is not in all Lakeland. On a tempestuous May day some two years
since the writer, underrating the measure of ferocity that the extra
elevation of a thousand feet adds to a storm, found himself a solitary
angler, beside these gloomy shores, amid as fine a prospect of the kind
as the somberer side of one's soul might wish for. The south-west gale
had found its way over the screes of the High Street ridge that closes
the head of the narrow valley of which Kidsty and Grey Crag form the
sides. Enraged apparently by opposition, it was coming down the full
length of the lake in intermittent bursts of rain-laden fury that made
even keeping one's feet no simple matter, and life altogether for the
moment a moderate sort of entertainment. The fact that in the brief
pauses, while the storm drew fresh breath, I could just keep my flies on
the water in the shelter of rocky points, and at the same time not
unprofitably, must be quoted in explanation of what might otherwise seem
a quite superfluous attendance at such a dismal pandemonium of the
elements. But these fortuitous encounters with nature in her most savage
mood, and in her grimmest haunts, are among the memories that for myself
I would ill spare, and none the less so because they so often belong to
the unexpected and the unsought.

  [Illustration: KIRKSTONE PASS AND BROTHERS WATER]

The upper and more rugged half of the valley walls on this sombre
occasion opened and shut in veils of scudding mist, while their steep
green flanks, littered with black crags fallen in long ages past from
above, made a fitting frame for the white hissing waters that filled the
long and stormy trough. But the crowning feature of this particular
scene was at the foot of the lake, where it draws to a narrow point
between high rocky banks, and the out-going beck leaps towards the gorge
below through a gap in a stone dyke which otherwise closes the entrance.
For into this funnel the storm seemed to concentrate its fury, lashing
the waters after the fashion of a helm wind high into the air, and
hurling them far down into the ravine below.

But I do not wish to keep the reader out in the wind and rain for the
whole of our sojourn in Patterdale, and I should be an ingrate indeed to
do so, for in many visits to this delightful haven in the Lake country
I am only too rejoiced to remember that sunshine has far outbalanced
cloud. And under such conditions the three miles of verdant vale from
Hartsop to Ullswater, by way of the hamlet and church of Patterdale
(named from St. Patrick) to Glenridding on the lake shore, is as
characteristic and charming a pastoral valley as there is in all the
Lake country. Cottages and homesteads, with their sheltering tufts of
foliage, have still even this much-visited country almost to themselves,
as they had it a century ago. The Goldrill, now a lusty stream, curves
and sparkles from farm to farm. The bordering fields terminate in
pleasant strips of woodland, or in bosky knolls of fern and rock, while
far above upon either side rise steep and high the everlasting hills.
And crowding round the head of Ullswater, which now spreads wide its
bright island-studded waters and ends the vale, are mountains piled up
everywhere. Place Fell and Birk Fell, lifting their untamed steeps of
crag and scree sheer up from the water along four miles of the eastern
shore, give that exceptional touch of wildness to the great lake which,
together with the fine grouping of Helvellyn and her satellites upon the
other side, justifies in the opinion of many its claim to pre-eminence
among its sisters. For myself, I frankly admit that the head of
Ullswater, and, for choice, a lodgment upon the Glenridding shore near
the edge of the lake, holds me more tenaciously when I get there than
any part of Lakeland.

There was once a king in Patterdale. His name was Mounsey, and he died
in 1792, and the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for that year in its obituary
tells us all about him, facts confirmed, if such were necessary, by
local tradition. This was in the days of the "statesmen", before
outsiders came in and bought property and broke in upon the old Lakeland
democracy. Patterdale Hall has now this long time been a large country
house with a large estate attached to it. In the modest original
homestead, however, reigned the Mounseys, who from time immemorial had
been regarded as "kings" of the dale before the reign of the undesirable
and eccentric monarch who proved to be the last but one of them.

This John Mounsey had an income of £800 a year, and the chief efforts of
his life, which lasted over ninety years, were directed to keeping his
expenses down to £30. In short, he was a miser of the most unabashed
type. He was endowed with immense physical strength, of which, unlike
his money, he grudged no expenditure in the pursuit of the
over-mastering passion of his life. He rowed his own slate and timber
down the lake to market, and toiled all day at the hardest manual tasks.
When compelled to visit Penrith or elsewhere on business, he slept in
neighbouring barns to save a hotel bill. He had his stockings shod with
leather, and always wore wooden shoes. He is reported on one occasion,
while riding by the lake, to have dismounted, stripped, and dived into
it after an old stocking that caught his eye. Rather than buy a
respectable suit for funerals, markets, and the like, he used to force
the loan of them from his tenants, who were also under agreement to
furnish him with so many free meals a year. Ever fearful of being
robbed, he used to secrete his money in walls and holes in the ground, a
practice which occasioned many exhilarating hunts for treasure-trove
among the idle. His last luxury was putting out to the lowest tender the
drawing of his will. The Patterdale schoolmaster, with a bid of
ten-pence, obtained the contract. His son, however, closed the dynasty
with honour, when the forbear of the present owner bought the royal
domain and a good deal more beside, and planted those beautiful wild
woods along the western margin of Ullswater that are the delight of
every visitor, and above all of those for whom mountain and lake offer
too strenuous adventure.

Various glens of infinite beauty wind up to the heart and shoulders of
Helvellyn and Fairfield, which mountains display to the people of
Ullswater by far their finest qualities. Across the lake a fine
solitude of moor and fell, rising to 2600 feet, spreads far away
eastward to Shap, including Martindale, Boredale, Mardale, and the High
Street range, which carries the old Roman road to Carlisle (whence comes
its name, Ystrad) along its summit. The wild red deer still roam over
this wilderness as far as the shores of Ullswater, while as regards
foxes they are almost too plentiful everywhere. Nor is there any part of
England, no not Leicestershire, though in far different fashion, where
they fill a bigger place in the public eye. Of the four or five packs of
foxhounds hunted and followed on foot over the fells of Lakeland, one
kennelled at Ullswater is among the most notable, if only for its famous
huntsman. Every soul in Lakeland as far east as Crossfell, and every
frequenter of Ullswater, knows "Joe Bowman", who has just now completed
thirty years of such severe service as hunting a pack of fell hounds on
foot means. The mantle of John Peel (who hunted a lower country,
however, and rode to his hounds) has almost fallen upon him. His
stalwart form may even be seen, like that of John Peel's, outside the
cover of hunting songs in the windows of Carlisle music shops. If the
songs are not sung like the others round the world, the memory of their
subject will live among the dalesmen, I'll warrant, to their children's
children. For hunting here is actually, not theoretically, democratic.
When hounds throw off soon after daylight on a mountain side, and hunt a
slow drag for an hour or two till they move their fox, and the field
have to follow on foot as best they may, there is not much scope for the
dashing and the decorative side of the chase. The fell farmers are all
devoted followers, are on familiar terms with all the foxes, their
domestic arrangements, and their families, and their probable line of
action when pursued. They mostly know the hounds, and can recall their
fathers and their mothers and their grandparents, and are steeped in
hound lore. The very children about the head of Ullswater know many of
the "dogs" personally, and have played with them as puppies. For they
are mostly "walked" on the surrounding farms in summer, and when they
play truant, which is pretty often, and come trotting through the
village after a hunt upon their own account, it is quaint to hear them
affectionately invoked by name from window or doorstep as familiar
public characters. The necessity for keeping down the foxes gives, of
course, an extra zest to the chase in these mountains. There being
nothing to prevent and much to stimulate it in this country of late
lambs, hunting is carried on vigorously till the middle of May; April,
as a matter of fact, being for many reasons irrelevant here the most
active month, and the best for seeing the sport. It is glorious, indeed,
on an early spring morning to be perched, let us say, on one of the
lower shoulders of Helvellyn, with the joyous crash of hounds upon a
warming scent echoing from cliff to cliff.

  [Illustration: ULLSWATER]

But let us turn to gentler themes, noting for a moment Stybarrow, the
foot of which is the subject of our artist's skill. There is very little
of the Border foray tradition in the heart of the Lake country. It was
obviously unprofitable as well as risky to the aggressor. But a body of
Scots did once, at least, make a dash on Patterdale and on Stybarrow,
which is in a sense its gateway, and met their fate. If the eastern
shore of the upper half of Ullswater is inspiring from its solitary
grandeur of overhanging mountain, its feathered cliffs and promontories,
its indented rocky coves, its western shore holds one's affections by
its gentler and more sylvan beauties. For after the picturesque
confusion of mossy crag and forest glade around Stybarrow, beneath which
the lake lies deep and dark, the two large demesnes--"chases" would best
describe them--of Glencoin and Gowbarrow slope gently down from the
back-lying mountains to the curving shore. Here are pleasant silvery
strands overhung with tall sycamores and oaks; there are rocky shores
fringed with hazel and alder, where the crystal waters of this most
pellucid of large lakes breaks sonorously when a gale is blowing. The
little becks come tumbling in too over the sloping meadows from the
fells--that of Glencoin of familiar name, and that of Aira of greater
fame for its waterfall, whose hoarse voice can be heard on still
evenings on the lake, and for the legend embodied in Wordsworth's
well-known poem. Here, too, behind the long grassy promontory with
pebbly shore that roughly marks the entry to this upper and more
beautiful four miles of lake, is Lyulph's tower. Not a very ancient
fabric, to be sure, but marking the site of that shadowy keep where
dwelt the sleep-walking, love-lorn maiden, who perished in the pool
below Aira Force in the arms of her errant knight, as he arrived only
just in time to drag her expiring to the shore.

  List ye who pass by Lyulph's tower
  At eve how softly then Doth Aira
  Force, that torrent hoarse,
  Speak from the woody glen.



BASSENTHWAITE AND DERWENTWATER

  What was the great Parnassus' self to thee
  Mount Skiddaw? In his natural sovereignty
  Our British hill is fairer far; he shrouds
  His double front among Atlantic clouds,
  And pours forth streams more sweet than Castally.

                              --_Wordsworth._


Mercifully it is not our province here to pass a pious opinion on the
comparative beauties of Ullswater and Derwentwater. It is tolerably
certain that the one which held you the longer and the most often in its
welcome toils would have your verdict. The lake of Ulpho is a thought
wilder and grander and withal less accessible. Save on occasions, it
wears generally a more isolated and aloof demeanour. The other, too, is
much smaller and quite differently formed; its length, three miles and
odd, being little more than twice its breadth, but picturesquely
indented, and virtually surrounded by mountainous heights. Keswick town
almost adjoins, though nowhere trenching, on its lower end, and behind
Keswick the great cone of Skiddaw fills the north. Though of no
distinction in itself, not a country town in all England is so
felicitously placed. Within five minutes' walk of its extremity its
fortunate burghers can pace the shores of Derwentwater, or, better
still, the fir-clad promontory of Friars Crag, and look straight up the
mountain-bordered lake to the yet sterner heights looming at its farther
end, known as the Jaws of Borrowdale. Behind and to the north Skiddaw,
as related, joining hands to the eastward with more precipitous
Blencathara, otherwise Saddleback, lifts its shapely bulk. Through a
fair green vale between, the Derwent, joined by Keswick's own bewitching
stream, the Greta, urges a bold and rapid course to Bassenthwaite, which
completes the picture two miles below. Though not geographically
central, Keswick is nevertheless an admirable base from whence to
adventure the Lake country for such as trust to wheels of any kind, and
have no great length of time at their disposal. The _genius loci_ of
Keswick is of course Southey, and the plain red house where that
kind-hearted and industrious poet and brilliant essayist lived for most
of his life still stands above the Greta. Different in every personal
characteristic, as De Quincey their mutual friend so lucidly sets forth,
was Southey from Wordsworth, his successor in the Laureateship. The one,
elegant, reserved, modest, fastidious, business-like, a methodical and
indefatigable worker, but essentially a man of books; the other,
sprawly, almost uncouth in minor habits, self-centred to the verge of
arrogancy in social intercourse. Southey at Keswick earned by the
_Quarterly_ and other sources a quite substantial income, out of which
he maintained not merely his own family, but for long that of poor S. T.
Coleridge, whose haphazard existence consisted very largely of a
succession of extended visits to generous and admiring friends.
Wordsworth, on the other hand, ridiculed by most of the critics, made
very little out of his poems till quite late in life. But for once in a
way Providence, as represented by pounds sterling, seemed to recognize a
dreamy genius, with no capacity for earning bread and butter, and
showered upon him from all sides legacies, annuities, and sinecures that
made him probably a richer man than Southey, even apart from his belated
earnings.

  [Illustration: BASSENTHWAITE LAKE AND SKIDDAW]

A striking picture, too, is this ancient church of St. Kentigern planted
in the level vale--the Derwent chanting in its rocky bed upon the one
hand, and Skiddaw lifting its three thousand feet upon the other, with
Bassenthwaite opening not far below its broad and shining breast. Fate
has laid the bones of many a man and woman of some modest fame in their
day beneath the heaving turf of this picturesque crowded graveyard,
caught unawares, some of them, while temporary sojourners in a country,
whose beauty drew hither two or three generations of pilgrims, before
facilities of transport made the achievement the simple one it is for
us. Within the church, however, a monument to John Radcliffe, the second
Earl of Derwentwater, father of that ill-fated young man who lost his
head and the vast estates of the family in the 'Fifteen, husband, too,
of Charles the Second's daughter by the Duchess of Cleveland, strikes an
earlier and more genuinely local note. The original nest of the
Radcliffes was on Lord's Island, one of those near the foot of the lake,
and its foundations may still be traced; but they acquired their chief
consequence through wealthy Northumbrian heiresses. The Keswick property
remained with them till the confiscation; but it is with the ruined
towers of Dilston, near Hexham, rather than the land of their origin and
their title that the memory of the Radcliffes will be chiefly
associated. So one must not linger here over the story, rather a
pathetic one, in fact, how the young peer of 1715, admirable in every
relation of life, with youth, a happy marriage, and an immense property
all to his credit, was drawn into the rising against his better
judgment, to become its chief victim. Forced by a train of circumstances
and by an almost morbid sense of honour, as a near relative of the
exiled house, to join the ill-concerted scheme, in which he had not even
been consulted, since his name only was wanted, his fate was a hard one,
and he was duly mourned on both the Western and the Eastern march.

  "O Derwentwater's a bonny lord,
  Fu' yellow is his hair,
  And glinting is his hawky 'ee
  Wi' kind love dwalling there."

Another historical character intimately associated with the Keswick
country was that "Shepherd Lord" celebrated by Wordsworth. This was the
only surviving son of the Black Clifford, whom, in the ruthless feuds of
The Roses, his mother, dreading the vengeance which might pursue the son
of such a father, sent to be reared as a shepherd's son on the slopes of
Saddleback. Nor till he was thirty did he emerge from this humble role
to take his place as a peer of the realm, to marry twice, and to acquit
himself reasonably well when called to public duties from the seclusion
of Borden Tower, still standing on the Yorkshire moors above the Wharfe,
where he lived a studious life. Indeed he marched to Flodden Field,
which must have irked such a peaceful soul, one might fancy, not a
little.

It is at the head of Derwentwater that the Lodore beck makes that
sonorous descent into the vale, which, by a famous poet's frolic, as it
were, achieved a notoriety it only merits in a wet season. The mouth of
Borrowdale, however, down which the Derwent hurls its beautiful limpid
streams through resounding gorges to an ultimately peaceful journey to
the lake, is a place to linger in, not merely to admire in passing, and
two well-known hotels of old standing are evidence that the public are
of that opinion. If the heights of Borrowdale make an inspiring
background for the lake, as viewed from the Keswick end, Skiddaw, as
seen from Borrowdale, serves as noble a purpose. Then there is that long
array of heights right across the lake, and those behind them, spreading
away to Buttermere.

The view from Skiddaw is well worth the long but easy climb.
Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, linked by the silver coil of the river
in the green vale, make a perfect foreground to a prospect which, like
that of Helvellyn, covers not only the whole of Lakeland, but the sea
coast and much more beyond. Skiddaw, however, stands sentinel, as it
were, at this northern gateway into the Lake country, and looks right
over Cumberland, with Carlisle in the centre of the picture, the Solway
gleaming beyond, and behind that again the dim rolling forms of the
Scottish hills. We have nothing to do with Carlisle, or the Eden, or
Solway Moss, with Eskdale or Liddesdale, or any of this classic
Borderland here laid open to the view. But one may be pardoned, when
perched thus in fancy upon Skiddaw's aerial cone, for a brief
reflection of how different was the past and how strangely different the
associations of this rugged romantic Lake country with its simple,
uneventful peasant story, quite obscured what there is of it by its more
recent literary associations, from that classic soil of Border story
spreading to the northward. "Happy is the land", says the old saw, "that
has no history"; and no part of England has so little, in the ordinary
sense of the word, as that which one looks back upon from the top of
Skiddaw. None, upon the other hand, has more than that once
blood-stained region, now spreading so fair and green and fertile to the
dim hills of Scotland, which share its stirring tale.

  [Illustration: DERWENTWATER FROM FRIARS CRAG]

Immediately below and behind the mountain Skiddaw forest spreads--an
unusual sight in Lakeland--its heather-clad undulations, and beyond and
all around it is the green up-lying country, where John Peel of immortal
memory hunted those no less immortal hounds. A majority of persons, I am
quite sure, still think he is a mythical person, the burden of a fancy
song, a legendary hero. But, on the contrary, he lived down yonder in
Caldbeck, and only died in 1854. You may see his tombstone at any time
with his obituary, and a hound, whip, and spur carved on its face in the
village churchyard. Plenty of people still living remember him well. The
late Sir Wilfrid Lawson, whose home, and that of his forbears, is
easily visible from here, knew him well, and in his youth had hunted
with him. The last time I was at Caldbeck, ten years ago, two of his
daughters, old married ladies, were still alive in the neighbourhood,
and I spent several hours myself in company with his nephew, who, when a
boy, used to help him with his hounds. Peel was, in fact, a well-to-do
yeoman who kept a small pack of hounds, which he hunted when and where
he pleased for his own entertainment, and, incidentally, for that of a
few of his neighbours, one of whom, Woodcock Graves, the whilom owner of
a bobbin mill and his most constant companion, wrote the song, never
dreaming of it as more than a passing joke. Afterwards, when Graves,
having failed in business, went to Tasmania, where he died in the
'Seventies, Mr. Metcalf, of the Carlisle publishing house, arranged the
song, which fortuitously caught on in Cumbrian hunting circles, and has
now gone round the world. Graves has told us all about the writing of
it--tossed hastily off one evening in Peel's little house at Caldbeck,
which anyone may see to-day. The village is full of his relatives and
connections, and I have no doubt that the famous sportsman spoke an
archaic and forcible Cumbrian, that strangers who can understand the
ordinary fell farmer or peasant of to-day without difficulty would make
mighty little of. At any rate, his nephew Robert did! Peel was not a
fell hunter of the Ullswater pattern, but worked altogether a lower
country and rode to his hounds. He was an exact contemporary of the lake
poets, this other lion, and there is a spice of humour in the thought!
"When he wasn't huntin'," remarked his venerable relative to me, in a
heartfelt, reminiscent sort of tone, "he was aye drinkin'." His view
holloa, though said by those who remember him to have been the most
tremendous and piercing ever let out of mortal throat, obviously never
penetrated the barrier of Skiddaw and Saddleback and reached the ears of
the Lake poets "in the morning".



BUTTERMERE

  All nature welcomes Her whose sway
  Tempers the year's extremes;
  Who scattereth lustres o'er noonday,
  Like morning's dewy gleams.
  While mellow warble, sprightly trill
  The tremulous heart excite,
  And hums the balmy air to still The balance of delight.

                           --_Wordsworth (Ode to May)._


Buttermere in May or early June! The May of the poet, that is to say,
which smiles upon us twice or thrice in a decade, not the May of
actuality which is spent in overcoats and blighted hopes, and bad
tempers and east winds. But there are Mays even yet like those of the
invincible tradition, and just enough of them to save the face of the
poet. And Buttermere in the full flush of one of them stands always out
for me conspicuous in that long gallery of bygone summer pageants, which
are not the least of those pleasant fancies kindled by the cheery glow
of the winter fireside. Ullswater and Wastwater can turn almost any
atmosphere to account. They can grasp the glories of high June and
diffuse their radiance over shore and mountain to as much purpose as
any, or can turn savage in the storms and clouds of autumn with infinite
grandeur.

  [Illustration: HONISTER PASS--DAWN]

Honister, too, though surmounted in many moods, I almost prefer to
recall in some such one as this, when the replenished ghylls are
spouting like silver threads down the dark mountain sides to the right
and left as you draw up from Seatoller, and the sombre crag itself is
thrusting up a rugged head against a background of whirling clouds. But
down in the long secluded vale of Buttermere, its narrowed trough for
most of the five miles it winds its beauteous length, filled with the
waters of two pellucid lakes, I would have it always June, or rather
that ideal, precocious May which has planted it irrevocably in the
chambers of my soul.

Of all the better-known lakes or haunts in Lakeland, this one is perhaps
the most secluded. A dozen miles by steep roads and some fearsome hills
are made light of, it is true, by the coaches of the holiday season; but
at other times the valley is cut off from the travelling world dependent
on public transport, and its two or three small hostelries are then apt
to become very empty havens of peace amid the hills. Lying amid bosky
knolls upon the half-mile meadowy interval, through which the Cocker
sparkles from the foot of Buttermere to the head of Crummock, with the
steep green wall of mountain, cloven here and there by the white trail
of falling streams, rising sharply for two thousand feet above it, the
pose of this little group of cottages and homesteads scattered around
their diminutive church is perfection itself. The sense of snug
seclusion from a noisy and ever noisier world, and that, too, in a spot
familiar by name at least wherever the English language obtains, is
everywhere eloquent, and holds one's fancy above the common. And along
the steep western shore of Buttermere itself, following a sheep track on
the rough mountain side, amid the scent of thyme and freshly blooming
gorse, the hum of bees, with the flowers of the upland showing their shy
heads among the ragged moorland grasses, what a picture at such time as
I have in mind is this mile and a half of limpid water, fringed upon its
farther shore by mantling woods! For though only one residence of any
kind trenches upon the margin of either lake, this one of Hasness upon
Buttermere has been enfolded by time and taste in groves of larch and
beech and sycamore that extend half along the lake shore, and flaunt
their earliest foliage of summer upon the glassy water. While on the
rugged oaks mingled among them, self-sown, perhaps, some of them by
hardy stunted forbears, there still flares that golden tint in which its
bursting leaf so curiously forestalls the radiant decay of Autumn.

And when the woods cease, what delightful natural lawns of crisp turf
sweep in little curving bays to the mere edge, where gently shelving
beaches of silvery gravel dip into the shallow waters, and show far out
into the lake their clean white bottom beneath its crystal depths! At
the head of the lake the Cocker comes prattling down through the meadows
of Gatesgarth, a typical mountain sheep farm, whose Herdwicks, running
to many thousands, count every mountain within sight as their own
traditional domain, to the summit of Honister and the Haystacks--a noble
pair of sentinels closing the gateway to the vale.

Most notable valleys in the Lake country have their _genius loci_, as is
only natural in a region till quite recent times utterly removed from
the world's life. And they are often simple folk whose sorrows or
humours have acquired immortality from the very seclusion, the normally
unruffled calm of their environment. Mary of Buttermere and her
harrowing story, for instance, would long ago have been forgotten in
Hampshire. But no one reasonably versed in Lakeland lore ever, I trust,
crosses the threshold of the Old Fish Inn without taking off his hat, so
to speak, to the memory of that ill-used maiden. Her trials, however,
were after all comparative; well-looking barmaids suffer much worse
things, and men lose their lives over them in various ways once or
twice a year. But the sentiment attaching to the personality of this
mountain beauty, whom, like Phyllis, all the shepherd swains adored, and
yet further celebrated by such visitors as penetrated to this romantic
spot, including the Lake poets, made a stir in the world when the
villain was hung as high as Haman. The press rang with it, which meant
more in those days than in these, and the "Beauty of Buttermere"
appeared in various forms upon the stage of London theatres.

The Old Fish Inn still stands a little way down the meadow from the
village, as it stood over a century ago, when the yeoman father of Mary
Robinson, the heroine, presided over it, and she herself ministered to
the hunger and thirst of his varied guests. The gentlemen visitors no
doubt turned her head a little, though Wordsworth, who had evidently
taken a social glass there with Coleridge, reminds him how they had both
been stricken with the modest mien of this artless daughter of the
hills. But one may safely hazard the belief that Wordsworth was more
artless in this kind of divination than the most rustic young woman who
ever poured out a glass of beer. De Quincey, who also knew her, bears
witness to the admiration the two poets had for her, and has a sly hit
at their romantic assumption of her ingenuousness.

  [Illustration: HEAD OF BUTTERMERE AND HONISTER CRAG]

But if Mary broke rustic hearts and held her head a little high, she was
at least a young woman of irreproachable character, and it was in 1805
that the distinguished stranger who gave her such fortuitous immortality
arrived in Keswick in a handsome turnout and took up his abode at its
chief hotel, entering his name as the Honourable Augustus Hope, M.P., a
brother by assumption, modestly admitted by the stranger himself, of
Lord Hopetown. One must endeavour, if it costs a mental effort, to
imagine the aloofness of this country and all such regions in the year
of Trafalgar, when one finds a very poor imitation of a fine gentleman
posing as the brother of a well-known peer, taking local society with a
big S by storm, and the "county" within reach of Keswick tumbling over
one another to do him honour. There was a sceptic here and there, to be
sure. He overdid his affability, and Coleridge even hints that his
grammar was shaky, which nowadays would possibly be a point in his
favour. But as he franked his letters, and forgery then meant death, the
unbelieving minority were temporarily silenced, and the Honourable
Augustus continued to enjoy himself very much indeed. Perhaps so
experienced a gentleman knew precisely when to stop, for in due course
he betook himself to Buttermere and to the Fish Inn, ostensibly to catch
char or trout, but the only record of his sport we have is the capture
of the heart, or at any rate the hand--for he wooed her openly and
honourably--of his landlord's daughter. What society in the vale of
Keswick, a member of whom had even christened a recently arrived son and
heir _Augustus Hope_, particularly matrons with marriageable daughters,
thought of the escapade of the Honourable Augustus, history does not
say. It has no occasion; we may be quite certain without being told. The
happy day was fixed. It arrived, and the smallest church in England
tinkled out the marriage peals with its single bell. The Hopetown family
were not represented at the wedding for one excellent reason, and the
aristocracy of the vale of Keswick for quite another one. The absence of
the former was easily explained away to so artless a gathering as was
here collected. That of the latter was only natural, and must have
provided even a spice of triumph for the victorious Beauty of
Buttermere. The honeymoon, of which London with the brotherly welcome of
a noble family and the smiles of a Court was to be the culmination,
extended very little farther than Keswick, when the minions of the law
swooped down upon Augustus and tore him from Mary's arms on a charge of
forgery, which proved the least of his many heinous crimes. In brief,
the man's name was Hatfield, son of a Devonshire tradesman, and Mary
was only the last of many victims, most of them her superiors in
station, whom with marvellous skill and cunning this accomplished
ruffian had deceived, abandoning them one after another in conditions of
distress, and some of them with children. He was hung at Carlisle, and
Mary returned to her father's inn and resumed her former position. She
had no child and bore no reproach, among her simple neighbours the most
fortunate, probably, but the most celebrated of the villain's many
victims. She eventually married a farmer from Caldbeck, and her grave
may be seen to-day, near by that one distinguished by the curiously
sporting tombstone beneath which lies the dust of John Peel of immortal
memory.

Crummock is just twice the length of Buttermere, with about the same
average width of half a mile. Like the other, it is pressed between the
feet of steep mountains, and has the same charm at the open and upper
end of silvery strand shelving from meadowy banks, with the same
clusters of fir, alder, or gnarled oak grouped gracefully about the
grassy shore. Here, too, on still summer days the same crystal water
shows far out into the lake the clean, white, gravelly bottom on which
it lies. There are two or three boats, moreover, available on Crummock,
and it is out on the bosom of the lake that this whole beautiful vale,
above and below it, is displayed perhaps to the best advantage. The now
remoter heights of Honister and its companions fill the head. The steeps
of High Stile and Red Pike dip to the gorge near by, whence issues the
hoarse murmur of Scale Force making its sheer leap of a hundred and
twenty feet, and spraying with perennial moisture the ferns, mosses, and
feathery saplings that cling to its shaggy cliffs. Above the lower
heights upon the eastern shores rise the higher fells of Whiteside and
Grassmoor, the latter bearing the strange unhealed red scars where its
whole front was shaved away a century and a half ago by a tremendous
waterspout.

A May morning out on Crummock, the fly rod laid aside in despair for the
moment with its capricious little trout, though the compensations forbid
so untoward a word; the boat drifting idly with gently gurgling keel
upon the faint ripples stirred by the very softest of zephyrs; the
distant murmur of the Cocker splashing toward the lake head; the faint
dull roar of Scale Force, and, above all, the silent throng of
overhanging mountains fairly pealing with the cuckoo's note, is a memory
always to be treasured. Another such morning, too, comes back to me,
when splashes of brilliant blue lay here and there upon the eastern
shore of the lake, disclosing to a nearer view great beds of
bluebells at the height of their glory. A moonlight night again, the
sequel of the same or another such effulgent day, is before me as, idly
trolling for the bigger trout, those prowlers of the night, one felt the
awesome black shapes of the mountains piled up on every hand, while the
slow, measured stroke of the oar struck molten silver as we crossed and
recrossed the moon's shining path.

  [Illustration: SCALE FORCE, CRUMMOCK WATER]

Stern and wild enough under the shadow of night or beneath stormy skies,
Crummock thrusts its gradually narrowing point deep into richer scenes
of woody foot-hill, and radiant meadow, overlooked by the picturesquely
perched old hostelry of Scale Hill, familiar to generations of Lakeland
tourists. And here the Cocker leaps rejoicing and in fuller volume to
sparkle down the long, lovely vale of Lorton towards its junction with
the Derwent at Wordsworth's birthplace. A mile or so to the westward
Loweswater lies bewitchingly in the lap of fells, but overhung upon one
bank for its entire length by the opulent foliage of Holm Wood, and
lacking the more rugged features which dominate the others, seems to lie
somewhat aloof from them in quality as it does in fact.

But one privilege of a sojourn in the valley is its easy access, over
the single ridge that divides them, to the famous but secluded trough
of Ennerdale, lying parallel to that of Buttermere. The prospect from
Scarth Cap before descending into one of the wildest valleys in all
Lakeland has a peculiar grimness, for the long array of precipitous
steeps and crags that confront one above the twisting thread of the beck
hurrying down to Ennerdale Lake turn their savage fronts so
uncompromisingly to the north. The more radiant the summer morn, the
brighter the summer day, the darker by contrast with the interludes of
spring verdure that no north aspect can quench are the impenetrable
shadows which mask all detail, and make fearsome precipices out of
rugged but accessible steeps. For above them the Pillar Mountain almost
touches 3000 feet, and the far-famed Pillar Rock springing from its
outskirts, whose naked walls need no black shadows for their
enhancement. But this is wandering from our immediate subject, and
involving us in the group of big mountains that cluster round Scafell.
Far down the valley the lake of Ennerdale, in size and shape resembling
Crummock, glistens at the fringe of civilization. If local genii count
for aught, that of this valley, though not nearly so familiar, should
surely be "t'girt dog of Ennerdale".

The first notice of his appearance was in May, 1816, when carcasses of
three or four sheep killed and as many mangled were found in Lower
Ennerdale. Such mishaps were common enough, but the usual sequel, the
destruction of the dog within a few days, utterly failed here. Every
device known was futile before this formidable vampire. For a long time
no trace could be found of him, but in the increasing toll of victims
that greeted the shepherd's eye in ever-changing and unexpected
quarters. He never visited the same place twice within an ordinary space
of time, and the scene of some of his raids were twenty miles apart. He
worked entirely at night, laying low through the day in woods and
ditches. His bi-weekly or tri-weekly toll increased with his rage for
blood, and the hue and cry raised everywhere brought him into view
occasionally in the early mornings. But while men with guns were lying
for him in one place, he would be enjoying himself on some unsuspected
hillside ten miles away. The toll of victims mounted into the hundreds;
June and July passed away, and "t'girt dog" was still master of the
situation, the growing grain crops giving him ampler refuge.

Half the men in the country spent the night afield with guns, and were
worn out with watching. Many idlers, tempted by the large reward
offered, seized the chance to join the chase, and the statesmen's wives
waxed weary of cooking meals for all and sundry by day and night. The
children were afraid to tread their often lonely paths to school, and
screamed in their sleep that "t'girt dog" was after them. The mountain
foxhounds were brought up and laid on. But the girt dog with his
greyhound blood ran away from them all, carrying the line on one
occasion from Ennerdale to St. Bees on the coast, and on another to
Cockermouth. The following, on this occasion, consisted of two hundred
souls. It was a Sunday, and passing Ennerdale Church during service in
full cry had added to the field the males of the congregation as one
man, including the parson. The humours of some of these exhilarating
hunts as told by a contemporary pen are delightful. Once, when
surrounded by guns in a cornfield, the ingenious quarry singled out the
least efficient sportsman, Will Rothbury, who, as the sanguinary beast
broke cover and ran past him within easy shot, leaped up in the air
instead of firing and cried out, "Skerse, what a dog!" The latter,
shaken for a moment out of his presence of mind, bolted between the
notoriously bandy legs of a deaf old man who was gathering faggots,
unconscious of the excitement. Not till the middle of September did the
girt dog succumb after a long chase. He was set up in Keswick Museum
with a collar round his neck describing his exploits. Such, in brief,
for much more might be told, is the story of "t'girt dog of Ennerdale".


       *       *       *       *       *


  Transcriber's Note: Obvious punctuation errors corrected.
  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The English Lakes" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home