Imágenes de páginas

Extracts from the Journals of Mrs. and Miss Wordsworth have been given in Volume VI., as notes supplementary to the poems of this Continental Tour; and it is hard to say whether the jottings taken at the time by his wife, or the extended Journal afterwards written out by his sister, is the more admirable, both as a record of travel, and as a commentary on the poet's work.

It would be a mistake to publish these Journals in extenso; but they certainly contain a very vivid picture of the state of the towns and countries which the Wordsworths passed through at the time when they were written, and of the style of continental travelling in the first quarter of the present century. I do not repeat in this chapter what was printed in Volume VI., although the continuity of the narrative will doubtless. suffer much from the omissions; but I make some additional extracts from the earlier part of Miss Wordsworth's Journal of the first five weeks, down to the time at which Mr. Crabb Robinson joined their party at Lucerne.

In October 1821, Mr. Robinson was visiting at Rydal Mount, and after reading over these Journals of Mrs. and Miss Wordsworth, he wrote thus in his Diary:

"2d Oct. '21.-I read to-day, and afterwards, part of Miss, and also Mrs. W.'s Journal in Switzerland. They put mine to shame.* They had adopted a plan of journalising which could not fail to render the account amusing and informing. Mrs. W., in particular, frequently described, as in a panorama, the objects around her; and these were written on the spot and I recollect her often sitting on the grass, not aware of what kind of employment she had. Now it is evident that a succession of such pictures must represent the face of the country. Their Journals were alike abundant in observa


Perhaps the most interesting entry in Henry Crabb Robinson's Journal of the tour is the following: "26th June 1820.-I made some cheap purchases: if anything not wanted can be cheap."

tion (in which the writers showed an enviable faculty), and were sparing of reflections, which ought rather to be excited by than obtruded in a book of travels. I think I shall profit on some future occasion by the hint I have taken."

Again, in Nov. 1823, H. C. R. writes in his Diary: "Finished Mrs. Wordsworth's Journal. I do not know when I have felt more humble than in reading it. It is so superior to my own. She saw so much more than I did; though we were side by side during a great part of the time."

Robinson advised Dorothy Wordsworth to publish her Journal of this Continental Tour, and she replied to him, 23d May 1824



Your advice respecting my Continental Journal is, I am sure, very good, provided it were worth while to make a book of it, i.e. provided I could do so, and provided it were my wish; but it is not. Far better,' I say, 'make another tour, and write the Journal on a different plan!' In recopying it, I should, as you advise, omit considerable portions of the description. . . . But, observe, my object is not to make a book, but to leave to my niece a neatly-penned memorial of those few interesting months of our lives. . . ."

The following extracts are from Dorothy's Journal :—

[ocr errors]


Monday, July 10th, 1820.-We-William, Mary, and Dorothy Wordsworth-left the Rectory House, Lambeth, at a quarter to eight o'clock. Had the Union' coach to ourselves, till within two stages of Canterbury, when two young ladies demanded inside places. . . . The Cathedral of Canterbury, described by Erasmus as lifting itself up in 'such majesty towards heaven, that it strikes religion into the beholders from a distance,' looks stately on the plain, when first seen from the gently descending road, and appeared to me a much finer building than in former times; and I felt, as I had often done during my last abode in London, that, whatever change, tend

ing to melancholy, twenty years might have produced, they had called forth the capacity of enjoying the sight of ancient buildings to which my youth was, comparatively, a stranger. Between London and Canterbury the scenes are varied and cheerful; first Blackheath, and its bordering villas, and shady trees; goats, asses, sheep, etc., pasturing at large near the houses. The Thames glorious; ships like castles, cutting their way as through green meadows, the river being concealed from view; then it spreads out like a wide lake, scattered over with vessels.

Dover, Tuesday, July 11th.-We walked to the Castle before breakfast. The building, when you are close to it, appears even sublime, from its immense height and bulk; but it is not rich or beautiful in architecture. The old warder stood in

waiting upon the hill to lead us forward. After ascending above a hundred stone steps, we were greeted by the slender tinkling of a bell, a delicately wild sound in that place. It is fixed at the top of a pillar, on which is inscribed a poetical petition in behalf of the prisoners confined above in the Castle.

Calais, Tuesday, July 11.-Landed on the shores of France at half-past one. What shall I say of Calais? I looked about for what I remembered, and looked for new things, and in both quests was gratified. . . . On my bedroom door is inscribed Sterne's Room,' and a print of him hangs over the fireplace. The walls painted in panels, handsome carpets, chimney-piece marble-coloured, hearth red, bed-curtains white, sheets coarse, coverlet a mixture of cotton and woollen, beautifully white; but how clumsy all contrivances. of braziers and smiths! The bell hangs on the outside of the wall, and gives a single, loud, dull, stroke when pulled by the string, so that you must stand and pull four or five times, as if you were calling the people to prayers.

[ocr errors]

Calais, Wednesday, July 12.-We rose at five; sunshine. and clear, but rather cold air. The Cathedral, a large edifice, not finely wrought; but the first effect is striking, from the size of the numerous pillars and arches, though they are paltry in the finishing, merely whitewashed and stuck over with bad pictures and tawdry images; yet the whole view at the entrance was affecting. Old men and women-young women and girls kneeling at their silent prayers, and some we espied, in obscure recesses, before a concealed crucifix, image, or altar. One grey-haired man I cannot forget, whose countenance bore the impression of worldly cares subdued, and peace in heavenly aspiration. . . . Another figure I must not leave unnoticed, a squalid, ragged woman. She sate alone upon some steps at the side of the entrance to the quire. There she sate, with a white dog beside her; no one was near, and the dog and she evidently belonged to each other, probably her only friend, for never was there a more wretchedly forlorn and miserable-looking human being. She did not notice us; but her rags and her melancholy and sickly aspect drew a penny from me, and the change in the woman's skinny, doleful face is not to be imagined it was brightened by a light and gracious smilethe effect was almost as of something supernatural—she bowed her body, waved her hand, and, with a politeness of gesture unknown in England in almost any station of life, beckoned that we might enter the church, where the people were kneeling upon chairs, of which there might be a thousand-two thousand-I cannot say how many-piled up in different parts of the Cathedral. . . .

9 o'clock, Inn-yard, Calais.-Off we drove, preceded by our friends, each postillion smacking his whip along the street with a dexterity truly astonishing. Never before did I know the power of a clumsy whip, in concert with the rattling of wheels. upon rough pavement! The effect was certainly not less upon us than upon the spectators, and we jolted away as merry as

[ocr errors]

children-showed our passports-passed the gateways, drawbridges, and shabby soldiers, and, fresh to the feeling of being in a foreign land, drove briskly forward, watchful and gay. The country for many miles populous; this makes it amusing, though sandy and flat; no trees worth looking at singly as trees.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Half-past 10.-The party gone to bed. This salle, where I sit, how unlike a parlour in an English inn! Yet the history of a sea-fight, or a siege, painted on the walls, with the costumes of Philip the Second, or even of our own time, would have better suited my associations, with the names of Gravelines and Dunkirk, than the story of Cupid and Psyche now before my eyes, as large as life, on French paper! The paper is in panels, with big mirrors between, in gilt frames. With all this taste and finery, and wax candles,* and Brussels carpets, what a mixture of troublesome awkwardness! They brought us a ponderous teapot that would not pour out the tea; the latches (with metal enough to fasten up a dungeon) can hardly, by unpractised hands, be made to open and shut the doors! I have seen the diligence come into the yard and unload-heavy, dirty, dusty—a lap-dog walking about the top, like a panther in its cage, and viewing the gulf below. A monkey was an outside passenger when it departed.

Furnes, July 13, Thursday, 5 o'clock. I will describe this Square. Houses yellow, grey, white, and there is a green one! Yet the effect is not gaudy-a half Grecian church, with Gothic spire; storks have built their nests, and are sitting upon the venerable tower of another church, a sight that pleasingly reminds us of our neighbourhood to Holland. The interior of that which outwardly mimics the Grecian is Gothic, and rather handsome in form, but


A charge was made for wax candles.

« AnteriorContinuar »