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among the hills of Westmorland, till at the time, nor food for future poetiI felt as if I could have pointed out cal meditations. I therefore asked and explained to others, beauties, which, no questions, even of those intelligent on my first entrance into the country, and noble looking shepherds whom I might be said to have enjoyed, ra- I often passed upon the hillside; I ther than to have understood. I soon courteously returned their somewhat felt like a native--and in walking up haughty and laconic salutations, and the mountains, have acquired some passed on like a shadow along the thing of the springing step and for- verdant moss, or the finty crags. ward-leaning attitude of the shepherds Why should I ask what the mounand the herdsmen.
tains themselves told me in language A strong and deep passion for na- easily understood. I saw before me ture, especially when of a sudden re- the cliff that might not be scaledvived and gratified to the utmost, seeks and the abyss that might not be deto indulge itself in solitude,--and on scended. At each bend of a valleyplunging into the manifold recesses of on each shoulder of a mountain-my those magnificent mountains, I felt magnificent and royal road stretched that even the conversation and society into the distance-I feared not to move of a beloved friend would have been onwards when the torrent called upon irksome, much more the unsatisfactory me to follow-and if the thick mistovertalk of some peasant guide, whose pro- shadowed me, I waited till the blast vincial dialect I, though well acquaint- drove into air the walls of my prisoned with the pure English tongue, house. At night-fall I could recollect might have been unable distinctly to no plan on which I had pursued my have understood. I wished for no guide pilgrimage, but I did recollect many -and in good truth I needed none. a panoramic vision on earth-many a I had an imperfect map-knowledge phantasmagorial procession through of the geography of those inountains the heavens all the tamer scenery of and had formed to myself a confused the spectacle was forgotten, and in and dim picture of its celebrated lakes sleep my senses continued to be im-but. I cared not into what pass I pressed by a wild and hurried confufirst penetrated—I went not there to sion of all the most majestic images of prove the correctness of other men's nature. descriptions or to sail down the stream I felt afraid to enter into conversaof their emotions I had no faith in tion with the shepherds and peasants that mock philosophy that pretends to in whose cottages I slept. I wished lay down the infallible laws of beauty them to be what they seemed to my and grandeur, and draws out rules for imagination, and I was loth to acquire scientifically making our approaches to- an imperfect knowledge of their charwards the impregnable precipices of na- acter, "lest the strong interest which ture,--I chose rather to travel like the their appearance had created in my free wind that shifts twenty times a- mind should thereby be destroyed or day, yet, midst all its caprices, obeys the weakened. Never had I seen so finespirit of the regions where it roams; looking a race. The young men were and, if I may so speak, to linger, like all tall, straight, and muscular, with a calm, in places of sudden and unex- brown-clustering hair, and bronzed pected peace. Who shall pretend to faces, in whose high and regular feadetermine which of a hundred vallies tures nothing vulgar or clownish apis the most beautiful ? Who ever saw peared. The old men, as I have all the beauties that, during one long seen them, sitting at their cottagesummer day pass over the very humblest doors, or beneath a huge beam of dell? There can be no guide to a lov- wood that forms a recess for the fire. er of nature but that love itself-and place in these simple dwellings, seemhe who once surrenders the course and ed, with their solemn countenances flow of his affection and his imagina- and gray heads, like patriarchs of the tion to the will of another,--sees as he great pastoral age; while the young wosees and feels as he feels and may men, beautiful as angels, and arrayed undoubtedly both see and feel much in a bashful yet no inelegant timidity that is startling and impressive; but in the presence of a stranger, even his pleasure, after all, must be a bar- surpassed all my former ideas of the ren pleasure, and can create within fabled charms of shepherdesses and the soul, neither exalted enthusiasm mountain-nymphs. Never before had
I seen human life in low estate, with- away from the level expanse of a lake, out something allied to degradation. however beautiful or majestic, as from But I now beheld before me the free a scene too peaceful for the tumultuous children of the soil, and I could not state of my senses and imagination. but admire the sons and daughters of In this wild mood I traversed many liberty. There was nothing like ser- of the mountain glens of Westmorvitude to be seen among them. I land and Cumberland; and I was forcould not tell whether the young tunate enough to enjoy every kind of maidens were or were not daughters weather, from the stillest and brightof the family; all seemed to perform est sunshine to the most loud and the same household work in those stormy darkness. Now that I have calm evenings which I passed silently become somewhat familiar with the among them; and every thing went “ local habitations and the names," I on as if one kind spirit of love and cannot but admire the many wayhappiness insensibly filled all hearts ward routes which, in all the glorious with one purpose. Of these interest- delight of ignorance, I find that I ing people I have since seen much ; have occasionally followed. One very but i dare not yet venture to speak of stormy day, I left the village of Patthe habits, manners, customs, and terdale (a hamlet surrounded by huge feelings, of a race so unlike any other mountains at the head of a lake called I have beheld, and whom it requires to Ullswater); and, ascending a steep wild study thoughtfully before it is possible pass through the hills that hang over for a stranger to understand them. the little inn, came at last by the edge of How should I dare to describe their frightful precipices to the very summit character, till I have seen into the soul of Helvysln. I then may say, that I of their lonely, their adventurous, and flew before a strong-rushing wind aa most peculiar
life ? A shepherd's year is long the smooth brink of a succession one of many seasons !
of semicircular basins of vast depth, It was the land of lakes through in some of which lay black sullen which I was a pilgrim. Yet I know pools, till I descended the shoulder not how it happened, that, during the of a huge mountain upon the old oak first days I saw no lakes that liad pow. woods and the ancient Hallof Rydal. I er to detain me on their shores. I had then crossed the valley through which passed some years of my boyhood on the high road runs from Kendal to the sea-shore ; and as 'I walked by Keswick, and, ascending Loughrig Fells the edge of these calm sheets of water, (I have a pleasure in writing these I seemed to long for the hollow mur- names), came out of the enveloping mist murs of the ocean, and felt the want in the long and solemn valley called of that awful sound. But it was Langdale: having traced that valley the mountains that, when I was yet to its head, I bore on across the opat a distance from them, wholly filled posing precipices, and after two hours my imagination. The deep blackness walk in a savage solitude, my course that separated one mighty mass from wes blocked up by an enormous another-the topmost crags that shot mountain (the Great Gabel); so, wheelinto the sky's heart—the sudden illu- ing to the right, I soon descended in minations that burned on the cliffs to Borrowdale, a vale filled with rocks, till the whole side of a hill would seem woods, promontories, and even mounon fire the clouds that coursed not tains,—and certainly not to be sure along the sky, but up the glens, and passed by any scene on earth for beaucleaving to the mountains half-way ty mixed with grandeur-wildness down, sometimes with amazing veloci- with cultivation-and profound secluty flying past in detached and brokension sometimes widening out into fragments, and sometimes coming on such a sweeping magnificence, that it with a majestic slowness in deep pro- would seem a fitter site for palaces cessional masses, as if from an im- than cottages, for cities than for hammense distance-and then, the sounds lets ;-then espying through the openof the desert at times even terrible, ing storm a wild staircase in a mounthese were the things that followed tain to the left, 1 toiled up its steps me, and that I followed there was a against the hurricane, and, descendsort of rolling a swell in my soul that ing its long, dreary, melancholy vale, I wished not to subside, and in that by the side of a stream rolling mood I think I should have turned over a bed of blue slate, just as the VOL. IV.
evening closed in, I reached a small wished to be a hermit in the severe inn on the banks of Buttermere, having sojourn of that other profounder glen, been without one hour's rest, hurry- it was here that I almost thought, ing on through the storm from sun
“ That lowly shepherd's life was best,” rise to sunset, and having travelled nearly fifty miles, through all possible and could have pitched my tent in varieties of mountain scenery.
this bright and warbling solitude. Next morning, by sunrise, I left But the sweet cottages and green the valley, in which lie separated from mounds of Eskdale soon faded behind each other, by some smiling meadows, me;-as I ascended a steep mountain, the lakes of Buttermere and Cromack- which I believe is called Hardknot, Water, and passing a singular cataract the mists again encircled me in darkin a roaring cleft between two high ness, and I saw nothing for two hours perpendicular rocks, I followed a green but black crags, or foamy waterfalls, and wide pass, till I came to the top till the gentle hours of evening again of a mountain hanging over the lake stole over the earth, and I continued of Ennerdale, whose shores stretch walking on through a succession of away in Arcadian beauty, till it melts meadows, coppice-woods, and rocky into a noble vale extending to the sea. heaths, till a brighter smile of verdure Instead of pacing the level banks of all round me, and more frequent cots this lake, I penetrated the misty mass tages, and a widened rivulet, warned of mountains at its head, and, after me that some village was • near, and long bewilderment, came suddenly just as the rooks were gathering for the down upon the head of Wastdale, in night on a lofty row of pine trees, I whose profound and silent depth—for entered Ambleside, a romantic village, the wind had wholly ceased-lay a situated on the slope of a hill, crowncluster of cottages embowered in trees, ed by its white church- tower, and and close to them a little buildingcommanding the view of a noble valscarcely larger than a cottage, but ley, which terminates in the lake of which I discovered from its shape to
Windermere. be a chapel. This is the most solitary If ever, my dear P., you visit this place I ever beheld; and what makes enchanted land, endeavour to make the solitude more affecting is, that it your way through the mountains in has, and seems long to have had, its the track I have now described. I own small population. The few houses have sketched these two days' walk it contains are old, but not ruinous very slightly and generally; but he ash trees of immense age overshadow who has traversed this mountainous them--and all around them are the region, has assuredly seen specimens remains of woods long ago decayed, of the finest things the country conand some solitary yew-trees, within tains.-Yours ever. whose wreathed trunks centuries seem to be enclosed, and that give to this still pastoral scene something of, an - indefinite and mysterious solemnity. Methought I could have lived here for ever!-transient thought! I soon
MY DEAR FRIEND, left this solitary hamlet, and, pausing I have now been a fortnight at Amon the top of a hill, gave it a farewell bleside, and have studied with enthuglance ; and then, crossing a long siastic love, the character of nature, moor, and its own dreary, lake (Barn- as she is displayed in the enchanted moor-Tarn), I descended into a vale circle of which that sweet village may of a character altogether opposite be considered as the centre. Wherever to that of Wastdale, a long nar- a man happens to be, indeed, he is apt to row vale, smiling with cultivated fields feel that all things gather, as it were, -watered by a rivulet, that, though round himself—and even though there much swollen, was still translucent, be no such combination of objects in and, along all its course, beautifully reality, they seem all to diverge from shaded with trees. Never saw I such his place of abode in imagination. fair cottages as in this valley-all But Ambleside is a central situation, Seemed cheerful serenity, and placid and each day has presented me with a enjoyment; and if two hours ago I fresh vision of beauty and magnifi
cence. I am not, however, now going to the same time, something so much describe inanimate nature--and, per- more elegant and scholar-like in his haps, you will not be displeased to demeanour than I had ever seen in find my former letter, that expressed any English country-gentleman mereonly vague and indefinite first impres- ly, that before I perceived in him any sions, followed by one that speaks to of the distinctive traits of the poet, or you of illustrious living men. 'I know heard him say any thing at all extrayour admiration of the modern poetry ordinary, I ventured to hint, that I of England, and you will read with suspected the intellectual rank of the interest any information concerning man in whose presence I had the hothose men of genius, whose works we nour to sit. When I found that it have often read together, and of whose was indeed the great author of Thalapersonal character we have insensibly ba and Madoc, I could not but feel no formed to ourselves a dim and shadowy small portion of awema feeling due picture. I have been so fortunate as from me, who had only the devout not only to have seen Southey and love of genius, to him who was so Wordsworth, but to have seen them richly gifted with the heavenly flame beneath their own roofs, and to have itself and who occupied so high a heard them, with perfect freedom, and place in the literature of a great naa noble simplicity, deliver their opi- tion. Mr Southey allowed me, with nions both on things, on books, and frank and unaffected good-nature, to on men. I hope that I know too well express my sense of the honour I what is due to the sanctity of the enjoyed, and then changed the condomestic life of men of genius and versation with some lively remarks on virtue, to utter one idle word about the weather, which was oppressively that bright scene of happiness which I hot; and, unless I am greatly mistaken, was permitted, though a stranger and he uttered two of those little wittiunknown, to behold and to enjoy- cisms called puns. There was indeed but to you who, like myself, regard something short and epigrammatic in these men at once as the most original his talk, and I felt rather puzzled how of poets, and the most patriotic of citie to take my share in the conversation; zens, I may be allowed to communi- for I could not think of shewing off as cate something of what I felt in their a facetious person before a great poet, presence, and to tell you something of on my very first interview with him; Southey and Wordsworth as human and yet I saw that gravity, and, still beings, accustomed as we have both more, any formal discussion, would hitherto been to think of them only be most absurd and out of place with as creative spirits in the world of in- a man, who, though eminent for gespiration.
nius, talents, and learning, had all the My first, and indeed only, interview simplicity, I had almost said the playwith Mr Southey was purely acciden- fulness-though that would be too tal. I had strolled into a nursery strong a word-of a child. I soon garden, close to the small town of felt myself perfectly at ease ; for there Keswick, and found myself at the door was no affectation in this lively and of a gentleman's house, on whose pri-. happy carelessness of mind, evidently vacy I felt that I might seem to the unbending itself with pleasure in the inmates to have somewhat rudely in- bosom of a beautiful family, from truded. On retiring from the front of those severe and higher studies which the mansion, I met a gentleman, to have raised his name among the imwhom I apologised for my seeming mortals; and e'er an hour elapsed, I intrusion ; and being received with a was absolutely exchanging repartees singular courtesy, I found myself sit- with the poet; and on one occasion I ting in an elegant little parlour, with thought his smile admitted, that I my unknown host, a lady, who I saw had said a tolerably good thing. Durwas his wife, and two very beautiful ing all this time, I was, in spite of children. I know not how it was, but myself, acting in the character of a all at once I felt assured that I was in well-intentioned spy, and had a fair the house of Robert Southey. There opportunity of beholding the personal reigned in the mansion so still, and yet appearance and manners of this celeso cheerful, an air of serenity—there brated man. His figure is rather tall was such a total absence of any pro- and slim, but apparently muscular, fessional air about its master, and, at and has altogether an air of gentility about it. He has nothing whatever there. He pointed out to me some about him of the stiffness or awke of the objects which he thought most wardness of a great student; but, on characteristic of the scene before us ; the contrary, were he a mere ordinary and then, with great simplicity, said, person, I shoulà describe him as a “ You have now been reading the genteel-looking man, possessing much great book of Nature-here are the natural elegance, or even grace. But volumes of men !" I saw one of the his head and countenance bespeak the noblest. private libraries in Englandpoet. His hair is black, and bushy, certainly the richest of any in Spanish and strong, and gives him a bold, free, and Portuguese literature. It seemed and even dignified look-his face is to me, that Mr Southey's air and mansharp-his nose high-and his eyes, ner insensibly changed “ from lively without having that piercing look to severe," as we sat together surwhich is often felt to be disagreeable, rounded by that magnificent collecbecause too searching in the eyes of tion of books which his intellectual men of genius, are, without any excep- power had enabled him to purchase, tion, the most acute and intelligent his learning to select, and his genius I ever beheld. Yet I believe he is to enjoy. I saw that his soul was near-sighted; and this seems to have there that this was the room in given him a habit of elevating his which he had composed his noble face when he speaks, as if he were poems, his learned histories, his beaulooking up, which brings all his fea- tiful illustrations of antiquity, his tures fully before you, and seemed to Essays so lively and so original—the me to impart to his whole demeanour vast mass of his miscellaneous literaa singular charm of sincerity and in- ture—and that here he was yet medidependence. His voice seemed to me at tating future works for the benefit of first to be shrill and weak, and per- mankind, and for the glory of his own haps it is so; but there is in it a kind imperishable name. It seemed indeed of musical wildness, which I could not a magnificent seclusion-haunted by help considering to be characteristic of all high and noble fancies, and prethe author of Thalaba ; and when he sided over by genius and virtue. I chanced to recite a few lines of poe- had seen before splendid libraries in try, it became quite empassioned. cities, belonging to universities and
After tea, during which happy meal corporations of learned men-in whose I saw, in a thousand little circum- dim galleries, and retired cells, stustances not to be misunderstood, the dents
explore the treasures of the wise amiable heart of that poet who has ex- dom of past ages,-noble institutions, celled all his contemporaries in the de- founded and endowed, perhaps, by lineation of domestic blessedness, he the bequests of some rich and liberal. led me into his study. Fit study for minded citizen, or noble, or king; but a poet ! On first entering it, I almost here was a vast treasure of books, felt as if I had stepped out into the piled together in the majestic silence calm evening air. One softened blaze of solitude, and existing, too, for of beauty burst upon my eyes. The the use of one solitary intellect, windows commanded an entire, view · who, far removed from the noise of of two noble lakes-Derwentwater busy life, had, from his youth up, and Bassenthwaite, and of a richly- been self-devoted to the great cause of wooded valley, by which they are truth, and now sat surrounded and inseparated from each other, and yet spired by the spirits of the mighty bound together by a river that covers men of old ; while his dwelling was it with fertility and verdure. Vast overshadowed by the grandeur of naranges of mountains terminated the ture. Calm and lofty happiness reignprospect at the head of the higher ed over all the poet's house; but it lake, while the blue waters of Bassen- was in this “ sanctum sanctorum" thwaite seemed to die away in the that I felt the concentration of all the skies. I gazed on the transcendent rays of his character. A beautiful are landscape, and then on the poet--s0 rangement prevailed in this library. worthy of each other. His face seem- The massy folios seemed to know that ed kindling with pride-when he said they stood not there for shew alone; that he considered these lakes as his and when that illustrious man, in the own-that he had lived twenty years on course of conversation, took down a "heir banks-and would probably die volume from its shelf, he turned over