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The stationary blasts of waterfalls,
Winds thwarting winds bewildered and forlorn,
The types and symbols of Eternity,
Of first, and last, and midst, and without end.
Thirty years afterwards I crossed the Alps by the same Pass; and what had become of the forms and powers to which I had been indebted for those emotions? Many of them remained of course undestroyed and indestructible. But, though the road and torrent continued to run parallel to each other, their fellowship was put an end to. The stream had dwindled into comparative insignificance, so much had Art interfered with and taken the lead of Nature; and, although the utility of the new work, as facilitating the intercourse of great nations, was readily acquiesced in, and the workmanship, in some places, could not but excite admiration, it was impossible to suppress regret for what had vanished for ever. The oratories heretofore not unfrequently met with, on a road still somewhat perilous, were gone; the simple and rude bridges swept away; and instead of travellers proceeding, with leisure to observe and feel, were pilgrims of fashion hurried along in their carriages, not a few of them perhaps discussing the merits of "the last new Novel," or poring over their Guide-books, or fast asleep.
1 See the "Poetical Works," vol. ii. p. 69; also The Prelude, book i. 1. 621.-ED.
Similar remarks might be applied to the mountainous country of Wales; but there too, the plea of utility, especially as expediting the communication between England and Ireland, more than justifies the labours of the Engineer. Not so would it be with the Lake District. A railroad is already planned along the sea coast, and another from Lancaster to Carlisle is in great forwardness: an intermediate one is therefore, to say the least of it, superfluous. Once for all let me declare that it is not against Railways but against the abuse of them that I am contending.
How far I am from undervaluing the benefit to be expected from railways in their legitimate application will appear from the following lines published in 1837,1 and composed some years earlier.
STEAMBOATS AND RAILWAYS
Motions and Means, on sea, on land at war
I have now done with the subject. The time of life at which I have arrived may, I trust, if nothing else will, guard me from the imputation of having written from any selfish interests, or from fear of disturbance which a railway might cause to myself. If gratitude for what repose and quiet in a district hitherto, for the most part, not disfigured but beautified by human hands, have done
1 They were composed in 1833, and published in 1835.-ED.
for me through the course of a long life, and hope that others might hereafter be benefited in the same manner and in the same country, be selfishness, then indeed, but not otherwise, I plead guilty to the charge. Nor have I opposed this undertaking on account of the inhabitants of the district merely, but, as hath been intimated, for the sake of every one, however humble his condition, who coming hither shall bring with him an eye to perceive, and a heart to feel and worthily enjoy. And as for holiday pastimes, if a scene is to be chosen suitable to them for persons thronging from a distance, it may be found elsewhere at less cost of every kind. But, in fact, we have too much hurrying about in these islands; much for idle pleasure, and more from over activity in the pursuit of wealth, without regard to the good or happiness of others.
Proud were ye, Mountains, when, in times of old,
In The Morning Post of December 18, 1844, the following verses are published :—
Wednesday, December 18, 1844
TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
(Occasioned by his Letter on the contemplated Lake Railroad.)
O well befits the deep indignant strain
Poured from the home where thou so long hast dwelt,
And, worshipping at Nature's shrine hast knelt,
Pure thoughts and deepest wisdom, who hast dealt
On then, and spare not, Poet! lift thy voice
That wrong so great be spared this region of thy choice.
END OF VOL. II
Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh.