Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. III by William Wordsworth

Part 10 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

To bodily sense exhibits, is the express
Resemblance of that glorious faculty
That higher minds bear with them as their own. 90
This is the very spirit in which they deal
With the whole compass of the universe:
They from their native selves can send abroad
Kindred mutations; for themselves create
A like existence; and, whene'er it dawns 95
Created for them, catch it, or are caught
By its inevitable mastery,
Like angels stopped upon the wind by sound
Of harmony from Heaven's remotest spheres.
Them the enduring and the transient both 100
Serve to exalt; they build up greatest things
From least suggestions; ever on the watch,
Willing to work and to be wrought upon,
They need not extraordinary calls
To rouse them; in a world of life they live, 105
By sensible impressions not enthralled,
But by their quickening impulse made more prompt
To hold fit converse with the spiritual world,
And with the generations of mankind
Spread over time, past, present, and to come, 110
Age after age, till Time shall be no more.
Such minds are truly from the Deity,
For they are Powers; and hence the highest bliss
That flesh can know is theirs--the consciousness
Of Whom they are, habitually infused 115
Through every image and through every thought,
And all affections by communion raised
From earth to heaven, from human to divine;
Hence endless occupation for the Soul,
Whether discursive or intuitive; [C] 120
Hence cheerfulness for acts of daily life,
Emotions which best foresight need not fear,
Most worthy then of trust when most intense
Hence, amid ills that vex and wrongs that crush
Our hearts--if here the words of Holy Writ 125
May with fit reverence be applied--that peace
Which passeth understanding, that repose
In moral judgments which from this pure source
Must come, or will by man be sought in vain.

Oh! who is he that hath his whole life long 130
Preserved, enlarged, this freedom in himself?
For this alone is genuine liberty:
Where is the favoured being who hath held
That course unchecked, unerring, and untired,
In one perpetual progress smooth and bright?--135
A humbler destiny have we retraced,
And told of lapse and hesitating choice,
And backward wanderings along thorny ways:
Yet--compassed round by mountain solitudes,
Within whose solemn temple I received 140
My earliest visitations, careless then
Of what was given me; and which now I range,
A meditative, oft a suffering man--
Do I declare--in accents which, from truth
Deriving cheerful confidence, shall blend 145
Their modulation with these vocal streams--
That, whatsoever falls my better mind,
Revolving with the accidents of life,
May have sustained, that, howsoe'er misled,
Never did I, in quest of right and wrong, 150
Tamper with conscience from a private aim;
Nor was in any public hope the dupe
Of selfish passions; nor did ever yield
Wilfully to mean cares or low pursuits,
But shrunk with apprehensive jealousy 155
From every combination which might aid
The tendency, too potent in itself,
Of use and custom to bow down the soul
Under a growing weight of vulgar sense,
And substitute a universe of death 160
For that which moves with light and life informed,
Actual, divine, and true. To fear and love,
To love as prime and chief, for there fear ends,
Be this ascribed; to early intercourse,
In presence of sublime or beautiful forms, 165
With the adverse principles of pain and joy--
Evil, as one is rashly named by men
Who know not what they speak. By love subsists
All lasting grandeur, by pervading love;
That gone, we are as dust.--Behold the fields 170
In balmy spring-time full of rising flowers
And joyous creatures; see that pair, the lamb
And the lamb's mother, and their tender ways
Shall touch thee to the heart; thou callest this love,
And not inaptly so, for love it is, 175
Far as it carries thee. In some green bower
Rest, and be not alone, but have thou there
The One who is thy choice of all the world:
There linger, listening, gazing, with delight
Impassioned, but delight how pitiable! 180
Unless this love by a still higher love
Be hallowed, love that breathes not without awe;
Love that adores, but on the knees of prayer,
By heaven inspired; that frees from chains the soul,
Lifted, in union with the purest, best, 185
Of earth-born passions, on the wings of praise
Bearing a tribute to the Almighty's Throne.

This spiritual Love acts not nor can exist
Without Imagination, which, in truth,
Is but another name for absolute power 190
And clearest insight, amplitude of mind,
And Reason in her most exalted mood.
This faculty hath been the feeding source
Of our long labour: we have traced the stream
From the blind cavern whence is faintly heard 195
Its natal murmur; followed it to light
And open day; accompanied its course
Among the ways of Nature, for a time
Lost sight of it bewildered and engulphed:
Then given it greeting as it rose once more 200
In strength, reflecting from its placid breast
The works of man and face of human life;
And lastly, from its progress have we drawn
Faith in life endless, the sustaining thought
Of human Being, Eternity, and God. 205

Imagination having been our theme,
So also hath that intellectual Love,
For they are each in each, and cannot stand
Dividually.--Here must thou be, O Man!
Power to thyself; no Helper hast thou here; 210
Here keepest thou in singleness thy state:
No other can divide with thee this work:
No secondary hand can intervene
To fashion this ability; 'tis thine,
The prime and vital principle is thine 215
In the recesses of thy nature, far
From any reach of outward fellowship,
Else is not thine at all. But joy to him,
Oh, joy to him who here hath sown, hath laid
Here, the foundation of his future years! 220
For all that friendship, all that love can do,
All that a darling countenance can look
Or dear voice utter, to complete the man,
Perfect him, made imperfect in himself,
All shall be his: and he whose soul hath risen 225
Up to the height of feeling intellect
Shall want no humbler tenderness; his heart
Be tender as a nursing mother's heart;
Of female softness shall his life be full,
Of humble cares and delicate desires, 230
Mild interests and gentlest sympathies.

Child of my parents! Sister of my soul!
Thanks in sincerest verse have been elsewhere
Poured out [D] for all the early tenderness
Which I from thee imbibed: and 'tis most true 235
That later seasons owed to thee no less;
For, spite of thy sweet influence and the touch
Of kindred hands that opened out the springs
Of genial thought in childhood, and in spite
Of all that unassisted I had marked 240
In life or nature of those charms minute
That win their way into the heart by stealth
(Still to the very going-out of youth),
I too exclusively esteemed _that_ love,
And sought _that_ beauty, which, as Milton sings, 245
Hath terror in it. [E] Thou didst soften down
This over-sternness; but for thee, dear Friend!
My soul, too reckless of mild grace, had stood
In her original self too confident,
Retained too long a countenance severe; 250
A rock with torrents roaring, with the clouds
Familiar, and a favourite of the stars:
But thou didst plant its crevices with flowers,
Hang it with shrubs that twinkle in the breeze,
And teach the little birds to build their nests 255
And warble in its chambers. At a time
When Nature, destined to remain so long
Foremost in my affections, had fallen back
Into a second place, pleased to become
A handmaid to a nobler than herself, 260
When every day brought with it some new sense
Of exquisite regard for common things,
And all the earth was budding with these gifts
Of more refined humanity, thy breath,
Dear Sister! was a kind of gentler spring 265
That went before my steps. Thereafter came
One whom with thee friendship had early paired;
She came, no more a phantom to adorn
A moment, [F] but an inmate of the heart,
And yet a spirit, there for me enshrined 270
To penetrate the lofty and the low;
Even as one essence of pervading light
Shines, in the brightest of ten thousand stars,
And the meek worm that feeds her lonely lamp
Couched in the dewy grass.
With such a theme, 275
Coleridge! with this my argument, of thee
Shall I be silent? O capacious Soul!
Placed on this earth to love and understand,
And from thy presence shed the light of love,
Shall I be mute, ere thou be spoken of? 280
Thy kindred influence to my heart of hearts
Did also find its way. Thus fear relaxed
Her over-weening grasp; thus thoughts and things
In the self-haunting spirit learned to take
More rational proportions; mystery, 285
The incumbent mystery of sense and soul,
Of life and death, time and eternity,
Admitted more habitually a mild
Interposition--a serene delight
In closelier gathering cares, such as become 290
A human creature, howsoe'er endowed,
Poet, or destined for a humbler name;
And so the deep enthusiastic joy,
The rapture of the hallelujah sent
From all that breathes and is, was chastened, stemmed 295
And balanced by pathetic truth, by trust
In hopeful reason, leaning on the stay
Of Providence; and in reverence for duty,
Here, if need be, struggling with storms, and there
Strewing in peace life's humblest ground with herbs, 300
At every season green, sweet at all hours.

And now, O Friend! this history is brought
To its appointed close: the discipline
And consummation of a Poet's mind,
In everything that stood most prominent, 305
Have faithfully been pictured; we have reached
The time (our guiding object from the first)
When we may, not presumptuously, I hope,
Suppose my powers so far confirmed, and such
My knowledge, as to make me capable 310
Of building up a Work that shall endure. [G]
Yet much hath been omitted, as need was;
Of books how much! and even of the other wealth
That is collected among woods and fields,
Far more: for Nature's secondary grace 315
Hath hitherto been barely touched upon,
The charm more superficial that attends
Her works, as they present to Fancy's choice
Apt illustrations of the moral world,
Caught at a glance, or traced with curious pains. 320

Finally, and above all, O Friend! (I speak
With due regret) how much is overlooked
In human nature and her subtle ways,
As studied first in our own hearts, and then
In life among the passions of mankind, 325
Varying their composition and their hue,
Where'er we move, under the diverse shapes
That individual character presents
To an attentive eye. For progress meet,
Along this intricate and difficult path, 330
Whate'er was wanting, something had I gained,
As one of many schoolfellows compelled,
In hardy independence, to stand up
Amid conflicting interests, and the shock
Of various tempers; to endure and note 335
What was not understood, though known to be;
Among the mysteries of love and hate,
Honour and shame, looking to right and left,
Unchecked by innocence too delicate,
And moral notions too intolerant, 340
Sympathies too contracted. Hence, when called
To take a station among men, the step
Was easier, the transition more secure,
More profitable also; for, the mind
Learns from such timely exercise to keep 345
In wholesome separation the two natures,
The one that feels, the other that observes.

Yet one word more of personal concern--
Since I withdrew unwillingly from France,
I led an undomestic wanderer's life, 350
In London chiefly harboured, whence I roamed,
Tarrying at will in many a pleasant spot
Of rural England's cultivated vales
Or Cambrian solitudes. [H] A youth--(he bore
The name of Calvert [I]--it shall live, if words 355
Of mine can give it life,) in firm belief
That by endowments not from me withheld
Good might be furthered--in his last decay
By a bequest sufficient for my needs
Enabled me to pause for choice, and walk 360
At large and unrestrained, nor damped too soon
By mortal cares. Himself no Poet, yet
Far less a common follower of the world,
He deemed that my pursuits and labours lay
Apart from all that leads to wealth, or even 365
A necessary maintenance insures,
Without some hazard to the finer sense;
He cleared a passage for me, and the stream
Flowed in the bent of Nature. [K]
Having now
Told what best merits mention, further pains 370
Our present purpose seems not to require,
And I have other tasks. Recall to mind
The mood in which this labour was begun,
O Friend! The termination of my course
Is nearer now, much nearer; yet even then, 375
In that distraction and intense desire,
I said unto the life which I had lived,
Where art thou? Hear I not a voice from thee
Which 'tis reproach to hear? Anon I rose
As if on wings, and saw beneath me stretched 380
Vast prospect of the world which I had been
And was; and hence this Song, which like a lark
I have protracted, in the unwearied heavens
Singing, and often with more plaintive voice
To earth attempered and her deep-drawn sighs, 385
Yet centring all in love, and in the end
All gratulant, if rightly understood.

Whether to me shall be allotted life,
And, with life, power to accomplish aught of worth,
That will be deemed no insufficient plea 390
For having given the story of myself,
Is all uncertain: but, beloved Friend!
When, looking back, thou seest, in clearer view
Than any liveliest sight of yesterday,
That summer, under whose indulgent skies, 395
Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge we roved
Unchecked, or loitered 'mid her sylvan combs, [L]
Thou in bewitching words, with happy heart,
Didst chaunt the vision of that Ancient Man,
The bright-eyed Mariner, [L] and rueful woes 400
Didst utter of the Lady Christabel; [L]
And I, associate with such labour, steeped
In soft forgetfulness the livelong hours,
Murmuring of him who, joyous hap, was found,
After the perils of his moonlight ride, 405
Near the loud waterfall; [L] or her who sate
In misery near the miserable Thorn; [L]
When thou dost to that summer turn thy thoughts,
And hast before thee all which then we were,
To thee, in memory of that happiness, 410
It will be known, by thee at least, my Friend!
Felt, that the history of a Poet's mind
Is labour not unworthy of regard:
To thee the work shall justify itself.

The last and later portions of this gift 415
Have been prepared, not with the buoyant spirits
That were our daily portion when we first
Together wantoned in wild Poesy,
But, under pressure of a private grief, [M]
Keen and enduring, which the mind and heart, 420
That in this meditative history
Have been laid open, needs must make me feel
More deeply, yet enable me to bear
More firmly; and a comfort now hath risen
From hope that thou art near, and wilt be soon 425
Restored to us in renovated health;
When, after the first mingling of our tears,
'Mong other consolations, we may draw
Some pleasure from this offering of my love.

Oh! yet a few short years of useful life, 430
And all will be complete, thy race be run,
Thy monument of glory will be raised;
Then, though (too weak to tread the ways of truth)
This age fall back to old idolatry,
Though men return to servitude as fast 435
As the tide ebbs, to ignominy and shame
By nations sink together, we shall still
Find solace--knowing what we have learnt to know,
Rich in true happiness if allowed to be
Faithful alike in forwarding a day 440
Of firmer trust, joint labourers in the work
(Should Providence such grace to us vouchsafe)
Of their deliverance, surely yet to come.
Prophets of Nature, we to them will speak
A lasting inspiration, sanctified 445
By reason, blest by faith: what we have loved,
Others will love, and we will teach them how;
Instruct them how the mind of man becomes
A thousand times more beautiful than the earth
On which he dwells, above this frame of things 450
(Which, 'mid all revolution in the hopes
And fears of men, doth still remain unchanged)
In beauty exalted, as it is itself
Of quality and fabric more divine.

* * * * *


[Footnote A: With Robert Jones, in the summer of 1793.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare 'Paradise Lost', book i. l. 21.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: Compare 'Paradise Lost', book v. l. 488.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: Compare 'The Sparrow's Nest', vol. ii. p. 236.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: See 'Paradise Lost', book ix. ll. 490, 491.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Mary Hutchinson. Compare the lines, p. 2, beginning:

'She was a Phantom of delight.'


[Footnote G: Compare the preface to 'The Excursion'. "Several years ago,
when the author retired to his native mountains, with the hope of being
enabled to construct a literary work that might live," etc.--Ed.]

[Footnote H: After leaving London, he went to the Isle of Wight and to
Salisbury Plain with Calvert; then to Bristol, the Valley of the Wye,
and Tintern Abbey, alone on foot; thence to Jones' residence in North
Wales at Plas-yn-llan in Denbighshire; with him to other places in North
Wales, thence to Halifax; and with his sister to Kendal, Grasmere,
Keswick, Whitehaven, and Penrith.--Ed.]

[Footnote I: Raisley Calvert.-Ed.]

[Footnote K: His friend, dying in January 1795, bequeathed to Wordsworth
a legacy of L900. Compare the sonnet, in vol. iv., beginning

'Calvert! it must not be unheard by them,'

and the 'Life of Wordsworth' in this edition.--Ed.]

[Footnote L: The Wordsworths went to Alfoxden in the end of July, 1797.
It was in the autumn of that year that, with Coleridge,

'Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge they roved
Unchecked, or loitered 'mid her sylvan combs;'

when the latter chaunted his 'Ancient Mariner' and 'Christabel', and
Wordsworth composed 'The Idiot Boy' and 'The Thorn'. The plan of a joint
publication was sketched out in November 1797. (See the Fenwick note to
'We are Seven', vol. i. p. 228.)--Ed.]

[Footnote M: The death of his brother John. Compare the 'Elegiac Verses'
in memory of him, p. 58.--Ed.]

* * * * *


Translated 1805?--Published 1807

[Translations from Michael Angelo, done at the request of Mr. Duppa,
whose acquaintance I made through Mr. Southey. Mr. Duppa was engaged in
writing the life of Michael Angelo, and applied to Mr. Southey and
myself to furnish some specimens of his poetic genius.--I. F.]

Compare the two sonnets entitled 'At Florence--from Michael Angelo', in
the "Memorials of a Tour in Italy" in 1837.

The following extract from a letter of Wordsworth's to Sir George
Beaumont, dated October 17, 1805, will cast light on the next three

"I mentioned Michael Angelo's poetry some time ago; it is the most
difficult to construe I ever met with, but just what you would expect
from such a man, shewing abundantly how conversant his soul was with
great things. There is a mistake in the world concerning the Italian
language; the poetry of Dante and Michael Angelo proves, that if there
be little majesty and strength in Italian verse, the fault is in the
authors, and not in the tongue. I can translate, and have translated
two books of Ariosto, at the rate, nearly, of one hundred lines a day;
but so much meaning has been put by Michael Angelo into so little
room, and that meaning sometimes so excellent in itself, that I found
the difficulty of translating him insurmountable. I attempted, at
least, fifteen of the sonnets, but could not anywhere succeed. I have
sent you the only one I was able to finish; it is far from being the
best, or most characteristic, but the others were too much for me."

The last of the three sonnets probably belongs to the year 1804, as it
is quoted in a letter to Sir George Beaumont, dated Grasmere, August 6.
The year is not given, but I think it must have been 1804, as he says
that "within the last month," he had written, "700 additional lines" of
'The Prelude'; and that poem was finished in May 1805.

The titles given to them make it necessary to place these Sonnets in the
order which follows.

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."--Ed.


Yes! hope may with my strong desire keep pace,
And I be undeluded, unbetrayed;
For if of our affections none finds [1] grace
In sight of Heaven, then, wherefore hath God made
The world which we inhabit? Better plea 5
Love cannot have, than that in loving thee
Glory to that eternal Peace is paid,
Who such divinity to thee imparts
As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts.
His hope is treacherous only whose love dies 10
With beauty, which is varying every hour;
But, in chaste hearts uninfluenced by the power
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower,
That breathes on earth the air of paradise.

* * * * *


[Variant 1:


... find ... 1807.]

* * * * *


Translated 1805?--Published 1807

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."--Ed.


No mortal object did these eyes behold
When first they met the placid light of thine,
And my Soul felt her destiny divine, [1]
And hope of endless peace in me grew bold:
Heaven-born, the Soul a heaven-ward course must hold; 5
Beyond the visible world she soars to seek
(For what delights the sense is false and weak)
Ideal Form, the universal mould.
The wise man, I affirm, can find no rest
In that which perishes: nor will he lend 10
His heart to aught which doth on time depend.
'Tis sense, unbridled will, and not true love,
That [2] kills the soul: love betters what is best,
Even here below, but more in heaven above.

* * * * *


[Variant 1:


When first saluted by the light of thine,
When my soul ...

MS. letter to Sir George Beaumont.]

[Variant 2:


Which ... 1807.]

* * * * *


Translated 1804?--Published 1807

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."--Ed.


The prayers I make will then be sweet indeed
If Thou the spirit give by which I pray:
My unassisted heart is barren clay,
That [1] of its native self can nothing feed:
Of good and pious works thou art the seed, 5
That [2] quickens only where thou say'st it may.
Unless Thou shew to us thine own true way
No man can find it: Father! Thou must lead.
Do Thou, then, breathe those thoughts into my mind
By which such virtue may in me be bred 10
That in thy holy footsteps I may tread;
The fetters of my tongue do Thou unbind,
That I may have the power to sing of thee,
And sound thy praises everlastingly.

* * * * *


[Variant 1:


Which ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:


Which ... 1807.]

The sonnet from which the above is translated, is not wholly by Michael
Angelo, the sculptor and painter, but is taken from patched-up versions
of his poem by his nephew of the same name. Michael Angelo only wrote
the first eight lines, and these have been garbled in his nephew's
edition. The original lines are thus given by Guasti in his edition of
Michael Angelo's Poems (1863) restored to their true reading, from the
autograph MSS. in Rome and Florence.

Imperfect Sonnet transcribed from "Le Rime di Michelangelo Buonarroti
Cavate dagli Autografi da Cesare Guasti. Firenze. 1863."


Ben sarien dolce le preghiere mie,
Se virtu mi prestassi da pregarte:
Nel mio fragil terren non e gia parte
Da frutto buon, che da se nato sie.

Tu sol se' seme d' opre caste e pie,
Che la germoglian dove ne fa' parte:
Nessun proprio valor puo seguitarte,
Se no gli mostri le tue sante vie.

The lines are thus paraphrased in prose by the Editor:

Le mie preghiere sarebbero grate, se tu mi prestassi quella virtu che
rende efficace il pregare: ma io sono un terreno sterile, in cui non
nasce spontaneamente frutto che sia buono. Tu solamente sei seme di
opere caste e pie, le quali germogliano la dove tu ti spargi: e
nessuna virtu vi ha che da per se possa venirti dietro, se tu stesso
non le mostri le vie che conducono al bene, e che sono le tue....

The Sonnet as published by the Nephew is as follows:

Ben sarian dolci le preghiere mie,
Se virtu mi prestassi da pregarte:
Nel mio terreno infertil non e parte
Da produr frutto di virtu natie.

Tu il seme se' dell' opre giuste e pie,
Che la germoglian dove ne fai parte:
Nessun proprio valor puo seguitarte,
Se non gli mostri le tue belle vie.

Tu nella mente mia pensieri infondi,
Che producano in me si vivi effetti,
Signor, ch' io segua i tuoi vestigi santi.

E dalla lingua mia chiari, e facondi
Sciogli della tua gloria ardenti detti,
Perche sempre io ti lodi, esalti, e canti.

('Le Rime di Michelangelo Buonarroti, Pittore, Scultor e Architetto
cavate degli autografi, e pubblicate da Cesare Guasti'. Firenze,

* * * * *




'When, to the attractions of the busy world', p. 66

The following variants occur in a MS. Book containing 'Yew Trees',
'Artegal' and 'Elidure', 'Laodamia', 'Black Comb,' etc.--Ed.

When from the restlessness of crowded life
Back to my native vales I turned, and fixed
My habitation in this peaceful spot,
Sharp season was it of continuous storm
In deepest winter; and, from week to week,
Pathway, and lane, and public way were clogged
With frequent showers of snow ...

When first attracted by this happy Vale
Hither I came, among old Shepherd Swains
To fix my habitation,'t was a time
Of deepest winter, and from week to week
Pathway, and lane, and public way were clogged

When to the { cares and pleasures of the world
{ attractions of the busy world

Preferring {ease and liberty } I chose
{peace and liberty } I chose
{studious leisure I had chosen
A habitation in this peaceful vale
Sharp season {was it of } continuous storm
{followed by } continuous storm

* * * * *


(See pp. 188-89, 'The Prelude', book iv.)

Mr. Rawnsley, formerly of Wray Vicarage--now Canon Rawnsley of
Crosthwaite Vicarage, Keswick--sent me the following letter in reference

... that unruly child of mountain birth,
The famous brook, who, soon as he was boxed
Within our garden, found himself at once,
As if by trick insidious and unkind,
Stripped of his voice and left to dimple down
I looked at him and smiled, and smiled again,
'Ha,' quoth I, 'pretty prisoner, are you there!'

"I was not quite content with Dr. Cradock's identification of this
brook, or of the garden; partly because, beyond the present garden
square I found, on going up the brook, other garden squares, which
were much more likely to have been the garden belonging to Anne
Tyson's cottage, and because in these garden plots the stream was not
'stripped of his voice,' by the covering of Coniston flags, as is the
case lower down towards the market place; and partly because--as you
notice--you can both hear and see the stream through the interstices
of the flags, and that it can hardly be described (by one who will
listen) as stripped of its voice.

At the same time I was bound to admit that in comparing the voice of
the stream here in the 'channel paved by man's officious care' with
the sound of it up in the fields beyond the vicarage, nearer its
birth-place, it certainly might be said to be softer voiced; and as
the poet speaks of it as 'that unruly child of mountain birth,' it
looks as if he too had realised the difference.

But whilst I thought that the identification of Dr. Cradock and
yourself was very happy (in absence of other possibilities), I had not
thought that Wordsworth would describe the stream as 'dimpling down,'
or address it as a 'pretty prisoner.' A smaller stream seemed

It was, therefore, not a little curious that, in poking about among
the garden plots on the west bank of the stream, fronting (as nearly
as I could judge) Anne Tyson's cottage, to seek for remains of the ash
tree, in which so often the poet--as he lay awake on summer
nights--had watched 'the moon in splendour couched among the leaves,'
rocking 'with every impulse of the breeze,' I not only stumbled upon
the remains of an ash tree--now a 'pollard'--which is evidently
sprung from a larger tree since decayed (and which for all I know may
be one of the actual parts of the ancient tree itself); but also had
the good luck to fall into conversation with a certain Isaac Hodgson,
who volunteered the following information.

First, that Wordsworth, it was commonly said, had lodged part of his
time with one Betty Braithwaite, in the very house called Church Hill

She was a widow, and kept a confectionery shop, and 'did a deal of
baking,' he believed.

Secondly, that there was a little patch of garden at the back of the
house, with a famous spring well--still called Old Betty's Well--in
it, and that only a few paces from where I was then standing by the
pollard ash.

On jumping over the fence I found myself on the western side of the
quaint old Church Hill House, with magnificent views of the whole of
the western side of Hawkshead Vale; grassy swell and wooded rises
taking the eye up to the moorland ridge between us and Coniston.

'But,' said I, 'what about Betty's Well.' 'Oh,' said my friend,
'that's a noted spring, that never freezes, and always runs; we all
drink of it, and neighbours send to it. Here it is,' he continued;
and, gazing down, I saw a little dripping well of water, lustrous,
clear, coming evidently in continuous force from the springs or secret
channels up hill, pausing for a moment at the trough, thence falling
into a box or 'channel paved by man's officious care,' and in a moment
out of sight and soundless, to pursue its way, 'stripped of its
voice,' towards the main Town beck, that ran at the north-east border
of the garden plot. 'Ha, pretty prisoner,' and the words 'dimple down'
came to my mind at once as appropriate. 'Old Betty's Well gave the
key-note of the 'famous brook'; and 'boxed within our garden' seemed
an appropriate and exact description.

Trace of
'the sunny seat
Round the stone table under the dark pine,'

was there none. Not so, however, the Ash tree, the remains of which I
have spoken of. From the bedroom of Betty Braithwaite's house the boy
could have watched the moon,

'while to and fro
In the dark summit of the waving tree
She rocked with every impulse of the breeze.'

'In old times,' said my friend, 'the wall fence ran across the garden,
just beyond this spring well, so you see it was but a small spot, was
this garden close.' Yes; but the

'crowd of things
About its narrow precincts all beloved,'

were known the better, and loved the more on that account. Certainly,
thought I to myself, here is the famous spring; a brook that
Wordsworth must have known, and that may have been the centre of
memory to him in his description of those early Hawkshead days, with
its metaphor of fountain life.

May we not, as we gaze on this little fountain well, in a garden plot
at the back of one of the grey huts of this 'one dear vale,' point as
with a wand, and say,

'This portion of the river of his mind
Came from yon fountain.'

Is it not possible that the old dame whose

'Clear though shallow stream of piety,
Ran on the Sabbath days a fresher course,'

was Betty Braithwaite, the aged dame who owned the cottage hard by?"

The following additional extract from a letter of Mr. Rawnsley's
(Christmas, 1882) casts light, both on the Hawkshead beck and fountain,
and on the stone seat in the market square, referred to in the fourth
book of 'The Prelude'.

"Postlethwaite of the Sun Inn at Hawkshead, has a father aged 82, who
can remember that there was a _stone_ bench, not called old Betty's,
but Old Jane's Stone, on which she used to spread nuts and cakes for
the scholars of the Grammar School, but that it did not stand where
the Market Hall now is, and no one ever remembers a stone or
stone-bench standing there. This stone or stone-bench stood about
opposite the Red Lion inn, in front of the little row of houses that
run east and west, just as you pass out of the village in a northerly
direction by the Red Lion. This stone or stone-bench is not associated
with dark pine trees, but they may have passed away root and branch in
an earlier generation.

Next and most interesting, I think, as showing that I was right in the
matter of the _famous fountain,_ or spring in the garden, behind Betty
Braithwaite's house. There exists in Hawkshead near this house a
covered-in place or shed, to which all the village repair for their
drinking-water, and always have done so. It is known by the name of
the Spout House, and the water--which flows all the year from a
longish spout, with an overflow one by its side--comes direct from the
little drop well in Betty B.'s garden, after having its voice stripped
and boxed therein; and, falling out of the spout into a deep stone
basin and culvert, runs through the town to join the Town Beck.

So wedded are the Hawkshead folk to this, their familiar fountainhead,
that though water is supplied in stand-pipes now from a Reservoir, the
folks won't have it, and come here to this spout-house, bucket and jug
in hand, morn, noon and night. I have never seen anything so like a
continental scene at the gathering at Hawkshead spout-house.

Lastly, there is a very aged thorn-tree in the churchyard--blown over
but propped up--in which the forefathers of the hamlet used to sit as
boys (in the thorn, that is, not the churchyard), and which has been
worn smooth by many Hawkshead generations. The tradition is, that
_Wordsworth used to sit a deal in it when at school._"


* * * * *


(See p. 197, 'The Prelude', book iv. ll. 323-38)

If the farm-house where Wordsworth spent the evening before this
memorable morning walk was either at Elterwater or High Arnside, and the
homeward pathway led across the ridge of Ironkeld, either by the old
mountain road (now almost disused), or over the pathless fells, there
are two points from either of which the sea might be seen in the
distance. The one is from the heights looking down to the Duddon
estuary, across the Coniston valley; the other is from a spot nearer
Hawkshead, where Morecambe Bay is visible. In the former case "the
meadows and the lower grounds" would be those in Yewdale; in the latter
case, they would be those between Latterbarrow and Hawkshead; and, on
either alternative, the "solid mountains" would be those of the Coniston
group--the Old Man and Wetherlam. It is also possible that the course of
the walk was over the Latterbarrow fells, or heights of Colthouse; but,
from the reference to the sunrise "not unseen" from the copse and field,
through which the "homeward pathway wound," it may be supposed that the
course was south-east, and therefore not over these fells, when his back
would have been to the sun. Dr. Cradock's note [Footnote T to book iv]
to the text (p. 197) sums up all that can "be safely said"; but Mr.
Rawnsley has supplied me with the following interesting remarks:

"After a careful reading of the passage describing the poet's return
from a festal night, spent in some farm-house beyond the hills, I am
quite unable to say that the path from High Arnside over the Ironkeld
range entirely suits the description. Is it not possible that the lad
had school-fellows whose parents lived in Yewdale? If he had, and was
returning from the party in one of the Yewdale farms, he would, as he
ascended towards Tarn Howes, and faced about south, to gain the main
Coniston road, by traversing the meadows between Berwick ground and
the top of the Hawkshead and Coniston Hill, command a view of the sea
that 'lay laughing at a distance'; and 'near, the solid
mountains'--Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man--would shine 'bright as the
clouds.' I think this is likely to have been the poet's track, because
he speaks of labourers going forth to till the fields; and the Yewdale
valley is one that is (at its head) chiefly arable, so that he would
be likelier to have gazed on them there than in the vale of Hawkshead
itself. One is here, however--as in a former passage, when we fixed on
Yewdale as the one described as being a 'cultured vale'--obliged to
remember that in Wordsworth's boyhood wheat was grown more extensively
than is now the case in these parts. Of course, the Furness Fell,
above Colthouse, might have been the scene. It is eminently suited to
the description."


* * * * *


(See p. 224, 'The Prelude', book vi. ll. 76-94)

The following is an extract from a letter of Dorothy Wordsworth's to
Lady Beaumont at Coleorton, dated "14th August," probably in 1808:

"We reached Cambridge at half-past nine. In our way to the Inn we
stopped at the gate of St. John's College to set down one of our
passengers. The stopping of the carriage roused me from a sleepy
musing, and I was awe-stricken with the solemnity of the old gateway,
and the light from a great distance within streaming along the
pavement. When they told me it was the entrance to 'St. John's'
College, I was still more affected by the gloomy yet beautiful sight
before me, for I thought of my dearest brother in his youthful days
passing through that gateway to his home, and I could have believed
that I saw him there even then, as I had seen him in the first year of
his residence. I met with Mr. Clarkson at the Inn, and was, you may
believe, rejoiced to hear his voice at the coach door. We supped
together, and immediately after supper I went to bed, and slept well,
and at 8 o'clock next morning went to Trinity Chapel. There I stood
for many minutes in silence before the statue of Newton, while the
organ sounded. I never saw a statue that gave me one hundredth part so
much pleasure--but pleasure, that is not the word, it is a sublime
sensation--in harmony with sentiments of devotion to the Divine Being,
and reverence for the holy places where He is worshipped. We walked in
the groves all the morning and visited the Colleges. I sought out a
favourite ash tree which my brother speaks of in his poem on his own
life--a tree covered with ivy. We dined with a fellow of Peter-House
in his rooms, and after dinner I went to King's College Chapel. There,
and everywhere else at Cambridge, I was even much more impressed with
the effect of the buildings than I had been formerly, and I do believe
that this power of receiving an enlarged enjoyment from the sight of
buildings is one of the privileges of our later years. I have this
moment received a letter from William...."


* * * * *


(See p. 353, 'The Prelude', book xii. l. 293)

The following extract from a letter of Mr. Rawnsley's casts important
light on a difficult question of localization. Dr. Cradock is inclined
now to select the Outgate Crag, the second of the four places referred
to by Mr. Rawnsley. But the first may have been the place, and the
extract which follows will show how much is yet to be done in this
matter of localizing poetical allusions.

"As to

'the crag,
That, from the meeting-point of two highways
Ascending, overlooked them both, far stretched,'

there seems to be no doubt but that we have four competitors for the
honour of being the place to which the poet:

'impatient for the sight
Of those led palfreys that should bear them home'

repaired with his brothers

'one Christmas-time,
On the glad eve of its dear holidays.'

And unless, as it seems is quite possible, from what one sees in other
of Wordsworth's poems, he really stood on one of the crags, and then
in his description drew the picture of the landscape at his feet from
his memory of what it was as seen from another of the vantage places,
we need a high crag, rising gradually or abruptly from the actual
meeting-place of two highways, with, if possible at this distance of
time, a wall--or traces of it--quite at its summit. (I may mention
that the wallers in this country still give two hundred years as the
length of time that a dry wall will stand.) We need also traces of an
old thorn tree close by. The wall, too, must be so placed on the
summit of the crag that, as it faces the direction in which the lad is
looking for his palfrey, it shall afford shelter to him against

'the sleety rain,
And all the business of the elements.'

It is evident that the lad would be looking out in a north-easterly
direction, i. e. towards the head of Windermere and Ambleside. So that

'the mist,
That on the line of each of those two roads
Advanced in such indisputable shapes,'

was urged by a wind that found the poet at his look-out station, glad
to have the wall between him and it. Further, there must be in close
proximity wood and the sound of rushing water, or the lapping of a
lake wind-driven against the marge, for the boy remembers that 'the
bleak music from that old stone wall' was mingled with 'the noise of
wood and water.' The roads spoken of must be two highways, and must be
capable of being seen for some distance; unless, as it is just
possible, the epithet 'far-stretched' may be taken as applying not so
much to the roads, as to the gradual ascent of the crag from the
meeting-place of the two highways.

The scene from the crag must be extended, and half plain half
wood-land; at least one gathers as much from the lines:

'as the mist
Gave intermitting prospect of the copse
And plain beneath.'

Lastly, it was a day of driving sleet and mist, and this of itself
would necessitate that the poet and his brothers should only go to the
place close to which the ponies must pass, or from which most plainly
the roads were visible.

The boys too were

'feverish, and tired, and restless,'

and a schoolboy, to gain his point on such a day and on such an
errand, does not take much account of a mile of country to be
travelled over.

So that it is immaterial, I think, to make the distance from Hawkshead
of either of the four crags or vantage grounds a factor in decision.

The farther the lads were from home when they met their ponies, the
longer ride back they would have, and this to schoolboys is matter of
consideration at such times.

Taking then a survey of the ground of choice, we have to decide
whether the crag in question is situated at the first division or main
split of the road from Ambleside furthest from Hawkshead, or whether
at the place where the two roads converge again into one nearer

Whether, that is, the crag above the Pullwyke quarry, at the junction
of the road to Water Barngates and the road to Wray and Outgate is to
be selected, about two miles from Hawkshead; or whether we are to fix
on the spot you have chosen, at the point about a mile north-east of
Hawkshead, 'called in the ordnance map Outgate.'

Of the two I incline to the former, for these reasons. The boys could
not be so certain of 'not missing the ponies', at any other place than
here at Pullwyke.

The crag exactly answers the poet's description, a rising ground, the
meeting-place of two highways. For in the poet's time the old
Hawkshead and Outgate road at the Pullwyke corner ran at the very foot
of the rising ground (roughly speaking) parallel to and some 60 to 100
yards west of the present road from the Pull to Wray.

It is true that no trace of wall is visible at its summit, but the
summit has been planted since with trees, and walls are often removed
at time of planting.

The poet would have a full view of the main road, down to, and round,
the Pullwyke Bay; he would see the branch road from the fork, as it
mounted the Water Barngates Hill, to the west, and would see the other
road of the fork far-stretched and going south.

He would also have an extended view of copse and meadow land. He
might, if the wind were south-easterly, hear the noise of Windermere,
sobbing in the Pullwyke Bay, and would without doubt hear also the
roar of the Pull Beck water, as it passed down from the Ironkeld
slopes on his left towards the lake.

It might be objected that the poem gives us the idea of a crag which,
from the Hawkshead side at any rate, would require to be of more
difficult ascent than this is, to justify the idea of difficulty as
suggested in the lines:

'thither I repaired,
Scout-like, and gained the summit;'

but I do not think we need read more into the lines than that the boy
felt--as he scanned the country with his eyes, on the 'qui vive' at
every rise in the ground--the feelings of a scout, who questions
constantly the distant prospect.

And certainly the Pullwyke quarry crag rises most steeply from the
meeting-point of the two highways.

Next as to the Outgate crag, which you have chosen. I am out of love
with it. First, if the lads wanted to make sure of the ponies, they
would not have ascended it, but would have stayed just at the
Hawkshead side of Outgate, or at the village itself, at the point of
convergence of the ways.

Secondly, the crag can hardly be described as rising from the
meeting-point of two highways; only one highway passes near it.

The crag is of so curious a formation geologically, that I can't fancy
the poet describing his memory of it, without calling it a terraced
hill, or an ascent by natural terraces.

Then, again, the prospect is not sufficiently extended from it. The
stream not near enough, or rather not of size enough, to be heard.
Blelham Tarn is not too far to have added to the watery sound, it is
true, but the wind we suppose to have been north-east, and the sound
of the Blelham Tarn would be much carried away from him.

The present stone wall is not near the summit, and is of comparatively
recent date. It is difficult to believe from the slope of the outcrop
of rock that a wall could ever have been at the summit.

But there are two other vantage grounds intermediate between those
extremes, both of which were probably in the mind and memory of the
poet as he described the scene, and

'The intermitting prospect of the copse.
And plain beneath,'

allowed him by the mist. One of these is the High Crag, about
three-quarters of a mile from the divergence or convergence of the two
highways, which Dr. Cradock has selected.

There can be no doubt that this is the crag 'par excellence' for a
wide and extended look-out over all the country between Outgate and
Ambleside. Close at its summit there remain aged thorn trees, but no
trace of a wall.

But High Crag can hardly be said to have risen at 'the meeting-point
of two highways,' unless we are to understand the epithet
'far-stretched' as applying to the south-western slopes or skirts of
the hill; and the two highways, the roads between Water Barngates on
the west, and the bridle road between Pullwyke and Outgate at their
Outgate junction, and this is rather too far a stretch.

It is quite true that if bridle paths can be described as highways,
there may be said to be a meeting-point of these close at the
north-eastern side of the crag.

But, remembering that the ponies came from Penrith, the driver was not
likely to have had any intimate knowledge of these bridle paths;
while, at the same time, on that misty day, I much question whether
the boys on the look-out at High Crag could have seen ponies creeping
along between walled roads at so great a distance as half a mile or

And this would seem to have been the problem for them on that day.

I ought in fairness to say that it is not likely that the roads were
then (as to-day) walled up high on either side. To-day, even from the
summit of High Crag, only the head and ears of a pony could be seen as
it passed up the Water Barngates Road; but at the end of last century
many of the roads were only partially walled off from the moorlands
they passed over in the Lake Country.

Still, as I said, High Crag was a point of vantage that the poet, as a
lad, must have often climbed, in this part of the country, if he
wanted to indulge in the delights of panoramic scene.

There is a wall some hundred yards from the summit, on the
south-westerly flank of High Crag; near this--at a point close by, two
large holly trees--the boy might have sheltered himself against the
north-eastern wind, and have got a closer and better view of the road
between Barngates and Outgate, and Randy Pike and Outgate.

Here, too, he could possibly hear the sound of the stream in the
dingle or woody hollow immediately at his feet; but I am far from
content with this as being the spot the poet watched from.

There is again a fourth possible look-out place, to which you will
remember I directed your attention, nearer Randy Pike. The slope,
covered with larches, rises up from the Randy Pike Road to a
precipitous crag which faces north and east.

From this, a grand view of the country between Randy Pike and Pullwyke
is obtained, and if the bridle paths might--as is possible, but
unlikely--be called two highways, then this crag could be spoken of as
rising from the meeting place of the two highways. For the old
Hawkshead Road passed along to the east, within calling distance (say
ninety yards), and a bridle road from Pullwyke, now used chiefly by
the quarrymen, passed within eighty yards to the west; while it is
certain that the brook below, when swollen by winter rains, might be
loud enough to be heard from the copse. This crag is known as Coldwell
or Caudwell Crag, and is situated about half a mile east-south-east of
the High Crag.

It has this much in its favour, that a wall of considerable age crests
its summit, and one can whilst sitting down on a rock close behind it
be sheltered from the north and east, and yet obtain an extensive view
of the subadjacent country. IF it were certain that the ponies when
they got to Pullwyke did not go up towards Water Barngates, and so to
Hawkshead, then there is no crag in the district which would so
thoroughly answer to all the needs of the boys, and to all the points
of description the poet has placed on record.

But it is just this IF that makes me decide on the Pullwyke Crag--the
one first described--as being the actual spot to which, scout-like,
the schoolboys clomb, on that eventful 'eve of their dear holidays;'
while, at the same time, it is my firm conviction that Wordsworth--as
he painted the memories of that event--had also before his mind's eye
the scene as viewed from Coldwell and High Crag."


* * * * *


The following is a copy of a version of these 'Lines', sent by Coleridge
to Sir George Beaumont, at Dunmow, Essex, in January, 1807. The
variations, both in the title and in the text, from that which Coleridge
finally adopted (see p. 129), are interesting in many ways:


To William Wordsworth: Composed for the greater part on the same night
after the finishing of his recitation of the Poem, in Thirteen Books, on
the growth of his own mind.

O Friend! O Teacher! God's great Gift to me!
Into my Heart have I received that Lay
More than historic, that prophetic Lay
Wherein (high theme by thee first sung aright)
Of the foundations and the building up 5
Of thine own spirit thou hast loved to tell
What _may_ be told, by words revealable:
With heavenly breathings, like the secret soul
Of vernal growth, oft quickening in the heart
Thoughts, that obey no mastery of words, 10
Pure Self-beholdings! Theme as hard as high,
Of Smiles spontaneous and mysterious Fear!
The first born they of Reason and twin birth!
Of tides obedient to external force,
And currents self-determin'd, as might seem, 15
Or by some inner power! Of moments awful,
Now in thy hidden life, and now abroad,
When power stream'd from thee, and thy soul receiv'd
The light reflected, as a light bestow'd!
Of fancies fair, and milder hours of youth, 20
Hybloean murmurs of poetic thought
Industrious in its joy, in vales and glens
Native or outland, Lakes and famous Hills;
Or on the lonely high-road, when the stars
Were rising; or by secret mountain streams, 25
The guides and the companions of thy way!
Of more than Fancy--of the SOCIAL SENSE
Distending, and of Man belov'd as Man,
Where France in all her Towns lay vibrating,
Even as a Bark becalm'd on sultry seas 30
Quivers beneath the voice from Heaven, the burst
Of Heaven's immediate thunder, when no cloud
Is visible, or shadow on the main!
For thou wert there, thy own brows garlanded,
Amid the tremor of a Realm aglow! 35
Amid a mighty nation jubilant!
When from the general Heart of Human Kind
Hope sprang forth, like an armed Deity!
Of that dear Hope afflicted and struck down,
So summon'd homeward; thenceforth calm and sure, 40
As from the Watch-tower of Man's absolute Self,
With light unwaning on her eyes, to look
Far on--herself a Glory to behold,
The Angel of the Vision! Then (last strain)
Of Duty, chosen Laws controlling choice, 45
Action and Joy!--an Orphic Tale indeed,
A Tale divine of high and passionate Thoughts,
To their own Music chaunted!--

A great Bard!
Ere yet the last strain dying awed the air,
With steadfast eyes I saw thee in the choir 50
Of ever-enduring men. The truly Great
Have all one age, and from one visible space
Shed influence: for they, both power and act,
Are permanent, and Time is not with them,
Save as it worketh for them, they in it. 55
Nor less a sacred Roll, than those of old,
And to be plac'd, as they, with gradual fame
Among the Archives of Mankind, thy Work
Makes audible a linked Song of Truth,
Of Truth profound a sweet continuous Song 60
Not learnt, but native, her own natural notes!
Dear shall it be to every human heart,
To me how more than dearest! Me, on whom
Comfort from thee, and utterance of thy Love,
Come with such Heights and Depths of Harmony 65
Such sense of Wings uplifting, that its might
Scatter'd and quell'd me, till my Thoughts became
A bodily Tumult; and thy faithful Hopes,
Thy Hopes of me, dear Friend! by me unfelt!
Were troublous to me, almost as a Voice 70
Familiar once and more than musical;
As a dear Woman's Voice to one cast forth, [A]
A Wanderer with a worn-out heart forlorn,
Mid Strangers pining with untended wounds.

O Friend! too well thou know'st, of what sad years 75
The long suppression had benumbed my soul,
That, even as Life returns upon the Drown'd,
The unusual Joy awoke a throng of Pains--
Keen Pangs of LOVE, awakening, as a Babe,
Turbulent, with an outcry in the Heart! 80
And Fears self-will'd, that shunn'd the eye of Hope,
And Hope, that scarce would know itself from Fear;
Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain,
And Genius given and Knowledge won in vain;
And all, which I had cull'd in wood-walks wild, 85
And all, which patient Toil had rear'd, and all,
Commune with THEE had open'd out--but Flowers
Strew'd on my Corse, and borne upon my Bier,
In the same Coffin, for the self-same Grave!

That way no more! and ill beseems it me, 90
Who came a Welcomer, in Herald's Guise,
Singing of Glory and Futurity,
To wander back on such unhealthful road
Plucking the Poisons of Self-harm! And ill
Such intertwine beseems triumphal wreaths 95
Strew'd before thy advancing! Thou too, Friend!
Impair thou not the memory of that hour
Of thy Communion with my nobler mind
By pity or grief, already felt too long!
Nor let my words import more blame than needs. 100
The tumult rose and ceas'd: for Peace is nigh
Where Wisdom's voice has found a list'ning Heart.
Amid the howl of more than wintry storms
The Halcyon hears the Voice of vernal Hours,
Already on the wing!

Eve following Eve 105
Dear tranquil Time, when the sweet sense of Home
Is sweetest! Moments, for their own sake hail'd,
And more desired, more precious for thy Song!
In silence listening, like a devout child,
My soul lay passive, by the various strain 110
Driven as in surges now, beneath the stars
With momentary [B] stars of her [C] own birth,
Fair constellated Foam, still darting off
Into the Darkness; now a tranquil Sea,
Outspread and bright, yet swelling to the Moon. 115

And when--O Friend! my Comforter! my [D] Guide!
Strong in thyself and powerful to give strength!--
Thy long sustained Song finally clos'd,
And thy deep voice had ceas'd--yet thou thyself
Wert still before mine eyes, and round us both 120
That happy Vision of beloved Faces--
(All whom, I deepliest love--in one room all!)
Scarce conscious and yet conscious of its close
I sate, my Being blended in one Thought,
(Thought was it? or aspiration? or resolve?) 125
Absorb'd; yet hanging still upon the Sound--
And when I rose, I found myself in Prayer.


'Jany'. 1807.

* * * * *


[Footnote A: Different reading on same MS.:

'To one cast forth, whose Hope had seem'd to die.'


[Footnote B: Compare, as an illustrative note, the descriptive passage
in Satyrane's first Letter in 'Biographia Literaria', beginning, "A
beautiful white cloud of foam," etc.--S.T.C.]

[Footnote C: Different reading on same MS., "'my'."--Ed.]

[Footnote D: Different reading on same MS., "'and'."--Ed.]

In a MS. copy of 'Dejection, An Ode', transcribed for Sir George
Beaumont on the 4th of April 1802--and sent to him, when living with
Lord Lowther at Lowther Hall--there is evidence that the poem was
originally addressed to Wordsworth.

The following lines in this copy can be compared with those finally

'O dearest William! in this heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle woo'd
All this long eve so balmy and serene
Have I been gazing on the western sky,'


'O William, we _receive_ but what we _give_:
And in our life alone does Nature live.'


'Yes, dearest William! Yes!
There was a time when though my Path was rough
This Joy within me dallied with distress.'

The MS. copy is described by Coleridge as "imperfect"; and it breaks off
abruptly at the lines:

'Suspends what Nature gave me at my birth
My shaping spirit of Imagination.'

And he continues:

'I am so weary of this doleful poem, that I must leave off....'

Another MS. copy of this poem, amongst the Coleorton papers, is signed
"S. T. Coleridge to William Wordsworth." Ed.

* * * * *


(See pp. 297 and 302, 'The Prelude', book ix.)

Professor Emile Legouis of Lyons--a thorough student, and a very
competent expounder, of our modern English Literature--supplied me, some
years ago, with numerous facts in reference to Wordsworth's friend
General Beaupuy, and his family, from which I extract the following:

'The Prelude' gives us very little precise information about the
republican officer with whom Wordsworth became acquainted in France,
and on whom he bestowed more praise than on almost any other of his
contemporaries. We only gather the following facts:--That his name was
'Beaupuy', that he was quartered at Orleans, with royalist officers,
sometime between November 1791 and the spring of 1792, and that

'He perished fighting, _in supreme command_,
Upon the borders of the unhappy Loire,
For liberty, against deluded men,
His fellow-countrymen....'

Though it seems very easy to identify a general even with such scanty
data, the task is rendered more difficult by two inaccuracies in
Wordsworth's statement, which, however, can be explained and redressed
without much difficulty.

The first inaccuracy is in the spelling of the name, which is
'Beaupuy' and not 'Beaupuis'--a slight mistake considering that
Wordsworth was a foreigner, and, besides, wrote down his friend's name
ten years and perhaps more after losing sight of him. Moreover, the
name of the general who, I think, was meant by Wordsworth, I have
found spelt 'Beaupuy' in one instance, viz. the signature of a letter
of his, as printed in 'Vie et Correspondance de Merlin de Thionville',
publiee par Jean Reynaud, Paris, 1860 (2'e partie p. 241).

The spelling of proper names was not so fixed then as it is nowadays,
and this irregularity is not to be wondered at.

The second inaccuracy consists in stating that General Beaupuy died on
the banks of the Loire during the Vendean war. Indeed, he was
grievously wounded at the Battle of Chateau-Gonthier, on the 26th of
October 1793, and reported as dead. His soldiers thought he had been
killed, and the rumour must have spread abroad, as it was recorded by
A. Thiers himself in his 'Histoire de la Revolution', and by A.
Challemel in his 'Histoire Musee de la Republique Francaise'.

It is no wonder that Wordsworth, who was then in England, and could
only read imperfect accounts of what took place in France, should have
been mistaken too.

No other General Beaupuy is recorded in the history of the Revolution,
so far as I have been able to ascertain. The moral character of the
officer, whose life I shall relate, answers to Wordsworth's
description, and is worthy of his high estimate.

Armand Michel de Bachelier, Chevalier de Beaupuy, was born at
Mussidan, in Perigord, on the 15th of July 1757. He belonged to a
noble family, less proud of its antiquity than of the blood it had
shed for France on many battlefields. On his mother's side (Mlle. de
Villars), he reckoned Montaigne, the celebrated essayist, among his
ancestors. His parents having imbibed the philanthropic ideas of the
time, educated him according to their principles.

He had four brothers, who were all destined to turn republicans and do
good service to the new cause, though their interest certainly lay in
the opposite direction.


He was made sub-lieutenant in the regiment of Bassigny (33rd division
of foot) on the 2nd of March 1773, and lieutenant of grenadiers on the
1st of October of the same year.

In 1791 he was first lieutenant in the same regiment. Having sided
with the Revolution, he was appointed commander of a battalion of
national volunteers in the department of Dordogne. I have not found
the exact date of this appointment, but it must have taken place
immediately after his stay at Orleans with Wordsworth.

I have found no further mention of his name till September 1792, when
he is known to have served in the "Armee du Rhin," under General
Custine, and contributed to the taking of Spire.

He took an important part in the taking of Worms, 4th October; of
Mayence (Maenz) 21st October. He was among the garrison of Mayence
when this place was besieged by the Prussians, and obliged to
capitulate after a long and famous siege (from 6th April 1793 to 22nd
July 1793). [A]

During the siege he wrote a journal of all the operations.
Unfortunately, this journal is very short, and purely military. It has
been handed down to us, and is found in the Bibliotheque Nationale of
Paris in the 'Papiers de Merlin de Thionville', n. acq. fr. Nos.
244-252, 8 vol. in-8 deg.. Beaupuy's journal is in the 3rd volume, fol.


In the Vendean war, the "Mayencais," or soldiers returned from
Mayence, made themselves conspicuous, and bore almost all the brunt of
the campaign. But none of them distinguished himself more than
Beaupuy, then a General of Brigade.

The Mayencais arrived in Vendee at the end of August or beginning of
September 1793. To Beaupuy's skill the victory of Chollet (Oct. 17,
1793) is attributed by Jomini. In this battle he fought hand to hand
with and overcame a Vendean cavalier. He himself had three horses
killed, and had a very narrow escape. On the battlefield he was made
'general of division' by the "Representants du peuple." It was after
Chollet that the Vendeans made the memorable crossing of the Loire at
St. Florent.

At Laval and Chateau-Gonthier (Oct. 26) a terrible defeat was
inflicted on the Republicans, owing to the incapacity of their
commander-in-chief, Lechelle. The whole corps commanded by General
Beaupuy was crushed by a terrible fire, He himself, after withstanding
for two or three hours with 2000 or 3000 men all the attacks of the
royalists, was disabled by a shot, and fell, crying out, "'Laissez-moi
la, et portez a mes grenadiers ma chemise sanglante'." His soldiers
thought he was dead, and then the error was spread, which was repeated
by Wordsworth, Thiers, and Challamel. Wordsworth's mistake is so far
interesting, as it seems to prove that very little or no
correspondence passed between the two friends after they had parted.
Beaupuy, moreover, had too much work upon his hands to give much of
his time to letter-writing.

Though severely wounded, Beaupuy lived on, and less than six weeks
after the battle of Chateau-Gonthier, he was seen on the ramparts of
Angers, where he required himself to be carried to animate his
soldiers and head the defenders of the place, from which the Vendeans
were driven after a severe contest (Dec. 5 and 6).

On the 22nd of December 1793 he shared in the victory of Savenay with
his celebrated friends, Marceau, Kleber, and Westermann. After this
battle, which put an end to the great Vendean war, he wrote the
following letter to his friend Merlin de Thionville, the celebrated
"representant du peuple."

"SAVENAY, le 4 Nivose au 2'e (25 Dec. 73).

"Enfin, enfin, mon cher Merlin, elle n'est plus cette armee royale
ou catholique, comme tu voudras! J'en ai vu, avec tes braves
collegues Prieur et Eurreau, les debris, consistant en 150 cavaliers
battant l'eau dans le marais de Montaire; et comme tu connais ma
veracite tu peux dire avec assurance que les deux combats de Savenay
ont mis fin a la guerre de la nouvelle Vendee et aux chimeriques
esperances des royalists.

L'histoire ne vous presente point de combat dont le suites aient ete
plus decisives. Ah! mon brave, comme tu aurais joui! quelle attaque!
mais quelle deroute aussi! Il fallait les voir ces soldats de Jesus
et de Louis XVII, se jetant dans les marais ou obliges de se rendre
par 5 ou 600 a la fois; et Langreniere pris et les autres generaux
disperses et aux abois!

Cette armee, dont tu avais vu les restes de la terrasse de St.
Florent, etait redevenue formidable par son recrutement dans les
departements envahis. Je les ai bien vus, bien examines, j'ai
reconnu meme de mes figures de Chollet et de Laval, et a leur
contenance et a leur mine, je l'assure qu'il ne leur manquait du
soldat que l'habit. Des troupes qui ont battu de tels Francais
peuvent se flatter ainsi de vainere des peuples assez laaches pour
se reunir centre un seul et encore pour la cause des rois! Enfin, je
ne sais si je me trompe, mais cette guerre de brigands, de paysans,
sur laquelle on a jete tant de ridicule, que l'on dedaignait, que
l'on affectait de regarder comme meprisable, m'a toujours paru, pour
la republique, la grande partie, et il me semble a present qu'avec
nos autres ennemis, nous ne ferrons plus que peloter.

Adieu, brave montagnard, adieu! Actuellement que cette execrable
guerre est terminee, que les manes de nos freres sont satisfaits, je
vais guerir. J'ai obtenu de tes confreres un conge qui finira au
moment ou la guerre recommencera.


I think I can recognize in this letter some traits of Beaupuy's
character as pointed out by Wordsworth, not excepting the
half-suppressed criticism:

'... somewhat vain he was,
Or seemed so, yet it was not vanity,
But fondness, and a kind of radiant joy
Diffused around him ...'

Passing over numerous military incidents, on the 26th of June 1796
Beaupuy received seven or eight sabre-cuts at Jorich-Wildstadt. But on
the 8th of July he was already back at his post.

He again greatly distinguished himself on the 1st of September 1796 at
Greisenfeld and Langenbruck, where the victory of the French was owing
to a timely attack made by Desaix and himself.

He was one of the generals under Moreau when the latter achieved his
well-known retreat through the Black Forest, begun on the 15th of
September 1796, and during which many battles were fought. In one of
the actions on the banks of the Elz, Beaupuy was killed by a
cannon-ball, while opposing General Latour on the heights of
Malterdingen. His soldiers, who loved him passionately, fought
desperately to avenge his death (Oct. 19, 1796).

One of Beaupuy's colleagues, General Duhem, in his account of the
battle to the Government, thus expressed himself on General Beaupuy:

"Ecrivains patriotes, orateurs chaleureux, je vous propose un noble
sujet, l'eloge du General Beaupuy, de Beaupuy, le Nestor et
l'Achille de notre armee. Vous n'avez pas de recherches a faire;
interrogez le premier soldat de l'armee du Rhin-et-Moselle, ses
larmes exciteront les votres. Ecrivez alors ce que est vous en dira,
et vous peindrez le Bayard de la Republique Francaise."

Such bombastic style was then common, but what we have seen of Beaupuy
in this sketch shows that he had through his career united Nestor's
prudence [B] with Achilles' bodily courage and Bayard's chivalric
spirit,--to use the language of the time.

General Moreau had Beaupuy's remains transported to Brisach, where a
monument was erected to his memory in 1802, after the peace of

In short, Beaupuy seems to have always remained worthy of the high
praise bestowed on him by Wordsworth. His name is to be remembered
along with those of the unspotted generals of the first years of the
Revolution--Hoche, Marceau, etc.--before the craving for conquest had
developed, and the love of liberty yielded to a fond admiration of
Bonaparte as it did in the case of Kleber, Desaix, and so many others.

N. B.--The great influence which Beaupuy exercised at that time on
Wordsworth will be easily understood, if we take into account not only
his real qualities, but also his age. When they met, Wordsworth was
only twenty-one, Beaupuy nearly thirty-five. The grown-up man could
impart much of his knowledge of life, and of the favourite authors of
the time, to a youth fresh from the University--though that youth was


* * * * *


[Footnote A: His bravery shone forth at Coethen, where he was left alone
in a group of Prussians. He fought with their chief and disarmed him. A
few days after he was named General of Brigade.--8th March 1793.]

[Footnote B: The pacification of Vendee was for a great part owing to
his valour and prudence.]

[Footnote C: Beaupuy is said to have united civic virtues with military
talents. A good son and a good brother, he showed in many a circumstance
that true valour does not exclude humanity, and that the soul can be
both strong and full of feeling.]

These notes (B and C) are taken from 'Biographic Nouvelle de

Book of the day: