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

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Mr. William Davies writes to me,

"I spent a week there (the Swan Inn) early in the fifties, and well
remember the sign over the door distinguishable from afar: the inn,
little more than a cottage (the only one), with clean well-sanded
floor, and rush-bottomed chairs: the landlady, good old soul, one day
afraid of burdening me with some old coppers, insisted on retaining
them till I should return from an uphill walk, when they were duly
tendered to me. Here I learnt many particulars of Hartley Coleridge,
dead shortly before, who had been a great favourite with the host and
hostess. The grave of Wordsworth was at that time barely grassed

[Footnote D: See Wordsworth's note [Note I to this poem, below], p.

[Footnote E: A mountain of Grasmere, the broken summit of which presents
two figures, full as distinctly shaped as that of the famous cobler,
near Arracher, in Scotland.--W. W. 1819.]

[Footnote F: A term well known in the North of England, as applied to
rural Festivals, where young persons meet in the evening for the purpose
of dancing.--W. W. 1819.]

[Footnote G: At the close of each strathspey, or jig, a particular note
from the fiddle summons the Rustic to the agreeable duty of saluting his
Partner.--W. W. 1819.]

[Footnote H: Compare in 'Tristram Shandy':

"And this, said he, is the town of Namur, and this is the citadel: and
there lay the French, and here lay his honour and myself."--Ed.]

[Footnote J: See Wordsworth's note [Note III to this poem, below], p.

[Footnote K: The crag of the ewe lamb.--W. W. 1820.]

[Footnote L: Compare Tennyson's "Farewell, we lose ourselves in

[Footnote M: Compare Wordsworth's lines, beginning, "She was a Phantom
of delight," p. i, and Hamlet, act II. sc. ii. l. 124.--Ed.]

* * * * *


[Sub-Footnote a: See Wordsworth's note [Note II to the poem, below], p.

* * * * *


(Added in the edition of 1836)


Several years after the event that forms the subject of the foregoing
poem, in company with my friend, the late Mr. Coleridge, I happened to
fall in with the person to whom the name of Benjamin is given. Upon our
expressing regret that we had not, for a long time, seen upon the road
either him or his waggon, he said:--"They could not do without me; and
as to the man who was put in my place, no good could come out of him; he
was a man of no _ideas_."

The fact of my discarded hero's getting the horses out of a great
difficulty with a word, as related in the poem, was told me by an


'The Dor-hawk, solitary bird.'

When the Poem was first written the note of the bird was thus described:

'The Night-hawk is singing his frog-like tune,
Twirling his watchman's rattle about--'

but from unwillingness to startle the reader at the outset by so bold a
mode of expression, the passage was altered as it now stands.


After the line, 'Can any mortal clog come to her', followed in the MS.
an incident which has been kept back. Part of the suppressed verses
shall here be given as a gratification of private feeling, which the
well-disposed reader will find no difficulty in excusing. They are now
printed for the first time.

Can any mortal clog come to her?
It can: ...
But Benjamin, in his vexation,
Possesses inward consolation;
He knows his ground, and hopes to find
A spot with all things to his mind,
An upright mural block of stone,
Moist with pure water trickling down.
A slender spring; but kind to man
It is, a true Samaritan;
Close to the highway, pouring out
Its offering from a chink or spout;
Whence all, howe'er athirst, or drooping
With toil, may drink, and without stooping.

Cries Benjamin, "Where is it, where?
Voice it hath none, but must be near."
--A star, declining towards the west,
Upon the watery surface threw
Its image tremulously imprest,
That just marked out the object and withdrew:
Right welcome service! ...

Light is the strain, but not unjust
To Thee and thy memorial-trust,
That once seemed only to express
Love that was love in idleness;
Tokens, as year hath followed year,
How changed, alas, in character!
For they were graven on thy smooth breast
By hands of those my soul loved best;
Meek women, men as true and brave
As ever went to a hopeful grave:
Their hands and mine, when side by side
With kindred zeal and mutual pride,
We worked until the Initials took
Shapes that defied a scornful look.--
Long as for us a genial feeling
Survives, or one in need of healing,
The power, dear Rock, around thee cast,
Thy monumental power, shall last
For me and mine! O thought of pain,
That would impair it or profane!
Take all in kindness then, as said
With a staid heart but playful head;
And fail not Thou, loved Rock! to keep
Thy charge when we are laid asleep.

W. W.

There is no poem more closely identified with the Grasmere district of
the English Lakes--and with the road from Grasmere to Keswick--than 'The
Waggoner' is, and in none are the topographical allusions more minute
and faithful.

Wordsworth seemed at a loss to know in what "class" of his poems to
place 'The Waggoner;' and his frequent changes--removing it from one
group to another--shew the artificial character of these classes. Thus,
in the edition of 1820, it stood first among the "Poems of the Fancy."
In 1827 it was the last of the "Poems founded on the Affections." In
1832 it was reinstated among the "Poems of the Fancy." In 1836 it had a
place of its own, and was inserted between the "Poems of the Fancy" and
those "Founded on the Affections;" while in 1845 it was sent back to its
original place among the "Poems of the Fancy;" although in the table of
contents it was printed as an independent poem, closing the series.

The original text of 'The Waggoner' underwent little change, till the
year 1836, when it was carefully revised, and altered throughout. The
final edition of 1845, however, reverted, in many instances--especially
in the first canto--to the original text of 1819.

As this poem was dedicated to Charles Lamb, it may be of interest to
note that, some six months afterwards, Lamb presented Wordsworth with a
copy of the first edition of 'Paradise Regained' (the edition of 1671),
writing on it the following sentence,

"Charles Lamb, to the best knower of Milton, and therefore the
worthiest occupant of this pleasant edition.--Jan. 2nd, 1820."

The opening stanzas are unrivalled in their description of a sultry June
evening, with a thunder-storm imminent.

' 'Tis spent--this burning day of June!
Soft darkness o'er its latest gleams is stealing;
The buzzing dor-hawk, round and round, is wheeling,--
That solitary bird
Is all that can be heard
In silence deeper far than that of deepest noon!
The mountains against heaven's grave weight
Rise up, and grow to wondrous height.
The air, as in a lion's den,
Is close and hot;--and now and then
Comes a tired and sultry breeze
With a haunting and a panting,
Like the stifling of disease;
But the dews allay the heat,
And the silence makes it sweet.'

The Waggoner takes what is now the middle road, of the three leading
from Rydal to Grasmere (see the note to 'The Primrose of the Rock'). The
"craggy hill" referred to in the lines

'Now he leaves the lower ground,
And up the craggy hill ascending
Steep the way and wearisome,'

is the road from Rydal Quarry up to White Moss Common, with the Glowworm
rock on the right, and the "two heath-clad rocks," referred to in the
last of the "Poems on the Naming of Places," on the left. He next passes
"The Wishing Gate" on the left, John's Grove on the right, and descends
by Dove Cottage--where Wordsworth lived--to Grasmere.

'... at the bottom of the brow,
Where once the DOVE and OLIVE-BOUGH
Offered a greeting of good ale
To all who entered Grasmere Vale;
And called on him who must depart
To leave it with a jovial heart;
There, where the DOVE and OLIVE-BOUGH
Once hung, a Poet harbours now,
A simple water-drinking Bard.'

He goes through Grasmere, passes the Swan Inn,

'He knows it to his cost, good Man!
Who does not know the famous SWAN?
Object uncouth! and yet our boast,
For it was painted by the Host;
His own conceit the figure planned,
'Twas coloured all by his own hand.'

As early as 1819, when the poem was first published, "this rude piece of
self-taught art had been supplanted" by a more pretentious figure. The
Waggoner passes the Swan,

'And now the conqueror essays
The long ascent of Dunmail-raise.'

As he proceeds, the storm gathers, and "struggles to get free." Road,
hill, and sky are dark; and he barely sees the well-known rocks at the
summit of Helm-crag, where two figures seem to sit, like those on the
Cobbler, near Arrochar, in Argyle.

'Black is the sky--and every hill,
Up to the sky, is blacker still--
Sky, hill, and dale, one dismal room,
Hung round and overhung with gloom;
Save that above a single height
Is to be seen a lurid light,
Above Helm-crag--a streak half dead,
A burning of portentous red;
And near that lurid light, full well
The ASTROLOGER, sage Sidrophel,
Where at his desk and book he sits,
Puzzling aloft his curious wits;
He whose domain is held in common
With no one but the ANCIENT WOMAN,
Cowering beside her rifted cell,
As if intent on magic spell;--
Dread pair, that, spite of wind and weather,
Still sit upon Helm-crag together!'

At the top of the "raise"--the water-shed between the vales of Grasmere
and Wytheburn--he reaches the familiar pile of stones, at the boundary
between the shires of Westmoreland and Cumberland.

'... that pile of stones,
Heaped over brave King Dunmail's bones;
Green is the grass for beast to graze,
Around the stones of Dunmail-raise!'

The allusion to Seat-Sandal laid bare by the flash of lightning, and the
description, in the last canto, of the ascent of the Raise by the
Waggoner on a summer morning, are as true to the spirit of the place as
anything that Wordsworth has written. He tells his friend Lamb, fourteen
years after he wrote the poem of 'The Waggoner,'

'Yes, I, and all about me here,
Through all the changes of the year,
Had seen him through the mountains go,
In pomp of mist or pomp of snow,
Majestically huge and slow:
Or, with a milder grace adorning
The landscape of a summer's morning;
While Grasmere smoothed her liquid plain
The moving image to detain;
And mighty Fairfield, with a chime
Of echoes, to his march kept time;
When little other business stirred,
And little other sound was heard;
In that delicious hour of balm,
Stillness, solitude, and calm,
While yet the valley is arrayed,
On this side with a sober shade;
On that is prodigally bright--
Crag, lawn, and wood--with rosy light.'

From Dunmail-raise the Waggoner descends to Wytheburn. Externally,

'... Wytheburn's modest House of prayer,
As lowly as the lowliest dwelling,'

remains very much as it was in 1805; but the primitive simplicity and
"lowliness" of the chapel was changed by the addition a few years ago of
an apse, by the removal of some of the old rafters, and by the reseating
of the pews.

The Cherry Tree Tavern, where "the village Merry-night" was being
celebrated, still stands on the eastern or Helvellyn side of the road.
It is now a farm-house; but it will be regarded with interest from the
description of the rustic dance, which recalls ('longo intervallo') 'The
Jolly Beggars' of Burns. After two hours' delay at the Cherry Tree, the
Waggoner and Sailor "coast the silent lake" of Thirlmere, and pass the
Rock of Names.

This rock was, until lately, one of the most interesting memorials of
Wordsworth and his friends that survived in the Lake District; but the
vale of Thirlmere is now a Manchester water-tank, and the place which
knew the Rock of Names now knows it no more. It was a sort of trysting
place of the poets of Grasmere and Keswick--being nearly half-way
between the two places--and there, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and other
members of their households often met. When Coleridge left Grasmere for
Keswick, the Wordsworths usually accompanied him as far as this rock;
and they often met him there on his way over from Keswick to Grasmere.
Compare the Hon. Mr. Justice Coleridge's Reminiscences. ('Memoirs of
Wordsworth,' vol. ii. p. 310.)

The rock was on the right hand of the road, a little way past Waterhead,
at the southern end of Thirlmere; and on it were cut the letters,

W. W.
M. H.
D. W.
S. T. C.
J. W.
S. H.

the initials of William Wordsworth, Mary Hutchinson, Dorothy Wordsworth,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Wordsworth, and Sarah Hutchinson. The
Wordsworths settled at Grasmere at the close of the year 1799. As
mentioned in a previous note, John Wordsworth lived with his brother and
sister during most of that winter, and during the whole of the spring,
summer, and autumn of 1800, leaving it finally on September 29, 1800.
These names must therefore have been cut during the spring or summer of
1800. There is no record of the occurrence, and no allusion to the rock,
in Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal of 1800. But that Journal, so
far as I have seen it, begins on the 14th of May 1800. Almost every
detail of the daily life and ways of the household at Dove Cottage is so
minutely recorded in it, that I am convinced that this incident of the
cutting of names in the Thirlmere Rock would have been mentioned, had it
happened between the 14th of May and John Wordsworth's departure from
Grasmere in September. Such references as this, for example, occur in
the Journal:

"Saturday, August 2.--William and Coleridge went to Keswick. John went
with them to Wytheburn, and staid all day fishing."

I therefore infer that it was in the spring or early summer of 1800 that
the names were cut.

I may add that the late Dean of Westminster--Dean Stanley--took much
interest in this Rock of Names; and doubt having been cast on the
accuracy of the place and the genuineness of the inscriptions, in a
letter from Dr. Fraser, then Bishop of Manchester, which he forwarded to
me, he entered into the question with all the interest with which he was
wont to track out details in the architecture or the history of a

There were few memorials connected with Wordsworth more worthy of
preservation than this "upright mural block of stone." When one
remembered that the initials on the rock were graven by the hands of
William and John Wordsworth, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, possibly with
the assistance of Dorothy Wordsworth, the two Hutchinsons (Mary and
Sarah), and that Wordsworth says of it,

'We worked until the Initials took
Shapes that defied a scornful look,'

this Thirlmere Rock was felt to be a far more interesting memento of the
group of poets that used to meet beside it, than the Stone in the
grounds of Rydal Mount, which was spared at Wordsworth's suit, "from
some rude beauty of its own." There was simplicity, as well as strength,
in the way in which the initials were cut. But the stone was afterwards
desecrated by tourists, and others, who had the audacity to scratch
their own names or initials upon it. In 1877 I wrote, "The rock is as
yet wonderfully free from such; and its preservation is probably due to
the dark olive-coloured moss, with which the 'pure water trickling down'
has covered the face of the 'mural block,' and thus secured it from
observation, even on that highway;" but I found in the summer of 1882
that several other names had been ruthlessly added. When the Manchester
Thirlmere scheme was finally resolved upon, an effort was made to remove
the Stone, with the view of its being placed higher up the hill on the
side of the new roadway. In the course of this attempt, the Stone was
broken to pieces.

There is a very good drawing of "The Rock of Names" by Mr. Harry
Goodwin, in 'Through the Wordsworth Country, 1892'.

"The Muse" takes farewell of the Waggoner as he is proceeding with the
Sailor and his quaint model of the 'Vanguard' along the road toward
Keswick. She "scents the morning air," and

'Quits the slow-paced waggon's side,
To wander down yon hawthorn dell,
With murmuring Greta for her guide.'

The "hawthorn dell" is the upper part of the Vale of St. John.

'--There doth she ken the awful form
Of Raven-crag--black as a storm--
Glimmering through the twilight pale;
And Ghimmer-crag, his tall twin brother,
Each peering forth to meet the other.'

Raven-crag is well known,--H.C. Robinson writes of it in his 'Diary' in
1818, as "the most significant of the crags at a spot where there is not
one insignificant,"--a rock on the western side of Thirlmere, where the
Greta issues from the lake. But there is no rock in the district now
called by the name of Ghimmer-crag, or the crag of the Ewe-lamb. I am
inclined to think that Wordsworth referred to the "Fisher-crag" of the
Ordnance Survey and the Guide Books. No other rock round Thirlmere can
with any accuracy be called the "tall twin brother" of Raven-crag:
certainly not Great How, nor any spur of High Seat or Bleaberry Fell.
Fisher-crag resembles Raven-crag, as seen from Thirlmere Bridge, or from
the high road above it; and it is somewhat remarkable that Green--in his
Guide to the Lakes (a volume which the poet possessed)--makes use of the
same expression as that which Wordsworth adopts regarding these two
crags, Raven and Fisher.

"The margin of the lake on the Dalehead side has its charms of wood
and water; and Fischer Crag, twin brother to Raven Crag, is no bad
object, when taken near the island called Buck's Holm"

('A Description of Sixty Studies from Nature', by William Green of
Ambleside, 1810, p. 57). I cannot find any topographical allusion to a
Ghimmer-crag in contemporary local writers. Clarke, in his 'Survey of
the Lakes', does not mention it.

The Castle Rock, in the Vale of Legberthwaite, between High Fell and
Great How, is the fairy castle of Sir Walter Scott's 'Bridal of
Triermain'. "Nathdale Fell" is the ridge between Naddle Vale (Nathdale
Vale) and that of St. John, now known as High Rigg. The old Hall of
Threlkeld has long been in a state of ruinous dilapidation, the only
habitable part of it having been for many years converted into a
farmhouse. The remaining local allusions in 'The Waggoner' are obvious
enough: Castrigg is the shortened form of Castlerigg, the ridge between
Naddle Valley and Keswick.

In the "Reminiscences" of Wordsworth, which the Hon. Mr. Justice
Coleridge wrote for the late Bishop of Lincoln, in 1850, there is the
following reference to 'The Waggoner'. (See 'Memoirs', vol. ii. p. 310.)

"'The Waggoner' seems a very favourite poem of his. He said his object
in it had not been understood. It was a play of the fancy on a
domestic incident, and lowly character. He wished by the opening
descriptive lines to put his reader into the state of mind in which he
wished it to be read. If he failed in doing that, he wished him to lay
it down. He pointed out with the same view, the glowing lines on the
state of exultation in which Ben and his companions are under the
influence of liquor. Then he read the sickening languor of the morning
walk, contrasted with the glorious uprising of Nature, and the songs
of the birds. Here he has added about six most exquisite lines."

The lines referred to are doubtless the eight (p. 101), beginning

'Say more; for by that power a vein,'

which were added in the edition of 1836.

The following is Sara Coleridge's criticism of 'The Waggoner'. (See
'Biographia Literaria', vol. ii. pp. 183, 184, edition 1847.)

"Due honour is done to 'Peter Bell', at this time, by students of
poetry in general; but some, even of Mr. Wordsworth's greatest
admirers, do not quite satisfy me in their admiration of 'The
Waggoner', a poem which my dear uncle, Mr. Southey, preferred even to
the former. 'Ich will meine Denkungs Art hierin niemandem aufdringen',
as Lessing says: I will force my way of thinking on nobody, but take
the liberty, for my own gratification, to express it. The sketches of
hill and valley in this poem have a lightness, and spirit--an Allegro
touch--distinguishing them from the grave and elevated splendour which
characterises Mr. Wordsworth's representations of Nature in general,
and from the passive tenderness of those in 'The White Doe', while it
harmonises well with the human interest of the piece; indeed it is the
harmonious sweetness of the composition which is most dwelt upon by
its special admirers. In its course it describes, with bold brief
touches, the striking mountain tract from Grasmere to Keswick; it
commences with an evening storm among the mountains, presents a lively
interior of a country inn during midnight, and concludes after
bringing us in sight of St. John's Vale and the Vale of Keswick seen
by day-break--'Skiddaw touched with rosy light,' and the prospect from
Nathdale Fell 'hoar with the frost-like dews of dawn:' thus giving a
beautiful and well-contrasted Panorama, produced by the most delicate
and masterly strokes of the pencil. Well may Mr. Ruskin, a fine
observer and eloquent describer of various classes of natural
appearances, speak of Mr. Wordsworth as the great poetic landscape
painter of the age. But Mr. Ruskin has found how seldom the great
landscape painters are powerful in expressing human passions and
affections on canvas, or even successful in the introduction of human
figures into their foregrounds; whereas in the poetic paintings of Mr.
Wordsworth the landscape is always subordinate to a higher interest;
certainly, in 'The Waggoner', the little sketch of human nature which
occupies, as it were, the front of that encircling background, the
picture of Benjamin and his temptations, his humble friends and the
mute companions of his way, has a character of its own, combining with
sportiveness a homely pathos, which must ever be delightful to some of
those who are thoroughly conversant with the spirit of Mr.
Wordsworth's poetry. It may be compared with the ale-house scene in
'Tam o'Shanter', parts of Voss's Luise, or Ovid's Baucis and Philemon;
though it differs from each of them as much as they differ from each
other. The Epilogue carries on the feeling of the piece very

The editor of Southey's 'Life and Correspondence'--his son, the Rev.
Charles Cuthbert Southey--tells us, in a note to a letter from S.T.
Coleridge to his father, that the Waggoner's name was Jackson; and that
"all the circumstances of the poem are accurately correct." This
Jackson, after retiring from active work as waggoner, became the tenant
of Greta Hall, where first Coleridge, and afterwards Southey lived. The
Hall was divided into two houses, one of which Jackson occupied, and the
other of which he let to Coleridge, who speaks thus of him in the letter
to Southey, dated Greta Hall, Keswick, April 13, 1801:

"My landlord, who dwells next door, has a very respectable library,
which he has put with mine; histories, encyclopedias, and all the
modern poetry, etc. etc. etc. A more truly disinterested man I never
met with; severely frugal, yet almost carelessly generous; and yet he
got all his money as a common carrier, by hard labour, and by pennies
and pennies. He is one instance among many in this country of the
salutary effect of the love of knowledge--he was from a boy a lover of

(See 'Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey,' vol. ii. pp. 147,

Charles Lamb--to whom 'The Waggoner' was dedicated--wrote thus to
Wordsworth on 7th June 1819:

"My dear Wordsworth,--You cannot imagine how proud we are here of the
dedication. We read it twice for once that we do the poem. I mean all
through; yet 'Benjamin' is no common favourite; there is a spirit of
beautiful tolerance in it. It is as good as it was in 1806; and it
will be as good in 1829, if our dim eyes shall be awake to peruse it.
Methinks there is a kind of shadowing affinity between the subject of
the narrative and the subject of the dedication.
"I do not know which I like best,--the prologue (the latter part
especially) to 'P. Bell,' or the epilogue to 'Benjamin.' Yes, I tell
stories; I do know I like the last best; and the 'Waggoner' altogether
is a pleasanter remembrance to me than the 'Itinerant.'
"C. LAMB."

(See 'The Letters of Charles Lamb,' edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. ii.
pp. 24-26.)

To this may be added what Southey wrote to Mr. Wade Browne on 15th June

"I think you will be pleased with Wordsworth's 'Waggoner', if it were
only for the line of road which it describes. The master of the waggon
was my poor landlord Jackson, and the cause of his exchanging it for
the one-horse cart was just as is represented in the poem; nobody but
Benjamin could manage it upon these hills, and Benjamin could not
resist the temptations by the wayside."

(See 'The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey', vol. iv. p.

* * * * *




Composed 1799-1805.--Published 1850


The following Poem was commenced in the beginning of the year 1799, and
completed in the summer of 1805.

The design and occasion of the work are described by the Author in his
Preface to the EXCURSION, first published in 1814, where he thus speaks:

"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, it was a reasonable thing that he should take a review of his
own mind, and examine how far Nature and Education had qualified him
for such an employment.

"As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in verse,
the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was acquainted
with them.

"That work, addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished for his
knowledge and genius, and to whom the author's intellect is deeply
indebted, has been long finished; and the result of the investigation
which gave rise to it, was a determination to compose a philosophical
Poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and Society, and to be entitled
'The Recluse;' as having for its principal subject the sensations and
opinions of a poet living in retirement.

"The preparatory poem is biographical, and conducts the history of the
Author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope that his
faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous
labour which he had proposed to himself; and the two works have the
same kind of relation to each other, if he may so express himself, as
the Ante-chapel has to the body of a Gothic Church. Continuing this
allusion, he may be permitted to add, that his minor pieces, which
have been long before the public, when they shall be properly
arranged, will be found by the attentive reader to have such
connection with the main work as may give them claim to be likened to
the little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily
included in those edifices."

Such was the Author's language in the year 1814.

It will thence be seen, that the present Poem was intended to be
introductory to the RECLUSE, and that the RECLUSE, if completed, would
have consisted of Three Parts. Of these, the Second Part alone, viz. the
EXCURSION, was finished, and given to the world by the Author.

The First Book of the First Part of the RECLUSE still remains in
manuscript; but the Third Part was only planned. The materials of which
it would have been formed have, however, been incorporated, for the most
part, in the Author's other Publications, written subsequently to the

The Friend, to whom the present Poem is addressed, was the late SAMUEL
TAYLOR COLERIDGE, who was resident in Malta, for the restoration of his
health, when the greater part of it was composed.

Mr. Coleridge read a considerable portion of the Poem while he was
abroad; and his feelings, on hearing it recited by the Author (after his
return to his own country) are recorded in his Verses, addressed to Mr.
Wordsworth, which will be found in the 'Sibylline Leaves,' p. 197,
edition 1817, or 'Poetical Works, by S. T. Coleridge,' vol. i. p. 206.

RYDAL MOUNT, _July 13th_, 1850.

This "advertisement" to the first edition of 'The Prelude,' published in
1850--the year of Wordsworth's death--was written by Mr. Carter, who
edited the volume. Mr. Carter was for many years the poet's secretary,
and afterwards one of his literary executors. The poem was not only kept
back from publication during Wordsworth's life-time, but it remained
without a title; being alluded to by himself, when he spoke or wrote of
it, as "the poem on my own poetical education," the "poem on my own
life," etc.

As 'The Prelude' is autobiographical, a large part of Wordsworth's life
might be written in the notes appended to it; but, besides breaking up
the text of the poem unduly, this plan has many disadvantages, and would
render a subsequent and detailed life of the poet either unnecessary or
repetitive. The notes which follow will therefore be limited to the
explanation of local, historical, and chronological allusions, or to
references to Wordsworth's own career that are not obvious without them.
It has been occasionally difficult to decide whether some of the
allusions, to minute points in ancient history, mediaeval mythology, and
contemporary politics, should be explained or left alone; but I have
preferred to err on the side of giving a brief clue to details, with
which every scholar is familiar.

'The Prelude' was begun as Wordsworth left the imperial city of Goslar,
in Lower Saxony, where he spent part of the last winter of last century,
and which he left on the 10th of February 1799. Only lines 1 to 45,
however, were composed at that time; and the poem was continued at
desultory intervals after the settlement at Grasmere, during 1800, and
following years. Large portions of it were dictated to his devoted
amanuenses as he walked, or sat, on the terraces of Lancrigg. Six books
were finished by 1805.

"The seventh was begun in the opening of that year; ... and the
remaining seven were written before the end of June 1805, when his
friend Coleridge was in the island of Malta, for the restoration of
his health."

(The late Bishop of Lincoln.)

There is no uncertainty as to the year in which the later books were
written; but there is considerable difficulty in fixing the precise date
of the earlier ones. Writing from Grasmere to his friend Francis
Wrangham--the letter is undated--Wordsworth says,

"I am engaged in writing a poem on my own earlier life, which will
take five parts or books to complete, three of which are nearly

The late Bishop of Lincoln supposed that this letter to Wrangham was
written "at the close of 1803, or beginning of 1804." (See 'Memoirs of
Wordsworth,' vol. i. p. 303.) There is evidence that it belongs to 1804.
At the commencement of the seventh book, p. 247, he says:

_Six changeful years_ have vanished since I first
Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze
Which met me issuing from the City's walls)
_A glad preamble to this Verse:_ I sang
Aloud, with fervour irresistible
Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting,
From a black thunder-cloud, down Scafell's side
To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth
(So willed the Muse) _a less impetuous stream,
That flowed awhile with unabating strength,
Then stopped for years; not audible again
Before last primrose-time._

I have _italicised_ the clauses which give some clue to the dates of
composition. From these it would appear that the "glad preamble,"
written on leaving Goslar in 1799 (which, I think, included only the
first two paragraphs of book first), was a "short-lived transport"; but
that "soon" afterwards "a less impetuous stream" broke forth, which,
after the settlement at Grasmere, "flowed awhile with unabating
strength," and then "stopped for years." Now the above passage,
recording these things, was written in 1805, and in the late autumn of
that year; (as is evident from the reference which immediately follows
to the "choir of redbreasts" and the approach of winter). We must
therefore assign the flowing of the "less impetuous stream," to 1802; in
order to leave room for the intervening "years," in which it ceased to
flow, till it was audible again in the spring of 1804, "last

A second reference to date occurs in the sixth book, p. 224, entitled
"Cambridge and the Alps," in which he says,

_Four years and thirty, told, this very week,_
Have I been now a sojourner on earth.

This fixes definitely enough the date of the composition of _that_ part
of the work, _viz._ April 1804, which corresponds exactly to the "last
primrose-time" of the previous extract from the seventh book, in which
he tells us that after its long silence, his Muse was heard again. So
far Wordsworth's own allusions to the date of 'The Prelude.'

But there are others supplied by his own, and his sister's letters, and
also by the Grasmere Journal. In the Dove Cottage household it was
known, and talked of, as "the Poem to Coleridge;" and Dorothy records,
on 11th January 1803, that her brother was working at it. On 13th
February 1804, she writes to Mrs. Clarkson that her brother was engaged
on a poem on his own life, and was "going on with great rapidity." On
the 6th of March 1804, Wordsworth wrote from Grasmere to De Quincey,

"I am now writing a poem on my own earlier life: I have just finished
that part of it in which I speak of my residence at the University."
... It is "better than half complete, viz. four books, amounting to
about 2500 lines."[A]

On the 24th of March, Dorothy wrote to Mrs. Clarkson, that since
Coleridge left them (which was in January 1804), her brother had added
1500 lines to the poem on his own life. On the 29th of April 1804,
Wordsworth wrote to Richard Sharpe,

"I have been very busy these last ten weeks: having written between
two and three thousand lines--accurately near three thousand--in that
time; namely, four books, and a third of another. I am at present at
the Seventh Book."

On the 25th December 1804, he wrote to Sir George Beaumont,

"I have written upwards of 2000 verses during the last ten weeks."

We thus find that Books I. to IV. had been written by the 6th of March
1804, that from the 19th February to the 29th of April nearly 3000 lines
were written, that March and April were specially productive months, for
by the 29th April he had reached Book VII. while from 16th October to
25th December he wrote over 2000 lines.

Dorothy and Mary Wordsworth transcribed the earlier books more than
once, and a copy of some of them was given to Coleridge to take with him
to Malta.

It is certain that the remaining books of 'The Prelude' were all written
in the spring and early summer of 1805; the seventh, eighth, ninth,
tenth, eleventh, and part of the twelfth being finished about the middle
of April; the last 300 lines of book twelfth in the last week of April;
and the two remaining books--the thirteenth and fourteenth--before the
20th of May. The following extracts from letters of Wordsworth to Sir
George Beaumont make this clear, and also cast light on matters much
more important than the mere dates of composition.

GRASMERE, Dec. 25, 1804.

"My dear Sir George,--You will be pleased to hear that I have been
advancing with my work: I have written upwards of 2000 verses during
the last ten weeks. I do not know if you are exactly acquainted with
the plan of my poetical labour: It is twofold; first, a Poem, to be
called 'The Recluse;' in which it will be my object to express in
verse my most interesting feelings concerning man, nature, and
society; and next, a poem (in which I am at present chiefly engaged)
on _my earlier life, or the growth of my own mind,_ taken up upon a
large scale. This latter work I expect to have finished before the
month of May; and then I purpose to fall with all my might on the
former, which is the chief object upon which my thoughts have been
fixed these many years. Of this poem, that of 'The Pedlar,' which
Coleridge read to you, is part; and I may have written of it
altogether about 2000 lines. It will consist, I hope, of about ten or
twelve thousand."

GRASMERE, May 1, 1805.

"Unable to proceed with this work, [B] I turned my thoughts again to
the 'Poem on my own Life', and you will be glad to hear that I have
added 300 lines to it in the course of last week. Two books more will
conclude it. It will not be much less than 9000 lines,--not hundred
but thousand lines long,--an alarming length! and a thing
unprecedented in literary history that a man should talk so much about
himself. It is not self-conceit, as you will know well, that has
induced me to do this, but real humility. I began the work because I
was _unprepared_ to treat _any more arduous subject_, and _diffident
of my own powers_. Here, at least, I hoped that to a certain degree I
should be sure of succeeding, as I had nothing to do but describe what
I had felt and thought, and therefore could not easily be bewildered.
This might have been done in narrower compass by a man of more
address; but I have done my best. If, when the work shall be finished,
it appears to the judicious to have redundancies, they shall be lopped
off, if possible; but this is very difficult to do, when a man has
written with thought; and this defect, whenever I have suspected it or
found it to exist in any writings of mine, I have always found it
incurable. The fault lies too deep, and is in the first conception."

GRASMERE, June 3, 1805.

"I have the pleasure to say that I _finished my poem_ about a
fortnight ago. I had looked forward to the day as a most happy one;
... But it was not a happy day for me; I was dejected on many
accounts: when I looked back upon the performance, it seemed to have a
dead weight about it,--the reality so far short of the expectation. It
was the first long labour that I had finished; and the doubt whether I
should ever live to write 'The Recluse', and the sense which I had of
this poem being so far below what I seemed capable of executing,
depressed me much; above all, many heavy thoughts of my poor departed
brother hung upon me, the joy which I should have had in showing him
the manuscript, and a thousand other vain fancies and dreams. I have
spoken of this, because it was a state of feeling new to me, the
occasion being new. This work may be considered as a sort of _portico_
to 'The Recluse', part of the same building, which I hope to be able,
ere long, to begin with in earnest; and if I am permitted to bring it
to a conclusion, and to write, further, a narrative poem of the epic
kind, I shall consider the task of my life as over. I ought to add,
that I have the satisfaction of finding the present poem not quite of
so alarming a length as I apprehended."

These letters explain the delay in the publication of 'The Prelude'.
They show that what led Wordsworth to write so much about himself was
not self-conceit, but self-diffidence. He felt unprepared as yet for the
more arduous task he had set before himself. He saw its faults as
clearly, or more clearly, than the critics who condemned him. He knew
that its length was excessive. He tried to condense it; he kept it
beside him unpublished, and occasionally revised it, with a view to
condensation, in vain. The text received his final corrections in the
year 1832.

Wordsworth's reluctance to publish these portions of his great poem,
'The Recluse', other than 'The Excursion', during his lifetime, was a
matter of surprise to his friends; to whom he, or the ladies of his
household, had read portions of it. In the year 1819, Charles Lamb wrote
to him,

"If, as you say, 'The Waggoner', in some sort, came at my call, oh for
a potent voice to call forth 'The Recluse' from his profound
dormitory, where he sleeps forgetful of his foolish charge--the

('The Letters of Charles Lamb', edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. ii. p.

The admission made in the letter of May 1st, 1805, is note-worthy:

"This defect" (of redundancy) "whenever I have suspected it or found
it to exist in any writings of mine, _I have always found incurable.
The fault lies too deep, and is in the first conception_."

The actual result--in the Poem he had at length committed to
writing--was so far inferior to the ideal he had tried to realise, that
he could never be induced to publish it. He spoke of the MS. as forming
a sort of _portico_ to his larger work--the poem on Man, Nature, and
Society--which he meant to call 'The Recluse', and of which one portion
only, _viz._ 'The Excursion', was finished. It is clear that throughout
the composition of 'The Prelude', he felt that he was experimenting with
his powers. He wished to find out whether he could construct "a literary
work that might live," on a larger scale than his Lyrics; and it was on
the writing of a "philosophical poem," dealing with Man and Nature, in
their deepest aspects, that his thoughts had been fixed for many years.
From the letter to Sir George Beaumont, December 25, 1804, it is evident
that he regarded the autobiographical poem as a mere prologue to this
larger work, to which he hoped to turn "with all his might" after 'The
Prelude' was finished, and of which he had already written about a fifth
or a sixth (see 'Memoirs', vol. i. p. 304). This was the part known in
the Grasmere household as "The Pedlar," a title given to it from the
character of the Wanderer, but afterwards happily set aside. He did not
devote himself, however, to the completion of his wider purpose,
immediately after 'The Prelude' was finished. He wrote one book of 'The
Recluse' which he called "Home at Grasmere"; and, though detached from
'The Prelude', it is a continuation of the narrative of his own life at
the point where it is left off in the latter poem. It consists of 733
lines. Two extracts from it were published in the 'Memoirs of
Wordsworth' in 1851 (vol. i. pp. 151 and 155), beginning,

'On Nature's invitation do I come,'


'Bleak season was it, turbulent and bleak.'

These will be found in vol. ii. of this edition, pp. 118 and 121

The autobiographical poem remained, as already stated, during
Wordsworth's lifetime without a title. The name finally adopted--'The
Prelude'--was suggested by Mrs. Wordsworth, both to indicate its
relation to the larger work, and the fact of its having been written
comparatively early.

As the poem was addressed to Coleridge, it may be desirable to add in
this place his critical verdict upon it; along with the poem which he
wrote, on hearing Wordsworth read a portion of it to him, in the winter
of 1806, at Coleorton.

In his 'Table Talk' (London, 1835, vol. ii. p. 70), Coleridge's opinion
is recorded thus:

"I cannot help regretting that Wordsworth did not first publish his
thirteen (fourteen) books on the growth of an individual
mind--superior, as I used to think, upon the whole to 'The Excursion'.
You may judge how I felt about them by my own Poem upon the occasion.
Then the plan laid out, and, I believe, partly suggested by me, was,
that Wordsworth should assume the station of a man in mental repose,
one whose principles were made up, and so prepared to deliver upon
authority a system of philosophy. He was to treat man as man,--a
subject of eye, ear, touch, and taste in contact with external nature,
and informing the senses from the mind, and not compounding a mind out
of the senses; then he was to describe the pastoral and other states
of society, assuming something of the Juvenalian spirit as he
approached the high civilisation of cities and towns, and opening a
melancholy picture of the present state of degeneracy and vice; thence
he was to infer and reveal the proof of, and necessity for, the whole
state of man and society being subject to, and illustrative of a
redemptive process in operation, showing how this idea reconciled all
the anomalies, and promised future glory and restoration. Something of
this sort was, I think, agreed on. It is, in substance, what I have
been all my life doing in my system of philosophy.

"I think Wordsworth possessed more of the genius of a great
Philosopher than any man I ever knew, or, as I believe, has existed in
England since Milton; but it seems to me that he ought never to have
abandoned the contemplative position which is peculiarly--perhaps, I
might say exclusively--fitted for him. His proper title is 'Spectator
ab extra'."

The following are Coleridge's Lines addressed to Wordsworth:



Friend of the wise! and teacher of the good!
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
Of a Human Spirit thou hast dared to tell
What may be told, to the understanding mind
Revealable; and what within the mind
By vital breathings secret as the soul
Of vernal growth, oft quickens in the heart
Thoughts all too deep for words!--
Theme hard as high,
Of smiles spontaneous, and mysterious fears
(The first-born they of Reason and twin-birth),
Of tides obedient to external force,
And currents self-determined, as might seem,
Or by some inner power; of moments awful,
Now in thy inner life, and now abroad,
When power streamed from thee, and thy soul received
The Light reflected, as a light bestowed--
Of fancies fair, and milder hours of youth,
Hyblean 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,
The guides and the companions of thy way!
Of more than Fancy, of the Social Sense
Distending wide, and man beloved as man,
Where France in all her towns lay vibrating
Like some becalmed bark beneath the burst
Of Heaven's immediate thunder, when no cloud
Is visible, or shadow on the main.
For thou wert there, thine own brows garlanded,
Amid the tremor of a realm aglow,
Amid a mighty nation jubilant,
When from the general heart of humankind
Hope sprang forth like a full-born Deity!
--Of that dear Hope afflicted and struck down,
So summoned homeward, thenceforth calm and sure,
From the dread 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,
Action and joy!--An Orphic song indeed,
A song divine of high and passionate thoughts
To their own music chanted!
O great Bard!
Ere yet that last strain dying awed the air,
With stedfast eye I viewed thee in the choir
Of ever-enduring men. The truly great
Have all one age, and from one visible space
Shed influence! They, both in power and act,
Are permanent, and Time is not with them,
Save as it worketh for them, they in it.
Nor less a sacred roll, than those of old,
And to be placed, as they, with gradual fame
Among the archives of mankind, thy work
Makes audible a linked lay of Truth,
Of Truth profound a sweet continuous lay,
Not learnt, but native, her own natural notes!
Ah! as I listened with a heart forlorn,
The pulses of my being beat anew:
And even as life returns upon the drowned,
Life's joy rekindling roused a throng of pains--
Keen pangs of Love, awakening as a babe
Turbulent, with an outcry in the heart;
And fears self-willed, that shunned 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 culled in wood-walks wild,
And all which patient toil had reared, and all,
Commune with thee had opened out--but flowers
Strewed on my corse, and borne upon my bier,
In the same coffin, for the self-same grave!

... Eve following eve,
Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of Home
Is sweetest! moments for their own sake hailed,
And more desired, more precious for thy song,
In silence listening, like a devout child,
My soul lay passive, by thy various strain
Driven as in surges now beneath the stars,
With momentary stars of my own birth,
Fair constellated foam, [C] still darting off
Into the darkness; now a tranquil sea,
Outspread and bright, yet swelling to the moon.

And when--O Friend! my comforter and guide!
Strong in thyself, and powerful to give strength!--
Thy long-sustained Song finally closed,
And thy deep voice had ceased--yet thou thyself
Wert still before my eyes, and round us both
That happy vision of beloved faces--
Scarce conscious, and yet conscious of its close
I sate, my being blended in one thought
(Thought was it? or aspiration? or resolve?)
Absorbed, yet hanging still upon the sound--
And when I rose I found myself in prayer.

It was at Coleorton, in Leicestershire,--where the Wordsworths lived
during the winter of 1806-7, in a farm-house belonging to Sir George
Beaumont, and where Coleridge visited them,--that 'The Prelude' was read
aloud by its author, on the occasion which gave birth to these

[Footnote A: See the 'De Quincey Memorials,' vol. i. p. 125.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: A poem on his brother John.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: Compare

"A beautiful white cloud of foam at momentary intervals, coursed by
the side of the vessel with a roar, and little stars of flame danced
and sparkled and went out in it: and every now and then light
detachments of this white cloud-like foam darted off from the vessel's
side, each with its own small constellation, over the sea, and scoured
out of sight like a Tartar troop over a wilderness."

S. T. C. in 'Biographia Literaria', Satyrane's Letters, letter i. p. 196
(edition 1817).--Ed.]

* * * * *



O there is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come 5
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, [A] where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will.
What dwelling shall receive me? in what vale 10
Shall be my harbour? underneath what grove
Shall I take up my home? and what clear stream
Shall with its murmur lull me into rest?
The earth is all before me. [B] With a heart
Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty, 15
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way. I breathe again!
Trances of thought and mountings of the mind
Come fast upon me: it is shaken off, 20
That burthen of my own unnatural self,
The heavy weight of many a weary day [C]
Not mine, and such as were not made for me.
Long months of peace (if such bold word accord
With any promises of human life), 25
Long months of ease and undisturbed delight
Are mine in prospect; whither shall I turn,
By road or pathway, or through trackless field,
Up hill or down, or shall some floating thing
Upon the river point me out my course? 30

Dear Liberty! Yet what would it avail
But for a gift that consecrates the joy?
For I, methought, while the sweet breath of heaven
Was blowing on my body, felt within
A correspondent breeze, that gently moved 35
With quickening virtue, but is now become
A tempest, a redundant energy,
Vexing its own creation. Thanks to both,
And their congenial powers, that, while they join
In breaking up a long-continued frost, 40
Bring with them vernal promises, the hope
Of active days urged on by flying hours,--
Days of sweet leisure, taxed with patient thought
Abstruse, nor wanting punctual service high,
Matins and vespers of harmonious verse! 45

Thus far, O Friend! [D] did I, not used to make
A present joy the matter of a song,
Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains
That would not be forgotten, and are here
Recorded: to the open fields I told 50
A prophecy: poetic numbers came
Spontaneously to clothe in priestly robe
A renovated spirit singled out,
Such hope was mine, for holy services.
My own voice cheered me, and, far more, the mind's 55
Internal echo of the imperfect sound;
To both I listened, drawing from them both
A cheerful confidence in things to come.

Content and not unwilling now to give
A respite to this passion, I paced on 60
With brisk and eager steps; and came, at length,
To a green shady place, [E] where down I sate
Beneath a tree, slackening my thoughts by choice,
And settling into gentler happiness.
'Twas autumn, and a clear and placid day, 65
With warmth, as much as needed, from a sun
Two hours declined towards the west; a day
With silver clouds, and sunshine on the grass,
And in the sheltered and the sheltering grove
A perfect stillness. Many were the thoughts 70
Encouraged and dismissed, till choice was made
Of a known Vale, [F] whither my feet should turn,
Nor rest till they had reached the very door
Of the one cottage [G] which methought I saw.
No picture of mere memory ever looked 75
So fair; and while upon the fancied scene
I gazed with growing love, a higher power
Than Fancy gave assurance of some work
Of glory there forthwith to be begun,
Perhaps too there performed. Thus long I mused, 80
Nor e'er lost sight of what I mused upon,
Save when, amid the stately groves of oaks,
Now here, now there, an acorn, from its cup
Dislodged, through sere leaves rustled, or at once
To the bare earth dropped with a startling sound. 85
From that soft couch I rose not, till the sun
Had almost touched the horizon; casting then
A backward glance upon the curling cloud
Of city smoke, by distance ruralised;
Keen as a Truant or a Fugitive, 90
But as a Pilgrim resolute, I took,
Even with the chance equipment of that hour,
The road that pointed toward the chosen Vale. [F]
It was a splendid evening, and my soul
Once more made trial of her strength, nor lacked 95
AEolian visitations; but the harp
Was soon defrauded, and the banded host
Of harmony dispersed in straggling sounds,
And lastly utter silence! "Be it so;
Why think of any thing but present good?" [H] 100
So, like a home-bound labourer I pursued
My way beneath the mellowing sun, that shed
Mild influence; nor left in me one wish
Again to bend the Sabbath of that time
To a servile yoke. What need of many words? 105
A pleasant loitering journey, through three days
Continued, brought me to my hermitage, [I]
I spare to tell of what ensued, the life
In common things--the endless store of things,
Rare, or at least so seeming, every day 110
Found all about me in one neighbourhood--
The self-congratulation, and, from morn
To night, unbroken cheerfulness serene. [K]
But speedily an earnest longing rose
To brace myself to some determined aim, 115
Reading or thinking; either to lay up
New stores, or rescue from decay the old
By timely interference: and therewith
Came hopes still higher, that with outward life
I might endue some airy phantasies 120
That had been floating loose about for years,
And to such beings temperately deal forth
The many feelings that oppressed my heart.
That hope hath been discouraged; welcome light
Dawns from the east, but dawns to disappear 125
And mock me with a sky that ripens not
Into a steady morning: if my mind,
Remembering the bold promise of the past,
Would gladly grapple with some noble theme,
Vain is her wish; where'er she turns she finds 130
Impediments from day to day renewed.

And now it would content me to yield up
Those lofty hopes awhile, for present gifts
Of humbler industry. But, oh, dear Friend!
The Poet, gentle creature as he is, 135
Hath, like the Lover, his unruly times;
His fits when he is neither sick nor well,
Though no distress be near him but his own
Unmanageable thoughts: his mind, best pleased
While she as duteous as the mother dove 140
Sits brooding, lives not always to that end,
But like the innocent bird, hath goadings on
That drive her as in trouble through the groves; [L]
With me is now such passion, to be blamed
No otherwise than as it lasts too long. 145

When, as becomes a man who would prepare
For such an arduous work, I through myself
Make rigorous inquisition, the report
Is often cheering; for I neither seem
To lack that first great gift, the vital soul, 150
Nor general Truths, which are themselves a sort
Of Elements and Agents, Under-powers,
Subordinate helpers of the living mind:
Nor am I naked of external things,
Forms, images, nor numerous other aids 155
Of less regard, though won perhaps with toil
And needful to build up a Poet's praise.
Time, place, and manners do I seek, and these
Are found in plenteous store, but nowhere such
As may be singled out with steady choice; 160
No little band of yet remembered names
Whom I, in perfect confidence, might hope
To summon back from lonesome banishment,
And make them dwellers in the hearts of men
Now living, or to live in future years. 165
Sometimes the ambitious Power of choice, mistaking
Proud spring-tide swellings for a regular sea,
Will settle on some British theme, some old
Romantic tale by Milton left unsung;
More often turning to some gentle place 170
Within the groves of Chivalry, I pipe
To shepherd swains, or seated harp in hand,
Amid reposing knights by a river side
Or fountain, listen to the grave reports
Of dire enchantments faced and overcome 175
By the strong mind, and tales of warlike feats,
Where spear encountered spear, and sword with sword
Fought, as if conscious of the blazonry
That the shield bore, so glorious was the strife;
Whence inspiration for a song that winds 180
Through ever changing scenes of votive quest
Wrongs to redress, harmonious tribute paid
To patient courage and unblemished truth,
To firm devotion, zeal unquenchable,
And Christian meekness hallowing faithful loves. 185
Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate
How vanquished Mithridates northward passed,
And, hidden in the cloud of years, became
Odin, the Father of a race by whom
Perished the Roman Empire: [M] how the friends 190
And followers of Sertorius, [N] out of Spain
Flying, found shelter in the Fortunate Isles, [O]
And left their usages, their arts and laws,
To disappear by a slow gradual death,
To dwindle and to perish one by one, 195
Starved in those narrow bounds: [P] but not the soul
Of Liberty, which fifteen hundred years
Survived, and, when the European came
With skill and power that might not be withstood,
Did, like a pestilence, maintain its hold 200
And wasted down by glorious death that race
Of natural heroes: or I would record
How, in tyrannic times, some high-souled man,
Unnamed among the chronicles of kings,
Suffered in silence for Truth's sake: or tell, 205
How that one Frenchman, [Q] through continued force
Of meditation on the inhuman deeds
Of those who conquered first the Indian Isles,
Went single in his ministry across
The Ocean; not to comfort the oppressed, 210
But, like a thirsty wind, to roam about
Withering the Oppressor: how Gustavus sought
Help at his need in Dalecarlia's mines: [R]
How Wallace fought for Scotland; left the name
Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower, 215
All over his dear Country; [S] left the deeds
Of Wallace, like a family of Ghosts,
To people the steep rocks and river banks,
Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul
Of independence and stern liberty. 220
Sometimes it suits me better to invent
A tale from my own heart, more near akin
To my own passions and habitual thoughts;
Some variegated story, in the main
Lofty, but the unsubstantial structure melts 225
Before the very sun that brightens it,
Mist into air dissolving! Then a wish,
My best and favourite aspiration, mounts
With yearning toward some philosophic song
Of Truth that cherishes our daily life; 230
With meditations passionate from deep
Recesses in man's heart, immortal verse [T]
Thoughtfully fitted to the Orphean lyre; [U]
But from this awful burthen I full soon
Take refuge and beguile myself with trust 235
That mellower years will bring a riper mind
And clearer insight. Thus my days are past
In contradiction; with no skill to part
Vague longing, haply bred by want of power,
From paramount impulse not to be withstood, 240
A timorous capacity from prudence,
From circumspection, infinite delay.
Humility and modest awe themselves
Betray me, serving often for a cloak
To a more subtle selfishness; that now 245
Locks every function up in blank reserve,
Now dupes me, trusting to an anxious eye
That with intrusive restlessness beats off
Simplicity and self-presented truth.
Ah! better far than this, to stray about 250
Voluptuously through fields and rural walks,
And ask no record of the hours, resigned
To vacant musing, unreproved neglect
Of all things, and deliberate holiday.
Far better never to have heard the name 255
Of zeal and just ambition, than to live
Baffled and plagued by a mind that every hour
Turns recreant to her task; takes heart again,
Then feels immediately some hollow thought
Hang like an interdict upon her hopes. 260
This is my lot; for either still I find
Some imperfection in the chosen theme,
Or see of absolute accomplishment
Much wanting, so much wanting, in myself,
That I recoil and droop, and seek repose 265
In listlessness from vain perplexity,
Unprofitably travelling toward the grave,
Like a false steward who hath much received
And renders nothing back.
Was it for this
That one, the fairest of all rivers, [V] loved 270
To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song,
And, from his alder shades and rocky falls,
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice
That flowed along my dreams? For this, didst thou,
O Derwent! winding among grassy holms 275
Where I was looking on, a babe in arms,
Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts
To more than infant softness, giving me
Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind
A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm 280
That Nature breathes among the hills and groves?
When he had left the mountains and received
On his smooth breast the shadow of those towers [W]
That yet survive, a shattered monument
Of feudal sway, the bright blue river passed 285
Along the margin of our terrace walk; [X]
A tempting playmate whom we dearly loved.
Oh, many a time have I, a five years' child,
In a small mill-race severed from his stream,
Made one long bathing of a summer's day; 290
Basked in the sun, and plunged and basked again
Alternate, all a summer's day, or scoured
The sandy fields, leaping through flowery groves
Of yellow ragwort; or when rock and hill,
The woods, and distant Skiddaw's lofty height, 295
Were bronzed with deepest radiance, stood alone
Beneath the sky, as if I had been born
On Indian plains, and from my mother's hut
Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport
A naked savage, in the thunder shower. 300

Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up
Fostered alike by beauty and by fear:
Much favoured in my birth-place, and no less
In that beloved Vale to which erelong
We were transplanted [Y]--there were we let loose 305
For sports of wider range. Ere I had told
Ten birth-days, [Z] when among the mountain slopes
Frost, and the breath of frosty wind, had snapped
The last autumnal crocus, [a] 'twas my joy
With store of springes o'er my shoulder hung 310
To range the open heights where woodcocks run
Along the smooth green turf. [b] Through half the night,
Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied
That anxious visitation;--moon and stars
Were shining o'er my head. I was alone, 315
And seemed to be a trouble to the peace
That dwelt among them. Sometimes it befel
In these night wanderings, that a strong desire
O'erpowered my better reason, and the bird
Which was the captive of another's toil 320
Became my prey; and when the deed was done
I heard among the solitary hills
Low breathings coming after me, and sounds
Of undistinguishable motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod. 325

Nor less when spring had warmed the cultured Vale, [c]
Moved we as plunderers where the mother-bird
Had in high places built her lodge; though mean
Our object and inglorious, yet the end
Was not ignoble. Oh! when I have hung 330
Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass
And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock
But ill sustained, and almost (so it seemed)
Suspended by the blast that blew amain,
Shouldering the naked crag, [d] oh, at that time 335
While on the perilous ridge I hung alone,
With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind
Blow through my ear! the sky seemed not a sky
Of earth--and with what motion moved the clouds!

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows 340
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society. How strange that all
The terrors, pains, and early miseries, 345
Regrets, vexations, lassitudes interfused
Within my mind, should e'er have borne a part,
And that a needful part, in making up
The calm existence that is mine when I
Am worthy of myself! Praise to the end! 350
Thanks to the means which Nature deigned to employ;
Whether her fearless visitings, or those
That came with soft alarm, like hurtless light
Opening the peaceful clouds; or she may use
Severer interventions, ministry 355
More palpable, as best might suit her aim.

One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cave, [e] its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in 360
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon, 365
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows,
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge, 370
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat 375
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct
Upreared its head. [f] I struck and struck again, 380
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned, 385
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;
There in her mooring-place I left my bark,--
And through the meadows homeward went, in grave
And serious mood; but after I had seen 390
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
There hung a darkness, call it solitude
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes 395
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams. 400

Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!
Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought,
That givest to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion, not in vain
By day or star-light thus from my first dawn 405
Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human soul;
Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,
But with high objects, with enduring things--
With life and nature, purifying thus 410
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me 415
With stinted kindness. In November days,
When vapours rolling down the valley made
A lonely scene more lonesome, among woods
At noon, and 'mid the calm of summer nights,
When, by the margin of the trembling lake, 420
Beneath the gloomy hills homeward I went
In solitude, such intercourse was mine;
Mine was it in the fields both day and night,
And by the waters, all the summer long.

And in the frosty season, when the sun 425
Was set, and visible for many a mile
The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom,
I heeded not their summons: happy time
It was indeed for all of us--for me
It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud 430
The village clock tolled six,--I wheeled about,
Proud and exulting like an untired horse
That cares not for his home. All shod with steel,
We hissed along the polished ice in games
Confederate, imitative of the chase 435
And woodland pleasures,--the resounding horn,
The pack loud chiming, and the hunted hare.
So through the darkness and the cold we flew,
And not a voice was idle; with the din
Smitten, the precipices rang aloud; 440
The leafless trees and every icy crag
Tinkled like iron; [g] while far distant hills
Into the tumult sent an alien sound
Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars
Eastward were sparkling clear, and in the west 445
The orange sky of evening died away.
Not seldom from the uproar I retired
Into a silent bay, or sportively
Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,
To cut across the reflex of a star 450
That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed
Upon the glassy plain; and oftentimes,
When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still 455
The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me--even as if the earth had rolled
With visible motion her diurnal round! 460
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep. [h]

Ye Presences of Nature in the sky
And on the earth! Ye Visions of the hills! 465
And Souls of lonely places! can I think
A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed
Such ministry, when ye through many a year
Haunting me thus among my boyish sports,
On caves and trees, upon the woods and hills, 470
Impressed upon all forms the characters
Of danger or desire; and thus did make
The surface of the universal earth
With triumph and delight, with hope and fear,
Work like a sea?
Not uselessly employed, 475
Might I pursue this theme through every change
Of exercise and play, to which the year
Did summon us in his delightful round.

We were a noisy crew; the sun in heaven
Beheld not vales more beautiful than ours; 480
Nor saw a band in happiness and joy
Richer, or worthier of the ground they trod.
I could record with no reluctant voice
The woods of autumn, and their hazel bowers
With milk-white clusters hung; the rod and line, 485
True symbol of hope's foolishness, whose strong
And unreproved enchantment led us on
By rocks and pools shut out from every star,
All the green summer, to forlorn cascades
Among the windings hid of mountain brooks. [i] 490
--Unfading recollections! at this hour
The heart is almost mine with which I felt,
From some hill-top on sunny afternoons, [j]
The paper kite high among fleecy clouds
Pull at her rein like an impetuous courser; 495
Or, from the meadows sent on gusty days,
Beheld her breast the wind, then suddenly
Dashed headlong, and rejected by the storm.

Ye lowly cottages wherein we dwelt,
A ministration of your own was yours; 500
Can I forget you, being as you were
So beautiful among the pleasant fields
In which ye stood? or can I here forget
The plain and seemly countenance with which
Ye dealt out your plain comforts? Yet had ye 505
Delights and exultations of your own. [k]
Eager and never weary we pursued
Our home-amusements by the warm peat-fire
At evening, when with pencil, and smooth slate
In square divisions parcelled out and all 510
With crosses and with cyphers scribbled o'er,
We schemed and puzzled, head opposed to head
In strife too humble to be named in verse:
Or round the naked table, snow-white deal,
Cherry or maple, sate in close array, 515
And to the combat, Loo or Whist, led on
A thick-ribbed army; not, as in the world,
Neglected and ungratefully thrown by
Even for the very service they had wrought,
But husbanded through many a long campaign. 520
Uncouth assemblage was it, where no few
Had changed their functions; some, plebeian cards [l]
Which Fate, beyond the promise of their birth, [m]
Had dignified, and called to represent
The persons of departed potentates. 525
Oh, with what echoes on the board they fell!
Ironic diamonds,--clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades,
A congregation piteously akin!
Cheap matter offered they to boyish wit,
Those sooty knaves, precipitated down 530
With scoffs and taunts, like Vulcan out of heaven:
The paramount ace, a moon in her eclipse,
Queens gleaming through their splendour's last decay,
And monarchs surly at the wrongs sustained
By royal visages. Meanwhile abroad 535
Incessant rain was falling, or the frost
Raged bitterly, with keen and silent tooth;
And, interrupting oft that eager game,
From under Esthwaite's splitting fields of ice
The pent-up air, struggling to free itself, 540
Gave out to meadow grounds and hills a loud
Protracted yelling, like the noise of wolves
Howling in troops along the Bothnic Main. [n]

Nor, sedulous as I have been to trace
How Nature by extrinsic passion first 545
Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair,
And made me love them, may I here omit
How other pleasures have been mine, and joys
Of subtler origin; how I have felt,
Not seldom even in that tempestuous time, 550
Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense
Which seem, in their simplicity, to own
An intellectual charm; that calm delight
Which, if I err not, surely must belong
To those first-born affinities that fit 555
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union between life and joy.

Yes, I remember when the changeful earth,
And twice five summers on my mind had stamped 560
The faces of the moving year, even then
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
Old as creation, drinking in a pure
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths
Of curling mist, or from the level plain 565
Of waters coloured by impending clouds. [o]

The sands of Westmoreland, the creeks and bays
Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell
How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade,
And to the shepherd's hut on distant hills 570
Sent welcome notice of the rising moon,
How I have stood, to fancies such as these
A stranger, linking with the spectacle
No conscious memory of a kindred sight,
And bringing with me no peculiar sense 575
Of quietness or peace; yet have I stood,
Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league
Of shining water, gathering as it seemed
Through every hair-breadth in that field of light
New pleasure like a bee among the flowers. 580

Thus oft amid those fits of vulgar joy
Which, through all seasons, on a child's pursuits
Are prompt attendants, 'mid that giddy bliss
Which, like a tempest, works along the blood
And is forgotten; even then I felt 585
Gleams like the flashing of a shield;--the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things; sometimes, 'tis true,
By chance collisions and quaint accidents
(Like those ill-sorted unions, work supposed 590
Of evil-minded fairies), yet not vain
Nor profitless, if haply they impressed
Collateral objects and appearances,
Albeit lifeless then, and doomed to sleep
Until maturer seasons called them forth 595
To impregnate and to elevate the mind.
--And if the vulgar joy by its own weight
Wearied itself out of the memory,
The scenes which were a witness of that joy
Remained in their substantial lineaments 600
Depicted on the brain, and to the eye
Were visible, a daily sight; and thus
By the impressive discipline of fear,
By pleasure and repeated happiness,
So frequently repeated, and by force 605
Of obscure feelings representative
Of things forgotten, these same scenes so bright,
So beautiful, so majestic in themselves,
Though yet the day was distant, did become
Habitually dear, and all their forms 610
And changeful colours by invisible links
Were fastened to the affections.

I began
My story early--not misled, I trust,
By an infirmity of love for days
Disowned by memory--ere the breath of spring 615
Planting my snowdrops among winter snows: [p]
Nor will it seem to thee, O Friend! so prompt
In sympathy, that I have lengthened out
With fond and feeble tongue a tedious tale.
Meanwhile, my hope has been, that I might fetch 620
Invigorating thoughts from former years;
Might fix the wavering balance of my mind,
And haply meet reproaches too, whose power
May spur me on, in manhood now mature
To honourable toil. Yet should these hopes 625
Prove vain, and thus should neither I be taught
To understand myself, nor thou to know
With better knowledge how the heart was framed
Of him thou lovest; need I dread from thee
Harsh judgments, if the song be loth to quit 630
Those recollected hours that have the charm
Of visionary things, those lovely forms
And sweet sensations that throw back our life,
And almost make remotest infancy
A visible scene, on which the sun is shining? [q] 635

One end at least hath been attained; my mind
Hath been revived, and if this genial mood
Desert me not, forthwith shall be brought down
Through later years the story of my life.
The road lies plain before me;--'tis a theme 640
Single and of determined bounds; and hence
I choose it rather at this time, than work
Of ampler or more varied argument,
Where I might be discomfited and lost:
And certain hopes are with me, that to thee 645
This labour will be welcome, honoured Friend!

* * * * *


[Footnote A: On the authority of the poet's nephew, and others, the
"city" here referred to has invariably been supposed to be Goslar, where
he spent the winter of 1799. Goslar, however, is as unlike a "vast city"
as it is possible to conceive. Wordsworth could have walked from end to
end of it in ten minutes.

One would think he was rather referring to London, but there is no
evidence to show that he visited the metropolis in the spring of 1799.
The lines which follow about "the open fields" (l. 50) are certainly
more appropriate to a journey from London to Sockburn, than from Goslar
to Gottingen; and what follows, the "green shady place" of l. 62, the
"known Vale" and the "cottage" of ll. 72 and 74, certainly refer to
English soil.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare 'Paradise Lost', xii. l. 646.

'The world was all before them, where to choose.'


[Footnote C: Compare 'Lines composed above Tintern Abbey', II. 52-5
(vol. ii. p. 53.)--Ed.]

[Footnote D: S. T. Coleridge.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: At Sockburn-on-Tees, county Durham, seven miles south-east
of Darlington.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Grasmere.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: Dove Cottage at Town-end.--Ed.]

[Footnote H: This quotation I am unable to trace.--Ed.]

[Footnote I: Wordsworth spent most of the year 1799 (from March to
December) at Sockburn with the Hutchinsons. With Coleridge and his
brother John he went to Windermere, Rydal, Grasmere, etc., in the
autumn, returning afterwards to Sockburn. He left it again, with his
sister, on Dec. 19, to settle at Grasmere, and they reached Dove Cottage
on Dec. 21, 1799.--Ed.]

[Footnote K: See Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal, _passim._--Ed.]

[Footnote L: Compare the 2nd and 3rd of the 'Stanzas written in my
pocket-copy of Thomson's Castle of Indolence', vol. ii. p. 306, and the
note appended to that poem.--Ed.]

[Footnote M: Mithridates (the Great) of Pontus, 131 B.C. to 63 B.C.
Vanquished by Pompey, B.C. 65, he fled to his son-in-law, Tigranes, in
Armenia. Being refused an asylum, he committed suicide. I cannot trace
the legend of Mithridates becoming Odin. Probably Wordsworth means that
he would invent, rather than "relate," the story. Gibbon ('Decline and
Fall of the Roman Empire', chap. x.) says,

"It is supposed that Odin was the chief of a tribe of barbarians, who
dwelt on the banks of Lake Maeotis, till the fall of Mithridates, and
the arms of Pompey menaced the north with servitude; that Odin,
yielding with indignant fury to a power which he was unable to resist,
conducted his tribe from the frontiers of Asiatic Sarmatia into

See also Mallet, 'Northern Antiquities', and Crichton and Wheaton's
'Scandinavia' (Edinburgh Cabinet Library):

"Among the fugitive princes of Scythia, who were expelled from their
country in the Mithridatic war, tradition has placed the name of Odin,
the ruler of a potent tribe in Turkestan, between the Euxine and the


[Footnote N: Sertorius, one of the Roman generals of the later
Republican era (see Plutarch's biography of him, and Corneille's
tragedy). On being proscribed by Sylla, he fled from Etruria to Spain;
there he became the leader of several bands of exiles, and repulsed the
Roman armies sent against him. Mithridates VI.--referred to in the
previous note--aided him, both with ships and money, being desirous of
establishing a new Roman Republic in Spain. From Spain he went to
Mauritania. In the Straits of Gibraltar he met some sailors, who had
been in the Atlantic Isles, and whose reports made him wish to visit
these islands.--Ed.]

[Footnote O: Supposed to be the Canaries.--Ed.]

[Footnote P:

"In the early part of the fifteenth century there arrived at Lisbon an
old bewildered pilot of the seas, who had been driven by tempests he
knew not whither, and raved about an island in the far deep upon which
he had landed, and which he had found peopled, and adorned with noble
cities. The inhabitants told him that they were descendants of a band
of Christians who fled from Spain when that country was conquered by
the Moslems."

(See Washington Irving's 'Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost', etc.; and
Baring Gould's 'Curious Myths of the Middle Ages'.)--Ed.]

[Footnote Q: Dominique de Gourgues, a French gentleman, who went in 1568
to Florida, to avenge the massacre of the French by the Spaniards there.
(Mr. Carter, in the edition of 1850.)--Ed.]

[Footnote R: Gustavus I. of Sweden. In the course of his war with
Denmark he retreated to Dalecarlia, where he was a miner and field

[Footnote S: The name--both as Christian and surname--is common in
Scotland, and towns (such as Wallacetown, Ayr) are named after him.

"Passed two of Wallace's caves. There is scarcely a noted glen in
Scotland that has not a cave for Wallace, or some other hero."

Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland in 1803'
(Sunday, August 21).--Ed.]

[Footnote T: Compare 'L'Allegro', l. 137.--Ed.]

[Footnote U: Compare 'Paradise Lost', iii. 17.--Ed.]

[Footnote V: The Derwent, on which the town of Cockermouth is built,
where Wordsworth was born on the 7th of April 1770.--Ed.]

[Footnote W: The towers of Cockermouth Castle.--Ed.]

[Footnote X: The "terrace walk" is at the foot of the garden, attached
to the old mansion in which Wordsworth's father, law-agent of the Earl
of Lonsdale, resided. This home of his childhood is alluded to in 'The
Sparrow's Nest', vol. ii. p. 236. Three of the "Poems, composed or
suggested during a Tour, in the Summer of 1833," refer to Cockermouth.
They are the fifth, sixth, and seventh in that series of Sonnets: and
are entitled respectively 'To the River Derwent'; 'In sight of the Town
of Cockermouth'; and the 'Address from the Spirit of Cockermouth
Castle'. It was proposed some time ago that this house--which is known
in Cockermouth as "Wordsworth House,"--should be purchased, and since
the Grammar School of the place is out of repair, that it should be
converted into a School, in memory of Wordsworth. This excellent
suggestion has not yet been carried out--Ed.]

[Footnote Y: The Vale of Esthwaite.--Ed.]

[Footnote Z: He went to Hawkshead School in 1778.--Ed.]

[Footnote a: About mid October the autumn crocus in the garden "snaps"
in that district.--Ed.]

[Footnote b: Possibly in the Claife and Colthouse heights to the east of
Esthwaite Water; but more probably the round-headed grassy hills that
lead up and on to the moor between Hawkshead and Coniston, where the
turf is always green and smooth.--Ed.]

[Footnote c: Yewdale: see next note. "Cultured Vale" exactly describes
the little oat-growing valley of Yewdale.--Ed.]

[Footnote d: As there are no "naked crags" with "half-inch fissures in
the slippery rocks" in the "cultured vale" of Esthwaite, the locality
referred to is probably the Hohne Fells above Yewdale, to the north of
Coniston, and only a few miles from Hawkshead, where a crag, now named
Raven's Crag, divides Tilberthwaite from Yewdale. In his 'Epistle to Sir
George Beaumont', Wordsworth speaks of Yewdale as a plain

Under a rock too steep for man to tread,
Where sheltered from the north and bleak north-west
Aloft the Raven hangs a visible nest,
Fearless of all assaults that would her brood molest.'


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