Approaching the work of Dorothy Wordsworth through the lens of print culture and textual scholarship, this paper explores the role of the editor by focusing on the range of strategies and techniques employed in preparing a text and assembling a literary edition. Critically, this paper works on conceptualizing these editing practices as a unique form of argumentation. Through a comparative exploration using traditional close reading practices alongside digital, text-analysis technologies, the entries written between April and June of 1802 from Dorothy Wordsworth’s The Grasmere Journal will be analyzed. This investigation will aid in constructing a critical understanding of the types of editing practices – deleting, excerpting, reframing, and correcting – used in various editions of her work. It will also be used to identify the type of writer these publications depict Wordsworth to be.
The Grasmere Journal was composed between the years of 1800-1803 while D. Wordsworth and her brother were residing in the township of Grasmere located in the British Lake District. The journals were not written for publication but were rather private musings – similar to diary entries – that detailed the life of the Wordsworth family. While the journals did not receive any critical attention during D. Wordsworth’s lifetime, they captivated scholarly attention around the turn of the century. The first publication of The Grasmere Journal came in 1897 when William Knight assembled a pared down and heavily edited version of the work. In 1941, D. Wordsworth’s editor Ernest de Selincourt chose to publish a full copy of the journal entries to follow Knight’s truncated edition. de Selincourt’s publication remains the authoritative text for The Grasmere Journal to date. D. Wordsworth has amounted greater and greater attention throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as scholars as discovered more of her works – including her poetry from the Dove Cottage MS 120. These discoveries and the development of understanding D. Wordsworth as an important Romantic writer prompted Susan Levin, in 2009, to publish an edition including a myriad of D. Wordsworth’s writing – including The Grasmere Journal. While this edition contains the most stunted version of the journal entries, its presentation alongside other works by D. Wordsworth and various critical materials make it a full and informative edition of the text.
To ground this exploration of several editions of Wordsworth’s The Grasmere Journal, we turn to textual criticism theory and in particular to Paul Eggert’s essay “Apparatus, text, interface: how to read a printed critical edition.” Eggert argues that the central focus of literary editions is always the reading text (99). Annotations and indices often accompany this primary source but the reading text is always privileged over this contextual material because it is the necessary focal point for the audience (Eggert 102). Eggert argues that the act of selecting the resources to support, explain, and complement the primary reading text is a critical process which requires that the editor formulate a strategic approach to the text (104). The architecture of each edition is necessarily mediated by the editor’s own research interests, their goals for the critical apparatus, and with a distinct audience in mind, therefore rendering each reading text as “necessarily an embodied argument” (Eggert 98).
While Eggert firmly asserts that there is no right or wrong approach to creating an edition, he does contend that readers must be aware of the critical interventions made by the editor in the publication of a mediated, reading text (105). As multiple editions of a text are published, these strategic arguments become an extension of their unaltered, primary source (Eggert 97). This process of layering argumentative readings of a work on top of one another – in a palimpsestic manner – is what John Bryant refers to as the creation of a fluid text (qtd. in Hutcheon 170). Because “no text is a fixed thing,” the various editions of a work qualify it as a fluid object that morphs with each editor’s intervention (qtd. in Hutcheon 170). In the case of Wordsworth’s canon, The Grasmere Journal has been the subject of this type critical work for over 112 years: beginning with Knight’s edition in 1897, continuing to the publication on Levin’s 2009 edition, and (invariably) beyond. As the political, social, cultural, and intellectual climates of Wordworth’s editors has evolved over time, so too can we assert that the lens through which they interpret the work has also been altered. By engaging in a critical analysis of the introductions, as well as comparing the various edits of the source text, we can work to uncover the argumentative strategies leveraged by the various editors of The Grasmere Journal in both their approach to the text and to Wordsworth as an authorial figure.
This exploration looks to compare a selection of entries from three editions of The Grasmere Journal – Knight’s 1897 publication, de Selincourt’s 1941 publication, and Levin’s 2009 publication – against D. Wordsworth’s original manuscript. This investigation will rely on both traditional and digital methodologies: the introductions to each edition will be closely read using conventional literary practices and the edited reading texted will be comparatively analyzed using the textual analysis software of Juxta Commonsbeta. This program uses TEI to format and prepare separate texts for direct, comparative analysis in a user-friendly interface. While this analysis could be carried out through a traditional close reading, sourcing out the minute differences across the four resources would be painstaking. Instead, Juxta Commonsbeta prepares the text and conducts the grunt work. Additionally, it contrasts the source witnesses in a visual manner: allowing the user to explore both large-scale differences and minute changes, dependent on how they instruct Juxta Commonsbeta to present the information. For the purpose of this exploration, the side-by-side comparison was used as it best represented the changes between the manuscript and various editions of the journal entries in its highlighting of the textual differences. Finally, because of its open-source, digital platform, Juxta Commonsbeta produces publishable data with live links. This allows for scholarly transparency and opens up the resources to textual analysis and exploration by other scholars.
Juxta Commonsbeta is designed to highlight the differences between versions of a work, thereby exposing to the user both where and how the texts differ. The functionality of this program was part of the impetus behind specifically selecting these three critical editions of The Grasmere Journals for comparative analysis against the original journal manuscript: Juxta Commonsbeta relies on comparing two texts, so it is most useful when the selected witnesses share some commonalities as this allows greater emphasis to be placed on their differences. This balance of similarities and differences is made manifest across the journal editions because, while each edition does reproduce (at least in part) the entries written between April to July 1802, the significant interventions and editorial practices vary greatly between each publication. Knight’s publication was the first full edition of D. Wordsworth’s journals, and therefore interacted directly with the primary, manuscript source. However, Knight was very interventionist with his edits and this prompted de Selincourt to publish a full copy of the journals less than 50 years later. The most recent publication edited by Levin seemingly takes a step backward by using Knight’s edition as the base text – not the manuscript – arguing that this is “how the general public would have first encountered [D. Wordsworth’s] writing” (Levin 25). This processional and cyclic relationship between the three texts – the manuscript, Knight’s edition, de Selincourt’s edition, and Levin’s edition – lends itself to productive and provocative analysis in the Juxta Commonsbeta.
William Knight published the first edition exclusively dedicated to showcasing D. Wordsworth’s journals. While minor excerpts of the journal notebooks had been published previously, Knight’s was the first publication to print the journals – more or less – in full (Knight vii). Knight does state outright that he excised a number of “trivial details” from his edition as printing the journals “in extenso” was not desirable because of the sometimes (in his opinion) mundane dronings of the journal (vii-viii). The tone of this section of the critical introduction closely aligns with Eggert’s point about strategic approaches and the argument that is always inherent in editing a literary text. Knight’s language is defensive and opinionated. His assertion that “nothing [was] omitted of any literary or biographical value” is conclusively argumentative and presents a value judgment of the text that cannot be vetted by readers (viii). When specifically discussing The Grasmere Journal, Knight capitalizes on two qualities of the journal entries: their vivid description of the English countryside and their value as a contextual companion to her brother’s – William Wordsworth – famous poetry (ix-x). This second point reveals an integral – and possibly problematic – component of Knight’s motivation in publishing his edition of the journal. Because the journal’s value was determined partially due to their ability to “cast light on the circumstances under which [William’s] poems were composed,” D. Wordworth’s ability as a writer in her own right is undermined (Knight x). As Knight’s edition constructs D. Wordsworth’s writing as being in support of her brother, this argumentative vantage point could substantially alter the details of the text that are included, and could determine those that are seen as valuable and those that are scene as “trivial”.
Using Juxta Commonsbeta as an apparatus through which to survey Knight’s deletions from The Grasmere Journal reveals a very strong indication of his editorial argument. Using the original manuscript images available online, we find that many of Knight’s edits are extraordinarily small – only a few words – begging the question: why bother to delete them at all? However, when considered thematically, it is notable that all of the deletions remove details that would undermine D. Wordsworth’s appearance as a proper Romantic-era woman. In one entry, Knight removes D. Wordsworth’s mention of a lady slinging dung or of her riding precariously in the back of a cart to a friend’s house (de Selincourt 132-133). Both of these excisions refine D. Wordsworth’s ladylike qualities by censoring activities or observations that may not lend themselves to this versioning of the author. Later in the journal, Knight excises D. Wordsworth’s mention of her sweating on a walk with her brother (de Selincourt 142). Again, this edit was merely a sentence long and, yet, Knight took the care to remove the statement, as it contradicted a proper, ladylike appearance.
Another facet of this persona constructed by Knight is his deletions of moments when D. Wordsworth mentions illness; reflecting the same sentiments of refinement and perfection that are discussed in the paragraph above, as it would have been tasteless for women to publicly discuss bodily functions or pains. An extraordinary example of Knight’s editing in this case appears between the entries of May 27-29, 1802. The entry on the 27th, which is completely deleted in Knight’s edition, reads: “I was in bed all day – very ill. William wrote to Rd., Cr. and Cook. Wm. went after tea into the orchard. I slept in his bed – he slept downstairs” (de Selincourt 150). It is obvious that this entry is explicitly focused on D. Wordsworth’s illness. However, not only does Knight delete this passage but, more notably, he continues removing any references to this day of illness in the subsequent journal entries by deleting the phrases “I was much better than yesterday” or “I was much better” (de Selincourt 150). This is only one of the numerous instances where Knight excises D. Wordworth’s discussion of bodily pains or sickness. In fact, the deletions are so vast and various that I would argue his editorial intervention in this case violates his assertion that “nothing [was] omitted of any literary or biographical value” (Knight viii). D. Wordsworth’s continual battle with illness must be understood as a key feature of her person and life at Grasmere.
A second trend of deletions visible in Knight’s edition in is his effort to construct a more exclusive, triangulated friendship between D. Wordsworth, W. Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Knight fosters this relationship by removing the majority of references to D. Wordsworth socializing with other individuals outside of this elite literary circle. For example, the neighbouring Simpson family is mentioned multiple times across the manuscript journals entries but they appear very infrequently in Knight’s rendering of the text. This appears in the entry on April 29th, 1802; what appears in Knight’s edition is: The copses greenish, hawthorns green, . . . cottages smoking” (Knight 114-115). However, what is missing, as indicated by the ellipses, is: “[c]ame home to dinner, then went to Mr. Simpson’s we rested a long time under a wall, sheep and lambs were in the field” (de Selincourt 139-140). The Simpsons are mentioned on two other occasions in the manuscript copy of this entry but are absent completely in Knight’s version. By expressly limiting D. Wordsworth’s recorded interactions with people other than her brother and Coleridge, Knight creates the appearance of a stronger affiliation between them. By insinuating D. Wordsworth’s dependency on these two literary giants, Knight works towards his problematic goal of constructing her as an extension or complement to her brotherly overstating the exclusivity of this literary circle.
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This brings us to the full edition of The Grasmere Journal, edited by Ernest de Selincourt and published in 1941. As briefly mentioned previously, de Selincourt’s aim in following Knight was to produce a full, barely-edited volume of the journals because, in the past, only “short extracts” were printed (v). Because of the public’s growing fascination with D. Wordsworth’s personality and her writings that accurately reflect this persona, de Selincourt chose to print, “for the first time”, the journals in their entirety. For de Selincourt, this faithful reproduction included retaining “characteristic spellings and [D. Wordsworth’s] capricious use of capitals” but permitted the correction of any obvious misspellings or “accidental droppings of letters” (vi). de Selincourt argues that the greatest values of The Grasmere Journal comes in its “genius for life” and its “supreme quality” (vii). By striving to present a virtually un-edited text, de Selincourt allows the journal entries to speak for themselves by refusing to impose his own interpretations or lens.
A comparative analysis between the manuscript and de Selincourt’s publication using Juxta Commonsbeta reveals the editor’s success in adhering to his strict aim of a total reproduction of The Grasmere Journal. Because the journal entries are unaltered and unedited, they leave little to be analyzed as to nature de Selincourt’s editorial approach. In fact, what can be read from this almost identical reproduction is how little an influence this editor wanted to impose on the text – this, in itself, is a specific editorial lens. de Selincourt strives to preserve what he sees as the text’s “private, intimate character” by barely intruding on the reading experience in his lack of distracting footnotes (vi). His footnotes mostly annotate intertexual references, and identify individuals and places – allowing the audience to be privy to knowledge that would have been obvious and inherent to D. Wordsworth’s composition. These efforts create an intimacy between writer and reader. Where Knight and Levin both outline pointed aims with their publications, de Selincourt’s goal seems only to produce a readable, accessible form that presents a version of the journals than it does willing transport the audience as close to the original manuscript as conceptually possible. Reflecting once again on the processional cycle of editions analyzed here, de Selincourt’s publication – while it chronologically inhabits the middle ground – presents a return to the roots in its virtually un-edited reproduction of The Grasmere Journal.
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Jumping forward a century to Susan Levin’s 2009 publication of D. Wordsworth’s works – including The Grasmere Journal – it is important to note again that she builds directly on Knight’s editorial intervention around the turn of the twentieth-century (Levin 25). Because Levin does not turn back to the primary source text – D. Wordsworth’s original manuscript – Knight’s strategic and argumentative approach to the text is filtered into Levin’s edition. Coupled with this already mediated version of the text, we have Levin’s own editorial intrusions that add another layer to the fluid text. Where Knight’s edition adhered to two objectives in his edition of D. Wordsworth’s journals, Levin’s relates more broadly to three. First of all, it is important to note that Levin’s edition includes more than just D. Wordsworth’s journal entries but also her poetry and short, fictional, prose pieces (xi). This holistic approach to D. Wordsworth’s literary career supports Levin’s goal of revealing “a record of a women organizing her world […] among a group of extraordinary people” (Levin xi). While Levin does gesture to the circle of canonical romantic writers that D. Wordsworth was a part of, she also make explicit her second objective: to highlight D. Wordsworth’s “independent authorial presence” instead of assuming her “adjunct to the literary energies of Romanticism” (xi). Here it is notable that Knight’s and Levin’s approaches rub against each other. Because of this difference, it is problematic that Levin utilized Knight as her base text, as she could have very well missed some details that were crucial to her purpose but were a hindrance or of no value to Knight.
While I take great issue with Levin for not having turned to the original manuscript documents (or at least to de Selincourt’s full publication), her use of Knight as her source text does foster her third aim of the edition, which is to recreate works the way readers of different time would have experienced them (xi). Of course this objective is fostered through Levin’s use of editions published closer to D. Wordsworth’s lifetime but other than that, Levin does not endeavour to recreate readership reactions to the works or to pay attention to the text’s reception history. Furthermore, I find it hard to establish any meaningful value in facilitating this ‘historical readership’ perspective beyond the most pragmatic concerns of copyright. I feel that this perspective, even if carried out legitimately and carefully, holds very little importance to our contemporary reading of the text. If history is Levin’s concern, it would be much more appropriate and helpful to attempt to recreate the ‘historical authorship’ of the journals by printing the entries as D. Wordsworth composed them. Overall, Levin seems to be using this third aim of her edition as a scapegoat avoiding any copyright snares – a path paved with ease but one that is totally riddled with problems of perspective and authenticity. In regards to The Grasmere Journal, I would argue this is a failed aim of Levin’s edition that is only useful to marginally satisfy her decision to rely on Knight’s rendition of D. Wordsworth’s notebooks instead of the source text – and nothing more.
Turning to the Juxta Commonsbeta visualization, in addition to Knight’s various edits, Levin further pares down the excerpts between April to July, 1802 of D. Wordsworth’s The Grasmere Journal from Knight’s 71 entries to a mere 28. While some of the deletions do not bear heavily on the content of the journal or the readers’ potential to understand D. Wordsworth’s interactions, some of the other excerpts that are excised hinder Levin’s achievement of her edition’s stated objectives and possibly force a perception of D. Wordsworth as a writer. First of all, the entries spanning May 12-14, 1802 are deleted in Levin’s version. In these entries D. Wordsworth details her social interactions with her brother and Coleridge who were both intimate members of a very prominent literary circle (Knight 120-121). The passages discuss Wordsworth’s walks around the countryside and meals spent in the company of these two men – working to facilitate the readers’ comprehension of this close group of literary friends (Knight 120-121). Additionally, these entries showcase the beauty and simplicity of D. Wordsworth’s prose and her unique ability to capture the essence of rural England: “Butterflies of all colours. I often see some small ones of a pale purple lilac, or emperor’s eye colour, something of the colour of that large geranium which grows by the lake side” (Knight 120). Even though Levin is working with some obvious space constraints in creating this student edition, it is surprising that Levin would excise these descriptive passages, as they would invariably aid in her quest to establishing D. Wordsworth as a talented writer. The liveliness of these entries – the walks, the meals, and the visits from friends – help to construct a engaging persona for D. Wordsworth that is lost through Levin’s deletions. While the obvious restraints of print force Levin to be severe in her edits of the journals, these entries are a sore loss for her editorial objectives and the audience’s conception of D. Wordsworth.
In another deletion made by Levin between the dates of June 19, 1802 and June 25, 1802, readers are encouraged to conceptualize D. Wordsworth in a certain manner due to the information lost through the excised entries. In the entry dated June 19, 1802, D. Wordsworth mentions some swallows who have made a home outside her window (Levin 72). These same swallows are ruminated on once again during the entry dated June 25, 1802 when D. Wordsworth notices that their nest has fallen and the birds have disappeared (Levin 73). Levin’s placement of these two excerpts next to each other, through her deletion of the four entries present in between, emphasizes D. Wordsworth’s emotional attachment and deep fascination with nature. What the readership misses from these deleted entries is that D. Wordsworth’s attention, for the most part, is turned to things other than these swallows. She writes about receiving letters, reading Shakespeare’s plays, and spending time with William and Coleridge (Knight 133-134). While I am not arguing that D. Wordsworth was detached from nature during these other entries, or that she did not possess the bond highlighted in Levin’s edition, I will argue that Levin seems to be forcing this interpretation through her edited version of the text. She is presenting an argument – a lens – through which the audience will understand D. Wordsworth as obsessed with and intrinsically connected to nature, potentially in a more emphasized manner than is justified in this particular case.
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As revealed through both the close-reading and visual rendering of D. Wordsworth’s The Grasmere Journal, creating an edition necessarily means constructing an argumentative approach to a text. For Knight, this argument hinges presenting to the audience an understanding of D. Wordsworth as a proper, ladylike companion for her famous poet brother. Alternatively, for de Selincourt, his publication presents an honest attempt at launching an unfiltered portal into the text rather than a coloured lens. However, as denoted by Eggert, this is an impossible task and it is important to read de Selincourt’s motivation to create an intimacy between D. Wordsworth and her readers as an inherent editorial argument. Finally, for Levin, the edition works to justify D. Wordsworth as a writer in her own right and to represent a snapshot of her literary career. As demonstrated, the editors use these explicit or implicit arguments to highlight or mitigate characteristics of D. Wordsworth’s writing and persona in The Grasmere Journal to construct a character that is most continuous with each editor’s objectives, whether directly stated or not.
Note: all citations from the D. Wordsworth journal entries have been pulled from the three print resources (Knight, de Selincourt, and Levin) instead of the manuscript pages because of ease of access and legibility. This means that any material that was excised from Knight’s edition or Levin’s edition has been cited as from de Selincourt’s publication (not the original manuscript) purely for practical reasons as the manuscript images are not open source and the publication page numbers in de Selincourt’s edition make it much easier to locate specific passages than fining them in the handwritten entries of the manuscript.
The following is a selection from The Grasmere Journal dates April 1 – June 30, 1802. It is a transcription from the original manuscript pages and therefore provides a full and (relatively) unedited version of the journal entries. Any cross outs and corrections have been eliminated to provide a “reading” version. These editorial changes are in line with de Selincourt’s 1941 full publication of D. Wordsworth’s journals.
Thursday, 1st April. – Mrs. C. Wm. and I went to the How. We came home by Portinscale. – sate for some time on the hill.
Friday, 2nd. – Wm. and I sate all the morning in the field. I nursed Derwent. Drank tea with the Miss Cockins.
Saturday 3rd. – Wm. went on to Skiddaw with C. We dined at Calvert’s. Fine day.
Sunday 4th. – We drove by gig to Water End. I walked down to Coleridge’s. Mrs. C (1) came to Greta Bank to tea. William walked down with Mrs. C, and repeated his verses to them. We sate pleasantly enough after supper.
Monday 5th. – We came to Eusemere. Coleridge walked with us to Threlkeld. Coleridge walked with us to Threlkeld – reached Eusemere to tea. The schoolmistress at Dacre and her scholars. Mrs. C. at work in the garden – she met us
April 6th, Tuesday. Mrs. C, Wm. And I walked to Waterside. Wm and I walked together in the evening towards Dalemain – the moon and stars.
7th, Wednesday. Wm’s birthday. Wm went to Middleham. I walked 6 miles with him. It rained a little, but a fine day. Broth to supper, and went soon to bed.
8th, Thursday. Mrs. C and I walked to Woodside. We slept after dinner on the sofa – sate up till ½ past 10. Mrs C. tired. I wrote to M.H. in the morning, to Sara in the evening.
9th, Friday. Mrs. C. planting. Sent off letters. A windy morning – rough lake – sun shines – very cold – a windy night. Walked to Dunmallet, marked our names on a tree.
10th, Saturday. Very cold – a stormy night, wrote to C. A letter from Wm and S.H.
Monday, 12th – Had the mantua-maker. The ground covered with snow. Walked to T. Wilkinson’s and sent for letters. The woman brought me one from William and Mary. It was a sharp, windy night. Thomas Wilkinson came with me to Barton, and questioned me like a catechiser all the way. Every question was like the snapping of a little thread about my heart. I was so full of thought of my half-read letter and other things. I was glad when he left me. Then I had time to look at the moon while I was thinking my own thoughts. The moon travelled through the clouds, tinging them yellow as she passed along, with two stars near her, one larger than the other. These stars grew and diminished as they passed from, or went into, the clouds. At this time William, as I found the next day, was riding by himself between Middleham and Barnard Castle, having parted from Mary. I read over my letter when I got to the house. Mr. and Mrs. C were playing at cards.
Tuesday 13th April. – I had slept ill and was not well and obliged to go to bed in the afternoon – Mrs. C. waked me from sleep with a letter from Coleridge. . . I walked along the lake side. The air was become still, the lake was of a bright slate colour, the hills darkening. The bays shot into the low fading shores. Sheep resting. All things quiet. When I returned William was come. The surprise shot through me. He looked well, but he was tired and went soon to bed after a dish of tea.
April 14th, Wednesday. William did not rise till dinner time. I walked with Mrs. C. I will ill, out of spirits, disheartened. Wm and I took a long walk in the rain.
Thursday 15th. – It was a threatening, misty morn- ing, but mild. We set off after dinner from Eusemere. Mrs. Clarkson went a short way with us, but turned back. The wind was furious, and we thought we must have returned. We first rested in the large boathouse. then under a furze bush opposite Mr. Clarkson’s. Saw the plough going in the field. The wind seized our breath. The lake was rough. There was a boat by itself floating in the middle of the bay below Water Hillock. We rested again in the Water Hillock Lane. The hawthorns are black and green, the birches here and there greenish, but there is yet more of purple to be seen on the twigs. We got over into a field to avoid some cows people working. A few primroses by the roadside woodsorrel flower, the anemone, scentless violets, strawberries, and that starry, yellow flower which Mrs. C. calls pile wort. When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils (2) close to the water-side. We fancied that the sea had floated the seeds ashore, and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more; and at last, under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew among the mossy stones about and above them; some rested their heads upon these stones, as on a pillow, for weariness; and the rest tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake ; they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot, and a few stragglers higher up ; but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity, unity, and life of that one busy highway. We rested again and again. The bays were stormy, and we heard the waves at different distances, and in the middle of the water, like the sea. . . All was cheerless and gloomy, so we faced the storm. At Dobson’s I was very kindly treated by a young woman. The landlady looked sour, but it is her way. . . William was sitting by a good fire when I came downstairs. He soon made his way to the library, piled up in a corner of the window. He brought out a volume of Enfield’s Speaker another miscellany, and an odd volume of Congreve’s plays. We had a glass of warm rum and water. We enjoyed ourselves, and wished for Mary. It rained and blew, when we went to bed.
Friday, 16th April (Good Friday}. – When I undrew curtains in the morning, I was much affected by the beauty of the prospect, and the change. The sun shone, the wind had passed away, the hills looked cheerful, the river was very bright as it flowed into the lake. The church rises up behind a little knot of rocks, the steeple not so high as an ordinary three-story house. Trees in a row in the garden under the wall. The valley is at first broken by little woody knolls that make retiring places, fairy valleys in the vale, the river winds along under these hills, travelling, not in a bustle but not slowly, to the lake. We saw a fisherman in the flat meadow on the other side of the water. He came towards us, and threw his line over the two-arched bridge. It is a bridge of a heavy construction, almost bending inwards in the middle, but it is grey, and there is a look of ancientry in the architecture of it that pleased me. As we go on the vale opens out more into one vale, with somewhat of a cradle bed. Cottages, with groups of trees, on the side of the hills. We passed a pair of twin children, two years old. Sate on the next bridge which we crossed a single arch. We rested again upon the turf, and looked at the same bridge. We observed arches in the water, occasioned by the large stones sending it down in two streams. A sheep came plunging through the river, stumbled up the bank, and passed close to us. It had been frightened by an insignificant little dog on the other side. Its fleece dropped a glittering shower under its belly. Primroses by the road-side, pile wort that shone like stars of gold in the sun, violets, strawberries, retired and half-buried among the grass. When we came to the foot of Brothers Water, I left William sitting on the bridge and went along the path on the right side of the lake through the wood. I was delighted with what I saw. The water under the boughs of the bare old trees, the simplicity of the mountains, and the exquisite beauty of the path. There was one grey cottage. I repeated The Glow-worm (3), as I walked along. I hung over the gate, and thought I could have stayed for ever. When I returned, I found William writing a poem descriptive of the sights and sounds we saw and heard. There was the gentle flowing of the stream, the glittering, lively lake, green fields without a living creature to be seen on them ; behind us, a flat pasture with forty-two cattle feeding; to our left, the road leading to the hamlet No smoke there, the sun shone on the bare roofs. The people were at work ploughing, harrowing, and sowing ; lasses spreading dung, a dog barking now and then, cocks crowing, birds twittering, the snow in patches at the top of the highest hills, yellow palms, purple and green twigs on the birches, ashes with their glittering stems quite bare. The hawthorn a bright green, with black stems under the oak. The moss of the oak glossy. We went on. Passed two sisters at work (they first passed us), one with two pitchforks in her hand, the other had a spade. We had come to talk with them. They laughed long after we were gone, perhaps half in wantonness, half boldness. William finished his poem (4). Before we got to the foot of Kirkstone, there were hundreds of cattle in the vale. There we ate our dinner. The walk up Kirkstone was very interesting. The becks among the rocks were all alive. William showed me the little mossy streamlet which he had before loved when he saw its bright green track in the snow. The view above Ambleside very beautiful. There we sate and looked down on the green vale. We watched the crows at a little distance from us become white as silver as they flew in the sunshine, and when they went still further, they looked like shapes of water passing over the green fields. The whitening of Ambleside church is a great deduction from the beauty of it, seen from this point. We called at the Luffs, the Roddingtons there. Did not go in, and went round by the fields. I pulled off my stockings, intending to wade the beck, but I was obliged to put them on, and we climbed over the wall at the bridge. The post passed us. No letters. Rydale Lake was in its own evening brightness : the Island, and Points distinct Jane Ashburner came up to us when we were sitting upon the wall. We rode in her cart to Tom Dawson’s. All well. The garden looked pretty in the half-moonlight, half-daylight, as we went up the vale of Brother’s Water more and more cattle feeding, 100 of them.
Saturday, 17th. – A mild warm rain. We sate in the garden all the morning. William dug a little. I transplanted a honey-suckle. The lake was still. The sheep on the island, reflected in the water, like the grey- deer we saw in Gowbarrow Park. We walked after tea by moonlight. I had been in bed in the afternoon, and William had slept in his chair. We walked towards Rydale backwards and forwards below Mr. Ollif’s. The village was beautiful in the moonlight. Helm Crag we observed very distinct. The dead hedge round Benson’s field bound together at the top by an interlacing of ash sticks, which made a chain of silver when we faced the moon. A letter from C. and also one from S. H. I saw a robin chasing a scarlet butterfly this morning.
Sunday, 18th. – Again a mild grey morning, with rising vapours. We sate in the orchard. William wrote the poem on The Robin and the Butterfly I went to drink tea at Luff’s, but as we did not dine till 6 o’clock it was late. It was mist and small rain all the way, but very pleasant. William met me at Rydale – Aggie (5) accompanied me thither. We sate up late. He met me with the conclusion of the poem of the Robin. I read it to him in bed. We left out some lines
19th, Monday. A mild rain, very warm. Wm. Worked in the garden – I made pies and bread. After dinner the mist cleared away and sun shone. Wm. Walked to Luff’s – I was not very well and went to bed. Wm. Came home pale and tired. I could not rest when I got to bed.
Tuesday, 20th. A beautiful morning. The sun shone. William wrote a conclusion to the poem of the Butterfly:
I’ve watched you now a full half-hour.
I was quite out of spirits, and went into the orchard. When I came in, he had finished the poem. It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun shone upon the level fields, and they grew greener beneath the eye. Houses, village, all cheerful people at work. We sate in the orchard and repeated The Glow-worm and other poems. Just when William came to a well or trough, which there is in Lord Darlington’s park, he began to write that poem of The Glow-worm and other poems. Just when William came to a well or a trough, which there is in Lord Darlington’s park, he began to wrote that poem of The Glow-worm, not being able to ride upon the long trot – interrupted in going through the town of Staindrop, finished it about 2 miles and a half beyond Staindrop. He did not feel the jogging of the horse while he was writing; but, when he had done, he felt the effect of it, and his fingers were cold with his gloves. His horse fell with him on the other side of St. Helens, Auckland. So much for The Glow-worm. It was written coming from Middleham on Monday, 12th
April 1802. … On Tuesday 20th, when we were sitting after tea, Coleridge came to the door. I startled him with my voice. C. came up fatigued, but I afterwards found he looked well. William was not well, and I was in low spirits.
Wednesday 21st. – William and I sauntered a little in the garden. Coleridge came to us, and repeated the verses he wrote to Sara. I was affected with them, and in miserable spirits. 2 The sunshine, the green fields, and the fair sky made me sadder ; even the little happy, sporting lambs seemed but sorrowful to me. The pile wort spread out on the grass a thousand shiny stars. The primroses were there, and the remains of a few daffodils. The well, which we cleaned out last night, is still but a little muddy pond, though full of water. I went to bed after dinner, could not sleep, went to bed again. Read Ferguson’s life and a poem or two. – fell asleep for 5 minutes and awoke better. We got tea, sate comfortably in the evening. I went to bed early.
Thursday, 22nd. – A fine mild morning. We walked into Easedale. The sun shone. Coleridge talked of his plan of sowing the laburnum in the woods. The waters were high, for there had been a great quantity of rain in the night. I was tired and sate under the shade of a holly tree that grows upon a rock, and looked down the stream. I then went to the single holly behind that single rock in the field, and sate upon the grass till they came from the waterfall. I saw them there, and heard William flinging stones into the river, whose roaring was loud even where I was. When they returned, William was repeating the poem:
I have thoughts that are fed by the sun.
It had been called to his mind by the dying away of the stunning of the waterfall ‘ when he got behind a stone. When we had got into the vale heavy rain come on. We saw a family of little children sheltering themelves under a wall before the rain came on; they sate in a row making a canopy – we were all wet. Wilkinson came in while we were at dinner. Colerdige and I after dinner drank black currants and water.
Friday 23rd April 1802. – It being a beautiful morning we set off at 11 o’clock, intending to stay out of doors all the morning. We went towards Rydale, and before we got to Tom Dawson’s we determined to go under Nab Scar. Thither we went. The sun shone, and we were lazy. Coleridge pitched upon several places to sit down upon, but we could not be all of one mind respecting sun and shade, so we pushed on to the foot of the Scar. It was very grand when we looked up, very stony, here and there a budding tree. William observed that the umbrella yew tree, that breasts the wind, had lost its character as a tree, and had become something like to solid wood, Coleridge and I pushed on before. We left William sitting on the stones, feasting with silence ; and Coleridge and I sat down upon a rocky seat a couch it might be under the bower of William’s eglantine, Andrew’s Broom. He was below us, and we could see him. He came to us, and repeated his poems while we sate beside him upon the ground. He had made himself a seat in the crumbling ground. Afterwards we lingered long, looking into the vales; Ambleside vale, with the copses, the village under the hill, and the green fields; Rydale, with a lake all alive and glittering, yet but little stirred by breezes ; and our dear Grasmere, making a little round lake of nature’s own, with never a house, never a green field, but the copses and the bare hills enclosing it, and the river flowing out of it. Above rose the Coniston Fells, in their own shape and colour not man’s hills, but all for themselves, the sky and the clouds, and a few wild creatures. C. went to search for something new. We saw him climbing up towards a rock. He called us, and we found him in a bower the sweetest that was ever seen. The rock on one side is very high, and all covered with ivy, which hung loosely about, and bore bunches of brown berries. On the other side it was higher than my head. We looked down on the Ambleside vale, that seemed to wind away from us, the village lying under the hill. The fir-tree island was reflected beautifully. About this bower there is mountain-ash, common-ash, yew-tree, ivy, holly, hawthorn, grasses, and flowers, and a carpet of moss. Above, at the top of the rock, there is another spot. It is scarce a bower, a little parlour only, not enclosed by walls, but shaped out for a resting- place by the rocks, and the ground rising about it. It had a sweet moss carpet. We resolved to go and plant flowers in both these places to-morrow. We wished for Mary and Sara. Dined late. After dinner Wm. and I worked in the garden. C. received a letter from Sara.
Saturday, 24th. – A very wet day. William called me out to see a waterfall behind the barberry tree. We walked in the evening to Rydale. Coleridge and I lingered behind. C. stopped up the little runnel by the road-side to make a lake. We all stood to look at Glow-worm Rock a primrose that grew there, and just looked out on the road from its own sheltered bower. 1 The clouds moved, as William observed, in one regular body like a multitude in motion a sky all clouds over, not one cloud. On our return it broke a little out, and we saw here and there a star. One appeared but for a moment in a pale blue sky.
Sunday, 25th April – After breakfast we set off with Coleridge towards Keswick. Wilkinson overtook us near the Potter’s, and interrupted our discourse. C. got into a gig with Mr. Beck, and drove away from us. A shower came on, but it was soon over. We spent the morning in the orchard reading the Epitkalamium of Spenser; walked backwards and forwards. Mr. Simpsons drank tea with us. I was not well before tea. Mr. S. sent us some quills by Molly Ashburner, and his brother’s book. The Luff’s called at the door.
Monday 26th. – I copied Wm.’s poems for Coleridge. Letters from Peggy (6) and Mary H. – wrote to Peggy and Coleridge. A terrible rain and wind all day – went to bed at 12 o’clock.
Tuesday 27th. – A fine morning. Mrs. Luff called. I walked with her to the boat-house. William met me at the top of the hill with his fishing-rod in his hand. I turned with him, and we sate on the hill looking to Rydaie. I left him, intending to join him, but he came home, and said his loins would not stand the pulling he had had. We sate in the orchard. In the evening W. began to write The Tinker; we had a letter and verses from Coleridge.
Wednesday, 28th April. – A fine sunny but coldish morning. I copied The Prioresses Tale. William was in the orchard. I went to him; he worked away at his poem though he was ill and tired. I happened to say that when I was a child I would not have pulled a strawberry blossom. I left him, and wrote out The Manciple’s Tale. At dinner time he came in with the poem of Children gathering Flowers (7) , but it was not quite finished, and it kept him long off his dinner. It is now done. He is working at The Tinker. He promised me he would get his tea, and do no more, but I have got mine an hour and a quarter, and he has scarcely begun his. We have let the bright sun go down without walking. Now a heavy shower comes on, and I guess we shall not walk at all. I wrote a few lines to Coleridge. Then we walked backwards and forwards between our house and Ollif’s. We called upon T. Hutchinson, and Bell Addisoru William left me sitting on a stone. When we came in we corrected the Chaucers, but I could not finish them to-night.
Thursday 29th. – A beautiful morning – the sun shone and all was pleasant. We sent off our parcel to Coleridge by wagon. Mr. Simpson heard of the Cuckow to-day. Before we went out, after I had written down The Tinker, which William finished this morning, Luff called. He was very lame, limped into the kitchen. He came on a little pony. We then went to John’s Grove, sate a while at first ; afterwards William lay, and I lay, in the trench under the fence he with his eyes shut, and listening to the waterfalls and the birds. There was no one waterfall above another it was a sound of waters in the air the voice of the air. William heard me breathing, and rustling now and then, but we both lay still, and unseen by one another. He thought that it would be so sweet thus to lie in the grave, to hear the peaceful sounds of the earth, and just to know that our dear friends were near. The lake was still ; there was a boat out Silver How reflected with delicate purple and yellowish hues, as I have seen spar ; lambs on the island, and running races together by the half-dozen, in the round field near us. The copses greenish, hawthorns green. Came home to dinner, then went ot Mr. Simpson – we rested a long time under a wall, sheep and lambs were in the field – cottages smoking. As I lay down on the grass, I observed the glittering silver line on the ridge of the backs of the sheep, owing to their situation respecting the sun, which made them look beautiful, but with something of strangeness, like animals of another kind, as if belonging to a more splendid world. Met old Mrs. S. at the door – Mrs. S poorly. I got mullins and pansies. I was sick and ill and obliged to come home soon. We went to bed immediately – I slept upstairs. The air coldish, where it was felt – somewhat frosty.
Friday, April 30th.– We came into the orchard directly after breakfast, and sate there. The lake was calm, the day cloudy. We saw two fishermen by the lake side. William began to write the poem of The Celandine . I wrote to Mary H. sitting on a fur-gown. Walked backwards and forwards with William he repeated his poem to me, then he got to work again and would not give over. He had not finished his dinner till 5 o’clock. After dinner we took up the fur gown into the Rollins above. We found a sweet seat, and thither we will often go. We spread the gown, put on each a cloak, and there we lay. William fell asleep, he had a bad headache owing to his having been disturbed the night before, with reading C.’s letter. I did not sleep, but lay with half-shut eyes looking at the prospect as on a vision almost, I was so resigned to it. Loughrigg Fell was the most distant hill, then came the lake, slipping in between the copses. Above the copse, the round swelling field; nearer to me, a wild intermixture of rocks, trees, and slacks (8) of grassy ground. When we turned the corner of our little shelter, we saw the church and the whole vale. It is a blessed place. The birds were about us on all sides. Skobbies, robins, bull-finches, and crows, now and then flew over our heads, as we were warned by the sound of the beating of the air above. We stayed till the light of day was going, and the little birds had begun to settle their singing. But there was a thrush not far ofF, that seemed to sing louder and clearer than the thrushes had sung when it was quite day. We came in at 8 o’clock, got tea, wrote to Coleridge, and I wrote to Mrs. Clarkson part of a letter. We went to bed at 20 minutes past n, with prayers that William might sleep well.
Saturday, May 1st. – Rose not till half-past 8, a heavenly morning. As soon as breakfast was over, we went into the garden, and sowed the scarlet beans about the house. It was a clear sky. I sowed the flowers, William helped me. Wethen went and sate in the orchard till dinner time. It was very hot. William wrote The Celandine?- We planned a shed, for the sun was too much for us. After dinner, we went again to our old resting-place in the Rollins under the rock. We first lay under the Holly, where we saw nothing but the holly tree, and a budding elm tree mossed, with the sky above our heads. But that holly tree had a beauty about it more than its own, knowing as we did when we arose. When the sun had got low enough, we went to the Rock Shade. Oh, the overwhelming beauty of the vale below, greener than green! Two ravens flew high, high in the sky, and the sun shone upon their bellies and their wings, long after there was none of his light to be seen but a little space on the top of Loughrigg Fell, Heard the cuckoo to-day, this first of May. We went down to tea at 8 o’clock, and returned after tea. The landscape was fading : sheep and lambs quiet among the rocks. We walked towards King’s, and backwards and forwards. The sky was perfectly cloudless. N.B. it is often so. Three solitary stars in the middle of the blue vault, one or two on the points of the high hills.
Tuesday, 4th May. – Though William went to bed nervous, and jaded in the extreme, he rose refreshed. I wrote out The Leech Gatherer for him, which he had begun the night before, and of which he wrote several stanzas in bed this morning. [They started to walk to Wytheburn.] It was very hot; we called at Mr. Simpson’s door as we passed, but did not go in. We rested several times by the way, read, and repeated The Leech Gatherer. We were almost melted before we were at the top of the hill. We saw Coleridge on the Wytheburn side of the water ; he crossed the beck to us. Mr. Simpson was fishing there. William and I ate luncheon, and then went on towards the waterfall. It is a glorious wild solitude under that lofty purple crag. It stood upright by itself; its own self, and its shadow below, one mass; all else was sunshine. We went on further. A bird at the top of the crag was flying round and round, and looked in thinness and transparency, shape and motion like a moth. We climbed the hill, but looked in vain for a shade, except at the foot of the great waterfall. We came down, and rested upon a moss-covered rock rising out of the bedof the river. There we lay, ate our dinner, and stayed there till about four o’clock or later. William and Coleridge repeated and read verses. I drank a little brandy and water, and was in heaven. The stag’s horn is very beautiful and fresh, springing upon the fells ; mountain ashes, green. We drank tea at a farm house. The women had not a pleasant countenance, but was civil enough. She had a pretty boy, a year old, whom she suckled. We parted from Coleridge at Sara’s crag, after having looked for the letters which C. carved in the morning. I missed them all. William deepened the X with C.’s pen-knive. We sate afterwards on the wall, seeing the sun go down, and the reflections in the still water. C. looked well, and parted from us cheerfully, hopping upon the side stones. On the Raise we met a woman with two little girls, one in her arms, the other, about four years old, walking by her side, a pretty little thing, but half-starved. She had on a pair of slippers that had belonged to some gentleman’s child, down at the heels, but it was not eary to keep them on, but poor thing! Young as she was, she walked carefully with them. Alas, too young for such cares and such travels. The mother, when we accosted her, told us how her husband had left her, and gone off with another woman, and how she “pursued” them. Then her fury kindled, and her eyes rolled about. She changed again to tears. She was a Cockermouth woman, thirty years of age a child at Cockermouth when I was. I was moved, and gave her a shilling – I believe 6d. more than I ought to have given. We had the crescent moon with the “auld moon in her arms” (9). We rested often, always upon the bridges. Reached home at about ten o’clock. . . We went soon to bed. I repeated verses to William while he was in bed; he was soothed, and I left him. “This is the spot” over and over again.
Wednesday, 5th May. – A very fine morning, rather cooler than yesterday. We planted three-fourths of the bower. I made bread. We sate In the orchard. The thrush sang all day, as he always sings. I wrote to the Hutchinsons, and to Coleridge. Packed off Thalaba. William had kept off work till near bed-time, when we returned from our walk Then he began again, _ and went to bed very nervous. We walked in the twilight, and walked till night came on. The moon had the old moon in her arms, but not so plain to be seen as the night before. When we went to bed it was a boat without the circle. I read The Lover’s Complaint to William in bed, and left him composed.
Thursday, 6th May. – A sweet morning. We have put the finishing stroke to our bower, and here we are sitting in the orchard. It is one o’clock. We are sitting upon a seat ‘under the wall, which I found my brother building up, when I came to him… He had intended that it should have been done before I came. It is a nice, cool, shady spot. The small birds _ are singing, lambs bleating, cuckoos calling, the thrush sings by fits, Thomas Ashburner’s axe is going quietly (with- out passion) in the orchard, hens are cackling, flies humming, the women talking together at their doors, plum and pear trees are in blossom apple trees greenish the opposite woods green, the crows are cawing, we have heard ravens, the ash trees are in blossom, birds flying all about us, the stitchwort is coming out, there is one budding lychnis, the primroses are passing their prime, celandine, violets, and wood sorrel for ever more, little geraniums and pansies on the wall. We walked in the evening to Tail End, to inquire about hurdles for the orchard shed and about Mr. Luff’s flower. The flower dead! No hurdles. I went on to look at the falling wood; Wm. Also, when he had been at Benson’s went with me. They have left a good many small oak trees but we dare not hope that they are all to remain. The ladies are come to Mr. Gell’s cottage. We saw them as we went, and their light when we returned. When we came In we found a magazine, and review, and a letter from Coleridge, verses to Hartley, and Sara H. We read the review, etc. The moon was a perfect boat, a silver boat, when we were out in the evening. The birch tree is all over green in small leaf, more light and elegant than when it is full out. It bent to the breezes, as if for the love of its own delightful motions. Sloe-thorns and hawthorns in the hedges.
Friday, 7th May. – William had slept uncommonly well, so, feeling himself strong, he fell to work at The Leech Gatherer (10); he wrote hard at it till dinner time, then he gave over, tired to death he had finished the poem. I was making Derwent’s frocks. After dinner we sate in the orchard. It was a thick, hazy, dull air. The thrush sang almost continually; the little birds were more than usually busy with their voices. The sparrows are now fall fledged. The nest is so full that they lie upon one another; they sit quietly in their nest with closed mouths. I walked to Rydale after tea, which we drank by the kitchen fire. The evening very dull; a terrible kind of threatening brightness at sunset above Easedale. The sloe-thorn beautiful in the hedges, and in the wild spots higher up among the hawthorns. No letters. William met me. He had been digging in my absence, and cleaning the well. We walked up beyond Lewthwaites. A very dull sky; coolish; crescent moon now and then, I had a letter brought me from Mrs. Clarkson while we were walking in the orchard. I observed the sorrel leaves opening at about nine o’clock. William went to bed tired with thinking about a poem.
Saturday Morning, 8th May. – We sowed the scarlet beans in the orchard, and read Henry V. there. William lay on his back on the seat. I wept “For name, sounds, faiths, delight and duties lost” – taken from a poem upon Cowley’s wish to retire to the Plantations. Read in the Review. I finished Derwent’s frocks. After dinner William added one to the orchard steps.
Sunday Morning, 9th May. – The air considerably colder to-day, but the sun shone all day. William worked at The Leech Gatherer almost incessantly from morning till tea-time. I copied The Leech Gatherer and other poems for Coleridge. I was oppressed and sick at heart, for he wearied himself to death. After tea he wrote two stanzas in the manner of Thomson’s Castle of Indolence, and was tired out. Bad news of Coleridge.
Monday, 10th May. – A fine clear morning, but coldish.William is still at work, though it is past ten o’clock; he will be tired out, I am sure. My heart fails in me. He worked a little at odd things, but after dinner he gave over. An affecting letter from Mary H. We sate in the orchard before dinner. We sate in the orchard before dinner. Old Joyce spent the day. I wrote to Mary H. Mrs. Jamesone and Miss Simpson called just when William was going to bed at 8 o’clock. I wrote to Coleridge, sent off reviews and poems. Went to bed at twelve o’clock. William did not sleep till three o’clock.
Tuesday, 11th May. – A cool air. William finished the stanzas about C. and himself. He did not go out to-day. Miss Simpson came in to tea, which was lucky enough, for it interrupted his labours. I walked with her to Rydale. The evening cool ; the moon only now and then to be seen j the lake purple as we went ; primroses still in abundance. William did not meet me. He completely finished his poem, I finished Derwent’s frocks. We went to bed at twelve o’clock. Wm. Pretty well – he looked very well – he complains that he gets cold in her chest.
Wednesday 12th May. – A sunshiny, but coldish morning. We walked into Easedale and returned by George Rawnson’s and the lane. We brought home heckberry blossom, crab blossom, the anemone nemorosa, marsh marigold, speedwell, that beautiful blue one, the colour of the blue-stone or glass used in jewellery with the beautiful pearl-like chives. Anemones are in abundance, and still the dear dear primroses, violets in beds, pansies in abundance, and the little celandine. I pulled a bunch of the taller celandine. Butterflies of all colours. I often see some small ones of a pale purple lilac, or emperor’s eye colour, something of the colour of that large geranium which grows by the lake side. Wm observed the beauty of Geordy Green’s houses. We see it from our orchard. William pulled ivy with beautiful berries. I put it over the chimney-piece. Sate in the orchard the hour before dinner, coldish. We have now dined. My head aches – William is sleeping in the window. In the evening we were sitting at the table writing, when we were roused by Coleridge’s voice below. He had walked ; looked palish, but was not much tired. We sate up till one o’clock, all together, then William went to bed, and I sate with C. in the sitting-room (where he slept) till a quarter past two o’clock. Wrote to M. H.
Thursday, 13th May. – The day was very cold, with snow showers. Coleridge had intended going in the morning to Keswick, but the cold and showers hindered him. We went with him after tea as far as the plantations by the roadside descending to Wythebum. He did not look well when we parted from him. We sate an hour at Mrs. Simpson’s
Friday, 14th May. – A very cold morning – hail and snow showers all day. We went to Brothers wood, intending to get plants, and to go along the shore of the lake to the foot. We did go a part of the way, but there was no pleasure in stepping along that difficult sauntering road in this ungenial weather. We turned again, and walked Backwards and forwards in Brothers wood. William tired himself with seeking an epithet for the cuckoo. I sate a while upon my last summer seat, the mossy stone. William’s, unoccupied, beside me, and the space between, where Coleridge has so often lain. The oak trees are just putting forth yellow knots of leaves. The ashes with their flowers passing away, and leaves coming out; the blue hyacinth is not quite full blown; gowans are coming out; marsh marigolds in full glory; the little star plant, a star without a flower. We took home a great load of gowans, and planted them about the orchard. After dinner, I worked bread, then came and mended stockings beside William; he fell asleep. After tea I walked to Rydale for letters. It was a strange night. The hills were covered over with a slight covering of hail or snow, just so as to give them a hoary winter look with the black rocks. The woods looked miserable, the coppices green as grass, which looked quite unnatural, and they seemed half shrivelled up, as if they shrank from the air. O, thought what a beautiful thing God has made winter to be, by stripping the trees,- and letting us see their shapes and forms. What a freedom does it seem to give to the storms! There were several new flowers out, but I had no pleasure in looking at them. I walked as fast as I could back again with my letter from S. H. . . Met William at the top of White Moss. . . Near ten when we came in. William and Molly had dug the ground and planted potatoes in my absence. We wrote to Coleridge; sent off bread and frocks to the C.’s. Went to bed at half- past eleven. William very nervous. After he was in bed, haunted with altering The Rainbow.
Saturday, 15th. – It is now ¼ past 10, and he is not up. Miss Simpson called when I was in bed. I have been in the garden. It looks fresh and neat in spite of the frost. Molly tells me they had thick ice on a jug at their door last night. A very cold and cheerless morning. I sate mending stockings all the morning. I read in Shakespeare. William lay very late because he slept ill last night. It snowed this morning just like Christmas. We had a melancholy letter from Coleridge at bedtime. It distressed me very much, and I resolved upon going to Keswick the next day.
(The following is written on the blotting-paper opposite this date)
S. T. Coleridge.
Dorothy Wordsworth. William Wordsworth.
Mary Hutchinson. Sara Hutchinson.
William. Coleridge. Mary.
Sunday, 16th. – William was at work all the morning. I did not go to Keswick. A sunny, cold, frosty day. A snowstorm at night. We were a good while in the orchard in the morning.
Monday, 17th May.- William was not well, he went with me to Wytheburn water, and left me in a post-chaise. Hail showers, snow, and cold attacked me. The people were graving peats under Nadel Fell. A lark and thrush singing near Coleridge’s house. Bancrofts there. A letter from M. H.
Tuesday, 18th May. – Terribly cold, Coleridge not well. Froude called, Wilkinsons called, C. and I walked in the evening in the garden. Warmer in the evening. Wrote to M. and S.
Wednesday, 19th May. – A grey morning – not quite so cold. C. and I set off at half-past nine o’clock. Met William near the six-mile stone. We sate down by the road-side, and then went to Wytheburn water. Longed to be at the island. Sate in the sun. We drank tea at John Stanley’s. The evening cold and clear. A glorious light on Skiddaw. I was tired. Brought a cloak down from Mr. Simpson’s. Packed up books for Coleridge, then got supper, and went to bed.
Thursday, 20th May. – A frosty, clear morning. I lay in bed late. William got to work. I was somewhat tired. We sate in the orchard sheltered all the morning. In the evening there was a fine rain. We received a letter from Coleridge telling us that he wished us not to go to Keswick.
Friday, 21st May. – A very warm gentle morning, a little rain. William wrote two sonnets on Buonaparte, after I had read Milton’s sonnets to him. In the evening he went with Mr. Simpson with Borwick’s boat to gathering in Bainrigg’s. I plashed about the well, was much heated, and I think I caught cold.
Saturday, 22nd May. – A very hot morning. A hot wind, as if coming from a sand desert. We met Coleridge. He was sitting under Sara’s rock. When we reached him he turned with us. We sate a long time under the wall of a sheep-fold. Had some interesting, melancholy talk, about his private affairs. We drank tea at a farmhouse. The woman was very kind. There was a woman with three children travelling from Workington to Manchester. The woman served them liberally. Afterwards she said that she never suffered any to go away without a trifle “sec as we have.” The woman at whose house we drank tea the last time was rich and senseless she said she never served any but their own poor.” C. came home with us. We sate some time in the orchard. Ten they came in to supper – mutton chops and potatoes. Letters from S. and M. H.
Sunday. – I sat with C. in the orchard all the morning. I was ill in the afternoon, took laudanum. We walked in Bainrigg’s after tea. Saw the juniper umbrella shaped. C. went to S. and M. Points (11) , joined us on White Moss.
Monday, 24th May. – A very hot morning. We were ready to go off with Coleridge, but foolishly sauntered, and Miss Taylor and Miss Stanley called. William and Coleridge and I went afterwards to the top of the Raise. I had sent off a letter to Mary by C. I wrote again, and to C.
Tuesday 25th. – Very hot – I went to bed after dinner. We walked in the evening. Papers and short note from C.; again no sleep for William.
27th, Thursday. I was in bed all day – very ill. William wrote to Rd., Cr. and Cook. Wm. Went after tea into the orchard. I slept in his bed – he slept downstairs.
Friday, 28th. – I was much better than yesterday, though poorly. William tired himself with hammering at a passage. After dinner he was better and I greatly better. We sate in the orchard. The sky cloudy, the air sweet and cool. The young bullfinches, in their party-coloured raiment, bustle about among the blossoms, and poise themselves like wire-dancers or tumblers, shaking the twigs and dashing off the blossoms. 2 There is yet one primrose in the orchard. The stitchwort is fading. The vetches are in abundance, blossoming and seeding. That pretty little wavy-looking dial-like yellow flower, the speedwell, and some others, whose names I do not yet know. The wild columbines are coming into beauty ; some of the gowans fading. In the garden we have lilies, and many other flowers. The scarlet beans are up in crowds. It is now between eight and nine o’clock. It has rained sweetly for two hours and a half; the air is very mild. The heckberry blossoms are dropping off fast, almost gone; barberries are in beauty; snowballs coming forward; May roses blossoming.
Saturday, 29th. – I was much better – I made bread and a wee rhubarb tarts and batter pudding for William. We sate in the orchard after dinner. William finished his poem on going for Mary. I wrote it. out. I wrote to Mary H., having received a letter from her in the evening, A sweet day. We nailed up the honeysuckles, and hoed the scarlet beans.
May 30th, Sunday. I wrote to Mrs. Clarkson. It was a clear but cold day. The Simpsons called in the evening. I had been obliged to go to bed before tea, and was unwell all day. Gooseberries, a present from Peggy Hodgson. I wrote to my Aunt Cookson.
Monday, 31st. – I was much better. We sat out all the day. Mary Jamesone dined. I wrote out the poem on “Our Departure,” (12) which he seemed to have finished. In the evening Miss Simpson brought us a letter from M. H., and a complimentary and critical letter to W. from John Wilson of Glasgow post-paid. I went a little way with Miss S. My tooth broke today. They will soon be gone. Let that pass, I shall be beloved – I want no more.
Tuesday.- A very sweet day, but a sad want of rain. We went Into the orchard after I had written to M. H. Then on to Mr. Ollif’s intake. We found some torn birds nests. The columbine was growing upon the rocks ; here and there a solitary plant, sheltered and shaded by the tufts and bowers of trees. It is a graceful slender creature, a female seeking retirement, and growing freest and most graceful where it is most alone. I observed that the more shaded plants were always the tallest. A short note and goose- berries from Coleridge. We walked upon the turf near John’s Grove. It was a lovely night. The clouds of the western sky reflected a saffron light upon the upper end of the lake. All was still. We went to look at Rydale. There was an Alpine, fire-like red upon the tops of the mountains. This was gone when we came in view of the lake. But we saw the lake from a new and most beautiful point of view, between two little rocks, and behind a small ridge that had concealed it from us. This White Moss, a place made for all kinds of beautiful works of art and nature, woods and valleys, fairy valleys and fairy tarns, miniature mountains, alps above alps.
Wednesday, 2nd June. – In the morning we observed that the scarlet beans were drooping in the leaves in great numbers, owing, we guess, to an insect. We sate awhile in the orchard – then we went to the old carpentar’s about the hurdles. Yesterday an old man called, a grey-headed man, above seventy years of age. He said he had been a soldier, that his wife and children had died in Jamaica. He had a beggar’s wallet over his shoulders ; a coat of shreds and patches, altogether of a drab colour ; he was tall, and though his body was bent, he had the look of one used to have been upright. I talked a while, and then gave him a piece of cold bacon and some money. Said he, “You’re a fine woman!” I could not help smiling; I suppose he meant, “You’re a kind woman.” Afterwards a woman called, travelling to Glasgow. After dinner we went into Frank’s field, crawled up the little glen, and planned a seat, then went to Mr. Olliff’s Hollins and sate there – found a beautiful shell-like purple fungus in Frank’s field. After tea we walked to Butterlip How, and backwards and forwards there. All the young oak tree leaves are dry as powder. A cold south wind, portending rain. I ought to have said that on Tuesday evening, namely June 1st, we walked upon the turf near John’s Grove. It was a lovely night. The clouds of the western sky reflected a saffron light upon the upper end of the lake. All was still. We went to look at Rydale. There was an Apline, fire-like red upon the tops of the mountains. This was gone when we came in view of the lake. But we saw the Lake in a new and most beautiful point of view, between two little rocks. And behind a small ridge that had concealed it from us. This White Moss, a place made for all kinds of beautiful works of art and nature, woods, valleys, fairy valleys and fairy tarns, miniature mountains, alps above alps. Little Jon Sawson came in from the woods with a stick over his shoulder.
Thursday, 3rd June 1802. – A very fine rain. I lay in my bed till ten o’clock. William much better than yesterday. We walked into Easedale – sheltered in a cow-house – came home wet. The cuckoo sang, and we watched the little birds as we sate at the door of the cow-house. The oak copses are brown, as in autumn, with the late frosts – scattered over the green trees, birches, hazels. The ashes are coming into full leaf, some of them injured. We came home quite wet. We have been reading the life and some of the writings of poor Logan since dinner. There are many affecting lines and passages in his poem, e.g.
And everlasting longings for the lost. (13)
It is an affecting line. There are many affecting lines and passages in his poem. William is now sleeping with the window open, lying on the window seat. The thrush is singing. There are, I do believe, a thousand buds on the honey- suckle tree, all small and far from blowing, save one that is retired behind the twigs close to the wall, and as snug as a bird nest. John’s rose tree is very beautiful, blended with the honeysuckle. Yesterday morning William walked as far as the Swan with Aggy Fisher, who was going to attend upon Goan’s dying infant (14). She said, “There are many heavier crosses than the death of an infant;” and went on, “There was a woman in this vale who buried four grown-up children in one year, and I have heard her say, when many years were gone by, that she had more pleasure in thinking of those four, than of her living children, for as children get up and have families of their own, their duty to their parents wears out and weakens. She could trip lightly by the graves of those who died when they were young … as she went to church on a Sunday.”… A very affecting letter came from M. H., while I was sitting in the window reading Milton’s Penseroso to William. I answered this letter before I went to bed.
June 4th, Friday. It was a very sweet morning. There had been much rain in the night. Dined lae. In the evening we walked on our favourite path. Then we came in and sate in the orchard. The evening was dark and warm – a tranquil night. I left William in the orchard. I read Mother Hubbard’s Tale before I went to bed.
Saturday, 5th. – A fine showery morning. I made both pies and bread ; but we first walked into Easedale, and sate under the oak trees, upon the mossy stones. There were one or two slight showers. The gowans were flourishing along the banks of the stream. The strawberry flower hanging over the brook ; all things soft and green. In the afternoon William sate in the orchard. I went there; was tired, and fell asleep. William began a letter to John Wilson.
Sunday, 6th June. – A showery morning. We were writing the letter to John Wilson when Ellen (15) came. Molly at Goan’s child’s funeral. After dinner I walked into John Fisher’s intake with Ellen. He brought us letters from Coleridge, Mrs. Clarkson, and Sara Hutchinson. William went out in the evening and sate in the orchard, it was a showery day. In the evening there was on of the heaviest shower I ever remember.
Monday, 7th June. – I wrote to Mary H. this morning; sent the C. “Indolence” poem. Copied the letter to John Wilson, and wrote to my brother Richard and Mrs. Coleridge, In the evening I walked with Ellen to Butterlip How and to George Mackareth’s for the horse. It was a very sweet evening; there was the cuckoo and the little birds; the copses still injured, but the trees in general looked most soft and beautiful in tuft. William was walking when we came in – he had slept miserably for 2 nights past, so we all went to bed soon. I went with Ellen in the morning to Rydale Falls. Letters from Annette, Mary H. and Cook.
Tuesday, 8th June. – Ellen and I rode to Windermere. We had a fine sunny day, neither hot nor cold. I mounted the horse at the quarry. We had no difficulties or delays but at the gates. I was enchanted with some of the views. From the High Ray the view is very delightful, rich, and festive, water and wood, houses, groves, hedgerows, green fields, and mountains ; white houses, large and small. We passed two or three new- looking statesmen’s houses. The Curwens’ shrubberies looked pitiful enough under the native trees. We put up our horses, ate our dinner by the water-side, and walked up to the Station. We went to the Island, walked round it, and crossed the lake with our horse in the ferry. The shrubs have been cut away in some parts of the island. I observed to the boatman that I did not think it improved. He replied: ” We think it is, for one could hardly see the house before.” It seems to me to be, however, no better than it was. They have made no natural glades it is merely a lawn with a few miserable young trees, standing” as if they were half-starved. There are no sheep, no cattle upon these lawns. It is neither one thing nor another neither natural, nor wholly cultivated and artificial, which it was before. And that great house Mercy upon us! if it could be concealed, it would be well for all who are not pained to see the pleasantest of earthly spots de- formed by man. But it cannot be covered. Even the tallest of our old oak trees would not reach to the top of it. When we went into the boat, there were two men standing at the landing-place. One seemed to be about sixty, a man with a jolly red face ; he looked as if he might have lived many years in Mr. Curwen’s house. He wore a blue jacket and trousers, as the people who live close by Windermere, particularly at the places of chief resort, in affection I suppose. He looked significantly at our boat- man just as we were rowing off, and said, “Thomas, mind youtake the directions off that cask. You know what I mean. It will serve as a blind for them. You know. It was a blind business, both for you, and the coachman, and me and all of us. Mind you take off the directions. “A wink’s as good as a nod with some folks;” and then he turned round, looking at his companion with an air of self-satisfaction, and deep in- sight into unknown things! I could hardly help laughing outright at him. The laburnums blossom freely at the island, and in the shrubberies on the shore; they are blighted everywhere else. Roses of various sorts now out. The brooms were in full glory everywhere, “veins of gold” among the copses. The hawthorns in the valley fading away ; beautiful upon the hills. We reached home at three o’clock. After tea William went out and walked and wrote that poem, “The sun has long been set” (16) , etc. He first went up to G. Mackareth’s with the horse, afterwards he walked on our own path and wrote the lines ; he called me into the orchard, and there repeated them to me – he then sated there till 11 o’clock.
Wednesday, 9th June. – Wm. spent ill. A soaking all day rain. We should have gone to Mr. Simpson’s to tea but we walked up after tea. Lloyds called. The hawthorns on the mountain sides like orchards in blossom. Brought rhubarb down. It rained hard. Ambleside fair. I wrote to Christr. And M.H.
Thursday, 10th June I wrote to Mrs. Clarkson and Luff – went with Ellen to Rydale. Coleridge came in with a sack full of books, etc., and a branch of mountain ash. He had been attacked by a cow. He came over by Grisdale. A furious wind. Mr Simpson drank tea. William very poorly – we went to bed latish – I slept in the sitting room.
June 11th, Friday. A wet day. William had slept very ill. Wm. and C. walked out. I went to bed after dinner, not well. I was tired of making beds, cooking etc. Molly being very ill.
Saturday, 12th June. – A rainy morning. Coleridge set off before dinner. We went with him to the Raise, but it rained, so we went no further. Sheltered under a wall. He would be sadly wet, for a furious shower came on just when we parted. We got no dinner, but gooseberry pie to our tea. I baked both pies and bread, and walked with William, first on out own path, but it was too wet there, next over the rocks to the road, and backward and forward, and last of all up to Mr. King’s Miss Simpson and Robert had called. Letters from Sara and Annette.
Sunday, 13th June. – A fine morning. Sunshiny and bright, but with rainy clouds. William had slept better but not well, has been altering the poem to Mary this morning, he is now washing his feet. I wrote out poems for our journey and I wrote a letter to my Uncle Cookson. Mr. Simpson came when we were in the orchard in the morning, and brought us a beautiful drawing which he had done. In the evening we walked, first on our own path – there we walked a good while. It was a silent night. The stars were out by ones and twos, but no cuckoo, no little birds ; the air was not warm, and we have observed that since Tuesday, 8th, when William wrote, “The sun has long been set,” that we have had no birds singing after the evening is fairly set in. We walked to our new view of Rydale, but it put on a sullen face. There was an owl hooting in Bainrigg’s. Its first halloo was so like a human shout that I was surprised, when” it gave its second call tremulous and lengthened out, to find that the shout had come from an owl. The full moon (not quite full) was among a company of shady island clouds, and the sky bluer about it than the natural sky blue. William observed that the full moon, above a dark fir grove, is a fine image of the descent of a superior being. There was a shower which drove us into John’s Grove before we had quitted our favourite path. We walked upon John’s path before we went to view Rydale. We went to bed immediately upon out return home.
Monday, 14th. – I was very unwell – I went to bed before I drank my tea – was sick and afterwards almost asleep when William brought me a letter form Mary, which he read to me sitting by the bedside. William wrote to Mary and Sara about The Leech Gatherer, and wrote to both of them in one and to Annette, to Coleridge also. I was better after tea – I walked with William when I had put up my parcel, on our own path. We were driven away by the horses that go on the commons; then we went to look at Rydale; walked a little in the fir grove; went again to the top of the hill, and came home. A mild and sweet night. William stayed behind me. I threw him the cloak out of the window. The moon overcast. He sate a few minutes in the orchard; came in sleepy, and hurried to bed. I carried him his bread and butter.
Tuesday, 15th. – A sweet grey, mild morning. The birds sing soft and low. William has not slept all night; it wants only ten minutes of ten, and he is in bed yet. After William rose we went and sate in the orchard till dinner time. We walked a long time in the evening upon our favourite path; the owls hooted, the night hawk sang to Itself incessantly, but there were no little birds, no thrushes. I left William writing a few lines about the night hawk (17) and other images of the evening, and went to seek for letters. . .
Wednesday, 16th. – We walked towards Rydale for letters – met Frank Batey with the expected one from Mary. We went up into Rydale woods and read it there. We sate near the old wall, which fenced a hazel grove, which William said was exactly like the filbert grove at Middleham. It is a beautiful spot, a sloping or rather steep piece of ground, with hazels growing “tall and erect” in clumps at distances, almost seeming regular, as if they had been planted. . .I wrote to Mary after dinner, while William sate in the orchard. Old Mr. Simpson drank tea with us. When Mr. S was gone I read my letter to William, speaking to Mary about having a cat. I spoke of the little birds keeping us company, and William told me that that very morning a bird had perched upon his leg. He had been lying very still, and had watched this little creature. It had come under the bench where he was sitting and then flew up to his leg; he thoughtlessly stirred himself to look further at it, and it flew on to the apple tree above him. It was a little young creature that had just left its nest, equally unacquainted with man, and unaccustomed to struggle against the storms and winds. While it was upon the apple tree the wind blew about the stiff boughs, and the bird seemed bemazed, and not strong enough to strive with it. The swallows come to the sitting-room window as if wishing to build, but I am afraid they will not have courage for it; but I believe they will build in my room window. They twitter, and make a bustle, and a little cheerful song, hanging against the panes of glass with their soft white bellies close to the glass and their forked fish-like tails. They swim round and round, and again they come. It was a sweet evening. We first walked to the top of the hill to look at Rydale, then to Butterlip How. I do not now see the brownness that was in the coppices. The bower hawthorn blossoms passed away. Those on the hills are a faint white. The wild guelder-rose is coming out, and the wild roses. I have seen no honey-suckles yet, except out own on nestling, and a tree of the yellow kind at Mrs. Townley’s the day I went to Ellen to Windermere. Foxgloves are now frequent, the first I saw was that day with Ellen and the first ripe strawberries. William went to bed immediately.
Thursday, 17th. – William had slept well. I took castor oil and lay in bed till 12 o’clock. William had injured himself with working a litte. When I got up we sate in the orchard – a sweet mild day. Miss Hudson called – I went with her to the top of the hill. When I came home I found William at work attempting to alter a stanza in the poem on our going for Mary, which I convinced him did not need altering. We sate in the house after dinner. In the evening walked on our favourite path. A short letter from Coleridge. William added a little to the Ode (18) he is writing.
Friday, 18th June. – When we were sitting after breakfast – William about the shave – Luff came in. He had rode over the Fells. He brought news about Lord Lowther’s intention to pay all debts, eta, and a letter from Mr. Clarkson. He saw our garden, was astonished at the scarlet beans, etc. etc, etc. When he was gone, we wrote to Coleridge, M. H., and my brother Richard about the affair. William determined to go to Eusemere on Monday. In the afternoon we walked to Rydale with our letter – found no letter there. A sweet evening. I had a woful headache, and was ill in stomach from agitation of mind – went to bed at nine o’clock, but did not sleep till late.
Saturday, 19th. – The swallows were very busy under my window this morning. I slept pretty well, but William has got no sleep. It is after 11 and he is still in bed. A fine morning. Coleridge, when he was last here, told us that for many years, there being no Quaker meeting at Keswick, a single old Quaker woman used to go regularly alone every Sunday to attend the meeting-house, and there used to sit and perform her worship alone, in that beautiful place among those fir trees, in that spacious vale, under the great mountain Skiddaw!!! Poor old Willy – we never pass y his grave close to the Churhyard gate without thinking of him and having his figure brought back to our minds. He formerly was an ostler at Hawkshead having spent a little estate. In his old age he was boarded or as they say let by the parish. A boy of the house that hired him was riding one moring pretty briskly beside John Fisher’s – “Hullo! Has aught particular happened?” said John to the boy – “Nay, naught to aw, nobbut auld Willy’s dead. He was going to order the passing bell to be tolled. On Thursday morning Miss Hudson of Workington called. She said, “O! I love flowers! I sow flowers in the parks several miles from home, and my mother and I visit them, and watch them how they grow.” This may show that botanists may be often deceived when they find rare flowers growing far from houses. This was a very ordinary young woman, such as in any town in the North of England one may find a score. I sate up a while after William. He then called me down to him. (I was writing to Mary H.) I read Churchill’s Rosciad (19) Returned again to my writing, and did not go to bed till he called to me. The shutters were closed, but I heard the birds singing. There was our own thrush, shouting with an impatient shout; so it sounded me. The morning was still, the twittering of the little birds was very gloomy. The owls had hooted a quarter of an hour before, now the cocks were crowing, it was near daylight, I put out my candle, and went to bed. In a little time I thought I heard William snoring, so I composed myself to sleep. Charles Lloyd called at my sweet Brother.
Sunday, 20th. – He had slept better than I could have expected, but he was far from well all day; we were in the orchard a great part of the morning. After tea we walked upon our own path for a long time. We talked sweetly together about the disposal of our riches. We lay upon the sloping turf. Earth and sky were so lovely that they melted our very hearts. The sky to the north was a chastened yet rich yellow, fading into pale blue, and streaked and scattered over with steady islands of purple, melting away into shades of pink. It was like a vision to me. We afterwards took our cloaks and sate in the orchard. Mr and Miss Simpson called. We told them of our expected good fortune. We were astonished and somewhat hurt to see how cold Mr. Simpson received it – Miss S. seemed very glad. We went into the house when they left us, and Wm. went to bed. I sate up about an hour. He then called me to talk to him – he could not fall asleep. I wrote to Montagu.
21st, Monday. William was obliged to bed in bed late, he had slept so miserably. It was a very fine morning, but as we did not leave home till 12 o’clock it was very hot. I parted from my Beloved in the green lane above the Blacksmith’s, then went to dinner at Mr. Simpson’s – we walked afterwards in the garden. Betty Towers and her son and daughter came to tea. The little lad is 4 years old, almost as little a thing as Hartley, and as sharp too, they say, but I saw nothing of this, being a stranger, expect his bonny eyes, which has such a sweet brightness in them when anything as said to him and made his ashamed and draw his chin into his neck, while he sent his eyes upwards to look at you. His Mother is a delicate woman. She said she thought that both she and her husband were so tender in their health that they must be obliged to sell their land. Speaking of old Jim Jackson he said: “They might have looked up with the best in Grasmere, if they had but been careful” – “They began with a clear estate, and has never had but one child, he to be sure is a half-wit” – “How did they get through with their money?” – “Why in eating and drinking. The wife would make tea 4 to 5 times in a day and sec’folks for sugars! Then she would have nea Teapot, but not would take the water out of the brass pan on the fire and pout it on to the tea in a quart pot. This is all for herself, for she boiled the tea leaves always for her husband and their son.” I brought plants homes, sunflowers, and planted them. Aggy Fisher was talking with me on Monday morning, 21st of June, about her son. She went on – Old Mary Watson was at Goan’s there when the child died. I had never seen her before since her son drowned last summer, “we were all in trouble and trouble opens folks hearts”. She began to tell about her daughter that’s married to Leonard Holmes, how now that sickness is come upon him they are breaking down and failing in the world. Debts are coming in every day, and he can do nothing, and they fret and jar together. One day he came riding over to Grasmere – I wondered what was the matter, and I resolved to speak to him when he came back. He was as pale as a ghost, and he did not suffer the horse to gang quicker than a snail could crawl. He had come over in a trick of passion to auld Mary to tell her she might take her own again, her daughter and the bairns. Mary replied nobly (said Aggy) that she would not part man and wife, but that all should come together, and she would keep them while she had anything. Old Mary went to see them at Ambleside afterwards, and he begged her pardon. Aggy observed that they would never had known this sorrow, if it had pleased God to take him off suddenly.
Tuesday morning. – I had my breakfast in bed, being not quite well – I then walked to Rydale. I waited long for the post, lying in the field, and looking at the distant mountains, looking and listening to the river. I met the post. Letters from Montagu and Richard. I hurried back, forwarded these to William, and wrote to Montagu. When I came home I wrote to my brother Christopher. I could settle to nothing. Molly washed and glazed the curtains. I read the Midsummer Night’s Dream, and began As You Like It. Miss Simpson called – Tamar brought me some berries. I resolved to go to William and for that purpose John Fisher promised to go over the fells with me. Miss Simpson ate pie, and the left me reading letters from Mary and Coleridge. The news came that a house was taken for Betsy. I wrote to Mary H. and put up a parcel for Colerdige. The LB (20) arrived. I went to bed a ½ past 11.
Wednesday, 23rd June. – I slept till ½ past 3 o’clock – called Molly before 4, and had got myself dressed and breakfasted before 5, but it rained and I went to bed again. It is not 20 minutes past 10 – a sunshiny morning. I walked to the top of the hill and sate under a wall near John’s Grove, facing the sun. I read a scene or two in As You Like It. I met Charles Lloyd and old Mr. Lloyd was upstairs – Mrs. Ll had been to meet me. I wrote a line to Wm. by the Lloyds. Coleridge and Leslie came just as I had lain down after dinner. C. brought me William’s letter. He had got well to Eusemere. Coleridge and I accompanied Leslie to the boat-house. It was a sullen, coldish evening, no sunshine; but after we had parted from Leslie a light came out suddenly that repaid us for all. It fell only upon one hill, and the island, but it arrayed the grass and trees in gem-like brightness. I cooked Coleridge’s supper. We sate up till one o’clock.
Thursday, 24th June. – I went with C. half way up the Raise. It was a cool morning. I dined with Mr. Simpson’s and helped Aggy Fleming to quilt a petticoat. Miss Simpson came with me after tea and round by the white Bridge. I ground paint when I reached home, and was tired. William came in just when M. had left me. It was a mild, rainy evening – he was cool and fresh and smelt sweetly – his clothes were wet. We sate together talking till the first dawning of day; a happy time. He was pale and not much tired. He thought I looked well too.
Friday, 25th June. – Wm had not fallen asleep till after 3 o’clock, but he slept tolerably. Miss Simpson came to colour the rooms. I began with whitewashing the ceiling. I worked with them (William was very busy) till dinner time, but after dinner I went to bed and feel asleep. When I rose I went, just before tea, into the garden. I looked up at my swallow’s nest, and it was gone. It had fallen down. Poor little creatures, they could not themselves be more distressed than I was. I went upstairs to look at the ruins. They lay in a large heap upon the window ledge; these swallows had been ten days employed in building this nest, and it seemed to be almost finished. I had watched them early in the morning, in the day many and many a time, and in the evenings when it was almost dark. I had seen them sitting together side by side in their unfinished nest, both morning and night When they first came about the window they used to hang against the panes, with their white bellies and their forked tails, looking like fish ; but then they fluttered and sang their own little twittering song. As soon as the nest was broad enough, a sort of ledge for them, they sate both mornings and evenings, but they did not pass the night there. I watched them one morning, when William was at Eusemere, for more than an hour. Every now and then there was a motion in their wings, a sort of tremulousness, and they sang a low song to one another.
[June 29th, Tuesday] (21) That they would not call here. I was going to tea. It is an uncertain day, sunshine, showers, and wind. It is now eight o’clock ; I will go and see if my swallows are on their nest. Yes ! there they are, side by side, both looking down into the garden. I have been out on purpose to see their faces. I knew by looking at the window that they were there. Young George Mackareth is come down from London. Molly sais: “I did not get him asked if he had got his la’al green purse yet”. When he went away he went round to see aw’t neighbours and some gave him 6d. some a shilling, and I have heard his Mother say say “’t la’al green purse was never out of his ahnd”. I wrote to M.H., my brother Christr. and Miss Griffith, then went to bed in the sittingroom. Coleridge and William came in at about half-past eleven. They talked till after twelve.
Wednesday, 30th June. – William slept ill, his head terribly bad. We walked part of the way up to the Rays with Coleridge, a threatening windy coldish day. We did not go with C. far up the Rays, but sate down a few minutes together before we parted. I was not very well – I was inclined to go to bed when we reached home, but Wm, persuaded me to have tea instead. We met an old man between the Raise and Lewthwaites. He wore a rusty but untorn hat, an excellent blue coat, waistcoat, and breeches, and good mottled worsted stockings. His beard was very thick and grey, of a fortnight’s growth we guessed ; it was a regular beard, like grey plush. His bundle contained Sheffield ware. William said to him, after we had asked him what his business was, “You are a very old man?” “Aye, I am eighty-three.” I joined in, “Have you any children?” “Children? Yes, plenty. I have children and grand-children, and great grand-children. I have a great grand -daughter, a fine lass, thirteen years old.” I then said, “Won’t they take care of you?” He replied, much offended, “Thank God, I can take care of myself.” He said he had been a servant of the Marquis of Granby “O he was a good man ; he’s in heaven ; I hope he is.”He then told us how he shot himself at Bath, that he was with him in Germany, and travelled with him every- where. ” He was a famous boxer, sir.” And then he told us a story of his fighting with his farmer. “He used always to call me bland and sharp.” Then every now and then he broke out,” He was a good man ! When we were travelling he never asked at the public- houses, as it might be there” (pointing to the “Swan”), “what we were to pay, but he would put his hand into his pocket and give them what he liked ; and when he came out of the house he would say, Now, they would have charged me a shilling or tenpence. God help them, poor creatures!” I asked him again about his children, how many he had. Says he, “I cannot tell you” (I suppose he confounded children and grand-children together); “I have one daughter that keeps a boarding- school at Skipton, in Craven. She teaches flowering and marking. And another that keeps a boarding-school at Ingleton. I brought up my family under the Marquis.” He was familiar with all parts of Yorkshire. He asked us where we lived. At Grasmere. “The bonniest dale in all England!” says the old man. I bought a pair of slippers from him, and we sate together by the road-side. When we parted I tried to lift his bundle, and it was almost more than I could do. We got tea and I was somewhat better. After tea I wrote to Coleridge, and closed up my letter to M. H. We went soon to bed. A weight of children a poor man’s blessing! I myself.