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And there (while, with sedater mien,
“What more changeful than the sea ?
“O the charm that manners draw,
Nature, from thy genuine law !
And kindle sportive wit-
Over their mirthful triumph clapping hands.” The influence exercised by Wordsworth's poetry is due, in great measure, to his home, as well as to his heart. He was blessed, in a remarkable degree, in all those domestic relations which exercise and hallow the affections. His cottage, its beautiful neighbourhood, the happiness he enjoyed in its garden, and within its doors, all these breathed a moral music into his heart, and enabled him to pour forth strains which, without such influences upon him, would have been unheard, and which have made him, what he is in an eminent degree, the poet of domestic life, and the teacher of domestic virtue. If he had not been a husband and a father, happy in his children, he could never have drawn that beautiful portrait,
“Loving she is, and tractable though wild,” I in which, by the happiness of children in themselves, he teaches a lesson of unambitious contentment to all :
“ This happy creature, of herself Is all-sufficient,- solitude to her
Is blithe society :"
“ the faggot that sparkles on the hearth,
I Vol. i. p. 150.
a beautiful picture of self-forgetfulness, suggested by his second daughter, Catharine, then three years old. What his children were to the painter Albano, that, and much more, were his own children to the Poet Wordsworth.
Soon after these lines were written, Catharine, and her brother Thomas, who was two years and eleven weeks older, were taken for change of air and restoration of health to the sea-side, on the coast of Cumberland, under Black Comb (which he has described in two several poems' written, after this visit, in 1813), near Bootle, of which his friend Dr. Satterthwaite was then incumbent. This was in the summer of 1811. The journey from Grasmere to the sea-side is described in that interesting and beautiful “Poetical Epistle to Sir George Beaumont:"2
“Far from our home, by Grasmere's quiet Lake,
From the Vale's peace which all her fields partake,
We sojourn, stunned by Ocean's ceaseless roar.” Concerning this “Epistle” Mr. Wordsworth dictated the following notices. 3
Epistle to Sir G. H. Beaumont, Bart — “ This poem opened, when first written, with a paragraph that has been transferred as an introduction to the first series of my 'Scotch Memorials.' The journey, of which the first part is here described, was from Grasmere to Bootle, on the south-west coast of Cumberland, the whole along mountain-roads, through a beautiful country, and we had fine weather. The verses end with our breakfast at the Head of Yew. dale, in a yeoman's house, which, like all the other property in that sequestered vale, has passed, or is passing, into the hands of Mr. James Marshall, of Monk Coniston, in Mr. Knott's, the late owner's time, called the Waterhead. Our hostess married a Mr. Oldfield, a lieutenant in the navy; they lived together for some time at Hackett, where she still resides as his widow. It was in front of that house, on the mountain-side, near which stood the peasant who, while we were passing at a distance, saluted us, waving a kerchief in his hand, as described in the poem. The dog which we met soon after our starting, had belonged to Mr. Rowlandson, who for forty years was curate at Grasmere, in place of the rector, who lived to extreme old age, in a state of insanity. Of this Mr. R. much might be said, both with reference to his character, and the way in which he was regarded by his parishioners. He was a man of a robust frame, had a firm voice and authoritative manner, of strong natural talents, of which he was himself conscious.” Some anecdotes were then told by Mr. W. of his character, which are omitted here. He proceeded as follows: “ Notwithstanding all that has been said, this man, on account of his talents and superior education, was looked up to by his parishioners, who, without a single exception, lived at that time (and most of them upon their own small inheritances) in a state of republican equality, a condition favourable to the growth of kindly feelings among them, and, in a striking degree, exclusive to temptations to gross vice and scandalous behaviour. As a pastor, their curate did little or nothing for them ; but what could more strikingly set forth the efficacy of the Church of England, through its Ordinances and Liturgy, than that, in spite of the unworthiness of the minister, his church was regularly attended; and though there was not much appearance in his flock of what might be called animated piety, intoxication was rare, and dissolute morals unknown ? With the Bible they were, for the most part, well acquainted, and, as was strikingly shown when they were under affliction, must have been supported and comforted by habitual belief in those truths which it is the aim of the Church to inculcate."
2 Vol. v. p. 1.
| Vol. ii. p. 179. ; vol. v. p. 62. 3 MSS. I. F.
Loughrigg Tarn. “ This beautiful pool, and the surrounding scene, are minutely described in my little Book on the Lakes." 1
“Sir G. B., in the earlier part of his life, was induced, by his love of nature and the art of painting, to take up his abode at Old Brathay, about three miles from this spot, so that he must have seen it under many aspects; and he was so much pleased with it, that he purchased the Tarn with a view to build such a residence as is alluded to in this ‘Epistle.' The project of building was given up, Sir G. B. retaining possession of the Tarn. Many years afterwards, a Kendal tradesman, born upon its banks, applied to me for the purchase of it, and, accordingly, it was sold for the sum that had been given for it, and the money was laid out, under my direction, upon a substantial oak fence for a certain number of yew-trees, to be planted in Grasmere Churchyard. Two were planted in each enclosure, with a view to rernove, after a certain time, the one which throve the least. After several years, the stouter plant being left, the others were taken up, and placed in other parts of the same churchyard, and were adequately
| Page 24. edit. 1823.