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“We felt as men should feel, With such vast hoards of hidden carnage near, And horror breathing from the silent ground'!
At Lucerne, the travellers were joined by the evercheerful companion, H. C. Robinson, accompanied by two young men who had requested the pleasure of an introduction to Wordsworth. The party was in high spirits and ascended the Righi together. There, they parted at sunrise, hoping to meet again at Geneva, but a few days after, they learned that Goddard and Trotter, their recent acquaintances, had trusted themselves in a crazy boat, on Lake Zurich, and a storm arising, it upset ; Goddard was drowned; but his companion swam ashore.
They were all deeply impressed by this event. Mr. Robinson, though aware that Wordsworth was unwilling to take for the subjects of his poems occurrences in themselves interesting or exciting, yet urged him to write on this tragic incident, little expecting him to comply. However, among the poems entitled 'Memorials of a tour on the Continent' some elegiac stanzas will be found.
An extract from the journal kept by Mr. Robinson during this tour, will here be read with interest. On the 20th August, 1820, at Schwyz, which Wordsworth calls the “heart” of Switzerland, as Berne is the “head”. Passing through Brunnen, we reached Altorf on the 21st, the spot which suggested Wordsworth's 20th effusion. My prose remark on the people shows the sad difference between observation and fancy. I wrote:-“These patriotic recollections are delightful when genuine, but the physiognomy of the people does not speak in favour of their ancestors. The natives of
the district have a feeble and melancholy character. The women are afflicted with goître. The children beg as in other Catholic cantons. The little children, with cross-bows in their hands, sing unintelligible songs. Probably Wilhelm Tell serves, like Henri Quatre, as a name to beg by”. But what says the poet? —
“Thrice happy burghers, peasants, warriors old,
Infants in arms, and ye, that as ye go
“And when that calm Spectatress from on high
Looks down — the bright and solitary moon,
The close of this eventful tour nearly proved fatal to the Wordsworth party. On their return, at the end of October, they were detained nine days at Boulogne by bad weather, and on setting off from the port they were wrecked. Wordsworth gave himself up for lost, and had taken off his coat to make an attempt at swimming, but the vessel struck within the bar, and the water retired so fast, that when the packet fell in pieces, the passengers were left on land, and were taken ashore in carts. Wordsworth made scarcely any notes during his journeys, relying on his memory for the after record of any impressions he might receive. It is somewhere observed of him, that he was a still man when pleased; and that his remarks were few when travelling; and a friend, who accompanied him to a
large musical party in London, says, “I noticed a great diversity in the enjoyment of the music, which was first-rate : Wordsworth declared himself perfectly delighted and satisfied, but he sat alone, silent, with his face covered, and was generally supposed to be asleep. Flaxman too, confessed that he could not endure fine music for long : but Coleridge's enjoyment was very lively and openly expressed'.
In the Spring of 1822, we read of an alarming accident which befel the poet; he was thrown from his horse, and received, apparently a very severe injury on his head, fears being entertained of a fracture of the skull, but it proved to be only an abrasion by the sharp-pointed stone against which he was thrown. The rapidity of his recovery surprised those around him, and was supposed to be mainly attributable to his very temperate habits. To the same cause it may be ascribed that, during his long life, he was scarcely confined to the house by so much as a day's illness.
We now begin to trace a steady increase in his poetical reputation, and to observe the justice of Southey's remark, that his writings had at length strongly leavened the rising generation.
The year 1824, was varied by a tour in North Wales, and a gratifying visit to his old college friend and travelling companion, the Rev. R. Jones. He also had an interview with the two celebrated recluses, Lady E. Butler and the Hon. Miss Ponsonby. In 1825 was consecrated Rydal Church, which Lady Fleming had reared at her sole expense : this modest place of worship was frequented by Wordsworth and his family for the next quarter of a century. In the autumn of this year, Wordsworth took part in the festivities which enlivened the district, when Sir Walter Scott, Canning, and other distinguished guests were entertained by John Bolton, Esq., of Storrs Hall. Not long after the occurrence of this memorable visit, we find John Wilson (Christopher North) thus plaintively alluding to it;'The memory of that day returns when Windermere glittered with all her sails in honour of the great Northern Minstrel, and of him, the eloquent, whose lips are now mute in the dust' Lockhart, in his Memoir of Sir Walter Scott, thus describes this event. “We were received with the warmth of old friendship by Mr. Wilson. Mr. Bolton's seat, to which Canning had invited Scott, is situated a couple of miles down on the same lake : thither Mr. Wilson conducted him next day. A large company had been assembled in honour of the Minister, it included already Mr. Wordsworth and Mr. Southey. It has not, I suppose, often happened to a plain English merchant, wholly the architect of his own fortunes, to entertain, at one time, a party embracing so many illustrious names ; he was proud of his guests; they respected him, and honoured and loved each other; and it would be difficult to say which star in the constellation shone with the brightest or the softest light.
"There was high discourse, intermingled with as gay flashings of courtly wit as ever Canning displayed, and a plentiful allowance, on all sides, of those transient, airy pleasantries, in which the fancy of poets, however wise and grave, delights to run riot when they are sure not to be misunderstood. There were beautiful and accomplished women to adorn and enjoy this circle. The weather was as Elysian as the scenery. There were brilliant cavalcades through the woods in the morning, and delicious boatings on the lake by moonlight, and the last day, “ The Admiral of the Lake”
presided over one of most splendid regattas that ever enlivened Windermere. Perhaps there were not less than fifty barges following in the Professor's radiant procession, when it stopped at the point of Storrs, to admit into the place of honour, the vessel that carried kind and happy Mr. Bolton and his guests.
"The three bards of the Lakes led the cheers that hailed Scott and Canning, and music and sunshine, and flags, streamers and gay dresses, the merry hum of voices, and the rapid sparkling of innumerable oars, made up a dazzling mixture of sensations, as the flotilla wound its way along the richly-foliaged islands, and along bays and promontories peopled with enthusiastic spectators.
‘On at last quitting the festive circle at Storrs, we visited the family of the late Bishop Watson, at Calgarth, and Mr. Wordsworth, at his charming retreat of Mount Rydal. He accompanied us to Keswick, where we saw Mr. Southey re-established in his unrivalled library. Mr. Wordsworth and his daughter, then turned with us, and passing over Kirkstone to Ullswater, conducted us first to his friend Mr. Marshall's elegant villa, near Lyulphs Tower, and on the next day, to the noble castle of his life-long friend and patron, Lord Lonsdale. The Earl and Countess had their halls filled with another splendid circle of distinguished persons, who, like them, lavished all possible attentions and demonstrations of respect upon Sir Walter. He remained a couple of days, and perambulated, under Wordsworth's guidance, the superb terraces and grounds of the “fair domain” which that poet has connected with the noblest monument of his genius. But the temptations of Storrs and Lowther, had cost more time than had been calculated upon, and the