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understood that, he Wordsworths had the use of the house on * of keeping it in repair. `Although Miss Wordsworth afterwards spoke of Racedown as the dearest place of her recollections upon the whole surface of the island, as the first home she had, she was soon enamoured of her new abode, and the scenery of Somersetshire. Of the neighbourhood of Nether Stowey she says, in a letter to a friend, dated 4th July: “There is everything there—sea, woods wild as fancy ever painted; brooks clear and pebbly as in Cumberland; villages as romantic; and William and I, in a wander by ourselves, found out a sequestered waterfall in a dell formed by steep hills, covered by fullgrown timber trees. (The woods are as fine as those at Lowther, and the county more o has the character of the less grand parts of the neighbourhood of the lakes."22 : A - 3 - ? -- . Being settled at Alfoxden, she writes again, on 14th August;)." Here we are, in a large mansion, in a large park, with seventy head of deer around us./But I must begin with the day of leaving Racedown to pay Coleridge a visit. You know how much we were delighted with the neighbourhood of Stowey. The evening that I wrote to you, William and I had rambled as far as this
house, and pryed into the recesses of our little brook,
but without any more fixed thoughts upon it than some dreams of happiness in a little cottage, and passing wishes that such a place might be found out. We spent a fortnight at Coleridge's : in the course of that time we heard that this house was to let, applied for it, and took : Our principal inducement was Coleridge's
society. It was a month yesterday since we came to Alfoxden. “The house is a large mansion, with furniture enough for a dozen families like ours. There is a very excellent garden, well stocked with vegetables and fruit. The garden is at the end of the house, and our favourite parlour, as at Racedown, dooks that way. In front is a little court, with grass-plot, gravel-walk, and shrubs; the moss roses were in full beauty a month ago. The front of the house is to the south; but is screened from the sun by a high hill which rises immediately from it. This hill is beautiful, scattered irregularly and abundantly with trees, and topped with fern, which spreads a considerable way down it. The deer dwell here, and sheep, so that we have a living prospect. From the end of the house we have a view of the sea, over a woody, meadow country; and exactly opposite the window, where I now sit, is an immense wood, whose round top from this point has exactly the appearance of a mighty dome. In some parts of this wood there is an undergrove of hollies, which are now very beautiful. In a glen at the bottom of the wood is the waterfall of which I spoke, a quarter of a mile from the house. We are three miles from Stowey, and not two miles from the sea. Wherever we turn we have woods, smooth downs, and valleys with small brooks running down them, through green meadows, hardly ever intersected with hedgerows, but scattered over with trees. The hills that cradle these valleys are either covered with fern and bilberries, or oak woods, which are cut for charcoal. . Walks extend for miles over the hill-tops; the great beauty of which is their wild simplicity: they are per”
sectly smooth, without rocks. “The Tor of Glastonbury is before our eyes during
more than half of our walk to Stowey; and in the park,
wherever we go, keeping about fifteen yards above the house, it makes a part of our prospect."
HE year succeeding the time when Miss Wordsworth . and her brother became resident at Alfoxden was one of glowing enjoyment and fruitful industry. We are not without a few pleasing pictures of this charmed primitive period of their lives—its profitable intercourse, its delightful rambles.
“Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge we roamed,
- Didst chant the vision of that ancient man,
The bright-eyed mariner; and rueful woes
Didst utter of the Lady Christabel—
We can imagine the happy meetings and rapturous ^ feelings of the two young poets in the company of the bright young woman, who was gifted with a no less poetic soul, wandering amid the delightful scenery of Somersetshire, revelling in the beauties of woodland and ocean, and the pleasant evenings, when each read to the other his growing poems; and they together discussed their ambitious schemes for the golden future, receiving the suggestions and approval of the eversympathetic sister and friend. Wordsworth has described this as a “very pleasant and productive time” of his life. It was during one of the short tours of Wordsworth and Coleridge, with the bright and faithful Dorothy by their side, inspiring and stimulating (the expenses of which tour they desired to defray by writing a poem), that the story of “The Ancient Mariner” was conceived. Wordsworth has said of it in a passage oft-repeated:— “In the autumn of 1797, Mr. Coleridge, my sister, and myself, started from Alfoxden pretty late in the afternoon, with a view of visiting Linton and the valley of stones near it; and as our united funds were very small, we agreed to defray the expense of the tour by writing a poem, to be sent to the new Monthly Magazine. In the course of this walk was planned the poem of “The Ancient Mariner,' founded on a dream, as Mr. Coleridge said, of his friend, Mr. Cruikshank. Much the greatest part of the story was Mr. Coleridge's in- . vention; but certain parts I suggested. For example,. some crime to be committed, which was to bring upon the Old Navigator, as Coleridge afterwards delighted to call him, the spectral persecution, as a consequence of that crime and his own wanderings. I had been reading in “Shelvocke's Voyages,' a day or two before, that, while doubling Cape Horn, they frequently saw albatrosses in that latitude—the largest sort of sea-fowl,