Page images
PDF
EPUB

Thou wear'st upon thy forehead clear
The freedom of a Mountaineer;
A face with gladness overspread !
Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
With no restraint but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach
Of thy few words of English speech:
A bondage sweetly brook'd, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life!
So have I, not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind -
Thus beating up against the wind.

" What hand but would a garland cull
For thee, who art so beautiful ?
O, happy pleasure! here to dwell
Beside thee in some heathy dell;
Adopt your homely ways, and dress,
A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess !
But I could frame a wish for thee
More like a grave reality:
Thou art to me but as a wave
Of the wild sea : and I would have
Some claim upon thee if I could,
Though but of common neighborhood.
What joy to hear thee, and to see!
Thy elder Brother I would be,
Thy Father — any thing to thee.

“ Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace

Hath led me to this lonely place!
Joy have I had; and going hence
I bear away my recompense.
In spots like these it is we prize
Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes;

Then, why should I be loth to stir?
I feel this place was made for her;
To give new pleasure like the past,
Continued long as life shall last.
Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland Girl, from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the Cabin small,
The Lake, the Bay, the Waterfall,
And Thee, the Spirit of them all.”

In a somewhat primitive way, and having to contend with bad roads, accidents to their car, and sometimes hard lodging and scanty fare, they managed to traverse a great part of the country which has since become so familiar to tourists, taking on their way Inverary, Glen Coe, Loch Tay, the Pass of Killicrankie, Dunkeld, Callander, back by the Trossachs to Loch Lomond, and eventually to Edinburgh. Approaching Loch Lomond for the second time, Miss Wordsworth remarks that she felt it much more interesting to visit a place where they had been before than it could possibly be for the first time. By the lake they met two women, without hats but neatly dressed, who seemed to have been taking their Sunday evening's walk. One of them said, in a soft, friendly voice, “What! you are stepping westward ?” She adds: “I cannot describe how affecting this simple expression was in that remote place, with the western sky in front, yet glowing with the departed sun." Wordsworth himself some time afterwards, in remembrance of the incident, wrote the following poem :

«« What ! you are stepping westward ?' 'Yea.'

- 'Twould be a wildish destiny,
If we, who thus together roam
In a strange Land, and far from home,
Were in this place the guests of Chance ;
Yet who would stop or fear to advance,
Though home or shelter he had none,
With such a sky to lead him on?
“ The dewy ground was dark and cold,

Behind all gloomy to behold,
And stepping westward seem'd to be
A kind of heavenly destiny ;
I liked the greeting; 'twas a sound
Of something without place or bound;
And seemed to give me spiritual right

To travel through that region bright.
“ The voice was soft; and she who spake
Was walking by her native lake;
The salutation was to me
The very sound of courtesy ;
Its power was felt, and while my eye
Was fix'd upon the glowing Sky,
The echo of the voice enwrought
A human sweetness, with the thought
Of travelling through the world that lay

Before me in my endless way." With Edinburgh Miss Wordsworth was delighted. She says: “It was impossible to think of any thing that was little or mean, the goings on of trade, the strife of men, or every-day city business; the impression was one, and it was visionary; like the conceptions of our childhood of Bagdad or Balsora, when we have been reading the “ Arabian Nights' Entertainments.'"

Not the least memorable part of their tour was a visit to Sir — then Mr. — Walter Scott, who was then unknown to fame as a novelist, but who, as Sheriff of Selkirk, and considered a very clever and amiable man, was universally respected. With him they visited Melrose and other places of interest. Miss Wordsworth writes : “Walked up to Ferniehurst — an old hall, in a secluded situation, now inhabited by farmers ; the neighboring ground had the wildness of a forest, being irregularly scattered over with fine old trees. The wind was tossing their branches, and sunshine dancing among the leaves, and I happened to exclaim, • What a life there is in trees !' on which Mr. Scott observed that the words reminded him of a young lady who had been born and educated on an island of the Orcades, and came to spend a summer at Kelso, and in the neighborhood of Edinburgh. She used to say that in the new world into which she was come nothing had disappointed her so much as trees and woods; she complained that they were lifeless, silent, and, compared with the grandeur of the ever-changing ocean, even insipid. At first I was surprised, but the next moment I felt that the impression was natural. Mr. Scott said that she was a very sensible young woman, and had read much. She talked with endless rapture and feeling of the power and greatness of the ocean; and, with the same passionate attachment, returned to her native island without any probability of quitting it again. The Valley of the Jed is very solitary immediately under Ferniehurst; we walked down the river, wading almost up to the knees in fern, which in many parts overspread the forest-ground. It made me think of our walks at Alfoxden, and of our own park — though at Ferniehurst is no park at present- and the slim fawns that we used to startle from their couching-places, among the fern at the top of the hill.”

The journal contains many short passages which might be quoted to show its poetic character. The following are selected almost at random : “I can always walk over a moor with a light foot; I seem to be drawn more closely to Nature in such places than anywhere else ; or, rather, I feel more strongly the power of Nature over me, and am better satisfied with myself, for being able to find enjoyment in what, unfortunately to many persons, is either dismal or insipid.” “The opposite bank of the river is left in its natural wildness, and nothing was to be seen higher up but the deep dell, its steep banks being covered with fine trees, a beautiful relief or contrast to the garden, which is one of the most elaborate old things ever seen - a little hanging garden of Babylon.” Again, she writes : “The greatest charm of a brook or river is in the liberty to pursue it through its windings; you can then take it in whatever mood you like — silent or noisy, sportive or quiet. The beauties of the brook or river must be sought, and the pleasure is in going in search of them; those of the lake or of the sea come to you of themselves." The sky was gray and heavy — floating mists on the hillsides, which softened the objects, and where we lost sight of the lake it appeared so near to the sky that they almost touched one another, giving a visionary

« PreviousContinue »