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Along the public way, this Peak, so high
As this poem was written in the first year of their residence at Grasmere, the reference in the closing lines can be to no other person than Miss Wordsworth.
Still another poem of the series owes its origin to a walk by the poet, in the company of his sister and Coleridge. The path here referred to, by the side of the lake, has, we are informed, lost its privacy and beauty, by reason of the making of the new highway from Rydal to Grasmere :
“ A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway, interposed
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.
Played with our time; and, as we strolled along,
Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore -
“ And often, trifling with a privilege
Alike indulged to all, we paused, one now,
The poem goes on to relate how they saw in the distance, angling by the margin of the lake, a man in the garb of a peasant, while from the fields the merry noise of the reapers fell upon their ears. They somewhat hastily came to the conclusion that the man was an idler, who, instead of spending his time at the gentle craft, might have been more profitably engaged in the harvest. Upon a near approach they, however, found that he was a feeble old man, wasted by sickness, and too week to labor, who was doing his best to gain a scanty pittance from the lake. It concludes by alluding to the self-upbraiding of the three friends, in consequence of their too rashly formed opinion :
“I will not say
Another memorial of Miss Wordsworth in her prime is to be found in the “Rock of Names,” which stands on the right-hand side of the road from Grasmere to Keswick, near the head of Thirlmere, and about a mile beyond “Wytheburn's modest House of Prayer.” This was a meeting-place of Wordsworth and Coleridge, who was then resident at Keswick, and their friends. On the surface of this “upright mural block of stone,” moss-crowned, smooth-faced, and lichenpatched, are cut the following letters :
It is hardly necessary to state that the initials are those of William Wordsworth, Mary Hutchinson (afterwards his wife), Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Wordsworth (the poet's brother), and Sarah Hutchinson (the sister of Mrs. Wordsworth). It is greatly to be regretted that on the completion of the projected reservoir of the Manchester Corporation, this rock, unless steps are taken for its preservation, will be submerged in its waters. Seldom did half-adozen more poetic and fervent natures meet and leave a more unique, and attractive memorial. It is to be hoped that means will be adopted not only to have the rock removed to a place of safety, but also to preserve it from further mutilation. Although these initials have withstood the storms and blasts of more than four score winters, they are yet perfectly distinct and legible, and their original character is preserved. Whilst there are, unfortunately, now other initials and marks upon the face of the rock, it is more free from them than might have been expected. The very fact of attention being called to such an interesting memento, while being a source of pleasure to the admirers of the gifted children of genius who made this their trysting-place, also arouses the puerile ambition of those whose interest centres in themselves, and to whom no associations are dear, to inscribe their own scratch. In this way there has already been added the letter J. before the original D. W. of Miss Wordsworth. Wordsworth's allusion to this rock, in a note to some editions of his poem, “The Waggoner," is as follows:
ROCK OF NAMES!
Thy charge when we are laid asleep.". In this place a reference by Wordsworth to his little poem, commencing “Yes, it was the mountain echo," will be of interest. “The echo came from Nab-scar, when I was walking on the opposite side of Rydal Mere. I will here mention, for my dear sister's sake, that while she was sitting alone one day, high up on this part of Loughrigg fell, she was so affected by the voice of the cuckoo, heard from the crags at some distance, that she could not suppress a wish to have a stone inscribed with her name among the rocks from which the sound proceeded."