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On sky, earth, river, lake, and sea;
“ Once did I see a slip of earth
(By throbbing waves long undermined)
“Might see it, from the mossy shore
“Food, shelter, safety, there they find;
There berries ripen, flowerets bloom;
“And thus through many seasons' space
This little Island may survive;
“ Perchance when you are wandering forth
“ Buried beneath the glittering Lake,
Its place no longer to be found;
JOURNAL OF A TOUR AT ULLSWATER.
N the 7th of November, on a damp and gloomy
morning, we left Grasmere Vale, intending to pass a few days on the banks of Ullswater. A mild and dry autumn had been unusually favorable to the preservation and beauty of foliage ; and, far advanced as the season was, the trees on the larger island of Rydal Mere retained a splendor which did not need the heightening of sunshine. We noticed as we passed that the line of the gray rocky shore of that island, shaggy with variegated bushes and shrubs, and spotted and striped with purplish brown heath, indistinguishably blending with its image reflected in the still water, produced a curious resemblance, both in form and color, to a richly-coated caterpillar, as it might appear through a magnifying glass of extraordinary power. The mists gathered as we went along: but when we reached the top of Kirkstone, we were glad we had not been discouraged by the apprehension of bad weather. Though not able to see a hundred yards before us, we were more than contented. At such a time, and in such a place, every scattered stone the size of one's head becomes a companion.
Near the top of the Pass is the remnant of an old wall, which (magnified, though obscured, by the vapor) might have been taken for a fragment of some monument of ancient grandeur — yet that same pile of stones we had never before even observed. This situation, it must be allowed, is not favorable to gayety; but a pleasing hurry of spirits accompanies the surprise occasioned by objects transformed, dilated or distorted, as they are when seen through such a medium. Many of the fragments of rock on the top and slopes of Kirkstone, and of similar places, are fantastic enough in themselves; but the full effect of such impressions can only be had in a state of weather when they are not likely to be sought for. It was not till we had descended considerably that the fields of Hartshop were seen, like a lake tinged by the reflection of sunny clouds. I mistook them for Brother's-water, but soon after we saw that lake gleaming faintly with a steely brightness, — then as we continued to descend, appeared the brown oaks, and the birches of lively yellow, and the cottages, and the lowly Hall of Hartshop, with its long roof and ancient chimneys. During great part of our way to Patterdale we had rain, or rather drizzling vapor; for there was never a drop upon our hair or clothes larger than the smallest pearl upon a lady's ring.
· The following morning incessant rain till eleven o'clock, when the sky began to clear, and we walked along the eastern shore of Ullswater towards the farm
of Blowick. The wind blew strong, and drove the clouds forwards on the side of the mountain above our heads :— two storm - stiffened, black yew - trees fixed our notice, seen through, or under the edge of, the flying mists, four or five goats were bounding among the rocks ; – the sheep moved about more quietly, or cowered beneath their sheltering places. This is the only part of the country where goats are now found ;' but this morning, before we had seen these, I was reminded of that picturesque animal by two rams of mountain breed, both with Ammonian horns, and with beards majestic as that which Michael Angelo has given to his study of Moses. — But to return; when our path had brought us to that part of the naked common which overlooks the woods and bush-besprinkled fields of Blowick, the lake, clouds, and mists were all in motion to the sound of sweeping winds; - the church and cottages of Patterdale scarcely visible, or seen only by fits between the shifting vapors. To the northward the scene was less visionary ; — Place Fell steady and bold; — the whole lake driving onward like a great river — waves dancing round the small islands. The house at Blowick was the boundary of our walk; and we returned, lamenting to see a decaying and uncomfortable dwelling in a place where sublimity and beauty seemed to contend with each other. But these regrets were dispelled by a glance on the woods that clothe the opposite steeps of the lake. How exquisite was the mixture of sober
* They have since disappeared.
and splendid hues! The general coloring of the trees was brown — rather that of ripe hazel-nuts; but towards the water there were yet bays of green, and in the higher parts of the wood was abundance of yellow foliage, which, gleaming through a vapory lustre, reminded us of masses of clouds, as you see them gathered together in the west, and touched with the golden light of the setting sun. After dinner we walked up the vale ; I had never had an idea of its extent and width in passing along the public road on the other side. We followed the path that leads from house to house ; two or three times it took us through some of those copses or groves that cover the little hillocks in the middle of the vale, making an intricate and pleasant intermixture of lawn and wood. Our fancies could not resist the temptation, and we fixed upon a spot for a cottage, which we began to build, and finished as easily as castles are raised in the air. Visited the same spot in the evening. I shall say nothing of the moonlight aspect of the situation which had charmed us so much in the afternoon; but I wish you had been with us when, in returning to our friend's house, we espied his lady's large white dog lying in the moonshine upon a round knoll under the old yew tree in the garden, a romantic image — and the elegant creature, as fair as a spirit! The torrents murmured softly : the mountains down which they were falling did not, to my sight, furnish a background for this Ossianic picture; but I had a consciousness of the depth of the seclusion, and that mountains were embracing us on all sides ; “I saw not, but I felt that they were there."