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from a heavy soul the dullest expression; but it speaks every emotion of his animated mind. It has more of the 'poet's eye in fine frenzy rolling' than I ever witnessed. He has fine dark eyebrows and an overhanging forehead."
By the side of this striking picture of Coleridge may be fittingly placed his first impressions of Miss Wordsworth. Writing to Mr. Cottle from Nether Stowey, in Somersetshire, where he was then residing, he says: “Wordsworth and his exquisite sister are with me. She is a woman, indeed! – in mind, I mean, and heart; for her person is such that, if you expected to see a pretty woman, you would think her ordinary ; if you expected to see an ordinary woman, you would think her pretty ; but her manners are simple, ardent, impressive. In every motion her most innocent soul outbeams so brightly that who saw her would say :
“Guilt was a thing impossible in her.' Her information various; her eye watchful in minutest observation of Nature ; and her taste a perfect electrometer. It bends, protrudes, and draws in at subtlest beauties and most recondite faults."
From this description of Coleridge it might appear that Miss Wordsworth was one of those happy possessors of a face and features which though in repose might appear homely, became illumined by the sweet smiles of love — flashed into beauty by the gleam of the soul-lit eye.
The pleasure which the friendship of Coleridge
afforded them induced Wordsworth and his sister to change their residence in order to be near him. Accordingly, in the summer of 1797, they settled at Alfoxden, near Nether Stowey. Alfoxden is described by Hazlitt as a “romantic old family mansion of the St. Aubins,” and he gives the additional information that it was then in the possession of a friend of the poet, who gave him the free use of it. De Quincey states that he understood that the Wordsworths had the use of the house on condition 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 neighborhood of Nether Stowey she says, in a letter to a friend, dated 4th July: “There is every thing 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 full-grown timber-trees. The woods are as fine as those at Lowther, and the country more romantic; it has the character of the less grand parts of the neighborhood of the lakes."
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 neighborhood 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 it. 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 favorite parlor, as at Racedown, looks 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 under-grove 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 perfectly 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.”
RESIDENCE AT ALFOXDEN. — REMOVAL TO GRASMERE.
THE year succeeding the time when Miss Words
1 worth 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,
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