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From the orchard are obtained views almost unrivalled of mountain, vale, and lake, embracing the extensive range from Helm Crag and the vales of Easedale and Wythburn, down to the wooded heights of Loughrigg. Words cannot do justice to the idyllic sweetness and beauty of this poet's home, as it must have been when Wordsworth described his chosen retreat as the

“Loveliest spot that man hath ever found.”

The “sweet garden-orchard, eminently fair," has now, however, a neglected appearance, and must be very different from the time when the loving hands of the poet and his sister carefully tended the trees and flowers, of which he says :

“This plot of orchard ground is ours,

My trees they are, my sister's flowers.”

De Quincey speaks of the house as being immortal in his remembrance — just two bow shots from the water — "a little white cottage, gleaming in the midst of trees, with a vast and seemingly never-ending series of ascents rising above it, to the height of more than three thousand feet.”

Wordsworth's satisfaction at finding himself, at length, in the companionship of his beloved sister, in this his first permanent and peaceful abode, is thus expressed in a portion of a poem which was intended to form part of the “Recluse," of which, as is well known, the Prelude and the Excursion only were completed. I am indebted for the extract to the “Me

moirs of Wordsworth,” by the late Bishop of Lincoln. It will be observed that the poet's ardent attachment to his sister was in no degree abated, and that he ungrudgingly bestowed upon her the generous praise so much merited :

“On Nature's invitation do I come,

By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead,
That made the calmest, fairest spot on earth,
With all its unappropriated good,
My own, and not mine only, for with me
Entrenched — say rather, peacefully embowered
Under yon orchard, in yon humble cot,
A younger orphan of a home extinct,
The only daughter of my parents dwells;
Aye, think on that, my heart, and cease to stir;
Pause upon that, and let the breathing frame
No longer breathe, but all be satisfied.
Oh, if such silence be not thanks to God
For what hath been bestowed, then where, where then
Shall gratitude find rest? Mine eyes did ne'er
Fix on a lovely object, nor my mind
Take pleasure in the midst of happy thought,
But either she, whom now I have, who now
Divides with me that loved abode, was there,
Or not far off. Where'er my footsteps turned,
Her voice was like a hidden bird that sang;
The thought of her was like a flash of light
Or an unseen companionship, a breath
Or fragrance independent of the wind.
In all my goings, in the new and old
Of all my meditations, and in this
Favorite of all, in this, the most of all. ..
Embrace me, then, ye hills, and close me in.
Now, on the clear and open day I feel
Your guardianship : I take it to my heart;

'Tis like the solemn shelter of the night.
But I would call thee beautiful; for mild
And soft, and gay, and beautiful thou art,
Dear valley, having in thy face a smile,
Though peaceful, full of gladness. Thou art pleased,
Pleased with thy crags, and woody steeps, thy lake,
Its one green island, and its winding shores,
The multitude of little rocky hills,
Thy church, and cottages of mountain stone
Clustered like stars some few, but single most
And lurking dimly in their shy retreats,
Or glancing at each other cheerful looks
Like separated stars with clouds between.”

The early years of their residence at Grasmere were signalized by calm enjoyment, no less than by active industry. Miss Wordsworth's life retained its characteristic unselfishness, its devoted ministry. The cottage itself was furnished at a cost of about £100 – a legacy left to her by a relative, and their joint annual income at that time amounted to about as much. That they were still poor did not detract from their happiness, but probably served only to promote it. We find this refined, sensitive young woman (she was now twenty-eight), engaged very much in domestic duties, doing a considerable part of the work of the house, without a thought of discontent. Her poetic enthusiasm and cultured mind did not unfit her for the common duties of life, or detract from her high sense of duty and service. Happily she had learnt — as every true woman does — that there is no degradation in work; that it is not in the nature of our tasks, but the spirit in which they are performed, that the test of fitness is to be found. Notwithstanding, however, her other duties, Miss Wordsworth found time to be a true help to her brother. As his amanuensis she wrote or transcribed his poems, read to him, and accompanied him in his daily walks. She had also that rare gift of the perfect companion of being able to be silent with and for him, recognizing the apparently little-known truth that a loved presence is in itself society. In one of his poems, “ Personal Talk," he says : —

“I am not one who much or oft delight

To season my fireside with personal talk, -
Of friends, who live within an easy walk,
Or neighbors, daily, weekly, in my sight:
And, for my chance acquaintance, ladies bright,
Sons, mothers, maidens withering on the stalk,
These all wear out of me, like forms with chalk
Painted on rich men's floors, for one feast-night.
Better than such discourse doth silence long,
Long, barren silence, square with my desire;
To sit without emotion, hope, or aim,
In the loved presence of my cottage-fire,
And listen to the flapping of the flame,
Or kettle whispering its faint undersong."

In one of the MSS. notes, alluding to this sonnet, Wordsworth has said: “The last line but two stood at first better and more characteristically thus :

“By my half-kitchen and half-parlor fire,'”

And he adds: “My sister and I were in the habit of having the tea-kettle in our little sitting-room; and we toasted the bread ourselves, which reminds me of

a little circumstance, not unworthy of being set down among these minutiæ. Happening both of us to be engaged a few minutes one morning, when we had a young prig of a Scotch lawyer to breakfast with us, my dear sister, with her usual simplicity, put the toasting fork, with a slice of bread, into the hands of this Edinburgh genius. Our little book-case stood on one side of the fire. To prevent loss of time he took down a book, and fell to reading, to the neglect of the toast, which was burnt to a cinder. Many a time have we laughed at this circumstance and other cottage simplicities of that day.”

Miss Wordsworth, at this period, also kept a diary, or journal, which, we are informed, is “full of vivid descriptions of natural beauty.” The few extracts from it which the world has hitherto been allowed to see are of deep interest, affording, as they do, a pleasing picture of their daily occupations, the incidents which gave birth to many of her brother's poems, and the circumstances under which they were written. For the subject of many of them he was indebted to her ever-watchful and observant eye, and several were composed while wandering over woodland paths, by her side. The knowledge of this not only serves to remind us of the sustained character of Miss Wordsworth's directing and controlling influence upon her brother, but gives an additional interest to the poems. Thus, in her journal, she writes : “William walked to Rydal. ... The lake of Grasmere beautiful. The Church an image of peace; he wrote some lines upon it. ... The mountains indistinct; the lake calm, and

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