Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

even as a floor. I call it a village; but it is no village at all, all the dwellings standing apart, each in its own little domain, and each, I believe, with its own little lane leading to it, independently of the rest. Most of these are old cottages, plastered white, with antique porches, and roses and other vines trained against them, and shrubbery growing about them; and some are covered with ivy. There are a few edifices of more pretension and of modern build, but not so strikingly as to put the rest out of countenance. The post-office, when we found it, proved to be an ivied cottage, with a good deal of shrubbery round it, having its own pathway, like the other cottages. The whole looks like a real seclusion, shut out from the great world by these encircling hills, on the sides of which, whenever they are not too steep, you see the division-lines of property, and tokens of cultivation, — taking from them their pretensions to savage majesty, but bringing them nearer to the heart of man. Since writing the above, I have been again with S- to see Wordsworth's grave, and, finding the door of the church open, we went in. A woman and little girl were sweeping at the farther end, and the woman came towards us out of the cloud of dust which she had raised. We were surprised at the extremely antique appearance of the church. It is paved with bluish-gray flagstones, over which uncounted generations have trodden, leaving the floor as well laid as ever. The walls are very thick, and the arched windows open through them at a considerable distance above the floor. And down through the centre of the church runs a row of five arches, very rude and round-headed, all of rough stone, supported by rough and massive pillars, or rather square stone blocks, which stand in the pews, and stood in the same places, probably, long before the wood of those pews began to grow. Above this row of arches is another row, built upon the same mass of stone, and almost as broad, but lower; and on this

upper row rests the framework, the oaken beams, the black skeleton of the roof. It is a very clumsy contrivance for supporting the roof, and if it were modern we certainly should condemn it as very ugly; but being the relic of a simple age, it comes in well with the antique simplicity of the whole structure. The roof goes up, barn-like, into its natural angle, and all the rafters and cross-beams are visible. There is an old font; and in the chancel is a niche, where, judging from a similar one in Furness Abbey, the holy water used to

be placed for the priest's use while cel

ebrating mass. Around the inside of the porch is a stone bench, placed against the wall, narrow and uneasy, but where a great many people had sat who now have found quieter restingplaces. The woman was a very intelligentlooking person, not of the usual English ruddiness, but rather thin and somewhat pale, though bright of aspect. Her way of talking was very agreeable. She inquired if we wished to see Wordsworth's monument, and at once showed it to us, -a slab of white marble fixed against the upper end of the central row of stone arches, with a pretty long inscription, and a profile bust, in bas-relief, of his aged countenance. The monument is placed directly over Wordsworth's pew, and . could best be seen and read from the very corner-seat where he used to sit. The pew is one of those occupying the centre of the church, and is just across the aisle from the pulpit, and is the best of all for the purpose of seeing and hearing the clergyman, and likewise as convenient as any, from its neighborhood to the altar. On the other side of the aisle, beneath the pulpit, is Lady Fleming's pew. This and one or two others are curtained; Wordsworth's was not. I think I can bring up his image in that corner seat of his pew— a white-headed, tall, spare man, plain in aspect—better than in any other situation. The woman said that she had known him very well, and that he had made some verses on a sister of

hers. She repeated the first lines, something about a lamb; but neither S— nor I remembered them. On the walls of the chancel there are monuments to the Flemings, and painted escutcheons of their arms; and along the side walls also, and on the square pillars of the row of arches, there are other monuments, generally of white marble, with the letters of the inscription blackened. On these pillars, likewise, and in many places in the walls, were hung verses from Scripture, painted on boards. At one of the doors was a poor-box, an elaborately carved little box of oak, with the date 1648, and the name of the church—St. Oswald's – upon it. The whole interior of the edifice was plain, simple, almost to grimness, – or would have been so, only that the foolish church-wardens, or other authority, have washed it over with the same buff color with which they have overlaid the exterior. It is a pity; it lightens it up, and desecrates it horribly, especially as the woman says that there were formerly paintings on the walls, now obliterated forever. I could have stayed in the old church much longer, and could write much more about it, but there must be an end to everything. Pacing it from the farther end to the elevation before the altar, I found that it was twenty-five paces long. On lookin: again at the Rothay, I find I did it some injustice; for at the bridge, in its present swollen state, it is nearer twenty yards than twenty feet across. Its waters are very clear, and it rushes along with a speed which is delightful to see, after an acquaintance with the muddy and sluggish Avon and Leam. Since tea, I have taken a stroll from the hotel in a different direction from usual, and passed the Swan Inn, where Scott used to go daily to get a draught of liquor when he was visiting Wordsworth, who had no wine nor other inspiriting fluid in his house. It stands directly on the wayside, a small, whitewashed house, with an addition in the rear that seems to have been built since Scott's time. On the door is the paint

ed sign of a swan, –and the name “Scott's Swan Hotel.” I walked a considerable distance beyond it; but a shower coming up, I turned back, entered the inn, and, following the mistress into a snuglittle room, was served with a glass of bitter ale. It is a very plain and homely inn, and certainly could not have satisfied Scott's wants, if he had required anything very farfetched or delicate in his potations. I found two Westmoreland peasants in the room with ale before them. One went away almost immediately; but the other remained, and, entering into conversation with him, he told me that he was going to New Zealand, and expected to sail in September. I announced myself as an American, and he said that a large party had lately gone from hereabouts to America; but he seemed not to understand that there was any distinction between Canada and the States. These people had gone to Quebec. He was a very civil, well-behaved, kindly sort of person, of a simple character, which I took to belong to the class and locality, rather than to himself individually. I could not very well understand all that he said, owing to his provincial dialect; and when he spoke to his own countrymen, or to the women of the house, I really could but just catch a word here and there. How long it takes to melt English down into a homogeneous mass! He told me that there was a public library in Grasmere, to which he has access in common with the other inhabitants, and a reading-room connected with it, where he reads the “Times” in the evening. There was no American smartness in his mind. When I left the house, it was showering briskly; but the drops quite ceased, and the clouds began to break away, before I reached my hotel, and I saw the new moon over my right shoulder.

July 21.-We left Grasmere yesterday, after breakfast, it being a delightful morning, with some clouds, but the cheerfullest sunshine on great part of the mountain-sides and on ourselves. We returned, in the first place, to Ambleside, along the border of Grasmere Lake, which would be a pretty little piece of water, with its steep and highsurrounding hills, were it not that a stubborn and straight-lined stone fence, running along the eastern shore, by the roadside, quite spoils its appearance. Rydal water, though nothing can make a lake of it, looked prettier and less diminutive than at the first view ; and, in fact, I find that it is impossible to know accurately how any prospect or other thing looks until after at least a second view, which always essentially corrects the first. This, I think, is especially true in regard to objects which we have heard much about, and exercised our imagination upon; the first view being a vain attempt to reconcile our idea

with the reality, and at the second we

begin to accept the thing for what it really is. Wordsworth's situation is really a beautiful one; and Nab Scaur behind his house rises with a grand, protecting air. We passed Nab's cottage, in which De Quincey formerly lived, and where Hartley Coleridge lived and died. It is a small, buff-tinted, plastered, stone cottage, immediately on the roadside, and originally, I should think, of a very humble class; but it now looks as if persons of taste might some time or other have sat down in it, and caused flowers to spring up about it. It is very agreeably situated, under the great, precipitous hill, and with Rydal water close at hand, on the other side of the road. An advertisement of lodgings to let was put up on this cottage.

I question whether any part of the world looks so beautiful as England— this part of England, at least—on a fine summer morning. It makes one think the more cheerfully of human life to see such a bright, universal verdure; such sweet, rural, peaceful, flower-bordered cottages, – not cottages of gentility, but dwellings of the laboring poor; such nice villas along the roadside, so tastefully contrived for comfort and beauty, and adorned more and more, year after year, with the care and afterthought of people who mean to live in them a great while, and feel as if their children might live in them also. And so they plant trees to overshadow their walks, and train ivy and all beautiful vines up against their walls, — and thus live for the future in another sense than we Americans do. And the climate helps them out, and makes everything moist and green, and full of tender life, instead of dry and arid, as human life

and vegetable life are so apt to be with

us. Certainly, England can present a more attractive face than we can, even in its humbler modes of life, – to say nothing of the beautiful lives that might be led, one would think, by the higher classes, whose gateways, with broad, smooth gravelled drives leading through them, one sees every mile or two along the road, winding into some proud seclusion. All this is passing away, and society must assume new relations; but there is no harm in believing that there has been something very good in English life, – good for all classes, while the world was in a state out of which these forms naturally grew.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

“Take, my bird, O take some other
Eve than this to twitter gay!"
Sayeth, prayeth Mona's mother,
To the slender-throated swallow
On her nest of sticks and clay;
For her sad eyes needs must follow
Down the misty, mint-sweet hollow,
Where the ruby colors play
With the gold, and with the gray.
“Yet, my little Lady-feather,
You do well to sit and sing."
Crieth, sigheth Mona's mother.
“If you would, you could no other.
Can the leaf fail with the spring 2
Can the tendril stay from twining
When the sap begins to run?
Or the dew-drop keep from shining
With her body full o' the sun ?
Nor can you, from gladness, either;
Therefore, you do well to sing:
Up and o'er the downy lining

Of your bird-bed I can see
Two round little heads together,
Pushed out softly through your wing.

But alas ! my bird, for me!”

In the porch with roses burning
All across, she sitteth lonely.
O, her soul is dark with dread!
Round and round her slow wheel turning,
Lady brow down-dropped serenely,
Lady hand uplifted queenly,
Pausing in the spinning only
To rejoin the broken thread, -
Pausing only for the winding,
With the carded silken binding
Of the flax, the distaff-head.

All along the branches creeping,
To their leafy beds of sleeping
Go the blue-birds and the brown;
Blackbird stoppeth now his clamor,
And the little yellowhammer
Droppeth head in winglet down.
Now the rocks rise bleak and barren
Through the twilight, gray and still;
In the marsh-land now the heron
Clappeth close his horny bill.
Death-watch now begins his drumming,
And the fire-fly, going, coming,
Weaveth zigzag lines of light, L
Lines of zigzag, golden-threaded,
Up the marshy valley, shaded
O'er and o'er with vapors white.
Now the lily, open-hearted,
Of her dragon-fly deserted,
Swinging on the wind so low,
Gives herself, with trust audacious,
To the wild warm wave that washes
Through her fingers, soft and slow.

O the eyes of Mona's mother!
Dim they grow with tears unshed;
For no longer may they follow
Down the misty mint-sweet hollow,
Down along the yellow mosses
That the brook with silver crosses.
Ah! the day is dead, is dead;
And the cold and curdling shadows,
Stretching from the long, low meadows,
Darker, deeper, nearer spread,
Till she cannot see the twining
Of the briers, nor see the lining
Round the porch of roses red,—

« ElőzőTovább »