The English Lake District by

[Illustration: Cover]


Mere under mountain lone, like a moat under lowering ramparts; Garrulous petulant beck, sinister laughterless tarn; Haunt of the vagabond feet of my fancy for ever reverting, Haunt of this vagabond heart, Cumbrian valleys and fells; You that enchant all ears with the manifold tones of silence, You that around me, in youth, magical filaments wove; You were my earliest possession, and when shall its fealty falter? Ah, when Helvellyn is low! ah, when Winander is dry!



Quotation & Picture Series




A. & C. BLACK, LTD. 4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON 1915

My thanks are due to the following authors and publishers who have kindly granted permission for the inclusion of copyright poems and extracts: to Mr William Watson, for extracts from "Wordsworth's Grave" and "Lakeland Once More"; to Messrs Macmillan & Co., Ltd., for lines by Matthew Arnold on "Wordsworth's Grave" and an extract from his poem entitled "Resignation"; to the Ruskin Literary Trustees and their publishers, Messrs George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., for two extracts from "Modern Painters"; to Mrs W. G. Collingwood and Messrs Methuen & Co., Ltd., for an extract from "The Life of John Ruskin"; to Mrs F. W. H. Myers and Messrs Longmans, Green & Co., for a poem from "Fragments of Prose and Poetry" by F. W. H. Myers; and also to Messrs Longmans, Green & Co., for an extract from the "Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey" by the Rev. C. Southey.

J. B. R.


Windermere from Wansfell . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

Dove Cottage, Grasmere

Grasmere--Evening Sun

Grasmere Church

Stepping Stones, Far Easedale, Grasmere

Dungeon Ghyll Force

Blea Tarn and Langdale Pikes

Brantwood, Coniston Lake

Ullswater from Gowbarrow Park

Thirlmere and Helvellyn

Raven Crag, Thirlmere

Derwentwater from Castle Head

Lodore and Derwentwater

Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake

Wastwater and Scawfell

Silvery Duddon


This was the home of Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy from December 1799 to May 1808. When Wordsworth left the cottage for two months in 1802 on the occasion of his honeymoon he wrote "A Farewell," which begins:--

"Farewell, thou little nook of mountain ground, Thou rocky corner in the lowest stair Of that magnificent temple which doth bound One side of our whole vale with grandeur rare; Sweet garden-orchard, eminently fair, The lovliest spot that man hath ever found, Farewell!--we leave thee to Heaven's peaceful care, Thee, and the Cottage which thou dost surround.

De Quincey also lived at Dove Cottage from 1809-1816. He has described it as follows:--

Let the cottage be a real cottage, in fact (for I must abide by the actual scene), a white cottage, embowered with flowering shrubs, so chosen as to unfold a succession of flowers upon the walls, and clustering round the windows through all months of spring, summer, and autumn--beginning, in fact, with May roses, and ending with jasmine.



There are many descriptions in Dorothy Wordsworth's journal of Grasmere and Rydal Waters of which the following extracts are typical:--

SATURDAY, 26th (December 1801)....

We walked to Rydale. Grasmere Lake a beautiful image of stillness, clear as glass, reflecting all things. The wind was up, and the waters sounding. The lake of a rich purple, the fields a soft yellow, the island yellowish-green, the copses red-brown, the mountains purple, the church and buildings how quiet they were!

Sunday, 31st (January 1802).... We walked round the two lakes. Grasmere was very soft, and Rydale was extremely beautiful from the western side. Nab Scar was just topped by a cloud which, cutting it off as high as it could be cut off, made the mountain look uncommonly lofty. We sate down a long time with different plans. I always love to walk that way, because it is the way I first came to Rydale and Grasmere, and because our dear Coleridge did also. When I came with Wm., 6 and ½ years ago, it was just at sunset. There was a rich yellow light on the waters, and the islands were reflected there. To-day it was grave and soft but not perfectly calm.

[Illustration: GRASMERE--EVENING SUN.]


In the churchyard are the graves of Wordsworth, his wife, son, daughter, and two children who died in infancy, as well as of his sister Dorothy.

The old rude church, with bare, bald tower, is here; Beneath its shadow high-born Rotha flows; Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near, And with cool murmur lulling his repose.

Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near. His hills, his lakes, his streams are with him yet. Surely the heart that reads her own heart clear Nature forgets not soon: 'tis we forget.

_Wordsworth's Grave_, WILLIAM WATSON.

Keep fresh the grass upon his grave, O Rotha, with thy living wave, Sing him thy best! for few or none Hear thy voice right, now he is gone.

_Memorial Verses_, MATTHEW ARNOLD.

[Illustration: GRASMERE CHURCH.]


A gate swings to! our tide hath flow'd Already from the silent road. The valley-pastures, one by one, Are threaded, quiet in the sun; And now beyond the rude stone bridge Slopes gracious up the western ridge. Its woody border, and the last Of its dark upland farms is past-- Cool farms, with open-lying stores, Under their burnish'd sycamores; All past! and through the trees we glide, Emerging on the green hill-side. There climbing hangs, a far-seen sign, Our wavering, many-colour'd line; There winds, upstreaming slowly still Over the summit of the hill And now, in front, behold outspread Those upper regions we must tread! Mid hollows, and clear heathy swells, The cheerful silence of the fells. Some two hours' march with serious air, Through the deep noontide heats we fare; The red-grouse, springing at our sound, Skims, now and then, the shining ground; No life, save his and ours, intrudes Upon these breathless solitudes.

_Resignation_, MATTHEW ARNOLD.



This spot is the scene of the lamb's rescue described by Wordsworth in the "Idle Shepherd-boys."

It was a spot which you may see If ever you to Langdale go; Into a chasm a mighty block Hath fallen, and made a bridge of rock: The gulf is deep below; And, in a basin black and small, Receives a lofty waterfall.

With staff in hand across the cleft The challenger pursued his march; And now, all eyes and feet, hath gained The middle of the arch. When list! he hears a piteous moan-- Again!--his heart within him dies-- His pulse is stopped, his breath is lost, He totters, pallid as a ghost, And, looking down, espies A lamb, that in the pool is pent Within that black and frightful rent.

* * * * *

When he had learnt what thing it was, That sent this rueful cry; I ween The boy recovered heart, and told The sight which he had seen.

* * * * *

And there the helpless lamb he found By those huge rocks encompassed round.

[Illustration: DUNGEON GHYLL FORCE.]


There is a power to bless In hill-side loneliness, In tarns and dreary places, A virtue in the brook, A freshness in the look Of mountain's joyless faces.

* * * * *

And so when life is dull, Or when my heart is full Because coy dreams have frowned, I wander up the rills To stones and tarns and hills,-- I go there to be crowned.


Ye mountains and ye lakes, And sounding cataracts, ye mists and winds That dwell among the hills where I was born, If in my youth I have been pure in heart, If, mingling with the world I am content With my own modest pleasures, and have lived With God and Nature communing, removed From little enmities and low desires-- The gift is yours.

_The Prelude_, WORDSWORTH.



Brantwood was the home of John Ruskin during the latter years of his life. Mr W. G. Collingwood in his life of Ruskin has described the journey to Brantwood, as it was in Ruskin's time, as follows:--

After changing and changing trains, and stopping at many a roadside station, at last you see suddenly, over the wild undulating country, the Coniston Old Man--maen, stone: a survival of Celtic Cumbria--and its crags, abrupt on the left, and the lake, long and narrow, on the right. Across the water, tiny in the distance and quite alone amongst forests and moors, there is Brantwood; and beyond it everything seems uncultivated, uninhabited, except for one grey farmhouse high on the fell, where gaps in the ragged larches show how bleak and storm-swept a spot it is.... You drive up and down a narrow, hilly lane, catching peeps of mountains and sunset through thick, overhanging trees; you turn sharp up through a gate under dark firs and larches; and the carriage stops in what seems in the twilight a sort of court--a gravelled space, one side formed by a rough stone wall crowned with laurels and almost precipitous coppice, the brant (or steep) wood above, and the rest is Brantwood with a capital B.

Chapter vi. Vol. ii. _The Life and Work of John Ruskin_. W. G. Collingwood.



On April 15th, 1802, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visited this lake, and, near Gowbarrow Park, saw the daffodils which he has described in the following poem, and she in her diary.

I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of the bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed--and gazed--but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.



In the spring of 1805 a gentleman perished by losing his way on Helvellyn. His remains were not discovered till three months afterwards, when they were found guarded by his dog. Sir W. Scott visited the Lake District later on in the same year and composed the following poem:--

I climb'd the dark brow of mighty Helvellyn, Lakes and mountains beneath me gleam'd misty and wide; All was still, save by fits, when the eagle was yelling, And starting around me the echoes replied. On the right, Striden-edge round the Red-tarn was bending, And Catchedicam its left verge was defending, One huge nameless rock in the front was ascending, When I mark'd the sad spot where the wanderer had died.

Dark green was that spot 'mid the brown mountain-heather, Where the Pilgrim of Nature lay stretch'd in decay, Like the corpse of an outcast abandon'd to weather, Till the mountain winds wasted the tenantless clay. Not yet quite deserted, though lonely extended, For, faithful in death, his mute favourite attended, The much-loved remains of her master defended, And chased the hill-fox and the raven away.

_Helvellyn_, SCOTT.



They seem to have been built for the human race, as at once their schools and cathedrals; full of treasures of illuminated manuscript for the scholar, kindly in simple lessons to the worker, quiet in pale cloisters for the thinker, glorious in holiness for the worshipper.

_Modern Painters, Vol. iv.,_ RUSKIN.

O rock and torrent, lake and hill, Halls of a home austerely still, Remote and solemn view! O valley, where the wanderer sees Beyond the towering arch of trees Helvellyn and the blue!

Great Nature! on our love was shed From thine abiding goodlihead Majestic fostering; We wondered, half afraid to own In hardly-conscious hearts upgrown So infinite a thing.

Within, without, whate'er hath been, In cosmic deeps the immortal scene Is mirrored, and shall last:-- Live the long looks, the woodland ways, That twilight of enchanted days,-- The imperishable Past.


[Illustration: RAVEN CRAG, THIRLMERE.]


Once more, O Derwent! to thy awful shores I come, insatiate of the accustomed sight, And, listening as the eternal torrent roars, Drink in with eye and ear a fresh delight; For I have wandered far by land and sea, In all my wanderings still remembering thee.



The first thing which I remember, as an event in life, was being taken by my nurse to the brow of Friar's Crag on Derwentwater; the intense joy mingled with awe, that I had in looking through the hollows in the mossy roots, over the crag, into the dark lake, has associated itself more or less with all twining roots of trees ever since.

_Modern Painters, Volume iii.,_ RUSKIN.

[Illustration: DERWENTWATER FROM CASTLE HEAD. This view is taken looking up Borrowdale, with Lodore in the centre of the picture. Friar's Crag is just outside the view to the right of the foreground.]



How does the water Come down at Lodore? My little boy ask'd me Thus, once on a time; And moreover he task'd me To tell him in rhyme.

* * * * *

Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting, Delaying and straying and playing and spraying, Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling, And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming, And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing, And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping, And curling and whirling and purling and twirling, And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping, And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing; And so never ending, but always descending, Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending, All at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar, And this way the water comes down at Lodore.




Greta Hall, which was the residence of S. T. Coleridge from 1800 to 1804 and for a short time in 1806, as well as of R. Southey from Sept. 1803 to his death in March 1843, commands a view of both these lakes. Coleridge in a letter to Southey from Greta Hall, dated 13th April 1801, describes the situation of the house as follows:--

Behind the house is an orchard, and a small wood on a steep slope, at the foot of which flows the river Greta, which winds round and catches the evening lights in the front of the house. In front we have a giant's camp--an encamped army of tent-like mountains, which, by an inverted arch, gives a view of another vale. On our right the lovely vale and the wedge-shaped lake of Bassenthwaite; and on our left Derwentwater and Lodore in view, and the fantastic mountains of Borrowdale. Behind us the massy Skiddaw, smooth, green, high, with two chasms and a tent-like ridge in the larger. A fairer scene you have not seen in all your wanderings.

_Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey_, By the REV. C. SOUTHEY.



There is a lake hid far among the hills, That raves around the throne of solitude, Not fed by gentle streams, or playful rills, But headlong cataract and rushing flood. There gleam no lovely hues of hanging wood, No spot of sunshine lights her sullen side; For horror shaped the wild in wrathful mood, And o'er the tempest heaved the mountains' pride.

Written, on the banks of Wastwater during a storm, by CHRISTOPHER NORTH (Professor Wilson).


I stood upon the mountain, whose vast brow Looks down his four concentrate vales below; Here Esk smiles coyly thro' his woody glade; There Wastdale's chaos flings its length of shade; Next in bright contrast with that gloomy vale, The life and loveliness of Borrowdale; And last, that wild and deep and swampy dell, Where Langdale's summits frown upon Bowfell.

_Storm on Scawfell_, T. E. HANKINSON.



Return Content! for fondly I pursued, Even when a child, the Streams--unheard, unseen; Through tangled woods, impending rocks between; Or, free as air, with flying inquest viewed The sullen reservoirs whence their bold brood-- Pure as the morning, fretful, boisterous, keen, Green as the salt-sea billows, white and green-- Poured down the hills, a choral multitude!

* * * * *

Still glides the Stream, and shall for ever glide; The Form remains, the Function never dies; While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise, We Men, who in our morn of youth defied The elements, must vanish;--be it so! Enough if something from our hands have power To live, and act, and serve the future hour; And if, as toward the silent tomb we go, Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower, We feel that we are greater than we know.

_The River Duddon_, WORDSWORTH.

[Illustration: SILVERY DUDDON.]