DOROTHY WORDSWORTH’S JOURNAL
WRITTEN AT GRASMERE
(14th May to 21st December 1800)
May 14th, 1800.—The lake looked to me, I knew not why, dull and melancholy, and the weltering on the shores seemed a heavy sound. I walked as long as I could amongst the stones of the shore. The wood rich in flowers; a beautiful yellow (palish yellow) flower, that looked thick, round, and double—the smell very sweet (I supposed it was a ranunculus), crowfoot, the grassy-leaved rabbit-looking white flower, strawberries, geraniums, scentless violets, anemones, two kinds of orchises, primroses, the heckberry very beautiful, the crab coming out as a low shrub. … I resolved to write a journal of the time…., and I set about keeping my resolve, because I will not quarrel with myself,
Friday Morning, 16th.—Warm and mild, after a fine night of rain…. The woods extremely beautiful with all autumnal variety and softness. I carried a basket for mosses, and gathered some wild plants. Oh! that we had a book of botany. All flowers now are gay and deliciously sweet. The primrose still prominent; the later flowers and the shiny foxgloves very tall, with their heads budding.
Saturday.—Incessant rain from morning till night…. Sauntered a little in the garden. The blackbird sate quietly in its nest, rocked by the wind, and beaten by the rain.
Sunday, 18th.—Went to church, slight showers, a cold air. The mountains from this window look much greener, and I think the valley is more green than ever. The corn begins to shew itself.
Tuesday Morning.—A fine mild rain…. Everything green and overflowing with life, and the streams making a perpetual song, with the thrushes, and all little birds, not forgetting the stone-chats.
Monday, May 26th.— The air and the lake were still. One cottage light in the vale, and so much of day left that I could distinguish objects, the woods, trees, and houses. Two or three different kinds of birds sang at intervals on the opposite shore. I sate till I could hardly drag myself away, I grew so sad. “When pleasant thoughts,” etc.
Saturday.—A sweet mild rainy morning. Grundy the carpet man called. I paid him £1: 10s. Went to the blind man’s for plants. I got such a load that I was obliged to leave my basket in the road, and send Molly for it….
Sunday, June 1st.—Rain in the night. A sweet mild morning. Read ballads. Went to church. Singers from Wytheburn. Walked upon the hill above the house till dinner time. Went again to church. After tea,[Pg 36] went to Ambleside, round the Lakes. A very fine warm evening. Upon the side of Loughrigg my heart dissolved in what I saw: when I was not startled, but called from my reverie by a noise as of a child paddling without shoes. I looked up, and saw a lamb close to me. It approached nearer and nearer, as if to examine me, and stood a long time. I did not move. At last, it ran past me, and went bleating along the pathway, seeming to be seeking its mother. I saw a hare on the high road….
Monday.—A cold dry windy morning. I worked in the garden, and planted flowers, etc. Sate under the trees after dinner till tea time…. I went to Ambleside after tea, crossed the stepping-stones at the foot of Grasmere, and pursued my way on the other side of Rydale and by Clappersgate. I sate a long time to watch the hurrying waves, and to hear the regularly irregular sound of the dashing waters. The waves round about the little Island seemed like a dance of spirits that rose out of the water, round its small circumference of shore.
Wednesday.— … I walked to the lake-side in the morning, took up plants, and sate upon a stone reading ballads. In the evening I was watering plants, when Mr. and Miss Simpson called, and I accompanied them home, and we went to the waterfall at the head of the valley. It was very interesting in the twilight. I brought home lemon-thyme, and several other plants, and planted them by moonlight. I lingered out of doors in the hope of hearing my brother’s tread.
Thursday.—I sate out of doors great part of the day, and worked in the garden. … birds busy making love, and pecking the blossoms and bits of moss off the trees. They flutter about and about, and beneath the trees as I lie under them.20
Friday.—Foxgloves just coming into blossom.
Monday 9th.—In the morning W. cut down the winter cherry tree. I sowed French beans and weeded. Went round to Mr. Gill’s boat, and on to the lake to fish. We caught nothing. It was extremely cold. The reeds and bullrushes or bullpipes of a tender soft green, making a plain whose surface moved with the wind. The reeds not yet tall. The lake clear to the bottom, but saw no fish. In the evening I stuck peas, watered the garden, and planted brocoli.
Sunday Morning, 3rd.— … A heavenly warm evening, with scattered clouds upon the hills. There was a vernal greenness upon the grass, from the rains of the morning and afternoon. Peas for dinner.
Monday 4th.—Rain in the night. I tied up scarlet beans, nailed the honeysuckles, etc. etc.
Sunday, 31st.— … A great deal of corn is cut in the vale, and the whole prospect, though not tinged with a general autumnal yellow, yet softened down into a mellowness of colouring, which seems to impart softness to the forms of hills and mountains.
Friday, 12th September.— … The fern of the mountains now spreads yellow veins among the trees; the coppice wood turns brown.
Wednesday, 1st October.—A fine morning, a showery night. The lake still in the morning; in the forenoon flashing light from the beams of the sun, as it was ruffled by the wind.
Wednesday.—Frequent threatening of showers. … A very mild moonlight night. Glow-worms everywhere.
Friday, 10th October.—In the morning when I arose the mists were hanging over the opposite hills, and the tops of the highest hills were covered with snow. There was a most lively combination at the head of the vale of the yellow autumnal hills wrapped in sunshine, and overhung with partial mists, the green and yellow trees, and the distant snow-topped mountains. It was a most heavenly morning. …
Sunday, October 12th.—We walked before tea by Bainriggs to observe the many-coloured foliage. The oaks dark green with yellow leaves, the birches generally still green, some near the water yellowish, the sycamore crimson and crimson-tufted, the mountain ash a deep orange, the common ash lemon-colour, but many ashes still fresh in their peculiar green, those that were discoloured chiefly near the water.
Monday, October 13th.—A grey day. Mists on the hills.
Sunday Morning.—The surface of the water quite still, like a dim mirror. The colours of the large island exquisitely beautiful, and the trees, still fresh and green, were magnified by the mists.
Tuesday.— … Tremendous wind. The snow blew from Helvellyn horizontally like smoke….
Friday, 7th November.— … The Michaelmas daisy droops, the pansies are full of flowers, the ashes still green all but one, but they have lost many of their leaves. The copses are quite brown.
Sunday, 30th November.—A very fine clear morning. Snow upon the ground everywhere. Sara and I walked towards Rydale by the upper road, and were obliged to return, because of the snow. Walked by moonlight.
DOROTHY WORDSWORTH’S JOURNAL
WRITTEN AT GRASMERE
(From 10th October 1801 to 29th December 1801)
Wednesday, 18th.— Very pleasant moonlight. The lakes beautiful. The church an image of peace. We stood there a long time, the whole scene impressive. The mountains indistinct, the Lake calm and partly ruffled. A sweet sound of water falling into the quiet Lake.39 A storm was gathering in Easedale,[Pg 65] so we returned; but the moon came out, and opened to us the church and village. Helm Crag in shade, the larger mountains dappled like a sky. We stood long upon the bridge.
Tuesday, 24th.— … It was very windy, and we heard the wind everywhere about us as we went along the lane, but the walls sheltered us. John Green’s house looked pretty under Silver How. As we were going along we were stopped at once, at the distance perhaps of 50 yards from our favourite birch tree. It was yielding to the gusty wind with all its tender twigs. The sun shone upon it, and it glanced in the wind like a flying sunshiny shower. It was a tree in shape, with stem and branches, but it was like a spirit of water. The sun went in, and it resumed its purplish appearance, the twigs still yielding to the wind, but not so visibly to us. The other birch trees that were near it looked bright and cheerful, but it was a creature by its own self among them…. We went through the wood. It became fair. There was a rainbow which spanned the lake from the island-house to the foot of Bainriggs. The village looked populous and beautiful. Catkins are coming out; palm trees budding; the alder, with its plum-coloured buds. The village looked populous and beautiful. Catkins are coming out; palm trees budding; the alder, with its plum-coloured buds. We came home over the[Pg 66] stepping-stones. The lake was foamy with white waves. I saw a solitary butter-flower in the wood….
Wednesday Morning, 9th December.— …. Mary and I walked into Easedale, and backwards and forwards in that large field under George Rawson’s white cottage. We had intended gathering mosses, and for that purpose we turned into the green lane, behind the tailor’s, but it was too dark to see the mosses. The river came galloping past the Church, as fast as it could come; and when we got into Easedale we saw Churn Milk Force, like a broad stream of snow at the little foot-bridge. We stopped to look at the company of rivers, which came hurrying down the vale, this way and that. It was a valley of streams and islands, with that great waterfall at the head, and lesser falls in different parts of the mountains, coming down to these rivers. We could hear the sound of the lesser falls, but we could not see them. We walked backwards and[Pg 70] forwards till all distant objects, except the white shape of the waterfall and the lines of the mountains, were gone. We had the crescent moon when we went out, and at our return there were a few stars that shone dimly, but it was a grey cloudy night.
Saturday, 12th.— … Snow upon the ground…. All looked cheerful and bright. Helm Crag rose very bold and craggy, a Being by itself, and behind it was the large ridge of mountain, smooth as marble and snow white. All the mountains looked like solid stone, on our left, going from Grasmere, i.e. White Moss and Nab Scar. The snow hid all the grass, and all signs of vegetation, and the rocks showed themselves boldly everywhere, and seemed more stony than rock or stone. The birches on the crags beautiful, red brown and glittering. The ashes glittering spears with their upright stems. The hips very beautiful, and so good!!
Sunday, 20th December.—It snowed all day. It was a very deep snow. The brooms were very beautiful, arched feathers with wiry stalks pointed to the end, smaller and smaller. They waved gently with the weight of the snow.
DOROTHY WORDSWORTH’S JOURNAL
WRITTEN AT GRASMERE
(From 1st January 1802 to 8th July 1802)
.Friday, 29th January.—It was a mild afternoon. There was an unusual softness in the prospects as we went, a rich yellow upon the fields, and a soft grave purple on the waters. When we returned many stars were out, the clouds were moveless, and the sky soft purple, the lake of Rydale calm, Jupiter behind. Jupiter at least we call him, but William says we always[Pg 84] call the largest star Jupiter.
Sunday, 7th.—A fine clear frosty morning. The eaves drop with the heat of the sun all day long. The ground thinly covered with snow. The road black, rocks black. Before night the island was quite green. The sun had melted all the snow.
Monday Morning, 8th February 1802.—It was very windy and rained hard all the morning.
Sunday, 14th February.—A fine morning. The sun shines out, but it has been a hard frost in the night. There are some little snowdrops that are afraid to put their white heads quite out, and a few blossoms of hepatica that are half-starved.
Tuesday, 23rd.— … When we came out of our own doors, that dear thrush was singing upon the topmost of the smooth branches of the ash tree at the top of the orchard. How long it had been perched on that same tree I cannot tell, but we had heard its dear voice in the orchard the day through, along with a cheerful undersong made by our winter friends, the robins. As we came home, I picked up a few mosses by the roadside, which I left at home. We then went to John’s Grove. There we sate a little while looking at the fading landscape. The lake, though the objects on the shore were fading, seemed brighter than when it is perfect day, and the island pushed itself upwards, distinct and large. All the shores marked. There was[Pg 95] a sweet, sea-like sound in the trees above our heads.
Tuesday.53—A fine grey morning…. I read German, and a little before dinner Wm. also read. We walked on Butterlip How under the wind. It rained all the while, but we had a pleasant walk. The mountains of Easedale, black or covered with snow at the tops, gave a peculiar softness to the valley. The clouds hid the tops of some of them. The valley was populous and enlivened with streams….
Thursday.—Rydale vale was full of life and motion. The wind blew briskly, and the lake was covered all over with bright silver waves, that were there each the twinkling of an eye, then others rose up and took their place as fast as they went away. The rocks glittered in the sunshine. The crows and the ravens were busy, and the thrushes and little birds sang. I went through the fields, and sate for an hour afraid to pass a cow. The cow looked at me, and I looked at the cow, and whenever I stirred the cow gave over eating…. A parcel came in from Birmingham, with Lamb’s play for us, and for C…. As we came along Ambleside vale in the twilight, it was a grave evening. There was something in the air that compelled me to various thoughts—the hills were large, closed in by the sky…. Night was come on, and the moon was overcast. But, as I climbed the moss, the moon came out from behind a mountain mass of black clouds. O, the unutterable darkness of the sky, and the earth below the moon, and the glorious brightness of the moon itself! There was a vivid sparkling streak of light at this end of Rydale water, but the rest was very dark, and Loughrigg Fell and Silver How were white and bright, as if they were covered with hoar frost. The moon retired again, and appeared and disappeared several times before I reached home.
Thursday, 15th.—It was a threatening, misty morning, but mild. We set off after dinner from Eusemere. Mrs. Clarkson went a short way with us, but turned back. The wind was furious, and we thought we must have returned. We first rested in the large boathouse,[Pg 106] then under a furze bush opposite Mr. Clarkson’s. Saw the plough going in the field. The wind seized our breath. The lake was rough. There was a boat by itself floating in the middle of the bay below Water Millock. We rested again in the Water Millock Lane. The hawthorns are black and green, the birches here and there greenish, but there is yet more of purple to be seen on the twigs. We got over into a field to avoid some cows—people working. A few primroses by the roadside—woodsorrel flower, the anemone, scentless violets, strawberries, and that starry, yellow flower which Mrs. C. calls pile wort. When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils close to the water-side. We fancied that the sea had floated the seeds ashore, and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more; and at last, under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew among the mossy stones about and above them; some rested their heads upon these stones, as on a pillow, for weariness; and the rest tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake; they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot, and a few stragglers higher up; but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity, unity, and life of that one busy highway.
Friday, 16th April (Good Friday).—When I undrew curtains in the morning, I was much affected by the beauty of the prospect, and the change. The sun shone, the wind had passed away, the hills looked cheerful, the river was very bright as it flowed into the lake. The church rises up behind a little knot of rocks, the steeple not so high as an ordinary three-story house. Trees in a row in the garden under the wall. The valley is at first broken by little woody knolls that make retiring places, fairy valleys in the vale, the river winds along under these hills, travelling, not in a bustle but not slowly, to the lake. … There was the gentle flowing of the stream, the glittering, lively lake, green fields without a living creature to be seen on them; behind us, a flat pasture with forty-two cattle feeding; to our left, the road leading to the hamlet. No smoke there, the sun shone on the bare roofs. The people were at work ploughing, harrowing, and sowing; … a dog barking now and then, cocks crowing, birds twittering, the snow in patches at the top of the highest hills, yellow palms, purple and green twigs on the birches, ashes with their glittering stems quite bare. The hawthorn a bright green, with black stems under the oak. The moss of the oak glossy. We went on. Passed two sisters at work (they first passed us), one with two pitchforks in her hand, the other had a spade. We had come to talk with them. They laughed long after we were gone, perhaps half in wantonness, half boldness. William finished his poem.56 Before we got to the foot of Kirkstone, there were hundreds of cattle in the vale. There we ate our dinner. The walk up Kirkstone was very interesting. The becks among the rocks were all alive. William showed me the little mossy streamlet which he had before loved when he saw its bright green track in the snow. The view above Ambleside very beautiful. There we sate and looked down on the green vale. We watched the crows at a little distance from us become white as silver as they flew in the sunshine, and when they went still further,[Pg 109] they looked like shapes of water passing over the green fields.
Saturday, 17th.—A mild warm rain. We sate in the garden all the morning. William dug a little. I transplanted a honey-suckle. The lake was still. The sheep on the island, reflected in the water, like the grey-deer we saw in Gowbarrow Park. We walked after tea by moonlight.
Wednesday, 21st.—William and I sauntered a little in the garden. Coleridge came to us, and repeated the verses he wrote to Sara. I was affected with them, and in miserable spirits.59 The sunshine, the green fields, and the fair sky made me sadder; even the little happy, sporting lambs seemed but sorrowful to me. The pile wort spread out on the grass a thousand shiny stars. The primroses were there, and the remains of a few[Pg 111] daffodils.
Thursday, 29th.— … I lay, in the trench under the fence—he with his eyes shut, and listening to the waterfalls and the birds. There was no one waterfall above another—it was a sound of waters in the air—the voice of the air. William heard me breathing, and rustling now and then, but we both lay still, and unseen by one another. He thought that it would be so sweet thus to lie in the grave, to hear the peaceful sounds of the earth, and just to know that our dear friends were near. The lake was still; there was a boat out. Silver How reflected with delicate purple and yellowish hues, as I have seen spar; lambs on the island, and running races together by the half-dozen, in the round field near us. The copses greenish, hawthorns green, … cottages smoking. As I lay down on the grass, I observed the glittering silver line on the ridge of the backs of the sheep, owing to their situation respecting the sun, which made them look beautiful, but with something of strangeness, like animals of another kind, as if belonging to a more splendid world…. I got mullins and pansies….
Friday, April 30th.—We came into the orchard directly after breakfast, and sate there. The lake was[Pg 115] calm, the day cloudy….After dinner we took up the fur gown into the Hollins above. We found a sweet seat, and thither we will often go. We spread the gown, put on each a cloak, and there we lay. William fell asleep, … I did not sleep, but lay with half-shut eyes looking at the prospect as on a vision almost, I was so resigned65 to it. Loughrigg Fell was the most distant hill, then came the lake, slipping in between the copses. Above the copse, the round swelling field; nearer to me, a wild intermixture of rocks, trees, and patches of grassy ground. When we turned the corner of our little shelter, we saw the church and the whole vale. It is a blessed place. The birds were about us on all sides. Skobbies, robins, bull-finches, and crows, now and then flew over our heads, as we were warned by the sound of the beating of the air above. We stayed till the light of day was going, and the little birds had begun to settle their singing. But there was a thrush not far off, that seemed to sing louder and clearer than the thrushes had sung when it was quite day.
Saturday, May 1st.—Rose not till half-past 8, a heavenly morning. As soon as breakfast was over, we went into the garden, and sowed the scarlet beans about the house. It was a clear sky.
I sowed the flowers, William helped me. We then went and sate in the orchard till dinner time. It was very hot. William wrote The Celandine.66 We planned a shed, for the sun was too much for us. After dinner, we went again to our old resting-place in the Hollins under the rock. We first lay under the Holly, where we saw nothing but the holly tree, and a budding elm tree mossed, with the sky above our heads. But that holly tree had a beauty about it more than its own, knowing as we did when we arose. When the sun had got low enough, we went to the Rock Shade. Oh, the overwhelming beauty of the vale below, greener than green! Two ravens flew high, high in the sky, and the sun shone upon their bellies and their wings, long after there was none of his light to be seen but a little space on the top of Loughrigg Fell. Heard the cuckoo to-day, this first of May. We went down to tea at 8 o’clock, and returned after tea. The landscape was fading: sheep and lambs quiet among the rocks. We walked towards King’s, and backwards and forwards. The sky was perfectly cloudless. N.B. it is often so. Three solitary stars in the middle of the blue vault, one or two on the points of the high hills.
Tuesday, 4th May.—William and I ate luncheon, and then went on towards the waterfall. It is a glorious[Pg 117] wild solitude under that lofty purple crag. It stood upright by itself; its own self, and its shadow below, one mass; all else was sunshine. We went on further. A bird at the top of the crag was flying round and round, and looked in thinness and transparency, shape and motion like a moth…. We climbed the hill, but looked in vain for a shade, except at the foot of the great waterfall. We came down, and rested upon a moss-covered rock rising out of the bed of the river. There we lay, ate our dinner, and stayed there till about four o’clock or later. William and Coleridge repeated and read verses. I drank a little brandy and water, and was in heaven. The stag’s horn is very beautiful and fresh, springing upon the fells; mountain ashes, green.
Wednesday, 5th May.—A very fine morning, rather cooler than yesterday. We planted three-fourths of the bower. I made bread. We sate in the orchard. The thrush sang all day, as he always sings. I wrote to the Hutchinsons, and to Coleridge. Packed off Thalaba. William had kept off work till near bed-time, when we returned from our walk. Then he began again, and went to bed very nervous. We walked in the twilight, and walked till night came on. The moon had the old moon in her arms, but not so plain to be seen as the night before. When we went to bed it was a boat without the circle. I read The Lover’s Complaint to William in bed, and left him composed.
Thursday, 6th May.—A sweet morning. We have put the finishing stroke to our bower, and here we are sitting in the orchard. It is one o’clock. We are sitting upon a seat under the wall, which I found my brother building up, when I came to him…. He had intended that it should have been done before I came. It is a nice, cool, shady spot. The small birds are singing, lambs bleating, cuckoos calling, the thrush sings by fits, Thomas Ashburner’s axe is going quietly (without passion) in the orchard, hens are cackling, flies humming, the women talking together at their doors, plum and pear trees are in blossom—apple trees greenish—the opposite woods green, the crows are cawing, we have heard ravens, the ash trees are in blossom, birds flying all about us, the stitchwort is coming out, there is one budding lychnis, the primroses are passing their prime, celandine, violets, and wood sorrel for ever more, little geraniums and pansies on the wall. We walked in the evening to Tail End, to inquire about hurdles for the orchard shed…. When we came in we found a magazine, and review, and a letter from Coleridge, verses to Hartley, and Sara H. We read the review, etc. The moon was a perfect boat, a silver boat, when we were out in the evening. The birch tree is all over green in small leaf, more light and elegant than when it is full[Pg 119] out. It bent to the breezes, as if for the love of its own delightful motions. Sloe-thorns and hawthorns in the hedges.
Wednesday, 12th May.—A sunshiny, but coldish morning. We walked into Easedale…. We brought home heckberry blossom, crab blossom, the anemone nemorosa, marsh marigold, speedwell,—that beautiful blue one, the colour of the blue-stone or glass used in jewellery—with the beautiful pearl-like chives. Anemones are in abundance, and still the dear dear primroses, violets in beds, pansies in abundance, and the little celandine. I pulled a bunch of the taller celandine. Butterflies of all colours. I often see some small ones of a pale purple lilac, or emperor’s eye colour, something of the colour of that large geranium which grows by the lake side…. William pulled ivy with beautiful berries. I put it over the chimney-piece. Sate in the orchard the hour before dinner, coldish….
Friday, 14th May.—A very cold morning—hail and snow showers all day. We went to Brothers wood, intending to get plants, and to go along the shore of the lake to the foot. We did go a part of the way, but there was no pleasure in stepping along that difficult sauntering road in this ungenial weather. We turned again, and walked backwards and forwards in Brothers wood. William tired himself with seeking an epithet for the cuckoo. I sate a while upon my last summer seat, the mossy stone. William’s, unoccupied, beside me, and the space between, where Coleridge has so often lain. The oak trees are just putting forth yellow knots of leaves. The ashes with their flowers passing away, and leaves coming out; the blue hyacinth is not quite full blown; gowans are coming out; marsh marigolds in full glory; the little star plant, a star without a flower. We took home a great load of gowans, and planted them about the orchard. After dinner, I worked bread, then came and mended stockings beside William; he fell asleep. After tea I walked to Rydale for letters. It was a strange night. The hills were covered over with a slight covering of hail or snow, just so as to give them a hoary winter look with the black rocks. The woods looked miserable, the coppices green as grass, which looked quite unnatural, and they seemed half shrivelled up, as if they shrank from the air. O, thought I! what a beautiful thing God has made winter to be, by stripping the trees, and letting us see their shapes and forms. What a freedom does it seem to give to the storms! There were several new flowers out, but I had no pleasure in looking at them.
S. T. Coleridge.
Dorothy Wordsworth. William Wordsworth.
Mary Hutchinson. Sara Hutchinson.
William. Coleridge. Mary.
Friday, 28th.— …We sate in the orchard. The sky cloudy, the air sweet and cool. The young bullfinches, in their party-coloured raiment, bustle about among the blossoms, and poise themselves like wire-dancers or tumblers, shaking the twigs and dashing off the blossoms.68 There is yet one primrose in the orchard. The stitchwort is fading. The vetches are in abundance, blossoming and seeding. That pretty little wavy-looking dial-like yellow flower, the speedwell, and some others, whose names I do not yet know. The wild columbines are coming into beauty; some of the gowans fading. In the garden we have lilies, and many other flowers. The scarlet beans are up in crowds. It is now between eight and nine o’clock. It has rained sweetly for two hours and a half; the air is very mild. The heckberry blossoms are[Pg 125] dropping off fast, almost gone; barberries are in beauty; snowballs coming forward; May roses blossoming.
Tuesday.—A very sweet day, but a sad want of rain. We went into the orchard after I had written to M. H. Then on to Mr. Olliff’s intake…. The columbine was growing upon the rocks; here and there a solitary plant, sheltered and shaded by the tufts and bowers of trees. It is a graceful slender creature, a female seeking retirement, and growing freest and most graceful where it is most alone. I observed that the more shaded plants were always the tallest.
Wednesday, 2nd June.—In the morning we observed that the scarlet beans were drooping in the leaves in great numbers, owing, we guess, to an insect….
Thursday, 3rd June 1802.—A very fine rain. I lay in my bed till ten o’clock. … The cuckoo sang, and we watched the little birds as we sate at the door of the cow-house.
… William is now sleeping with the window open, lying on the window seat. The thrush is singing. There are, I do believe, a thousand buds on the honeysuckle tree, all small and far from blowing, save one that is retired behind the twigs close to the wall, and as snug as a bird nest. John’s rose tree is very beautiful, blended with the honeysuckle.
Tuesday, 8th June.—The laburnums blossom freely at the island, and in the shrubberies on the shore; they are blighted everywhere else. Roses of various sorts now out. The brooms were in full glory everywhere, “veins of gold” among the copses. The hawthorns in the valley fading away; beautiful upon the hills.
Wednesday, 9th June.— … The hawthorns on the mountain sides like orchards in blossom….
Tuesday, 15th.—A sweet grey, mild morning. The birds sing soft and low. …After William rose we went and sate in the orchard till dinner time. We walked a long time in the evening upon our favourite path; the owls hooted, the night[Pg 131] hawk sang to itself incessantly, but there were no little birds, no thrushes.
Wednesday, 16th.—I do not now see the brownness that was in the coppices. The bower hawthorn blossoms passed away. Those on the hills are a faint white. The wild guelder-rose is coming out, and the wild roses. I have seen no honey-suckles yet…. Foxgloves are now frequent.
Saturday, 19th.—The swallows were very busy under my window this morning….I heard the birds singing. There was our own thrush, shouting with an impatient shout; so it sounded to me. The morning was still, the twittering of the little birds was very gloomy. The owls had hooted a quarter of an hour before, now the cocks were crowing, it was near daylight, I put out my candle, and went to bed…
Sunday, 20th.— … We were in the orchard a great part of the morning. After tea we walked upon our own path for a long time. We talked sweetly together about the disposal of our riches. We lay upon the sloping turf. Earth and sky were so lovely that they melted our very hearts. The sky to the north was of a chastened yet rich yellow, fading into pale blue, and streaked and scattered over with steady islands of purple, melting away into shades of pink. It was like a vision to me….
Friday, 25th June.— … I went, just before tea, into the garden. I looked up at my swallow’s nest, and it was gone. It had fallen down. Poor little creatures, they could not themselves be more distressed than I was. I went upstairs to look at the ruins. They lay in a large heap upon the window ledge; these swallows had been ten days employed in building this nest, and it seemed to be almost finished. I had watched them early in the morning, in the day many and many a time, and in the evenings when it was almost dark. I had seen them sitting together side by side in their unfinished nest, both morning and night. When they first came about the window they used to hang against the panes, with their white bellies and their forked tails, looking like fish; but then they fluttered and sang their own little twittering song. As soon as the nest was broad enough, a sort of ledge for them, they sate both mornings and evenings, but they did not pass the night there. I watched them one morning, when William was at Eusemere, for more than an hour. Every now and then there was a motion in their wings, a sort of tremulousness, and they sang a low song to one another.
DOROTHY WORDSWORTH’S JOURNAL
WRITTEN AT GRASMERE
(9th July 1802 to 11th January 1803)
24th December.—Christmas Eve.
[the next day – Christmas. Dorothy Wordsworth was born on Christmas Day[ It was not an unpleasant morning…. The sun shone now and then, and there was no wind, but all things looked cheerless and distinct; no meltings of sky into mountains, the mountains like stone work wrought up with huge hammers. Last Sunday was as mild a day as I ever remember…. Mary and I went round the lakes. There were flowers of various kinds—the topmost bell of a foxglove, geraniums, daisies, a buttercup in the water (but this I saw two or three days before), small yellow flowers (I do not know their name) in the turf. A large bunch of strawberry blossoms…. It is Christmas Day, Saturday, 25th December 1802. I am thirty-one years of age. It is a dull, frosty day.
Friday, the 7th, he and Sara went to Keswick. W. accompanied them to the foot of Wytheburn…. It was a gentle[Pg 158] day, and when William and I returned home just before sunset, it was a heavenly evening. A soft sky was among the hills, and a summer sunshine above, and blending with this sky, for it was more like sky than clouds; the turf looked warm and soft.