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advantage over them, that it remains wholly free from intrusive objects. We saw it early in the morning; and with the greenness of the meadows at its head, the steep rocks on one of its shores, and the bold mountains at both extremities, a feature almost peculiar to itself, it appeared to us truly enchanting. The village of Bethgelart is much altered for the worse : new and formal houses have, in a great measure, supplanted the old rugged and tufted cottages, and a smart hotel has taken the lead of the lowly public-house in which I took refreshment almost thirty years ago, previous to a midnight ascent to the summit of Snowdon. At B. we were agreeably surprised by the appearance of Mr. Hare, of New College, Oxford. We slept at Tan-y-bylch, having employed the afternoon in exploring the beauties of the vale of Festiniog. Next day to Barmouth, whence, the following morning, we took boat and rowed up its sublime estuary, which may compare with the finest of Scotland, having the advantage of a superior climate. From Dolgelly we went to Tal-y-llyn, a solitary and very interesting lake under
y Cader Idris. Next day, being Sunday, we heard service performed in Welsh, and in the afternoon went part of the way down a beautiful valley to Machynleth, next morning to Aberyst
a with, and up the Rhydiol to the Devil's Bridge, where we passed the following day in exploring those two rivers, and Hafod in the neighbourhood. I had seen these things long ago, but either my memory or my powers of observation had not done them justice. It rained heavily in the night, and we saw the waterfalls in perfection. While Dora was attempting to make a sketch from the chasm in the rain, I composed by her side the following address to the torrent:
How art thou named ? In search of what strange land,
Of water issue from a British source ? Next day, viz. last Wednesday, we reached this place, and found all our friends well, except our good and valuable friend, Mr. Monkhouse, who is here, and in a very alarming state of health. His physicians have ordered him to pass the winter in Devonshire, fearing a consumption ; but he is certainly not suffering under a regular hectic pulmonary decline : his pulse is good, so is his appetite, and he has no fever, but is deplorably emaciated. He is a near relation of Mrs. W., and one, as you know, of my best friends.
I hope to see Mr. Price, at Foxley, in a few days. Mrs. W.'s brother is about to change his present residence for a farm close by Foxley.
Now, my dear Sir George, what chance is there of your being in Wales during any part of the autumn ? I would strain a point to meet you anywhere, were it only for a couple of days. Write immediately, or should you be absent without Lady B. she will have the goodness to tell me of your movements. I saw the Lowthers just before I set off, all well. You probably have heard from my sister. It is time to make an end of this long letter, which might have been somewhat less dry if I had not wished to make you master of our whole route. Except ascending one of the high mountains, Snowdon or Cader Idris, we omitted nothing, and saw as much as the shortened days would allow With love to Lady B. and yourself, dear Sir George, from us all, I remain, ever,
Most faithfully yours,
* Memoirs, vol. ii. pp. 121-7.
(9) LETTER TO THE RIGHT HON. CHARLES JAMES
With the ' Lyrical Ballads (1801): with critical Remarks on his Poems.
Grasmere, Westmoreland, January 14th, 1801. SIR,
It is not without much difficulty that I have summoned the courage to request your acceptance of these volumes. Should I express my real feelings, I am sure that I should seem to make a parade of diffidence and humility.
Several of the poems contained in these volumes are written upon subjects which are the common property of all poets, and which, at some period of your life, must have been interesting to a man of your sensibility, and perhaps may still continue to be so. It would be highly gratifying to me to suppose that even in a single instance the manner in which I have treated these general topics should afford you any pleasure; but such a hope does not influence me upon the present occasion; in truth I do not feel it. Besides, I am convinced that there must be many things in this collection which may impress you with an unfavourable idea of my intellectual powers. I do not say this with a wish to de
I grade myself, but I am sensible that this must be the case, from the different circles in which we have moved, and the different objects with which we have been conversant.
Being utterly unknown to you as I am, I am well aware that if I am justified in writing to you at all, it is necessary my letter should be short; but I have feelings within me, which I hope will so far show themselves, as to excuse the trespass which I am afraid I shall make.
In common with the whole of the English people, I have observed in your public character a constant predominance of sensibility of heart. Necessitated as you have been from your public situation to have much to do with men in bodies, and in classes, and accordingly to contemplate them in that relation, it has been your praise that you have not thereby been prevented from looking upon them as individuals, and that you have habitually left your heart open to be influenced by them in that
capacity. This habit cannot but have made you dear to poets ; and I am sure that if, since your first entrance into public life, there has been a single true poet living in England, he must have loved you.
But were I assured that I myself had a just claim to the title of a poet, all the dignity being attached to the word which belongs to it, I do not think that I should have ventured for that reason to offer these volumes to you ; at present it is solely on account of two poems in the second volume, the one entitled * The Brothers,' and the other · Michael,' that I have been emboldened to take this liberty.
appears to me that the most calamitous effect which has followed the measures which have lately been pursued in this country, is, a rapid decay of the domestic affections among the lower orders of society. This effect the present rulers of this country are not conscious of, or they disregard it. For many years past, the tendency of society, amongst almost all the nations of Europe, has been to produce it; but recently, by the spreading of manufactures through every part of the country, by the heavy taxes upon postage, by workhouses, houses of industry, and the invention of soup-shops, &c., superadded to the increasing disproportion between the price of labour and that of the necessaries of life, the bonds of domestic feeling among the poor, as far as the influence of these things has extended, have been weakened, and in innumerable instances entirely destroyed. The evil would be the less to be regretted, if these institutions were regarded only as palliatives to a disease; but the vanity and pride of their promoters are so subtly interwoven with them, that they are deemed great discoveries and blessings to humanity. In the meantime, parents are separated from their children, and children from their parents; the wife no longer prepares, with her own hands, a meal for her husband, the produce of his labour; there is little doing in his house in which his affections can be interested, and but little left in it that he can love. I have two neighbours, a man and his wife, both upwards of eighty years of age. They live alone.
The husband has been confined to his bed many months, and has never had, nor till within these few weeks has ever needed, any body to attend to him but his wife. She has recently been seized with a lameness which has often prevented her from being able to
carry him his food to his bed. The neighbours fetch water for her from the well, and do other kind offices for them both. But her infirmities increase. She told my servant two days ago, that she was afraid they must both be boarded out among some other poor of the parish (they have long been supported by the parish); but she said it was hard, having kept house together so long, to come to this, and she was sure that it would burst her heart.' I mention this fact to show how deeply the spirit of independence is, even yet, rooted in some parts of the country. These people could not express themselves in this way without an almost sublime conviction of the blessings of independent domestic life. If it is true, as I believe, that this spirit is rapidly disappearing, no greater curse can befall a Land.
I earnestly entreat your pardon for having detained you so long. In the two poems, 'The Brothers,' and 'Michael,' I have attempted to draw a picture of the domestic affections, as I know they exist among a class of men who are now almost confined to the north of England. They are small independent proprietors of land, here called statesmen, men of respectable education, who daily labour on their own little properties. The domestic affections will always be strong amongst men who live in a country not crowded with population, if these men are placed above poverty. But if they are proprietors of small estates, which have descended to them from their ancestors, the power, which these affections will acquire amongst such men, is inconceivable by those who have only had an opportunity of observing hired labourers, farmers, and the manufacturing poor. Their little tract of land serves as a kind of permanent rallying point for their domestic feelings, as a tablet upon which they are written, which makes them objects of memory in a thousand instances, when they would otherwise be forgotten. It is a fountain fitted to the nature of social man, from which supplies of affection, as pure as his heart was intended for, are daily drawn. This class of men is rapidly disappearing. You, Sir, have a consciousness, upon which every good man will congratulate you, that the whole of your public conduct has, in one way or other, been directed to the preservation of this class of men, and those who hold similar situations. You have felt that the most sacred of all property is the property of the poor. The two poems, which I have mentioned, were written with a view to