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I THOUGHT of Thee, my partner and my guide,
* See note, p. 51.
A POET, whose works are not yet known as they deserve to be, thus enters upon his description of the “ Ruins of Rome : "
• The rising Sun
· Towering aloft ;” and ends thus
“ The setting Sun displays
. As through two shady cliffs.” Mr. Crowe, in his excellent loco-descriptive Poem, “Lewesdon Hill,” is still more expeditious, finishing the whole on a May-morning, before breakfast.
« To-morrow for severer thought, but now
To breakfast, and keep festival to-day.” No one believes, or is desired to believe, that these Poems were actually composed within such limits of time; nor was there any reason why a prose statement should acquaint the Reader with the plain fact, to the disturbance of poetic credibility. But, in the present case, I am compelled to mention, that the above series of Sonnets was the growth of many years;—the one which stands the 14th was the first produced ; and others were added upon occasional visits to the Stream, or as recollections of the scenes upon its banks awakened a wish to describe them. In this manner I had proceeded insensibly, without perceiving that I was trespassing upon ground preoccupied, at least as far as intention went, by Mr. Coleridge ; who, more than twenty years ago, used to speak of writing a rural Poem, to be entitled “ The Brook," of which he has given a sketch in a recent publication. But a particular subject, cannot, I think, much interfere with a general one; and I have been further kept from encroaching upon any right Mr. C. may still wish to exercise, by the restriction which the frame of the Sonnet imposed upon me, narrowing unavoidably the range of thought, and precluding, though not without its advantages, many graces to which a freer movement of verse would naturally have led.
May I not venture, then, to hope, that, instead of being a hinderance, by anticipation of any part of the subject, these Sonnets may remind Mr. Coleridge of his own more comprehensive design, and induce him to fulfil it? — There is a sympathy in streams, -"one calleth to another ;” and, I would gladly believe, that “ The Brook” will, ere long, murmur in concert with “ The Duddon.” But, asking pardon for this fancy, I need not scruple to say, that those verses must indeed be ill-fated which can enter upon such pleasant walks of nature, without receiving and giving inspiration. The power of waters over the minds of Poets has been acknowledged from the earliest ages ;-through the “ Flumina amem sylvasque inglorius" of Virgil, down to the sublime apostrophe to the great rivers of the earth, by Armstrong, and the simple ejaculation of Burns, (chosen, if I recollect right, by Mr. Coleridge, as a motto for his embryo “ Brook,")
66 The Muse nae Poet ever fand her,
Till by himsel' he learned to wander,
“ There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness,
The Irembling eyebright showed her sapphire blue."
THESE two lines are in a great measure taken from “ The Beauties of Spring, a Juvenile Poem,” by the Rev. Joseph Sympson, author of " The Vision of Alfred,” &c. He was a native of Cumberland, and was educated in the vale of Grasmere, and at Hawkshead school : his poems are little known, but they contain passages of splendid description; and the versification of his “ Vision of Alfred” is harmonious and animated. In describing the motions of the Sylphs, that constitute the strange machinery of his Poem, he uses the following illustrative simile:
“ Glancing from their plumes
And still the balance of his frame preserves,
He was a man of ardent feeling, and his faculties of mind, particularly his memory, were extraordinary. Brief notices of his life ought to find a place in the History of Westmore
Sonnet xvii. The Eagle requires a large domain for its support : but several pairs, not many years ago, were constantly resident in this country, building their nests in the steeps of Borrowdale, Wastdale, Ennerdale, and on the eastern side of Helvellyn. Often have I heard anglers speak of the grandeur of their appearance, as they hovered over Red Tarn, in one of the coves of this mountain. The bird frequently returns, but is always destroyed. Not long since, one visited Rydal Lake, and remained some hours near its banks: the consternation which it occasioned among the different species of fowl, particularly the herons, was expressed by loud screams. The horse also is naturally afraid of the eagle. — There were several Roman stations among these mountains; the most considerable seems to have been in a meadow at the head of Windermere, established, undoubtedly, as a check over the passes of Kirkstone, Dunmail-raise, and of Hardknot and Wrynose. On the margin of Rydal Lake, a coin of Trajan was discovered very lately. — The Roman Fort here alluded to, called by the country people “ Hardknot Castle,” is most impressively situated