450. To Sara Hutchinson Transcript Sara Hutchinson, in Mr. A. H. B. Coleridge's possession. Pub. Wordsworth and Coleridge, ed. by E. L. Griggs, 1939, pp. 150-7. The original of this letter, along with those of Letters 451 and 456, has disappeared, but the text has survived in the form of a journal made from them by Sara Hutchinson. This letter and the one following describe the first six days of a solitary tour, begun 1 August and completed 9 August, which carried Coleridge to the top of Scafell. [ 1-5 August 1802] On Sunday Augt. 1st -- ½ after 12 I had a Shirt, cravat, 2 pair of Stockings, a little paper & half a dozen Pens, a German Book ( Voss's Poems) & a little Tea & Sugar, with my Night Cap, packed -834- up in my natty green oil-skin, neatly squared, and put into my net Knapsack / and the Knap-sack on my back & the Besom stick in my hand, which for want of a better, and in spite of Mrs C. & Mary, who both raised their voices against it, especially as I left the Besom scattered on the Kitchen Floor, off I sallied -- over the Bridge, thro' the Hop-Field, thro' the Prospect Bridge at Portinscale, so on by the tall Birch that grows out of the center of the huge Oak, along into Newlands -- Newlands is indeed a lovely Place -- the houses, each in it's little Shelter of Ashes & Sycamores, just under the Road, so that in some places you might leap down on the Roof, seemingly at least -- the exceeding greenness & pastotal beauty of the Vale itself, with the savage wildness of the Mountains, their Coves, and long arm-shaped & elbow-shaped Ridges -- yet this wildness softened down into a congruity with the Vale by the semicircular Lines of the Crags, & of the bason-like Concavities. The Cataract between Newlands & Keseadale had but little water in it / of course, was of no particular Interest -- / I passed on thro' the green steep smooth bare Kescadale / a sort of unfurnished Passage or antechamber between Newlands, & Buttermere, came out on Buttermere & drank Tea at the little Inn, & read the greater part of the Revelations -- the only part of the new Testament, which the Scotch Cobler read -- because why? Became it was the only part that he understood. O 'twas a wise Cobler!. . . 1 Conceive an enormous round Bason mountain-high of solid Stone / cracked in half & one half gone / exactly in the remaining half of this enormous Bason, does Buttermere lie, in this 2 beautiful & stern Embracement of Rock / I left it, passed by Scale Force, the white downfal[l] of which glimmered thro' the Trees, that hang before it like bushy Hair over a madman's Eyes, and climbed 'till I gained the first Level / here it was 'every man his own pathmaker,' & I went directly cross it -- upon soft mossy Ground, with many a hop, skip, & jump, & many an occasion for observing the Truth of the old Saying: where Rushes grow, A Man may go. Red Pike, a dolphin-shaped Peak of a deep red, looked in upon me from over the Fell on my Left, on my right I had, first Melbreak (the Mountain on the right of Crummock, as you ascend the Lake) then a Vale running down with a pretty Stream in it, to Loweswater / then Heck [Hen] Comb, a Fell of the same height & running in the same direction with Melbreak, a Vale on the other side too, -- and at the bottom of both these Vales the Loweswater Fells running abreast. Again I reached an ascent, climbed up, & came to a ruined Sheepfold -- a wild green view all around me, bleating of Sheep & noise ____________________ 1 Three-quarters of line inked out in MS. 2 Small diagram at this point which is not reproduced here. -835- of waters -- I sate there near 20 minutes, the Sun setting on the Hill behind with a soft watery gleam; & in front of me the upper Halves of huge deep-furrowed Grasmire [Grassmoor] (the mountain on the other side of Crummock) & the huge Newland & Buttermere Mountains, & peeping in from behind the Top of Saddleback. Two Fields were visible, the highest cultivated Ground on the Newland side of Buttermere, and the Trees in those Fields were the only Trees visible in the whole Prospect. -- I left the Sheepfold with regret -- for of all things a ruined Sheepfold in a desolate place is the dearest to me, and fills me most with Dreams & Visions & tender thoughts of those I love best -- Well! I passed a bulging roundish-headed green Hill to my Left, (and to the left of it was a frightful Crag) with a very high round-head right before me; this latter is called Ennerdale-Dodd, and bisects the ridge between Ennerdale & Buttermere & Crummock -- I took it on my right hand, & came to the top of the bulging green Hill, on which I found a small Tarn, called Flatern [Floutern] Tarn, about 100 yds. in length, & not more than 7 or 8 in breadth, but O! what a grand Precipice it lay at the foot of! The half of this Precipice (called Herd house) nearest to Ennerdale was black, with green moss-cushions on the Ledges; the half nearest to Buttermere a pale pink, & divided from the black part by a great streamy Torrent of crimson Shiver, & Screes, or Shilly (as they call it). I never saw a more heart-raising Scene. I turned & looked on the Scene which I had left behind, a marvellous group of mountains, wonderfully & admirably arranged -- not a single minute object to interrupt the oneness of the view, excepting those two green Fields in Buttermere -- but before me the glorious Sea with the high Coast & Mountains of the Isle of Mann, perfectly distinct -- & three Ships in view. A little further on, the Lake of Ennerdale (the lower part of it) came in view, shaped like a clumsy battle-dore -- but it is, in reality, exactly fiddle-shaped. The further Bank & the higher part, steep, lofty, bare bulging Crags; the nether Bank green & pastoral, with Houses in the shelter of their own dear Trees. -- On the opposite Shore in the middle & narrow part of the Lake there bulges out a huge Crag, called angling Stone / being a famous Station for anglers -- and the reflection of this Crag in the Water is admirable -- pillars or rather it looks like the pipes of some enormous Organ in a rich golden Color. -- I travelled on to Long Moor, two miles below the foot of the Lake, & met a very hearty welcome from John Ponsonby, a Friend of Mr. Jackson's -- here I stayed the night, [1 August] & the greater part of Monday -- the old man went to the head of the Lake with me / the mountains at the head of this Lake & Wast-dale are the Monsters of the Country, bare bleak -836- Heads, evermore doing deeds of Darkness, weather-plots, & stormconspiracies in the Clouds -- their names are Herd house, Bowness, Wha Head, Great Gavel, the Steeple, the Pillar, & Seat Allian [Seatallan]. -- I left Long Moor after Tea, & proceeded to Egremont, 5 miles -- thro' a very pleasant Country, part of the way by the River Enna [Ehen], with well wooded Banks, & nice green Fields, & pretty houses with Trees, and two huge Sail-cloth Manufactories -- went to Girtskill, a mercer, for whom I had a Letter, but he was at Workington, so I walked on to St. Bees, 8 miles from Egremont -- when I came there could not get a Bed -- at last got an apology for one, at a miserable Pot-house; slept [2 August] or rather dozed, in my Clothes -- breakfasted there -- and went to the School & Church ruins -- had read in the history of Cumbd. that there was an 'excellent Library presented to the School by Sr. James Lowther,' which proved to be some 80 odd Volumes of commentaries on the Scripture utterly worthless -- & which with all my passion for ragged old Folios I should certainly make serviceable. . . 1 for fire-lighting. Men who write Tours and County histories I have by woeful experience found out to be damned Liars, harsh words, but true! -- It was a wet woeful oppressive morning -- I was sore with my bad night -- walked down to the Beach, which is a very nice hard Sand for more than a mile / but the St. Bees Head which I had read much of as a noble Cliff, might be made a song of on the Flats of the Dutch Coast -- but in England 'twill scarcely bear a looking-at. -- Returned to Egremont, [3 August] a miserable walk -- dined there, visited the Castle, the Views from which are uncommonly interesting -- I looked thro' an old wild Arch -- slovenly black Houses, & gardens, as wild as a Dream, over the hills beyond them, which slip down in one place making a noticeable Gap -- had a good Bed, slept well -- & left Egremont this morning [4 August] after Breakfast, had a pleasant walk to Calder Abbey -- an elegant but not very interesting Ruin, joining to a very han[d]some Gentleman's House built of red freestone, which has the comfortable warm look of Brick without it's meanness & multitude of puny squares. This place lies just within the Line of circumference of a Circle of woody Hills -- the area, a pretty Plain half a mile perhaps in diameter -- and completely cloathed & hid with wood, except one red hollow in these low steep hills, & except behind the Abbey, where the Hills are far higher, & consist of green Fields almost (but not quite) to the Top. Just opposite to Calder Abbey, & on the Line of the Circumference, rises Ponsonby Hill, the Village of Calder Bridge, & it's interesting Mill, all in Wood, some hidden, some roofs just on a line with the ____________________ 1 Two or three words inked out in MS. -837- Trees, some higher, but Ponsonby Hall far higher than the rest. -I regained the Road, and came to Bonewood, a single Alehouse on the top of the hill above the Village Gosforth -- drank a pint of Beer (I forgot to tell you that the whole of my expences at St. Bees, a glass of Gin & Water, my Bed, & Breakfast amounted to 11d.) -from this Bonewood is a noble view of the Isle of Man on the one side, & on the other side all the bold dread tops of the Ennerdale & Wastdale Mountains /. Indeed the whole way from Egremont I had beautiful Sea Views, the low hills to my right dipping down into inverted Arches, or Angles, & the Sea, often with a Ship seen thro' -- while on my left the Steeple, & Sca' Fell facing each other, far above the other Fells, formed in their interspace a great Gap in the Heaven. -- So I went on, turned eastward, up the Irt, the Sea behind & Wastdale Mountains before -- & here I am -- Wed. Afternoon 1 ½ past 8, Augt. 4th. 1802-- Wastdale, a mile & half below the Foot of the Lake, at an Alehouse without a Sign, 20 strides from the Door, under the Shade of a huge Sycamore Tree, without my coat -- but that I will now put on, in prudence -- yes here I am / and have been for something more than an hour, & have enjoyed a good Dish of Tea (I carried my Tea & sugar with me) under this delightful Tree. In the House there are only an old feeble Woman, and a 'Tallyeur' Lad upon the Table -- all the rest of the Wastdale World is a haymaking, rejoicing and thanking God for this first downright summer Day that we have had since the beginning of May. -- And now I must go & see the Lake / for immediately at the Foot of the Lake runs a low Ridge so that you can see nothing of the Water till you are at it's very Edge. Between the Lake and the Mountains on the left, a low ridge of hill runs parallel with the Lake, for more than half it's length; & just at the foot of the Lake there is a Bank even & smooth & low like a grassy Bank in a Gentleman's Park. Along the hilly Ridge I walked thro' a Lane of green Hazels, with hay-fields & Haymakers on my Right, beyond the River Irt, & on the other side of the River, Irton Fell with a deep perpendicular Ravine, & a curious fretted Pillar of Clay crosier-shaped, standing up in it -next to Ireton Fells & in the same line are the Screes, & you can look at nothing but the Screes tho' there were 20 quaint Pillars close by you. The Lake is wholly hidden 'till your very Feet touch it, as one may say / and to a Stranger the Burst would be almost overwhelming. The Lake itself seen from it's Foot appears indeed ____________________ 1 This passage on the alehouse appears at the beginning of the Sara Hutchinson journal but is placed here to preserve the chronology of Coleridge's tour. -838- of too regular shape; exactly like the sheet of Paper on which I am writing, except it is still narrower in respect of it's length. (In reality however the Lake widens as it ascends, and at the head is very considerably broader than at the foot.) But yet, in spite of this it is a marvellous sight / a sheet of water between 3 & 4 miles in length, the whole (or very nearly the whole) of it's right Bank formed by the Screes, or facing of bare Rock of enormous Height, two thirds of it's height downwards absol utely perpendicular; & then slanting off in Screes, or Shiver, consisting of fine red Streaks running in broad Stripes thro' a stone colour -- slanting off from the Perpendicular, as steep as the meal newly ground from the Miller's spout. -- So it is at the foot of the Lake; but higher up this streaky Shiver occupies two thirds of the whole height, like a pointed Decanter in shape, or an outspread Fan, or a long-waisted old maid with a fine prim Apron, or -- no, other things that would only fill up the Paper. -- When I first came the Lake was a perfect Mirror; & what must have been the Glory of the reflections in it! This huge facing of Rock said to be half a mile in perpendicular height, with deep Ravin[e]s the whole winded [wrinkled?] & torrent-worn, except where the pink-striped Screes come in, as smooth as silk / all this reflected, turned into Pillars, dells, and a whole new-world of Images in the water! The head of the Lake is crowned by three huge pyramidal mountains, Yewbarrow, Sca' Fell, & the great Gavel; Yewbarrow & Sca' Fell nearly opposite to each other, yet so that the Ness (or Ridge-line, like the line of a fine Nose,) of Sca' Fell runs in behind that of Yewbarrow, while the Ness of great Gavel is still farther back, between the two others, & of course, instead of running athwart the Valeit directly faces you. The Lake & Vale run nearly from East to west and this figure below will give you some idea of it. -- 1 Melfell [Middle Fell] (lying South [north] of the Lake) consists of great mountain steps decreasing in size as they approach the Lake. My Road led along under Melfell & by Yewbarrow -- & now I came in sight of it's other side called Keppel Crag & then a huge enormous bason-like Cove called Green Crag [Red Pike?] / as I suppose, from there being no single Patch of Green to be seen on any one of it's perpendicular sides -- so on to Kirk Fell, at the foot of which is Thomas Tyson's House where W[ordsworth] & I slept Novr. will be 8 years -- & there I was welcomed kindly, had a good Bed, and left it after Breakfast. ____________________ 1 But the Transcriber has not ingenuity enough to copy it, nor the full length Portrait of the Author -- so they must be dispensed with -- [Note by Sara Hutchinson.] -839- Thursday Morning, Augt. 5th -- went down the Vale almost to the water head, & ascended the low Reach between Sca' Fell and the Screes, and soon after I had gained it's height came in sight Burnmoor Water, a large Tairn nearly of that shape, it's Tail towards Sca' Fell, at its head a gap forming an inverted arch with Black Coomb & a peep of the Sea seen thro' it. -- It lies directly at the Back of the Screes, & the stream that flows from it down thro' the gap, is called the Mite -- and runs thro' a Vale of it's own called Miterdale, parallel with the lower part of Wastdale, and divided from it by the high Ridge called Ireton Fells. I ascended Sca' Fell by the side of a torrent, and climbed & rested, rested & climbed, 'till I gained the very summit of Sca' Fell -believed by the Shepherds here to be higher than either Helvellyn or Skiddaw -- Even to Black Coomb -- before me all the Mountains die away, running down westward to the Sea, apparently in eleven Ridges & three parallel Vales with their three Rivers, seen from their very Sources to their falling into the Sea, where they form (excepting their Screw-like flexures) the Trident of the Irish Channel at Ravenglass ---- O my God! what enormous Mountains these are close by me, & yet below the Hill I stand on / Great Gavel, Kirk Fell, Green Crag, & behind the Pillar, then the Steeple, then the Hay Cock -- on the other side & behind me, Great End, Esk Carse [Hause], Bow-fell & close to my back two huge Pyramids, nearly as high as Sca' Fell itself, & indeed parts & parts of Sea' Fell known far & near by these names, the hither one of Broad Crag, and the next to it but divided from it by a low Ridge Doe Crag, which is indeed of itself a great Mountain of stones from a pound to 20 Ton weight embedded in wooly Moss. And here I am lounded-- so fully lounded -- that tho' the wind is strong, & the Clouds are hast'ning hither from the Sea -- and the whole air seaward has a lurid Look -- and we shall certainly have Thunder -- yet here (but that I am hunger'd & provisionless) here I could lie warm, and wait methinks for tomorrow's Sun / and on a nice Stone Table am I now at this moment writing to you -- between 2 and 3 o'Clock as I guess / surely the first Letter ever written from the Top of Sea' Fell! But O! what a look down just under my Feet! The frightfullest Cove that might ever be seen / huge perpendicular Precipices, and one Sheep upon it's only Ledge, that surely must be crag! Tyson told me of this place, & called it Hollow Stones. Just by it & joining together, rise two huge Pillars of bare leadcolored stone -- / I am no measurer / but their height & depth is terrible. I know how unfair it is to judge of these Things by a comparison of past Impressions with present -- but I have no shadow -840- of hesitation in saying that the Coves & Precipices of Helvellin are nothing to these! But [from] this sweet lounding Place I see directly thro' Borrowdale, the Castle Crag, the whole of Derwent Water, & but for the haziness of the Air I could see my own House -- I see clear enough where it stands ----- Here I will fold up this Letter -- I have Wafers in my Inkhorn / & you shall call this Letter when it passes before you the Sca' Fell Letter 1 / -- I must now drop down, how I may into Eskdale-- that lies under to my right -- the upper part of it the wildest & savagest surely of all the Vales that were ever seen from the Top of an English Mountain / and the lower part the loveliest. -----