456. To Sara Hutchinson Transcript Sara Hutchinson, in Mr. A. H. B. Coleridge's possession. Pub. Inquiring Spirit, ed. by Kathleen Coburn, 1951, pp. 240-2. This fragment is an that remains of what was probably a journal letter begun on 25 Aug., the same day Coleridge visited 'Buttermere Halse Fall' (Moss Force). The concluding paragraph of this fragment mentions an excursion of Sunday, 29 Aug., to Lodore, which Coleridge compares with Moss Force and Scale Force. Charles and Mary Lamb were with Coleridge at this time, and it is quite likely that Lamb was his companion on both the short excursions mentioned in this letter. Lamb wrote afterwards that Coleridge 'received us with all the hospitality in the world, and gave up his time to show us all the wonders of the country. . . . We have clambered up to the top of Skiddaw, and I have waded up the bed of Lodore.' Lamb Letters, i. 315. Keswick, Augt. 25th, 1802 All night it rained incessantly-& in a hard storm of Rain this morning, at ½ past 10, I set off, & drove away toward Newlandsthere is a Waterfall, that divides Great Robinson from Buttermere Halse Fell, which when Mary & Tom [ Hutchinson], & I passed, we stopped & said -- what a wonderful Creature it would be in a hard Rain -- dear Mary was especially struck with it's latent Great- ____________________ 1 Edward Jenner ( 1749-1828), discoverer of vaccination; and William Woodville ( 1752-1805). -852- ness -- & since that time I have never passed it without a haunting wish to see it in it's fury -- it is just 8 miles from Keswick. I had a glorious Walk -- the rain sailing along those black Crags & green Steeps, white as the wooly Down on the under side of a Willow Leaf, & soft as Floss Silk / & silver Fillets of Water down every mountain from top to bottom that were as fine as Bridegrooms. I soon arrived at the Halse -- & climbed up by the waterfall as near as I could, to the very top of the Fell -- but it was so craggy -- the Crags covered with spongy soaky Moss, and when bare so jagged as to wound one's hands fearfully -- and the Gusts came so very sudden & strong, that the going up was slow, & difficult & earnest -- & the coming down, not only all that, but likewise extremely dangerous. However, I have always found this stretched & anxious state of mind favorable to depth of pleasurable Impression, in the resting Places & lownding Coves. The Thing repaid me amply / it is a great Torrent from the Top of the Mountain to the Bottom / the lower part of it is not the least Interesting, where it is beginning to slope to a level -- the mad water rushes thro' it's sinuous Bed, or rather prison of Rock, with such rapid Curves, as if it turned the Corners not from the mechanic force, but with foreknowledge, like a fierce & skilful Driver / great Masses of Water, one after the other, that in twilight one might have feelingly compared them to a vast crowd of huge white Bears, rushing, one over the other, against the wind -- their long white hair shattering abroad in the wind / The remainder of the Torrent is marked out by three great Waterfalls -- the lowermost apron-shaped, & though the Rock down which it rushes is an inclined Plane, it shoots off in such an independence of the Rock as shews that it's direction was given it by the force of the Water from above. The middle, which in peaceable times would be two tinkling Falls, formed in this furious Rain one great Water-wheel endlessly revolving / & double the size & height of the lowest -- the third & highest is a mighty one indeed / it is twice the height of both the others added together / nearly as high as Scale Force / but it rushes down an inclined Plane -- and does not fall, like Scale Force / however, if the Plane had been smooth, it is so near a Perpendicular that it would have appeared to fall -- but it is indeed so fearfully savage, & black, & jagged, that it tears the flood to pieces -- and one great black Outjutment divides the water, & overbrows & keeps uncovered a long slip of jagged black Rock beneath, which gives a marked character to the whole force. What a sight it is to look down on such a Cataract! -the wheels, that circumvolve in it -- the leaping up & plunging forward of that infinity of Pearls & Glass Bulbs -- the continual change of the Matter, the perpetual Sameness of the Form -- it is an -853- awful Image & Shadow of God & the World. 1 -- When I reached the very top, where the Stream flows level, there were feeding three darling Sheep, with their red ochre Letters on their sides, as quiet as if they were by a Rill in a flat meadow, flowing clear over smooth tressy water-weeds, & thro' by long Grass -- Bless their dear hearts what darlings mountain Sheep are! -- A little above the summit of the Waterfall I had a very striking view -- the Lake & part of Keswick in a remarkably interesting point of view seen at the end of the Vista formed by the vale of Newlands -- this was on my right -- and as I turned to my left, the Sun burst out -- & I saw close by me part of the Lake of Buttermere, but not an inch of any one of it's Shores or of the Vale -- but over away beside Crummock a white shining dazzling view of the Vale of Lorton & the Sea beyond it. -- I went to Lodore on Sunday [29 August] -- it was finer than I had ever seen it before -- never were there three Waterfalls so different from each other, as Lodore, Buttermere Halse Fall, & Seale Force. -- Scale Force is a proper Fall between two very high & narrow Walls of Rock, well tree'd -- yet so that the Trees rather add to, than lessen the precipice Walls. -- Buttermere Halse Fall is a narrow, open, naked Torrent with three great Water-slopes individualized in it one above another, large, larger, largest-. Lodore has it's Walls, but they are scarcely Walls, they are wide apart, & not upright, & their beauty & exceeding Majesty take away the Terror -- and the Torrent is broad & wide, & from top to bottom it is small Waterfalls, abreast, & abreast. Buttermere Halse Fall is the War-song of a Scandinavian Bard -- Lodore is the Precipitation of the fallen Angels from Heaven, Flight & Confusion, & Distraction, but all harmonized into one majestic Thing by the genius of Milton, who describes it. Lodore is beyond all rivalry the first & best Thing of the whole Lake Country. Indeed ____________________ 1 In two letters contributed to The Times Literary Supplement on 28 Sept. and 26 Oct. 1951, Mr. A. P. Rossiter examines the sources of Coleridge Hymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni, and he convincingly demonstrates that the passage above found lyrical expression in the following lines of the poem. 'Who', asks the poet, called forth the 'five wild torrents Down those precipitous, black, jaggéd rocks, For ever shattered and the same for ever? Who gave you your invulnerable life, Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy, Unceasing thunder and eternal foam? ( Poems, i. 379.) One can only agree with Mr. Rossiter that the account of Buttermere Halse Fall is reflected in Coleridge's poem and that the Falls of Lodore, described later in this letter, also may have stimulated the poet's imagination. For further comment on Coleridge's sources see Letter 459. -854- (but we cannot judge at all from Prints) I have seen nothing equal to it in the Prints & Sketches of the Scotch & Swiss Cataracts.