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unparalleled spot; and Smith judged right, when he took his print of the lake from hence, for it is a gentle eminence, not too high, on the very margin of the water, and commanding it from end to end, looking full into the gorge of Borrowdale. I prefer it even to Cockshut-hill which lies beside it, and to which I walked in the afternoon: it is covered with young trees both sown and planted, oak, spruce, Scotch fir, &c. all which thrive wonderfully. There is an easy ascent to the top, and the view far preferable to that on Castle-hill (which you remember), because this is lower and nearer to the lake: for I find all points, that are much elevated, spoil the beauty of the valley, and make its parts, which are not large, look poor and diminutive. * While I was here a little shower fell, red clouds came marching up the hills from the east, and part of a bright rainbow seemed to rise along the side of Castle-hill.
From hence I got to the Parsonage a little before sunset, and saw in my glass a picture, that if I could transmit to you, and fix it in all the softness of its living colours, would fairly sell for a thousand pounds. This is the sweetest scene I can yet discover in point of pastoral beauty; the rest are in a sublimer style.
Oct. 5. I walked through the meadows and corn-fields to the Derwent, and crossing it went up How-hill ; it looks along Bassingthwaite-water, and sees at the same time the course of the river, and a part of the upper-lake, with a full view of Skiddaw : then I took my way through Portingskall village to the Park, a hill so called, covered entirely with wood ; it is all a mass of crum
* The picturesque point is always thus low in all prospects: a truth which though the landscape painter knows, he cannot always observe ; since the patron who employs him to take a view of his place, usually carries him to some elevation for that purpose, in order, I suppose, that he may have more of him for his money. Yet when I say this, I would not be thought to mean that a drawing should be made from the lowest point possible; as for instance, in this very view, from the lake itself, for then a foreground would be wanting. On this account, when I sailed on Derwentwater, I did not receive so much pleasure from the superb amphitheatre of mountains around me, as when, like Mr. Gray, I traversed its margin; and I therefore think he did not lose much by not taking boat.
bling slate. Passed round its foot between the trees and the edge of the water, and came to a peninsula that juts out into the lake, and looks along it both ways; in front rises Walla-crag and Castle-hill, the town, the road to Penrith, Skiddaw, and Saddleback. Returning, met a brisk and cold north-eastern blast that ruffled all the surface of the lake, and made it rise in little waves that broke at the foot of the wood. After dinner walked up the Penrith road two miles, or more, and turning into a corn-field to the right, called Castle-rig, saw a Druid circle of large stones, one hundred and eight feet in diameter, the biggest not eight feet high, but most of them still erect: they are fifty in number.* The valley of St. John's appeared in sight, and the summits of Catchidecam (called by Camden, Casticand) and Helvellyn, said to be as high as Skiddaw, and to rise from a much higher base.
Oct. 6. Went in a chaise eight miles along the eastside of Bassingthwaite-water to Ousebridge (pronounced Ews-bridge); the road in some part made and very good, the rest slippery and dangerous cart-road, or narrow rugged lanes, but no precipice; it runs directly along the foot of Skiddaw: opposite to Widhope-brows, clothed to the top with wood, a very beautiful view opens down to the lake, which is narrower and longer than that of Keswick, less broken into bays, and without islands.t At the foot of it, a few paces from the brink, gently sloping upward, stands Armathwate in a thick grove of Scotch firs, commanding a noble view directly up
the lake : at a small distance behind the house is a large extent of wood, and still behind this a ridge of cultivated hills, on which, according to the Keswick proverb, the sun always shines. The inhabitants here,
* See this piece of antiquity more fully described, with a plate annexed, by Mr. Pennant, in his Second Tour to Scotland in 1772, p. 38.
+ It is somewhat extraordinary that Mr. Gray omitted to mention the islands on Derwentwater; one of which, I think they call it Vicars' Island, makes a principal object in the scene. See Smith's View of Derwentwater.
on the contrary, call the vale of Derwentwater, the Devil's Chamber-pot, and pronounce the name of Skiddawfell, which terminates here, with a sort of terror and aversion. Armathwate house is a modern fabric, not large, and built of dark-red stone, belonged to Mr. Spedding, whose grandfather was steward to old Sir James Lowther, and bought this estate of the Himers. The sky was overcast and the wind cool; so, after dining at a public-house, which stands here near the bridge, (that crosses the Derwent just were it issues from the lake), and sauntering a little by the water-side I came home again. The turnpike is finished from Cockermouth hither, five miles, and is carrying on to Penrith; several little showers to-day. A man came in, who said there was snow on Cross-fell this morning.
Oct. 7. I walked in the morning to Crow-park, and in the evening up Penrith road. The clouds came rolling up the mountains all round very dark, yet the moon shone at intervals. It was too damp to go towards the lake. To-morrow I mean to bid farewell to Keswick.
Botany might be studied here to great advantage at another season, because of the great variety of soils and elevations, all lying within a small compass. I observed nothing but several curious lichens, and plenty of gale or Dutch myrtle perfuming the borders of the lake. This year the Wadd-mine had been opened, which is done once in five years; it is taken out in lumps sometimes as big as a man's fist, and will undergo po preparation by fire, not being fusible; when it is pure, soft, black, and close-grained, it is worth sometimes thirty shillings a pound. There are no charr ever taken in these lakes, but plenty in Butter-mere-water, which lies a little way north of Borrowdale, about Martinmas, which are potted here. They sow chiefly oats and bigg here, which are now cutting and still on the ground ; the rains have done much hurt : yet observe, the soil is so thin and
light, that no day has passed in which I could not walk out with ease, and you know I am no lover of dirt. Fell mutton is now in season for about six weeks ; it grows fat on the mountains, and nearly resembles venison. Excellent pike and perch, here called bass; trout is out of season ; partridge in great plenty.
Oct. 8. I left Keswick and took the Ambleside road in a gloomy morning; and about two miles from the town mounted an eminence called Castle-rigg, and the sun breaking out, discovered the most enchanting view I have yet seen of the whole valley behind me, the two lakes, the river, the mountains all in their glory; so that I had almost a mind to have gone back again. The road in some few parts is not completed, yet good country road, through sound but narrow. and stony lanes, very safe in broad day-light. This is the case about Causeway-foot, and among Naddlefells to Lancwaite. The vale you go in bas little breadth ; the mountains are vast and rocky, the fields little and poor, and the inhabitants are now making bay, and see not the sun by two hours in a day so long as at Keswick. Came to the foot of Helvellyn, along which runs an excellent road, looking down from a little height on Lee's-water (called also Thirl-meer, or Wiborn-water), and soon descending on its margin. The lake looks black from its depth, and from the gloom of the vast crags that scowl over it, though really clear as glass; it is narrow, and about three miles long, resembling a river in its course; little shining torrents hurry down the rocks to join it, but not a bush to overshadow them, or cover their march; all is rock and loose stones up to the very brow, which lies so near your way, that not above half the height of Helvellyn can be seen.
Next I passed by the little chapel of Wiborn, out of which the Sunday congregation were then issuing; soon after a beck near Dunmeil-raise, when I entered West
moreland a second time; and now began to see Holmcrag, distinguished from its rugged neighbours, not so much by its height as by the strange broken outlines of its top, like some gigantic building demolished, and the stones that composed it flung across each other in wild confusion. Just beyond it opens one of the sweetest landscapes that art ever attempted to imitate. The bosom of the mountains spreading here into a broad basin discovers in the midst Grasmerewater; its margin is hollowed into small bays, with bold eminences ; some of rock, some of soft turf, that half conceal, and vary the figure of the little lake they command: from the shore a low promontory pushes itself far into the water, and on it stands a white village with the parish church rising in the midst of it: hanging inclosures, corn-fields, and meadows green as an emerald, with their trees and hedges, and cattle, fill up the whole space from the edge of the water: and just opposite to you is a large farmhouse at the bottom of a steep smooth lawn, embosomed in old woods, which climb half-way up the mountain's side, and discover above them a broken line of crags that crown the scene. Not a single red tile, no flaring gentleman's house, or garden-walls, break in upon the repose of this little unsuspected.paradise; but all is
peace, rusticity, and happy poverty in its neatest, most becoming attire.
The road winds here over Grasmere-hill, whose rocks soon conceal the water from your sight; yet it is continued along behind them, and, contracting itself to a river, communicates with Ridale-water, another small lake, but of inferior size and beauty: it seems shallow too, for large patches of reeds appear pretty far within it. Into this vale the road descends. On the opposite banks large and ancient woods mount up the hills; and just to the left of our way stands Ridale-hall, the family-seat of Sir Michael Fleming, a large old-fashioned