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Gentleman's Magazine 1800 p.19
bound up in icicles; but my grand intention was, to settle an account with my own mind; and do away any false pride, which the handsome things said of a young creature at Buttermere might have disordered her with.
Jan. 8, 1798, I left the Salutation-inn, at Ambleside, where I always feel myself at home: there, "A Fortnight's Ramble" originated, and a great part of the poem on Windermere was written. We had an exhilerating clear atmosphere, and not a breath of air. Grasmere valley and lake were in the sweetest view; the reflection in the water of the sheep grazing on the island was most famous, and the tones of the wether-bells, as they nibbled along, delightful music. Besides, the surface shewed, what I never observed before, a sugar-loaf top of snow, peeping amongst other hills, apparently to the naked eye all of the same height; but the lesser hills were green or rough as Nature formed them. No one could have passed this scene, without half an hour's admiration, and particular attention to the chaste summit; which proves it to be a mountain, on the highest part of which only there was then snow.
A rock on the top of Helm Crag exactly resembles a thirteen-inch sea-mortar, ready to burst forth her formidable shell at 45 degrees elevation; military men would be much struck with it; and yet it had formerly escaped my notice, till a gentleman desired me to observe it. I then went to Robert Newton's, and took care to order a cup of his "good woman's preserved gooseberries" at breakfast, and was made a great deal of. I had no sooner breakfasted, but was shewn by Robert a near path to the high road; and seeing a person brushing up it, I made such expedition I overtook a clergyman of the county before he had surmounted it; like myself, he was on foot to Keswick [ ] take advantage of this very fine day. There cannot be a better road, and the varieties in view are superb, or pleasing; I had never walked farther than Grasmere that way. The returning look from the top of the road into the valley, overpowered me with delight; the icy gems that studded the opposite hills, on which the sun had influence, were innumerable; this quiet vale, thus bedecked, was superior to whatever the strongest fancy could conceive; and I am certain, as we saw it, must always live in my companion's remembrance. I have a stronger proof than any thing I can say, of the indelible appearance of this valley, and shall go aside from my present walk to make it known. On my return from this excursion, I had stopped at the Cherry-tree, the half-way house, and learnt that the chearful old woman, spoken of in the Ramble, was dead; the other, now 84, was nursing a sickly looking infant, which she held in her withered arms with much affection, and bitterly lamented that colds had been very prevalent, and fatal to the children about them. The house looked so gloomy to what it formerly did to me, I hastened out of it, although I was feebly asked if I chose to have a bed; and soon overtook a weary old soldier, that seemed to toddle on, overcome by fatigue. He told me he had walked that morning from Whitehaven, that he was hastening to Liverpool, to chastise a captain of a ship, with the crab-stick in his hand, for cruelly treating his son when at sea. I soon drew him from that disagreeable subject, "to shoulder his staffe," and talk the fights he had been in. As we advanced, and I pointed to the mortar on the crag, he was quite delighted with the remark, and said,- "that bull-dog looks as if it was going to open u[ ]on us, to hinder our passing the Gaut;" and for himself, when he came to a full command of Grasmere, he thus spoke - "Forty years
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