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Gentleman's Magazine 1805 p.1010
(Continued from p.920.)
MONDAY, 20th of August; embarked at Low Wood, and made a pleasant voyage of six miles to Mr. Curwen's Island. We could not but admire the stillness and transparency of the Lake, which is in some parts nearly 100 yards deep, and three quarters of a mile across. In the winter season it is frequently so rough as to render the management of a boat extremely hazardous. It abounds with Char, a coarse fish, caught in nets, of which great quantities are potted. In addition to these there are Trout, Perch, and Eel; the former are more numerous in the brooks and rivulets by which the Lake is fed. The Eels are pierced by a sharp instrument, a model of the harpoon, as they coil unwarily on the grassy bottom. On our approach, the village of Bowness rose among the trees on the opposite shore. From the poetical rhapsodies of the guides, in delineating the charms of these islands, the imagination revels in fairy bowers and Rosicrusian Sylphs. But, instead of these, what Mr. Gray would have expressly termed a Rus in Urbeish house, and a neglected garden, served rather to excite pity than to aggravate disappointment. The shores (as might be expected) are low and uncommanding. A lofty point of rock on the Western beach is occupied by a station house, erected by the same gentleman. Here, after a laborious ascent, we gained little novelty of prospect, and surrendered much of the grandeur of the mountain scenery.
On the 21st, we sallied out with our Rozinantes, admirable subjects for Bunbury. Made towards the little village of Clappersgate at the water-head; admired the situation of Miss Pritchard's house, and envied Mrs. H-- her cottage window; passed, to the left of the road, Hawkshead, a neat market town at the head of Esthwaite water. Coniston Fells presented a savage aspect as we drew nigh to the Northern shore. The Lake is six miles long, and, like Windermere, the glory of its banks is concentrated in a single point of view. In a shrubbery on the Western edge stands Coniston Hall, the antient seat of the Flemings. This is a well-chosen situation. Hence we had a wild ride among the mountains; passed Loughrigg Tarn, a Lake not larger than an orchard-pond, and descended by a steep and narrow track into that glorious amphitheatre of rock, which shuts in the little peaceful vale of Grasmere. Here Nature has worked with the hand of an Enchantress, and I do not envy the Philosopher his feelings who can pass it without emotion. For myself, I could only exclaim with the Poet, "Sic meae sedes utinam Senectae." the white church shot up its taper spire from among a group of scattered cottages at the remotest corner of the valley. This presented a pastoral landscape, rich in trees and cattle; and finished with all the minuteness of a pencil; while the Lake, like a sheet of polished silver, reflected every leaf in its bosom. Here too, is a green islet, but it is subject to the undisputed dominion of the water-fowl. In such a spot, where nothing is to be seen or heard that can disturb the interest derived from Nature, it is surely not surprising, if some distaste should be excited to the bustle of commerce and the "busy hum of men." The Lake of Grasmere, basoned in rock, a frontier so terrible, as even to strike the warrior with dismay, might have lain for ages beneath the veil of primaeval obscurity; and it is much to be feared that the facility of access to a scene of such commanding beauty, may prove fatal to its most bewitching attractions. Descending Grasmere Hill, we rode along the rushy margin of Rydal water, and in front of us appeared Rydal Hall, the respectable mansion of Sir Michael le Fleming, at the skirts of a lofty range of mountains. On our return to Low-wood, we were saluted with a reiterated chorus. The report of a small cannon fired from the shores of the Lake had awakened drowsy Echo from her cell.
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