Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 63.djvu/43

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Wordsworth
Wordsworth
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probably discovered by degrees, caused them anxiety. He left them after a time at Inversnaid. The Wordsworths visited Burns's country, saw the falls of Clyde, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Inverary, Glencoe, Killiecrankie, and many of the scenes to which Scott was about to give popularity. The journal of this tour kept by Dorothy Wordsworth was admired by S. Rogers, who in 1823 corresponded with her as to its proposed publication (Rogers and his Contemporaries, i. 343), but it did not appear in full until it was edited in 1874 by Professor Shairp as ‘Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland, A.D. 1803.’ At the end they visited Scott himself at Lasswade, and in his company visited Melrose, Jedburgh, and Hawick. A cordial friendship began; and in 1805 Scott with his wife visited the Wordsworths at Grasmere, and Scott, with (Sir) Humphry Davy, made an ascent of Helvellyn, which suggested well-known poems to the two authors.

The Wordsworths returned to Grasmere in October 1803. Coleridge had now resolved to go abroad. On his way to London he fell ill at Dove Cottage, and was nursed by the two ladies. Wordsworth ‘almost forced’ upon him (Coleorton Mem. i. 41) a loan of 100l. to enable him to travel, and he sailed for Malta on 9 April 1804. At this time Sir George Howland Beaumont [q. v.] had made the acquaintance of Coleridge, whom he visited at Keswick, and admired, though he was not personally known to Wordsworth. He had an ‘ardent desire’ to bring the two poets into closer neighbourhood, and with this purpose bought a small property at Applethwaite on the flanks of Skiddaw, and presented it to Wordsworth as a site for a house. Coleridge's departure removed the reason for this change. Dove Cottage, however, was becoming overcrowded.

In November 1805 Wordsworth rambled with his sister into Patterdale (his sister's journal of the tour was incorporated in Wordsworth's ‘Guide’ to the lakes in 1835). He was struck by the beauty of a cottage with nine acres of land under Placefell. The owners wanted 1,000l. for it, and Wordsworth offered 800l. His friend Wilkinson applied to the new Lord Lonsdale, who at once sent 800l. to Wordsworth to effect the purchase. Wordsworth, after some hesitation, accepted 200l. of this to make up the 1,000l., paying the 800l. himself, half of which was supplied by his wife. The purchase was finally completed in March 1807 (Knight, ii. 37−8, 72−3); but Wordsworth never built upon the land. The generosity of Lord Lonsdale led to a friendship which afterwards became very intimate.

John Wordsworth had sailed early in 1805 in command of the East Indiaman Abergavenny, which was wrecked by the fault of a pilot off the Bill of Portland on 5 Feb. The captain, who behaved with great courage, and over two hundred persons were lost. John was a man of great charm, sharing, it seems, his sister's eye for natural scenery, and of a refinement and literary taste unusual in his profession. The whole family were profoundly affected by his loss (see Knight, i. 370−80, ii. 41). Wordsworth told Sir George Beaumont (5 May 1805) that he had been trying to write a commemorative poem, but had been too much agitated to remember what he wrote. He composed, however, some ‘elegiac verses’ referring to his last parting with his brother near Grisedale tarn. An inscription has been placed on the face of a neighbouring rock at the suggestion of Canon Rawnsley. There are many references to John in Wordsworth's poetry, especially in the verses on Piel Castle (the reference is to Piel, near Barrow-in-Furness; see Eversley Wordsworth, iii. 56−57). The character of the ‘Happy Warrior,’ suggested by the death of Nelson, includes traits of character derived from John Wordsworth.

In May 1805 (letters to Sir G. Beaumont of 1 May and 3 June 1805) Wordsworth had finished the ‘Prelude,’ having worked at it for some months. He observes that it is ‘unprecedented’ for a man to write nine thousand lines about himself, but explains that he was induced to this by ‘real humility.’ He was afraid of any more arduous topic. The poem was meant to be ‘a sort of portico to the "Recluse,"’ which he hoped soon to begin in earnest. It remained unprinted till his death. Meanwhile Dove Cottage was becoming untenable. Sir G. Beaumont was at this time rebuilding his house at Coleorton, near Ashby-de-la-Zouche, Leicestershire. During the building he occupied a farmhouse, and he now offered this for the winter of 1806−7 to the Wordsworths. They moved thither with Mrs. Wordsworth's sister Sarah at the end of October 1806. Wordsworth took a lively interest in plans for the gardens, upon which he wrote long letters to the Beaumonts. He wrote inscriptions to be placed in the grounds. Sir G. Beaumont's pictures suggested some of his poems (especially that on Piel Castle), and Beaumont drew illustrations for several of Wordsworth's poems (Knight, ii. 56, gives a list). The friend-

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