« ZurückWeiter »
Next, almost due west, look down into and along the deep valley of Wastdale, with its little chapel and half a dozen neat dwellings scattered upon a plain of meadow and cornground intersected with stone walls, apparently innumerable, like a large piece of lawless patch, or an array of mathematical figures, such as in the ancient schools of geometry might have been sportively and fantastically traced out upon sand. Beyond this little fertile plain lies, within a bed of steep mountains, the long, narrow, stern, and desolate lake of Wastdale, and beyond this, a dusky tract of level ground conducts the eye to the Irish Sea. The stream that issues from Wastwater is named the Irt, and falls into the estuary of the River Esk. Next comes in view Ennerdale, with its lake of bold and somewhat savage shores. Its stream, flowing through a soft and fertile country, passes the town of Egremont, and the ruins of the castle,then, seeming, like other rivers, to break through the barriers of sand thrown up by the winds on this tempestuous coast, enters the Irish Sea.
The vale of Buttermere, with the lake and village of that name, and Crummock Water beyond, next present themselves. We will follow the main stream, the Coker, through the fertile and beautiful vale of Lorton, till it is lost in the Derwent, below the noble ruins of Cockermouth Castle. Lastly, Borrowdale, of which the vale of Keswick is only a continuation, stretching due north, brings us to a point nearly opposite to the vale of Windermere, with which we began.
From this it will appear that the image of a wheel, thus far exact, is little more than half complete, but the deficiency on the eastern side may be supplied by the vale of Wythburn, Ullswater, Haweswater, and the vale of Grasmere and Rydal; none of these, however, run up to the central point between Great Gable and Scawfell. From this, hitherto our central point, take a flight of not more than four or five miles eastward to the ridge of Helvellyn, and you will look down upon Wythburn and St. John's Vale, which are
a branch of the vale of Keswick; upon Ullswater, stretching due east ;—and not far beyond, to the south-east (though from this point not visible), lie the vale and lake of Haweswater; and lastly, the vale of Grasmere, Rydal, and Ambleside, brings you back to Windermere, thus completing, though on the eastern side in a somewhat irregular manner, the representative figure of the wheel.
Such, concisely given, is the general topographical view of the country of the Lakes in the North of England; and it may be observed that, from the circumference to the centre, that is, from the sea or plain country to the mountain stations specified, there is in the several ridges that enclose these vales and divide them from each other, I mean in the forms and surfaces, first of the swelling grounds, next of the hills and rocks, and lastly of the mountains-an ascent of almost regular gradation, from elegance and richness to the highest point of grandeur and sublimity. It follows, therefore, from this, first, that these rocks, hills, and mountains must present themselves to view in stages rising above each other, the mountains clustering together towards the central point; and next that an observer familiar with the several vales, must, from their various positions in relation to the sun, have had before his eyes every possible embellishment of beauty, dignity, and splendour, which light and shadow can bestow upon objects so diversified.
For example, in the vale of Windermere, if the spectator looks for gentle and lovely scenes, his eye is turned towards the south; if for the grand, towards the north: in the vale of Keswick, which (as has been said) lies almost due north of this, it is directly the reverse. Hence, when the sun is setting in summer far to the north-west, it is seen by the spectator from the shores or breasts of Windermere, resting among the summits of the loftiest mountains, some of which will perhaps be half or wholly hidden by clouds, or by the blaze of light which the orb diffuses around it; and the surface of the lake will reflect before the eye correspondent colours through every
variety of beauty, and through all degrees of splendour. In the vale of Keswick, at the same period, the sun sets over the humbler regions of the landscape, and showers down upon them the radiance which at once veils and glorifies,-sending forth, meanwhile, broad streams of rosy, crimson, purple, or golden light, towards the grand mountains in the south and southeast, which, thus illuminated, with all their projections and cavities, and with an intermixture of solemn shadow, are seen distinctly through a cool and clear atmosphere. Of course, there is as marked a difference between the noontide appearance of those two opposite vales. The bedimming haze that overspreads the south, and the clear atmosphere and determined shadows of the clouds in the north, at the same time of the day, are each seen in these several vales with a contrast as striking. The reader will easily conceive in what degree the intermediate vales partake of a kindred variety.
I do not, indeed, know any tract of country in which, within so narrow a compass, may be found an equal variety in the influences of light and shadow upon the sublime or beautiful features of landscape; and it is owing to the combined circumstances to which the reader's attention has been directed. From a point between Great Gable and Scawfell, a shepherd would not require more than an hour to descend into any one of eight of the principal vales by which he would be surrounded; and all the others lie (with the exception of Haweswater) at but a small distance. Yet, though clustered together, every valley has its distinct and separate character; in some instances, as if they had been formed in studied contrast to each other, and in others with the united pleasing differences and resemblances of a sisterly rivalship. This concentration of interest gives to the country a decided superiority over the most attractive districts of Scotland and Wales, especially for the pedestrian traveller. In Scotland and Wales are found, undoubtedly, individual scenes which in their several kinds cannot be excelled. But in Scot
land particularly, what long tracts of desolate country intervene! so that the traveller, when he reaches a spot deservedly of great celebrity, would find it difficult to determine how much of his pleasure is owing to excellence inherent in the landscape itself; and how much to an instantaneous recovery from an oppression left upon his spirits by the barrenness and desolation through which he has passed.
MIST OPENING IN THE HILLS.
THROUGH the dull mist I followed-when a step,
By waking sense or by the dreaming soul!
By earthly nature had the effect, been wrought
Now pacified; on them, and on the coves
Their station under a cerulean sky.
Oh, 'twas an unimaginable sight!
Clouds, mists, streams, watery rocks, and emerald turf,
Stood fixed; and fixed resemblances were seen
But vast in size, in substance glorified;
I saw not, but I felt that it was there.
Of Spirits in beatitude: my heart
Swelled in my breast-'I have been dead,' I cried,
SCENERY OF THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT.
PART II.-MOUNTAINS AND VALES.
THE forms of the mountains are endlessly diversified, sweeping easily or boldly in simple majesty, abrupt and precipitous, or soft and elegant. In magnitude and grandeur they are individually inferior to the most celebrated of those in some other parts of this island; but in the combinations which they make, towering above each other, or lifting themselves