Abbildungen der Seite

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.



THROUGH the dull mist I followed-when a step,
A single step, that freed me from the skirts
Of the blind vapour, opened to my view
Glory beyond all glory ever seen

By waking sense or by the dreaming soul!
The appearance, instantaneously disclosed,
Was of a mighty city-boldly say
A wilderness of building, sinking far
And self-withdrawn into a boundless depth,
Far sinking into splendour-without end!
Fabric it seemed of diamond and of gold,
With alabaster domes, and silver spires,
And blazing terrace upon terrace, high
Uplifted; here, serene pavilions bright,
In avenues disposed; there, towers begirt
With battlements that on their restless fronts
Bore stars-illumination of all gems!

By earthly nature had the effect, been wrought
Upon the dark materials of the storm

Now pacified; on them, and on the coves
And mountain-steeps and summits, whereunto
The vapours had receded, taking there

Their station under a cerulean sky.

Oh, 'twas an unimaginable sight!

Clouds, mists, streams, watery rocks, and emerald turf,
Clouds of all tincture, rocks, and sapphire sky,
Confused, commingled, mutually inflamed,
Molten together, and composing thus,
Each lost in each, that marvellous array
Of temple, palace, citadel, and huge
Fantastic pomp of structure without name,
In fleecy folds voluminous enwrapped.
Right in the midst, where interspace appeared
Of open court, an object like a throne
Under a shining canopy of state

Stood fixed; and fixed resemblances were seen
To implements of ordinary use,

But vast in size, in substance glorified;
Such as by Hebrew prophets were beheld
In vision-forms uncouth of mightiest power
For admiration and mysterious awe.
This little Vale, a dwelling-place of Man,
Lay low beneath my feet; 'twas visible-

I saw not, but I felt that it was there.
That which I saw was the revealed abode

Of Spirits in beatitude: my heart

Swelled in my breast-'I have been dead,' I cried,
'And now I live!'




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

in ridges like the waves of a tumultuous sea, and in the beauty and variety of their surfaces and colours, they are surpassed by none.

The general surface of the mountains is turf, rendered rich and green by the moisture of the climate. Sometimes the turf, as in the neighbourhood of Newlands, is little broken, the whole covering being soft and downy pasturage. In other places rocks predominate; the soil is laid bare by torrents and burstings of water from the sides of the mountains in heavy rains; and not unfrequently their perpendicular sides are seamed by ravines (formed also by rains and torrents), which, meeting in angular points, entrench and scar the surface with numerous figures like the letters W and Y.

In the ridge that divides Eskdale from Wastdale, granite is found; but the mountains are for the most part composed of the stone by mineralogists termed schist, which, as you approach the plain country, gives place to limestone and freestone; but schist being the substance of the mountains, the predominant colour of their rocky parts is bluish, or hoary grey-the general tint of the lichens with which the bare stone is encrusted. With this blue or grey colour is frequently intermixed a red tinge, proceeding from the iron that interveins the stone and impregnates the soil. The iron is the principle of decomposition in these rocks; and hence, when they become pulverized, the elementary particles, crumbling down, overspread in many places the steep and almost precipitous sides of the mountains with an intermixture of colours, like the compound hue of a dove's neck. When in the heat of advancing summer, the fresh green tint of the herbage has somewhat faded, it is again revived by the appearance of the fern profusely spread over the same ground and, upon this plant, more than anything else, do the changes which the seasons make in the colouring of the mountains depend. About the first week in October, the which prevailed through the whole summer, is






usually passed away.

The brilliant and various colours of the fern are then in harmony with the autumnal woods; bright yellow or lemon colour, at the base of the mountains, melting gradually through orange to a dark russet brown towards the summits, where the plant, being more exposed to the weather, is in a more advanced state of decay. Neither heath nor furze are generally found upon the sides of these mountains, though in many places they are adorned by those plants, so beautiful when in flower.

We may add, that the mountains are of height sufficient to have the surface towards the summit softened by distance, and to imbibe the finest aërial hues. In common also with other mountains, their apparent forms and colours are perpetually changed by the clouds and vapours which float round them: the effect, indeed, of mist or haze in a country of this character is like that of magic. I have seen six or seven ridges rising above each other, all created in a moment by the vapours upon the side of a mountain which, in its ordinary appearance, showed not a projecting point to furnish even a hint for such an operation.

I will take this opportunity of observing, that they who have studied the appearances of nature feel that the superiority, in point of visual interest, of mountainous over other countries is more strikingly displayed in winter than in summer. This, as must be obvious, is partly owing to the forms of the mountains, which, of course, are not affected by the seasons; but also, in no small degree, to the greater variety that exists in their winter than their summer colouring. This variety is such, and so harmoniously preserved, that it leaves little cause of regret when the splendour of autumn is passed away. The oak-coppices, upon the sides of the mountains, retain russet leaves; the birch stands conspicuous with its silver stem and puce-coloured twigs; the hollies, with green leaves and scarlet berries, have come forth to view from among the deciduous trees, whose summer foliage had concealed them; the ivy is now plentifully

apparent upon the stems and boughs of the trees, and upon the steep rocks. In place of the deep summer- green of the herbage and fern, many rich colours play into each other over the surface of the mountains; turf (the tints of which are interchangeably tawny-green, olive, and brown), beds of withered fern, and grey rocks, being harmoniously blended together. The mosses and lichens are never so fresh and flourishing as in winter, if it be not a season of frost; and their minute beauties prodigally adorn the foreground. Wherever we turn, we find these productions of nature, to which winter is rather favourable than unkindly, scattered over the walls, banks of earth, rocks, and stones, and upon the trunks of trees, with the intermixture of several species of small fern, now green and fresh; and to the observing passenger, their forms and colours are a source of inexhaustible admiration.

Add to this the hoar-frost and snow, with all the varieties they create, and which volumes would not be sufficient to describe. I will content myself with one instance of the colouring produced by snow, which may not be uninteresting to painters. It is extracted from the memorandumbook of a friend; and for its accuracy I can speak, having been an eye-witness of the appearance. 'I observed,' says he, 'the beautiful effect of the drifted snow upon the mountains, and the perfect tone of colour. From the top of the mountains downwards a rich olive was produced by the powdery snow and the grass, which olive was warmed with a little brown, and in this way harmoniously combined, by insensible gradations, with the white. The drifting took away the monotony of snow; and the whole vale of Grasmere, seen from the terrace walk in Easedale, was as varied, perhaps more so, than even in the pomp of autumn. In the distance was Loughrigg Fell, the basin-wall of the lake this, from the summit downward, was a rich orange-olive; then the lake of a bright olive-green, nearly the same tint as the snow-powdered mountain-tops and high

« ZurückWeiter »