poetry came to be associated.* A large house, in a most beautiful situation, in the vale above mentioned, on the bank of the river Greta, and about a mile from the lake, since better known under its name of Greta Hall, as the residence of Robert Southey, was then in building by a Mr. Jackson, whose name is mentioned with honour more than once in Mr. Southey's Life and Correspondence, recently published.t An

* See the amusing note to Ignoramus on the Fine Arts, No. I., "Talking of lakishness," &c. b.lao.

+ In a letter from S. T. Coleridge to R. Southey, this house and its landlord are thus described :

“Our house stands on a low hill, the whole front of which is one field and an enormous garden, nineteen-twentieths of which is an enormous nursery-garden. Behind the house is an orchard, on a steep slope, at the foot of which flows the river Greta, which winds round and catches the evening light at the front of the house. As to books, my landlord, who dwells next door, has a very respectable library, which he has put with mine,-histories, encyclopædias, and all the modern gentry.

“Our neighbour is a truly kind and affectionate man, a father to my children, and a friend to me. He was offered fifty guineas for the house in which we live, but he preferred me as a tenant at twenty-five, and get the whole of his income does not exceed, I believe, 2001. a year. A more truly generous man I never met, severely frugal, yet almost carelessly generous, and yet he got all his money as a common carrier, by hard labour, and by pennies and pennies. He is one instance, among many in this country, of the salutary effects of a love of knowledge. He was from a boy fond of learning.” Dated Greta Hall, Keswick, April 13, 1801.-Southey's Life and Correspondence.

arrangement was made by which this house when completed was to have been divided between my father and his landlord. As it turned out, the portion then completed was shared by them in common, the other portion, and eventually the whole (my father's health obliging him to quit Keswick as a place of permanent residence) being occupied by Mr. Southey, who came to reside with my father in the year 1803. These circumstances had a close connection with my brother's early life, and produced a lasting effect upon his habits and character. Mr. Jackson, a remarkable man, who, though self-educated, had acquired a taste for books, and possessed at that time the best library in the neighbourhood, with his housekeeper, Mrs. Wilson, an elderly woman of a disposition singularly affectionate and unselfish, took charge of the little Hartley on his first arrival, and becoming devotedly attached to him, retained him in their house, and more or less under their care, during the whole period of his earlier boyhood; and the unlimited indulgence with which he was treated by these good people tended, without doubt, to strengthen the many and strong peculiarities of his nature, and may perhaps have contributed to that waywardness and want of control, from which in after-life he suffered so deeply. Perhaps :-but our judgments are apt to be swayed unduly by

[ocr errors]

particular results. When we consider what he was upon the whole, “ the young lamb's heart," which he retained, “amid the full-grown flocks," it will be hard to say whether he would have gained or lost more by a sterner discipline in his childhood. Mr. Jackson became his godfather, and at his death left him a small legacy.*

* Mr. Southey regarded this excellent man with affection, and in a letter dated September 19, 1809, thus records his death :-"Poor Jackson is gone at last. I followed him to his grave to-day. A good man to whom the town of Keswick and many of its inhabitants are deeply beholden. He has left Hartley 501., to be paid when he comes of age. Had he thought of bequeathing him his books, it would have been a more suitable remembrance.”—Southey's Life and Correspondence.

From Mrs. Wilson, “ the aged friend serene” of Southey's “Pilgrimage to Waterloo," once the belle of Keswick, and a person, as Mr. Cuthbert Southey records, “ of a marvellous sweetness of temper, and sterling good sense,” I learnt many interesting particulars respecting the mode of life presented in these vales a century ago. It was in a high degree pastoral and primitive. Butcher's meat was cooked but once a-year. A small piece of salted beef, or hung mutton, as it was called, or bacon, was cooked on the Sundays, and served for the remainder of the week. The principal articles of diet were oatmeal, bread, and porridge, milk, butter, cheese and honey, and pot-herbs, not including potatoes. Tea was almost unknown. The price of butter was three-halfpence or twopence a pound. Ague was so prevalent in the vale of Keswick, that a servant-maid who came even from a few miles' distance, had to make up her mind to a “six weeks' shake," as it was called. Whether from improved drainage, or more generous diet, this liability bas long ceased to exist.

What the powers of my brother's mind were at this early age may be surmised from the following extract from a diary kept by Mr. Henry Crabb Robinson, and-kindly sent to me by that gentleman with a view to this memoir :

8th August, 1811. “AFTERWARDS stepped to Charles Lamb's. Coleridge there. A short but interesting conversation on German metaphysics. C. related some curious anecdotes of his son

There was neither surgeon or apothecary nearer than Cockermouth, at the distance of twelve miles from the town, as miles counted then. Mrs. Wilson's mother was lying-in-nurse to the whole district, and only once or twice in a long life found it necessary to call in professional assistance. The herbal was still in repute for medical, if not for magical purposes. People used to make their wills before they went to London. If to this account it be added that there were no stiff plantations of larches to offend the poet's eye, that villas were unknown, the few large houses being occupied by old country families, and that, to descend to particulars, Latrigg was in a state of nature, it will be inferred that the lakes and mountains to which we have now such ready access by rail and steamboat, do not present quite the same features, either to the eye or mind, as when they were visited by Gray. It would be a gross exaggeration to say that they have been spoiled by the hand of art and the progress of civilisation. It would be affectation to deny that they have been rendered in many ways more desirable as a place of residence. Yet it would be something to spend a summer—if not, for a world-weary man, the remainder of a life—in the vale of Derwentwater, as it was a hundred years ago. These reflections may be excused in a native of the place, whose recollections date from a time when the change had not proceeded more than half way.

Hartley, whom he represented to be a most remarkable child—a deep thinker in his infancy. He tormented himself in his attempts to solve the problems that would equally torment the full-grown man, if the world and its cares and pleasures did not distract his attention. Hartley, when about five years old, was asked a question about himself being called Hartley. Which Hartley ?' asked the boy. • Why! is there more than one Hartley?' 'Yes,' he replied;

there's a deal of Hartleys.' 'How so?' There's PictureHartley (Hazlitt had painted a portrait of him), and ShadowHartley, and there's Echo-Hartley, and there's Catch-mefast-Hartley;' at the same time seizing his own arm with the other hand very eagerly—an action which shows that his mind must have been drawn to reflect on what Kant calls the great and inexplicable mystery, viz., that man should be both his own subject and object, and that these two should be one.

“At the same early age, continued Coleridge, Hartley used to be in agony of thought, puzzling himself about the reality of existence. As when some one said to him, “It is not now, but it is to be.' 'But,' said be, 'if it is to be, it is.' Perhaps this confusion of thought lay not merely in the imperfection of language. Hartley, when a child, had no pleasure in things ; they made no impression on him till they had undergone a process in his mind, and were become thoughts or feelings. Of his subsequent progress Coleridge said little or nothing.”

Of this incident my father himself gives a somewhat fuller account in a letter to Miss Wordsworth, dated February 9, 1801, which determines my brother's age at the time: four years, four months, and twenty days.

“I had a very long conversation with Hartley about Life, Reality, Pictures, and Thinking, this evening. I wish you

« 前へ次へ »