The Angry Corrie 17: Feb-Mar 1994


Hill Diaries: Dorothy Wordsworth

Easter Sunday 1802

Oh William, William! You drive me to the very edge of distraction! How worthless it now seems, those agreements we had to adjourn Northward amid the rolling Grasmere greenhills, to start a New Life together away from all the hurly-burly of the literary set. In almost nine months thus far at Dove Cottage I have scarcely ventured further than Ambleside, even less up to where my heart truly lies - no, races! - the steeps and summit ridges of Fairfield, Dollywagon Pike, Loughrigg Fell. Why, only recently I heard tell of a noble and fear-inducing ridge, one "Striding Edge", leading straight unto the summit cairn of high Helvellyn, yet I fear the day will never come to test myself against, its castellations.

All Wm. ever wishes is to write, write, write. Flowers and clouds, pastures and peasants, gods and goddesses... All well and good, I say, we need to earn a crust, but you promised... Promised to assist old Mister Snape in repairing the roof, promised to refrain from partaking of substances with Southey, Coleridge and all the rest, promised to plant a few daffs in the garden rather than simply musing upon them. But no! Tomorrow, he says, tomorrow you may gird your skirts and venture forth. If only tomorrow would ever come!

And Coleridge! I fear he will not live to see the year's end. Only recently I hear his wanderings - which I envy greatly, though not so much as to wish to accompany his more risk-stricken jaunts - took him atop Sca Fell by a route most death-defying. By a slab named Broad Stand they say he returned, his mind quite addled by eastern intoxicants. He cannot surely cheat Death so often and so casually. At least my dear Wm stays tethered to his books and beloved Rydal Water.

But as for me... Our neighbour Beatrix tells of a town clerk in distant Kendal, Alfred Wheelwright or some such name, who has commenced compiling a "guid book" of the Lakeland heights. If only William would turn his gills to something similar, we could both perhaps find pleasure. But no, he will not listen. He has ears only for his Muse. Oft-times I despair of men.


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