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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 4: 1815-17
John Gibson Lockhart to [John Williams?], 6 January 1816

Vol. I. Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter 1: 1794-1808
Chapter 2: 1808-13
Chapter 3: 1813-15
Chapter 4: 1815-17
Chapter 5: 1817-18
Chapter 6: 1817-19
Chapter 7: 1818-20
Chapter 8: 1819-20
Chapter 9: 1820-21
Chapter 10: 1821-24
Chapter 11: 1817-24
Chapter 12: 1821-25
Chapter 13: 1826
Vol. II Contents
Chapter 14: 1826-32
Chapter 15: 1828-32
Chapter 16: 1832-36
Chapter 17: 1837-39
Chapter 18: 1837-43
Chapter 19: 1828-48
Chapter 20: 1826-52
Chapter 21: 1842-50
Chapter 22: 1850-53
Chapter 23: 1853-54
Chapter 24: Conclusion
Vol. II Index
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

[Postmark, January 6, 1816.]

John Wilson walked off to Cumberland, a fortnight ago, in the midst of the storm, in spite of his wife, whereupon Mr. Wordsworth wrote two sonnets which I have seen printed at a private press here. One of them runs thus:—

“‘And could thy gentle spirit endure no more
The solemn prating of that ignorant town?
And would’st thou come in spite of frost and frore
And border-torrents leaping furious down,
The spirit of the mountains to adore,
And human converse hold with thy calm ake?
O Wilson! I am glad for the world’s sake
The reign of virtuous impulse is not o’er.
Domestic duties we must all partake,
And wife and children should to man be dear—
But thou did’st well, my Wilson, to forsake
Thy little ones, and bear thy spouse’s tear!
(When) holier duties call, these might not shake
The (resolute) worshipper of this lone Mere.’

Wilson went on the top of the Carlisle coach part of the way; it overturned, and Wilson’s head was broken—whence sonnet the second:—

“‘An outside place my Wilson did prefer,
Tho’ warmth and bodily ease within were found,
So well befits it nature’s worshipper!
To gaze more widely o’er the snow-clad ground,
Like the world’s joys in barren coldness shining;
To list the unseen streamlets’ innocent sound
Beneath the snow a small path undermining.
Like the poetic eye which moveth slowly,
And feeds itself in darkness on things holy—
To scatter crumbs, it may be, now and then,
To the small redbreast and pure-minded wren.
These things were worthy of thy soul’s desire,
And, if I know thee, spite of scoffing men,
Who have no part in the celestial fire,
And spite of this thy bruise, thou wilt seek these again.
W. W.’”