Written at Town-end, Grasmere. The characters and story from
In Cairo's crowded streets
The impatient Merchant, wondering, waits in vain,
And Mecca saddens at the long delay.
CHARLES LAMB, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
When I sent you, a few weeks ago, he tale of Peter Bell,
you asked "why THE WAGGONER was not added?"--To say the truth--
from the higher tone of imagination, and the deeper touches of
passion aimed at in the former, I apprehended this little Piece
could not accompany it without disadvantage. In the year 1806, if
I am not mistaken, THE WAGGONER was read to you in manuscript,
and, as you have remembered it for so long a time, I am the more
encouraged to hope, that, since the localities on which the Poem
partly depends did not prevent its being interesting to you, it
may prove acceptable to others. Being therefore in some measure
the cause of its present appearance, you must allow me the
gratification of inscribing it to you; in acknowledgment of the
pleasure I have derived from your Writings, and of the high esteem
I am very truly yours,
Rydal Mount, May 20, 1819.
Several years after the event that forms the subject of the
Poem, in company with my friend, the late Mr. Coleridge, I
happened to fall in with the person to whom the name of Benjamin
is given. Upon our expressing regret that we had not, for a long
time, seen upon the road either him or his waggon, he said, "They
could not do without me; and as to the man who was put in my
place, no good could come out of him; he was a man of no 'ideas'."
The fact of my discarded hero's getting the horses out of a
great difficulty with a word, as related in the poem, was told me
by an eye-witness.