The Tour of which the following Poems are very inadequate
remembrances was shortened by report, too well founded, of the
prevalence of Cholera at Naples. To make some amends for what was
reluctantly left unseen in the South of Italy, we visited the
Tuscan Sanctuaries among the Apennines, and the principal Italian
Lakes among the Alps. Neither of those lakes, nor of Venice, is
there any notice in these Poems, chiefly because I have touched
upon them elsewhere. See, in particular, "Descriptive Sketches,"
"Memorials of a Tour on the Continent in 1820," and a Sonnet upon
the extinction of the Venetian Republic.
"Not the less
Had his sunk eye kindled at those dear words
That spake of bards and minstrels."
His, Sir Walter Scott's eye, 'did' in fact kindle at them, for
the lines, "Places forsaken now," and the two that follow were
adopted from a poem of mine which nearly forty years ago was in
part read to him, and he never forgot them.
"Old Helvellyn's brow,
Where once together, in his day of strength,
We stood rejoicing."
Sir Humphrey Davy was with us at the time. We had ascended from
Paterdale, and I could not but admire the vigour with which Scott
scrambled along that horn of the mountain called "Striding Edge."
Our progress was necessarily slow, and was beguiled by Scott's
telling many stories and amusing anecdotes, as was his custom. Sir
H. Davy would have probably been better pleased if other topics
had occasionally been interspersed, and some discussion entered
upon: at all events he did not remain with us long at the top of
the mountain, but left us to find our way down its steep side
together into the vale of Grasmere, where, at my cottage, Mrs.
Scott was to meet us at dinner.
"With faint smile
He said,--'When I am there, although 'tis fair,
'Twill be another Yarrow.'"
See among these notes the one on "Yarrow Revisited."
"A few short steps (painful they were)."
This, though introduced here, I did not know till it was told me
at Rome by Miss Mackenzie of Seaforth, a lady whose friendly
attentions during my residence at Rome I have gratefully
acknowledged, with expressions of sincere regret that she is no
more. Miss M. told me that she accompanied Sir Walter to the
Janicular Mount, and, after showing him the grave of Tasso in the
church upon the top, and a mural monument there erected to his
memory, they left the church and stood together on the brow of the
hill overlooking the city of Rome: his daughter Anne was with
them, and she, naturally desirous, for the sake of Miss Mackenzie
especially, to have some expression of pleasure from her father,
half reproached him for showing nothing of that kind either by his
looks or voice: "How can I," replied he, "having only one leg to
stand upon, and that in extreme pain!" so that the prophecy was
more than fulfilled.
"Over waves rough and deep."
We took boat near the lighthouse at the point of the right horn
of the bay which makes a sort of natural port for Genoa; but the
wind was high, and the waves long and rough, so that I did not
feel quite recompensed by the view of the city, splendid as it
was, for the danger apparently incurred. The boatman (I had only
one) encouraged me, saying we were quite safe, but I was not a
little glad when we gained the shore, though Shelley and Byron--
one of them at least, who seemed to have courted agitation from
any quarter--would have probably rejoiced in such a situation:
more than once I believe were they both in extreme danger even on
the Lake of Geneva. Every man however has his fears of some kind
or other; and no doubt they had theirs: of all men whom I have
ever known, Coleridge had the most of passive courage in bodily
peril, but no one was so easily cowed when moral firmness was
required in miscellaneous conversation or in the daily intercourse
of social life.
"How lovely robed in forenoon light and shade,
Each ministering to each, didst thou appear,
There is not a single bay along this beautiful coast that might
not raise in a traveller a wish to take up his abode there, each
as it succeeds seems more inviting than the other; but the
desolated convent on the cliff in the bay of Savona struck my
fancy most; and had I, for the sake of my own health or that of a
dear friend, or any other cause, been desirous of a residence
abroad, I should have let my thoughts loose upon a scheme of
turning some part of this building into a habitation provided as
far as might be with English comforts. There is close by it a row
or avenue, I forget which, of tall cypresses. I could not forbear
saying to myself--"What a sweet family walk, or one for lonely
musings, would be found under the shade!" but there, probably, the
trees remained little noticed and seldom enjoyed.
"This flowering broom's dear neighbourhood."
The broom is a great ornament through the months of March and
April to the vales and hills of the Apennines, in the wild parts
of which it blows in the utmost profusion, and of course
successively at different elevations as the season advances. It
surpasses ours in beauty and fragrance but, speaking from my own
limited observation only, I cannot affirm the same of several of
their wild spring flowers, the primroses in particular, which I
saw not unfrequently but thinly scattered and languishing compared
The note at the close of this poem, upon the Oxford movement,
was intrusted to my friend Mr. Frederick Faber. I told him what I
wished to be said, and begged that, as he was intimately
acquainted with several of the Leaders of it, he would express my
thought in the way least likely to be taken amiss by them. Much of
the work they are undertaking was grievously wanted, and God grant
their endeavours may continue to prosper as they have done.
It would be ungenerous not to advert to the religious movement
that, since the composition of these verses in 1837, has made
itself felt, more or less strongly, throughout the English
Church;--a movement that takes, for its first principle, a devout
deference to the voice of Christian antiquity. It is not my office
to pass judgment on questions of theological detail; but my own
repugnance to the spirit and system of Romanism has been so
repeatedly and, I trust, feelingly expressed, that I shall not be
suspected of a leaning that way, if I do not join in the grave
charge, thrown out, perhaps in the heat of controversy, against
the learned and pious men to whose labours I allude. I speak apart
from controversy; but, with strong faith in the moral temper which
would elevate the present by doing reverence to the past, I would
draw cheerful auguries for the English Church from this movement,
as likely to restore among us a tone of piety more earnest and
real than that produced by the mere formalities of the
understanding, refusing, in a degree which I cannot but lament,
that its own temper and judgment shall be controlled by those of