Friday, July 25, 2008

esto perpetua

Felicia Hemans visiting the Lake District

Rydal Mount, June 24th, 1830.

Will you favour me by accepting this copy of the little volume, in the preparation of which I was so greatly indebted to your kindness? I have written your name in it, and in the other two that of Dr.______, to whom I wish you would present them with my grateful respects. I seem to be writing to you almost from the spirit-land; all is here so brightly still, so remote from everyday cares and tumults, that sometimes I can scarcely persuade myself I am not dreaming. It scarcely seems to be 'the light of common day,' that is clothing the woody mountains before me; there is something almost visionary in its soft gleams and ever-changing shadows. I am charmed with Mr. Wordsworth, whose kindness to me has quite a soothing influence over my spirits. Oh! what relief, what blessing there is in the feeling of admiration, when it can be freely poured forth! 'There is a daily beauty in his life,' which is in such lovely harmony with his poetry, that I am thankful to have witnessed and felt it. He gives me a good deal of his society, reads to me, walks with me, leads my poney when I ride, and I begin to talk with him as with a sort of paternal friend. The whole of this morning he kindly passed in reading to me a great deal from Spenser, and afterwards his own 'Laodamia,' my favourite 'Tintern Abbey,' and many of those noble sonnets which you, like myself, enjoy so much. His reading is very peculiar, but, to my ear, delightful; slow, solemn, earnest in expression more than any I have ever heard: when he reads or recites in the open air, his deep rich tones seem to proceed from a spirit-voice, and belong to the religion of the place; they harmonize so fitly with the thrilling tones of woods and waterfalls. His expressions are often strikingly poetical: 'I would not give up the mists that spiritualize our mountains for all the blue skies of Italy.' Yesterday evening he walked beside me as I rode on a long and lovely mountain-path high above Grasmere Lake: I was much interested by his showing me, carved deep into the rock, as we passed, the initials of his wife's name, inscribed there many years ago by himself, and the dear old man, like 'Old Mortality,' renews them from time to time; I could scarcely help exclaiming 'Esto perpetua'. . . .
Felicia Hemans

-from Memorials of Mrs. Hemans: with illustrations of her literary character, from her private correspondence by Henry F. Chorley in 2 volumes (London: Saunders and Otley, 1836) vol. 2, pp. 116-118.

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