noticeable. Mrs. Wordsworth sat knitting at the
fireside, and she rose with a sweet expression of
courtesy and welcome as we entered the apartment.
As I had just left Paris, which was in a state of commotion,
Wordsworth was eager in his inquiries about the state
of things on the other side of the Channel. As
our talk ran in the direction of French revolutions,
he soon became eloquent and vehement, as one can easily
imagine, on such a theme. There was a deep and
solemn meaning in all he had to say about France,
which I recall now with added interest. The subject
deeply moved him, of course, and he sat looking into
the fire, discoursing in a low monotone, sometimes
quite forgetful that he was not alone and soliloquizing.
I noticed that Mrs. Wordsworth listened as if she
were hearing him speak for the first time in her life,
and the work on which she was engaged lay idle in
her lap, while she watched intently every movement
of her husband’s face. I also was absorbed
in the man and in his speech. I thought of the
long years he had lived in communion with nature in
that lonely but lovely region. The story of his
life was familiar to me, and I sat as if under the
influence of a spell. Soon he turned and plied
me with questions about the prominent men in Paris
whom I had recently seen and heard in the Chamber
of Deputies. “How did Guizot bear himself?
What part was De Tocqueville taking in the fray?
Had I noticed George Lafayette especially?” America
did not seem to concern him much, and I waited for
him to introduce the subject, if he chose to do so.
He seemed pleased that a youth from a far-away country
should find his way to Rydal cottage to worship at
the shrine of an old poet.
By and by we fell into talk about those who had been
his friends and neighbors among the hills in former
years. “And so,” he said, “you
read Charles Lamb in America?” “Yes,”
I replied, “and love him too.”
“Do you hear that, Mary?” he eagerly inquired,
turning round to Mrs. Wordsworth. “Yes,
William, and no wonder, for he was one to be loved
everywhere,” she quickly answered. Then
we spoke of Hazlitt, whom he ranked very high as a
prose-writer; and when I quoted a fine passage from
Hazlitt’s essay on Jeremy Taylor, he seemed pleased
at my remembrance of it.
He asked about Inman, the American artist, who had
painted his portrait, having been sent on a special
mission to Rydal by Professor Henry Reed of Philadelphia,
to procure the likeness. The painter’s daughter,
who accompanied her father, made a marked impression
on Wordsworth, and both he and his wife joined in
the question, “Are all the girls in America as
pretty as she?” I thought it an honor Mary Inman
might well be proud of to be so complimented by the
old bard. In speaking of Henry Reed, his manner
was affectionate and tender.