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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

THE RIVER DUDDON

A SERIES OF SONNETS

XVIII

SEATHWAITE CHAPEL

SACRED Religion! "mother of form and fear,"
Dread arbitress of mutable respect,
New rites ordaining when the old are wrecked,
Or cease to please the fickle worshipper;
Mother of Love! (that name best suits thee here)
Mother of Love! for this deep vale, protect
Truth's holy lamp, pure source of bright effect,
Gifted to purge the vapoury atmosphere
That seeks to stifle it;--as in those days
When this low Pile a Gospel Teacher knew,
Whose good works formed an endless retinue:
A Pastor such as Chaucer's verse portrays;
Such as the heaven-taught skill of Herbert drew;
And tender Goldsmith crowned with deathless praise!

NOTE

10 Sonnets XVII and XVIII

The EAGLE requires a large domain for its support: but several
pairs, not many years ago, were constantly resident in this
country, building their nests in the steeps of Borrowdale,
Wastdale, Ennerdale, and on the eastern side of Helvellyn. Often
have I heard anglers speak of the grandeur of their appearance, as
they hovered over Red Tarn, in one of the coves of this mountain.
The bird frequently returns, but is always destroyed. Not long
since, one visited Rydal lake, and remained some hours near its
banks: the consternation which it occasioned among the different
species of fowl, particularly the herons, was expressed by loud
screams. The horse also is naturally afraid of the eagle.--There
were several Roman stations among these mountains; the most
considerable seems to have been in a meadow at the head of
Windermere, established, undoubtedly, as a check over the passes
of Kirkstone, Dunmail-raise, and of Hardknot and Wrynose. On the
margin of Rydal lake, a coin of Trajan was discovered very
lately.--The ROMAN FORT here alluded to, called by the country
people "Hardknot Castle," is most impressively situated half-way
down the hill on the right of the road that descends from Hardknot
into Eskdale. It has escaped the notice of most antiquarians, and
is but slightly mentioned by Lysons.--The DRUIDICAL CIRCLE is
about half a mile to the left of the road ascending Stoneside from
the vale of Duddon: the country people call it "Sunken Church."

The reader who may have been interested in the foregoing Sonnets
(which together may be considered as a Poem) will not be
displeased to find in this place a prose account of the Duddon,
extracted from Green's comprehensive "Guide to the Lakes," lately
published. "The road leading from Coniston to Broughton is over
high ground, and commands a view of the River Duddon; which, at
high water, is a grand sight, having the beautiful and fertile
lands of Lancashire and Cumberland stretching each way from its
margin. In this extensive view, the face of nature is displayed in
a wonderful variety of hill and dale, wooded grounds and
buildings; amongst the latter Broughton Tower, seated on the crown
of a hill, rising elegantly from the valley, is an object of
extraordinary interest. Fertility on each side is gradually
diminished, and lost in the superior heights of Blackcomb, in
Cumberland, and the high lands between Kirkby and Ulverstone.

"The road from Broughton to Seathwaite is on the banks of the
Duddon, and on its Lancashire side it is of various elevations.
The river is an amusing companion, one while brawling and tumbling
over rocky precipices, until the agitated water becomes again calm
by arriving at a smoother and less precipitous bed, but its course
is soon again ruffled, and the current thrown into every variety
of foam which the rocky channel of a river can give to water."--
"Vide Green's Guide to the Lakes," vol. i. pp. 98-100.

After all, the traveller would be most gratified who should
approach this beautiful Stream, neither at its source, as is done
in the Sonnets, nor from its termination; but from Coniston over
Walna Scar; first descending into a little circular valley, a
collateral compartment of the long winding vale through which
flows the Duddon. This recess, towards the close of September,
when the after-grass of the meadows is still of a fresh green,
with the leaves of many of the trees faded, but perhaps none
fallen, is truly enchanting. At a point elevated enough to show
the various objects in the valley, and not so high as to diminish
their importance, the stranger will instinctively halt. On the
foreground, a little below the most favourable station, a rude
foot-bridge is thrown over the bed of the noisy brook foaming by
the wayside. Russet and craggy hills, of bold and varied outline,
surround the level valley, which is besprinkled with grey rocks
plumed with birch trees. A few homesteads are interspersed, in
some places peeping out from among the rocks like hermitages,
whose site has been chosen for the benefit of sunshine as well as
shelter; in other instances, the dwelling-house, barn, and byre,
compose together a cruciform structure, which, with its embowering
trees, and the ivy clothing part of the walls and roof like a
fleece, call to mind the remains of an ancient abbey. Time, in
most cases, and nature everywhere, have given a sanctity to the
humble works of man that are scattered over this peaceful
retirement. Hence a harmony of tone and colour, a consummation and
perfection of beauty, which would have been marred had aim or
purpose interfered with the course of convenience, utility, or
necessity. This unvitiated region stands in no need of the veil of
twilight to soften or disguise its features. As it glistens in the
morning sunshine, it would fill the spectator's heart with
gladsomeness. Looking from our chosen station, he would feel an
impatience to rove among its pathways, to be greeted by the
milkmaid, to wander from house to house exchanging "good-morrows"
as he passed the open doors; but, at evening, when the sun is set,
and a pearly light gleams from the western quarter of the sky,
with an answering light from the smooth surface of the meadows;
when the trees are dusky, but each kind still distinguishable;
when the cool air has condensed the blue smoke rising from the
cottage chimneys; when the dark mossy stones seem to sleep in the
bed of the foaming brook; 'then' he would be unwilling to move
forward, not less from a reluctance to relinquish what he beholds,
than from an apprehension of disturbing, by his approach, the
quietness beneath him. Issuing from the plain of this valley, the
brook descends in a rapid torrent passing by the churchyard of
Seathwaite. The traveller is thus conducted at once into the midst
of the wild and beautiful scenery which gave occasion to the
Sonnets from the 14th to the 20th inclusive. From the point where
the Seathwaite brook joins the Duddon is a view upwards into the
pass through which the river makes its way into the plain of
Donnerdale. The perpendicular rock on the right bears the ancient
British name of THE PEN; the one opposite is called WALLA-BARROW
CRAG, a name that occurs in other places to designate rocks of the
same character. The 'chaotic' aspect of the scene is well marked
by the expression of a stranger, who strolled out while dinner was
preparing, and at his return, being asked by his host, "What way
he had been wandering?" replied, "As far as it is 'finished'!"

The bed of the Duddon is here strewn with large fragments of
rocks fallen from aloft; which, as Mr. Green truly says, "are
happily adapted to the many-shaped waterfalls" (or rather
waterbreaks, for none of them are high) "displayed in the short
space of half a mile." That there is some hazard in frequenting
these desolate places, I myself have had proof; for one night an
immense mass of rock fell upon the very spot where, with a friend,
I had lingered the day before. "The concussion," says Mr. Green,
speaking of the event (for he also, in the practice of his art, on
that day sat exposed for a still longer time to the same peril),
"was heard, not without alarm, by the neighbouring shepherds." But
to return to Seathwaite Churchyard: it contains the following
inscription:--

"In memory of the Reverend Robert Walker, who died the 25th of
June 1802, in the 93d year of his age, and 67th of his curacy at
Seathwaite.

"Also, of Anne his wife, who died the 28th of January, in the
93d year of her age."

In the parish-register of Seathwaite Chapel is this notice:--

"Buried, June 28th, the Rev. Robert Walker. He was curate of
Seathwaite sixty-six years. He was a man singular for his
temperance, industry, and integrity."

This individual is the Pastor alluded to, in the 18th Sonnet, as
a worthy compeer of the country parson of Chaucer, etc. In the
seventh book of the Excursion, an abstract of his character is
given, beginning,

"A Priest abides before whose life such doubts
Fall to the ground;--"

and some account of his life, for it is worthy of being recorded,
will not be out of place here.

MEMOIR OF THE REV. ROBERT WALKER

In the year 1709, Robert Walker was born at Under-crag, in
Seathwaite; he was the youngest of twelve children. His eldest
brother, who inherited the small family estate, died at Under-
crag, aged ninety-four, being twenty-four years older than the
subject of this memoir, who was born of the same mother. Robert
was a sickly infant; and, through his boyhood and youth,
continuing to be of delicate frame and tender health, it was
deemed best, according to the country phrase, to 'breed him a
scholar'; for it was not likely that he would be able to earn a
livelihood by bodily labour. At that period few of these dales
were furnished with schoolhouses; the children being taught to
read and write in the chapel; and in the same consecrated
building, where he officiated for so many years both as preacher
and schoolmaster, he himself received the rudiments of his
education. In his youth he became schoolmaster at Loweswater; not
being called upon, probably, in that situation to teach more than
reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, by the assistance of a
"Gentleman" in the neighbourhood, he acquired, at leisure hours, a
knowledge of the classics, and became qualified for taking holy
orders. Upon his ordination, he had the offer of two curacies: the
one, Torver, in the vale of Coniston,--the other, Seathwaite, in
his native vale. The value of each was the same, viz. five pounds
'per annum'; but the cure of Seathwaite having a cottage attached
to it, as he wished to marry, he chose it in preference. The young
person on whom his affections were fixed, though in the condition
of a domestic servant, had given promise, by her serious and
modest deportment, and by her virtuous dispositions, that she was
worthy to become the helpmate of a man entering upon a plan of
life such as he had marked out for himself. By her frugality she
had stored up a small sum of money, with which they began
housekeeping. In 1735 or 1736, he entered upon his curacy; and,
nineteen years afterwards, his situation is thus described, in
some letters to be found in the Annual Register for 1760, from
which the following is extracted:--

"To Mr. ----

"Coniston, July 26, 1754.

"SIR--I was the other day upon a party of pleasure, about five
or six miles from this place, where I met with a very striking
object, and of a nature not very common. Going into a clergyman's
house (of whom I had frequently heard), I found him sitting at the
head of a long square table, such as is commonly used in this
country by the lower class of people, dressed in a coarse blue
frock, trimmed with black horn buttons; a checked shirt, a
leathern strap about his neck for a stock, a coarse apron, and a
pair of great wooden-soled shoes plated with iron to preserve them
(what we call clogs in these parts), with a child upon his knee,
eating his breakfast; his wife, and the remainder of his children,
were some of them employed in waiting upon each other, the rest in
teasing and spinning wool, at which trade he is a great
proficient; and moreover, when it is made ready for sale, will lay
it, by sixteen or thirty-two pounds' weight, upon his back, and on
foot, seven or eight miles, will carry it to the market, even in
the depth of winter. I was not much surprised at all this, as you
may possibly be, having heard a great deal of it related before.
But I must confess myself astonished with the alacrity and the
good humour that appeared both in the clergyman and his wife, and
more so at the sense and ingenuity of the clergyman himself." *
*

Then follows a letter from another person, dated 1755, from
which an extract shall be given:--

"By his frugality and good management he keeps the wolf from the
door, as we say; and if he advances a little in the world, it is
owing more to his own care than to anything else he has to rely
upon. I don't find his inclination is running after further
preferment. He is settled among the people, that are happy among
themselves; and lives in the greatest unanimity and friendship
with them; and, I believe, the minister and people are exceedingly
satisfied with each other; and indeed how should they be
dissatisfied when they have a person of so much worth and probity
for their pastor? A man who, for his candour and meekness, his
sober, chaste, and virtuous conversation, his soundness in
principle and practice, is an ornament to his profession, and an
honour to the country he is in; and bear with me if I say, the
plainness of his dress, the sanctity of his manners, the
simplicity of his doctrine, and the vehemence of his expression,
have a sort of resemblance to the pure practice of primitive
Christianity."

We will now give his own account of himself, to be found in the
same place.

FROM THE REV. ROBERT WALKER

"SIR--Yours of the 26th instant was communicated to me by Mr. C-
---, and I should have returned an immediate answer, but the hand
of Providence, then laying heavy upon an amiable pledge of
conjugal endearment, hath since taken from me a promising girl,
which the disconsolate mother too pensively laments the loss of;
though we have yet eight living, all healthful, hopeful children,
whose names and ages are as follows:--Zaccheus, aged almost
eighteen years; Elizabeth, sixteen years and ten months; Mary,
fifteen; Moses, thirteen years and three months; Sarah, ten years
and three months; Mabel, eight years and three months; William
Tyson, three years and eight months; and Anne Esther, one year and
three months; besides Anne, who died two years and six months ago,
and was then aged between nine and ten; and Eleanor, who died the
23d inst., January, aged six years and ten months. Zaccheus, the
eldest child, is now learning the trade of a tanner, and has two
years and a half of his apprenticeship to serve. The annual income
of my chapel at present, as near as I can compute it, may amount
to about 17l., of which is paid in cash, viz. 5l. from the bounty
of Queen Anne, and 5l. from W. P., Esq., of P----, out of the
annual rents, he being lord of the manor, and 3l. from the several
inhabitants of L----, settled upon the tenements as a rent-charge;
the house and gardens I value at 4l. yearly, and not worth more;
and I believe the surplice fees and voluntary contributions, one
year with another, may be worth 3l.; but as the inhabitants are
few in number, and the fees very low, this last-mentioned sum
consists merely in free-will offerings.

"I am situated greatly to my satisfaction with regard to the
conduct and behaviour of my auditory, who not only live in the
happy ignorance of the follies and vices of the age, but in mutual
peace and goodwill with one another, and are seemingly (I hope
really too) sincere Christians, and sound members of the
established church, not one dissenter of any denomination being
amongst them all. I got to the value of 40l. for my wife's
fortune, but had no real estate of my own, being the youngest son
of twelve children, born of obscure parents; and, though my income
has been but small, and my family large, yet, by a providential
blessing upon my own diligent endeavours, the kindness of friends,
and a cheap country to live in, we have always had the necessaries
of life. By what I have written (which is a true and exact
account, to the best of my knowledge) I hope you will not think
your favour to me out of the late worthy Dr. Stratford's effects
quite misbestowed, for which I must ever gratefully own myself,
Sir, your much obliged and most obedient humble servant,
"R. W., Curate of S----.

"To Mr. C., of Lancaster."

About the time when this letter was written, the Bishop of
Chester recommended the scheme of joining the curacy of Ulpha to
the contiguous one of Seathwaite, and the nomination was offered
to Mr. Walker; but an unexpected difficulty arising, Mr. W., in a
letter to the Bishop (a copy of which, in his own beautiful
handwriting, now lies before me), thus expresses himself. "If he,"
meaning the person in whom the difficulty originated, "had
suggested any such objection before, I should utterly have
declined any attempt to the curacy of Ulpha: indeed, I was always
apprehensive it might be disagreeable to my auditory at
Seathwaite, as they have been always accustomed to double duty,
and the inhabitants of Ulpha despair of being able to support a
schoolmaster who is not curate there also; which suppressed all
thoughts in me of serving them both." And in a second letter to
the Bishop he writes:--

"MY LORD--I have the favour of yours of the 1st instant, and am
exceedingly obliged on account of the Ulpha affair: if that curacy
should lapse into your Lordship's hands, I would beg leave rather
to decline than embrace it; for the chapels of Seathwaite and
Ulpha, annexed together, would be apt to cause a general
discontent among the inhabitants of both places; by either
thinking themselves slighted, being only served alternately, or
neglected in the duty, or attributing it to covetousness in me;
all which occasions of murmuring I would willingly avoid." And in
concluding his former letter, he expresses a similar sentiment
upon the same occasion, "desiring, if it be possible, however, as
much as in me lieth, to live peaceably with all men."

The year following, the curacy of Seathwaite was again
augmented; and, to effect this augmentation, fifty pounds had been
advanced by himself; and, in 1760, lands were purchased with eight
hundred pounds. Scanty as was his income, the frequent offer of
much better benefices could not tempt Mr. W. to quit a situation
where he had been so long happy, with a consciousness of being
useful. Among his papers I find the following copy of a letter,
dated 1775, twenty years after his refusal of the curacy of Ulpha,
which will show what exertions had been made for one of his sons.

"MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE--Our remote situation here makes it
difficult to get the necessary information for transacting
business regularly; such is the reason of my giving your Grace the
present trouble.

"The bearer (my son) is desirous of offering himself candidate
for deacon's orders at your Grace's ensuing ordination; the first,
on the 25th instant, so that his papers could not be transmitted
in due time. As he is now fully at age, and I have afforded him
education to the utmost of my ability, it would give me great
satisfaction (if your Grace would take him, and find him
qualified) to have him ordained. His constitution has been tender
for some years; he entered the college of Dublin, but his health
would not permit him to continue there, or I would have supported
him much longer. He has been with me at home above a year, in
which time he has gained great strength of body, sufficient, I
hope, to enable him for performing the function. Divine
Providence, assisted by liberal benefactors, has blest my
endeavours, from a small income, to rear a numerous family; and as
my time of life renders me now unfit for much future expectancy
from this world, I should be glad to see my son settled in a
promising way to acquire an honest livelihood for himself. His
behaviour, so far in life, has been irreproachable; and I hope he
will not degenerate, in principles or practice, from the precepts
and pattern of an indulgent parent. Your Grace's favourable
reception of this, from a distant corner of the diocese, and an
obscure hand, will excite filial gratitude, and a due use shall be
made of the obligation vouchsafed thereby to your Grace's very
dutiful and most obedient Son and Servant, ROBERT WALKER.'

The same man, who was thus liberal in the education of his
numerous family, was even munificent in hospitality as a parish
priest. Every Sunday were served upon the long table, at which he
has been described sitting with a child upon his knee, messes of
broth for the refreshment of those of his congregation who came
from a distance, and usually took their seats as parts of his own
household. It seems scarcely possible that this custom could have
commenced before the augmentation of his cure; and what would to
many have been a high price of self-denial was paid, by the pastor
and his family, for this gratification; as the treat could only be
provided by dressing at one time the whole, perhaps, of their
weekly allowance of fresh animal food; consequently, for a
succession of days, the table was covered with cold victuals only.
His generosity in old age may be still further illustrated by a
little circumstance relating to an orphan grandson, then ten years
of age, which I find in a copy of a letter to one of his sons; he
requests that half a guinea may be left for "little Robert's
pocket-money," who was then at school: intrusting it to the care
of a lady, who, as he says, "may sometimes frustrate his
squandering it away foolishly," and promising to send him an equal
allowance annually for the same purpose. The conclusion of the
same letter is so characteristic, that I cannot forbear to
transcribe it. "We," meaning his wife and himself, "are in our
wonted state of health, allowing for the hasty strides of old age
knocking daily at our door, and threateningly telling us we are
not only mortal, but must expect ere long to take our leave of our
ancient cottage, and lie down in our last dormitory. Pray pardon
my neglect to answer yours: let us hear sooner from you, to
augment the mirth of the Christmas holidays. Wishing you all the
pleasures of the approaching season, I am, dear Son, with lasting
sincerity, yours affectionately,
"ROBERT WALKER."

He loved old customs and old usages, and in some instances stuck
to them to his own loss; for, having had a sum of money lodged in
the hands of a neighbouring tradesman, when long course of time
had raised the rate of interest, and more was offered, he refused
to accept it; an act not difficult to one, who, while he was
drawing seventeen pounds a year from his curacy, declined, as we
have seen, to add the profits of another small benefice to his
own, lest he should be suspected of cupidity. From this vice he
was utterly free; he made no charge for teaching school; such as
could afford to pay gave him what they pleased. When very young,
having kept a diary of his expenses, however trifling, the large
amount, at the end of the year, surprised him; and from that time
the rule of his life was to be economical, not avaricious. At his
decease he left behind him no less a sum than 2000l.; and such a
sense of his various excellences was prevalent in the country,
that the epithet of WONDERFUL is to this day attached to his name.

There is in the above sketch something so extraordinary as to
require further 'explanatory' details.--And to begin with his
industry; eight hours in each day, during five days in the week,
and half of Saturday, except when the labours of husbandry were
urgent, he was occupied in teaching. His seat was within the rails
of the altar; the communion table was his desk; and, like
Shenstone's schoolmistress, the master employed himself at the
spinning-wheel, while the children were repeating their lessons by
his side. Every evening, after school hours, if not more
profitably engaged, he continued the same kind of labour,
exchanging, for the benefit of exercise, the small wheel, at which
he had sate, for the large one on which wool is spun, the spinner
stepping to and fro. Thus was the wheel constantly in readiness to
prevent the waste of a moment's time. Nor was his industry with
the pen, when occasion called for it, less eager. Intrusted with
extensive management of public and private affairs, he acted, in
his rustic neighbourhood, as scrivener, writing out petitions,
deeds of conveyance, wills, covenants, etc., with pecuniary gain
to himself, and to the great benefit of his employers. These
labours (at all times considerable) at one period of the year,
viz. between Christmas and Candlemas, when money transactions are
settled in this country, were often so intense, that he passed
great part of the night, and sometimes whole nights, at his desk.
His garden also was tilled by his own hand; he had a right of
pasturage upon the mountains for a few sheep and a couple of cows,
which required his attendance; with this pastoral occupation he
joined the labours of husbandry upon a small scale, renting two or
three acres in addition to his own less than one acre of glebe;
and the humblest drudgery which the cultivation of these fields
required was performed by himself.

He also assisted his neighbours in hay-making and shearing their
flocks, and in the performance of this latter service he was
eminently dexterous. They, in their turn, complimented him with
the present of a haycock, or a fleece; less as a recompence for
this particular service than as a general acknowledgment. The
Sabbath was in a strict sense kept holy; the Sunday evenings being
devoted to reading the Scripture and family prayer. The principal
festivals appointed by the Church were also duly observed; but
through every other day in the week, through every week in the
year, he was incessantly occupied in work of hand or mind; not
allowing a moment for recreation, except upon a Saturday
afternoon, when he indulged himself with a Newspaper, or sometimes
with a Magazine. The frugality and temperance established in his
house were as admirable as the industry. Nothing to which the name
of luxury could be given was there known; in the latter part of
his life, indeed, when tea had been brought into almost general
use, it was provided for visitors, and for such of his own family
as returned occasionally to his roof, and had been accustomed to
this refreshment elsewhere; but neither he nor his wife ever
partook of it. The raiment worn by his family was comely and
decent, but as simple as their diet; the home-spun materials were
made up into apparel by their own hands. At the time of the
decease of this thrifty pair, their cottage contained a large
store of webs of woollen and linen cloth, woven from thread of
their own spinning. And it is remarkable that the pew in the
chapel in which the family used to sit, remains neatly lined with
woollen cloth spun by the pastor's own hands. It is the only pew
in the chapel so distinguished; and I know of no other instance of
his conformity to the delicate accommodations of modern times. The
fuel of the house, like that of their neighbours, consisted of
peat, procured from the mosses by their own labour. The lights by
which, in the winter evenings, their work was performed, were of
their own manufacture, such as still continue to be used in these
cottages; they are made of the pith of rushes dipped in any
unctuous substance that the house affords. 'White' candles, as
tallow candles are here called, were reserved to honour the
Christmas festivals, and were perhaps produced upon no other
occasions. Once a month, during the proper season, a sheep was
drawn from their small mountain flock, and killed for the use of
the family; and a cow, towards the close of the year, was salted
and dried for winter provision; the hide was tanned to furnish
them with shoes.--By these various resources, this venerable
clergyman reared a numerous family, not only preserving them, as
he affectingly says, "from wanting the necessaries of life;" but
affording them an unstinted education, and the means of raising
themselves in society. In this they were eminently assisted by the
effects of their father's example, his precepts, and injunctions:
he was aware that truth-speaking, as a moral virtue, is best
secured by inculcating attention to accuracy of report even on
trivial occasions; and so rigid were the rules of honesty by which
he endeavoured to bring up his family, that if one of them had
chanced to find in the lanes or fields anything of the least use
or value without being able to ascertain to whom it belonged, he
always insisted upon the child's carrying it back to the place
from which it had been brought.

No one, it might be thought, could, as has been described,
convert his body into a machine, as it were, of industry for the
humblest uses, and keep his thoughts so frequently bent upon
secular concerns, without grievous injury to the more precious
parts of his nature. How could the powers of intellect thrive, or
its graces be displayed, in the midst of circumstances apparently
so unfavourable, and where, to the direct cultivation of the mind,
so small a portion of time was allotted? But, in this
extraordinary man, things in their nature adverse were reconciled.
His conversation was remarkable, not only for being chaste and
pure, but for the degree in which it was fervent and eloquent; his
written style was correct, simple, and animated. Nor did his
'affections' suffer more than his intellect; he was tenderly alive
to all the duties of his pastoral office: the poor and needy "he
never sent empty away,"--the stranger was fed and refreshed in
passing that unfrequented vale--the sick were visited; and the
feelings of humanity found further exercise among the distresses
and embarrassments in the worldly estate of his neighbours, with
which his talents for business made him acquainted, and the
disinterestedness, impartiality, and uprightness which he
maintained in the management of all affairs confided to him were
virtues seldom separated in his own conscience from religious
obligation. Nor could such conduct fail to remind those who
witnessed it of a spirit nobler than law or custom: they felt
convictions which, but for such intercourse, could not have been
afforded, that as in the practice of their pastor there was no
guile, so in his faith there was nothing hollow; and we are
warranted in believing that upon these occasions selfishness,
obstinacy, and discord would often give way before the breathings
of his good-will and saintly integrity. It may be presumed also--
while his humble congregation were listening to the moral precepts
which he delivered from the pulpit, and to the Christian
exhortations that they should love their neighbours as themselves,
and do as they would be done unto--that peculiar efficacy was
given to the preacher's labours by recollections in the minds of
his congregation that they were called upon to do no more than his
own actions were daily setting before their eyes.

The afternoon service in the chapel was less numerously attended
than that of the morning, but by a more serious auditory; the
lesson from the New Testament, on those occasions, was accompanied
by Burkitt's Commentaries. These lessons he read with impassioned
emphasis, frequently drawing tears from his hearers, and leaving a
lasting impression upon their minds. His devotional feelings and
the powers of his own mind were further exercised, along with
those of his family, in perusing the Scriptures: not only on the
Sunday evenings, but on every other evening, while the rest of the
household were at work, some one of the children, and in her turn
the servant, for the sake of practice in reading, or for
instruction, read the Bible aloud; and in this manner the whole
was repeatedly gone through. That no common importance was
attached to the observance of religious ordinances by his family,
appears from the following memorandum by one of his descendants,
which I am tempted to insert at length, as it is characteristic
and somewhat curious. "There is a small chapel in the county
palatine of Lancaster, where a certain clergyman has regularly
officiated above sixty years, and a few months ago administered
the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the same, to a decent number
of devout communicants. After the clergyman had received himself,
the first company out of the assembly who approached the altar,
and kneeled down to be partakers of the sacred elements, consisted
of the parson's wife, to whom he had been married upwards of sixty
years; one son and his wife; four daughters, each with her
husband; whose ages, all added together, amount to above 714
years. The several and respective distances from the place of each
of their abodes to the chapel where they all communicated, will
measure more than 1000 English miles. Though the narration will
appear surprising, it is without doubt a fact that the same
persons, exactly four years before, met at the same place, and all
joined in performance of the same venerable duty."

He was indeed most zealously attached to the doctrine and frame
of the Established Church. We have seen him congratulating himself
that he had no dissenters in his cure of any denomination. Some
allowance must be made for the state of opinion when his first
religious impressions were received, before the reader will acquit
him of bigotry, when I mention that at the time of the
augmentation of the cure, he refused to invest part of the money
in the purchase of an estate offered to him upon advantageous
terms, because the proprietor was a quaker;--whether from
scrupulous apprehension that a blessing would not attend a
contract framed for the benefit of the church between persons not
in religious sympathy with each other; or, as a seeker of peace,
he was afraid of the uncomplying disposition which at one time was
too frequently conspicuous in that sect. Of this an instance had
fallen under his own notice; for, while he taught school at
Loweswater, certain persons of that denomination had refused to
pay annual interest due under the title of Churchstock; [Mr.
Walker's charity being of that kind which "seeketh not her own,"
he would rather forego his rights than distrain for dues which the
parties liable refused, as a point of conscience, to pay.] a great
hardship upon the incumbent, for the curacy of Loweswater was then
scarcely less poor than that of Seathwaite. To what degree this
prejudice of his was blamable need not be determined;--certain it
is, that he was not only desirous, as he himself says, to live in
peace, but in love, with all men. He was placable, and charitable
in his judgments; and, however correct in conduct and rigorous to
himself, he was ever ready to forgive the trespasses of others,
and to soften the censure that was cast upon their frailties.--It
would be unpardonable to omit that, in the maintenance of his
virtues, he received due support from the partner of his long
life. She was equally strict, in attending to her share of their
joint cares, nor less diligent in her appropriate occupations. A
person who had been some time their servant in the latter part of
their lives, concluded the panegyric of her mistress by saying to
me, "She was no less excellent than her husband; she was good to
the poor; she was good to everything!" He survived for a short
time this virtuous companion. When she died, he ordered that her
body should be borne to the grave by three of her daughters and
one granddaughter; and, when the corpse was lifted from the
threshold, he insisted upon lending his aid, and feeling about,
for he was then almost blind, took hold of a napkin fixed to the
coffin; and, as a bearer of the body, entered the chapel, a few
steps from the lowly parsonage.

What a contrast does the life of this obscurely-seated, and, in
point of worldly wealth, poorly-repaid Churchman, present to that
of a Cardinal Wolsey!

"O 'tis a burthen, Cromwell, 'tis a burthen
Too heavy for a man who hopes for heaven!"

We have been dwelling upon images of peace in the moral world,
that have brought us again to the quiet enclosure of consecrated
ground in which this venerable pair lie interred. The sounding
brook, that rolls close by the churchyard, without disturbing
feeling or meditation, is now unfortunately laid bare; but not
long ago it participated, with the chapel, the shade of some
stately ash-trees, which will not spring again. While the
spectator from this spot is looking round upon the girdle of stony
mountains that encompasses the vale,--masses of rock, out of which
monuments for all men that ever existed might have been hewn--it
would surprise him to be told, as with truth he might be, that the
plain blue slab dedicated to the memory of this aged pair is a
production of a quarry in North Wales. It was sent as a mark of
respect by one of their descendants from the vale of Festiniog, a
region almost as beautiful as that in which it now lies!

Upon the Seathwaite Brook, at a small distance from the
parsonage, has been erected a mill for spinning yarn; it is a mean
and disagreeable object, though not unimportant to the spectator,
as calling to mind the momentous changes wrought by such
inventions in the frame of society--changes which have proved
especially unfavourable to these mountain solitudes. So much had
been effected by those new powers, before the subject of the
preceding biographical sketch closed his life, that their
operation could not escape his notice, and doubtless excited
touching reflections upon the comparatively insignificant results
of his own manual industry. But Robert Walker was not a man of
times and circumstances; had he lived at a later period, the
principle of duty would have produced application as unremitting;
the same energy of character would have been displayed, though in
many instances with widely-different effects.

With pleasure I annex, as illustrative and confirmatory of the
above account, extracts from a paper in the Christian
Remembrancer, October 1819: it bears an assumed signature, but is
known to be the work of the Rev. Robert Bamford, vicar of
Bishopton, in the county of Durham; a great-grandson of Mr.
Walker, whose worth it commemorates, by a record not the less
valuable for being written in very early youth.

"His house was a nursery of virtue. All the inmates were
industrious, and cleanly, and happy. Sobriety, neatness,
quietness, characterised the whole family. No railings, no
idleness, no indulgence of passion were permitted. Every child,
however young, had its appointed engagements; every hand was busy.
Knitting, spinning, reading, writing, mending clothes, making
shoes, were by the different children constantly performing. The
father himself sitting amongst them, and guiding their thoughts,
was engaged in the same occupations. * * *

"He sate up late, and rose early; when the family were at rest,
he retired to a little room which he had built on the roof of his
house. He had slated it, and fitted it up with shelves for his
books, his stock of cloth, wearing apparel, and his utensils.
There many a cold winter's night, without fire, while the roof was
glazed with ice, did he remain reading or writing till the day
dawned. He taught the children in the chapel, for there was no
schoolhouse. Yet in that cold, damp place he never had a fire. He
used to send the children in parties either to his own fire at
home or make them run up the mountain side.
* * * *
"It may be further mentioned, that he was a passionate admirer
of Nature; she was his mother and he was a dutiful child. While
engaged on the mountains, it was his greatest pleasure to view the
rising sun; and in tranquil evenings, as it slided behind the
hills, he blessed its departure. He was skilled in fossils and
plants; a constant observer of the stars and winds: the atmosphere
was his delight. He made many experiments on its nature and
properties. In summer he used to gather a multitude of flies and
insects, and, by his entertaining description, amuse and instruct
his children. They shared all his daily employments, and derived
many sentiments of love and benevolence from his observations on
the works and productions of nature. Whether they were following
him in the field, or surrounding him in school, he took every
opportunity of storing their minds with useful information.--Nor
was the circle of his influence confined to Seathwaite. Many a
distant mother has told her child of Mr. Walker, and begged him to
be as good a man.
* * * *
"Once, when I was very young, I had the pleasure of seeing and
hearing that venerable old man in his 90th year, and even then,
the calmness, the force, the perspicuity of his sermon, sanctified
and adorned by the wisdom of grey hairs, and the authority of
virtue, had such an effect upon my mind, that I never see a hoary-
headed clergyman, without thinking of Mr. Walker. * * . He
allowed no dissenter or methodist to interfere in the instruction
of the souls committed to his cure: and so successful were his
exertions, that he had not one dissenter of any denomination
whatever in the whole parish.--Though he avoided all religious
controversies, yet when age had silvered his head, and virtuous
piety had secured to his appearance reverence and silent honour,
no one, however determined in his hatred of apostolic descent,
could have listened to his discourse on ecclesiastical history and
ancient times, without thinking that one of the beloved apostles
had returned to mortality, and in that vale of peace had come to
exemplify the beauty of holiness in the life and character of Mr.
Walker.
* * * *
"Until the sickness of his wife, a few months previous to her
death, his health and spirits and faculties were unimpaired. But
this misfortune gave him such a shock that his constitution
gradually decayed. His senses, except sight, still preserved their
powers. He never preached with steadiness after his wife's death.
His voice faltered: he always looked at the seat she had used. He
could not pass her tomb without tears. He became, when alone, sad
and melancholy, though still among his friends kind and good-
humoured. He went to bed about twelve o'clock the night before his
death. As his custom was, he went, tottering and leaning upon his
daughter's arm, to examine the heavens, and meditate a few moments
in the open air. 'How clear the moon shines to-night!' He said
these words, sighed, and laid down. At six next morning he was
found a corpse. Many a tear, and many a heavy heart, and many a
grateful blessing followed him to the grave."

Having mentioned in this narrative the vale of Loweswater as a
place where Mr. Walker taught school, I will add a few memoranda
from its parish register, respecting a person apparently of
desires as moderate, with whom he must have been intimate during
his residence there.

"Let him that would, ascend the tottering seat
Of courtly grandeur, and become as great
As are his mounting wishes; but for me,
Let sweet repose and rest my portion be.
HENRY FOREST Curate."

"Honour, the idol which the most adore,
Receives no homage from my knee;
Content in privacy I value more
Than all uneasy dignity."

"Henry Forest came to Loweswater, 1708, being 25 years of age."

"This curacy was twice augmented by Queen Anne's Bounty. The
first payment, with great difficulty, was paid to Mr. John Curwen
of London, on the 9th of May, 1724, deposited by me, Henry Forest,
Curate of Loweswater. Ye said 9th of May, ye said Mr. Curwen went
to the office, and saw my name registered there, &c. This, by the
Providence of God, came by lot to this poor place.
"Haec testor H. Forest."

In another place he records that the sycamore-trees were planted
in the churchyard in 1710.

He died in 1741, having been curate thirty-four years. It is not
improbable that H. Forest was the gentleman who assisted Robert
Walker in his classical studies at Loweswater.

To this parish register is prefixed a motto, of which the
following verses are a part:

"Invigilate viri, tacito nam tempora gressu
Diffugiunt, nulloque sono convertitur annus;
Utendum est aetate, cito pede praeterit aetas."