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Robert Southey
by [?]

But you are not happy, simply because you want to tell some one how happy you are. What is the starlight for, save to call some one’s attention to, or the phosphorescent sheen except to be pointed out and enjoyed by two? Exquisite beauty, as revealed in music, painting, sculpture or beautiful scenery, affects me at times to tears; and there always comes creeping into my life a profound sadness, a dread homesickness, to think that in this wealth of peace and joy I am alone–alone.

Can you stand by yourself on a hillside and look across a beautiful little lake to the woods beyond; or walk through a pine-forest, where the needles sink as a carpet beneath your feet, and the air is full of the pungent odor of the pine, and the gently swaying tree-tops overhead croon you a lullaby–can you enjoy all this without an exquisite melancholy, and a joy that hurts, piercing your soul? It’s homesickness, that’s all; you want to go home and tell some one how happy you are. Give me solitude, sweet solitude, but in my solitude give me still one friend to whom I may murmur, Solitude is sweet.

* * * * *

That about the sea and the forest, the wooded hillside and the little lake may not be the exact words, but the thought is there just as White Pigeon expressed it to me that evening when we sat on the mossy bank of the lake at Grasmere and threw pebbles into the water.

I had come up from Liverpool to Bowness, walked over to Ambleside and along the lake to Grasmere. My luggage consisted of a comb, a toothbrush and a stout second-growth East Aurora hickory stick.

At Grasmere I applied at the Red Lion Inn for supper and lodging. The landlady looked at my dusty, rusty corduroys, paused, coughed and asked where my luggage was. Wishing to be honest, I displayed the luggage aforementioned. She did not smile. She was a large person, sober, sedate, sincere and also serious, with a big bunch of keys dangling from a waist that once was Grecian. And she told me right there that if I wanted accommodations I would have to pay in advance. I demurred, pleaded and finally explained that I had lost my money and had sent to New York for a remittance, I was a remittance-man. Had this been true, it were sad, yet I had a hundred pounds sterling in my belt; but it just came to me to see how it would feel to be penniless and friendless and plead for charity. It is not hard to plead for charity when one has a pocket full of money.

So I pleaded. But it was of no avail.

I requested a drink of water. This was denied. Then I asked if I could wash in the lake; and this favor was granted, and the advice volunteered that it would be a good thing to do. And further the kind lady made a motion toward a dangling red tassel that hung from a rope, and suggested that I get me to a gunnery and quickly, too, otherwise she would have to call the porter.

I felt to see that my money was all right–to assure myself it was no jest in earnest–and departed. Being singularly psychic to suggestion I followed the thought that I wash in the lake, and started in that direction, along a footpath that led across a meadow, over a stile. A thick growth of bushes lined the lake for aways, and then the footpath seemed to follow right through the undergrowth. I pushed the green branches aside, and continued along for about a hundred feet, when I stood on the green, grass-covered bank of the beautiful “Windermere.” Daffodils lined the water’s edge–the daffodils of Wordsworth–down the lake were the white wings of several sailboats; the sun had gone down, but his long rays of gold still pierced the sky, while across the water arose, silent and majestic, the dark purple hills.