More English Diaries: Further Reviews of Diaries from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century with an Introduction on Diary Reading

By Arthur Ponsonby | Go to book overview

of expressing herself and the less obvious and the more elusive the scenes she writes of, the more strikingly beautiful are her descriptions. So much writing is called romantic which fails to be romantic because it is intended to be romantic. Dorothy Wordsworth has no intention to be romantic. Indeed she probably never used the word or thought about what it implies. But this product of her personality in its particular setting and surroundings is as purely and genuinely romantic as any pages ever penned by man or woman. This applies only to her Grasmere Journal which stands apart, almost in a different category from her other travel journals.

Diarists, as we have often had cause to remark, are particularly fond of scenic descriptions. When it is a case of a cathedral or a town, a mountain range seen for the first time, a waterfall, a statue or a picture, there it is before their eyes and they select the qualities and attributes which strike them. When it is the familiar everyday scene varying only through the seasons or in sunshine and rain, they either do not see it at all or they make some brief meteorological remarks. Diarists rather fancy themselves in these descriptions; but whether it be from lack of imagination, defective powers of observation or want of literary skill, they very rarely succeed in making their observations on art or nature interesting. They either just scamp them or else they give one the idea that they are settling down to "a fine bit of writing." Many of them feel no doubt that they must write it down and however bald their remarks may seem to us, the little notes help to bring the scene back to them when in the evening of life they are perusing the old volume by the fireside. When, therefore, as a wonderful exception we find a diarist who can give us, the readers, real pleasure in what she saw, and make us feel the drops of rain and smell the rose, we ought to be, and indeed we are exceedingly grateful.

Dorothy Wordsworth kept various journals from 1798 to 1828. From the days she lived with her brother William at Alfoxden, through the Grasmere period, 1800 to 1803, when she was his constant companion, and on several occasions of tours in Scotland and abroad. The Grasmere journal reveals Dorothy Wordsworth more than the others because it is written in repose, and there is an absence of the incidents and

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More English Diaries: Further Reviews of Diaries from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century with an Introduction on Diary Reading
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • INTRODUCTION ON DIARY READING WITH NOTES ON MINOR ENGLISH DIARIES 3
  • LIST OF DIARIES ARRANGED IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. 33
  • SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES 37
  • Philip Wyot 38
  • Adam Winthrop 40
  • Margaret Lady Hoby 43
  • Lady Anne Clifford 49
  • Walter Powell 56
  • The Ishams - SIR JOHN, SIR THOMAS, AND SIR JUSTINIAN 59
  • Sir John Reresby 64
  • Anthony Ashley Cooper (first Earl of Shaftesbury) 68
  • Viscountess Mordaunt 71
  • Anthony Wood 74
  • Sir Richard Newdigate 83
  • EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 89
  • James Clegg 90
  • James Woodforde 92
  • Thomas Hollis 101
  • Nicholas Cresswell 110
  • Joseph Mydelton 115
  • William Jones 119
  • Henry White 133
  • Samuel Teedon 137
  • John Marsden 140
  • NINETEENTH CENTURY 147
  • Dorothy Wordsworth 148
  • Thomas Asline Ward 158
  • Colonel Peter Hawker 162
  • Thomas Rumney 167
  • Katherine Bisshopp (lady Pechell) 170
  • J. Vine Hall 179
  • William Kershaw 183
  • Henry Edward Fox (fourth Lord Holland) 190
  • Antony Ashley Cooper (seventh Earl of Shaftesbury) 195
  • Emily Shore 204
  • William Charles Macready 210
  • Miss J. 219
  • Ford Madox Brown 226
  • Charles Russell 234
  • Wilfrid Scawen Blunt 241
  • INDEX OF DIARIES AND CHRONICLES NOTICED IN THIS VOLUME 249
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