18th.—Walked after dinner beyond Woodlands. A sharp and very cold evening; first observed the crescent moon, a silvery line, a thready bow, attended by Jupiter and Venus in their palest hues.
19th.—I walked to Stowey before dinner; W[illia]m unable to go all the way. Returned alone; a fine sunny, clear, frosty day. The sea still, and blue, and broad, and smooth.
20th.—Walked after dinner towards Woodlands.
21st.—Coleridge came in the morning, which prevented our walking. W[illia]m. went through the wood with him towards Stowey; a very stormy night.
22nd.—Coleridge came in the morning to dinner. W[illia]m. and I walked after dinner to Woodlands; the moon and two planets; sharp and frosty. Met a razor-grinder with a soldier's jacket on, a knapsack upon his back, and a boy to drag his wheel. The sea very black, and making a loud noise as we came through the wood, loud as if disturbed, and the wind was silent.
23rd.—William walked with Coleridge in the morning. I did not go out.
24th.—Went to the hill-top. Sat a considerable time overlooking the country towards the sea. The air blew pleasantly round us. The landscape mildly interesting. The Welsh hills capped by a huge range of tumultuous white clouds. The sea, spotted with white, of a bluish grey in general, and streaked with darker lines. The near shores clear; scattered farm houses, half-concealed by green mossy orchards, fresh straw lying at the doors; hay-stacks in the fields. Brown fallows, the springing wheat, like a shade of green over the brown earth, and the choice meadow plots, full of sheep and lambs, of a soft and vivid green; a few wreaths of blue smoke, spreading along the ground; the oaks and beeches in the hedges retaining their yellow leaves; the distant prospect on the land side, islanded with sunshine; the sea, like a basin full to the margin; the dark fresh-ploughed fields; the turnips of a lively rough green. Returned through the wood.
25th.—I lay down in the morning, though the whole day was very pleasant, and the evening fine. We did not walk.
26th.—Coleridge came in the morning, and Mr. and Mrs. Cruikshank; walked with Coleridge nearly to Stowey after dinner. A very clear afternoon. We lay sidelong upon the turf, and gazed on the landscape till it melted into more than natural loveliness. The sea very uniform, of a pale greyish blue, only one distant bay, bright and blue as a sky; had there been a vessel sailing up it, a perfect image of delight. Walked to the top of a high hill to see a fortification. Again sat down to feed upon the prospect; a magnificent scene, curiously spread out for even minute inspection, though so extensive that the mind is afraid to calculate its bounds. A winter prospect shows every cottage, every farm, and the forms of distant trees, such as in summer have no distinguishing mark. On our return, Jupiter and Venus before us. While the twilight still overpowered the light of the moon, we were reminded that she was shining bright above our heads, by our faint shadows going before us. We had seen her on the tops of the hills, melting into the blue sky. Poole called while we were absent.
27th.—I walked to Stowey in the evening. Wm. and Basil went with me through the wood. The prospect bright, yet mildly beautiful. The sea big and white, swelled to the very shores, but round and high in the middle. Coleridge returned with me, as far as the wood. A very bright moonlight night. Venus almost like another moon. Lost to us at Alfoxden long before she goes down the large white sea.
Text taken from Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals, ed. Pamela Woof (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002), p. 147.
Image: The Travellers' Breakfast by Edward Villiers Rippingille (1824), showing various famous figures of the day, such as William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The Elton Collection. (Acquired in 1981 with assistance from the V&A Purchase Fund and The National Heritage Memorial Fund).