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This review is taken from PN Review 98, Volume 20 Number 6, July - August 1994.

IN THE WEAVE DOROTHY WORDSWORTH, Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland (1803) (Mercat Press) £9.95

Dorothy Wordsworth's Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland (1803) were composed for 'a few friends who could not be with us at the time.' They chart a journey of forty-two days with William Wordsworth and Coleridge, from Keswick to Glen Coe and back, in an Irish jaunting car. In addition to her stated objectives for this tour - to improve their state of health, to look at scenery and find new sources for William's flagging poetic creativity - the Recollections provide a rich source of social history.

So far as any improvement in their health, this is not made en route; Dorothy is plagued with stomach and headaches, and overwhelming fatigue. She is obliged to sleep in wet clothes on chaff in dirty inns, and eat unpalatable food. Coleridge 'soon found I was a burden on them; and William himself a brooder over his painful hypochondriacal sensations was not my fittest companion.' William complained that 'Coleridge was too much in love with his dejections (opium).' The party split up after two weeks. Coleridge went his own way.

The discovery of Scotland's scenery is a revelation, however. Dorothy uses her poetic sensibility to describe it to effect whilst lamenting 'How much we wanted in not being painters!' Her purpose is to return with a perfect remembrance of places seen. In the past, she has rounded on the picturesque. In 1803, her attitude is ambivalent, perhaps because she is writing for friends steeped in the late ...


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