Following in the footsteps of William Wordsworth
Friday 14 June 1901 - Tuesday 18 June 1901
We last left Mr. Hatch exploring the charming town of Chester, just south of Liverpool in England. He and his traveling partners - Mr. Ed Harper and his wife - spent just two more days in Chester before setting off into the English countryside.
It is now June 14th, 1901 as he writes his wife Nelly from the Moss Grove Hotel in Grasmere, England. This part of England, two hours north of Liverpool by car, is known as the Lake District and is revered throughout the country as having some of the most beautiful scenery found anywhere in England. This district, now a national park, consists of 885 square miles of lakes, rivers, valleys, and the tallest mountains in England (though Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have several mountains which are taller) including Skafell Pike. The Lake District is also intimately associated with literature in England -- William Wordsworth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wordsworth, Robert Southey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Southey, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Taylor_Coleridge are three of the most prominent authors to draw inspiration from the incredible vistas found there.
"Westmorland cairn Great Gable" by Doug Sim - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Westmorland_cairn_Great_Gable.jpg#/media/File:Westmorland_cairn_Great_Gable.jpg
William Wordsworth had an especially prominent influence on our Mr. Hatch. William frequently references the author throughout his journal and clearly read and deeply appreciated Wordsworth's poetry. By reading his journal we find that not only has Hatch read Wordsworth, not only does he own copies of the author's work, but he has a copy with him on this trip across the pond. In fact, he carries it with him throughout the trip, including the rigorous hikes and long boat rides in the Lake District.
In describing his surroundings, as we already have seen, Hatch is very observant. He relates most of what he encountered in his travels in a way which his wife, who experienced it only through his writing, would have most readily understood. For example, in describing his room at the Moss Grove Hotel to Nelly, William says "My room is about as large as the little room that Jessie [Florida] had in the little house at Rock Island [in Illinois]. I can easily touch the ceiling." He relates sunsets and valleys, food and lodgings by comparing them to what he and his wife already have knowledge of. This habit is one that any person who has traveled will often find themselves doing -- we cannot help but experience and compare new things to those which we have already cataloged in our memories. This theme is one which Hatch returns to time and again throughout his journal.
William Hatch and Mr. & Mrs. Harper in front of the Moss Grove Hotel in in Grasmere, England
Hatch was clearly more entranced by the serene views and picturesque settings of the Lake District than even the quaint town of Chester. His love of Wordsworth is understandable once he begins describing the English countryside. A romantic at heart and in the heart of the Romantic period of literature, Hatch fulfilled a life-long dream by traveling through the mountains and valleys of his hero:
Mr. Hatch clearly has many wonderful things to say about his travels, but he also shares his admiration of his companions, the Harpers:
While William is obviously enamored with the landscape of this part of England, he also is impressed with its inhabitants. In the course of one of their hikes through the Lake District, Hatch and the Harpers came upon a well-spoken shepherd:
With this encounter, Hatch is beginning to see the value of travel beyond the thrill of checking countries off of a bucket list. The shepherd in the mountains of Grasmere is the first of several people who make an impression on William Hatch in the course of his travels. It is interactions such as this - chatting with the locals and discovering their favorite parts of home - which make travel to distant cities or even more distant countries one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. One can learn more about the world in the course of a conversation with a shepherd than with months spent at work or in the classroom.
What will William Hatch learn next?
Until next time, cheers!
Interim Director, Rockford Area Historical Society