Friday, 20 March 2009

A wanderer above a sea of clouds

When I was a young man I was much taken with hill walking and spent many a happy hour among the fells of Cumberland. I would fancy myself the Romantic wanderer, my head full of Wordsworth and Coleridge. If I ever was happy, then it was there and then. As the poet Shelley once said:
I love all waste
And solitary places; where we taste
The pleasure of believing what we see
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be. . .

So it was that I already knew of, and could picture very clearly, the small hamlet at the foot of the Kirkstone Pass through which poor young Matthew Harter passed on the fateful day related in Mr Priestley's tale entitled The Path.

The story of The Path in Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror may seem fanciful to those who read it. I wish with all my heart that it were so. But I do not have recourse to such comfort. I know it to be true.

For I heard the story from Matthew's own ruined lips.

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