July 26, 1847
FR has been in the Lakes District now for a month. "Depend on it," she writes to Rev. Irons, "the mountains have waked a new chord in my lyre." She is finally seeing real mountains after years of copying those in other paintings, and she decides that no painting can come up to the colours as they truly are.
So far she has climbed only one, the minor one at the head of the lake. That day "all was purple splendour with waves of silver clouds forming and breaking over the summits. . . . The continual action of the clouds on the hues and forms of the mountains no painting can even attempt, nor had I imagined; you look in amazed delight, and it is gone, and another form, as beautiful, is coming."
"I study them hourly," she says, and her diligence has earned her the reputation of knowing the names and forms of the mountains better than the natives. Already tourists go to her for advice.
She encloses a couple lithographs in her letter to Rev. Irons and makes a pen-and-ink sketch on the page. "This No. 2 is but a tame view of the mountains as you see them from below. Here you see the two grand ones, Langdale Pikes, besides. . . . From this house a good road leads to a rocky hill, considerably higher than that above the church, called Brant Fell, ranges of rock like castle walls in ruin crown it; mountain air, heath and thyme, a few sheep, and deep mossy turf; not very steep, and perfectly safe everywhere; I rejoice to be so near; I send all tourists there."
At this point FR does not know if she will make this area her permanent home, but within months she has decided. This is where she lives her last sixteen years.
July 17, 1850
FR and a friend, who also was a great admirer of Wordsworth, went on an excursion to Applethwaite Ghyll to buy strawberries from tenants of Wordsworth's land. Graves, his old tenant, was happy to relate to the two women that when Wordsworth last visited, he "showed him two fine young oaks which he thought spoiling each other's growth, and wanted to have one cut down; 'No,' said Wordsworth, 'they have grown together like brothers' ('like twins' added the old woman), 'they shall not be separated.' . . . They said he often visited them, and spoke 'kind.'"
The old tenants talked some more about Wordsworth's history and his kindness to them. "Last summer they thought him failing, very feeble and tottering, and on the spot they showed me they saw him 'doff his hat and look up on high, and,' said the tenant's son, 'we do not know what his thoughts were, but he seemed in contemplation like.' . . . They said they wished there was a stone for Wordsworth on the spot where he 'doffed his hat;' I said 'plant an acorn this autumn, call it Wordsworth's Oak, it will be a far better monument;' they promised, and I hope to put them in mind, and to plant one there myself."
Whether the oak pictured above was planted by Graves, FR, or someone else is uncertain.
July 11, 1850
England is in the midst of a craze for ferns. People scour the countryside for native ferns to add to their collections. In addition to keeping live ferns, they use the fern motif in their arts and crafts.
FR gets caught up in the mood. When her friend Miss Hutton asks her to collect Osmunda for her, FR undertakes the mission and brings home such a bundle that Miss Hutton is overjoyed. However, an acquaintance faults her for not leaving any for others. FR is sure there is plenty.
Eventually a number of ferns in Scotland and Ireland did become endangered, and remain so to this day.
Here is a nice article in Wikipdedia about this fern craze of the 19th century.
FR related a story from her childhood and her mother's childhood:
"You perhaps never heard my mother's story of an alarm fire in Baker's Court, when she was about twelve years old. Her father met her coming down stairs half clad, but with her new beaver hat and feathers on her head, and tucked up in her petticoat her last new book, the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
"In consequence of this story, when our grandmother Rolleston asked me what book she should give me, I chose that, to the no small horror of sage and elderly relatives."
What do you think? Read Arabian Nights' Entertainments online and see if it is suitable for a twelve-years-old child.
Because of her love for children and interest in young mothers, FR often recommended books for children. One writer she felt to be entirely safe was the American James Fenimore Cooper.