Potter and Rawnsley - a Nation's Heritage

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting;
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness;
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Those lines are of course from Intimations of Immortality, by William Wordsworth, the Lake poet most revered, and most frequently quoted by Hardwicke Rawnsley.  Wordsworth was the first tenant of Allan Bank, for three years from 1808, when he moved here from Dove Cottage, which was too small for his growing family.

A Nation's Heritage  -  the title of Hardwicke Rawnsley's last book, published in 1920, just before his death is dedicated, “To the Memory of the First Duke of Westminster, of Miss Octavia Hill, and of Sir Robert Hunter, without whose help the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty would not easily have come into being.” 

I would like to begin this talk with brief biographical sketches of our subjects, Beatrix Potter, whose 150th birthday is being celebrated this year, and Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley.  Rawnsley's name is probably less familiar than that of Beatrix Potter, outside the Lake District at least, although his life's work is commemorated in the National Trust which with Octavia Hill and Robert Hunter he founded in 1895 and in which he was a prime mover, as Honorary Secretary, for the remainder of his life. 

I will include some brief readings from their respective writings, and I have assembled some published and unpublished images to share with you, and finally, I would like to offer some tentative and purely personal reflections on these two extraordinary characters, and their symbiotic relationship.


The Prefatory Note to Hardwicke Rawnsley's, ‘A Nation's Heritage' is dated June 1918, from Allan Bank, Grasmere:

This record of a summer tour in our National Trust possessions in the West of England has been made in the hope that it may interest and be of use to future visitors, and that it may serve to stimulate lovers of their country to acquire in future years, for the lasting benefit of the nation, other such delightful sites and scenes...”

Intended to be in the nature of a 'Rough Guide' for tourists, what was to be Hardwicke's last book, was dictated to his long-suffering second wife Eleanor Simpson, on their honeymoon.  A friend of many years' standing, from 1905 Eleanor had been the author of the traditional Grasmere dialect plays.  Hardwicke, unable to live without the support of his wife who had died in 1916, had caused a minor scandal by marrying Eleanor in what was considered  indecent haste, only 18 months after his first wife's death. 

In the back of the volume is bound a perforated information sheet about the National Trust for Places of  Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, with an application form to become a subscriber for a minimum of 10 shillings per annum.

During the whole of 2016 the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter has been celebrated here at Allan Bank, which, as I already mentioned, was briefly the home of William Wordsworth, and at the end of his life, of my great-grandfather Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley and Eleanor, his second wife.

Obviously I never knew my great-grandfather as he died in 1920 at the age of only 69, but I have a vague recollection of Eleanor, who lived on here as a widow until her own death nearly 40 years later.  As a child of perhaps nine or ten years old I was, with my younger sister Jane, invited to stay at Allan Bank for a few days.  I am sure 'Aunt' Eleanor, as we were instructed to call her, was very kind, but I remember finding her a terrifying old lady, who to us appeared to be still living in the Victorian age - prayers were said in the dining room before breakfast with her staff - a housekeeper I imagine, and what seemed to us a very aged butler, whom I remember watching, fascinated, as he polished the steel knives in a special machine in his pantry. 

Beatrix Potter died in December 1943, so obviously I have no recollection of the occasion, as I must have been a very small baby at the time, but I am told that I was brought to meet Beatrix at Castle Cottage, not long before her death, no doubt during a family visit to Eleanor at Allan Bank, though goodness knows how my parents managed to get the petrol for the journey!

While we are still at Allan Bank, it seems appropriate to read you part of Hardwicke Rawnsley's chapter on the Grasmere Sports, from Life and Nature at the English Lakes, together with a brief extract from Beatrix Potter's diary on the same subject:

The Grasmere Sports are to the dalesmen of Westmorland and Cumberland what the gathering for the Highland games is to men across the Border....  The Grasmere wrestling-ring has grown steadily in favour, both with wrestlers and with the public.  We remember the time when chairs and forms were brought out of the nearest cottages to the field, for the few ladies and gentlemen to sit and see the sport.  Now we have a high-banked gallery of three tiers for the peasants, round a ring an eighth of a mile in circumference, and carriages and coaches in quadruple ranks and behind this, a grand stand, a band stand, and all the rest of it.

Everybody goes to “Girsmer” on Sports' Day; and the fact that everybody has to take some trouble in the going - for Grasmere is eight miles from the nearest railway station - is one of the factors in the success of the games....  They have come, some of them, twenty miles on foot, they have paid their shilling admission to the field, and they intend to have their shilling's worth undisturbed. 

Hardwicke gives a graphic description of the journey by carriage from Keswick, not failing to extol the beauty of the scenery passed on the way, and arriving at Grasmere, notes:

 The eye goes away to the north by the rising ground of Allan Bank.  Shade of Wordsworth, here you haunt us all the day!  For you, great yeoman bard, you too were fond of the sports...”

He goes on to describe the high jump, the wrestling, which is what most of the spectators have come to see, and the drag-hunt, and the proceedings end with,

 the 'Committee-man (presumably Hardwicke himself) with the Champion-belt shining over his arm, accompanied by Lord and Lady Muncaster and the Secretary,... walk out into the open.  The champion,... and the winner,... together with the umpires stand stock-still in a row...  A photographer is heard to say, “Quite quiet please!” and the Grasmere Sports are put on record by sun-and-silver-salt for the Jubilee year, 1887.

 Among the gentry who attended the Grasmere Sports in their carriage a couple of years earlier had been the Potter family.  Beatrix recorded the occasion:

“Thursday August 22nd - Grasmere Sports, marred by bad accident at Waterhead which, however, we did not know of till afterwards.  Clouds of dust; threatening thunder; but no rain.  We went late and had difficulty in finding friends among the crowd of carriages... 

Evidently they missed the wrestling and the high-jump and only arrived in time for the drag-hunt, since Beatrix goes on,

About nineteen dogs were thrown off, but two young hounds turned back at once, puzzling about the meadow.  The spectators on the tarred wall received them with execrations and shouts of, 'any price agin yon doug!'  Rattler won, a lean, black-and-white hound from Ambleside... Rattler's victory appeared popular; Mr. Wilkinson danced on the box, slapping his thigh, and greeted the owner with a flourish and a wink as we passed him at Rydal leading home his two hounds.  Indeed Mr. Wilkinson raced so alarmingly in his own account with a wagonette that we began to wonder whether he was, to quote aunt Booth's expressive phrase, 'boozy'.  The lower orders were so extensively, but the weather was some excuse...

Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866, the only daughter of Rupert Potter, a wealthy north country Unitarian barrister.  Her upbringing was like that of any other child of a well-to-do middle-class Victorian family - strict perhaps, but no more strict than was customary at the time. 

Here is Beatrix, aged 15, photographed by her father, who was a first-rate amateur photographer.

Beatrix Potter's fame, as writer and illustrator of timeless children's stories, grows exponentially with each year that passes - she is a phenomenon whose popularity has been a fruitful field for research by sociologists and psychologists, who seek in vain to discover the reason for her popularity.  Her work seems to touch a fundamental chord in all of us, regardless of colour, class, race or creed.  Biographies of Beatrix Potter have been published by Leslie Linder and Judy Taylor, her letters have been collected, her journals, written in code, deciphered and published, her connections with Lakeland beautifully photographed and made available as coffee-table books, and so on.  Her cottage, Hill Top at Sawrey, kept as she left it by the National Trust, according to her instructions, is overrun by visitors, which must provide a considerable headache for the Trust, who have to struggle to reconcile the commitment to provide access, while at the same time preserving this microcosm of her life and writings. 

The Beatrix Potter industry flourishes worldwide and shows no sign of slowing down.  This would have been no surprise to her; whose genteel upbringing most certainly did not inhibit her or prevent her from becoming a shrewd business-woman, well able to strike a bargain and to see the marketability of her work.  As she herself remarked, misquoting Congreve, “Genius, like Murder, will out”.

By contrast, what do we know of Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley? 

He was man of acute observation of nature and sensitivity to the changing weather patterns in the Lakes, a prolific minor poet, biographer, author of ten books promoting the Lake District,  pamphleteer,  indefatigable campaigner for a multiplicity of causes, Founder of the Lake District Defence Society; the National Trust, the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, several Lakeland schools, organiser of bonfires nationwide for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee  and for the coronation of Edward VII, County Councillor, restorer of St. Kentigern's Church, Crosthwaite, erector and restorer of monuments,  parish priest, Canon of Carlisle Cathedral and honorary Chaplain to the King, as well as a member of countless committees, and so on and so on.

It is hardly surprising that Hardwicke died, burned out, before he reached the age of 70. 

And yet he remains a shadowy figure of whose personal life very little is known.  No diaries, although he certainly kept a diary as it is referred to in his writings, very few letters, although he was a voluminous correspondent, and none of the notes and reminiscences supplied to Eleanor Rawnsley at the time she wrote her appreciation of his life have survived, and are now passed into oblivion.  For such a public man, his personality remains a frustrating enigma.  Through his works only do we know him.

Someone, somewhere, must have had a big bonfire...

On considered reflection however I think that the character and personality of Hardwicke's grandson, my father Conrad Rawnsley may give us some clues.  Like Hardwicke he was impetuous;  a tireless defender of what he saw as right and just causes, impatient with fools or those he considered fools, a man with a wide-ranging knowledge and appreciation of poetry and music, a sensitivity to landscape and to beauty, an accomplished draughtsman, a writer of 'occasional' verses...  A man however with an unjustified inferiority complex, a quarterdeck voice and a quick temper who therefore made had many friends and supporters, but also made enemies among those who did not see eye-to-eye with him.

As Appeals Director of the National Trust in the 1960's he was responsible for the launching of the very successful 'Enterprise Neptune' coastline appeal, but in endeavouring to reform the National Trust from within, he was the cause of a major row which resonated through the Press and the corridors of power for months, and which in the end cost him his job, though many of the reforms which he had advocated were subsequently introduced.  Diplomacy was not his strong point, and like Hardwicke it seems, he was not afraid to fire broadsides across the bows of any establishment organisation which he considered to be in error.  Like his grandfather before him, he suffered from uncertain health; and had two nervous breakdowns as a result of stress and overwork.   A larger-than-life character, like Hardwicke, he too could have been apostrophised as, 'the most active volcano in Europe' and 'a peppery old swine'. 


Hardwicke Drummond and his twin sister Frances Anna were born in 1851, among the ten children of the Revd. Drummond Rawnsley, vicar of Shiplake-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.  William Wordsworth, who was to become Hardwicke's great hero, and who influenced most profoundly his whole life and work, had died only the previous year.

Hardwicke was educated at Uppingham, where he was among the earliest pupils of Edward Thring, the enlightened headmaster who was also his Godfather.  Thring it was who awoke his interest in poetry, in Wordsworth and in the Lake poets in particular.  It was he too who first introduced him, on holiday, to the Lake District, which later became for Hardwicke the spiritual home which it has been for countless others before and since. 

After Uppingham he went up to Balliol, where it cannot be said that he distinguished himself academically, but where he made the most of all the sporting opportunities available, as accomplished as an oarsman and in athletics.  Here we see him, looking somewhat louche in a floppy hat, second from the left in the back row of the Balliol Cricket Eleven.  (I can only count ten of them, so I presume the photographer was the eleventh!)

At Balliol Hardwicke came under the influence of John Ruskin, Slade Professor of Fine Art at the time, who was to become a lifelong friend and mentor.  Perhaps Ruskin was the final piece slotted into the jigsaw which became the template for Rawnsley's life, and which was through him to preserve from destruction great swathes of the English landscape forever.

After university Hardwicke undertook strenuous mission work as a lay chaplain in Seven Dials, in the course of which Ruskin introduced him to Octavia Hill, already an active social reformer.  Following a nervous breakdown caused by overwork, Hardwicke came to the Lake District to recuperate, staying with his cousins at Wray Castle.   Here he was happy to discover in the grounds a tree, which had been planted by William Wordsworth.  He dashed off a sonnet:

Live they, who love God well enough to own
That not unbidden falls a single leaf;
That every grain is counted in the sheaf;
And told each atom whirling in the stone; -
That no bird flies, no floweret blooms, alone?
Strong in obedience to a high belief
Their hearts help Heaven; to such is Nature chief;
On earth to these God makes his angels known:
Grow slowlier old; the hand that planted thee,
The heart that knew thy secret well, is dust;
Unto thy veins he did his life entrust;
And thou wilt honour him, Immortal Tree!
These rocks shall give all tribute thou canst crave;
For unto them his song a lasting glory gave.

Hardwicke also stayed with Edward Thring here at Grasmere, and at the Croft, Ambleside with the Fletchers, wealthy industrialists from the north of England, to whom he was introduced by Octavia Hill. 

I think we could date from this time the real blossoming of his love affair with the Lake Country, where he tramped the fells in company with the Fletchers' daughter Edith, and her sister. 

Once recovered, Hardwicke was sent as Chaplain to the Clifton College Mission service of St. Agnes in Bristol, where his unconventional methods of dealing with young miscreants raised some eyebrows.  Hardwicke described the scene on a Sunday evening:

“On arriving there was a free fight going outside the public house or the door of the mission room among 'Mr. Rawnsley's boys' as they were dubbed.  Then, calling upon them to be gentlemen and let the women go upstairs first, there was a pause; and up bundled the women and girls who dared face the meeting.  Then to seats reserved in front close by me 'the lambs' came up, and just as prayer began a fusillade of stones from outside would rattle all along the wooden walls of our conventicle, while the noise of horses in the stable below added to the din.  In the midst of prayer the door would be knocked at and the porter often be overpowered by a strong rush, and fighting would go on below stairs till I appeared - passed up one or two and sent off the others.  All would go well till, in the middle of the hymn, perhaps, catcalls and whistles sounded outside; and one of my 'lambs' would nudge his fellow and walk out - courteously remarking; 'sorry we've got an engagement with a pal, good night.'  Often a man, disguising the fact that he was in liquor, would be in the midst of the mission congregation, and I had to rise from my knees and help to tumble him out; and come back and go on with the prayers as if nothing had happened.  It is hard work - very - to fight a man downstairs, and come up and try to be in breath as you go on with sermon or prayer.”

It seems that he eventually got the sack, because we next meet him back in the Lake District.

Hardwicke was ordained priest at Carlisle Cathedral in 1877.  His cousin, Edward Preston Rawnsley who had inherited Wray Castle on the death of his uncle a few years earlier, offered him the living of Wray-on-Windermere.  The following year he married Edith Fletcher, the elder daughter of the Fletchers at Croft, and together they moved into the vicarage at Wray.  

Their only child, Noel Hardwicke was born at Wray in 1880, and it is here that our story begins.

In July 1882 Rupert Potter brought his family to Wray Castle for the summer holidays. 

Beatrix, now aged 15, recorded the event in her journal: 

“Friday; July 21st - Wray Castle.  This house was built by Mr. Dawson, doctor, in 1845,with his wife's money.  Her name was Margaret Preston. She was a Liverpool lady.  Her father Robert Preston made gin; that was where the money came from.

“They say it took £60,000 to build it (probably including furniture).   It took seven years to finish.  The stone was brought across the lake.  One old horse dragged it all up to the house on a kind of tram way.  The architect Mr. Lightfoot killed himself with drinking before the house was finished...

“Mr. Dawson died in 1875, aged 96.  He used to live in the cottage, but one day a storm blew off a slate and he vowed he would build a house that could stand the weather.  [After the death of his wife] he lived there alone till his death, living in the little room papa photographs in.  He kept three servants.  The rest of the house was shut up.”

The incumbent of the parish would ,as a matter of course, call upon the wealthy summer tenants of Wray Castle and thus it was that Hardwicke, now aged 30, met the 16-year old Beatrix,  the meeting which was to have such a profound influence on the future of the Lake District in later years.

Even at the age of 16 Beatrix was already a talented artist.  With her well-developed sense of observation she made the most of this entirely new area of the country, avidly collecting flowers and animals with her younger brother Bertram, to draw and paint.  It seems however that it was only the following year, when the family took a house in Scotland for the summer, that she started to develop the interest in mycology which was to become a passion, and of which in different circumstances she might have made a profession.

Rupert Potter and Hardwicke, in spite of the difference in age, Rupert at this time being in his 51st year,  had many interests in common and immediately struck up a friendship which was to last until Potter's death in 1914.  They kept up a regular correspondence when the Potters were not resident in the Lakes.  

Not the least of their shared interests was photography, of which Rupert Potter was a keen amateur exponent, and in no time he persuaded Hardwicke to sit for him, the first of many occasions on which he was to do so. 

Hardwicke, almost by accident it seems, quickly became involved in conservation issues.   Objections to various plans to build railways in the Lake District had been made ever since the 1840s, when Wordsworth himself had been among the first of those who had opposed them.  These objections had not however made national news, and it was the impetuous young vicar of Wray-on-Windermere who in 1883 was responsible for making the menace posed by the indiscriminate construction of railways, for tourism as well as for industrial purposes, a national issue.    As Graham Murphy in Founders of the National Trust records, by spearheading the successful prevention of the construction of a line for transporting slate down the Vale of Newlands, so beloved of Wordsworth, Hardwicke inadvertently found himself at the forefront of opposition to any scheme which threatened to spoil the region's unique landscape.

A rallying call appeared in the correspondence columns of The Standard:


The public has not been warned a moment too soon, and owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Greenall, Lingholme, Keswick for having sounded the alarm.    The question that the Select Committee of the House of Commons will have to decide is one of great interest; not only to us who are dwellers at the Lakes; but to all the thousands who crowd hither annually from stifling city and railway-haunted district to find peace and freedom from the bustle of their time.  And the question simply stated is this - Are the proprietors who work a certain slate quarry up in Honister to be allowed to damage irretrievably the health, rest and pleasure ground of the whole of their fellow countrymen who come there for needed quiet and rest, in order that they - the owners - may put a few more shillings a truckload into their private pockets?  ... Let the slate train once roar along the western side of Derwentwater; let it once cross the lovely vale of Newlands, and Keswick as the resort of weary men in search of rest will cease to be....

  Your obedient servant, H.D. Rawnsley

Sir Robert Hunter, later to be a co-founder with Hardwicke Rawnsley and Octavia Hill of the National Trust, who had the previous year resigned as Solicitor to the Commons Preservation Society, lent his support to the creation of the Borrowdale and Derwentwater Defence Fund, and John Ruskin among other influential people, was persuaded to add his name to a petition.  No doubt Hardwicke will have enlisted the support of Rupert Potter as well.

Schemes for further railways in Ennerdale and elsewhere in the Lake District followed, and willy-nilly Hardwicke found himself catapulted into prominence as the catalyst for the defence of the amenities of Lakeland.  As a delighted supporter wrote; The victory is wholly due to your enthusiasm and energy - none of us would have done anything but for you”.  

The future course of Hardwicke Rawnsley's life was thus determined. 


The upshot of all this brouhaha was the foundation of the Lake District Defence Society, a pressure group which eventually was to wither only with the foundation of the National Trust in 1895.

Among the many early campaigns in which Hardwicke gained fame or notoriety, depending upon whose side you were on, was the battle to reopen a disputed footpath on Latrigg in 1895, which was eventually won, but Hardwicke did not always win his battles, and that for the preservation of the beautiful reed-fringed Thirlmere, which Manchester Corporation wished to convert into a reservoir to supply the fast-growing city, was eventually lost Hardwicke having recognised the overriding necessity, and in 1878 the necessary Bill went before Parliament.  He continued however to keep a watching brief and was quick to intervene if necessary to prevent unnecessary vandalism by the Corporation.

In 1883 Hardwicke was offered the living of Crosthwaite, Keswick where he, Edith and Noel took up residence in the substantial Vicarage which was to be their home for more than thirty years.

On their next summer visit to the Lake District in 1885, when the Potters rented Lingholme for the first time, Rupert photographed Beatrix, Hardwicke and Noel in the garden.

The Rawnsley's received many distinguished visitors at Crosthwaite, among others, the Master of Balliol, Professor Caird and his wife, a visit duly recorded by Rupert Potter.

Although from a different confession, being a staunch Unitarian, Rupert Potter was evidently a person with whom Hardwicke could let off steam and with whom he could discuss pastoral and theological problems.

 Hardwicke wrote on 7th November 1897

Dear Mr. Potter

At last I breathe freely and can take a few minutes to tell you how great a pleasure your photographs have given to all the School Masters and Mistresses and to the servants here, who desire me to give you their warmest thanks.

... We must also be thanking you for the excellent photograph of the Master of Balliol and myself in front of the Vicarage.  What a funny little trio we seem to make, Mr. Caird and myself and Mme like a sort of (indecipherable) fairy godmother...

So glad you cared for our worship.  It is hearty and there is no nonsense.  And there is a kind of ... simplicity about it which I expect is striking to one who does not often go churchward; but use makes us sadly too familiar with it all.  I sometimes wish I was a Dissenter who only came now and again.  I feel it would do me much more good.

Yrs truly, HDR

The following year, on 27th March 1898, Hardwicke wrote again from Crosthwaite Vicarage:

Dear Mr Potter

I am more pleased than words can say on receipt of this kind letter.  It is one of the very few letters that has encouraged me to persevere as a parson.  I have striven to say what I have to say in lines that cloud my [real] principles & the spirit of Christ& this is a kind of parody that in consequence I have not driven men who are thinkers, like yourself, away from Church disgusted & irritated.

Thank you too very much for your testimony to the simplicity & restfulness of our old fashioned service of praise at Crosthwaite.  It is worth many £4 notes to have them.[But last] thank you for your considerable (illegible) hospitality.

Yours truly.

HD Rawnsley

Of course I agree with you that all those ecclesiastics are too irksome...  we see but in a glass darkly. It’s no use dogmatising. I can’t do it, but I always thank your Church for sticking by God as Father.

In the meantime, Beatrix Potter's life continued its even way, at Bolton Gardens in London during the winter, with summers in Scotland, the West Country and the Lake District at Lingholme.

In September 1893 Beatrice wrote  from Dunkeld to Noel Moore, the son of her old governess, what has since become, as Judy Taylor remarks, “one of the most famous letters ever written - a story about four little rabbits, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter..” -   A story which eventually of course became the basis for the first of her 'little books,' the Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Three years earlier, encouraged by her uncle, Sir Henry Roscoe, Beatrix, now aged 24, had offered some of her drawings for sale.  These were bought by the publishers, Hildesheimer and Faulkner and used for Christmas and New Year cards. 

Beatrix's professional career had begun. 

Encouraged by this success she submitted some of her work to various publishers, including Frederick Warne, already well-known publishers of children's books.  At this point she already demonstrates that she would become a shrewd business-woman, indicating her dissatisfaction with the price offered by Nisters, a German firm of fine-art printers for a set of nine pen-and-ink drawings and sticking out for the price she had asked for of 22/6d for the set.

In 1896 the Potters spent the summer at Lakefield on the edge of the village of Sawrey, which Beatrix confided to her diary was “as nearly perfect a little place as I have ever lived in.”  Sawrey was to become her spiritual home, and nine years later, with the financial independence which came with royalties received for her first books, she was to buy Hill Top Farm, where the following year she ventured into breeding those plucky natives of Lakeland, the Herdwick sheep, a subject on which she became a considerable expert.  Some years later Hardwicke had evidently also fallen under their spell as in By Fell and Dale, published in 1911, he gives a knowledgeable account of their particularities.

Emboldened by her success in selling some of her drawings, Beatrix borrowed back the original picture letter she had sent to Noel Moore, copied the black and white drawings and decided to create from it a little book for children which she entitled The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor's Garden. For assistance in finding a publisher she turned to Hardwicke Rawnsley, by now an old friend of the family, and already a well-established published author.  He of course willingly offered to use his influence with the publishing world.

 As Judy Taylor notes, it was a frustrating time, with the book being repeatedly turned away, each potential publisher wanting something larger and with illustrations in colour, and as Beatrix observed in a letter to Marjory, Noel Moore's sister, requesting the loan of the letters for a little longer because she wanted to make a list of them,

“but I don't think they will be made into a book this time because the publisher wants poetry... and he “wants a bigger book than he has got enough money to pay for, and Miss Potter has arguments with him.  I wonder if that book will ever be printed!  I think Miss Potter will go to another publisher soon!  She would rather make 2 or 3 little books costing one shilling each than one big book costing six shillings because she thinks little rabbits cannot afford to spend six shillings on one book and would not buy it.”

By 1901, Beatrix's patience had run out and she decided to publish her rabbit story herself. 

In the meanwhile Hardwicke was continuing his efforts to find a commercial publisher, and since it appeared that a rhyming tale was required he rewrote the text in verse, illustrated with Beatrix's black-and-white line drawings:

There were four little bunnies - no bunnies were sweeter
Mopsy and Cotton-tail, Flopsy and Peter.
They lived in a sand-bank, as here you may see
At the foot of a fir -a magnificent tree.
Now my dears said the old Mrs. Rabbit one day
You may run to the fields or the lane for your play,
But I warn you all four to be sure not to go
To Mr. McGregor's who lives just below;
Your father - and here Mrs. Rabbit shed tears -
“Had an accident once in that Garden my dears,
And his end - “Mummy darling” said Mopsy, “don't cry!” -
“Was this - he was baked in a pie.
I am off to the village and while I am out
Keep clear of his garden and look well about.”

Then she buttoned their capes on, just under the chin,
And bade them remember that mischief was sin
But Peter she knew was a bit of a turk
So she buttoned his cape with an extra big jerk.
So holding them all to be sure to be good
And picking her skirt up as wise rabbits should
To the bakers with 'gamp' and with basket she went
And on buns and brown-bread quite a fortune she spent.

Then Cotton-tail, Mopsy and Flopsy all three
Did just as their mother had bade them you see:
They gathered ripe black-berries all down the lane
And ate them by hundreds without any pain.
But Peter the naughty, I grieve to relate,
To the garden of McGregor went straight,
And squeezed himself bunny-like under the gate.
And first to a bed of young lettuce he ran. 

Then next on the beans a near dinner began.
Tried radishes next, and because he felt ill,
Went next to the parsley, a good rabbit-fill,
When turning the end of a cucumber frame,
Face to face with Grim Mr. McGregor he came.

And so on, in the same vein, ending, once Peter, wet, frightened and dishevelled and minus both his new blue coat with the brass buttons and his shoes, escapes and finds his way home and his put to bed by his mother, ending with the inescapable moral of the story:

Enough now of Peter
but what of the others,
Those good little pattern obedient brothers?
They sat down to tea, too good-mannered to cram
And ate bread and milk and sweet blackberry jam
And thought, as we all think, by far the best way
Is to do what we're told, and our mothers obey.

Meanwhile Frederick Warne had proposed in a letter to Canon Rawnsley that they would be willing to take the prose version, of the Tale, with coloured illustrations, and reduced in length from Beatrix's original. 

Hardwicke passed the letter on to Beatrix, who agreed to their proposals about the payment of royalties.  Warnes evidently intended to carry on the negotiations through Hardwicke, but Beatrix was now gaining confidence in her ability to negotiate her own terms, and in a letter dated December 18 1901 agreeing to Warne's proposals, she wrote:

I do not know if it is necessary to consult Canon Rawnsley; I should think not. Speaking for myself, I consider your terms very liberal as regards royalty, but I do not quite understand about the copyright.   Do you propose that the copyright remains mine; you agreeing to print an edition of 5,000, and having - as part of the agreement - the option of printing more editions if required?  I must apologise for not understanding; but I would like to be clear about it.  For instance who would the copyright belong to in the event of your not wishing to print a second edition?  I am sure no one is likely to offer me better terms than 3d apiece, and I am aware that these little books don't last long, even if they are a success, but I would like to know what I am agreeing to.

An extended correspondence with Warnes ensued, on the illustrations, the quality of the printing blocks, and other technical details, Beatrix demonstrating already the business acumen which was to stand her in good stead in later life, and certainly no longer requiring the advice and assistance of her friend and mentor Canon Rawnsley!

Here is more or less the same passage from the Tale of Peter Rabbit as finally published, in the shortened version, by Frederick Warne, in Beatrix's own words, The simplicity of the text is illuminated of course by the wonderful coloured illustrations which Warne's had specified. You will notice that in the process of abbreviation Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail have lost their capes and only Peter has retained his blue jacket with the brass buttons.

“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits; and their names were - Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail and Peter.  They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree. 'Now; my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden:  your Father had an accident there: he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.'

Now run along; and don't get into mischief.  I am going out.'  Then old Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella; and went through the wood to the baker's.  She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns.  Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries; But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden, and squeezed under the gate!

First he ate some lettuces and some French beans, and then he ate some radishes; And then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.  But round the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!”

“Peter never stopped running or looked behind him till he got home to the big fir-tree.  He was so tired that he flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit-hole and shut his eyes.  His mother was busy cooking; she wondered what he had done with his clothes.  It was the second little jacket and pair of shoes that Peter had lost in a fortnight!

I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.  His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea and she gave a dose of it to Peter!  'One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time.'   But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.”

In the published version the inevitable moral of the tale is left to the imagination of the reader to deduce...

Warne's choice of the prose version of the Tale was a momentous decision which, though of course they could not have foreseen it at the time, would eventually bring Beatrix fame and fortune, not just through the 'Little Books' but also through the various other brand-marketing sidelines which she later negotiated and licensed.  Indirectly too, through her association with Hardwicke and their joint interest in the conservation of the Lake District, Beatrix was instrumental in saving vast tracts of this wonderful country from development and commercial exploitation, through her gifts and bequests to the National Trust.

As the landscape photographer Joe Cornish, who has done so much in illustrating the work of the National Trust, and who took the photographs for Graham Murphy's Founders of the National Trust, remarked to me,

Beatrix Potter’s legacy in the Lakes to the National Trust marks her out as probably the greatest single contributor to the conservation and landscape movement in the history of these islands” 

Few would disagree I think.

Beatrix Potter's great flowering period took place in the relatively short space of 17 years between 1901 when The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published, and 1918 with the publication of The Tale of Johnny Townmouse.  Following the sudden death of her fiancée Norman Warne, of the publishing firm which took on her books, she consoled herself with writing, and converting into book form the picture story-letters she had sent to the children of Annie Moore.

Apart from letters to the Press, pamphlets, sermons and sonnets, Hardwicke's publishing career, had begun in 1877 with a Book of Bristol Sonnets, followed by Sonnets at the English Lakes in 1881, Sonnets Round the Coast in 1887, and a biography of Edward Thring as Teacher and Poet in 1889.  Apart from his Literary Associations of the English Lakes which came out in 1894, when the nascent National Trust was already in process of creation, Hardwicke's main oeuvre, the nine further titles about the English Lakes were all published at regular intervals during a period of 15 years, between 1901 with Ruskin and the English Lakes and 1916 when his last Lake District volume, Past and Present at the English Lakes, a collection of essays concerned mainly with historical matters, including an account of the German miners of Keswick, appeared.  In almost all these volumes, which though of varying quality from the literary point of view are all of great interest and contain some excellent lyrical writing, Hardwicke takes every opportunity to give the National Trust a 'plug'. 

In 1906 Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top Farm at Sawrey.  This image of her, with her father and Hardwicke was taken by Rupert Potter at Lingholme, which the Potters had rented for the summer.

In Chapters at the English Lakes, published in 1913, Hardwicke recounts the story of the protracted 'Battle of Portinscale Bridge' which raged for several years, involving Hardwicke in several visits to London to enlist support, letters to The Times, Petitions, a Public Enquiry, the mobilisation of the local landowners and the great-and-good, not the least of whom was Sir Robert Hunter a fellow founder of the National Trust.  Fortuitously one of the visitors to Crosthwaite Vicarage in the summer of 1906 had been the structural engineer Francis Fox, currently engaged in work to stabilise and reinforce the stonework of Winchester Cathedral using the grouting process, by means of which liquid Portland cement was pumped into all the crevices of the ancient stonework.  Once hardened, as Fox explained, “the masonry becomes monolithic, and is rendered perfectly safe for all reasonable requirements for hundreds of years”.  Armed with this information Hardwicke proceeded to draw up the battle lines:  As he records,

“The controversy which raged for two years over the preservation of the picturesque old Portinscale Bridge, and which has at last been determined in favour of its retention, will die down and be forgotten, but the facts ought to be put upon record that other Highway Committees of County Councils should know in how inexpensive a manner old work can, without change in appearance, permanently be preserved so as to carry all traffic, and that the public may be encouraged throughout the land to resist the clamour; in the name of what is called commercial progress and up-to-date highways, to the complete destruction of some of the most beautiful reminiscences of an olden time and some of the most valuable adjuncts to natural scenery....

“Time alone will show whether wiser counsels may prevail in future and whether, no matter what the bridge is... it shall be looked upon as part of the duty of a highway authority to consider not only the actual needs of swifter traffic, but also the amenity of the scenery to which each bridge is an adjunct...  One of the features of the Lake District is the beauty of the old bridges that were built of local stone.  Many of them were originally so built merely for the packhorse traffic, and were spliced or added to suit the mail coach traffic of a later day.  They generally retained the hump-backed arch, which in a country whose becks and rivers were subject to flood was considered wise.  Portinscale Bridge was no exception to this rule.”

Hardwicke goes on to give a very full account of the battle, of which he was evidently the Commander in Chief, and thoroughly in his element.  The eventual outcome of was that the bridge was in due course, in the teeth of opposition, duly grouted and saved for posterity.

As Eleanor Rawnsley records,

It was with characteristic enjoyment that Hardwicke would tell of meeting, shortly after the fight was won, with a stranger, evidently from the camp of the opposition, who, when they fell to talking of the battle for the bridge; remarked, “If it had not been for that devil Rawnsley, we should have won the case”.”

Parodying Macaulay's Lay of Horatius a friend of Hardwicke sent him this Valentine message:

 “Valentine Day A.D. 2000

How Hardy Rawnsley held the Bridge.

And still the name sounds stirring
Unto the Crosthwaite men
As ruthless vandals try to spoil
the glories of the glen;
And wives still pray to Juno
For sons with hearts as bold
As his who held the Bridge so well
In the brave days of old.

With weeping and with laughter
Still is the story told
How hardy Rawnsley held the bridge
In the brave days of old.”

Sad to relate, the bridge in the end did not survive until the year 2000, but was irreparably damaged by severe flooding in the late 1950's, and the A66 now crosses the river Derwent by one of the featureless 'ferro-concrete' bridges which Hardwicke had so deplored.

A further successful campaign in which Rawnsley was a prime mover was for access to the shores of Windermere, and in Chapters at the English Lakes he gives a detailed account of the acquisition by the National Trust of the Roman camp ground at Borrans Field and what had become known as Queen Adelaide's Hill. 

There is no mere so much frequented by the men of Manchester and North Lancashire as that which in old time it is believed Onundhr, the Viking chieftain, gave his name.   But it is a mere whose foreshores have been in the past fifty years much taken up by private landowners.  There is no water so much visited from which boating and sailing parties have so little chance of landing and enjoying themselves upon the shore.  Thus for example, from Waterhead right down to Bowness, landing is impossible on the western shore without trespass, and from Waterhead to Bowness on the eastern shore there is only one semi-public landing, Low Wood, and one public landing at Miller Ground; it is owed to the courtesy of the owner of the soil at both these places that visitors, having landed; can make their way to the main road...

Virtually, then, once embarked at the northern end of the Lake, visitors and inhabitants alike must return to the public landing-place without the pleasure, which is surely part of a boating excursion; of landing and roaming on the shore.

This was the state of affairs a year ago.  Fortunately for the British public it is no longer the fact.  In the spring of last year, 1912, My brother, Mr. Willingham Rawnsley, driving to Waterhead, noticed that a field in which the Roman fort is situated, was being excavated for the foundations of certain lodging-houses.  It had been known that some ten years before this, Borrans Field had passed into the hands of a well-known local builder.  It was also known that we of the National Trust had approached him at the time, that he had been unwilling to sell, but had offered the land in question to the Ambleside local authority on certain conditions which they did not see their way to accept.

The sight of these trenches for foundation, which it was clear contained certain Roman débris, roused the passer-by to instant exertion.  He went off at once to see Mr. Gordon Wordsworth and the neighbouring proprietor, Mr. Hugh Redmayne, with the result that all three together interviewed the owner, who though not particularly anxious to sell, was nevertheless willing if he could get his price, to part with the twenty acres of land for £4000, and in addition with the consent of his brother who was part-owner, to make a handsome donation of £400 towards the purchase.

A local committee was formed, and the National Trust was approached to assist in the raising of funds.  The Trust, in order not to jeopardise the appeal, postponed another scheme to acquire Adelaide Hill and Miller Ground for the nation.  Once again the great-and-good were mobilised and the funds were quickly raised, “subscriptions coming in” as Hardwicke records,

“Not only from those interested in Roman excavations but from those who knew how imperative it was to safeguard that beautiful pastoral view at the head of the Lake from building operations or from the possibility of a 'hangar' for aeroplanes.”

In 1912 Beatrix Potter, now a successful sheep-farmer at Sawrey, herself had become involved in a campaign, to stop hydroplanes from wrecking the peace of Windermere.  Writing from Hill Top Farm a long letter to Country Life published on 13 January, she describes the pastoral scene, as the horse-ferry, the only connecting link for all road traffic between Kendal and the northern part of Furness which lies between Windermere and the eastern shore of Coniston, plies the lake.


“For dwellers beside the road from Hawkshead the ferry is the sole means of access for horsed vehicles on the way to town, to station and to Kendal Market.  The present ferry boat is worked by a small engine and flywheel, along a wire cable.  Tourists on the steamers notice the ramshackle, picturesque boat, heavy laden with the Coniston four-horsed coach and char-à-banc, or with carrier's tilt cart and bustling motor, or homely toppling loads of oak bark and hooper's swills, or droves of sheep and cattle.  Farm-carts go down and across with sacks of wool and bark and faggots and they struggle homewards with loads of coal.  Everyone uses the ferry. 

On calm summer waters no voyage is more cheerful and pleasant than this crossing of Windermere.  Those who live to the west can tell another tale of winter nights, when the ferry cannot cross in the teeth of the wind.  Then the home-coming carriers are storm-stayed at Bowness, and the Crier of Claife calls in vain for the ferryman.  For the most part we accept these interruptions as a dispensation of Providence - and the climate....  

But danger, turmoil and possible pecuniary damage in calm weather at the hand of fellow-man are another matter altogether.  Our peaceful lake is disturbed by the presence of a hydroplane.  We are threatened with the prospect of an aeroplane factory at Cockshott Point, between Bowness Bay and the Ferry Nab, and with the completion of five more machines before next summer.  The existing machine flies up and down in the trough of the hills; it turns at either end of the lake and comes back.  It flies at a comparatively low level; the noise of its propeller resembles millions of blue-bottles, plus a steam threshing engine.  Horses upon land may possibly become accustomed to it, but it is doubtful whether they will ever stand quietly as it swoops over their heads while on the boat.  If they back while on the water there will be an accident...   Surely the proper place for testing hydroplanes is over the sea, rather than over an inland lake?

Another petition was got up, the campaign was successful, and before the year was out the hydroplane vanished from Windermere.

Soon after the unexpected death, in August 1905, of her fiancée of a month, Beatrix Potter, while immersing herself in writing and in the development and marketing of Peter Rabbit, invested some of her earnings, as we have already heard, in Hill Top, a working farm at Sawrey, winning prizes for her Herdwick sheep at agricultural shows.  In December 1913 at the age of 46 she married her solicitor, William Heelis and reinvented herself as Mrs. Heelis, countrywoman and full-time farmer, casting off the chrysalis of Beatrix Potter, although for the next few years she did continue writing, and adapting stories written in earlier years.  Her only completely new publication was the Tale of Johnny Townmouse, published in 1918.

In March 1943 Beatrix was elected President of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association, the first woman to receive this honour, but very sadly she died just before Christmas that year, before being able to take up the post.

Reading his Lake District books, it very quickly becomes obvious that Hardwicke came to know the fells at least as well as Wainwright later in the 20th century, and was anxious to share his knowledge and infectious enthusiasm for their history and topography with the reader, whom he hopes to persuade to follow him as a rambler round the Lake Country.

In my copy of By Fell and Dale, published in 1911, the flyleaf is intriguingly inscribed Harold J. Smith, Allan Bank, July 13, 1918.  This volume contains not only some of his best poetic descriptive writing, of which I would like to quote a short passage in a moment, but also a very knowledgeable Crack about Herdwick Sheep, an interest shared with Beatrix Heelis

“Visitors to our Lake Country, as they ramble over the fells, must be constantly struck with the exceeding beauty of the delicate; lithe little sheep; with their shy black faces and their dainty feet; that give life to the mountain side...”

“The most remarkable characteristics of these Herdwick sheep are their homing instinct and their marvellous memories.  Of this latter there are many proofs to hand.  For example; a flock of sheep, driven down a road which was blocked at the time, had to pass through a gate, and so back again through another opening in the wall to the roadway.  This was when they were being driven back to the fells.  They did not pass along that road again for many months.  The road was no longer blocked, and the wall had been built up; but as soon as they came to the place where the wall had been built up, they all topped the wall and insisted on going back again through the gate.  I have myself seen a flock driven along the road, suddenly, when they came to a certain place, spring into the air, and was told that at that particular point in the former year, a pole had been across the road, and the sheep had jumped it when they came to the place.  Though no obstruction now existed, they leapt over an imaginary pole.

It is worth going with the shepherds; if only to see the work of the dogs.  The dogs know quite well that it is their duty to collect the sheep to certain well-known collecting places, and they do this almost unbidden by their masters.  Away goes the dog and is lost to sight for half an hour or more, and by the time the shepherd has got to a certain point he will find the sheep have been rounded up, and are waiting to be counted.  

In the Prefatory Note to that same volume, By Fell and Dale by way of introduction, Hardwicke says:

It will be seen that many of the walks herein described were taken in the Spring of the year.  This has been done with a purpose.  I have long felt that the outside public do not realise the extreme beauty of the colouring of the Lake District at this season...

Here is a brief example, as mentioned earlier, of Rawnsley's poetic word-painting, used once again to publicise the National Trust:

“It is satisfactory to know that the most beautiful part of Borrowdale is now in the hands of the National Trust; and until that body is dissolved by Act of Parliament (for nothing else can dissolve it) it will remain safe for the enjoyment of the people, unharmed by the speculative builder and free from the restrictions which land preserved for sporting rights must necessarily involve.

There is no month like March for colour at the English Lakes...

Come with me today: we will climb to the King's How, Grange Fell and I will show you some of the beauty of the last possession of the National Trust.  The 'bar' or 'helm' cloud is white above Helvellyn and a strong east wind is blowing.  The droughty roads are white as milk, but the hills all round the Crosthwaite valley are clad in purple and gold, shadows dapple the fells, and the sunshine is glorious upon lake and mountain height.  The heather, just beginning to feel the spring, is changing into brown-madder, which in sunshine, gleams of iris-hue, and the dead 'bent' upon the fells seen through the mist of the vaporous veil that is borne to us on the wings of the east wind from the factory smoke of Lancashire and Yorkshire, glimmers into gold.....

Outcrops of grey rock stand like islands in this flood of colour, and hence, gazing southward, we get what before was impossible, for no one had the right to wander here, the most magnificent view from the middle vale to the far recesses of ancient Borrowdale....

The valley is closed on the right by the moss-agate like slopes of Maiden Mawr, and on the left is guarded by the rocky height which henceforth above this vale of peace will keep in mind the honoured name of Edward the Peacemaker, for it was the summit of that fell which her Royal Highness the Princess Louise purchased for the nation as a memorial of her brother, the late King.

Hardwicke Rawnsley, in despite of his high public profile while living, was in the end, a man of his time.   So, while the man is more or less forgotten outside the Lake Country, Hardwicke Drummond, Canon Rawnsley, through the National Trust of which he was initiator and co-founder, Honorary Secretary and tireless publiciser, from its foundation until the day of his death, Hardwicke lives on, not just as A Nation's Heritage, but equally as a world heritage through the similar organisations which have been founded on that model all over the world.

Following the death of her mother, Beatrix Heelis wrote on Christmas Day 1932 to Eleanor Rawnsley,

Dear Mrs Rawnsley;

Thank you for your kind sympathy.  My mother's long life was a link with times that are passed away though still vivid in our memory - the old leisurely pleasant days of stately carriage horses and of the Keswick coach.  Latterly she has lived so retired that modern changes have not much affected her.  Her chief interests were her canaries; her needlework and her little dog.  She was wonderfully clear in mind; but her organs - except her heart - were wearing out; and I am glad that she is at rest.  I am glad that my parents and I were able to help in the great work that has sprung about miraculously from the small beginnings initiated by Canon Rawnsley.

Yours sincerely, Beatrix Heelis

Two years later Beatrix wrote to Eleanor Rawnsley in connection with a missing letter from William Wordsworth which was thought to have been in her father's possession,

Your letter speaks of many memories of HDR.  With how strong a mark his memory lingers!  I don't know if it the same with other people - I think it is.  The other day there was some question about Portinscale Bridge, and inevitably there followed the name of Canon Rawnsley.”

I sometimes ponder over what he would say of recent developments - changes for good, for evil; and for doubtful good.  It is to the good that there should be this new widespread interest in the overworked new word “amenity”; but personally I mistrust and definitely dislike some recent feelers towards a new policy.

The Canon's original aim for complete preservation by acquisition of as much property as possible was the right one for the Lake district...”

I have often been asked about the relationship between Beatrix and Hardwicke, but there is no evidence that they were other than close friends, with similar interests.  My father once told me that his father, Hardwicke's son Noël, maintained that had Beatrix not already married William Heelis when Edith Rawnsley died, Hardwicke would have married Beatrix.  However, this is pure speculation, though it is perhaps suggestive that in spite of the close friendship between the Potters and the Rawnsleys, no mention of Beatrix or of Rupert Potter is made in Eleanor Rawnsley's biography of Hardwicke, and there are no surviving letters between Beatrix and Hardwicke apart from a letter of condolence to him following Edith's death. So we shall never know.

From those letters of Beatrix Heelis to Eleanor Rawnsley it seems that Beatrix at any rate considered that Hardwicke had been the original instigator for the creation of the National Trust.  It is a pity therefore that his contribution has been rather pushed into the background, with Octavia Hill promoted as the prime mover, and the retiring figure of Sir Robert Hunter hardly featuring at all.  In my opinion however it is invidious to single out one or the other for the position of primus inter pares - all three founders, with their differing skills contributed equally to the creation of what has become indeed A Nation's Heritage.

What is it about Beatrix Potter's 'Little Books' which appeals to children and adults as well all over the world?   Many are those who have sought to find a clue to this phenomenon in the books themselves, but nobody has found a satisfactory answer.  These animals although living 'human' lives, and dressed in human clothes still remain animals they are not anthropomorphised at all, and therein lies the secret - no other writer and artist has achieved such perfection in this art - the stories are deceptively simple, but timeless, and Beatrix Potter, through them, has become not just a Nation's Heritage, but a heritage for the world, for all time.


So, to end this talk I think I can do no better than to quote part of an undated testimonial to Hardwicke, preserved among his papers, the sentiments of which apply equally to Beatrix Heelis, as a benefactor of Lakeland.

40 Colne Road, Brierfield,

Reverend Sir,

You may not be [aware] of the fact that I, a humble layman, owe you a deep debt of gratitude.  Nevertheless, such is the case.

Lately I have been reading your 'Life & Nature at the Lakes', and for the beautiful simple language; the vivid descriptions of Lakeland scenery and fellside customs, and for the pure pleasure I have obtained by mentally tramping over crag and scree and wild hill top; you have made me eternally your willing debtor.

I would like to see the shepherds meet on wild Helvellyn; I would like to see the sun rise over the 'yellow mountain's crest'.  The 'Borrowdale Four' I shall never see, though it would have been life itself to have beheld them, for beneath trees the Lord seems nearer and that depth of mystery, the far sky means the rest of spirit found only in beauty ideal and pure, comes there because the distance seems within touch of thought.

I would give a whole month out of my life to behold the 'Rainbow Beauties of Windermere'.  It would be real life to see; only once, those giant hills dressed in royal ermine.  The hills are always most lovely in winter.

I must thank you for the noble work you have done in preserving for us so many of the natural beauties of Lakeland, and wresting from the hands of the builder the sweetest parts of the lake shores.

In writing to you I take up an attitude I have never assumed before.  But I will honestly show you my heart.  Never before have I read a book that has so stirred me.  I have read and re-read my Jefferies hundreds of times, but the most virile lives never sent the same thrill through me as did the simple cry of the shepherd to his dog to 'get awa' hint, theer'.

And the debt I owe you, I must do all I can to repay...   In the first place I will endeavour to pay a trifle of the amount by visiting Lakeland whenever opportunity permits; and by persuading others to do likewise.

On each visit I will use by eye, brain, heart and soul, and come back with my mind stored with colours, shapes and sentiments and a heart filled with thankfulness that I am able to see, know and appreciate all glorious and lovely things....

If I have intruded, I sincerely crave your pardon.

Believe me to be, yours very respectfully,

Joe Bates