I left [mid-June] the quiet village [Grasmere] behind me and made my way to Tongue Ghyll. That was the rendezvous of my companions who had determined to ascend Helvellyn to see the new morning made.… I could not help remembering that one of my first two walks in the Lake Country was to the deep recesses of this Tongue Ghyll. The poet of Tongue Ghyll—Edward Thring—was with me, and I remember to this day the enthusiasm with which he pointed out the particular beauty of rushing water-break and shadowy pool, and how enthusiastic he waxed as he described a rainbow which he so often came to see, springing from the shattered waterfall. (pp. 1-2)….
At four-and-twenty minutes to four of the clock, six minutes earlier than Greenwich time, the sun announced his rising. There ran all along the upper bastion of the purple wall a sudden kindling of light, as though the edge of that rampart had suddenly caught fire and was blazing left and right. Then at the point from which the fire had begun its kindling, appeared a brilliant star, a point of light as though a gigantic electric torch had suddenly been displayed. The point of light broadened, lost something of its brilliance, and in another moment the burning jewel increased in size and still increased, and we saw half-displayed the red-gold disc of day. No shadows were yet flung, but still the wonder grew, till almost with leap and bound the sun-god stood revealed! A tip-toe for a moment upon the rampart-barrier he seemed to pause, then upward moved and left the mountain of mist and cloud behind. But as he moved, that mountain chain became a thing of life. No longer level, like the High Street range, it became transfigured into broken crag and mountain pinnacle. Torn by some mighty birth-throe, twisted into strange shapes by some huge convulsion of nature, parts of the great barrier were flung into the air, and followed the glowing sun in gleaming masses of angel clouds. (pp. 6-7)….
The effect of this first kindling of the crags by sunlight was almost electrical in its power of new joy for the sheep and lambs upon the precipice crest. There, as they stood in golden fleeces, the mothers cried out lustily and looked toward the sky, while the blackfaced lambs, mad with joy, raced hither and thither and leapt into the air as if intoxicated with gladness. (p. 8)
The Giver of the daylight has not been forgetful that other hearts than man’s need daily cheer, and as long as I live I shall not forget that sudden gladness of the herdwick sheep when the mid-June sun rose up upon Helvellyn. John Ruskin may have had in mind this sudden joyaunce of the gift of morn to the flocks and herds of a thousand hills when he wrote those memorable words: “The glory of God is around you, in the air that you breathe, in the light that you see … and the gladness of His creatures.” How many a time had he watched the rose of morning flush those grey hill ranges to the west and felt the nearness of the Master of the dawn! Little wonder that he added: “He has written for you His revelation as He has given to you day by day your daily bread.” (pp. 8-9)
This is the solemnity of sunrise—in silence and joy God the Giver comes up close to the awakened soul. Never more solemnly did morning break than this day upon Helvellyn, when for all the gladness of the innocent flocks hard by, and for all the certainty of the happy going forth to peaceful labour of shepherd and hind in these awakened valleys, I knew that across the sea, to the sound of innumerable guns, millions of men were ranged against each other in the death grip of war, and bethought me how to thousands upon thousands the dawn would break, not with joy but with pain of wound and certainty of death, that so the vales of our beloved Cumberland and the hills of Westmoreland might still be part of a British empire, that righteousness and peace might once more kiss each other, and Europe might be free. (p. 9)
(Past and Present at the English Lakes, pp. 1-9.)