1810 - ‘an exquisite delight to the imagination’
The anonymous introduction to Joseph Wilkinson’s Select Views is by William Wordsworth. In this 1810 text, Wordsworth first makes his claim that ‘persons of pure taste throughout the whole island…by their visits (often repeated) to the Lakes in the North of England, testify that they deem the Lakes a sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has a mind to perceive and a heart to enjoy’.
This became the first edition of Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes.
Although Wordsworth later remarked that some might find Wilkinson’s sketches ‘intolerable’, his decision to contribute the text for Select Views suggests he too appreciated Wilkinson’s talent. But Wordsworth did not place the Lake District strictly within the visual tradition of landscape painting. He also contextualised the region within the broader world.
Wordsworth famously claimed that his words and Wilkinson’s images worked dynamically together - like the interactive large relief model of the Alps at Lucerne, Switzerland that he remembered seeing on a tour of the continent years earlier. The spectator had to step onto a platform to view the exhibit, which Wordsworth thought ‘afforded an exquisite delight to the imagination’. It also allowed the region to be ‘comprehended and understood at once’. In a similar way, Wordsworth hoped that Select Views might move travellers to find a deeper sense of place.