On Wednesday afternoon last between two and three o'clock. as William Wordsworth Esq., the celebrated poet, in company with his son, the Rev. John Wordsworth, of Brigham, were on their way home to Rydal Mount Farm, a visit to the Earl of Lonsdale at Whitehaven Castle, they had a narrow escape from destruction. The venerable and highly esteemed bard and his worthy son were driving in a one-horse gig and had just reached Rough How Bridge, about three miles from Keswick on the Ambleside Road when they observed the mail coach coming upon them at a rattling pace.
Owing to the sharp turn in the road at the top of the ascent which leads down to the bridge, the mail coach could not be seen until within 70 or 80 yards of the place, but in a few moments they had of its approach the Rev. gentleman succeeded in driving the horse close up to the side of the road, which was only narrow, but nevertheless wide enough for the coach to have passed in safety in ordinary circumstances.
It unfortunately happened, however, that the offside wheeler, which, we are told, was in the habit of holding the bridle bit in his teeth, and resisting the utmost exertions of the driver, was at the moment of meeting indulging himself of this dangerous practice, and refusing to obey the rain. Owing to this circumstances the coach came with great violence against the gig, which it sent against the adjoining wall with such force that both the gig and the two riders were thrown, with part of the adjoining wall, into the plantation.
Fortunately the traces and shafts of the gig broke near the body of the vehicle, which set the affrighted animal at liberty, and it no sooner gained its feet than it leaped on the broken wall and having regained the road, set off at a frightened pace with the gig shafts attached to the harness. Such was the affrighted condition of the horse . . . that every attempt to stop it was fruitless, and it dashed on at this furious pace for nearly nine miles, and was eventually stopped at the toll bar entering Grasmere.
Mr Wordsworth and his son . . . were both found entirely unhurt; the only visible injury received by either from this dangerous collision was a slight scratch on the finger of the poet. We do not learn that the slightest blame could be attributed to the driver of the coach who did his utmost to bring the unmanageable animal under his control.