As luck would have it, I found a note asking me to go over next evening to the Terrace Garden to see an old-fashioned parish party, and I went.  I was half-an-hour after the time, but already a hundred guests had had their cup of tea on the terrace, and were making way for a second hundred, the host and hostess bidding them, as they went off to saunter among the roses or sit under the limes, that in half-an-hour’s time strawberries and cream would be waiting for them. (p. 194)

It did one’s heart good to see the ease with which the town’s folk and the country folk, and men and women of all classes mingled and were glad.  There was no division of guests into rich and poor.  All felt they were equal this evening, and pleasant it was to see with what simple courtliness each did the honours one to the other as they ‘supped’ their teas, and laid their pocket-handkerchiefs on their laps, and cracked on of the year’s doings since last they met. (pp. 194-5)….

The conversation was fast and furious, and the tea-drinking kept pace.  Then the voices of a choir broke out into an Elizabethan madrigal beneath the shadow of the laurels, and the never-resting bees might well have ceased their hum to listen.  The voices died away, and fiddle and harp and flute struck up an old English air, and the people drew round in a ring to listen. (p. 196)

More arrivals, more tea, more folk streaming down through the roses and walking by the yew tree hedge to gaze upon lupin, larkspur, delphinium and Madonna lilies, whilst younger folk lay about on rugs and plaids on the fresh green lawn, waiting their call to strawberries and cream. (p. 196)

More songs, more music, and the long day still gleamed on Skiddaw from the west, for the afterglow was as bright as a new dawn.  But the deep purples had crept into all the hollows, and Borrodale was filled with blue cobalt.  The last light failed from the valley meadows, and the corncrakes began their conjuring tricks, and ran from their own voices with rare ventriloquist cunning. (pp. 196-7)

‘I think we may light up,’ said a young fellow who seemed a kind of master of assemblies, and whilst two glees were being sung, and the band was busy, men moved about unseen, and touched the fire flowers in the beds, the fire flowers on the trees, into life.  The whole garden became jewelled from end to end, and such a feast of lanterns was here as only in Arabian Nights were read of or seen alone in dreams. (p. 197)

Just then a gong sounded, and two bands of children converged at the head of the terrace steps, holding a long continuous garland of roses in their one hand, and in the other alternately fairy bells and fairy lights.  Their leader carried a standard from which hung many starry lamps, and as they came down the steps red Bengal fire burned up from below and enveloped them in its rosy glow. (p. 197)

Down they came, wound in and out of the flower beds a sparkling chain of happy child life, and gaining the level lawn beneath the limes, they broke into dance, and as they danced sang the National Anthem.  Then winding in and out of the rhododendron bushes, a maze of light and garlanding, they disappeared behind the Irish yews, but not before the whole lawn had been lit by white light which turned the lime trees into silver, and made the flowers and happy faces shine out as at the noonday. (pp. 197-8)

‘What, it’s nivver time to be gaen?’ said a young fellow at my side.  ‘We hev’ t’best of t’evening yit.  What, what, we must aw hev oor dance.’ (p. 198)

‘Nay, nay,’ shouted the host.  ‘That is not signal for farewell.  Now then, get your partners and we’ll start the dance with an old-fashioned reel.’  And without more ado the band struck up, and dancing such as one can only see in Cumberland began in real earnest. (p. 198)

I have never seen a happier sight than that moving merry throng beneath the trees as they footed it, and bowed and scampered and twisted and twirled to the good old tune.  Dance succeeded to dance.  The elders looked on, but now and again a sense of past days would seize this or the other, and saying, ‘What, what, I feel mysel in fettle yit,’ a grey-haired dame or white-haired man would catch hold and be off to the squeal of flute and thrum of harp and fiddle. (p. 198)

Behind the dancers as they moved gleamed quiet vale and tranquil lake, and beyond towering up to a single star the blue-black background of Grisedale Pike and the Grassmoor range.  And still the fiddle went, and still the dancers danced, and still in and out of the jewelled flower borders and the flame-lit trees the people walked and talked, till at last ‘God Save the King’ was played in solemn earnest, and a good-night to all was wished by host and hostess. (pp. 198-9)

But that was not the end, for a band of singers had remained unobserved in the shadow of the limes, and ere the happy guests had left the garden ground there rose upon the dewy fragrant air the old familiar evening hymn, and we all went home with a sense of something ‘far more deeply interfused’ with an evening’s rest than mere tea and talk and strawberries and fairy lights could give us; went home with the love of God and love of man a great reality. (p. 199)

(Chapters at the English Lakes, pp. 191-199)