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Are yet a master light of all our seeing ;
To perish never:
And since it would be unfair to conclude with an extract, which, though highly characteristic, must yet, from the nature of the thoughts and the subject, be interesting, or perhaps intelligible, to but a limited number of readers ; I will add, from the poet's last published work, a passage equally Wordsworthian; of the beauty of which, and of the imaginative power displayed therein, there can be but one opinion, and one feeling. See White Doe',
Fast the church-yard fills ;-anon
They sing a service which they feel,
- * .* * * * *
Now a step or two her way
The following analogy will, I am apprehensive, appear dim and fantastic, but in reading Bartram's Travels I could not help transcribing the following lines as a sort of allegory, or connected simile and metaphor of Wordsworth's intellect and genius.• The soil is a deep, rich, dark mould, on a deep stratum of tenacious clay; and that on a foundation of rocks, which often break through both strata, lifting their back above the surface. The trees which chiefly grow here are the gigantic black oak; magnolia magni-floria; fraxinus excelsior; platane ; and a few stately tulip trees.' What Mr. Wordsworth will produce, it is not for me to prophesy : but I could pronounce with the liveliest convictions what he is capable of producing. It is the FIRST GENUINE Philosophic POEM.
The preceding criticism will not, I am aware, avail to overcome the prejudices of those who have made it a business to attack and ridicule Mr. Wordsworth's compositions.
Truth and prudence might be imaged as concentric circles. The poet may perhaps have passed beyond the latter, but he has confined himself far within the bounds of the former, in designating these critics, as too petulant to be passive to a genuine poet, and too feeble to grapple with him ;- men of palsied imaginations, in whose minds all healthy action is
the latter is the best be present
languid ;-who, therefore, feed as the many direct them, or with the many are greedy after vicious provocatives'.
Let not Mr. Wordsworth be charged with having expressed himself too indignantly, till the wantonness and the systematic and malignant perseverance of the aggressions have been taken into fair consideration. I myself heard the commander in chief of this unmanly warfare make a boast of his private admiration of Wordsworth's genius. I have heard him declare, that whoever came into his room would probably find the Lyrical Ballads lying open on his table, and that (speaking exclusively of those written by Mr. Wordsworth himself) he could nearly repeat the whole of them by heart. But a Review, in order to be a saleable article, must be personal, sharp, and pointed : and, since then, the poet has made himself, and with himself all who were, or were supposed to be, his friends and admirers, the object of the critic's revenge-how? by having spoken of a work so conducted in the terms which it deserved! I once heard a clergyman in boots and buckskin avow, that he would cheat his own father in a horse. A moral system of a similar nature seems to have been adopted by too many anonymous critics. As we used to say at school, in reviewing they make being rogues : and he, who complains, is to be laughed at for his ignorance of the game. With the pen out of their hand they are honorable men. They exert indeed power (which is to that of the injured party who should attempt to expose their glaring perversions and misstatements, as twenty to one) to write down, and (where the author's circumstances permit) to impoverish the man, whose learning and genius they themselves in private have repeatedly admitted, They knowingly strive to make it impossible for the
man even to publish any future work without exposing himself to all the wretchedness of debt and embarrassment. But this is all in their vocation : and, bating what they do in their vocation, “who can say that black is the white of their eye ?'
So much for the detractors from Wordsworth's merits. On the other hand, much as I might wish for their fuller sympathy, I dare not flatter myself, that the freedom with which I have declared my opinions concerning both his theory and his defects, most of which are more or less connected with his theory, either as cause or effect, will be satisfactory or pleasing to all the poet's admirers and advocates. More indiscriminate than mine their admiration may be: deeper and more sincere it cannot be. But I have advanced no opinion either for praise or censure, other than as texts introductory to the reasons which compel me to form it. Above all, I was fully convinced that such a criticism was not only wanted ; but that, if executed with adequate ability, it must conduce, in no mean degree, to Mr. Wordsworth's reputation. His fame belongs to another age, and can neither be accelerated nor retarded. How small the proportion of the defects are to the beauties, I have repeatedly declared ; and that no one of them originates in deficiency of poetic genius. Had they been more and greater, I should still, as a friend to his literary character in the present age, consider an analytic display of them as pure gain; if only it removed, as surely to all reflecting minds even the foregoing analysis must have re
1 Not many months ago an eminent bookseller was asked what he thought of -? The answer was: 'I have heard his powers very highly spoken of by some of our first-rate men ; but I would not have a work of his if any one would give it me: for he is spoken but slightly of, or not at all, in the Quarterly Review : and the Edinburgh, you know, is decided to cut him up !