Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

WORDSWORTH'S POETICAL WORKS.

1806.

sons.

From evidence gathered since the Chronological Table in the first volume of this edition was issued, I have been led to assign many of the Sonnets first published in 1807 to the year 1806. Wordsworth left Grasmere with his household for Coleorton in November 1806, and we have no proof that he returned to Westmoreland till April 1808 ; although his sister spent part of the winter of 1807-8 at Dove Cottage, while he and Mrs Wordsworth wintered at Stockton with the Hutchin

Several of the sonnets which are published in the volumes of 1807 refer, however, to Grasmere, and were evidently composed there ; and I have conjecturally assigned a good many of them—about twenty in all—to the year 1806, including even the one “composed by the side of Grasmere Lake," beginning

Clouds, lingering yet, extend in solid bars, to which he himself gave the date 1807. (See the note, p. 31.) Some of these sonnets may have been composed earlier than 1806, but it is not likely that any of them belong to a later year.

In addition to these sonnets, the poems of 1806 include the Character of the Happy Warrior (unless that should be assigned to the close of the previous year—see the note to the poem), The Horn of Egremont Castle, the three poems composed in London in the spring of the year (April or May)—viz., Stray Pleasures, Star-gazers, and The Power of Music—the lines on the Mountain Echo, those composed in expectation of the death of Mr Fox, and the Ode on Immortality. Sir Walter Scott, in writing to Southey on the 4th of February 1806, said, “Wordsworth has of late been more employed in correcting his poems than in writing others."

Since this edition was begun, so many new facts and dates have been discovered from sources as yet only partially accessible—that a second and revised Chronological Table of the Poems will be given in the last volume, along with the Life of the Poet.-ED.

CHARACTER OF THE HAPPY WARRIOR.

Comp. 1806.

Pub. 1807.

[The course of the great war with the French naturally fixed one's attention

upon the military character, and, to the honour of our country, there were many illustrious instances of the qualities that constitute its highest excellence. Lord Nelson carried most of the virtues that the trials he was exposed to in his department of the service necessarily call forth and sustain, if they do not produce the contrary vices. But his public life was stained with one great crime, so that though many passages of these lines were suggested by what was generally known as excellent in his conduct, I have not been able to connect his name with the poem as I could wish, or even to think of him with satisfaction in reference to the idea of what a warrior ought to be. For the sake of such of my friends as may happen to read this note, I will add that many elements of the character here pourtrayed were found in my brother John, who perished by shipwreck, as mentioned elsewhere. His messmates used to call him the Philosopher, from which it must be inferred that the qualities and dispositions I allude to had not escaped their notice. He often expressed his regret, after the war had continued some time, that he had not chosen the Naval, instead of the East India Company's, service, to which his family connection had led him. He greatly valued moral and religious instruction for youth, as tending to make good sailors. The best, he used to say, came from Scotland ; the next to them, from the North of England, especially from Westmoreland and Cumberland, where, thanks to the piety and local attachments of our ancestors, endowed, or, as they are commonly called, free, schools abound.)

Who is the happy Warrior ? Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be ?1

- It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:2

[blocks in formation]

Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright:1
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care;
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train !
Turns his necessity to glorious gain ;
In face of these doth exercise a power
Which is our human nature's highest dower ;
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and their good receives :
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
Is placable-because occasions rise
So often that demand such sacrifice;
More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more; more able to endure
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
-'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends ;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes ?
To virtue every triumph that he knows :

[blocks in formation]
« ПредишнаНапред »