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Bears him on while proudly sailing
So pure, so bright, so fitted to embrace,
And beauty of his happier hour. And hear how the same writer describes a poet's tomb; the spirit of peace and solitude broods over every line :
Lies buried in this lonely place. Nevertheless, if we wished to give a stranger to Wordsworth's poems the most delightful impression of them, we should, perhaps, as a whole, select “Yarrow Visited.' There are others much finer; the Lines on Cora Linn
breathe a softer energy; those to his . Infant Daughter,' and to a Child, Six Years Old,' are more completely removed from the beaten track of poetry; 'Laodamia' is statelier; 'Ruth' is at once more pathetic and more picturesque ; Tintern Abbey,' and the Ode to Duty,' are more profound ; but upon • Yarrow Visited' is shed a harmony, a beauty, a delicacy, and a grace, unmatched amongst its fellows. It is too long for entire quotation, but a few verses we must copy :
And is this Yarrow ?- This the stream
And cheer my my mind in sorrow. It is perpetually objected that Wordsworth's characters have no variety, inasmuch as they are almost invariably drawn from the better specimens of mankind; a family likeness of worth, usefulness, and peace, may be
discerned among them, but not more than the counter family likeness of darkness and desperation observable in all Lord Byron's heroes. In our last we gave a few of Wordsworth's female portraits ; we will now add to the collection a few of his male ones, worthy of the association :
As if within his frame
Of pleasing lustre. If the poet has seldom pourtrayed the harsher feautures of human nature; if he has never excited our sympathies for crime, or selected his heroes from cap and feather desperadoes, who commit murder ungracefully, and confess it with an air; it has been from choice and conviction.
He is not, as he expresses it,
Inclined to treat
By the deformities of brutish vice; and even when obliged to introduce characters who have swerved from the narrow path, he desires to single out those
Upon whose lapse, or error, something more
Than brotherly forgiveness may attend. The diction of many of our living poets is more splendid and striking, but of none will the diction generally bear such close and repeated examination as that of Wordsworth. Few words could be removed from his works without injury to the sense, and fewer need be added to complete it. His is never an ambitious style; beggarly ideas are ever arrayed in the purple and fine linen' of pompous phraseology: his very metaphors are characterised by chaste simplicity; and differ from metaphors in general as the Macedonian Phalanx did from the Persian Immortals,—the one, dependent on innate strength and dignity, the other, relying on exterior show and splendour. From his habits of close observation and severe
reflection, his language never degenerates into gaudy common-place; his lines have all a definite meaning and purpose; whether the reader coincide with them or not, the poems are, true to themselves, free from contradiction. Energy has been called the characteristic of Lord Byron's diction,-precision is certainly the distinguishing character of Wordsworth’s. It is impossible not to be struck with the infinite number of felicitous phrases scattered through the Excursion and the Lyrical Ballads,-phrases that unite individual force with capability of general application. Thus, where he speaks of a forest at the approach of autumn, as
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade.
That sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind. When the spectre of her husband first appears to Laodamia, and he gra'' phically remarks by two words, the transition and its cause, from surprise and fear, to certainty and delight
O terror ! what hath she perceived ?-Ojoy!
What doth she look on? Or compresses in one glorious line a description and illustration of poetry, by calling it
The vision and the faculty divine. When he describes the excitation of spirits produced by a first spring morning
I roamed in the confusion of my heart
Alive to all things and forgetting all.
Quiet as a Nun-breathless with adoration.
Thought was not, in enjoyment it expired. When he calls the cuckoo a wandering voice,' &c. speaks of a river 'gliding at his own sweet will,' of the old sea' inspiring reverential fear, of the 'glory and the freshness of a dream,'—of the 'sleep that is among the lonely hills,'-—of the stock dove • brooding over his own sweet voice,'of the deep contentment in the vernal air,-he has expressed what no one acquainted with his words will ever express in any other, because none can be found more exquisitely appropriate to the things described.
But it is time, more than time, to bring these remarks to a close. Some who may have perused them will not scruple to pronounce us bigoted enthusiasts ; of the latter title we are proud, the former we entirely disclaim, All Wordsworth's poems are not equally our favourites, there are some with which we are even dissatisfied; but when these make up so fractional a portion of his whole works, when the mass of excellence is excellence so exalted and unalloyed, it does strike us as little short of impertinence to examine such a sun merely to number its specks. On this point, a remark in the preface to his Lyrical Ballads fully expresses our feelings, and we shall therefore quote it.
• If an author, by any single composition, has impressed us with respect for his talents, it is useful to consider this as affording a presumption, that, on other occasions where we have been displeased, he, nevertheless, may not have written ill or absurdly; and further, to give him so much credit for this one composition as may induce us to review what has displeased us with more care than we should otherwise have bestowed upon it.'
Wordsworth, as was remarked at the outset of the last paper, is not popular; we may go further, and affirm, that in all probability he never will be ;-but we confidently anticipate the arrival of a period, when the merits of this truly great poet will be so universally acknowledged, we do not say appreciated—that people will no more think of ridiculing the Excursion than they would of decrying Paradise Lost.
BY DR. AKENSIDE. *
Whilom by silver Thamis' gentle stream
Until (advancing onward by degrees)
Could tell us if a mite were lean or fat,
With learned, clerkly phrase, he could have shown,
* This admirable sketch has been presented to us by a friend, as a juvenile production of the poet Akeuside. It has never, we are told, appeared in print before.-ED.