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Of blessed consolations in distress ; incalculable good by teaching thouOf moral strength and intellectual Power ; sands who otherwise had not been Of Joy in widest commonalty spread; taught that useful lesson, to associate Of the individual Mind that keeps her own

the noble in thought with the simple Inviolate retirement, subject there To Conscience only, and the law supreme

in circumstances; to believe that there Of that Intelligence which governs all

may be, and that there ought to be, I sing."

"plain living and high thinking;" and

that as the lord of thousands a-year Of nothing nobler could he have may be, and very often is, a creature sought to sing ; but with what persons of mean and grovelling spirit, with no did he think fit to associate that splen- conceptions to lift him above the low. did train of moral, philosophical, and

est of the low, so the poorest may be poetic subjects? Why, with a retired rich in elevated thoughts, and that pedlar—"a vagrant merchant under a

"A virtuous household, though exceeding poor, heavy load," who supplied rustic wants, Austere and grave, and fearing God," or pleased rustic fancies with the contents of his pack, until, provision for possesses a true dignity, which voluphis own wants having been obtained, tuous princes in their palaces cannot he retired upon his savings and his achieve. Wordsworth has taught, with philosophy, to instruct, by his wisdom more effect than any one before him and experience, those who had the had taught, that there is a presence happiness to converse with him. Now and a power of greatness open to all there is nothing in the abstract nature who behold the stars come out above of things to forbid a poet from creat- their heads; and that to the feeling ing a pedlar, and endowing him with heart the meanest flower that blows thoughts as sublime as his condition is can bring thoughts that often lie too humble. He may give him a hardy deep for tears. For this cause, blessintellect, and moral feelings strength. ings be with his name. But he has ened and braced by breathing in con- pronounced his own benediction :tent the keen and wholesome air of

“ Blessings be with them and eternal praise, poverty. He may describe him as attending to his trade so as to make

Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays." money, and at the same time being a lone enthusiast in the woods and fields, The poem, now first published in the keeping in solitude and solitary thought goodly tome before us, contains about his mind in a just equipoise of love. nine thousand lines of blank verse, di. The poet has no doubt a right to do vided into fourteen books. It was this if he pleases, and to make his completed some five-and-forty years lowly merchant utter as noble truths ago, when the author was thirty-five as ever were uttered by philosopher, years old, his genius matured by rein language of the finest poetry, but flection, and his intellectual character in doing this he directly wars with the fixed and determined. We may excommon associations of men's minds, pect, then, to find the full fruitage of and he must therefore expect a storm the poetic faculty he possessed, and of opposition and of ridicule. It cer- herein no reader capable of appreciattainly was a wilful thing of Words- ing the highest order of poetry will be worth to choose a pedlar, “among the disappointed. But he will also find hills of Athol born," for his philosophic more of the eccentricities of this great hero; for since common experience as- author than his own later judgment sociates (not unjustly) thoughts the would probably have approved. There very reverse of generous, and grand, are many heavy and prosaic passages, and philosophical, with such men and and some matters of familiar, and not with their office, it required a break- very important, narrative are given ing down of such associations, and an with a solemnity which cannot but entirely new conception of the facts, provoke a smile. But these are but feelings, and circumstances of a ped- casual clouds floating in the pure Wordslar's life, before it was possible to worthian sky. Ever and anon, he admit him in the character with which springs from level talk or ponderous Wordsworth had clothed him. triviality into the most glorious heights

But though, in this great and not- of poetry, and we hear, as it were, a able instance, Wordsworth may have voice of more than mortal music re. carried his system too far, he has done verberated from the mountains, and

The Pocts, who on earth have made us heirs

filling the valleys with sounds of me- From nature and her overflowing soul lody sweeter than the fall of their own I had received so much, that all my thoughts rivers. But why was this poem left

Were steeped in feeling ; I was only thien for five-and-forty years unpublished ?

Contented, when, with bliss ineffable,

I felt the sentiment of Being spread It was, we presume, because the au

O'er all that moves, and all that seemeth still; thor considered it to be in some sort

O'er all that, lost beyond the reach of thought of a personal character ; and though And human knowledge, to the human eye he did not seem at any time to be

Invisible, yet liveth to the heart ; inuch afraid of indirect egotism, yet O'er all that leaps, and runs, and shouts, and he may have thought that becoming sings, modesty required this poem should be Or beats the gladsome air; o'er all that glides left for posthumous publication. He Beneath the wave-yea, in the wave itself says of it (Book III.) :

And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not

If high the transport, great the joy I felt, "A traveller I am,

Communing in this sort through earth and Whose tale is only of himself; even so,

heaven So be it, if the pure of heart be prompt

With every form of creature, as it looked To follow, and if thou, my honoured friend,

Towards the Uncreated with a countenance Who in these thoughts art ever at my side,

Of adoration, with an eye of love. Support, as heretofore, my fainting steps."

One song they sang, and it was audible,

Most audible, then, when the fleshly ear, The friend thus apostrophised was

O'ercome by humblest prelude of that strain,

Forgot her functions, and slept undisturbed.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to whom the whole poem is addressed. It is called, in the title-page, “ A Biographical the heaviness,

and we think we may,

These lines have, perhaps, a little of Poem,” and also “ The Growth of a Poet's Mind.” Probably the author

with truth, add, a little of the obscuconsidered it to be such a history, be- rity, which not unfrequently belongs cause he had noted in it those incidents

to Wordworth's narrative manner ; and retlections which seemed to him.

but as soon as he leaves narrative, and self to mark certain epochs of his men

soars into poetic speculation, then what tal progress. Any one, however, who

a glorious burst of elevated song pours shal expect to discover, from this poet

from his lofty muse! The following is ical autobiography, the way in which

in continuation of the passage above a poetic mind may be built up of such quoted :structure and dimensions as the mind of Wordsworth, will certainly be some

"If this be error, and another faith

Find easier access to the pious mind, what disappointed. There is nothing

Yet were I grossly destitute of all here to contravene the ancient canon

Those human sentiments that make this earth Puetu nascitur, non fit. Wordsworth

So dear, if I should fail with grateful voice was a poet, because God gave him the To speak of you, ye mountains, and ye lakes poetic faculty in large measure, and And sounding cataracts, ye mists and winds the peculiarities of his genius were fos- That dwell among the hills where I was born. tered by his taste for retirement, and If in my youth I have been pure in hearthis disposition to hold communion with If, mingling with the world, I am content external nature, and with his own With my own modest pleasures, and have

lived deeply-meditative soul, rather than with the minds of other men, and the

With God and Nature communing, removed

From little enmities and low desiresthoughts and business of the world.

The gift is yours: if, in these times of fear, In the second book of the Prelude he

This melancholy waste of hopes o‘erthrown : tells us :

If, 'mid indifference and apathy, “My seventeenth year was come,

And wicked exultation when good men And whether from this habit, rooted now On every side fall off, we know not how, So deeply in my mind, or from excess To selfishness, disguised in gentle names In the great social principle of life,

Of peace and quiet and domestic love, Coercing all things into sympathy,

Yet mingled not unwillingly with sneers To unorganic natures were transferred On visionary minds ; if, in this time My own enjoyments; or the power of truth, Of dereliction and dismay, I yet Coming in revelation, did converse

Despair not of our nature, but retain
With things that really are ; I at this time A more than Roman confidence, a faith
Saw blessings spread around one like a sea. That fails not, in all sorru my support,
Thus, while the days flew by, and years The blessing of my life--the gift is yours,
passed on,

Ye winds and catarasts I'tis yours,

Ye mountains!-thine, 0 Nature ! Thou closely connected with ordinary symbast fed

pathies. My lofty speculations; and in thee,

The allusions in the above-quoted For this uneasy heart of ours, I find A never-failing principle of joy

passage to the melancholy waste of And purest passion."

hopes overthrown, the defections of

good men, and the exultation of bad, It is difficult to imagine a grander

have reference to the course of events strain than this, or a more perfectly

after the great French Revolution, bard-like exultation in a near com

towards the close of last century. Of munion with the soul of nature. It

that outburst of the spirit of liberty, may be objected, as it has long been

which, being under no moral guidance, to much of Wordsworth's poetry, that

soon became the most frantic explo. its philosophy is Pantheistic. This sion of wickedness and cruelty that does seem to have been the sentiment

ever disgraced a civilised age, Wordsof the poet's mind, but he never

worth was at the beginning an ardent sought to teach it as a religion which admirer; and he appears not to have should take the place of Christian

quite lost hope of it, even when many verities. In whatever dreams of ima.

who had been friendly to it began to

fall off in weariness or in dread. In gination he may have indulged, he never, either by precept or by example, many parts of the poem we find that gave any, encouragement to depart deep disgust at abuses, and that arfrom Christian faith or practice, but,

dent, enthusiastic belief in the possi. on the contrary, supported both the bility of replacing them by a kind of one and the other with all the weight poetical perfection, which, no doubt, of his personal example, while his

were the cause of the poet's sympathy poetical works seemed to acknowledge with the “patriots" in France, so a continual sense of the presence of long as circumstances left it possible spiritual power manifested either in

for him to believe that the French the stupendous magnificence or the

were really seeking for liberty and exquisite simplicity of nature. And justice. But when he found them in respect to this poetical appreciation ready to become, and actually becomof natural objects, it should be observed, ing, the instruments of a military that though many other poets have tyrant, and ruthlessly robbing other felt, and have made others feel, the

nations of the freedom which they had influence of such objects in some de pretended to desire for themselves, gree, yet no other poet seems to have then his sympathy with the French had the extreme delicacy of sensibility

was at an end. He lived to believe in this respect that Wordsworth had,

that liberty and justice were more or to have exhibited so deep a passion likely to be found under a system of of love for the awful and the beautiful,

authoritative government, based upon In poetical fervour he could not ex

sound and settled principles, than unceed Burns, nor in lyrical sweetness

der the sway of those specious conequal him; but in comparing these

trivances to which knots of ambitious poets, and the genius which respec

adventurers give the name of “liberal tively distinguished each, while we are

measures," or under the dominion of led to marvel at the variety of excel

passionate decrees, suggested by demalence which poetry affords when dif- gogues and affirmed by mobs. ferent minds dwell upon the same

Proceeding from school to Camtheme, yet we must confess that, both bridge, the poet philosophises with in the massiveness and grandeur of his

much severity upon what he saw conceptions, and in the refined deli

there; but first he gives some narracacy of his perception, Wordsworth is tive, which, as it illustrates the livelier greatly superior. This we must ac

attempts of the poem, we shall tranknowledge, even while proclaiming

scribe, though we must confess our that Burns seems a more genuine, un

fear that the smile which the lines may sophisticated, spontaneous

poet of na

provoke will not be likely to be a ture than his philosophical successor,

smile of admiration :besidesthat he took nature in phases Delighted through the motley spectacle ;

“I roamed more familiar to ordinary minds than Wordsworth did, and the associa

Gowns grave or gaudy, doctors, students,

streets, tions of his fancy were more level Courts, cloisters, flocks of churches, gateto general apprehension, and more

ways, towers ;

ly on,

Migration strange for a stripling of the hills, I was as sensitive as waters are
A northern villager.

To the sky's influence in a kindred mood
As if the change Of passion : was obedient as a lute
Had waited on some fairy's wand, at once That waits upon the touches of the wind.
Behold me rich in moneys, and attired Unknown, unthought of, yet was I most
In splendid garb, with hose of silk, and hair rich-
Powdered like rimy trees, when frost is keen.

I had a world about me- L'twas

my own : My lordly dressing-gown, I pass it by,

I made it, for it only lived to me, With other signs of manhood that supplied And to the God who sees into the heart. The lack of beard. The weeks went round- Such sympathies, though rarely were betrayed

By outward gestures and by visible looks : With invitations, suppers, wine and fruit- Some called it madness—so indeed it was, Smooth housekeeping within, and all without If child-like fruitfulness in passing joy, Liberal, and saiting gentleman's array.” If steady words of thoughtfulness, matured

To inspiration, sort with such a name; The poet did not give himself with If prophecy be madness ; if things viewed much intensity of purpose to college By poets in old time, and, higher up, studies :

By the first men, earth's first inhabitants,

May in these tutorod days no more be seen “Of college labours, of the lecturer's room, With undisordered sight. But leaving this, All studded round as thick as chairs could It was no madness, for the bodily eye, stand

Amid my strongest workings, evermore With loyal students faithful to their books, Was searching out the lines of difference, Half-and-half idlers, hardy recusants

As they lie hid in all external forms, And honest dunces of important days, Near or remote, minute or vast—an eye Examinations, when the man was weighed Which from a tree, a stone, a withered leaf, As in a balance of excessive hopes,

To the broad ocean and the azure heavens, Tremblings withal, and commenable fears, Spangled with kindred multitudes of stars, Small jealousies, and triamphs good or bad, Could find no surface where its power Let others that know more speak as they might sleep; know.

Which spoke perpetual logic to my soul, Such glory was but little sought by me, And by an unrelenting agency, And little won."

Did bind my feelings even as in a chain." He confesses, however, that he had at the time some qualms about his fu

At that time, however, it was only ture worldly maintenance; but it is

when alone that the musing spirit fell remarkable how fortunate he appears

upon the future poet. His heart, he to have been in this respect. A little

says, was social, and loved idleness and sufficed for a man brought up with joy. He recalls, in splendid verse, the frugal habits, who, when he travelled names of poets who had been at Camabroad or at home, trusted to his feet, bridge before him, and thence proand carried his wardrobe in a knap

ceeds to tell his vision of what a uni. sack. But a friend, Mr. Raisley Calvert, versity should be, with stately groves, who died young, left Wordsworth £100

and majestic edifices, and not wanting a-year, because he saw that, though he a corresponding dignity within. Alas! had very great ability, he was by no how is any such vision to be realised ? means likely to be able to make £100 The grove and the edifice are indeed a-year for himself. And thus it ap

within the power of the artist, but who pears that, from 1790 to 1802, when

shall give dignity to pedantry or frihe married and settled in Westmore- volity, or who shall so govern the pride land, Wordsworth did little else than of youth, and the audacity of wealth, roam about in the most beautiful parts as to make grave and gentle students not only of England but of Europe,

of those who have just escaped from and store his mind with the images,

the restraints of school, with the deterand his heart with the love, which then

mination to obtain as much pleasure and afterwards he poured out in poetry,

as they can from increased liberty of Here is the account of his actual action, and an augmented allowance education-self-education, even at col

of money? Beautiful, however, most lege-and nobler passages of poetry

beautiful, is the poet's description of than those lines afford we are not what a university might be, could the likely soon to see again :

dreams of a poet be realised. Even

he, however, is obliged to break off Whate'er of terror, or of love, thus:Or beauty, nature's daily face put on

" Alas! alas ! From transitory passion, unto this

In vain for such solemnity I looked ;

rancan for the recovery of his health, and thus his friend addresses him :

“A lonely wanderer art thou gone, by pain Compelled, and sickness, at this latter day, This sorrowful reverse for all mankind. I feel for thee, must utter what I feel : The sympathies erewhile in part discharged, Gather afresh, and will have vent again : My own delights do scarcely seem to me My own delights; the lordly Alps them

selves, Those rosy peaks from which the morning

looks Abroad on many nations, are no more For me that image of pure gladsomeness Which they were wont to be. Through kin

dred scenes For purpose, at a time, how different! Thou takest thy way, carrying the heart

and soul That Nature gives to poets, now by thought Matured, and in the summer of their strength. Oh! wrap him in your shades, ye giant woods On Etna's side ; and thou, O flowery field Of Enna! is there not some nook of thine From the first play-time of the infant world Kept sacred to restorative delight, When from afar invoked by anxious love ?"

Dline eyes were crossed by butterflies, ears

By chattering popinjays; the inner heart
Seemed trivial, and the impresses without
Of a too gaudy region.”

After the university, we have the summer vacation, its rambles, and its amusements, full of the freshness which he tells us he found at that time in human life. Then a book on the subject of “ Books," which is certainly best when it leaves criticism to open the pages of the book of nature. The return to Cambridge, and a journey to the Alps, a residence in London, a residence in France, continued through three books, a poetic dissertation on Imagination and Taste, in two books, a retrospect and a conclusion, make up this autobiographic poem, which is rather a chain of reflections than an autobiography, in any strict sense of the word.

In spite of the heavy passages_in spite of the somewhat cumbrous gravity with which trivial matters are sometimes narrated or discussed_in spite of the absence of that graceful ease, and occasional humour, which Cowper's blank verse so eminently possesses, the poem of the Prelude has the strongest claims to the respectful admiration of the reflecting portion of the public. The finer passages have all the grandeur of the Excursion, with, as it seems to us, more vigour, and buoyancy, and fresh delight of composition. When the poet takes up a strain congenial to him, he seems to go on rejoicing in his strength, and pealing out tone after tone of rising grandeur and increasing melody. One great charm of the book is the ardour of the friendship over and over again expressed for Cole. ridge. In one place he breaks out thus:

"I have thought Of thee, thy learning, gorgeous eloquence, And all the strength and plumage of thy

Thy subtle speculations, toils abstruse
Among the schoolmen, and Platonic forms
Of wild ideal pageantry, shaped out
From things well matched or ill, and words

for things,
The self-created sustenance of a mind
Debarred from Nature's living images,
Compelled to be a life unto herself,
And unrelentingly possessed by thirst
Of greatness, love, and beauty."

Coleridge had gone to the Mediter.

This seems to us to be a passage

of great fervour, sweetness, and dignity.

The two books on Imagination and Taste," though frequently less distinct, and less easily understood than will be found agreeable to readers even of an inquiring spirit, have in them, nevertheless, much mental phi. losophy of the highest interest. He commences by shewing how nature teaches wisdom to those of an observant eye and a feeling heart. The motions of delight that haunt the sides of the green hills, and the subtle intercourse of breezes and soft airs with “breathing flowers" might, he says, if feelingly watched, teach man's haughty


"How, without injury, to take, to give

Without offence."

The breezes which bend the complying beads of lordly pines, or shift the stupendous clouds through the whole compass of the sky, shew the wondrous influence of power gently used. But the happiness which this didactic dominion of Nature at first gave him, suffered, it seems, an interruption. The intellectual power which fostered love and dispensed truth, and which diffused over men and things ("wbere reason yet might hesitate")

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