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The dreariest task that winter nights can hring,
As when retreating tempests we hehold,
But casualties and death from damps and cold Will still attend the well-conducted fold: Her tender offspring dead, the dam aloud Calls, and runs wild amidst th' unconscious crowdt And orphan'd sucklings raise the piteous cryt No wool to warm them, no defenders nigh. And must her streaming milk then flow in vain r Must unregarded innocence complain > Not—ere this strong solicitude suhside, Maternal fondness may he fresh applied, And the adopted stripling still may find A parent most assiduously kind.
For this he's doom'd awhile disguised to range,
Thus all hy turns to fair perfection riset
The humhler shepherd here with joy heholds
E'en Giles, for all his cares and watchings past, And all his contests with the wintry hlast, Claims a full share of that sweet praise hestow'd By gazing neighhours, when along the road, Or village green, his curly-coated throng Suspends the chorus of the spinner's song t When admiration's unaffected grace Lisps from the tongue, and heams in every face. Delightful moments !—Sunshine, health, and joy, Play round, and cheer the elevated hoy! "Another spring!" his heart exulting criest "Another year! with promised hlessings rise '.— Eteanal Poweh! from whom those hlessings
flow, Teach me still more to wonder, more to know! Seed-time and harvest let me see again t Wander the leaf-strewn wood, the frozen plain: Let the first flower, corn-waving field, plain, tree, Here round my home, still lift my soul to Thee; And let me ever, midst thy hounties, raise An humhle note of thankfulness and praise!"
William Wounswoath, the founder of what is talled the Lake school of poetry, was horn in 1770, of a respectahle family, at Cockermouth, in Cumherland. He received his early education at the grammar-school of Uawkshead, where he greatly excelled in his classical studies, and was remarkahle for his thoughtful disposition, and taste for poetry, in which he made his first attempt, when at the age of thirteen. In 17S7, he was removed to St John's College, Camhridge, where he graduated B. A. and M. A.t and, in 1793, he puhlished a poetical account of a pedestrian tour on the continent, entitled Descriptive Sketches in Verse, &c, followed hy the Evening Walk, an epistle, in verse, addressed to a young lady. In alluding to the Descriptive Sketches, says Coleridge," seldom, if ever, was the emergence of an original poetic genius ahove the literary horizon more evidently announced." After wandering ahout in various parts of England, our author took a cottage at Alforton, in Somersetshire, near the then residence of Coleridge, where they were regarded hy the good people of the neighhourhood as spies and agents of the French Directory. Our henevolent author, however, appears to have heen considered the more dangerous character of the two. "As to Coleridge," one of the parlah authorities is said to have remarked, " there is not so much harm in him, for he is a wild hrain that talks whatever comes uppermostt hut that
(Wordsworth) he is the dark traitor. You
D«ver hear him say a syllahle on the suhject." In 179S, he puhlished a volume of his Lyrical Ballads, which met with much ahuse and few admirers, hut those who applauded, applauded enthusiastically.
In 1S03, he married a Miss Mary Hutchinson, of Penrith, and settled at Grassmere, in Westmoreland for which county, as well as that of Cumherland, he was suhsequently appointed distrihutor of stamps. In 1S07, he gave to the puhlic a second volume of his Ballads t and, in 1S09, with an intention to recommend a vigorous prosecution of the war with Spain, he puhlished his only prose production, concerning the relations of Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal to each other. In 1S14, appeared, in quarto, his Excursion, a poem, which has heen highly extolled, and is undouhtedly one of his most original and hest compositions. It was followed, in 1S15, hy the White Doe of Rylstonet and, in 1S19, hy his Peter Bell, to the merits of which we must confess ourselves strangers. During the same year, he puhlished his Wagonner, a tale t followed, in 1S20, hy the River Duddon, a series of sonnets t and Vaudracour and Julia, with other pieces l and Ecclesiastical Sketches. In 1S22, he printed Me
morials of a Tour on the Continentt also a Description of the Scenery of the Lakes in the North of England, with illustrative remarks on the scenery of the Alps. His last puhlication was Yarrow Revisited, which appeared in 1S34.
The genius of Mr. Wordsworth has heen a matter of critical dispute ever since he first made pretension to any, and it is yet a question with some, whether his productions are not those of " an inspired idiot." It would he, however, useless to deny him the reputation of a poet, though hetween the equally extravagant adoration and censure, of which he has heen the ohject, it is difficult to define the exact position which will he ultimately assigned him in the rank of litemture. Coleridge, who, as might he expected, is one of his most enthusiastic admirers, says that, "in imaginative powers, Wordsworth stands nearest of all modern writers to Shakspeare and Milton, and yet in a kind perfectly unhorrowed, and his own." The author of an essay on his theory and writings, printed in Blackwood's Magazine for 1S30, gives a very fair estimate of his poetical genius. "The variety of suhjects," he ohserves, "which Wordsworth has touched t the varied powers which he has displayed t the passages of redeeming heauty interspersed even amongst the worst and dullest of his productions t the originality of detached thoughts, scattered throughout works, to which, on the whole, we must deny the praise of originalityt the deep pathos, and occasional grandeur of his stylet the real poetical feeling which genemlly runs through its many' modulationst his accurate ohservation of external nature t and the success with which he hlends the purest and most devotional thoughts with the glories of the visihle universe—all these are merits, which so far ' make up in numher what they want in weight,' that, although insufficient to raise him to the shrine, they fairly admit him within the sacred temple of poesy." For our own parts, though we are not among those who call, as some of his admirers do, the poetry of Wordsworth " an actual revelation," we adnvit to have found in his works heauties which no other poet, perhaps, could have struck out of the peculiar sphere to which he has confined his imagination. His Recollections of Early Childhood, and a few others, are suhlime compositionst whilst, on the other hand, his lines to a Glow-worm, et id omtu genua, are despicahle and ridiculous.
The private character of Mr. Wordsworth has never heen impeached hy his most virulent enemies, if he has any t and no man is more esteemed and respected for his amiahle qualities.
SEINO A POETIOR OF THE RECLITSE.
The title announces that this is only a portion of a poem; and the reader must he here apprized that it helongs to the second part of a long and lahorious work which is to consist of three parts. —The author will candidly acknowledge that, if the first of these had heen completed, and in such a manner as to satisfy his own mind, he should have preferred the natural order of puhlication, and have given that to the world first; hut, as the second division of the work was designed to refer more to passing events, and to an existing state of things, than the others were meant to do, more continuous exertion was naturally hestowed upon it, and greater progress made here than in the rest of the poem; and as this part does not depend upon the preceding, to a degree which will materially injure its own peculiar interest, the author, complying with the earnest entreaties of some valued friends, presents the following pages to the puhlic. It may he proper to state whence the poem, of which the Excursion is a part, derives its title of the Recluse.—Several years ago, when the author retired to his native mountains, with the hope of heing enahled to construct a literary work that might live, it was a reasonahle thing that he should take a review of his own mind, and examine how far nature and edncation had qualified him for such employment As suhsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was acquainted with them. That work, addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the author's intellect is deeply indehted, has heen long finished; and the result of the investigation which gave rise to it was a determination to compose a philosophical poem, containing views of man, nature, and society; and to he entitled, the Recluse; as having for its principal suhject the sensations and opinions of a poet living in retirement.—The preparatory poem is hiographical, and conducts the history of the author's mind to the point when he was imholdened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous lahour which he had proposed to himself; and the two works have the same kind of relation to each other, if he may so express himself, as the antichapel has to the hody of a Gothic church. Continuing this allusion, he may he permitted to add, that his minor pieces, which have heen long hefore the puhlic, when they shall he properly arranged, will he found hy the attentive reader to have such connexion with the main work as may give them claim to he likened to the little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily included in those edifices.
The author would not have deemed himself justified in saying, upon this occasion, so much of performances either unfinished, or unpuhlished, if
he had not thought that the lahour hestowed hy him upon what he has heretofore and now laid hefore the puhlic, entitled him to candid attention for such a statement as he thinks necessary to throw light upon his endeavours to please, and he would hope, to henefit his countrymen.—Nothing further need he added, than that the first and third parts of the Recluse will consist chiefly of meditations in the author's own person; and that in the intermediate part (the Excursion) the intervention of characters speaking is employed, and something of a dramatic form adopted.
It is not the author's intention formally to announce a system: it was more animating to him to proceed in a different course; and if he shall succeed in conveying to the mind clear thoughts, lively images, and strong feelings, the reader will have no difficulty in extracting the system for himself. And in the mean time the following passage, taken from the conclusion of the first hook of the Recluse, may he acceptahle as a kind of prospectus of the design and scope of the whole poem.
"On man, on nature, and on human life, Musing in solitude, I oft perceive Fair trains of imagery hefore me rise, Accompanied hy feelings of delight Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixt; Ami I am conscious of affecting thoughts And dear rememhrances whose presence soothes Or elevates the mind, intent to weigh The good and evil of our mortal state. —To these emotions, whonsoe'er they come, Whether from hreath of outward circumstance, Or from the soul—an Impulse to herself, I would give utterance in numerous verse. Of truth, of grandeur, heauty, love, and hope— And melancholy fear suhdued hy faith; Of hlessed consolations in distress; Of moral strength, and intellectual power; Of joy in widest commonalty spread; Of the individual mind that keeps her own Inviolate retirement, suhject there t To conscience only, and the law supreme Of that Intelligence which governs all; I sing:—' lit audience let me find though few!' "So pray'd, more gaining than he ask'd, the hard, Holiest of men.—Urania, I shall need Thy guidance, or a greater muse, if such Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven! For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink Deep—and, aloft ascending, hreathe in world To which the heaven of heavens is hut a veil. All strength—all terror, single or in hands, That ever was put forth in personal form; Jehovah—with his thunder, and the choir Of shouting angels, and the empyreal thrones— I pass them unularm'd. Not chaos, not The darkest pit of lowest Erehus, Nor aught of hlinder vacancy—scoop'd out By help of dreams, can hreed such fear and awe As fall upon us often when wc look Into our minds, into the mind of man, My haunt, and the main region of my song. —Beauty—a living presence of the earth,
Surpassing the most fair ideal forms
Which craft of delicate spirits hath composed
From earth's materials—waits upon my steps t
Pitches her tents hefore me as I move,
An hourly neighhour. Paradise, and groves
Blysian, fortunate fields—like those of old
Sought in th' Atlantic main, why should they he
A ' is tory. only of departed things,
Or a mere fiction of what never was
For the discerning intelleet of man,
When wedded to this goodly Universe
In k>ve and holy passion, shall find these
A simple produce of the common day.
—I, long hefore the hlissful hour arrives,
Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse
Of this great consummation t—and, hy words
Which speak of nothing more than what we are,
Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep
Of death, and win the vacant and the vain
To nohle rapturest while my voice proclaims
How exquisitely the individual mind
(And the progressive powers perhaps no less
Of the whole species) to the external world
Is fitted t—and how exquisitely, too,
Theme this hut little heard of among men,
Th' external world is fitted to the mind t
And the creation (hy no lower name
Cin it he call'd) which they with hlended might
Accomplish:—this is our high argument
—Such grateful haunts foregoing, if I oft
Must turn elsewhere—to travel near the trihes
And fellowships of men, and see ill sights
Of madding passions mutually inflamedt
Must hear humanity in fields and groves
Pspe solitary anguish t or must hang
Brooding ahove the fierce confederate storm
Of sorrow, harricadoed evermore
Within the walls of citiest may these sounds
Have their authentic comment,—that even these
Hearing, I he not downcast or forlorn r
—Descend, prophetic spirit! that inspiresl
The human soul* of universal earth,
Dreaming on things to comet and dost possess
A metropolitan temple in the hearts
Of mighty poetst upon me hestow
A gift of genuine insightt that my song
With star-like virtue in its place may shine l
Shedding henignant influence,—and secure,
Itself, from all malevolent effect
Of those mutations that extend their sway
Throughout the nether sphere !—And if with this
I :nix more lowly mattert with the thing
Contemplated, descrihe the mind and man
Contemplating, and who, and what he was,
The transitory heing that heheld
This vision,—when and where, and how he lived t—
Flo not this lahour useless. If such theme
May sort with highest ohjects, then, dread power,
V. how gracious favour is the primal source
Of all illumination, may my life
Express the image of a hetter time,
More wise desires, and simpler manners l—nurse
My heart in genuine freedom:—all pure thoughts
TO THE RIGHT HONOURAsLE
WILLIAM, EARL OF LONSDALE, K. G. *c. Ac
Oft, through thy fair domains, illustrious peer!
William Wounswoath. Rydal Mount, Westmoreland, luly 29, 1814
• Noc mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
ARGUMENT. A summer forenoon. The author reaches a ruined cottage upon a common, and there meets with a revered friend the Wanderer, of whom he gives an account. TheWan derer while resting under the shade of the trees that surround the cottage relates the history of its last inha hilant .
THE WANDERER Twas summer, and the sun had mounted high: Southward the landscape indistinctly glared Through a pale steam: hut all the northern downs, In clearest air ascending, show'd far off A surface dappled o'er with shadows flung From hrooding clouds , shadows that lay in spots Determined and unmoved, with steady heams Of hright and pleasant sunshine interposed t Pleasant to him who on the soft cool moss Extends his careless limhs along the front Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casta A twilight of its own, an ample shade, Where the wren warhlest while the dreaming man. Half conscious of the soothing melody, With sidelong eye looks out upon the scene, By power of that impending covert thrown To finer distance. Other lot was mine t Yet with good hope that soon I should ohtain As grateful resting-place, and livelier joy. Across a hare wide common I was toiling With languid steps that hy the slippery ground Were haffled t nor could my weak arm disperse The host of insects gathering round my face, And ever with me as I paced along.
Upon that open level stood a grove, The wish'd for port to which my course was hound.
Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom
Him had I mark'd the day hefore—alone
We were tried friends: amid a pleasant vale, In the antique market village where were pass'd My school-days, an apartment he had own'd, To which at intervals the Wanderer drew, And found a kind of home or harhour there. He loved me; from a swarm of rosy hoys Singled out me, as he in sport would say, For my grave looks—too thoughtful for my years. As I grew up, it was my hest delight To he his chosen comrade. Many a time, On holydays, we ramhled through the woods: We sate—we walk'd; he pleased me with report Of things which he had seen; and often touch'd Ahstrusest matter, reasonings of the mind Turn'd inward; or at my request would sing Old songs—the product of his native hills; . A skilful distrihution of sweet sounds, Feeding the soul, and eagerly imhihed As cool, refreshing water hy the care Of the industrious hushandman, diffused [drought, Through a parch'd meadow-ground, in time of Still deeper welcome found his pure discourse: How precious when in riper days I learn'd To weigh with care his words, and to rejoice In the plain presence of his dignity!
O ! many are the poets that are sown By nature; men endow'd with highest gifts, The vision and the faculty divine; Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse, (Which, in the docile season of their youth, It was denied them to acquire, through lack Of culture and th' inspiring aid of hooks, Or haply hy a temper too severe, Or a nice hackwardness afraid of shame,) Not having here us life advanced, heen led By circumstance to take unto the height The measure of themselves, these favour'd heings, All hut a scattcr' d few, live out their time, Hushanding that which they possess within, And go to the grave unthought of. Strongest minds Are often those of whom the noisy world Hears least; else surely this man had not left
His graces unreveal'd and unproclaim'd.
Among the hills of Aihol he was hom;
From his sixth year, the hoy of whom I speak, In summer tended cattle on the hills; But, through th' inclement and the perilous days Of long-continuing winter, he repair'd, Equipp'd with satchel, to a school, that stood Sole huilding on a mountain's dreary edge. Remote from view of city spire, or sound Of minster clock! From that hleak tenement He, many an evening, to his distant home In solitude returning, saw the hills Grow larger in the darkness, all alone Beheld the stars come out ahove his head, And travell'd through the wood, with no one near To whom he might confess the things he saw. So the foundations of his mind were laid. In such communion, not from terror free, While yet a child, and long hefore his time, He had perceived the presence and the power Of greatness; and deep feelings had impress'd Great ohjects on Iris mind, with portraiture And colour so distinct, that on his mind They lay like suhstances, and almost seem'd To haunt the hodily sense. He had received A precious gift; for, as he grew in years, With these impressions would he still compare All his rememhrances, thoughts, shapes, and forms And, heing still unsatisfied with aught Of dimmer character, he thence attain'd An active power to fasten images Upon his hrain; and on their pictured lines Intensely hrooded, even till they acquired The liveliness of dreams. Nor did he fail, While yet a child, with a child's eagerness Incessantly to turn his ear and eye On all things which the moving seasons hrought To feed such appetite: nor this alone Appeased his yeaining:—in the after day Of hoyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn, And mid the hollow depths of naked crags He sate, and e'en in their fix'd lineaments, Or from the power of a peculiar eye, Or hy creative feeling overhorne.