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WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, the founder of what is morials of a Tour on the Continent; also a Decalled the Lake school of poetry, was born in 1770, scription of the Scenery of the Lakes in the North of a respectable family, at Cockermouth, in Cum- of England, with illustrative remarks on the sceberland. He received his early education at the nery of the Alps. His last publication was Yarrow grammar-school of Hawkshead, where he greatly Revisited, which appeared in 1834. excelled in his classical studies, and was remark The genius of Mr. Wordsworth has been a matter able for his thoughtful disposition, and taste for of critical dispute ever since he first made pretension poctry, in which he made his first attempt, when at to any, and it is yet a question with some, whether the age of thirteen. In 1787, he was removed to his productions are not those of “ an inspired idiot.” St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated It would be, however, useless to deny him the B. A. and M. A.; and, in 1793, he published a reputation of a poet, though between the equally poetical account of a pedestrian tour on the conti- extravagant adoration and censure, of which he has nent, entitled Descriptive Sketches in Verse, &c., been the object, it is difficult to define the exact followed by the Evening Walk, an epistle, in verse, position which will be ultimately assigned himn in addressed to a young lady. In alluding to the De- the rank of literature. Coleridge, who, as might be scriptive Sketches, says Coleridge,“ seldom, if ever, expected, is one of his most enthusiastic admirers, was the emergence of an original poetic genius says that, “in imaginative powers, Wordsworth above the literary horizon more evidently an stands nearest of all modern writers to Shakspeare nounced.” After wandering about in various parts and Milton, and yet in a kind perfectly unborrowed, of England, our author took a cottage at Alforton, and his own." The author of an essay on his in Somersetshire, near the then residence of Cole- theory and writings, printed in Blackwood's Maridge, where they were regarded by the good peo- gazine for 1830, gives a very fair estimate of his ple of the neighbourhood as spies and agents of the poetical genius. “ The variety of subjects,” he French Directory. Our benevolent author, however, observes, “ which Wordsworth has touched; the appears to have been considered the more dangerous varied powers which he has displayed; the passages character of the two. “As to Coleridge,” one of the of redeeming beauty interspersed even amongst the parish authorities is said to have remarked, “ there worst and dullest of his productions; the originis not so much harm in him, for he is a wild brain ality of detached thoughts, scattered throughout that talks whatever comes uppermost; but that works, to which, on the whole, we must deny the
(Wordsworth) he is the dark traitor. You praise of originality; the deep pathos, and occanever hear him say a syllable on the subject.” In sional grandeur of his style; the real poetical 1798, he published a volume of his Lyrical Ballads, feeling which generally runs through its many which met with much abuse and few admirers, but modulations; his accurate observation of external those who applauded, applauded enthusiastically. nature ; and the success with which he blends the
In 1803, he married a Miss Mary Hutchinson, of purest and most devotional thoughts with the gloPenrith, and settled at Grassmere, in Westmoreland, ries of the visible universe-all these are merits, for which county, as well as that of Cumberland, which so farmake up in number what they want he was subsequently appointed distributor of stamps. in weight,' that, although insufficient to raise him In 1807, he gave to the public a second volume of to the shrine, they fairly admit him within the his Ballads ; and, in 1809, with an intention to sacred temple of poesy.” For our own parts, though recommend a vigorous prosecution of the war we are not among those who call, as some of his with Spain, he published his only prose production, admirers do, the poetry of Wordsworth “ an actual concerning the relations of Great Britain, Spain, revelation,” we admit to have found in his works and Portugal to each other. In 1814, appeared, in beauties which no other poet, perhaps, could have quarto, his Excursion, a poem, which has been struck out of the peculiar sphere to which he has highly extolled, and is undoubtedly one of his most confined his imagination. His Recollections of Early original and best compositions. It was followed, Childhood, and a few others, are sublime composiin 1815, by the White Doe of Rylstone; and, in tions; whilst, on the other hand, his lines to a 1819, by his Peter Bell, to the merits of which we Glow-worm, et id omne genus, are despicable and must confess ourselves strangers. During the same ridiculous. year, he published his Wagonner, a tale ; followed, The private character of Mr. Wordsworth has in 1820, by the River Duddon, a series of sonnets ; never been impeached by his most virulent enemies, and Vaudracour and Julia, with other pieces; and if he has any ; and no man is more esteemed and Ecclesiastical Sketches. In 1822, he printed Me- respected for his amiable qualities.
BEING A PORTION OF THE RECLUSE,
he had not thought that the labour bestowed by THE EXCURSION,
him upon what he has heretofore and now bu before the public, entitled him to candid attentis for such a statement as he thinks necessary o throw light upon his endeavours to please, and be
would hope, to benefit his countrymen.-Nothing PREFACE.
further need be added, than that the first and thira The title announces that this is only a portion parts of the Recluse will consist chiefly of meditaof a poem ; and the reader must be here apprized tions in the author's own person; and that in the that it belongs to the second part of a long and intermediate part (the Excursion) the interventica laborious work which is to consist of three parts. of characters speaking is employed, and something -The author will candidly acknowledge that, if of a dramatic form adopted. the first of these had been completed, and in such It is not the author's intention formally to asa manner as to satisfy his own mind, he should nounce a system : it was more animating to him to have preferred the natural order of publication, and proceed in a different course; and if he shall suehave given that to the world first; but, as the ceed in conveying to the mind clear thoughts, lively second division of the work was designed to refer images, and strong feelings, the reader will have more to passing events, and to an existing state of no difficulty in extracting the system for himsell. things, than the others were meant to do, more And in the mean time the following passage, taker continuous exertion was naturally bestowed upon from the conclusion of the first book of the Recluse, it, and greater progress made here than in the rest may be acceptable as a kind of prospectus of the of the poem ; and as this part does not depend upon design and scope of the whole poem. the preceding, to a degree which will materially injure its own peculiar interest, the author, com “ On man, on nature, and on human life, plying with the earnest en treaties of some valued Musing in solitude, I oft perceive friends, presents the following pages to the public. Fair trains of imagery before me sise,
It may be proper to state whence the poem, of Accompanied by feelings of delight which the Excursion is a part, derives its title of Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixt; the Recluse.-Several years ago, when the author And I am conscious of affecting thoughts retired to his native mountains, with the hope of And dear remembrances whose presence sootiles being enabled to construct a literary work that Or elevates the mind, intent to weigh might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should The good and evil of our mortal state. take a review of his own mind, and examine how - To these emotions, whensoe’er they come, far nature and education had qualified him for such Whether from breath of outward circumstance, employment. As subsidiary to this preparation, he or from the soul-an impulse to herself, undertook to record, in verse, the origin and pro- I woull give utterance in numerous verse. gress of his own powers, as far as he was acquaint- of truth, of grandeur, beauty, love, and hope ed with them. That work, addressed to a dear And melancholy fear subdued by faith ; friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and Of blessed consolations in distress ; genius, and to whom the author's intellect is of moral strength, and intellectual power ; deeply indebted, has been long finished; and the Of joy in widest commonalty spread; result of the investigation which gave rise to it was of the individual mind that keeps her own a determination to compose a philosophical poem, Inviolate retirement, subject there containing views of man, nature, and society; and To conscience only, and the law supreme to be entitled, the Recluse; as having for its Of that Intelligence which governs all; principal subject the sensations and opinions of a I sing :—' fit audience let me find though few! poet living in retirement.—The preparatory poem “So pray'd, more gaining than he ask'd, the is biographical, and conducts the history of the bard, author's mind to the point when he was im- Holiest of men.-Urania, I shall need boldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently Thy guidance, or a greater muse, if such matured for entering upon the arduous labour Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven! which he had proposed to himself; and the two For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink works have the same kind of relation to each Deep—and, aloft ascending, breathe in world other, if he may so express himself, as the anti-To which the heaven of heavens is but a veil. chapel has to the body of a Gothic church. Con- All strength--all terror, single or in bands, tinuing this allusion, he may be permitted to add, That ever was put forth in personal form; that his minor pieces, which have been long before Jehovah-with his thunder, and the choir the public, when they shall be properly arranged, Of shouting angels, and the empyreal throneswill be found by the attentive reader to have such | I pass them unalarm’d. Not chaos, not connexion with the main work as may give them The darkest pit of lowest Erebus, claim to be likened to the little cells, oratories, Nor aught of blinder vacancy-scoop'd out and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily included in By help of dreams, can breed such fear and awe those edifices.
As fall upon us often when we look The author would not have deemed himself into our minds, into the mind of man, justified in saying, upon this occasion, so much of My haunt, and the main region of my song. performances either unfinished, or unpublished, if |--Beauty-a living presence of the earth,
Surpassing the most fair ideal forms
My heart in genuine freedom :-all pure thoughts Which craft of delicate spirits hath composed Be with me ;-s0 shall thy unfailing love From earth's materials-waits upon my steps ; Guide, and support, and cheer me to the end!" Pitches her tents before me as I move, An hourly neighbour. Paradise, and groves Elysian, fortunate fields like those of old Sought in th’ Atlantic main, why should they be A history only of departed things,
WILLIAM, EARL OF LONSDALE, K. G. &c. &c. Or a mere fiction of what never was
OFT, through thy fair domains, illustrious peer! For the discerning intelleet of man,
In youth I roam’d, on youthful pleasures bent; When wedded to this goodly universe
And mused in rocky cell or sylvan tent, In love and holy passion, shall find these
Beside swift-flowing Lowther's current clear. A simple produce of the common day.
-Now, by thy care befriended, I appear -I, long before the blissful hour arrives,
Before thee, Lonsdale, and this work present, Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse of this great consummation ;-and, by words
A token (may it prove a monument!)
Of high respect and gratitude sincere. Which speak of nothing more than what we are,
Gladly would I have waited till my task Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep
Had reached its close; but life is insecure, Of death, and win the vacant and the vain
And hope full oft fallacious as a dream: To noble raptures; while my voice proclaims
Therefore, for what is here produced I ask How exquisitely the individual mind
Thy favour; trusting that thou wilt not deem (And the progressive powers perhaps no less
The offering, though imperfect, premature. of the whole species) to the external world
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. Is fitted ;-and how exquisitely, too,
Rydal Mount, Westmoreland,
July 29, 1814.
ARGUMENT. Must turn elsewhere—to travel near the tribes
A summer forenoon. The author reaches a ruined cottage And fellowships of men, and see ill sights
upon a common, and there meets with a revered friend of madding passions mutually inflamed;
the Wanderer, of whom he gives an account. TheWan. Must hear humanity in fields and groves
derer while resting under the shade of the trees that Pipe solitary anguish ; or must hang
surround the cottage relates the history of its last inhaBrooding above the fierce confederate storm
Southward the landscape indistinctly glared Dreaming on things to come; and dost possess Through a pale steam: but all the northern downs, A metropolitan temple in the hearts
In clearest alr ascending, show'd far off Of mighty poets; upon me bestow
A surface dappled o'er with shadows flung A gift of genuine insight; that my song
From brooding clouds : shadows that lay in spots With star-like virtue in its place may shine ; Determined and unmoved, with steady beams Shedding benignant influence, -and secure, Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed; Itself, from all malevolent effect
Pleasant to him who on the soft cool moss of those mutations that extend their sway Extends his careless limbs along the front Throughout the nether sphere !-And if with this
Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casts I mix more lowly matter; with the thing A twilight of its own, an ample shade, Contemplated, describe the mind and man Where the wien warbles ; while the dreaming man, Contemplating, and who, and what he was, Half conscious of the soothing melody, The transitory being that beheld
With sidelong eye looks out upon the scene, This vision,-when and where, and how he lived ;-By power of that impending covert thrown Be not this labour useless. If such theme To finer distance. Other lot was mine; May sort with highest objects, then, dread power, Yet with good hope that soon I should obtain Whose gracious favour is the primal source As grateful resting-place, and livelier joy. Of all illumination, may my life
Across a bare wide common I was toiling Express the image of a better time,
With languid steps that by the slippery ground More wise desires, and simpler manners ;-nurse Were bafiled; 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,
Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom His graces unreveal'd and unproclaim'd.
But, as the mind was fill'd with inward light,
And some small portion of his eloquent speech, Him whom I sought; a man of reverend age, And something that may serve to set in view But stout and hale, for travel unir pair'd.
The feeling pleasures of his loneliness, There was he seen upon the cottage bench, His observations, and the thoughts his mind Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep;
Had dealt with-I will here record in verse ; An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.
Which, if with truth it correspond, and sink
And listening time reward with sacred praise. Detain'd for contemplation or repose,
Among the hills of Athol he was born;
His parents, with their numerous offspring, dwelt;
Pure livers were they all, austere and grave, At such unthought of meeting.–For the night And fearing God; the very children taught We parted, nothing willingly; and now
Stern self-respect, a reverence for God's word, He by appointment waited for me here,
And an habitual piety, maintain'd Beneath the shelter of these clustering elms. With strictness scarcely known on English ground
We were tried friends : amid a pleasant vale, From his sixth year, the boy of whom I speak, In the antique market village where were passid In summer tended cattle on the hills; My school-days, an apartment he had own'd, But, through th’inclement and the perilous days To which at intervals the Wanderer drew,
Of long-continuing winter, he repaird, And found a kind of home or harbour there. Equipp'd with satchel, to a school, that stood He loved me ; from a swarm of rosy boys
Sole building on a mountain's dreary edge, Singled out me, as he in sport would say,
Remote from view of city spire, or sound For my grave looks—too thoughtful for my years. Of minster clock! From that bleak tenement As I grew up, it was my best delight
He, many an evening, to his distant bome To be his chosen comrade. Many a time,
In solitude returning, saw the hills On holydays, we rambled through the woods : Grow larger in the darkness, all alone We sate—we walk'd; he pleased me with report Beheld the stars come out above his head, Of things which he had seen ; and often touch'd And travell’d through the wood, with no one near Abstrusest matter, reasonings of the mind
To whom he might confess the things he saw. Turn'd inward; or at my request would sing So the foundations of his mind were laid. Old songs—the product of his native hills; In such communion, not from terror free, A skilful distribution of sweet sounds,
While yet a child, and long before his time, Feeding the soul, and eagerly imbibed
He had perceived the presence and the power As cool, refreshing water by the care
Of greatness; and decp feelings had impressid Of the industrious husbandman, diffused (drought, Great objects on los mind, with portraiture Through a parch'd meadow.ground, in time of And colour so distinct, that on his mind Still deeper welcome found his pure discourse: They lay like substances, and almost seem'd How precious when in riper days I learn'd
To haunt the bodily sense. He had received To weigh with care his words, and to rejoice A precious gift; for, as he grew in years, In the plain presence of his dignity !
With these impressions would he still compare 0! many are the poets that are sown
All his remembrances, thoughts, shapes, and forms; By nature; men endow'd with highest gifts, And, being still unsatisfied with aught The vision and the faculty divine ;
Of dimmer character, he thence attain'd
An active power to fasten images
The liveliness of dreams. Nor did he fail,
While yet a child, with a child's eagerness Or a nice backwardness afraid of shame,)
Incessantly to turn his ear and eye Not having here as life advanced, been led
On all things which the moving seasons brought By circumstance to take unto the height
To feed such appetite: nor this alone
Or from the power of a peculiar eye,
Or by predominance of thought oppressid,
O then how beautiful, how bright appear'd E’en in their fix'd and steady lineaments
The written promise ! Early had he learn'd le traced an ebbing and a flowing mind,
To reverence the volume that displays
The mystery, the life which cannot die;
But in the mountains did he feel his faith.
Breathed immortality, revolving life, And many a legend, peopling the dark woods, And greatness still revolving; infinite; Nourish'd imagination in her growth,
There littleness was not; the least of things And gave the mind that apprehensive power Seem'd infinite; and there his spirit shaped By which she is made quick to recognise
Her prospects, nor did he believe,-he saw. The moral properties and scope of things.
What wonder if his being thus became Tut eagerly he read, and read again,
Sublime and comprehensive! Low desires, Whate'er the minister's old shelf supplied ; Low thoughts had there no place; yet was his heart The life and death of martyrs, who sustain'd, Lowly; for he was meek in gratitude, With will inflexible, those fearful pangs
Ost as he call'd those ecstasies to mind, Triumphantly display'd in records left
And whence they flow'd ; and from them he acquired of persecution, and the covenant-times
Wisdom, which works through patience; thence Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour!
he learn'd And there, by lucky hap, had been preserved In oft-recurring hours of sober thought A straggling volume, torn and incomplete,
To look on nature with a humble heart, That left half told the preternatural tale,
Self-question'd where it did not understand, Romance of giants, chronicle of fiends,
And with a superstitious eye of love. Profuse in garniture of wooden cuts
So pass'd the time; yet to the nearest town Strange and uncourn ; dire faces, figures dire, He duly went with what small overplus Sharp-kneed, sharp-elbow'd, and lean-ankled too, His earnings might supply, and brought away With long and ghostly shanks--forms which once The book that most had tempted his desires
While at the stall he read. Among the hills
He gazed upon that mighty orb of song,
The divine Milton. Lore of different kind,
The annual savings of a toilsome life, Was wanting yet the pure delight of love
His schoolmaster supplied: books that explain By sound diffused, or by the breathing air, The purer elements of truth involved Or by the silent looks of happy things,
In lines and numbers, and, by charm severe, Or flowing from the universal face
(Especially perceived where nature droops Of earth and sky. But he had felt the power And feeling is suppress'd) preserve the mind Of nature, and already was prepared,
Busy in solitude and poverty. By his intense conceptions, to receive
These occupations oftentimes deceived Deeply the lesson deep of love which he,
The listless hours, while in the hollow vale, Whom nature, by whatever means, has taught Hollow and green, he lay on the green turf To feel intensely, cannot but receive.
In pensive idleness. What could he do, Such was the boy-but for the growing youth Thus daily thirsting, in that lonesome life, What soul was his, when, from the naked top With blind endeavours? Yet still uppermost, Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Nature was at his heart as if he felt, Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He look'd— Though yet he knew not how, a wasting power Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
In all things that from her sweet influence And ocean's liquid mass, beneath him lay
Might tend to wean him. Therefore with her hues, In gladness and deep jny. The clouds were touch'd, Her forms, and with the spirit of her forms, And in their silent faces did he rend
He clothed the nakedness of austere truth. Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
While yet he linger'd in the rudiments Nor any voice of joy ; his spirit drank
Of science, and among her simplest laws, The spectacle; sensation, soul, and form, His triangles—they were the stars of heaven, All melted into him ; they swallow'd up
The silent stars! Oft did he take delight His animal being; in them did he live,
To measure the altitude of some small crag And by them did he live; they were his life. That is the eagle's birthplace, or some peak In such access of mind, in such high hour
Familiar with forgotten years, that shows
Inscribed, as with the silence of the thought,
Or obscure records of the path of fire.
And thus before his eighteenth year was told, His mind was a thanksgiving to the power Accumulated feelings press'd his heart That made him, it was blessedness and love! With still increasing weight; he was o’erpower'd
A herdsman on the lonely mountain tops, By nature, by the turbulence subdued Such intercourse was his, and in this sort
Of his own mind ; by mystery and hope, Was bis existence oftentimes possess'd.
And the first virgin passion of a soul