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laneously from a deadly sleep to a more hopeful wakefulness; as a mass fluctuating with one motion under the breath of a mightier wind; as breaking themselves up, and settling into several bodies, in more harmonious order ; as reunited and embattled under a standard which was reared to the sun with more authentic assurance of final victory?.. . Let the fire, which is never wholly to be extinguished, break out afresh ; let but the human creature be roused ; whether he have lain head less and torpid in religious or civil slavery, have languished under a thraldom, domestic or foreign, or under both these alternately; or have drifted about, a helpless member of a clan of disjointed and feeble barbarians, ---let him rise and act; and his domineering imagination, by which from childhood he has been betrayed, and the debasing affections which it has imposed upon him, will from that moment participate in the dignity of the newly-ennobled being whom they will now acknowledge for their master ; and will further him in his progress, whatever be the object at which he aims. Still more inevitable and momentous are the results, when the individual knows that the fire which is reanimated in him is not less lively in the breasts of his associates ; and sees the signs and testimonies of his own power, incorporated with those of a growing multitude, and not to be distinguished from them, accompany him wherever he moves. Hence those marvellous achievements which were performed by the first enthusiastic followers of Mohammed, and by other conquerors, who with their armies have swept large portions of the earth like a transitory wind, or have founded new religions or empires. But if the object contended for be worthy and truly great (as, in the instance of the Spaniards, we have seen that it is); if cruelties have been committed upon an ancient and venerable people, which shake the human frame with horror ; if not alone the life which is sustained by the bread of the mouth, but that—without which there is no life—the life in the soul has been directly and mortally warred against ; if reason has had abominations to endure in her inmost sanctuary; then does intense passion, consecrated by a sudden revelation of justice, give birth to those higher and better wonders which I have described ; and exhibit true miracles to the eyes of men, and the noblest which can be seen. It may be added that, -as this union brings back to the right road the faculty of imagination, where it is prone to err and has gone furthest astray; as it corrects those qualities which are in their essence indifferent, and cleanses those affections which (not being inherent in the constitution of man, nor necessarily determined to their object), are more immediately dependent upon the imagination, and which may have received from it a thorough taint of dishonour ;-—so the domestic loves and sanctities which are in their nature less liable to be stained—so these, wherever they have flowed with a pure and placid stream, do instantly, under the same influence, put forth their strength as in a flood ; and without heing sullied or polluted, pursue-exultingly and with song—a course which leads the contemplative reason to the ocean of eternal love."
In 1810, he wrote the introduction to a folio volume of “ Select Views in Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire,” which, as a description of the, beauty and magnificence of the lake scenery, of the inhabitants, their homesteads, and their manner of living, of the most striking and characteristic features of each district, with instructions as to the best manner of seeing these, is reckoned the most accurate and interesting thing of the kind ever written.
In the spring of 1813, after one temporary change of residence, he took up his abode at Rydal Mount, about two miles distant from Grasmere, and here he continued to reside till the day of his death, thirty-seven years after. The house, which has since become so famous, is a two-storied, sober-hued, modest mansion, tinged with weather stains, mantled over here and there with roses, ivy, jessamine, and Virginia creeper, and stands on the sloping side of a rocky hill, with a southern aspect, overlooking the lake of Windermere, and commanding beautiful views of the romantic vale of the Rothay, and of the distant wood-fringed waters of the lake; while around the dark waters rise the gracefully-rounded, richlywooded mountains--soft as the scenery of a still Dreamland ; beautiful with cultured picturesqueness, as of the gardens of the Titans ; clothed with the "infinite enchantment" of atmospheric effects ever varying and always lovely; and glowing—"in the light of setting suns ”—with a glory of colour-orange, and bronze, purple and amethyst, - against the loftier and remoter peaks that rise in the far distance, faint and unsubstantial in the wide lapse of light, like high-piled cloud on cloud.
The poet's good fortune seems to have followed him to this beautiful abode ; for he had hardly taken possession of it when he received the appointment of distributor of stamps in the county of Westmoreland—an office which added about £500 a year to his income, and the duties or which were discharged by a clerk, so that he was still left ample liberty to follow his literary pursuits. For this desirable appointment he was indebted to the influence of the Earl of Lonsdale, who had been for many years his constant and generous friend, and whose kindness on this occasion he gratefully acknowledged by dedicating “The Excursion ” to him in a complimentary prefatory sonnet.
A second tour in Scotland early in 1814, in company with his wife and his sister, gave birth to a few poems, amongst which was “ Yarrow Visited." And in the summer of the same year appeared his great poem, “The Excursion.” It need scarcely be said, that, with the leading reviewers of the day, it fared no better than his former less ambitious attempts had done ; and that, with hardly a single exception, and in the strongest terms of condemnation, they doomed it to oblivion ! And it is a somewhat remarkable fact in literary history that a single edition of 500 copies of this poem satisfied the English public for a period of six years. Another edition, also confined to 500 copies, published in 1827, was found sufficient for the following seven years. But, notwithstanding these discouragements, the poet's equanimity was undisturbed. “Let the age continue to love its own darkness,” he said, in a letter to Southey, “ I shall continue to write, with, I trust, the light of Heaven upon me.” “If • The Excursion ’ is to be judged of by its best passages," says one of his admirers, “hardly any poem in the language is equal to it. Some of its scenes, extending to hundreds of lines, many smaller passages, and innumerable verses and phrases, are among the most exquisite things to which any poetic
mind ever gave expression.” “In power of intellect,” says another, Hazlitt, "in Icfty conception, in the depth of feeling, at once simple and sublime, which per. vades every part of it, and which gives to every object an almost preternatural and preter-human interest, this work has seldom been surpassed !"
In 1815 appeared the White Doe of Rylstone,” a beautiful legendary poem, which the poet considered, in conception, the highest work he had ever produced. In the preceding and two following years were composed “Laodamia," “ Dion," and the “Ode to Lycoris," in conception and expression the purest and most richly classic pieces he ever penned. The “ Thanksgiving Ode," and a rhymed translation, in the style of Pope, of three books of the “Æneid,” were produced in 1816.
In 1819, appeared “Peter Bell,” which had been written nearly twenty years before, and which is really reinarkable as having been more in request than any of his previous publications. An edition of 500 copies was printed in April, and another impression of it was required in the following month. “The Waggoner," which appeared at the same time, was not, however, so successful. To this year, also, belong the beautiful series of “ Sonnets on the River Duddon."
In 1820, Wordsworth, accompanied by his wife and sister, made a tour of four months on the Continent, which gave birth to a volume of sonnets and other poems, published in 1822, under the title of “Memorials of a Tour on the Continent.” In this year, too, a brief visit to his friend, Sir George Beaumont, at his seat of Coleorton, in Leicestershire, suggested the splendid series of “Ecclesiastical Sonnets."
During the next few years the poet appears to have done little else than travel about, either on special tours, or on visits to his friends, and in the autumn of 1831 he set off from Rydal Mount, in company with daughter, to visit Sir Walte Scott before his departure, ruined in fortune, and weakened in body and mind, for Italy
They reached Abbotsford on Monday. “How sadly changed," says Wordsworth, “ did I find him from the man I had seen so healthy, gay, and hopeful a few
years before. The inmates and guests we found there were Şir Walter, Major Scott, Anne Scott, and Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart ; Mr. Liddell, his lady and brother, Mr. Allan, the painter, and Mr. Laidlaw. In the evening Mr. and Mrs. Liddell sang, and Mrs. Lockhart chanted old ballads to her harp; and Mr. Allan, hanging over the back of a chair, told and acted old stories in a humorous way. With this exhibition and his daughter's singing, Sir Walter was much amused, and, indeed, were we all, as far as circumstances would allow. On Tuesday morning Sir Walter accompanied us to Newark Castle, on the Yarrow.
Of that excursion the verses, “Yarrow Revisited,' are a memorial.
On our return, in the afternoon, we had to cross the Tweed directly opposite Abbotsford. .. A rich but sad light, of rather a purple than a golden hue, was spread over the Eildon Hills at that moment ; and, thinking it probable that it might be the last time Sir Walter would cross the stream, I was not a little moved, and expressed some of my feelings in the following sonnet :
""A trouble, not of clouds or weeping rain,
Nor of the setting sun s pathetic light
On Thursday morning Sir Walter and I had a serious conversation, tête-à-tête, when he spoke with gratitude of the happy life, which, upon the whole, he had led. He had written in my daughter's album, before he came into the breakfast-room that morning, a few stanzas addressed to her, and while putting the book into her hand, in his own study, standing by his desk, he said to her, in my presence, ‘I should not have done anything of this kind but for your father's sake ; they are probably the last verses I shall ever write.' They showed how much his mind was impaired , not by the strain of thought, but by the execution, some of the lines being imperfect, and one stanza wanting corresponding rhymes.” At noon on the same day the poets parted, and on Wordsworth expressing a hope that Sir Walter's health would be benefited by the climate of the country to which he was going, and by the interest he would take in the classic remembrances of Italy. he, with a flash of fitting recollection, but in a tone of deepest sadness, made answer in Wordsworth's own words—a quotation from “ Yarrow Unvisited”-“When I am there, although 'tis fair, 't will be another Yarrow.”
This visit, and another, which he paid to Scotland in 1833, accompanied by his son, and Henry Crabb Robinson, Esq., furnished materials for a volume which he published in 1835, entitled, “ Yarrow Revisited, and other Poems."
A five months' tour in Italy in the spring and summer of 1837 suggested several pieces, which appeared in 1842, in a volume entitled “Poems Chiefly of Early and Late Years." This was the last volume published during his lifetime.
About this time public feeling and critical opinion began to change, and the mists of prejudice, which had so long lowered over his greatness, and concealed or obscured it, gradually vanished. Henceforth, year by year, the same of the Poet of the Lakes grew wider and wider ; and long before his death he was acknowledged to be the greatest English poet of his age, and regarded with reverence as one of the purest and most blameless of English writers. Honours now flowed fast upon him, and the remaining years of his life were passed in the midst of that which should accompany old age—"as honour, love, obedience, troops of friends."
In the summer of 1839, amid the enthusiastic acclamations of the students, the University of Oxford honoured him with the degree of D.C.L. In 1842 he resigned the Government appointment he held in favour of his son, who had for some time acted as his deputy. A few months afterwards, he received, through Sir Robert Peel, a grant from the Crown of £300 a year. In 1843, on the death of his friend
Southey, he was offered, in flattering terms, the vacant Laureateship, which, after some hesitation, on account of his age, he accepted, on the assurance that it was to be entirely nominal and honorary. In 1844, Lord Jeffrey, perhaps the severest of his literary censors, in republishing his contributions to the Edinburgh Review, look occasion, in graceful and fitting terms, to acknowledge the poet's many and great merits.
In 1846, his brother, Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., died; and in the following year he sustained a still greater grief in the death of his accomplished and darling daughter, Dora (Mrs. Quillinan).
Two years afterwards, at Rydal Mount, on the 23rd of April, 1850, the poet himself passed peacefully away in the eightieth year of his age. His remains were laid near those of his children, in Grasmere Churchyard. “His own prophecy,” says his nephew,“ in the lines to the daisy
“Sweet flower! belike one day to have
I welcome thee once more,'
is now fulfilled. He reposes, according to his own wish, beneath the green turf, among the dalesmen of Grasmere, under the sycamores and yews of a country churchyard, by the side of a beautiful stream, amid the mountains which he loved ; and a solemn voice seems to breathe from his grave, which blends its tones in sweet and holy harmony with the accents of his poetry, speaking the language of humility and love, of adoration and faith, and preparing the soul, by a religious exercise of the kindly affections, and by a devout contemplation of natural beauty, for a translation to a purer, and nobler, and more g'orious state of existence, and for a fruition of heavenly felicity.”
In this brief and necessarily imperfect sketch, it would be impossible to enter at any length into the merits of Wordsworth's poetry. But a very fair estimate may be formed of the poet's artistic power, and of the pervading spirit of his poetry from the two following brief extracts. The first few justly-discriminating and happily-expressed sentences, descriptive of the higher characteristics of his poetry, are from the able and admirably drawn literary and poetical character of the poet by his friend Coleridge, in his Biographia Literaria. The second series, equally able, and quite as felicitously expressed, are from the pen of William Ellery Channing, and describe those simpler, but, for the popular mind, more attractive, characteristics which so touchingly and so powerfully appeal to the instincts and feelings of our common humanity.
Wordsworth's poetry is marked by—" First, An austere purity of language, both grammatically and logically; in short, a perfect appropriateness of the words to the meaning. Secondly, A correspondent weight and sanity of the thoughts and sentiments won, not from books, but from the poet's own meditations They are fresh, and have the dew upon them. Even throughout his smaller poems, there is not one which is not rendered valuable by some just and original