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gions “consecrate to eldest time ?" Is there nothing in man, considered abstractedly from the distinctions of this worldnothing in a being who is in the infancy of an immortal lifewho is lackeyed by "a thousand liveried angels"-who is even
splendid in ashes and pompous in the grave”--to awaken ideas of permanence, solemnity, and grandeur ? Are there no themes sufficiently exalted for poetry in the midst of death and of life in the desires and hopes which have their resting-place near the throne of the Eternal—in affections, strange and wondrous in their working, and unconquerable by time, or anguish, or destiny? How little comparatively of allusion is there even in Shakspeare, whose genius will not be regarded as rigid or austere, to other · venerablenesses than those of the creation, and to qualities less common than the human heart! The very luxuries which surround his lovers
-the pensive sweetnesses which steal away the sting from his saddest catastrophes—are drawn from man's universal immunities, and the eldest sympathies of the universe. The divinity which “ hedges his kings" is only humanity's finer
Even his Lear is great only in intellectual might and in the terrible strangeness of his afflictions. While invested with the pomp and circumstance of his station, he is froward, impatient, thankless less than a child in his liberality and in his resentments; but when he is cast abroad to seek a lodging with the owl and to endure the fury of the elements, and is only a poor and despised old man, the exterior crust which a life of prosperity had hardened over his soul is broken up by the violence of his sorrows, his powers expand within his worn and wasted frame, his spirit awakens in its long-forgotten strength, and even in the wanderings of distraction gives hints of the profoundest philosophy, and manifests a real kindliness of nature a sweet and most affecting courtesy-of which there was no vestige in the days of his pride. The regality of Richard lies not in a compliment extern”-the philosophy of Hamlet has a princeliness above that of his rankmand the beauties of Imogen are shed into her soul only by the selectest influences of creation.
The objects which have been usually regarded as the most poetical, derive from the soul itself the far larger share of their poetical qualities. All their power to elevate, to delight,
or to awe us, which does not arise from mere form, colour,
We shall now attempt to express the reasons for our belief in Wordsworth's genius, by first giving a few illustrations of his chief faculties, and then considering them in their application to the uses of philosophical poetry.
We allude first to the descriptive faculty, because though not the least popular, it is the lowest which Wordsworth possesses. He shares it with many others, though few, we think, enjoy it in so eminent a degree. It is difficult, indeed, to select passages from his works which are merely descrip
but those which approach nearest to portraiture, and are least imbued with fantasy, are master-pieces in their kind. Take, for example, the following picture of masses of vapour receding among the steeps and summits of the mountains, after a storm, beneath an azure sky; the earlier part of which seem almost like another glimpse of Milton's heaven;
and the conclusion of which impresses us solemnly with the most awful visions of Hebrew prophecy:
6 A step,
A single step which freed me from the skirts
Excursion, B. II.
Contrast with this the delicate grace of the following picture, which represents the white doe of Rylstone that most beautiful of mysteries-on her Sabbath visit to the grave of her sainted lady:
“ Soft-the dusky trees between
Where is no living thing to be seen;
What harmonious pensire changes
Her's are eyes serenely bright, And on she moves—with pace how light! Nor spares to stoop her head, and taste The dewy turf, with flowers bestrown; And in this way she fares, till at last Beside the ridge of a grassy grave In quietness she lays her down; Gently as a weary wave
Sinks, when the summer brecze hath died,
White Doe of Rylstone, Canto I.
What, as mere description, can be more masterly than the following picture of the mountain solitude, where a dog was found, after three months' watching by his master's bodythough the touches which send the feeling of deep loneliness into the soul, and the bold imagination which represents the huge recess as visited by elemental presences, are produced by higher than descriptive powers !
" It was a cove, a huge recess,
That keeps till June December's snow;
There sometimes does a leaping fish
We must abstain from farther examples of the descriptive faculty, and allude to that far higher gift which Wordsworth enjoys in his profound acquaintance with the sanctities of the soul. He does not make us feel the strength of the passions, by their violent contests in a transient storm, but the measureless depth of the affections when they are stillest and most holy. We often meet in his works with little passages in which we seem almost to contemplate the well-springs of pure emotion and gentle pathos, and to see the old clefts in the rock of humanity whence they arise. In these we may not rarely perceive the true elements of tales of the purest