Imágenes de páginas

now be asked by a full-grown person who | desired for a country, than work which is cannot recollect to have seen one; and it regular, even though ill paid. might be answered by a person twenty years

But whilst Mr. Wordsworth appreciates older, that in his youth such an implement the moral influence of mechanical labour in was seen in every cottage and in many abating excitement to a point of just relief;' houses of somewhat higher pretensions--that we might refer to many passages in the Exit was

a wheel mounted two or three feet cursion' to show that its benefits become above the ground, to which the spinner's more than questionable in his eyes, when it foot, by means of a sort of pedal, communi- is carried so far as to suppress the activity of cated a uniform rotatory motion, whilst her the understanding, and render the mind calfingers were busy in manipulating the line lous and insensible. We have not room for of fax drawn from it,—that the motion was quotations ; nor need we multiply references; just not so rapid but that it could be distinctly but the subject is discussed at length in the discerned by the eye, and that the sound eighth book, with no pseudo-poetical parwhich accompanied it was something be- tiality-no preference of previous and ancient tween the humming of a top and the purring evils to those of the manufacturing systemof a cat. But if, having explained the but philosophically and fairly ; and it is remechanism of the spinning-wheel and its sumed in the ninth book in its natural condirect use and purpose, he were asked to nection with the subject of national education. give some account of its moral influences, If reference be made to these two books, it he might require the aid of the poet :- will be seen by those who are practically

acquainted with the subject, that the experi"Grief, thou hast lost an ever-ready friend

ence and parliamentary inquiries of the Now that the cottage Spinning-wheel is mute; seven-and-twenty years which have elapsed And care-a comforter that best could suit Her froward mood, and softliest reprehend;

since the Excursion was published, have only And Love--a charmer's voice, that used to shown more conclusively the justness of the lend,

poet's views and feelings as to the evils which More efficaciously than aught that flows are, perhaps to a certain extent unavoidably, From harp or lute, kind influence to compose but at all events most unhappily and fatally The throbbing pulse—else troubled without to many of the lower classes, mixed end;


with Even Joy could tell, Joy craving truce and rest

the unsteady

and inordinate activities of our From her own overflow, what power sedate

manufacturing system. In the course of those On those revolving motions did await years other eminent writers joined in deAssiduously—to soothe her aching breast, nouncing these evils with all the fervour of And, to a point of just relief, abate

the poetical temperament (one great man, The mantling triumphs of a day too blest.'— Mr.

Southey, we need scarcely name,)

and more recently public men have been Mechanical employment, even without found in the House of Commons, of an arhese pecnliar charms of the spinning-wheel, dent and indefatigable benevolence, to sughas no doubt a tendency to alleviate suffer- gest remedies; whilst there has remained for ing and subdue excitability, and this truth political economists the ungracious but indishas a political as well as a moral bearing ; pensable task of determining which of these for in seasons of commercial or agricultural were practicable and which were not. Some difficulty, the political disturbances which progress-much, we trust-has been made in arise amongst the lower orders of the people, the matter; and by a kindly alliance and may be attributed, not to distress and desti- concurrence of all the lights and powers tution only—for it has often been observed which are requisite for the treatment of this that they extend to many who are under no difficult problem—by philanthropical, philoimmediate pressure of want—but also to the sophical, economical, and practical efforts, concurrent deprivation of that great sedative and by eloquence poetical and parliamentary, to the human mind which is found in the and by the press and by the pulpit, it may employment of the body. Neither hunger be hoped that much more progress will be nor full feeding act alike upon all men-ihe made in no long time, and that the country one will not invariably produce irritability, will owe to Lord Ashley, as a legislator, the still less will the other he unfailingly attended consummation of a work, of which Mr. with contentment---but steady labour or Wordsworth, as poet and ethical philosomanual employment will always promote pher, so ardently urged the commencement. composure of mind. And this may add one We turn to the series of Sonnets dedimore to the many considerations which lead cated to Liberty,' with peculiar interest. the politician, as well as the moralist, to They were so entitled in previous editions, insist that a high rate of wages is less to be though in the volume before us they are in

p. 23.

cluded with others under the title of Politi- subordinate and instrumental, and still incal Sonnets. They are, for the most part, sists upon the higher agency as the vital prosuggested by public occurrences which took tection :place within the eventful and instructive period of the history of liberty extending from Even so doth God protect us if we be the French Revolution to the battle of Wa- Virtuous and wise. Winds blow and waters roll, terloo ; with some few upon subjects belong, Yet in themselves are nothing! One decree

Strength to the brave, and Power, and Deity; ing to remoter times. They should be read Spake laws to them, and said that by the soul along with those passages in the third book of Only, the nations shall be great and free.'-p. the Excursion, wherein the Solitary com- 129. ments on the rise and progress of the French Revolution, and with the admirable ode be

The same strain of sentiment will be found ginning · Who rises on the banks of Seine ? to recur repeatedly in the sonnets which reand not without reference to many other pas. the subjugation or resistance of the several

late to the events of Bonaparte's wars, and sages too numerous and scattered to be cifically mentioned. In these will be found states whose independence he invaded; and Mr. Wordsworth's sentiments respecting li- at the close of the series, which ends in berty in the various senses in which the word 1811, a censure is pronounced upon a deplois used, as applying to national independence, rable infirmity of man's nature which at that to civil liberty, and to individual freedom time came in aid of Bonaparte's power, sapand it will appear that his sentiments are ping the hearts of many weak brethren in everywhere pervaded by a deep sense of the this country as well as in his own and others, truth that liberty is essentially of a moral and --the tendency to lose all sense of right and spiritual nature, and that however closely wrong, and all sense of horror at cruelties connected with political forms and organisa. and crimes, in an effeminate admiration of tions, and dictating and requiring them for talents

, achievements, and power. This adher conservation, yet that these forms do not miration, thus counteracting the heart's better constitute, and cannot of themselves impart, nature, was in truth, wheresoever it prevailed, the spirit of liberty—that the forms must re

an index of the absence or decay of the virsult from the spirit

, otherwise the spirit will tues which are essential to liberty. We have not result from the forms-a doctrine which said an effeminate admiration; for it prehas a constant application to practical poli- vailed, we believe, chiefly amongst women, tics. A celebrated event in ancient history

who are more prone than men to feel, conis made the occasion of delivering this doc- cerning things at a distance, according to trine in reference both to civil liberty and their effect in story, and not according to national independence :

their reality in life. Casca, in Shakspeare's

play, says of the women who forgave Cæsar, • A Roman Master stands on Grecian ground; that if Cæsar had stabbed their mothers they And to the people at the Isthmian games would have done no less. We would not Assembled, He, by a herald's voice, proclaims assert so much of the admirers of Bonaparte, THE LIBERTY OF GREECE:—the words rebound

whether women or effeminate men. Facts, Until all voices in one voice are drowned ;

which are brought before the bodily eyes, or Glad acclamation by which air is rent! And birds, high flying in the element,

come home to the individual feelings of such Drop to the earth, astonished at the sound ! persons, will set them right in their sentiYet were the thoughtful grieved ; and still that ments concerning an ambitious conqueror ;voice

the women of Zaragoza were under no misHaunts, with sad echoes, musing Fancy's ear; take ; but that nothing else may have power Ah! that a Conqueror's words should be so to do so, there was many a pitiable proof in

dear ! Ah! that a boon should shed such rapturous

this country during Bonaparte's career, and joys!

to such cases the latter part of the following A gift of that which is not to be given sonnet adverts, in the strongest language of By all the blended powers of Earth and Hea- reprehension which we recollect to have met ven.'-p. 146.

with in Mr. Wordsworth's writings : Again, in a sonnet written when Bonaparte Here pause : the poet claims at least this praise, was threatening the independence of this That virtuous Liberty hath been the scope country, the poet, being at that time on the of his pure song, which did not shrink from coast near Dover, contemplates the 'span of In the worst moment of these evil duys; waters' which dívides England from France, From hope, the paramount duty that Heaven and admitting the mighty power of the lays, physical barrier, yet regards it as merely For its own honour, on man's suffering heart.

Never may from our souls one truth depart- of liberty; and those who may study, along That an accursed thing it is to gaze

with their writings, Mr. Wordsworth’s poliOn prosperous tyrants with a dazzled eye; Nortouched with due abhorrence of their other works which bear upon the state and

tical sonnets and the large portion of his guilt For whose dire ends tears flow, and blood is prospects of society, can hardly fail to inspilt,

crease and refresh their knowledge of these And justice labours in extremity

subjects, and to appreciate more justly the Forget thy weakness, upon which is built, connection between true liberty and the mere O wretched man, the throne of tyranny !?-p. political outworks which often take its name, 178.

without by any means comprising its subThe corollary from this sonnet is, that

stance. when the admiration of anything opposed to

For in what does the worth and gloriousvirtue is stronger than virtue itself in a peo

ness of liberty consist ? Not in charters, ple, that people is unfit for liberty, and the statutes, and franchises: these are merely the vital spirit of liberty is not in them. Through documents and conveyances of liberty. Not how much of political theory and practice in the political powers and functions which ought this doctrine to be carried! Is there they authenticate : these, indeed, may constiin this country any constituency to which tute liberty as a means ; but the end and what are called popular talents will recom- sanctifying principle of liberty consists in mend a representative notoriously profligate and elevation of the minds of individual men.

the peace and happiness, the independence and reprobate? That constituency is unfit and elevation of the minds of individual men. for its franchise ; and whatever specious pre

Let us pursue the principle, therefore, into tences may be made of supporting a public practical life, and observe how far political principle, and distinguishing between public institutions succeed, and wherein they fail, to and private conduct—as if the support of produce personal independence. Take, for virtue was not a public principle-such an instance, an Austrian or Prussian tradesman, exercise of the franchise is tainting the very and place him side by side with the London sources of liberty in the land. For to sup- which is the free man? The Austrian or

shopkeeper, obsequious behind his counterpose that liberty can be promoted whilst virtue is overlooked, is nothing else than to

Prussian will generally be found to wear a suppose that the consequence can be pro

countenance and manner of independent duced without having regard to the cause.

courtesy, confident of meeting the same in That liberty must rest upon a moral rather return, but not much more bent upon conthan a political basis, and that the attempt is ciliating his customer than he expects his vain to push it forward by merely political customer to be on conciliating him. The impulses, is a truth which has always been

by before the eyes of our great poets, though other desire to please on the part of the often lost to those of our politicians. Cole- tradesman, than belongs to the goodwill which ridge saw it in his youth, instructed by the ought to subsist between fellow-creatures. events that were occurring in France, and True, he is legally liable to be watched by a expressed it with characteristic force:

spy or imprisoned without a warrant; but he

lives in no fear that such a thing will happen, · The sensual and the dark rebel in vain, and there is no sign that the degradation of Slaves by their own compulsion."*

his political state enters into his daily feelMilton saw it, ardently political as he was; in social intercourse. Turn, then, to the

ings, his transactions in business, or his babits or perhaps he saw it only when the ardour of London shopkeeper. Of the signs and tokens his political mind had been informed by ex- to be observed in his manners we are unwilperience and tempered by adversity. He ling to speak. It is enough to say that they asks in the Paradise Regained' (iv. 145) what wise man would seek to free a people dependent. And whence comes this ?. It is

are tinctured with a courtesy which is not inby themselves enslaved,'

not for want of statutes, charters, privileges, • Or could of inward slaves make outward free?' and immunities; it is for want of an indeAnd in the · Paradise Lost' (xii. 79) Michael pendence which these gross instrumentalities explains to Adam that perfect liberty could can neither give nor take away; it is because only exist in Paradise, being inseparable from his mind has been reached by a far more penvirtue, which again is identical with right etrating influence than any which is thus deThese great men knew the nature rived-because his will is enslaved; because

his heart is venal, and he is ready to sell his

birthright for a mess of pottage. It is true * France, an Ode.

that he shouts for liberty at the hustings; but


though the voice is Jacob's voice, the hands activity to all, will impart an increase of are the hands of Esau ; what he values in preponderance to the good. Thus wealth what he calls liberty is chiefly protection and activity, whilst adding largely to the igfrom a tax; money is still the tyrant of his norant and bedarkened part of the populamind; and the very colours of his political tion, produce a more than proportionate liberty may very often be nothing else than addition to those parts which are in some the badge of his inward servitude.

degree instructed ; and have a yet more imDo we, then, adduce this class, this mino- portant result in carrying the instruction of rity, this mere feature in our society, as im- those who were already instructed to a peaching the value of our free institutions in higher point, and along with greater entheir general results ? Far from it. We lightenment, communicating to those classes value those institutions beyond everything greater power and efficacy in good works. except the spirit which produced them, and Hence we have a race of clergymen and the ends which they are to serve. But what country gentlemen far superior to their prewe do aim at is to insist, with Mr. Words- decessors. worth, that political liberty is good and glori- But whilst we never forget that the results ous only so far as it conduces to moral and of our institutions are good in the main, and spiritual liberty, and to personal independ- whilst we hope that there will accrue unence—that it is pure and righteous only in der them an incalculable accession of good so far as it is

in the end, it is fit that we should also look

the evil results fairly in the face. Wealth Subservient still to moral purposes, and commercial activity, whilst they make Auxiliar to divine.'*

the life of man in general a life of progress, And the practical conclusion is—not that any worldly condition. By vicissitude the minds

make it also a life of vicissitude as regards lover of liberty is to be in any one act or thought of his heart less ardent or strenuous

of men are exercised in worldly hopes and in the love of liberty--but that for the very fears

, the passions connected with gain and sake and in the spirit of that love, he is dili- loss are unduly excited, and the industry of gently to consider the mixed and contrarious the trading classes (which are perhaps the effects to which merely political proceedings most important classes as regards the stamp are brought forward in the name of politi- ordinate and greedy industry, carrying with give birth ; and if he supports measures which given to the national character) is no longer

the industry of necessity or duty, but an incal liberty, he is to see at least that they it often a taint of gambling speculation, and may be expected to promote personal independence, and so far as may be possible, resembling that vice in its wasting effect not independence only and of itself, but upon the heart. This species of industry, if an independence virtuous, enlightened, it intermits at all, is of too excited a naand founded in humility.

ture to leave the heart to repose even in its Having these principles in view, and intervals ; it may possibly not be altogether taking the Sth Book of the 'Excursion for absorbing and engrossing, but in that case a connecting commentary, the reader may not with rest, but with excitement of anoth

the excitement of getting will alternatebe led by the Sonnets to trace the course of political liberty through some of its er kind—the excitement of spending: leading consequences in our own country. The world is too much with us; late and Its earliest and most assured result is wealth. Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: From wealth is derived national power and Little we see in Nature that is ours; independence, and a numerous population: We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! but seeking for its effects within and This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; amongst thai population, we find them to The winds that will be howling at all hours, be of a unixed and multifarious character, For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; with perhaps only one characteristic com. It moves us not. Great God! I'd rather be mon to all, whether good or bad—that of A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; activity. And believing, as it would be So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, impious to disbelieve-believing with a Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; deep trust and assurance that the good ele- Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea ; ments in human nature are more powerful

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.'than the bad and are continually gaining upon them, it follows that an increase of


+ 'The latter part of this sonnet has been misar

prehended by soine persons, who have supposed that * Excursion, book iv.

Pagan superstitions were commended absolutely,

p. 39. *

p. 138.

p. 131.

We have borrowed this from the Miscel-1 That virtue and the faculties within laneous series; but the next we shall quote Are vital.--- and that riches are akin is in the same strain, and it was no doubt To fear, to change, to cowardice, and death ?' from seeing a moral slavery in all this, that Mr. Wordsworth placed it in the Political But though Mr. Wordsworth, in these series in the present volume, and in the for- and other Poems, animadverts upon riches or mer editions amongst the “Sonnets dedicat- the love of riches as working against the ed to Liberty.'

freedom of the heart, he nowhere advocates

equality of station as fostering either indeO thou proud City! which way shall I look pendence or any other virtue. Yet it may For comfort, being, as I am, opprest,

be asked, do not riches lie at the root of all To think that now our life is only drest worldly inequalities ? Undoubtedly they For show; mean handiwork of craftsman, cook, do, and riches are as undoubtedly the basis Or groom ?- We must run glittering like a brook of many social virtues. But in order to be In the open sunshine, or we are unblest:

so, they must not be thrown up suddenly by The wealthiest man among us is the best : No grandeur now in nature or in book

commercial vicissitudes ; they must be stable Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense,

and permanent, and give birth to permanent This is idolatry; and these we adore:

social relations. Riches which are stable Plain living and high thinking are no more: and permanent are overgrown in the course The homely beauty of the good old cause of time with many associations and imaginaIs gone; our peace, our fearful innocence, And pure religion breathing household laws.?– the adjuncts of a social pre-eminence than the

tive colourings, until they seem to be rather

substance and essence of it. This equable Again in the sonnet at page 138, riches and settled wealth neither agitates the mind are denounced for the fears which they ge- of the possessor nor provokes others to a nerate. In October, 1803, at the approach jealous emulation; and without the difof the great conflict with Bonaparte, Mr. ferences of social rank which spring from Wordsworth had remarked that whilst other it, it may well be questioned whether classes were hopeful and manful, it was the some of the best parts of our nature would rich who were fearful and desponding :

not remain uncultivated. Two kinds of hu

mility at least would cease-that which in • What do we gather hence but firmer faith a superior forgets superiority, that which in That every gift of noble origin

an inferior remembers inferiority; and if it be Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath; said that this latter humility is incompatible

with freedom of spirit, we answer that on the

contrary it is the greatest support to it. For and not merely as being better than a total absence no spirit is less free than that which is jealof devotional and natural sentiment. All that Mr. ously unwilling to acknowledge adventitious or Proteus to Mammon. To those who have not advantages in others-none is more free or considered that, in our imperfect natures, the ap- more generous than that which forgets itself prehension of religious truth is merely relative, and in the respect which, through the influence of that superstition may be often by no means the imaginative sentiments and established manworst of our imperfections, we would recommend the study of some passages in the 21st

chapter of ners, it feels for what is by itself (as it were) The Light of Nature and Gospel Liglits blended." placed above itself. Observe the difference An intellect at once more exact and more discur. between the condition of mind of a domestic sive than that of Abraham Tucker, was never exer- servant in the times when such service was cised in theology, and his fancy, if not yas mabund: almost hereditary, and that of a footman of the pily illustrative. He warns us against the hasty present day. In the one case authority was rooting out of superstition (or what we take to be softened, the value of kindness enhanced, atsuperstition) wherever it may be found, and at all tachment might take place, the better affecrisks : - for it is not uncommon the the same plants tions might be exercised, and the spirit of a out from another. We sow fields of oats with care servant might be as free as the spirit of a child, and cost, but are very sorry to see them among our though like a child he was dependent. There wheat ; the scarlet poppy and sun.resembling mari- are examples of this still, though they are rare gold, which burn up our corn, are esteemed orna. ments in our gardens—the carpet-woven grass that unhappily; and it is commonly tắe case in beautifies our lawns must be extirpated from our the present times that the relation of master fallows by frequent and toilsome ploughings. But and servant resolves itself into the contract that superstition is not always a distinct plant—it is so much servility shall be given for such and sometimes like the green leaves of corn, which pro- such wages

, and the independence of the menspire, and will wither away of themselves as that ial is bought and sold. And even where there grows towards maturity.'

are no relations of servitude, money intrudes

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