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enough to quicken the sympathies, whilst and can expect only the rebuke of Bellerothere is nothing to abate the courage or the phon who fell headlong. It is to be a cougenial freshness of the heart. In the latter, rage founded in faith and fortified by the after the suffering has been for a long time judgment-intellectual, spiritual, reasonable unmixed and unintermitting, there will be —such as shall be attendant upon endeavours hardly anything left alive in the heart except directed towards the highest objects: for the desire to escape from pain ; and if the when is it that a rich guerdon waits on minds sympathy with pain be not deadened (which that dare ?-Only it probably will be in the general prostration and self-involvement of the feelings,) then If aught be in them of immortal seed, there will be the desire to escape from that
And reason govern that audacious flight
Which heavenward they direct.' also. And here we must again bring the Excursion' to our assistance :
It is to the intrepidity of high and sacred
thoughts and a genuine inspiration, that reUnoccupied by sorrow of its own,
wards are promised, and amongst them that His heart lay open; and by Nature tuned And constant disposition of his thoughts
restoration for an afflicted spirit which is not To sympathy with man, he was alive to be found in permanent seclusion, but only To all that was enjoyed where'er he went, in the conseerating of active life to nobler And all that was endured; for in himself purposes. And how much more is to be exHappy, and quiet in his cheerfulness,
pected from an appeal like this, than from the He had no painful pressure from without
exhortations to patience and fortitude which That made him turn aside from wretchedness With coward fears. He could afford to sutier
are so often employed with so little effect! With those whom he saw suffer. Hence it came
· Consolatories writ That in our best experience he was rich
With studied argument, And in the wisdom of our daily life.'
Extolling patience as the truest fortitude, "* Thus, to resume the sonnet, it is not from do not produce the patience they extol, pregrief that the poet's friend is exhorted to free cisely because they extol it to this false exhimself, not from grief the natural tribute to tent. For excellent and commendable though calamity, but from dejection and darkness, it be, there are few cases of afiliction in which, and as their necessary consequent, “the unprofitable yoke of care. For let no man better than patience may not be looked to
so soon as the earliest stage is past, something suppose that he can surrender himself to an with better hope, and patience be met with undue and interminable sorrow without becoming the slave of petty, fretful, miserable tions must be awakened; the resiliency of
by the way. Active energieshigh cares. To put on perpetual mourning is to the heart must be called upon rather than its put on the livery of a very abject servitude. passive strength, and oftentimes when the And again the exhortation is addressed, not admonition to be patient would do little else to one who was subjugated by some consti- than impose silence upon grief, such exhortatutional weakness or malady conspiring with tions as are contained in this sonnet (and at circumstances to make sorrow immedicablefor to such a man exhortation would be ad- greater length in the Fourth Book of the Exdressed in vain—but to one whose despond- practice and in very deed, be found full of
cursion') may-not in poetry merely, but in ency was in some measure wilful, a mistaken consolation--animating, exalting, invigoratman who was voluntarily devoting himself to sorrow, and whom to enlighten might be to
able to drive reanimate; for that such was the case in ques
All sadness but despair.' tion is clearly intimated in those two lines (so exquisitely musical) which precede the This sonnet was addressed to a man of
poclose of the sonnet
etical talentst who had the world before him,
and the 'gales of youth' to bear him forward. • Droop not thou,
Let us turn now to a tribute rendered in the Erroneously renewing a sad vow In the low dell 'mid Roslin's faded grove.'
same form to a great man whose career was The principal aim of the sonnet having been
* Sampson Agonistes. this exhortation to the exercise of intellectual
+ The tribute has been recently repaid by one powers, the rewards and conditions of true who is (we believe) a relative, in another walk of genius are noticed incidentally. The re- art, Miss Gillies, the painter. Her portrait of Mr. wards are promised to 'minds that dare:' but | Wordsworth is the only representation of him we
have seen which presents us with the real man as the courage is not to be that of temperament he lives and breathes. It is engraved by M’Innis —for such courage is rash and presumptuous, land published by Moon,
rapidly drawing to a close In the autumn dealing therefore with thoughts untried in of 1831 Mr. Wordsworth paid a visit to Sir action, unverified by application, perpetual Walter Scott, at Abbotsford, a few days be- evolutions of the thinking faculty which refore Sir Walter's departure for Naples; and volved into themselves, and which, though that departure became the subject of a sonnet
, governed by the curb of a severe logic, were which we are desirous to quote—not for the not encountered by the checks and responsipurposes of criticism, for indeed it needs no bilities of life—the other seeking rather the comment-but because the grace, and melo- wisdom of philosophy than philosophy in itdy, and tenderness by which it is character- self, drawing from the well-spring of life and ized, will say more to some readers than Mr. fact, to which books afforded merely tributaWordsworth's abstruser inspirations
ry streams, acting as occasions arose, or giv• A trouble, not of clouds or weeping rain,
ing or seeking advice as to what was to be Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light,
done when this or that happened, living apart Engendered, hangs o’er Eildon's triple height: from that world which sees its own reflecSpirits of Power, assembled there, complain tion in the newspapers, but for that very reaFor kindred Power departing from their sight;
son penetrating further into individual naWhile Tweed, best pleased in chanting a blithe
tures and transactionsstrain, Saddens his voice again, and yet again.
Sheltered, but not to social duties lost; Lift up your hearts, ye Mourners! for the might Secluded, but not buried. * Of the whole world's good wishes with Him and exercising his judgment in the only way goes;
which tends to its rectification with the Blessings and prayers in nobler retinue consciousness, namely, that according as it Than sceptred king or laurelled conqueror knows, concludes there will follow joy or sorrow, Follow this wondrous Potentate. Be true, Ye winds of ocean, and the midland
loss or gain, injury, anger and resentment, or
sea, Wafting your charge to soft Parthenope!--p.213. I love and gratitude, on the part of some friend, Let it be written in the literary annals of neighbour
, or well-known individual who is this at least, if not of others, that the men
frequently met with face to face. From the age who were greatest in intellect amongst us were
judgment so exercised and the knowledge also great in heart and spirit, and lived to- accruing with the exercise, comes practical gether delighting in each other's society and wisdom, and by duly generalising from pracrejoicing in each other's fame. Nor was it
tical wisdom we advance to philosophic wisthe fellowship of a school which united dom. But the principle which lies at the them. This has been supposed of Mr. Words- tend towards acts or issue out of them, in
root of all is, that thoughts should either worth, Mr. Coleridge, and Mr. Southey, order to be justly determined. though never of Sir Walter Scott; and yet it could scarcely have been more absurd to with singular force and truth the intellectual characclass him with them as forming a school, teristics of which this extraordinary man afforded (as than to class them with each other. The we conceive) an example—an example illustrious, no truth is that these four men came together doubt, and wonderful, but to our minds not less melmerely because they were the men of the terceptor of atiections divinely destined to the pur
:- But the imagination is not the only ingreatest literary genius in their generation, poses of action. The understanding may be excited and because, being also men of large natures, simultaneously, and when set to work in reasoning any spirit of rivalry or jealousy was utterly reducing them into a system, it may thus, with specuforeign to their dispositions. Such men lative truth for its end, be so delighted with its own could not but be congenial associates, not energies as to lead us into forgetfulness of action. owing to any peculiarity of genius common Thus it absorbs in intellectual exercise the strength to them or any of them, but in spite of very and, while it seems to be doing the work of the affections, great diversity. Mr. Wordsworth and Mr. it diverts them from their own end, employing all the Coleridge are the two in whom most points mental powers in the verification of terms instead of resemblance might be discerned, the ge, its own work of classifying, comparing, concluding,
of the execution of acts, and then applying them to nius of both being essentially philosophic; and or
or otherwise, as the case may be. Thus again, when yet how wide is the difference !-the one liv- a religious creed is presenied, say to a disputatious ing, amongst books and amongst the wonder- and subtle mind, in which the action of the critical ful creations of his own mind, a life of think-l faculty overbears and absorbs all other energies, that ing for thinking's sake, led by the infirmities siders it with reference to logical and technical preci
faculty regards the creed proposed polemically, conof his constitution to turn away from realities, sion, and not in respect to its moral characteristics
and tendencies, and wastes upon this theoretic handAnd haply by abstruse research to steal ling of sacred themes all the sedulity which ought to From his own nature all the natural man's be employed in seeking to give effect to the proffered
means of spiritual amelioration.'- Gladstone's Church Coleridge's Ode to Dejection. One of the few Principles, 1840, p. 67. profound writers of the present day has described * Excursion, book v.
"Give to no unproportioned thought his act,'* ordinarily used, yet certainly in giving prac.
tical effect to right feelings and just judgis a negative injunction, to which may be ments, and in communicating, by conscienappended an affirmative and a converse of tiousness in conduct, an habitually consciequal truth. “Give to each well-proportion-entious justness to the operations of the reaed thought his act is the affirmative: the son and the understanding. Endeavour converse (if it can be so called) is, ' Give thus to live,'—we should say to such aspiryour thoughts their acts, and they will have ants in Mr. Wordsworth's own words,thereby the better chance to be well-propor-Endeavour thus to live; these rules regardi tioned. For when a thought is to have an These helps solicit; and a stedfast seat act and a consequence, its justness will be shall then be yours among the happy few the quality principally regarded by the Who dwell on earth, yet breathe empyreal airthinker: whereas, if it is to be merely a Sons of the morning. meditative effort, to end in itself or in
in The Sonnets (with the exception of the another thought, or in being written down Ecclesiastical series) bear witness, more diin prose or rhyme, its novelty or brilliancy rectly perhaps than any of Mr. Wordsworth's will have a principal instead of a secondary other writings, to a principle which he has place in the estimation of the thinker; and asserted of poetical, as strongly as Lord Baby the habit of thus thinking without acting, con of physical philosophy—the principle and therefore without fear of consequences, that the Muse is to be the servant and inthe justness of the judgment will be impaired, terpreter of Nature. Some fact, transaction, and neither practical nor philosophic wisdom or natural object, gives birth to almost every will be attained in their highest degrees. one of them. He does not search his mind Of course we do not mean to say that, for for subjects; he goes forth into the world, the purposes of a writer, there must not be and they present themselves. His mind much thinking which neither begins nor lies open to nature with an ever wakeful ends in acting, nor perhaps has any direct susceptibility, and an impulse from without reference to it; but what we do contend for will send it far into the regions of thought ; is, that the habits of the mind must be formed but it seldom goes to work upon itself. It is by the thinking which has this reference, if not celibate, but there is to be any such 'gist of genuine insight as may constitute a great ethical Wedded to this goodly universe
In love and holy passion.' writer, whether in prose or poetry.
It is thus to the cultivation of Mr. Words of which union poetry is the legitimate offworth's mind in real life that we attribute his spring; and it is owing to this love and pre-eminence as a philosophic poet; for passion that the most ordinary incidents with him the justness of the thought is al- and objects have inspired an interest in the ways the first consideration : what is com- poet, and that so soon as the impassioned monplace, so it be but true, has its due place character of his mind had made itself felt and proportion in his mind; and the degree and understood, he was enabled to convey to which plain and acknowledged truth the same interest with wonderful success to enters into his writings gives them their his readers. breadth, and perhaps, when they are regard- It is true that it was many years before ed as a whole, even adds to their originality; this success was brought about to the extent for there is no mind so rare, nor consequent- of a popular acceptation, and also that 10 ly so original, as one which is intellectually this day there are readers to whom his capable of the most brilliant aberrations, poems convey nothing; and we have to acand is yet so tempered by the love of truth knowledge that amongst this number, rapidly as to give old truths their place along with diminishing as it is, there are still some men of new, and so warmed by the same love as to distinguished abilities. It is not difficult to acmake all truths impressive. And Mr. count for the general neglect of Mr. WordsWordsworth's example, if not his precepts, worth's poetry during the first quarter of the may suggest to the poetical aspirants who present century. That was a period when abound in our times, that poetry, in its high- the poetry of reflection was so much out of est kinds, is the result not merely of a talent fashion that verse had almost ceased to be or an art, nor even only of these combined regarded as a vehicle for thought, and even with a capacious mind and an ardent imagi- thoughtsul men had recourse to it as if the nation, but also of a life led in the love of very intention were to divert themselves truth—and if not in action, as the word is from thinking--hung over a stitched pam
• Shakspeare, in Hamlet.
Excursion, book iv.
phlet of rhyme with the sort of charmed ear that the Sonnets may answer this purpose with which they would have listened to a best : they have not, like many of the other first-rate performer at the Opera—waited poems, peculiarities of manner which whilst impatiently for another stitched pamphlet to they charm one reader will baulk another; come upon the stage three months afterwards they are highly-finished compositions, distin—and being hurried away by their enthu- guished, as regards the diction, only by an siasm as one stitched pamphlet came out aptitude which can hardly fail to be approved after another, almost mistook the 'primi can- whatever may be the particular taste of the tatori' in this line for the lights of the age, reader; and they are at the same time so variand their lean and flashy songs' for divine ed in subject and sentiment, that specimens illuminations. Such was the bewilderment might be adduced from them of almost every of those times : nor is it difficult to conceive kind of serious poetry to which the sonnet that some intelligent men, whose intellectual can lend itself. constitution was not strong, may have had We have quoted hitherto one sonnet in their taste so vitiated during the prevalence art, two that are doctrinal, and one which of this fashion as never to have recovered a may be called occasional. The majority of natural appetite. But there are men of a very the four hundred and forty-four which have different order from these, who are still un- been published are of a mixed character, in converted, and whose case it is not so easy which the doctrinal predominates; it is on to understand-men too robust in their frame these principally that we should wish to of mind to have been debilitated by the dwell, and we shall revert to them presently, errors of youth, too free and generous in but, in the mean time, we will make room their temper to feel bound by past commit- for some lighter kinds ; and first for two ments, and who nevertheless do in all sin- which are linked together in the series on cerity fail to make anything out from Mr. the River Duddon—the former of them desWordsworth's poetry.
criptive, the latter pastoral-both (as usual) Had the value of the poetry consisted in suggested by a natural object-the steppingsome peculiar vein of fancy, had it boen a stones in a stream—and both connecting it matter of versification, or had it resolved itself with the circumstances of human life which into a particularstrain of sentiment or opinion, are incident to it :we should have said — This is not forthe uni- . The struggling rill insensibly is grown versal ear; it will naturally hit some minds Into a brook of loud and stately march, and miss others;' and of many of Mr.Words- Crossed ever and anon by plank or arch; worth's poems this may be said fairly ; and And, for like use, lo! what might seem a we know very well that some of those which
Chosen for ornament-stone matched with make the strongest impression on one reader will make none whatever upon another.
In studied symmetry, with interspace But when we look to the main body of Mr. For the clear waters to pursue their race Wordsworth's works, and perceive that they Without restraint. How swiftly have they are addressed to the mind of man at large, flown, and that with a great variety of manner and Succeeding-still succeeding! Here the child verse they deal for the most part with mat
Puts, when the high-swollen flood runs fierce
and wild, ters of universal interest, we do feel at a loss to explain the existence of that remnant of Declining manhood learns to note the sly
His budding courage to the proof; and here intellectual men who are still inaccessible.
And sure encroachments of infirmity, We should have thought that, verse and Thinking how fast time runs, life's end how all embellishment apart, when one considera- near! ble understanding was brought to bear upon. Not so that pair whose youthful spirits dance another, in subject matter to which all un- With prompt emotion urging them to pass ; derstandings apply themselves, nothing but A sweet confusion checks the shepherd-lass; the curse of Cassandra could have prevented Blushing she eyes the dizzy flood askance; some result from being obtained. So it is, She ventures once again another pause; however; and it is chiefly for the sake of His outstretched hand he tauntingly withmeeting this remnant on what appears to us drawsto be the best ground, that we have under- She sues for help with piteous utterance ! taken to review the 'Sonnets ;'-meeting Chidden, she chides again; the thrilling touch them, -not in the spirit of compelling them Both feel, when he renews the wished-for aid : to come in,' but for a fair trial whether it be not Ah! if their fluttering hearts should stir too possible to get rid of such an intellectual should beat too strongly, both may be betrayed.
much, anomaly as their standing out seems to us
The frolic Loves, who from yon high rock see to be, and to bring together minds which are
The struggle, clap their wings for victoworthy of each other. And we imagine ry!'-pp. 293, 294.
This series on the River Duddon is a reg. concluded, as a matter of course, that lanister of the thoughts which may be suggested guages in which vowels and liquids predoto a poet in tracking this stream from its minate must be better adapted to poetry, and source in the mountains to its junction with that the most mellifluous language must be the sea. We have seen what may occur also the most melodious. We must be when it flows in human society, and Child- j allowed to think, however, that this is but a hood, Youth, and Age step across it. But rash and ill-considered condemnation of our there is a previous stage of its course in native tongue. Poetry has been often comwhich it flows through a remote and untrod-pared to embroidery, and when a language den solitude, and then everything that is to is all of one texture, and that texture nothing be seen being what it had been from time but silk and satin, the skilful hand will have immemorial, the poet's fancy is carried far but little advantage, and the workmanship of back into the past :
finer art will not stand out so distinctly from
ordinary fabrics. Nor indeed will such a • What aspect bore the Man who roved or fled, language supply adequate materials to the First of his tribe, to this dark dell – who first hand of art. In dramatic verse more particuin this pellucid Current slaked his thirst? What hopes came with him ? what designs
larly, our English combinations of consonants were spread
are invaluable, not only for the purpose of Along his path ? His un protected bed reflecting grace and softness by contrast, or What dreams encompassed? Was the intrud- accelerating the verse by a momentary deer nursed
tention, but also in giving expression to the In hideous usages, and rites accursed, harsher passions, and in imparting keenness That thinned the living and disturbed and significancy to the language of discrimi
the dead ? No voice replies; both air and earth are mute; Shakspeare, for instance, what a blast of
nation, and especially to that of scorn. And thou, blue Streamlet, murmuring yield'st
sarcasm whistles through that word, · Thrift, Than a soft record, that, whatever fruit Thrift, Horatio !' with its one vowel and five Of ignorance thou might'st witness heretofore, consonants, and then how the verse runs on Thy function was to heal and to restore, with a low, confidential smoothness, as if to To soothe and cleanse, not madden and pol- give effect to the outbreak by the subsequent lute!'--p. 292.
suppressionHow simple and yet how full is the diction
- the funeral baked meats of this sonnet! How much of the wildness Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.' and insecurity of savage life is in those words roved or fled,' and in the presentation to the
We are not, be it observed, insisting, as fancy of the one sole man wandering or
some philologists have done of late years, on fugitive! Then the darkness and cruelty of a preference for the Saxon element of our Druidical superstition and barbarian warfare language as affording a purer and better are alluded to in a tone of almost fearful English than any other; on the contrary, inquiry; and after the pause of silence in we hold that English is essentially a highly the ninth line, how beautifully and with what composite language ; that it derives its force, an expressive change of the music is the as well as its richness, from the great variety mind turned to the perennial influences of and diversity of its constituents, and that Nature as healing, soothing, and restorative it will be best written by him who avails in all times, whatever be the condition of himself of all its elements in their natural Man! This sonnet is a study in versifica- proportion, tempering one with another. And tion throughout, and observe especially the when we say their natural proportion, we use of duplicate, triplicate, and even quadru- mean that which comes naturally to the indiplicate consonants in our language, -how vidual writer; for, after all, art and instrucadmirably they may be made to serve the tion can do little more in this matter than to purposes of rhythmical melody which they remove theories of style out of the way, and are often supposed to thwart
leave a writer to his own intuitive ear and
perceptions to find him the better or worse "And Thou, blue Streamlet, murmuring style which is suitable to him. Mr. Wordsyield'st no more,' &c.
worth's diction appears to us to be neither How the slight check, delay, and resistance Saxon nor Latin particularly, but abounding of the fourfold consonant makes the flow of in all the treasures of our vocabulary, and the verse to be still more musically felt ! making the music which no man can make The Northern languages have often been who has but one string to his fiddle. reproached for their excess in consonants, To return to the Sonnets. What is a guitural, sibillant, or mute, and it has been spinning-wheel ? is a question which may