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it has been cultivated by one, who, after this additional mark of your esteem, cannot refrain from again assuring you how deeply sensible he is of the many and great obligations he owes to your goodness, and who has the honour to be, dear Sir Robert, most faithfully, your humble servant,

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Another letter belonging (probably) to 1843 may conclude this chapter. To whom it was addressed I know not:


"April 1st, Rydal Mount.

DEAR SIR,-. As I advance in life I feel myself more and more incapable of doing justice to the attempts of young authors. The taste and judgment of an old man have too little of aptitude and flexibility for new things; and I am thoroughly convinced that a young writer cannot do worse than lean upon a veteran. It was not my own habit to look out for such guidance. I trusted to myself, and to the principles of criticism which I drew from the practices of the great poets, and not from any observations made upon their works by professed censors. As you are so intimately acquainted with my poems, and as no change has taken place in my manner for the last forty-five years, you will not be at a loss to gather from them upon what principles I write, and what accordingly is likely to be my judgment of your own performances, either as to subject or style.-I remain, my dear Sir, faithfully your obliged, WM. WORDSWORTH."

Quillinan, writing to Crabb Robinson from Belle Isle, Windermere, 23d July 1843, and referring to the office of Poet Laureate, said

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It has occurred to me that Mr. Wordsworth may, in his own grand way, compose a hymn to or on the King of kings, in rhymed verse or blank, invoking a blessing on the Queen and country, etc. This would be a new mode of dealing with the office of Laureate, and would come with dignity and propriety, I think, from a seer of Wordsworth's age and character. I told him so; and he made no observation. I therefore think it likely that he may consider the suggestion; but he certainly will not, if he hears that anything of that sort is expected from him."



MRS. FLETCHER'S reminiscences of the poet at Rydal, and of his visits to Lancrigg, with other notes taken by her daughters, Lady Richardson and Mrs. Davy (particularly the former), are by far the most interesting which we possess of the later years of his life. They range from November 1843 to January 1849, and include, amongst other things, Lady Richardson's account of an excursion with the poet to the Duddon Valley in the autumn of 1844. It will be best to give their reminiscences in full by themselves, and to return again to the year 1844.

"November 1843.-Wordsworth holds the critical power very low, infinitely lower than the inventive; and he said today that if the quantity of time consumed in writing critiques on the works of others were given to original composition, of whatever kind it might be, it would be much better employed; it would make a man find out sooner his own level, and it would do infinitely less mischief. A false or malicious criticism may do much injury to the minds of others; a stupid invention, either in prose or verse, is quite harmless.

December 22d, 1843.-The shortest day is past, and it was a very pleasant one to us, for Wordsworth and Miss Fenwick offered to spend it with us. They came early, and, although it was misty and dingy, he proposed to walk up Easedale. We went by the terrace, and through the little gate on the fell,

round by Brimmer Head, having diverged a little up from Easedale, nearly as far as the ruined cottage. He said, when he and his sister wandered there so much, that cottage was inhabited by a man of the name of Benson, a waller, its last inhabitant. He said on the terrace, This is a striking anniversary to me; for this day forty-four years ago, my sister and I took up our abode at Grasmere, and three days after we found out this walk, which long remained our favourite haunt.' There is always something very touching in his way of speaking of his sister; the tones of his voice become more gentle and solemn, and he ceases to have that flow of expression which is so remarkable in him on all other subjects. It is as if the sadness connected with her present condition was too much for him to dwell upon in connection with the past, though habit and the 'omnipotence of circumstance' have made its daily presence less oppressive to his spirits. He said that his sister spoke constantly of their early days, but more of the years they spent together in other parts of England than those at Grasmere. As we proceeded on our walk he happened to speak of the frequent unhappiness of married persons, and the low and wretched principles on which the greater number of marriages were formed. He said that unless there was a strong foundation of love and respect, the ' unavoidable breaks and cataracts' of domestic life must soon end in mutual aversion, for that married life ought not to be in theory, and assuredly it never was in practice, a system of mere submission on either side, but it should be a system of mutual co-operation for the good of each. If the wife is always expected to conceal her difference of opinion from her husband, she ceases to be an equal, and the man loses the advantage which the marriage tie is intended to provide for him in a civilised and Christian country. He then went on to say, that, although he never saw an amiable single woman without wishing that she were married, from his strong feeling of

the happiness of a well assorted marriage, yet he was far from thinking that marriage always improved people. It certainly did not, unless it was a congenial marriage. During tea, he talked with great animation of the unfortunate separation of feeling between the rich and the poor in this country. The reason of this, he thinks, is our greater freedom; that the line. of demarcation not being so clearly laid down in this country by the law as in others, people fancy they must make it for themselves. He considers Christian education the only cure for this state of things. He spoke of his own desire to carry out the feeling of brotherhood, with regard to servants, which he had always endeavoured to do."

Lady Richardson's notes contain a different but equally interesting account of the same day.

"December 1843.-Wordsworth and Miss Fenwick spent the shortest day of the year with us; he brought with him his epitaph on Southey,* and as we sat round the fire after dinner, my mother asked him to read it to us, which he did in his usual impressive manner. He asked our impression of it. My mother ventured to tell him of one word, or rather two, which she thought might be altered with advantage. They were these :

Wide was his range, but ne'er in human breast

Did private feeling find a holier nest.

Holier nest' were the words she objected to, as not being a correct union of ideas. He took the suggestion most kindly, and said it had been much discussed in his own mind and in his family circle, but that he saw the force of what that he was aware many others would see it also.

was yet time to change it, and that he should Coleridge whether the line, as he once had it,

Did private feeling meet in holier rest,

* See vol. viii, of this edition, pp. 141-6.

she said, and

He said there consult Judge

would not be more appropriate to the simplicity of an epitaph where you con every word, and where every word is expected to bear an exact meaning. We all thought this was an improvement. . . .”

A month later, Mrs. Davy, Lady Richardson's sister, wrote:

"The Oaks, Ambleside, Monday, Jan. 22, 1844.

While Mrs. Quillinan was sitting with us to-day, Henry Fletcher ran in to say that he had received his summons for Oxford (he had been in suspense about rooms as an exhibitioner at Baliol), and must be off within an hour. His young cousins and I went down with him to wait for the mail in the marketplace. We found Mr. Wordsworth walking about before the post-office door, in very charming mood. His spirits were excited by the bright morning sunshine, and he entered at once on a full flow of discourse. He looked very benevolently on Henry, as he mounted, on the top of the coach, and seemed quite disposed to give an old man's blessing to the young man entering on an untried field, and then (nowise interrupted by the hurrying to and fro of ostlers with their smoking horses, or passengers with their carpet bags) he launched into a dissertation, in which there was I thought a remarkable union of his powerful diction and his practical thoughtful good sense, on the subject of college habits, and of his utter distrust of all attempts to nurse virtue by an avoidance of temptation. He expressed also his entire want of confidence (from experience, he said) of highly-wrought religious expression in youth. The safest training for the mind in religion he considered to be a contemplating of the character and personal history of Christ. 'Work it,' he said, ' into your thoughts, into your imagination, make it a real presence in the mind.' I was rejoiced to hear this plain, loving confession of a Christian faith from Wordsworth. I never heard one more earnest, more as if it came out of a devoutly believing heart. . . .”

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