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soft susurrus of the breeze, that plays among the sheltering sycamores and yews."

Shortly after Wordsworth's death, his friend Sir W. Rowan Hamilton wrote thus to Mr. Graves :

"Observatory, May 10, 1850.*

I feel, indeed, that Wordsworth is much nearer to me, since his withdrawal from terrestrial locality, than he was even when I could pay to him, from time to time, those actual and personal visits which are among my brightest and fondest recollections."

Mrs. Inge, of Worcester College, Oxford, wrote to a friend, in 1874:

"In 1851 we were all staying at Rydal, and saw a good deal of Mrs. Wordsworth, and two or three times we were allowed to see the dear sister. She was, of course, a wreck of what she had been, but our impressions of her were not so sad as I think others have described. She was in her garden chair, and there was a marvellous gleam and radiance in her face, as she repeated some of her brother's lines. My mother had known her other brother, the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, very intimately, and spoke of him. Ah,' she said, 'my brothers were good! good! The boys in our family were all good. I was always a termagant, you know!' 'We have learnt something rather different about you,' said my mother

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'The blessing of my later years
Was with me when a boy. . ?

'Ah!' she cried, with a sort of flash that made one see what the wild eyes' had been-'Ah! but that's what my dear brother said of me! you must not believe it, you know.' Then

*Life of Sir W. Rowan Hamilton, vol. ii. p. 651.

she seemed to lose the thread of thought, or rather of memory; and she repeated some stanzas of Gray's Elegy, putting the most intense expression into them. I fancy her manner of giving utterance to verse must have been like her brother's, but I only know his from description. The voice was like the old Master's, and the ardent, almost vehement expressiveness was like his a little overdone. Another time she repeated some very touching lines of her own, made since her illness. I am not sure whether they have ever been printed, but I can never forget the ring of triumphant joyousness in her voice and the gleam that lit up her countenance as she repeated— No prisoner am I to this couch!

My heart is free to roam. . . ."

The following is Mr. Ellis Yarnall's record of a last visit to Mrs. Wordsworth, and to Rydal Mount, in 1857.*

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Aug. 8.-I entered by the small gateway the fair terraced garden so rich in bloom and fragrance. I saw once more the old greeting, Salve! as I stood on the threshold. James, the old servant, welcomed me, and conducted me to the drawingroom. I found Mrs. Wordsworth seated in her old place by the fireside. Her greeting was simple and cordial, but only by my voice could she know me, for I saw at once she was quite blind. . . . She was cheerful and bright, and talked of the events of the day in the sweet quiet manner peculiar to her, and with clear intelligence, and yet she was within a few days of being eighty-seven. . . . But there seemed a benediction in the very presence of Mrs. Wordsworth, so much did her countenance express peace and purity, so gentle and so sweetly gracious was her bearing.


Aug. 16.-My last Sunday in England. . . . Mrs. Wordsworth to-day enters her eighty-eighth year. I sat by her side as I did two years ago, in the same pew, the Sunday before I

* See "Walks and Visits in Wordsworth's Country," in Lippincott's Magazine, December 1876, pp. 674-6.

. . . At He told


sailed. Her meek countenance, her reverent love, I saw once more-the face of one to whom the angels seemed already ministering. Service being over, I shook hands with her, and received a kind invitation to dine at Rydal Mount. dinner Mr. Robinson was the talker, as he always is. us of his intercourse with Goethe, whom he seems to have seen a good deal of. He said he never mentioned Wordsworth's name to Goethe, fearing that he would either say he had never read his poetry or that he did not like it. He said Southey was a collector of other men's thoughts: Wordsworth gave forth his own. Wordsworth was like the spider, spinning his thread from his own substance; Southey the bee, gathering wherever he could. Mrs. Wordsworth did not join us at table till the dessert came in. Then, her one glass of port having been poured out for her, she took it in her hand and, turning her face towards me, said, 'I wish you your health, Mr. Yarnall, and a prosperous voyage, and a safe return to your friends!'

The interval after dinner was short. I received, if I may so say, Mrs. Wordsworth's final blessing, and went my way, thankful it had been given me to draw near to one so pure, to a nature so nobly simple. Not only her children, but all who have come in contact with her, will rise up to call her blessed. Surely, thrice blessed was the poet with such a wife; and indeed he himself with wonderful fulness has declared she was almost as the presence of God to him."

There is little to record of Mrs. Wordsworth in the closing years of her life. Her calmness and practical sagacity never forsook her. Serene and brave, and patient even when deaf and blind, she lived on till she nearly reached her ninetieth year. One of her last remarks was that the worst of living in the Lake country was that it made one so unwilling to leave it.

Her son, John Wordsworth, wrote to Crabb Robinson from Rydal Mount, January 15, 1859 :



My dearest mother is gradually

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sinking. I never saw so happy a deathbed. I do not say spiritually (and you know the just grounds for that), but physically. She suffers no pain, and follows up every little service with the remark-'I am so happy, and thankful.'— . . . J. WORDSWORTH."

She died on the 17th January 1859, and was buried beside her husband in Grasmere Churchyard. The simple headstone of blue Cumbrian slate has nothing on it but the words







As already explained, it is no necessary part of the biographer's work critically to appraise the writings of the man whose life he writes: and estimates of Wordsworth's work were made by some of his contemporaries in his lifetime that are probably of greater value to posterity than any that are likely to succeed them. It was at one time projected as a part of the work of "The Wordsworth Society" to collect a record of opinion in reference to the poet, from the date of the publication of the Lyrical Ballads in 1798 to the present day. This may yet be done. Meanwhile, it may be a fit conclusion to these volumes if the judgments of three of Wordsworth's most notable contemporaries are brought together, those of Thomas Carlyle, of John Stuart Mill, and of Henry Taylor.

At Mentone, in March 1867, Carlyle wrote down his Reminiscences both of Southey and of Wordsworth. Wordsworth he wrote:


". . . A man recognisably of strong intellectual powers, strong character; given to meditation, and much contemptuous of the unmeditative world and its noisy nothingnesses. . . .

On a summer morning (let us call it 1840), I was apprised by Taylor that Wordsworth had come to Town; and would meet a small party of us at a certain Tavern in St. James's

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