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See Wordsworth's note. "A ring, bearing the same motto, was sold at a sale of antiquities from Bramhope Manor, Feb. 1865. The Norton Shield of Arms is in Rylstone Church."
To look upon Saint Mary's shrine. (p. 181.) Archdeacon Boyd writes of this, "There never can have been a Lady Chapel in the usual place at Bolton, for the altar was close to the east window. I never heard of a Saint Mary's Shrine; but, most probably, the church was dedicated to S. Mary, in which case she" (the Lady Emily) "would be speaking of the building. In proof of this, the Priory of Embsay was dedicated to S. Mary; and naturally the dedication, on the removal from Embsay to Bolton, would be renewed. See Whitaker, p. 369, in extracting from the compotus, 'Comp. Monasterii be' Mar' de Boulton in Craven.'" It may be added that the whole church being dedicated to S. Mary-as in the case of the Cistercian buildings—there would be no Lady Chapel. The mention in detail of "prostrate altars," "shrines defaced," "fret-work imagery," "plates of ornamental brass," and "sculptured forms of warriors" in the closing canto of The White Doe is-like the "one sequestered hillock green where Francis Norton was supposed to "sleep in his last abode "—part of the imaginative drapery of the poem.
Wordsworth wrote thus, in January 1816, to his friend Archdeacon Wrangham, about The White Doe :
"Of the 'White Doe' I have little to say, but that I hope it will be acceptable to the intelligent, for whom alone it is written. It starts from a high point of imagination, and comes round, through various wanderings of that faculty, to a still higher-nothing less than the apotheosis of the animal who gives the first of the two titles to the poem. And as the poem thus begins and ends with pure and lofty imagination, every motive and impetus that actuates the persons introduced is from the same source; a kindred spirit pervades, and is intended to harmonise the whole. Throughout objects (the banner, for instance) derive their influence, not from properties inherent in them, not from what they are actually in themselves, but from such as are bestowed upon them by the minds of those who are conversant with, or affected by, these objects. Thus the poetry, if there be any in the work, proceeds, as it ought to do, from the soul of man, communicating its creative energies to the images of the external world.”
The following is from a letter to Southey in the same year:-"Do you know who reviewed 'The White Doe' in the 'Quarterly'? After having asserted that Mr W. uses his words without any regard to their sense, the writer says that on no other principle can he explain that Emily is always called 'the consecrated Emily.' Now, the name Emily occurs just fifteen times in the poem; and out of these fifteen, the epithet is attached to it once, and that for the express purpose of recalling the scene in which she had been consecrated by her brother's
solemn adjuration, that she would fulfil her destiny, and become a soul,
"By force of sorrows high
The point upon which the whole moral interest of the piece hinges, when that speech is closed, occurs in this line,
"He kissed the consecrated maid ;'
And to bring back this to the reader, I repeated the epithet."
In a letter to Wordsworth about The Waggoner (see Vol. III. Appendix I.), Charles Lamb wrote in 1819, "I read "The White Doe of Rylstone;' the title should be always written at length. . . . Manning has just sent it home, and it came as fresh to me as the immortal creature it speaks of. M. sent it home with a note bearing this passage in it: 'I cannot help writing to you while I am reading Wordsworth's poem. . . 'Tis broad, noble, poetical, with a masterly scanning of human actions, absolutely above common readers.'"
The following is from Principal Shairp's estimate of The White Doe, in his Oxford Lectures, Aspects of Poetry (chapter xii. pp. 373-376). "What is it that gives to it" (the poem) "its chief power and charm? Is it not the imaginative use which the poet has made of the White Doe? With her appearance the poem opens, with her re-appearance it closes. And the passages in which she is introduced are radiant with the purest light of poetry. A mere floating tradition she was, which the historian of Craven had preserved. How much does the poet bring out of how little! It was a high stroke of genius to seize on this slight traditionary incident, and make it the organ of so much. What were the objects which he had to describe and blend into one harmonious whole? They were these:
"1. The last expiring gleam of feudal chivalry, ending in the ruin of an ancient race, and the desolation of an ancestral home.
"2. The sole survivor, purified and exalted by the sufferings she had to undergo.
"3. The pathos of the decaying sanctities of Bolton, after wrong and outrage, abandoned to the healing of nature and time.
"4. Lastly, the beautiful scenery of pastoral Wharfedale, and of the fells around Bolton, which blend so well with these affecting memories. "All these were before him—they had melted into his imagination, and waited to be woven into one harmonious creation. He takes the White Doe, and makes her the exponent, the symbol, the embodiment of them all. The one central aim—to represent the beatification of the heroine-how was this to be attained? Had it been a drama, the poet would have made the heroine give forth in speeches, her hidden mind and character. But this was a romantic narrative. Was the poet to make her soliloquise, analyse her own feelings, lay bare her heart in
metaphysical monologue ? This might have been done by some modern poets, but it was not Wordsworth's way of exhibiting character, reflective though he was. When he analyses feelings they are generally his own, not those of his characters. To shadow forth that which is invisible, the sanctity of Emily's chastened soul, he lays hold of this sensible image—a creature, the purest, most innocent, most beautiful in the whole realm of nature-and makes her the vehicle in which he embodies the saintliness which is a thing invisible. It is the hardest of all tasks to make spiritual things sensuous, without degrading them. I know not where this difficulty has been more happily met; for we are made to feel that, before the poem closes, the Doe has ceased to be a mere animal, or a physical creature at all, but in the light of the poet's imagination, has been transfigured into a heavenly apparition—a type of all that is pure, and affecting, and saintly. And not only the chastened soul of her mistress, but the beautiful Priory of Bolton, the whole Vale of Wharfe, and all the surrounding scenery, are illumined by the glory which she makes; her presence irradiates them all with a beauty and an interest more than the eye discovers. Seen through her as an imaginative transparency, they become spiritualized; in fact, she and they alike become the symbol and expression of the sentiment which pervades the poem-a sentiment broad and deep as the world. And yet, any one who visits these scenes, in a mellow autumnal day, will feel that she is no alien or adventitious image, imported by the caprice of the poet, but altogether native to the place, one which gathers up and concentrates all the undefined spirit and sentiment which lie spread around it. She both glorifies the scenery by her presence, and herself seems to be a natural growth of the scenery, so that it finds in her its most appropriate utterance. This power of imagination to divine and project the very corporeal image which suits and expresses the image of a scene, Wordsworth has many times shown..
"And so the poem has no definite end, but passes off, as it were, into the illimitable. It rises out of the perturbations of time and transitory things, and, passing upward itself, takes our thoughts with it to calm places and eternal sunshine.”—ED.
also written on the subject. The story is preserved in Dr Whitaker's
* See the White Doe of Rylstone.
History of Craven-a topographical writer of first-rate merit in all that concerns the past; but such was his aversion from the modern spirit, as shown in the spread of manufactories in those districts of which he treats, that his readers are left entirely ignorant both of the progress of these arts and their real bearing upon the comfort, virtues, and happiness of the inhabitants. While wandering on foot through the fertile valleys and over the moorlands of the Apennine that divides Yorkshire from Lancashire, I used to be delighted with observing the number of substantial cottages that had sprung up on every side, each having its little plot of fertile ground won from the surrounding waste. A bright and warm fire, if needed, was always to be found in these dwellings. The father was at his loom; the children looked healthy and happy. Is it not to be feared that the increase of mechanic power had done away with many of these blessings, and substituted many ills? Alas! if these evils grow, how are they to be checked, and where is the remedy to be found? Political economy will not supply it; that is certain; we must look to something deeper, purer, and higher.]
"What is good for a bootless bene ?”
With these dark words begins my Tale;
And their meaning is, whence can comfort spring
"What is good for a bootless bene?"
And she made answer "ENDLESS SORROW!"
She knew it by the Falconer's words,
-Young Romilly through Barden woods
And holds a greyhound in a leash,
The pair have reached that fearful chasın,
For lordly Wharf is there pent in
With rocks on either side.
This striding-place is called THE STRID,
A name which it took of yore:
A thousand years hath it borne that name,
And hither is young Romilly come,
And what may now forbid
That he, perhaps for the hundredth time,
He sprang in glee, for what cared he
That the river was strong, and the rocks were steep?—
But the greyhound in the leash hung back,
And checked him in his leap.
The Boy is in the arms of Wharf,
And strangled by a merciless force;
For never more was young Romilly seen
Now there is stillness in the vale,
If for a lover the Lady wept
A solace she might borrow
From death, and from the passion of death ;---