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Coleridge, with whom he had been intimately acquainted for thirty years, died, and in 1836 his beloved sister Dorothy became a confirmed invalid. On the other hand in 1839, he was made D.C.L. by the University of Oxford, and his inauguration there was quite a literary festival; in 1840, the newspapers having reported that his gig had been upset by the mail coach, and himself injured, the Dowager Queen Adelaide, who had paid him a visit some months previously, was among the first to inquire after him by letter; in the same year he was allowed to transfer his distributorship of stamps, which was worth about £500 per annum, to his son William, and, not long afterwards, Sir Robert Peel offered him a pension of £300 a-year: finally, in 1843, when the poet-laureateship was vacated by Southey's death, Wordsworth was appointed his successor. This last appointment he at first declined, and was at length induced to accept only by repeated solicitation from the highest quarters. His reluctance was prophetic; for, from this time, his muse was almost wholly silent.
On the 10th March 1850 he attended Rydal Church for the last time. Regular and temperate habits had now brought him to his 80th year, and he had hardly ever been confined by a day's illness. But his constitution was unable to throw off a cold which settled in his chest; and, after about a month's illness, he died on the 7th April 1850. His remains were interred in Grasmere churchyard.
The occasional appearance of a poet, working on Wordsworth's principles, is absolutely necessary to save the poetry of a nation from unreality. Every outburst of national life, whether in politics, religion, or poetry, has a form that survives the substance to which it gave expression; and succeeding generations, sure of possessing the venerable form, are ever in danger of mistaking it for the substance-hence the necessity of their being recalled to the truth of things, in order that, whatever may become of the old form, they may have a life of their own. This mission Wordsworth effectually performed in the department of poetry; for, if comparatively few have read his works, those few have studied them, and in their turn have influenced the masses; so that now no poet can be listened to who does not give proof of ac curate observation and genuine feeling. If truthfulness be more highly valued in poetry, at this present day, than even the graces of style, it is, in great measure, owing to Wordsworth.
To every conscientious labourer, in whatever field, Wordsworth's career is exceedingly instructive and encouraging: instructive, as showing the difficulties which the reformer must always encounter, and encouraging, because merit and perseverance triumphed over them all.
In respect to his politics, Wordsworth was doubly a representative man. He was a type, in general, of that transition from Liberalism to Conservatism, which so often runs parallel with the transition from youth, when hope is in the ascendant, to age, when caution prevails. And he was a type, in particular, of that rebound from republicanism to feudalism, which the horrors of the French Revolution produced in so many individual minds, and which found its expression, on a large scale, in the young England party of politicians.
But Wordsworth's poetical life may be viewed quite apart from his politics; and beautiful-serenely beautiful-is that close and constant communing which he maintained with surrounding nature. He remembered minutely the scenes which gave rise to his several effusions; and he could recal the circumstances in which ven single images or illustrations had first occurred to his mind. Knolls, rocks, and lakes, were his personal acquaintances, as it were, or rather his personal friends; and not a few trees, in different parts of the country, owe to his intercession their continued existence. What a delightful peep into the innocent happiness-almost paradisiacal-of his seclusion, is afforded by such lines as the following, on certain daffodils, which he had ob served bordering the lake, and nodding their heads to the breeze "I gazed-I gazed-but little thought
What wealth to me the show had brought
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
Goody Blake and Harry Gill. "Oh! what's the matter?""
Heart-Leap Well. "The Knight had ridden,"