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ine how far Nature and Education had qualified him for such employment. As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in Verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was acquainted with them. That Work, addressed to a dear Friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the Author's Intellect is deeply indebted, has been long finished; and the result of the investigation which gave rise to it was a determination to compose a philosophical Poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and Society; and to be entitled, The Recluse; as having for its principal subject the sensations and opinions of a Poet living in retirement. The preparatory Poem is biographical, and conducts the history of the Author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous labor which he had proposed to himself; and the two Works have the same kind of relation to each other, if he may so express himself, ar the Ante-chapel has to the body of a Gothic Church. Continuing this allusion, he may be permitted to add, that his minor Pieces, which have been long before the Public, when they shall be properly arranged, will be found by the attentive Reader to have such connection with the main Work as may give them claim to be likened to the little cells, Oratories, and sepulch.al Recesses, ordinarily included in those Edifices.
The Author would not have deemed himself justified in saying, upon this occasion, so much of performances either unfinished, or unpublished, if he had not thought that the labor bestowed by him upon what he has heretofore and now laid before the Public, entitled him to candid attention for such a statement as he thinks necessary to throw light upon his endeavors to please, and he would hope, to benefit his countrymen.-Nothing further need be added, than that the first and third parts of The Recluse will consist chiefly of meditations in the Author's own Person; and that in the intermediate part (The Excursion) the inter
vention of Characters speaking is employed, and something of a dramatic form adopted.
It is not the Author's intention formally to announce a system; it was more animating to him to proceed in a different course; and if he shall succeed in conveying to the mind clear thoughts, lively images, and strong feelings, the Reader will have no difficulty in extracting the system for himself. And in the meantime the following passage, taken from the conclusion of the first book of The Recluse, may be acceptable as a kind of Prospectus of the design and scope of the whole Poem:
"On Man, on Nature, and on Human Life,
Musing in Solitude, I oft perceive
Fair trains of imagery before me rise,
Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixed;
And dear remembrances, whose presence soothes
The good and evil of our mortal state.
To these emotions, whencesoe'er they come,
Of blessed consolations in distress;
Of moral strength, and intellectual Power;
Of joy in widest commonalty spread;
Of the individual Mind that keeps her own
To Conscience only, and the law supreme
I sing — fit audience let me find, though few!'
"So prayed, more gaining than he asked, the Bard, Holiest of Men, — Urania, I shall need
Thy guidance, or a greater Muse, if such
Nor aught of blinder vacancy - scooped out
As fall upon us often when we look
Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man,
My haunt, and the main region of my Song. - Beauty a living Presence of the earth, Surpassing the most fair ideal Forms
Which craft of delicate Spirits hath composed From earth's materials- waits upon my steps; Pitches her tents before me as I move,
An hourly neighbor. Paradise, and groves
Or a mere fiction of what never was?
How exquisitely the individual Mind
(And the progressive powers perhaps no less
And the creation (by no lower name
Can it be called) which they with blended might Accomplish: this is our high argument.
Such grateful haunts foregoing, if I oft
Must turn elsewhere to travel near the tribes
Within the walls of Cities; may these sounds
that even these
Hearing, I be not downcast or forlorn!
Descend, prophetic Spirit! that inspirest
The human Soul of universal earth,
Dreaming on things to come; * and dost possess A metropolitan Temple in the hearts
Of mighty Poets; upon me bestow
A gift of genuine insight; that my Song
Itself, from all malevolent effect
Of those mutations that extend their sway
Throughout the nether sphere! And if with this
I mix more lowly matter; with the thing
*Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic Soul
Contemplating, and who, and what he was,
This Vision,-when, and where, and how he lived;
May sort with highest objects, then, dread Power,
Express the image of a better time,
All pure thoughts
More wise desires, and simpler manners;