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and then two more; and observing that they had been placed in order, as if forming the segment of a circle, he proceeded carefully to uncover the soil, and brought into view a beautiful Druid's temple, of perfect, though small dimensions. In order to make his farm more compact, he exchanged this field for another, and, I am sorry to add, the new proprietor destroyed this interesting relic of remote ages for some vulgar purpose. The fact, so far as concerns Thomas Wilkinson, is mentioned in the note on a sonnet on Long Meg and her Daughters.
A Night Thought.
These verses were thrown off extempore upon leaving Mrs. Luff's house one evening at Fox Ghyll.
An Incident characteristic of a Favorite Dog.
This dog I knew well. It belonged to Mrs. Wordsworth's brother, Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, who then lived at Stocktonon-Tees, a beautiful retired situation, where I used to visit him and his sisters before my marriage. My sister and I spent many months there after my return from Germany in
This was produced "on the model," as the author says, "of Gray's Ode to Adversity, which is copied from Horace's Ode to Fortune."
Character of the Happy Warrior.
The course of the great war with the French naturally fixed one's attention upon the military character; and, to the honor of our country, there were many illustrious instances of the
qualities that constitute its highest excellence. Lord Nelson owned most of the virtues that the trials he was exposed to in his department of the service necessarily call forth and sustain, if they do not produce the contrary vices. But his public life was stained with one great crime, so that, though many passages of these lines were suggested by what was generally known as excellent in his conduct, I have not been able to connect his name with the poem as I could wish, or even to think of him with satisfaction in reference to the idea of what a warrior should be.
Let me add, that many elements of the character here portrayed were found in my brother John, who perished by shipwreck, as mentioned elsewhere. His messmates used to call him the Philosopher, from which it may be inferred that the qualities and dispositions I allude to had not escaped their notice. He greatly valued moral and religious instruction for youth, as tending to make good sailors. The best, he used to say, came from Scotland; the next to them, from the North of England, especially from Westmoreland and Cumberland, where, thanks to the piety and local attachments of our an cestors, endowed, or, as they are called, free schools, abound.
The Force of Prayer.
My friend, Mr. Rogers, has also written on the subject. The story is preserved in Dr. Whitaker's "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 treated, 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 num ber of substantial cottages that had sprung up on every side, sach having its little plot of fertile ground, won from the surpounding 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 has done away with many of these blessings, and substituted many evils? 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.
This poem, as well as the preceding and the two that follow, were composed in front of Rydal Mount, and during my walks in the neighborhood. Nine tenths of my verses have been murmured out in the open air. And here let me repeat what I believe has already appeared in print. One day a stranger, having walked round the garden and grounds of Rydal Mount, asked of one of the female servants, who happened to be at the door, permission to see her master's study. "This," said she, leading him forward, "is my master's library, where he keeps his books; but his study is out of doors." After a long absence from home, it has more than once happened that some of my cottage neighbors (not of the double-coach-house cottages) has said, "Well, there he is: we are glad to hear him booing about again." Once more, in excuse for so much egotism, let me say, these notes are written for my familiar friends, and at their earnest request. Another time, a gentleman, whom James had conducted through the grounds, asked him what kind of plants throve best there. After a little consideration, he answered, "Laurels." "That is," said the stranger, 66 it should be. Don't you know that the laurel is the emblem of poetry, and that poets used, on public occasions, to be crowned with it?" James stared when the question was first put, but was doubtless much pleased with the information.
The discerning reader, who is aware that in the poem of "Ellen Irwin," being desirous of throwing the reader at once out of the old ballad, so as, if possible, to preclude a comparison between that mode of dealing with the subject and the
mode I meant to adopt, may here, perhaps, perceive that this poem originated in the last four lines of the first stanza. These specks of snow reflected in the lake, and so transferred, as it were, to the subaqueous sky, reminded me of the swans which the fancy of the ancient classic poets yoked to the car of Venus. Hence the tenor of the whole first stanza, and the name of Lycoris, which with some readers who think mythology and classical allusion too far-fetched, and therefore more or less unnatural and affected, will tend to unrealize the sentiment that pervades these verses. But surely one who has written so much in verse as I have done may be allowed to retrace his steps into the region of fancy, which delighted him in his boyhood, when he first became acquainted with the Greek and Roman poets.
Before I read Virgil, I was so strongly attached to Ovid, whose Metamorphoses I read at school, that I was quite in a passion whenever I found him, in books of criticism, placed below Virgil. As to Homer, I was never weary of travelling over the scenes through which he led me. Classical literature affected me by its own beauty.
But the truths of Scripture having been intrusted to the dead languages, and these fountains having been recently laid open at the Reformation, an importance and a sanctity were at that period attached to classical literature, that extended, as is obvious in Milton's Lycidas, for example, both as to its spirit and form, in a degree that can never be revived. No doubt the hackneyed and lifeless use into which mythology fell to wards the close of the seventeenth century, and which continued through the eighteenth, disgusted the general reader with all allusion to it in modern verse.. And though, in deference to this disgust, and also in a measure participating in it, I abstained in my earlier writings from all introduction of pagan fable, surely, even in its humble form, it may ally itself with real sentiment, as I can truly affirm it did in the present
This lawn is the sloping one approaching the kitchen-garden at Rydal Mount, and was made out of it. Hundreds of times have I here watched the dancing of shadows amid a press of sunshine, and other beautiful appearances of light and shade, flowers and shrubs. What a contrast between this and the cabbages and onions and carrots that used to grow there, on a piece of ugly-shaped, unsightly ground! No reflection, however, either upon cabbages or onions; the latter, we know, were worshipped by the Egyptians: and he must have a poor eye for beauty who has not observed how much of it there is in the form and color which cabbages and plants of that genus exhibit through the various stages of their growth and decay. A richer display of color in vegetable nature can scarcely be conceived than Coleridge, my sister, and I saw in a bed of potato-plants in blossom near a hut upon the moor between Inversneyd and Loch Katrine. These blossoms were of such extraordinary beauty and richness, that no one could have passed them without notice: but the sense must be cultivated through the mind before we can perceive these inexhaustible treasures of nature- for such they truly are- without the least necessary reference to the utility of her productions, or even to the laws whereupon, as we learn by research, they are dependent. Some are of opinion, that the habit of analyzing, decomposing, and anatomizing is inevitably unfavorable to the perception of beauty. People are led into this mistake by overlooking the fact that, such processes being to a certain extent within the reach of a limited intellect, we are apt to ascribe to them that insensibility of which they are, in truth, the effect, and not the cause. Admiration and love, to which all knowledge truly vital must tend, are felt by men of real genius in proportion as their discoveries in natural philosophy are enlarged; and the beauty, in form, of a plant or an animal is not made less, but more apparent, as a whole, by more accurate insight into its constituent properties and powers. A savant who is not also a poet in soul, and a religionist in heart, is a feeble and unhappy creature.