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into torpor, he plodded on in pursuit of his favourite amusement, until his claims to preferment could be no longer resisted. In him was assuredly exemplified the truth of the proverb —
nil sine magno
Vita labore dedit mortalibus.
Added to industry was an inviolable regard for truth; and it pleased him to provide lessons for those who respect
“the good old age
Poetry, however, is “ impassioned truth ;” and he who invests heroes and peasants alike with meekness; who, when accounting Rob Roy “wise as brave," deems it necessary to crave forgiveness, “if the phrase be strong; ” who, on one hand, would appear to be shocked at the discovery of a Robin * in chase of a butterfly, while, on the other, he can address a sexton over
* “ Art thou the bird whom man loves best,
Our little English Robin ;
The bird, who by some name or other
the remains of his late acquaintance in language which a cultivated mind almost revolts, obviously betrays a want of that faculty of the soul from which all true poetry springs,-feeling-intense, well disciplined feeling. And such was Wordsworth! Shall I yet be told that evidence of tender emotion may be gleaned from his verse ? Then it is surely to be found in his lament for the dead; for under no circumstances can it be more truly affirmed that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Here is an example:
“She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
And very few to love.
Half hidden from the eye!
Is shining in the sky.
When Lucy ceased to be ;
The difference to me!”
The worth of this outpouring of a "wounded spirit” will be best estimated, when compared with an affecting
* “ Mark the spot to which I point !
From this platform, eight feet square,
Thus then, each to other dear,
passage from Othello's soliloquy over the body of Desdemona, where Emilia seeks admission to the Moor. “ If she come in, she'll sure speak to my wife :
My wife! my wife! what wife ? - I have no wife : O, insupportable, O heavy hour!" Some will be ready to denounce the comparison as invidious: it may possibly admit of such construction :
Quid enim contendat hirondo cycnis ? That justice then may be done, I will select a stanza from Wordsworth's elegiac verses on the death of a brother, and place it in juxtaposition with another on a like melancholy subject, taken from a contemporary author, whom he declared to be deficient in feeling. “Full soon in sorrow did I
The present happiness and promised joy
What man, in whom the moral and intellectual faculties are so nicely harmonized as to bring him under the due influence of language, will not feel a secret prompting to merriment on reading the first stanza? Yet he shall no sooner pass from that to the one which succeeds it than, under the solemnity inspired by associations of the utmost moment, his heart shall swell with irrepressible anguish.
Premising thus much, there is little difficulty in accounting for the feebleness that pervades nearly the whole of Wordsworth’s verse. Not so easy, perhaps, is it to explain its anomalous character. Every one is aware that there are seasons when, from various causes, the senses fail to afford us an adequate conception of the objects presented to our notice. With the habitually apathetic this must be the prevailing condition. “ That strong feeling of interest and curiosity which we call attention” is, in them, only to be excited by “ moving accidents." They may appear to regard passing events; but faint and imperfect will be the impressions made upon their minds, and even these will be quickly forgotten. The observation of people so constituted is radically defective; and failing in that, the suggestive principle, as it is termed, seldom rewards them with a profitable train of thought. This, I need hardly say, is a temperament as unlike the poetical as was Wordsworth unlike Byron. Nature designed not the late Poet Laureate for the purpose of song: but he had a morbid ambition to be thought a poet, and no man to whom enthusiasm has been denied, ever toiled so long and so patiently after such distinction.
“ Exempt from public haunt,” he sought “ tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing;” but, seeing as “ through a glass darkly," his images were confused, and, like the changing cloud, they rarely sustained an appreciable aspect. Hence the frequent recurrence of such passages as the following:
“ Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,
Nor all asleep-in his extreme old age :”
By sorrow laid asleep; or borne away,
To human life”-
Of his old age; and yet less calm and meek,
Than slow and torpid ;”. Intent, at all times, on the maintenance of his right to the first seat in the Temple of the Muses, the Laureate would remind his readers, as occasion should serve, of the deference due to him as the Poet; but especially did he claim preeminence as the Poet of Nature. In this capacity I find him “ haunting” the “
Rydalian Laurels” through all seasons in search of
ground-flowers ;” — and it may not be uninteresting to inquire with what bountifulness Nature lavished instruction upon him in such rambles.
him in such rambles. While thus engaged, it is satisfactory as well to learn that, whether following him in the neighbourhood of Rydal, or on a delicate expedition, when his
horse moved on; hoof after hoof He raised, and never stopped,"
green shade" of