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GENIUS OF WORDSWORTH
THE WISDOM AND INTEGRITY
BY THE LATE JOHN WRIGHT,
“ POETRY SACRED AND PROFANE."
210. 6. 219.
Few people read a Preface; and still fewer, if it be long. Not caring to offend such prejudice, this shall be short. But I would respectfully intimate that, to understand the design of the following pages, it will be necessary to peruse it.
it. In a volume I published a year ago, entitled “ Poetry Sacred and Profane," were included some imitations of Wordsworth, together with a satire, called “ Pastimes with the late Poet Laureate." As an apology for the latter, I prefixed to the verse
Introduction,"containing a summary of the Poet's character. This gave serious offence to that inflated tribe of public censors, termed reviewers; and they castigated me unmercifully, — one craving a
os stonebow," to hit me in the eye, or, in the event of failure, a scaffold — on which I might expiate my crime. The
Morning Post” led the van; then followed “ Tait,” “Fraser,” “ The Literary Gazette,” “ The Critic,” and a host of servile imitators — amongst which appeared the “ Nottinghamshire Guardian,” whose exploits on the occasion afforded no little amusement in this neighbourhood. Its proprietor aspired but to an echo of the
Morning Post;” but none of the literary junto connected with the journal could furnish even that. He heard of a disciple of the Lake school, who, with a
creditable amount of scholarship, could swallow as much laudanum with impunity as did Coleridge. This man was invited to the task; and he achieved it as might have been expected of one under the habitual influence of a deadly narcotic. Confiding in the integrity of my own cause, I replied to the local critic, when the proprietor of the “ Nottinghamshire Guardian," seeing the hopelessness of his position ,dismissed his new ally.
Here Mr. Wright's engagement on his own little work closed from fast increasing bodily necessities; and the explanation which he was unable to complete must be thus shortly supplied. Soon after the appearance of a Reply to the article contained in the “Nottinghamshire Guardian,” Mr. Wright proposed to enter upon a yet more elaborate consideration of Wordsworth's character as a Poet, with a view to justify the course he had already adopted. His design was accomplished in the Essay concluding this work. Declining health, however, for some time prevented Mr. Wright from making a fair transcript of what he had written; nor was this effected until a few days before his death, which occurred on the seventeenth of February, 1853. Regarding his last treatise as a continuation of the subject occupying the earlier publications, it was Mr. Wright's intention to print it, accompanied, in the order of their composition, by the “ Introduction” to his poems, and the “ Reply.” This arrangement it has been thought right still to observe; and there only remains to regret that it was not permitted him to fulfil a task which no other hand can perform as well.
April 19. 1853.
THE VOLUME ENTITLED “POETRY, SACRED
It cannot be pleaded, in extenuation of the faults that criticism may discover in the following poems, that they were written in the days of my youth, while yet reflection had curbed not the intemperance of passion; for not one of them was constructed before I had entered on my fortieth year. And as it seldom happens that a man begins to exercise the faculty of imagination at that period of his life, the reader may be curious to know why the usual course of things has been reversed in me. The story is simple, and may be soon told. Until then excessive irritability, combined with constitutional powers of endurance that few enjoy, prompted me daily to physical pursuits very far exceeding the demands of a laborious profession. A seeming superfluity of nervous impulse was my inheritance; and preferring the pure atmosphere of the fields to that artificial mode of existence which the usages of society impose, my delight was to expend it