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highest kind of nobleness and magnie are only to be arrived at in the stillness ficence.
of contemplation ; and because he sees Mr Wordsworth has not followed a risk, that the lower and coarser feelout the national spirit in this, but has ings being stirred into activity, amidst turned off into a totally different the bustle, may lose their subordinasphere of reflection, from whence no tion, and rise up so as to obscure the kind of strength appears great, because bright ideal image of human nature, all strength is limited, and cannot ap- which he would wish to retain always pear sublime, if contrasted with strength before him. Notions like these, howa single degree above it. His contem ever, must always appear ridiculous to plative Platonism searches for some the majority in England, where life is image of perfection to admire, and per- estimated as it produces external good ceives that the beauty of no limited or mischief. But, although Mr Wordsbeing can consist in strength, but in its worth's ideas have not met with a very conformity to the moral harmony of flattering reception, he seems no way the universe. Hence he can see no blind to the manly integrity and subgreatness in the movements of the stantial excellences of character that inind, if they tend to no higher object adorn his country, and which have so than self-aggrandisement, which has deep a root there, that, as Madame de ever its bounds that make it appear lit- Stael observes, they have never ceased tle; and, therefore, those objects, which to flourish even, under the influence of appear to him endowed with poetical speculative opinions, which would have beauty, are often such as appear homely withered them up elsewhere. Indeed, to the eyes of others who measure them the moral speculations of England have by a different standard. The small ad- been very much a separate pastime of miration he entertains for the undisci- the understanding, which began and plined energies of human nature leads ended there, without ever drawing a him to a somewhat contemptuous esti- single reflection from the depths of humation of active life, even when con man nature. A remarkable trait in the duct is submitted to the restraints of history of our philosophy is, that morality. He thinks little has been Christianity has been as it were transdone for the mind, unless those inter- posed by Paley into a more familiar nal movements, also, which are with- key, and adapted throughout to the out result in action, have been tuned theory of utility ; so that David Hume into beauty and regularity, and a com himself might almost play an accomplete balance and subordination esta- paniment to it. And Paley has obblished among the feelings by dint of tained a great deal of credit, for the long continued meditation. On this performance of this good office to his subject his ideas cannot fail to recal to countrymen. remembrance those Indian doctrines, One of the causes which have prewhich taught that the first step towards . vented Mr Wordsworth's writings from the perception of high moral truth, becoming popular, is, that he does not was the establishment of a certain still- confine himself, like most other poets, ness and equability within the mind. to the task of representing poetical But Mr Wordsworth should have pro- objects, or of moving our sympathies, posed these Braminical notions else- but, also, proposes and maintains a where ; for they are totally at variance system of philosophical opinions. In with the stirring and tumultuous spirit most of his poems, and in the Excurof England. No philosophy or religion, sion especially, he scarcely makes poetpurely contemplative, has ever taken a ry for its own sake, but chiefly as a strong hold of the English mind; and vehicle for his doctrines, and the spirit no set of English devotees, however of these doctrines is, unfortunately for much they professed to be dead to the his success, at variance with the phiworld, have been able to keep their losophy at present most fashionable in hands out of temporal affairs. They this country. Although possessed of have always found something that the requisite genius, he does not seem called for their interference, and have to care for composing poems, adapted exchanged the pleasures of abstract to the exclusive purpose of taking hold contemplation, for the zeal of partizan- of the feelings of the people ; and, aship. Mr Wordsworth seems averse to mong the philosophers, he is rejected, active life, chiefly, because he is afraid because he holds a different language of losing sight of impressions which from them. Besides, the habits of
thought, in which he chiefly delights, as conveying more exalted meaning, are not calculated to produce that whether the poetical merit of the vestrength and vividness of diction, hicle be equal or not. The sublimity which must ever constitute one of the drawn from terror, collision, tumult, chief attractions of poetry. Imagina. or discord, of any kind, has always the tion seems insufficient of itself to pro- disadvantage of being transient; and, duce diction always nervous and poet- therefore, cannot be considered as equal ical, without the aid of human pas- to those openings into immutable sion and worldly observation. It is brightness and harmony, which are from these that the greatest poignancy sometimes to be met with in Wordsof words must spring. As for the worth. One beauty cannot fail to saltness of sagacity and wit, Mr Words- strike the reader of his poetry; and worth looks down upon it as a pro- that is, the perfect homogeneousness of fane thing, and is well entitled to do its spirit. A systematic correspondso. If he were to descend into so ence pervades the whole, so that the low a region as that of jesting, he perusal of one piece frequently leads would probably succeed no better than the reader's own mind into a tract of old David Deans did, when he ato thought, which is afterwards found to tempted a joke at his daughter's mar- be developed by the poet himself, in riage dinner. But, as Mr Words some other performance. The defects worth never jests, so his writings, per- of his poetry originate in the same haps, have some claim to be exempted system of thought which produces its from the pleasantries of others; which, beauties. They are not the result of indeed, can scarcely be directed with casual whims, or imperfections of taste. much success or effect against a per Certain great convictions of sentiment son who faces ridicule so systemati- have so completely pervaded his mind, cally, and who has always counted up- as to produce a degree of consistency on it beforehand.
in all its emanations, that we vainly Mr Wordsworth has been thought look for in works founded upon obserto have more affinity to Milton than vation. It is remarkable that even the any other poet. If this is the case, external characteristics of his poetry the affinity is rather in manner than are similar to what we are told an anin substance. Milton has no ideale alogous turn of internal thought anism, not even in the Paradise Regain- ciently produced among the Hindoos. ed, where there was most scope for it
. “ From the descriptive poems of the His poetry is, for the most part, quite Indians,” says Schlegel, in his lecliteral; and the objects he describes tures on the history of literature, “ we have all a certain definiteness and indi- must seek to gather what influence viduality, which separates them from those opinions had on human life and the infinite. He has often endea- all its relations and feelings; what voured to present images, where every sort of poetry, and what sort of feelthing should have been lost in senti- ing of the lovely and beautiful, were ment. It is generally agreed, that produced among the Indians by the among the most successful parts of adoption of ideas to us so foreign and Paradise Lost, are those which repre- unaccountable. The first things which sent the character of the fallen angel; strike us in the Indian poetry are, and yet these sublime and tragical so that tender feeling of solitude, and liloquies are founded chiefly on person- the all-animated world of plants, which al feeling ; which, although it may be is so engagingly represented in the made a source of consummate pathos dramatic poetry of the Sokuntola ; and dramatic beauty, is certainly not and those charming pictures of female the region of the human mind, from truth and constancy, as well as of the whence the highest possible impres- beauty and loveliness of infantine nasions are to be drawn. Terrible acts ture, which are still more conspicuous of divine power, and, on the other in the older epic version of the same hand, force of will, and obdurate pride Indian legend. Neither can we obin the rebel spirits, are the highest serve, without wonder and animiramoral elements exhibited; but, if we tion, that depth of moral feeling with look to what composes some of the which the poet styles conscience the finest passages in Wordsworth, we solitary seer in the heart, from whose shall be inclined (theoretically at least) eye nothing is hid,' and which leads to prefer them to the best of Milton, him to represent sin as something so
incapable of concealment, that every Breathed immortality; revolving life transgression is not only known to And greatness still revolving ; infinite; conscience, and all the gods, but felt There littleness was not ; the least of things with a sympathetic shudder by those Seemed infinite ; and there his spirit shaped elements themselves which we call in
Her prospects, nor did he believe; he saw. animate, by the sun, the moon, the
The relation which the considerafire, the air, the heaven, the earth, tion of moral pain or deformity bears the flood, and the deep, as a crying the universe, is alluded to in another
to this far-extended sympathy with outrage against nature, and a derangement of the universe.”
passage of the Excursion. Whoever wishes to understand Mr My friend, enough to sorrow you have given; Wordsworth’s philosophical opinions, Be wise and cheerful ; and no longer read
of wisdom ask no more ; will find them developed in their most
The forms of things with an unworthy eye. perfect form, in the Excursion; but she * sleeps in the calm earth, and peace is those who wish to judge merely how there. far he possesses the powers com I well remember that those very plumes, monly called poetical, will do best to Those weeds, and the high spear-grass on read his Lyrical Ballads, and smaller
that wall, Poems, where pathos, imagination, By mist and silent rain-drops silver'd o'er, and knowledge of human nature, are
As once I passed, did to my heart convey often presented by themselves, with
So still an image of tranquillity,
So calm and still, and looked so beautiful, out any obtrusive or argumentative re
Amid the uneasy thoughts that filled my ference to a system.
At the same mind, time, the reverential awe, and the far That what we feel of sorrow and despair, extended sympathy with which he From ruin and from change, and all the grief looks upon the whole system of ex The passing shews of being leave behind, isting things, and the silent moral Appeared an idle dream, that could not live connexions which he supposes to exist Where meditation was. among them, are visible throughout
Notions like those of Mr Words, all his writings. He tunes his mind worth are evidently suited only to a to nature almost with a feeling of re
life purely contemplative; but that ligious obligation ; and where others universality of spirit, which becomes behold only beautiful colours, making true philosophy, should forbid, in pertheir appearance according to optical sons of different habits, any blind or laws, or feel pleasant physical sen
sudden condemnation of them. No sations resulting from a pure atmos- individual can say what are all the inphere, or from the odoriferous exhal- ternal suggestions of the human faculations of herbage, or enjoy the plea- ties, unless he has varied his mode of sure of measuring an extended pro
existence sufficiently to afford fit opspect, as an amusement for the eye, portunities for their developement.this poet (whether justly or not) The facts of consciousness are admitthinks he traces something more in ted to be as much facts as those of the the spectacle than the mere reflection
senses; but, at the same time, we canof his own feelings, painted upon ex
not get individuals to agree what they ternal objects, by means of the asso
are, and, while things remain in this ciation of ideas; or, at least, seems to
state of uncertainty, the first duty is consider what we then behold as the certainly that of liberality of mind. instantaneous creation of the mind.
Wordsworth’s habit of dwelling as Oh then what soul was his, when on the tops upon man, has given his poetry an air
much upon the rest of the universe as Of the high mountains, he beheld the sun Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He
of greater joyfulness and sunshine, looked
than it could have possessed if human Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth,
life had been his more constant theme. And ocean's liquid mass beneath him lay He turns with ever new delight to obIn gladness and deep joy. The clouds were jects which exhibit none of the harshtouched,
ness and discrepancy of the human And in their silent faces did he read
world. Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
“ The blackbird on the summer trees, Nor any voice of joy. His spirit drank
The lark upon the hill, The spectacle ; sensation, soul, and form, Let loose their carols when they please, All melted into him ; they swallowed up Are quiet when they will. His animal being.“ All things there
One who had died of a broken heart.
« With nature do they never wage To see the Sun how brightly it will shine, A foolish strife; they see
And know that noble Feelings, manly Powers, A happy youth, and their old age Instead of gathering strength must droopand Is beautiful and free."
pine, « Down to the vale this water steers,
And Earth with all her pleasant fruits and How merrily it goes,
flowers 'Twill murmur on a thousand years,
Fade, and participate in Man's decline. And flow as now it flows."
As Mr Wordsworth's habits of When he does turn his attention thought, and not his merely poetical upon life, we find always the most powers, were meant to form the subbeautiful echoes of Christian tendera ject of this discussion, we have not ness and sorrow. In an elegy, sug
adverted to some of his detached pergested by a picture representing a
which are master-pieces in storm, he alludes to the bitter recollec- their way. These would offer a sepation of a domestic loss which had be- rate subject for criticism. But, as they fallen him, and is pleased to see the are little known (in Scotland especial image of pain reflected in external na- ly), we shall quote the whole of one of ture.
his most exquisite minor pieces. “Oh 'tis a passionate work!-Yet wise and
“ WHEN Ruth was left half desolate Well chosen is the spirit that is here;
Her Father took another Mate; That hulk that labours in the deadly swell, And Ruth, not seven years old, This rueful sky, the pageantry of fear.
A slighted Child, at her own will And this huge castle, standing here sublime,
Went wandering over dale and hill,
In thoughtless freedom bold.
“ And she had made a Pipe of straw,
And from that oaten Pipe could draw Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone, All sounds of winds and floods ; Housed in a dream, at distance from the
Had built a Bower upon the green, kind;
As if she from her birth had been Such happiness, wherever it is known,
An Infant of the woods.
And frequent sights of what is to be born, Herself her own delight:
Not without hope we suffer and we mourn.' She passed her time"; and in this way
Surely nothing can be finer than Grew up to Woman's height. this. It is impressed with the true “ There came a Youth from Georgia's character of that kind of social senti
shore ment, which is drawn from a source A military Casque he wore not liable to fail. In his sonnets, we
With splendid feathers drest ; see what form citizenship is made to
He brought them from the Cherokees; assume, when growing up in conti- The feathers nodded in the breeze, guity with the other habits of mind And made a gallant crest. cultivated by Wordsworth. How these
“ From Indian blood you deem him sprung: compositions, so pregnant with feeling Ah no! he spake the English tongue,
And bore a Soldier's name ; and reflection, upon the most interest
And, when America was free ing topics, should not have been more
From battle and from jeopardy, generally known, is a problem difficult He 'cross the ocean came. to be solved. The following is one of
“ With hues of genius on his cheek, them, containing reflections on the
In finest tones the Youth could speak. moral effects of slavery.
-While he was yet a Boy “ There is a bondage which is worse to bear The moon, the glory of the sun, Than his who breathes, by roof, and floor, And streams that murmur as they run, and wall,
Had been his dearest joy. Pent in, a Tyrant's solitary Thrall : 'Tis his who walks about in the open air,
“ He was a lovely Youth! I guess One of a Nation who, henceforth, must wear
The panther in the wilderness
Was not so fair as he; Their fetters in their Souls. For who could be,
And, when he chose to sport and play. Who, even the best, in such condition, free No dolphin ever was so gay From self-reproach, reproach which he must Upon the tropic sea. share
“ Among the Indians he had fought ; With Human Nature ? Neyer be it ours And with him many tales he brought
Of pleasure and of fear;
Through dream and vision did she sink, Such tales as, told to any Maid
Delighted all the while to think By such a Youth, in the green shade, That, on those lonesome floods, Were perilous to hear.
And green savannahs, she should share " He told of Girls, a happy rout!
His board with lawful joy, and bear
His name in the wild woods.
“ But, as you have before been told, To gather strawberries all day long; This Stripling, sportive, gay, and bold, Returning with a choral song
And with his dancing crest When day-light is gone down.
So beautiful, through savage lands “ He spake of plants, divine and strange,
Had roamed about with vagrant bands That every hour their blossoms change,
Of Indians in the West. Ten thousand lovely hues!
“ The wind, the tempest roaring high, With budding, fading, faded flowers The tumult of a tropic sky, They stand the wonder of the bowers
Might well be dangerous food From morn to evening dews.
For him, a Youth to whom was given “ He told of the Magnolia, spread
So much of earth-so much of Heaven, High as a cloud, high over head!
And such impetuous blood.
“ Whatever in those Climes he found Cover a hundred leagues, and seem
Irregular in sight or sound
Did to his mind impart
A kindred impulse, seemed allied
“ Nor less to feed voluptuous thought As quietly as spots of sky
The beauteous forms of nature wrought, Among the evening clouds.
Fair trees and lovely flowers ;
The breezes their own langour lent ; “ And then he said, " How sweet it were
The stars had feelings, which they sent A fisher or a hunter there,
Into those gorgeous bowers.
“ Yet, in his worst pursuits, I ween To build a household fire, and find
That sometimes there did intervene A home in every glade !
Pure hopes of high intent ; " • What days and what sweet years ! Ah
For passions linked to forms so fair , me!
And stately needs must have their share
Of noble sentiment.
“ But ill he lived, much evil saw And all the while,' said he, to know With men to whom no better law That we were in a world of woe,
Nor better life was known; On such an earth as this!'
Deliberately and undeceived “ And then he sometimes interwove
Those wild men's vices he received, Dear thoughts about a Father's love; And gave them back his own. • For there,' said he, * are spun
“ His genius and his moral frame . Around the heart such tender ties,
Were thus impaired, and he became That our own children to our eyes
The slave of low desires : Are dearer than the sun.
A Man who without self-control «Sweet Ruth! and could you go with me,
Would seek what the degraded soul My helpmate in the woods to be,
Unworthily admires. Our shed at night to rear ;
“ And yet he with no feigned delight Or run, my own adopted Bride,
Had wooed the maiden, day and night. A sylvan Huntress at my side,
Had loved her, night and morn : And drive the flying deer !
What could he less than love a Maid " • Beloved Ruth !'-No more he said.
Whose heart with so much nature played 2 Sweet Ruth alone at midnight shed
So kind and so forlorn! A solitary tear:
“ But now the pleasant dream was gone; She thought again and did agree
No hope, no wish remained, not one, With him to sail across the sea,
They stirred him now no more ; And drive the flying deer.
New objects did new pleasure give, “ ' And now, as fitting is and right,
And once again he wished to live We in the Church our faith will plight,
As lawless as before. A Husband and a Wife.'
“ Meanwhile, as thus with him it fared, Even so they did ; and I may say
They for the voyage were prepared, That to sweet Ruth that happy day
And went to the sea-shore; Was more than human life.
But, when they thither came, the Youth