« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern,
Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more;
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours,
I would not trust my heart—the dear delight
Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast
farewell !-Time unrevok'd has run
WORDSWORTH. WILLIAM WORDSWORTH was born at Cockermouth, in Cumberland, on April 7th, A.D. 1770. He was brought up in his native place and at Penrith during his early boyhood, having lost his mother in his eighth, and his father in his fourteenth year. His attention was early directed to the most eminent writers of prose fiction, such as Cervantes, Swift, and Fielding. In the year 1787 Wordsworth was sent to St. John's College, Cambridge, where, though he sought no academical honours, he paid a close attention, not only to the classical authors, but to Italian literature, under the direction of an Italian named Isola, who had been intimate with the poet Gray. In 1790 he made a pedestrian tour in France, his companion being a friend and fellow-student named Jones; and he passed a considerable part of the next two or three years in that country, the political changes of which vehemently interested him. In 1796 commenced that friendship with Coleridge to which he attributed, in a large measure, the philosophic form in which his poetic genius subsequently developed itself. Some of his earliest poems were about this time printed, in conjunction with several by that friend. In 1798 Wordsworth visited Germany in company with his sister and Coleridge ; and two years afterwards settled in the vale of Grasmere, where he wrote the poeins published in the second volume of his Lyrical Ballads. In 1802 he married Mary Hutchinson, who had been a fellow-pupil of his when he learned spelling from an old dame at Penrith. In 1813 Wordsworth forsook Grasmere for Rydal, where, with the exception of occasional excursions to. Scotland, Ireland, and the Continent, he continued to reside, loved and honoured by all who knew him, till the year 1850, when he died. On the death of Southey, he had accepted the luureateship.
The life of Wordsworth was a happy, as it was a wise and virtuous one. It was clouded only by such domestic bereavements as no protracted life can escape. Nature lay before him as a book ever open; and every day he could bend over a new page, and read,“ transcribing what he read,” with fresh instruction and delight. In friendship he was not less fortunate than in his domestic relations : and the stupidity or impertinence with which his writings were long assailed by the professional critics he lived down and wrote down. Of all modern poets he was the one most devoted to his art; and he cultivated it ever conscientiously, and with a due sense of its greatness and its responsibilities. He wrote as a philosopher and patriot, not less than as a 'poet, in the conviction that a genuine poet, if faithful to his vocation, must be the servant of truth and of virtue. Like Southey and Coleridge, he early outgrew the extravagant political opinions by which, at the outbreak of the French revolution, a large part of European society was so infected that few young men of genius and enthusiasm could wholly escape the disease.
The poetry of Wordsworth is at once the most imaginative and the most profoundly meditative which England has produced in recent times. Its chief characteristic is its large sympathy with all that belongs to human nature. The egotism of which it has been accused is of a character, the opposite of that which is so offensive at once on the grounds of good taste and sound feeling; for it was with a moral, not a sentimental or personal interest, that the contemplative poet direeted an inquiring gaze into his own being. In that mirror he contemplated no individual experience alone, but the “ heart of man,” which he calls
“My haunt, and the main region of my song." It may be well to remark, that Wordsworth's poetry cannot be rightly understood unless we remember that the human nature of which he speaks in such lofty terms is, in the main, an ideal human nature, regarded in its archetype (for Wordsworth was, like most real poets, a Platonist), and not merely that actually existing human nature which is constantly “erring from itself,” being vitiated by the Fall. This distinction cannot be better illustrated than by two remarkable lines of Wordsworth's :
“But who is innocent? By grace divine,
Not otherwise, O Nature, are we thine." He has been accused, indeed, of celebrating external nature, the fea. tures of which he delineates with a religious reverence and fidelity, in a Pantheistic spirit. Expressions, however in themselves liable to no just reproach, may bear this appearance merely on account of their regarding from a single aspect a subject vast and many-sided, which the poet does not profess to treat in its totality. Many of Wordsworth's poems are remarkable both for their Christian and their Catholic tone. If he did not write more largely in this vein, the circumstance arose, in a large part, from his humility, and from his belief that to poetry but a restricted province is assigned on the borderland of religion. On the other hand, he believed that an elevated morality is the very life of poetry; and there are few writers whose works tend more eminently than Wordsworth's do, when their meaning and their proper place are rightly understood, to enlarge the moral being, and to foster habits of reverence, manliness, and sympathy. In a few of his earlier poems Wordsworth carried his protest against the conventional poetic style to a paradoxical extent, so as to make simplicity itself look like affectation. This defect, however, was but a humour, which his maturer mind cast off. It is less easy to defend him from the charge of a certain thoughtful diffuseness, which belongs to a diction otherwise admirable. It proceeded from a desire to treat subjects more at large than perhaps belongs to poetry, which, unlike philosophy, is in the main an imaginative method of intellectual suggestion rather than a complete expression of thought, and which must therefore often reject even best epithets in order to gain that intensity which selectness
mpactness alone can impart.
SHE WAS A PHANTOM OF DELIGHT.
She was a phantom of delight
to comfort, and command ; And yet a spirit still, and bright With something of an angel light.
Three years she
grew in sun and shower,