« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
where, indeed, you have beautiful descriptions, and it is a work which does the author high credit, I think. I should like to know your opinion of it. Farewell! Best remembrances and love to Lady Beaumont.
“My dear Sir George,
" W. WORDSWORTH."
poem, thus completed, reposed quietly for many years. It had served its purpose as an experiment, from which the author might ascertain how far he was qualified, "by nature and education, to construct a literary work that might live."1 Henceforth he resolved to devote his energies to “THE RECLUSE.” To use his own illustrations, the “ ' tico” was built, he would now erect the house; or, to adopt his other metaphor, “the ante-chapel” was constructed, he would now proceed to the choir.
He executed the first book ? of the first part of " The Recluse," which takes up the thread of the personal narrative, where it leaves off in “ The Prelude,” and begins with describing the commencement of his “ Residence at Grasmere;” after which introduction, it propounds the subject in the lines which are printed, as a prospectus, in the preface to “The Excursion :"
“ On man, on nature, and on human life,
Musing in solitude, I oft perceive
Fair trains of imagery before me rise.” However, circumstances arose to draw his mind from proceeding in a direct course with the first part of " The Recluse," and to transfer his attention to the intermediate or dramatic part, which has been given to the world as “ THE EXCURSION."
i See preface to “Excursion," and advertisement to “ The Prelude.”
Still remaining in MS.
" The Prelude" having discharged its duty in its experimental character, remained in manuscript during the residue of the author's life, forty-five years. It was occasionally revised by him, and received his final corrections in the year 1832, and was left by him for publication at his decease.
Accordingly it was given to the world in the summer of 1850.
Its title, “The Prelude,” had not been fixed on by the author himself: the Poem remained anonymous till his death. The present title has been prefixed to it at the suggestion of the beloved partner of his life, and the best interpreter of his thoughts, from considerations of its tentative and preliminary character. Obviously it would have been desirable to mark its relation to “The Recluse" by some analogous appellation; but this could not easily be done, at the same time that its other essential characteristics were indicated. Besides, the appearance of this poem, after the author's death, might tend to lead some readers into an opinion that it was his final production, instead of being, as it really is, one of his earlier works. They were to be guarded against this supposition. Hence a name has been adopted, which may serve to keep the true nature and position of the poem constantly before the eye of the reader; and “ The PRELUDE” will now be perused and estimated with the feelings properly due to its preparatory character, and to the period at which it
OTHER POEMS WRITTEN IN 1805 AND 1806.
The year 1805 was one of the most productive in Wordsworth's poetical life. In addition to the latter books of “The Prelude," which were then written, he composed “ The Waggoner” at about the same period. The scene of this poem was laid in his own vale and neighbourhood; and none of his tales appear to have been written with greater facility. This poem also was reserved in manuscript for many years: it was not published till 1819, twelve years after its composition, when it was inscribed to the author's friend, to whose memory he afterwards paid so feeling a tribute?, CHARLES LAMB.
In the same year also was produced the Ode to Duty}, " on the model,” as the author says, of Gray's Ode to Adversity, which is copied from Horace's Ode to Fortune."
In 1805 was likewise written, An Incident Characteristic of a favourite Dog. The incident occurred at Sockburn-on-Tees many years before.
“This dog," says the author, “I knew well. It belonged to Mrs. Wordsworth's brother, Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, who then lived at Sockburn-on-the-Tees, a beautiful re
1 Vol. ii. p. 68. 4 MSS. I. F.
2 Vol. v. p. 141.
3 Vol. iv. p. 210.
tired 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 1799.”
The Tribute to the Memory of the same Dog1 was written at the same time, 1805. The dog Music died, aged and blind, by falling into a draw-well at Gallow Hill, to the great grief of the family of the Hutchinsons, who, as has been before mentioned, had removed to that place from Sockburn.
Fidelity, a tribute to the memory of another dog?, was composed in the same year. On these very affecting lines the following record was given by the writer. “ The young man whose death gave occasion to this poem was named Charles Gough, and had come early in the spring to Paterdale for the sake of angling. While attempting to cross over Helvellyn to Grasmere he slipped from a steep part of the rock where the ice was not thawed, and perished. His body was discovered as described in this poem. Sir Walter Scott heard of the accident, and he and I, without either of us knowing that the other had taken up the subject, each wrote a poem in admiration of the dog's fidelity. His contains a most beautiful stanza.
"I will add that the sentiment in the last four lines of the last stanza of my verses was uttered shepherd with such exactness, that a traveller, who
I Vol. iv. p. 206.
2 Vol. iv. 3 He lies buried in Paterdale churchyard.
4 Sir W. Scott's poem is entitled “ Helvellyn,” and will be found among his Ballads, p. 180. edit. 1806.
The stanza referred to by Mr. Wordsworth is that beginning, “ How long didst thou think that his silence was slumber?
When the wind waved his garment, how oft didst thou start ?”
afterwards reported his account in print, was induced to question the man whether he had read them, which he had not." I
On occasion of this mention of Sir Walter Scott's name, it may be recorded, that he, Sir Humphry Davy, and Mr. Wordsworth, ascended together the mountain, Helvellyn, on which this catastrophe occurred, in the autumn of this year; and probably the two Poets heard the story of the event at the same time, and at the same place. A memorial of this ascent is found in the “ Musings at Aquapendente,”? written more than thirty years afterwards. .
" Onward thence
« One there surely was,
Soon afterwards, Wordsworth addressed to Scott a letter, on the genius of Dryden, whose works Sir Walter was about to edit. This letter was written
1 MSS. I. F.
2 Vol. iii. p. 154.