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trees in Linton Park, in the April of 1798. The volume appeared in the following autumn, and contained Coleridge's weird “Ancient Mariner," with some other pieces of his ; but the greater share of contributions came from WORDSWORTH.
The venture did not turn out well. The world was not prepared for such poetry as it found in the Lyrical Ballads, and the critics sneered and protested.
Arch, the London bookseller, to whom the first edition had been sold in its entirety, made nothing of it, for he scarcely sold a copy. Some time afterward, when Coleridge and Cottle were visiting Wordsworth at Rydal Mount, the Bristol publisher accounted for the failure of their venture by sayo ing that the reviews were very severe, and the “Ancient Mariner unintelligible. Coleridge himself wrote a lampoon on the unfortunate child of his genius, which appeared in a morning newspaper :
“ To the Author of the Ancient Mariner.'
Dear sir, it cannot fail ;
And without head or tail."
This seems to be just what the public thought, for buy the book they would not. Cottle sold the copyright to Longmans, who afterwards informed him that their valuer had estimated it as worth nothing. It was thereupon returned to Cottle, who presented it to WORDSWORTH.
But there were some people of discernment who saw in the Lyrical Ballads real poetic work. Hannah More, then living at Barleywood, near Bristol, made Cottle read the volume through to her, and was accustomed to express her delight in its contents. All the critics had fallen foul of Harry Gill, but she was especially pleased with it, and very particularly so with those lines in which Goody Blake invokes a curse upon the lusty young drover :
“God, who art never out of hearing,
O may he never more be warm !
Wilson, the great “Christopher North,” took up the volume, read it, and said it was as though a new sun had risen on mid-day.”
In the September of 1798, WORDSWORTH, accompanied by Coleridge, set out for Germany. They stayed some time at Hamburg, where they were introduced to Klopstock, the poet. He entered into animated conversa. tion with WORDSWORTH for some time. Coleridge conceived a violent disgust for the white wig in which the author of the Messiah had ensconced his head; but he was moved at seeing the old man whose odes he had some intention of rendering into English verse. He went to Ratzeburg after leaving Hamburg, and stayed there four months, proceeding after that to Gottingen, where he resided for a similar period. WORDSWORTH, in the meantime, stayed at Goslar, and visited Coleridge at Gottingen afterwards. They returned home to find the Lyrical Ballads in the deplorable condition before mentioned.
And now WORDSWORTH was to return finally to the solitude of his native mountains. He, with his sister, took a very pretty cottage near Grasmere, and there he gave himself up with fervour and undisguised delight to his beloved poetry, and to the contemplation of the loveliness which dwelt about him. He was preparing a new series of the Lyrical Ballads, and persuaded Coleridge, who had promised to contribute a new poem to the volume, to come: down to the lakes to make some studies for its composi. tion. Thither in 1800 came Samuel Taylor, fascinating and light hearted as ever, and took up his abode at Keswick. WORDSWORTH lived twelve miles away. Coleridge wandered up and down the hills and valleys, climbed Skiddaw, looked across the blue waters of the neighbouring lakes with contemplative eyes, but failed to summon the poetic spirit. He could not write. But one day he dined out, doubtless with good and entirely congenial company, and there the strange Samuel, to speak in plain language, got dead drunk. Next morning the divine inflation filled him, he poured forth the most exuberant and luscious verses, and Christabel was born into the world.
But WORDSWORTH said that Christabel was not only too long, but also too good for the projected book, and so the new series of Lyrical Ballads appeared without any contribution from Coleridge. The new volume met with more direct hostility than its predecessor had experienced. It was pounced upon at once by the critics, who tore it to tatters, and denounced its author in violent language. But Wordsworth cared nothing for the storm ; he knew his poetry to be good, and he was well-content to wait for more unbiased judgment.
In 1802 the poet, then in his thirty-second year, was married. His chosen wife, Mary Hutchinson, of Penrith, is referred to in the lines beginning
“ She was a phantom of delight,”
“A perfect woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to confort, and command ;
The poet and his sister visited France in August, but they did not stay long there, and returned home next month. WORDSWORTH had lost all his republican feeling now, and he inveighed most bitterly against the turn which affairs had taken in France. While in Calais Napoleon Bonaparte was made perpetual First Consul, and this filled the poet with great bitterness and indignation. He, who had once looked on France as on a land of promise, and had almost prayed for the downfall of his native country, was glad to leave the revolutionary shores, and happy to find himself once more in the quiet ways of old England. His fervour against anything Gallican increased as years went on, until at length it culminated in a wild burst of thanks. giving at the victory over Napoleon at Waterloo.
WORDSWORTH's first Scotch trip was undertaken the following year, soon after the birth of his first child. His sister, who accompanied him, kept a diary, and from its pages one learns how very interesting the tour was. The poet would not go to Edinburgh, he cared not for “Auld-Reekie," but he wandered long by the Braes of Kirtle, Loch Katrine, and other spots made noteworthy by various associations. He visited Burns's grave, and at Melrose met with Sir Walter Scott, who took him to the Abbey, and conceived a great liking for him. We hear of an amusing incident which occurred during this tour. Scott, as every one knows, was Sheriff of his county, and had dreadful horror of any one seeing him in his official dress. WORDSWORTH happened to be in Jedburgh during the holding of the Assize, and Scott, knowing it, was more than ever ashamed of his legal trappings, and particularly anxious that the English bard should not see him. However, WORDSWORTH did see him, marching along in a procession, wearing a sword, and have
ing on his head a monstrous cocked-hat, into which the Minstrel seemed anxious to retire altogether.
When WORDSWORTH returned home, he went to Keswick, to see Coleridge. Southey had just come down from Bristol to the Lakes, and made WORDSWORTH'sacquaintance by meeting him at Coleridge's. The latter was now much changed ; he had fallen a victim to the terrible habit of taking opium, and mental disorders crowded thick and fast
He stayed some weeks with the family at Grasmere, and while there some one always stayed up with him all night, in order that he might be awakened at the approach of the paroxysms which seized him.
It was pitiable for those who had known him in happier times to see him rapidly dissolving into a mere wreck of his former self.
WORDSWORTH's brother, the commander of the Aber. gavenny, was drowned in 1805. The poet was much attached to him, though he had never enjoyed much of his company, and the loss affected him greatly. In that year too, Sir Walter Scott visited Grasmere and climbed some of the neighbouring hills in company with his host. Those days were happy ones for the Grasmere family. The poet had his wife and sister constantly by him, and the three were often out-of-doors exploring the regions that they loved so well. Sometimes they would go down to the border of the lake, and there WORDSWORTH would read aloud while the two women worked. Coleridge would look upon
them sometimes, and, when the opium left his thought clear, would talk as he alone could talk. Now and then Southey would come from Greta Hall, and go back to his hard labour-for he worked like any galley-slave--refreshed and brightened by his intercourse with the little Grasmere community