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The critics were still at issue with WORDSWORTH, and in 1807 Lord Jeffrey, in the pages of the Edinburgh Review, lifted up his mighty hand, and smote the bard of Rydal a special and particularly intended blow. But that same year there appeared a favourable notice of WORDS. WORTH's poetry, written in the Monthly Literary Recreations by a far greater critic than Jeffrey, -Byron. The noble poet, who so often maligned WORDSWORTH and his works, here particularly praised him for his use of simple language and disdain of high-sounding phrases. But Jeffrey was dead against the Lakists, he wrote and in. veighed against them without intermission, for he no more understood their poetic principles, particularly WORDS. WORTH's, than the compositor who set up his articles, it may have been not so much. In 1810 the redoubtable literary lawyer came to Keswick to stay with Coleridge. That genius was just then free from opiates, and he opened the floodgates of his thought and speech on the arch-enemy to such purpose, that Jeffrey promised to erase his name from the catalogue of Lake offenders. But the promise was forgotten, and Jeffrey waxed fiercer than ever in his rage against the proscribed school. Everybody seemed to be actuated by a desire to throw mud or stones at the Lakists just then. James and Horace Smith published their Rejected Addresses, and the one supposed to come from WORDSWORTH was pronounced by the Edinburgh Review to be a flattering imitation of his style.
In 1813 WORDSWORTH, by the kindness of some of his friends, was appointed distributor of stamps for the surround. ing district.
This office, the duties of which were discharged by a clerk, brought him in a good income, and set free his mind from all fears as to his pecuniary circum. stances. The year after he went again to Scotland, visited
Yarrow, till then unknown to him, and, about the same time, put forth his long poem The Excursion.
It was too much for Jeffrey. “This will never do," said he, in one of the most furious articles ever penned. He was struck all aghast to see, or rather hear such sentiments as those which the poet had put into the mouth of his hero, if one can.call a pedlar a hero. The Quarterly Review also came down heavily on the bard of Rydal, and when in 1815 the White Doe of Rylstone appeared, the whole company of reviewers set to work and pulled WORDSWORTH and his poems to pieces. A writer in Black. wood about that time said that he was on one occasion present in a large and polite circle where WORDSWORTH's name happened to crop up. It was at once asked by one of the company who this fellow Wordsworth was, and what his writings were like. The narrator wrote soon after this to some public library for a copy of the poet's works. This he received uncut, and a note stating that he could keep it as long as ever he pleased, for no one had ever inquired for it. More parodies on WORDSWORTH's style appeared about this time in a pretended anthology of the living poets.
In 1820 he took another tour on the continent, publish. ing some Memorials of it afterwards. The previous year Peter Bell and The Waggoner had appeared, and they still more irritated the critics. In 1822 he published his Ecclesiastical Sonnets. He was always writing; his pen never seems to have been idle or unemployed, but the work it produced was intensely unequal. He had not the discerning genius within him to tell what was good and what was bad in his own composition, and he is known to have regarded with high favour what is now regarded as nearly worthless. In 1830, for instance, he occupied him. self very much in the composing of romantic poems, if poems they can be called, such as the Egyptian Maid, and the Armenian Lady's Love. More unsuitable work he could not have undertaken, and poorer stuff few people could have produced.
In 1828 WORDSWORTH and Coleridge went once more to the continent. They revisited all the old spots which they had known years before, and they must have felt great emotion as they remembered the tour of 1798. Then their joint venture, the Lyrical Ballads, was just making its appearance, and life looked somewhat fresh and very inviting. Thirty years had passed away, and with them had come other things.
“ The old order changeth, giving place to new."
Both had written much in those thirty years, and their efforts had been met with little success. And both had changed physically, but one, how much more than his friend? Three years after this, uneventful to WORDSWORTH, the poet went to look again at his old haunts in Scotland. He was ageing now, be it remembered that he was sixty. years
of age, and his shoulders were beginning to stoop, and his sight to grow dim. During this Scotch visit he met Scott for the last time. The Minstrel was going abroad, his health had failed, and it was plain to all who saw him that his time was come. He talked to his guests a little as they sat in the library at Abbotsford, and managed with some effort to write a few lines in Miss Wordsworth's album, “though,” said he, “I should not have done this had it not been for your father.” Next morning, on the 23rd day of September, Scott set off for Naples, and WORDSWORTH never saw him again, for the next year he died. The bard of Rydal was deeply moved at his old and dear friend's illness, and wrote the following sonnet on the day of his departure :
“A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain,
Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light
up your hearts, ye Mourners ! for the might
In 1834, the Poet's works were published in four volumes. The tide was beginning to turn in his favour now. Jeffery even was relenting, and had cited favourable criticisms from other journals in the columns of the Edinburgh Review. But it mattered little to WORDSWORTH. Troubles were coming upon him very fast. Coleridge, his dear and most intimate friend, died in the July of that year ; Charles Lamb, five months later; and, in 1836, his sister, to whom he was so passionately attached, who had shared his secrets, his troubles, his inmost thought, his all, from childhood, became a confirmed invalid. The blow was a heavy one to the poet. Miss Wordsworth, however, lingered on, and survived her brother, dying in 1855.
But there was work for him to do yet. He was always busy, and his toils began to be rewarded. Blackwood's Magazine took up his cause in 1835, under the influence of Wilson, and the critics henceforth found nothing to blame in him on whom they had formerly showered all sorts of abuse. In 1842 he published the tragedy which had caused so great a commotion at Stowey some forty-four years before, and with it some very early and some very recent poems. Southey, poor hard-worked hack, at last found rest from his ceaseless and honourable labours, and left the Laureateship. And to whom should this be given but to WORDSWORTH-to the man who had had more right than any one to possess it for the preceding half century? The old man did not care much about it : he wished for rest and peace; but it was represented to him that the appointment was only nominal, and he accepted it. No one who ever wore the bays wore them so well as WILLIAM Words. WORTH, and his name stands best, proudest, highest, most honoured on the roll of our Poet Laureates. They were, indeed, when their present possessor acquired them,
“Greener from the brow Of him that utter'd nothing base."
The last seven years of WORDSWORTH's life were passed quietly and calmly at Rydal. He evinced little sympathy with the outside world; he scarcely understood the gigantic changes which were passing over his lakes and mountains, owing to steamboats and railway trains; but he knew that time does not halt, but goes onward, and he accepted the innovations quietly. There are those living yet who remember the good old man, and who can tell the curious tourist how he would wander about the meadows with his hands behind his back, looking at the flowers, and listening to the birds that sing in the trees above. And many an old man and woman at Rydal can tell of his kindness to the poor who lived around him, and how he smoothed their path in life during those years in