« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
afterwards, a Republican of the most pronounced type, until the excesses of the French revolutionists disgusted him. Then, like Burke and Southey, he renounced their cause, which he had before enthusiastically supported, and became a Tory in politics, and a Ritualist in religion. He was strongly urged by his friends to enter the Church, but was deterred by conscientious motives.
In 1795 a young friend, Raisley Calvert, whose sick bed he had attended with loving solicitude, died of consumption, and left him £goo. Wordsworth writes : “Upon the interest of the £900, £400 being laid out in annuity, with £ 200 deducted from the principal, 6100 a legacy to my sister, and £100 more, which the Lyrical Ballads brought me, my sister and I contrived to live seven years — nearly eight." A further sum of nearly £1,800 came to him and his sister, as part of his father's estate, due by Lord Lonsdale, and with this humble provision he resolved to devote himself to poetry and retirement.
At Racedown Lodge, Dorsetshire, where the poet first settled, in June, 1797, he met with Coleridge, with whom he and his sister became so intimate, and towards whom they felt a friendship so enthusiastic, that they removed to Nether Stowey, in Somersetshire, in order to be near him. In 1798 Mr. Joseph Cottle, a bookseller, of Bristol, published The Lyrical Ballads and other Poems, the joint production of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Only five hundred copies were printed, and the sale was so slow that the greater part were sold, at a loss, to a London bookseller. The first piece in this collection was the Ancient Mariner, and the last Wordsworth's immortal lines On Visiting Tintern Abbey ! Cottle returned the copyright to Wordsworth as a present, considering it valueless.
After six months' residence on the Continent, Words.
worth and his sister settled down in a cottage at Gras. mere. In 1800 the Lyrical Ballads were reprinted in two volumes, the second containing, among other new poems, The Pet Lamb, Hartleap Well, The Fountain, and Ruth. Other editions were published in 1802 and 1805.
For many years the influence of the Reviewers, who, with Jeffery at their head, constantly attacked him with abuse, ridicule, and sarcasm, prevented the just appreciation and popularity which afterwards, when the reaction came, rewarded the poet's labours. But the change, though slow to come, was lasting. The pure and natural effusions of the poet “who uttered nothing base," and who sympathised with the virtues found in “the huts where poor men lie,” might be effaced for a while by the brilliant genius of Byron and the sparkling fancies of Moore, for “the world is still deceived with ornament," and "the fool multitude that choose by show” are captivated and astonished by grandeur and glitter, to the neglect of that which is quietly suggestive and original. But the world, though “deceived by or. nament" is not moved by it, and the time came when Wordsworth's genius was acknowledged to transcend that of all his contemporaries. “A greater poet,” says Southey, "there never has been and never will be. Two or three generations must pass before the public affect to admire such poets as Milton and Wordsworth. Of such men the world scarcely produces one in a millennium."
In the year 1802, Wordsworth was married to Miss Mary Hutchinson, of Penrith, a choice which added greatly and durably to his domestic happiness. The exquisite lines, “She was a phantom of delight,” were written in honour of his wife about three years after their marriage. They continued to reside at Grasmere, in the company of his sister, until 1813, when they removed to Rydal Mount, where, thirty-seven years after, his bright and happy life closed peacefully. Soon after his removal from Grasmere, Lord Lonsdale obtained for him the office of distributor of stamps in Westmoreland.
The Excursion appeared in 1814, and next The White Doe of Rylstone. Peter Bell and The Waggoner, both written many years before, did not appear until 1819, and were followed by the sonnets devoted to the River Duddon and Ecclesiastical History, and a Tour on the Continent. Yarrow Revisited was published in 1834.
In 1839 the University of Oxford conferred on him the degree of D.C.L. In 1842, Sir Robert Peel did himself the honour to obtain for Wordsworth a pension of £ 300 a year, when he resigned the office of stamp distributor in favour of his second son. On the death of Southey, in 1843, he was appointed Poet Laureate, and in 1847 the last production of his muse appeared in the form of an Ode on Prince Albert's Installation aș Chancellor of the University of Oxford. The death of the poet's beloved and only daughter, the Dora of his poems, in the same year, was a calamity so great that he appears to have felt it as his death-blow, and, in three years after, in 1850, on the 23rd of April— by a remarkable coincidence the anniversary of the birth and death of Shakspeare-he breathed his last, at the age of eighty, and was buried in the churchyard of Grasmere, between a yew tree and a thorn, the former of which he had himself planted.
To those who followed him to his grave, and to all who mourned his death, the lines he wrote on his friend Sir Walter Scott might well be applied
Lift up your hearts, ye mourners ! for the might
TO A SKYLARK