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PRINTED BY BRADBURY, EVANS, AND CO., WHITEFRIARS.
THE COVER FROM A DESIGN BY JOHN LEIGHTON, F.S.A.
It has been argued with some force that "a poet's verses are his life," and that he should hence be exempted from the intrusion of biography. The phrase quoted is emphatically true of William Wordsworth; and, upon this interpretation of it, would render a notice of his life superfluous. Yet the common feeling of mankind seems to have ruled otherwise; there has always been an interest in learning what manner of man the poet was, when and where he lived, and by what prominent circumstances his mind and heart were moulded. Indeed, it is probable that men have been guided in this by a judicious instinct; and that, if there is a certain identity between the writer and his writings, the fact may be rather found to invite a biography, though of a truer and deeper kind than that which generally bears the name, than to discourage it. If the poet's verses form his life, this must be because his life, in its essential or elementary features, has passed into his verses. For such examination as we