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It is the duty of the great poet to spiritualize humanity, and otherwise can no one rightfully possess the fame. Sadly has genius often betrayed its trust by perverting its holy endowment to darkening by profanity the shade that already hangs upon our nature-sensualizing instead of spiritualizing. We care not how great may be the power thus abused, the sacred title is forfeited for ever. In Shakspeare's rhapsody, there is a deeper truth than the meaning floating on the surface, when he tells us that "the poet's eye-doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven."

After detaining the reader from our main subject, we turn to the collection of Wordsworth's poems, to see whether they correspond to the ideal of poetry on which we have been dwelling. And first, we seek to know what is his own conception of the poet's calling. Like Milton, he has chanced to record it in prose, and there is enough to show that he "deems the art not lightly to be approached, and that the attainment of excellence in it, may laudably be made the principal object of intellectual pursuit by any man, who, with reasonable consideration of circumstances, has faith in his own impulses." The "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads," and the "Supplementary Essay," are replete with a sublime sense of poetry. He describes the poet as

- a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with a more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings on of the universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them."

. . . .

"The knowledge both of the poet and the man of science is pleasure; but the knowledge of the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our natural and unalienable inheritance; the other is a personal and individual acquisition, slow to come to us, and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with our fellow beings. The man of science seeks truth as a remote and unknown benefactor; he cherishes and loves it in his solitude: the poet, singing a song in which all human beings join with him, rejoices in the presence of truth as a visible friend and hourly companion. Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all science. Emphatically may it be said of the poet, as Shakspeare hath said of man, that he looks before and after.'

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He is the rock of defence for human nature; an upholder and preserver, carrying every where with him relationship and love. In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs; in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed: the poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth and over all time. The objects of the poet's thoughts are every where; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favorite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. .... Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge — it is immortal as the heart of man."

Wordsworth's exalted opinion of poetry is expressed frequently in verse. In the lines with the simple title, " September, 1819," he looks out upon an early autumnal scene, depicted with that miniature fidelity, which is one of his characteristics: the "leafy shade, unfaded, yet prepared to fade," becomes associated with the sere leaf of his own life, but from the still lively notes of the birds comes the reflection, that age has free choice of "undiscordant themes," that may be prized "not less than vernal ecstasies and passion's dreams,"

For deathless powers to verse belong,
And they, like demi-gods are strong
On whom the Muses smile;

But some their functions have disclaimed,
Best pleased with what is aptliest framed
To enervate and defile.

Not such the initiatory strains
Committed to the silent plains
In Britain's earliest dawn;

Trembled the groves, the stars grew pale,
While all-too-daringly the veil

Of nature was withdrawn!

Nor such the spirit-stirring note
When the live cords Alcæus smote
Inflamed by sense of wrong;
Wo! wo to tyrants! from the lyre
Broke threateningly, in sparkles dire
Of fierce vindictive song.

And not unhallowed was the page,
By winged Love inscribed, to assuage
The pangs of vain pursuit ;

Love listening while the Lesbian maid
With finest touch of passion swayed
Her own Eolian lute.

O ye, who patiently explore
The wreck of Herculanean lore,
What rapture! could ye seize
Some Theban fragment, or unroll
One precious, tender-hearted scroll
Of pure Simonides.

That were, indeed, a genuine birth
Of poesy; a bursting forth

Of genius from the dust;

What Horace gloried to behold,

What Maro loved, shall we enfold?

Can haughty Time be just?

If more evidence be desired, let it be remembered that Wordsworth has consecrated his whole life to poetry. It has been his sovereign intellectual pursuit, for what he has given to the world in prose has chiefly been incidental. On this side the ocean we are aloof from biographical gossip respecting living British authors, but from Wordsworth's own pages we can gather, in his statements and allusions to his personal history, all that is needed to illustrate the genius of his poems. Relying on such authentic information, it is proper to advert to some circumstances in his career. Many years ago he "retired to his native mountains, [in the north of England,] with the hope of being enabled to construct a literary work that might live." This was no morbid seclusion-nothing of that faint and false hearted flight from society of which genius has sometimes been guilty, but retirement was sought as the vantage ground of imaginative and meditative truth, and in his solitude, as we shall have occasion to show, he has nursed his heart to a quick sensibility to all healthy sympathies with his country and mankind. He has been fortunate in the cordial communion with Coleridge, and Southey, and "Lamb, the frolic and the gentle," and in the friendship of such as Sir Walter Scott and Rogers. In another respect has he been fortunate the intellectual female sympathy he has enjoyed in the bosom of his own family. This appears not only

A newspaper report some time since raised an expectation that some of Miss Wordsworth's writings were about to be published: the extracts from her Diaries and other effusions scattered among her brother's poems are every way calculated to keep this expectation alive as a hope.

in the poet's delicate allusions to the members of his household, but in a passage from Mr. Southey's life of Cowper, plainly alluding to Wordsworth: the facts are honorable to woman as well as to him who has recorded them, and should not be overlooked; after speaking of the valuable influence on Cowper's mind by his intimacy with Mrs. Unwin and Lady Austen, Southey adds "were I to say that a poet finds his best advisers among his female friends, it would be speaking from my own experience, and the greatest poet of the age would confirm it by his."- Wordsworth's plan of life has been kept inviolate his home is still among the mountains- and the aim of "all his endeavors in poetry has been that they should be fitted for filling permanently, a station, however humble, in the literature of his country." It is remarkable that in not a line can be detected any lowering of his aim to the secondary objects of authorship. No trace of mercenary motive—no paltering with artificial tastes no sacrifice of truth and nature for the gain of notoriety -no dallying with fashion, betray a faltering in the purpose to which he had devoted himself. Now, considering the state of public taste, this demanded extraordinary self-possession - all the fortitude of genius to preserve its equanimity. It is not forgotten that Wordsworth's successive publications were assaulted by a flippant, heartless, and, in its recklessness of truth, a licentious criticism. But the citadel on which it beat had its foundations deep in the rock of nature, and we have lived and what is more precious to think of the poet himself has lived to see the waters of that insolent tide gradually trickling down, and now all that is left the froth and the foam, the dirt heaved up from the bottom, and the drift-wood on the surface, are fast floating out of sight. The early attacks on Wordsworth's poetry are passing out of the thoughts of men, save when now and then the breath of resentful truth is kindled against them. They served their short-lived purpose of displaying the absolutism of the chief tribunal that issued them, and now need be exposed for no other end than as a terror to critical malefactors. The seat of the judge was then the seat of the scornful, and his mandates were submitted to, partly because they were addressed to bad and little passions, and partly because there may always be found in the world (in the language of Jeremy Taylor) "herds and flocks of people that follow any body that whistles to them or drives them to pasture." Those criticisms may be preserved as curiosities of literature, and Lord Jeffrey has doubtless begun to have some misgivings about "the case" which his fierce surgery pro

fessed to abandon as "hopeless and incurable." Nay, the time may come when his memory may be chiefly perpetuated in the sinister fame which "The Excursion" will confer on that memorable phrase of his: "This will never do." Those short-sighted judgments on Wordsworth's poetical character present nothing which demands examination, and we dismiss the subject with a pithy and pertinent anecdote from one of those delightful autobiographical prefaces with which Southey has enriched the recent edition of his poetical works. Soon after the publication of "Roderick,” the author received a letter from the Ettrick Shepherd, giving an account of his endeavors to obtain from Mr. Jeffrey a favorable notice for the poem in the Edinburgh Review: Hogg adds, "I suppose you have heard what a crushing review he has given Wordsworth." We know no finer specimen of what might be called the scornful sublime, than Southey's answer to this passage: "There can be no reason," he remarks in the preface, "for withholding what was said in my reply, of the crushing review which had been given to Wordsworth's great poem: He crush the Excursion!! Tell him he might as easily crush Skiddaw!'"

A few words must be given to the examination of an ambiguous phrase of not unfrequent occurrence "the school of Wordsworth." It is objectionable as suggesting the idea of mere mannerism. Now, mannerism is not a characteristic of true genius: it detracts from the ideal by including the personal. It is as if an oracle were to utter its voice with a dialect or a provincial accent. We have nothing to say respecting the term "Lake Poets," which has become obsolete, because as soon as people began to disenthrall their minds of a spurious criticism, they saw the absurdity of going to the geography for such a designation, and still more of putting into the same category, the authors of Christabel, of Roderick, and of the Excursion. Setting that folly aside, we do not believe that creative genius so works, that its results may with any propriety be described as a school-a term which implies the predominance of the artificial. True, there may be individual traits-personal characteristics-but these are subordinate. In the noblest productions of poesy, in sculpture or painting, or in the winged and more imperishable form of measured words, the impression is, that the work is from the mould of nature. The more masterly the creation, the more plainly will it show the superscription of eternal truth. The artist's personal mark may be discovered in no prouder place than the hem of a garment, or some retired corner of the work.

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