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whether he would have incurred much personal risk by remaining longer. Having picked up a stone to be treasured as a relic from the site of the demolished Bastile, he confesses that this sentimental interest was affected and not genuine.
In the ‘Prelude' a passage occurs in which, after speaking of himself as an obscure and insignificant stranger in France, 'little graced with eloquence even in his native tongue', he further writes,
• Yet would I at this time with willing heart
Lockhart, seizing his opportunity as a critic, thus unfairly endeavours to hold the young and ardent republican up to ridicule.
"He revolved in his mind how the crisis might be averted, and taking the measure of himself and of the various factions, he came to the conclusion that he, William Wordsworth, was the proper person to rally the nation, and to conduct the Revolution to a happy issue'.
When we observe that French politics at this day possess for all thoughtful observers a most absorbing interest, and that the principles and objects of the great movement to which we have referred were not merely of local application but appealed to the sympathies and interests of every people then groaning under the bondage of inequality, oppression, and injustice, can we wonder that young and ardent men like Wordsworth and his associates yielded to the spell ? The eloquent words recently addressed to an Edinburgh
audience by M. Provost Paradol, express also the feelings which animated all honest men who had faith in the French Revolution : - ‘For myself I am rather inclined to consider the truly enlightened part of each people as a portion of a certain noble nation without a name, whose citizens, not united by blood, but united by spirit, are scattered all over the earth, with the duty of feeling always for each other, and of helping each other for good'. How far the poet sympathized with the ultra-reformers of the day, he confesses in these lines :
And in the like strain he adds, that when prayers or praises were offered up for our country's victories, he, like an uninvited guest, sate silent and his imagination
“Fed on the day of vengeance yet to come'. He, and thousands of aspiring minds at that period, believed that the triumph of France would inaugurate a new era of virtue, justice, and truth. How grievously they were disenchanted, history records, and possibly to the fierce revulsion excited by the turn of events, we may trace the beginning of that defection from the cause of Freedom, which at a later period, led such men as Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge, to rank themselves in opposition to measures favourable to civil and religious liberty. But how frequently does the violent republicanism of youth end in the violent toryism of age? 'Does not the pendulum, very violently set in motion, swing as far one way as it has swung
the other ? Does not the sun rise in the east and set in the west ?'
Let us hear however his own explanation of this desertion of his former opinions. 'I should think that I had lived to little purpose if my notions on the subject of government had undergone no modifications. My youth must in that case have been without enthusiam, and my manhood endued with small capability of profiting by reflection.
If I were addressing those who have dealt so liberally with the words renegade, apostate, &c., I should retort the charge upon them, and say, you have been deluded by places and persons while I have stuck to principles'.
Referring to this question, the Rev. F. W. Robertson, in the course of one of his lectures, says, 'It may appear to many persons a desperate thing to defend Wordsworth's consistency in the very teeth of facts : for it is unquestionable that in his early life Wordsworth was a republican, and sympathized with the French Revolution, and that in his later life he wrote lines of stern condemnation for its excesses.
It is unquestionable, moreover, that in early life, Wordsworth rebelled against anything like ecclesiastical discipline, that he could not even hear the morning and evening prayers at chapel, and yet that in later life he wrote a large number of 'Ecclesiastical Sonnets'. After quoting the ‘sonnet to Archbishop Laud' with the poet's note in defence of it, the lecturer continues, So that Wordsworth began as a republican and ended as a tory: he began in defiance of every thing ecclesiastical, and ended as a high churchman. This change has been viewed by persons of different parties with different sentiments. To some, as to the poet Shelley,
EARLY POLITICAL OPINIONS.
it appeared as an apostacy from the purity of his earlier principles ; to others, as if the sacredness of his earlier principles had been ripened with the mellowed strength of manly life. Among these last is his biographer, Dr. Wordsworth ; and it is curious to see what pains he has taken to point out some passage by which the evil of another might be modified — aiming at one great and chief object, to prove that Wordsworth died a Tory and a High Churchman. Be it so: I am prepared to say that the inner life of Wordsworth was consistent'.
Every candid enquirer will, we think, concur in this decision. And especially after a careful perusal of the Prelude, he will find as Robertson points out, that though in early life Wordsworth was a democrat; an admirer of the French Revolution ; and sympathized deeply and manfully with the cause of the poor, and loved them and desired their elevation, yet he sympathized with them as the stately nobles of nature, seeing in them, not what they were, but what they might be. And in all Wordsworth's pedlars, gipsies, and wanderers, we have not bad men, defiled by crime, but there is speaking through them all, his own high, pure mind. He simply exhibited his own humanity, which he felt to be in them also.
We shall not enter into any discussion as to Wordsworth's religious views. In answer to those who regret that he did not in his writings treat of distinguishing and peculiar doctrines, let it suffice to quote a passage from one of his private letters. “For my own part I have been averse to frequent mention of the mysteries of Christian faith, not from a want of a due sense of their momentous nature, but the contrary. I felt it far too deeply to venture on handling the subject as familiarly as many scruple not to do: I am far from blaming them, but let them not blame me, nor turn from my companionship on that account.
'Besides general reasons for diffidence in treating subjects of Holy Writ, I have some especial ones ; I might err in points of faith, but I should not deem my mistakes less to be deprecated because they were expressed in metre. Even Milton, in my humble judgement, has erred, and grievously; and what poet could hope to atone for his misapprehensions in the way that mighty mind has done '?
Mr. Hallam in his ‘History of Literature', remarks that 'a religious epic labours under some disadvantages : in proportion as it attracts those who hold the same tenets with the author, it is regarded by those who dissent from him, with indifference or aversion. It is said that the discovery of Milton's Arianism, in this rigid generation, has already impaired the sale of “ Paradise Lost”).
Wordsworth was undoubtedly a zealous defender of the Establishment, especially in his latter days; at every period of his life theoretically within her fold : at one time dedicating his inspiration to her history. Yet there is no poet so unquestionably religious as Wordsworth, whose devout Theism is so little overlaid with the incrustation of orthodoxy. An eminently good and devout man, he centred his soul wholly on the duties of practical religion, and looked on the Church of England chiefly with a poetical eye. And poetry finds in doctrine a very unpracticable material. The simple village churches of Westmorland--the patriarchal character so admirably sustained by many a pastor, so affectionately recognized by many a flockthe homely piety and cordial unity of the parish, undis