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even wits, who were friendly to him and to those absurdly classified with him as 'The Lake School', could not resist an occasional sally at their expense. Thus we read, in a late number of 'Belgravia', that the Rev. Charles Townend, a fine old parson, rector of Kingstonby-sea, who was intimate with Wordsworth and the rest of them, wrote this not very brilliant impromptu :
• They dwelt at the Lakes, an appropriate quarter
Again, highly as Coleridge esteemed the genius of his friend, yet he is reported to have expressed himself as follows :- 'Wishing to avoid an undue regard to the high and genteel in society, Wordsworth had unreasonably attached himself to the low, so that he himself erred at last. He should have recollected that verse being the language of passion, and passion dictating energetic expressions, it became him to make his subject and style accord. One asks why tales so simple were not in prose. With malice prepense he fixes on objects of reflection which do not naturally excite it'. Sir Walter Scott and Southey, as we have seen, concur in very similar sentiments. Coleridge censured the disproportion in the machinery of the poem on ‘The Gipsies', saying, -'Had the whole world been standing idle, more powerful argument to expose the evil could not have been brought forward'.
A correspondent wrote to Miss Wordsworth at a comparatively early period of her brother's career :'I assure you that it gives me real pain when I think some future commentator may hereafter write:-“ This great poet survived to the fifth decennary of the 19th century, but he appears to have died in the year 1814, as far as life consisted in an active sympathy with the temporary welfare of his fellow creatures. He had written heroically and divinely against the tyranny of Napoleon, but was quite indifferent to all the successive tyrannies which disgraced the succeeding times”!. In answer to the common reproach that his sensibility was excited by objects which had no effect on others, we must remember that Wordsworth not only admitted the fact but was proud of it.
Barry Cornwall gives an account of his first meeting with the veteran poet at the chambers of a friend in the Temple, which, as it displays some personal characteristics, may fitly be introduced here. 'I have a vivid recollection of Wordsworth, who was a very grave man with strong features and a deep voice. I was a young versifier, and Wordsworth was just emerging out of a cloud of ignorant contumely into the sunrise of his fame. He was fond (perhaps too fond) of reciting his own poetry before friends and strangers. I was not attracted by his manner, which was almost too solemn, but I was deeply impressed by some of the weighty notes in his voice when he was delivering out his oracles. I forget whether it was 'Dion' or the beautiful poem of 'Laodamia' that he read, but I remembered the reading long afterwards, as one recollects the roll of spent thunder. I met Wordsworth occasionally afterwards, at Charles Lamb's, at Mr. Rogers's, and elsewhere, and he once did me the honour to call upon me. I remember that he had a very gentle aspect when he looked at my children. He took the hand of my dear daughter (who died lately), in his hand, and spoke some words to her, the recollection of which, perhaps, helped to incline her to poetry'.
Hazlitt says that Wordsworth’s face, notwithstanding his constitutional gravity, sometimes revealed indications of dry humour. And that once, at a morning visit, he heard him give an account of having breakfasted in company with Coleridge and allowed him to expatiate to the extent of his lungs. 'How could you permit him to go on and weary himself’? said Rogers, why you are to meet him at dinner this evening'. 'Yes', replied Wordsworth, 'I know that very well, but we like to take the sting out of him beforehand'. There is also much playful humour in the portrait which he has left of the popular divine of his day.
Nor did the pulpit's oratory fail
This pretty shepherd, pride of all the plains,
The poet on one occasion even is said to have given utterance to a pun, and that it arose out of the circumstance of Mr. Quillinan's residence for a short time at the round house which disfigures Belle Isle on Windermere. Wordsworth, on visiting him, expressed a desire to have such a retreat. 'Oh!' said Quillinan, ‘if I were to let Mr. Curwen know of your wish, I am sure he would lend it you for a few weeks'. 'In that case', replied the poet, we should call it a Borrowme-an Island'. The Borromean Islands may have been in the mind of him who first christened it Belle Isle after Isola Bella. For there is near to it Lady Holme, answering to the Isola Madre — and as for the third, Isola del Pescatore, any of the neighbouring islets may answer to that in the angling season.
In 1824, Wordsworth resigned the office of Stamp Distributor, (then worth rather rather more than £500 a-year), in favour of his son William, who was appointed to it. Within a few months of this arrangement, he received a friendly and highly complimentary letter from Sir Robert Peel, proposing, with his sanction, to have his name placed on the Civil List for an annual pension of £300 to endure for his life, and considerately adding that his acceptance of this mark of favour from the Crown on the ground of eminent literary merit, would impose no restraint upon his perfect independence, and involve no obligations of a personal nature. Rendered doubly acceptable by these gracious assurances, the matter of the pension was speedily arranged.
Owing to advancing years and other circumstances,
the poetic faculty was now on the wane, and we consequently find that Wordsworth did not respond with any fresh effort, to an appeal received from friends in America who were exerting themselves for the abolition of slavery, and, in aid of that benevolent purpose, were about to publish selections from various authors in behalf of humanity. He merely replied that he had nothing bearing directly upon slavery, but proposed sending the little poem entitled the 'Westmorland Girl'. The verses were, however, not made use of on this occasion. Shortly after, his indignation being excited by the report of some dastardly conduct towards shipwrecked persons on the French coast, he felt impelled to write his ‘Tribute to the memory of Grace Darling', thus placing in contrast the conduct of an English woman and her relatives under like circumstances. It happened that nearly coincident with the appearance of this composition, a subscription, headed by the Queen and Queen Dowager, was set on foot towards the erection of a monument to record the heroism of this dauntless woman in inducing her father, the keeper of Longstone Lighthouse, to accompany her in the life-boat and aid in the rescue of part of the crew and passengers of the ill-fated steamer, Forfarshire, which was wrecked September 4, 1838, on the coast of Northumberland. Amongst his later productions may also be classed the well-known sonnet protesting against the intrusion of the Kendal and Windermere Railway into such sacred retreats, which brought down both animadversion and ridicule on its author. It was argued that he could no more pretend to retirement' than the Queen ; having bartered it for fame.
There is, however, one invasion of his territory