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chronicled by Dr. C. Wordsworth in the second volume of his ' Memoir', which was hailed with smiles of welcome by the poet. It occurred on the 8th of April, 1844 — his 74th birthday, when Miss Fenwick, an intimate friend then living at Rydal, provided an entertainment for all neighbours of the humbler sort, young and old. Obedient to the summons, more than 300 children and 150 adults besieged the ‘ Mount'. The latter strengthening their nerves with tea within doors, while the children were regaled in the open air, each armed with his own mug, according to the fashion of the country on such occasions; many friends assisting the family and household to fill them, and to dispense the piles of currant cake, ginger-bread and oranges, and painted eggs, under whose weight the tables (though decorated with flowers and evergreens) of course, 'groaned'. Each detachment of juveniles, as soon as feasted, filed off to dance on the terrace in front of the house or to frolic among the bushes. Before disbanding, three hearty cheers were given for the poet, and the like for their entertainer, and the insurgents dispersed, thoroughly happy, and perhaps, if such a thing were possible with children at a feast, thoroughly tired. Lady Richardson thus concludes her reminiscences of this Rising of the North. “The gay scene at the Mount often comes before me as a pleasant dream. It is, perhaps, the only part of the island where such a reunion of all classes could have taken place without any connection of landlord and tenant, or any clerical relation, or school direction. Wordsworth, while looking at the gainbols on the lawn, expressed his conviction that if such meetings could oftener take place between people of different conditions, a more friendly feeling would be created than
now exists in this country between rich and poor'.
Guided by such sentiments in his conduct towards dependents, Wordsworth gained the confidence and attachment of those whom he employed. We may instance especially, his man-servant or factotum, James, who, entering his service when a boy, continued at Rydal Mount until after his master's death.
Mention has been already made of the annual visit paid by Mr. H. C. Robinson to Rydal. So much did he add to the cheeriness of the season, that Mr. Quillinan used to say, in allusion to his name, ‘No Crabb no Christmas'. Not willing to encroach inconveniently on the hospitality of the Wordsworths, he always insisted on sleeping in some neighbouring cottage, and the staircase in one of these being dark and crooked, he had the mishap to fall and sustain serious injury. During his illness he was carefully nursed by the faithful James, until he could be removed to the Mount for better accomodation. In an interesting letter to a friend, he writes :-'I must tell you something about James. He is 45 years of age, and is really a sort of model servant for a country situation like this, as he is very religious and moral as well as an excellent servant. He is a great favourite with the family, and will, I dare say, never leave them. He told me his history. He was brought up in a workhouse, and at 9 years of age was turned out of the house with two shillings in his pocket. When without a sixpence, he was picked up by a farmer, who took him into his service on condition that all his clothes should be burnt, and he was to pay for his new clothes out of his wages, £2 nos. per
Here he stayed as long as he was wanted. “I have been so lucky” said James, “that I was never out of place a day in my life, for I was always taken into service immediately. I never got into a scrape, or was drunk in my life, for I never taste any liquor. So that I have often said I consider myself a favourite of fortune”!!— This is equal to Goldsmith's cripple in the park, who remarks of his own state —“'Tis not every man that can be born with a golden spoon in his mouth”. But James has acquired his golden spoon. He has saved up £150 which he has invested in Railway shares. He can both read and write, plays on the accordion, sings, has a taste for drawing, paints Easter eggs with great taste, and is a very respectable tailor. “I never loved company”, said James, “and I cannot be idle, so I am always doing something”. He is not literate, for he seems hardly to know that he is in the service of a poet, though he must know something of song writing. When I took leave of him on this visit, I hung round his neck a silver watch. He was so surprised he was literally unable to thank me.' Yet this man who seemed struck dumb by a small shew of regard in return for faithful service rendered, could, when occasion called for it, speak admirably to the purpose, as we shall see hereafter.
T-he wreck of Southey's noble intellect, and Wordsworth's sorrowful visit to him, have already been referred to. After a long and afflicting illness came the deliverance which his friends could not but desire for him. He died on the 21st March, 1843, and on the 23rd Wordsworth repaired to Keswick to attend the remains of his friend to their last resting place. The Laureateship having thus become vacant, the appointment was conferred on Wordsworth, not, however, without some demur on his part, on the score of age, he being then in his 74th year. His scruples were removed by an assurance that the duties would be
WORDSWORTH AS LAUREATE.
merely nominal, and would in no way interfere with his repose and retirement. And in fact on no occasion does he appear to have been incited to use the laureate pen in honour of the Queen. In the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for 1850, however, we find it stated that ‘once, and once only, did he sing in discharge of his office, - on the occasion of her Majesty's visit to the University of Cambridge'.
a matter of regret with him that he did not take advantage of an opportunity which presented itself of paying a graceful tribute of respect to his royal mistress when, in the following year, he was detained on his homeward journey by the general excitement caused by the Queen's passing through Northampton on her way to Burleigh House. Had he first witnessed the wreaths of flowers which ornamented the humble cottages for mile upon mile of the route, instead of encountering the noise and tumult of a city, the inspiration might have come upon him.
Subsequently he repaired to London to pay his respects to her majesty on his appointment, and he describes the reception given him as most gracious. Mrs. Everett, the wife of the American Minister, who witnessed the scene, was moved to tears at the sight of the venerable silver-haired man kneeling to kiss the hand of the young sovereign.
In 1846, unknown to himself, the Laureate was put in nomination for the office of Rector of the University of Glasgow, a majority of 21 votes being recorded in his favour in opposition to the premier, Lord John Russell. Some peculiarity, however, in the forms of the election reversed the decision, so that the single vote of the sub-rector turned the scale in favour of Lord John Russell. Wordsworth was nevertheless
satisfied with the result, as affording a proof that literature, independent of office, was held in due estimation, for, with the exception of the poet Campbell, who was educated at the University, the choice had invariably fallen on men of rank and station. Considering the high honours which had been conferred on Wordsworth, he might well be indifferent in this instance, especially as the actual majority had declared so decidedly in his favour.
Very early in life he had a distaste for any thing like emulation, which he denounced as a 'horrid feeling ; leading to vanity and envy’; and almost as soon as he had passed that season of his youth in which he confesses himself to have been 'wayward and moody', he began his independent career without any desire to compete with others. Reverting to his own college days, he somewhere says :- 'I never engaged in the proper studies of the University, so that in these I had no temptation to envy any one, but I remember with pain that I had envious feelings when my fellow student in Italian got before me; I was his superior in many departments of mind but he was the better Italian scholar, and I envied him. The annoyance this gave me made me feel that emulation was dangerous for me, and made me very thankful that as a boy I never experienced it. Oh! one other time in my life I felt envy, it was when my brother was nearly certain of success in a foot-race with me and I tripped up his heels; this must have been envy'.
After his presentation at Court, and during his stay in London, he frequently met with Tennyson, whom he considered as decidedly the first of living poets, and expressed the hope that he would live to give to the world still better things. And though Wordsworth en