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galing themselves with the cognac effluvium, and all miserably chagrined, I led the horse to the stable, where a fresh perplexity arose. I removed the harness without difficulty, but after many strenuous attempts I could not get off the collar. In despair, I called for assistance, when aid soon drew near. Mr. Wordsworth first brought his ingenuity into exercise, but after several unsuccessful efforts, he relinquished the achievement as altogether impracticable. Mr. Coleridge now tried his hand, but shewed no more grooming-skill than his predecessors, for after twisting the poor horse's neck almost to strangulation, and to the great danger of his eyes, he gave up the useless task, pronouncing that the horse's head must have grown — gout or dropsy !- since the collar was put on ! ”for”, said he, “it is a downright impossibility for such a huge os frontis to pass through so narrow a collar”. Just at this instant the servant girl came near, and understanding the cause of our consternation, “la, master”, said she, “ you do not go about the work in the right way. You should do like this", when turning the collar completely upside down, she slipped it off in a moment, to our great humiliation and wonderment; each satisfied afresh, that there were heights of knowledge in the world to which he had not attained.
"We were now summoned to dinner, and a dinner it was, such as every blind and starving man in the three kingdoms would have rejoiced to behold. At the top of the table stood a superb brown loaf; the centre dish presented a pile of true cos lettuces; and at the bottom appeared an empty plate, where the stout piece of cheese ought to have stood ! Cruel mendicant ! and though the brandy was clean gone, yet its place was well, if not better, supplied by a superabundance of fine sparkling Castalian champagne! A happy thought at this time started into one of our minds, that some sauce would render the lettuces a little more acceptable, when an individual in the company recollected a question once propounded by the most patient of men“ How can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt” ?- and asked for a little of that valuable culinary article : “Indeed, Sir”, said Betty, “I quite forgot to buy salt”. A general laugh followed the announcement, in which our host heartily joined,- this was nothing — we had plenty of other good things; and while crunching our succulents, and munching our crusts, we pitied the far worse condition of those, perchance as hungry as ourselves, who were forced to dine alone, off either. For our next meal, the mile-off village furnished all that could be desired ; and these trifling incidents present the sum and the result of half the little passing disasters of life'.
Miss Wordsworth has left some very pleasing and vivid descriptions of their friend Coleridge, and he, writing to Cottle, thus speaks of her. "Wordsworth and his exquisite sister are with me : she is a woman indeed, in mind — I mean in heart; for her person is such that if you expected to see a pretty woman, you would think her ordinary: if you expected to see an ordinary woman, you would think her pretty, but her manners are simple, ardent, impressive. In every motion her innocent soul outbeams so brightly, that who saw her would say, “ Guilt was a thing impossible with her”. Her information various; her eye watchful in minutest observation of Nature ; and her taste a perfect electrometer'. A doubt has been entertained by some admirers of Wordsworth, whether the influence of his sister was so unmixed a benefit to his genius as might at first sight appear, and the question has been raised whether the constant outlook which she kept for objects on which he might exercise his poetic tendencies did not, in fact, check a spirit of enlarged generalization, and lead him to expend his energies too much on occasional and detached poems. The question is not easy of solution, but the number is small, we suspect, of those who would willingly sacrifice some of his best minor poems and sonnets, though the thoughts and felicities of expression they contain should be embodied in an extension by some two or three thousand lines of the “Excursion', an intention which he is said to have entertained. One unquestionable service however, she rendered, by acting as amanuensis to her brother : his dislike to the use of the pen is well known. In 1803, he thus writes to Sir Geo. Beaumont, 'I do not know from what cause it is, but during the last three years I have never had a pen in my hand for five minutes, before my whole frame becomes one bundle of uneasiness; a perspiration starts out all over me, and my chest is oppressed in a manner which I cannot describe'.
This was written to excuse a very notable instance of this repugnance to the act of writing, namely, that he had allowed eight weeks to elapse before acknowledging the receipt of the title deeds of a plot of ground and cottages, beautifully situated at Applethwaite, near Keswick, which Sir Geo. Beaumont had presented to him, and which munificence was one only of a series of delicate attentions which Wordsworth experienced from this accomplished gentleman and his amiable lady.
The period to which we now refer was a critical one for our author; his fortunes were at a low ebb, and he became much perplexed as to his plans for the future. He still found himself unable to comply with the wishes of his friends who desired to see him in holy orders, feeling that his mind was not disciplined enough for that sacred office, and that the struggle between his conscience and his impulse would have made life a torture. He also shrank from the law, but singularly enough fancied that he had talents for command, and having studied military history and the strategy of war with great interest, he at one time thought of a military life, but the want of interest and connexions deterred him. Among other neglected schemes, we find those of writing for a London newspaper, the conducting of a monthly miscellany, and school keeping. He would probably have entered into an engagement with the daily press, a task for which he was singularly unfitted, but the negociation was delayed by the tender care he felt it his duty to bestow upon his friend, Raisley Calvert, whose health was rapidly failing. This friend dying shortly after, it was found, on opening his will, that he had bequeathed to the companion of his dying hours, the sum of nine hundred pounds. This opportune legacy, which has been happily described as 'saving our author from the dangerous mountain-pass of poverty', gave him leisure to deliberate as to his future course,- meanwhile every aspiration of his soul inclining him towards a literary and poetic career.
Towards the close of the year 1798, the ‘Lyrical Ballads' were published at Bristol, where Wordsworth and his sister resided for a short time, that he might be nearer the printer and publisher, Cottle. Mr. Wordsworth received thirty guineas for his share of the copyright. The first edition consisted of five hundred copies, of a small duodecimo of two hundred and ten
pages. The opening poem was “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere', by Coleridge, who, in his 'Biographia Literaria', gives the following interesting particulars of the origin of the volume. During the first years that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours, our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination. The thought suggested itself that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part, supernatural ; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real.- In the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life : the characters and incidents were to be such as will be found in every village and its vicinity where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them when they present themselves.
'In this idea originated the plan of the “ Lyrical Ballads ”, in which it was agreed that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic ; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a senıblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind's attention to the