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In reconcilement with an utter waste
We thus find Miss Wordsworth keeping house with
her brother, who, having at length determined upon his
course of life, was, in 1795, living at Racedown Lodge in .
Dorsetshire. From this time forth, amid all the changes of fortune and condition, they were close and life-long
companions. - -- T
However great may have been her influence upon him previously, it now became a moulding and educating power. They were both in the strength of their youth —that time of radiant enjoyment—bound not only by. that most endearing of natural ties, but by tastes, aims.
and hopes most singularly mutual. The close associa. tion of daily intercourse and community of thought, together with a thorough sympathy, seemed now, as only an ardent enthusiasm and devoted love of kindred objects can do, to cement their lives. In this their first home, the only one which they had really known since childhood, and to which they had so longingly looked : forward, they were all in all to each other. Separation from the busy world, and from society, was no hardship to them, so long as they were uninterrupted in the society of each other, and in the pursuits they loved. Though in a part of the country, then so remote that they had only a post once a week, they went into raptures over their lot. The house which they temporarily occupied was, we are informed, pretty well stocked with books, and they were industrious in both indoor and outdoor occupations. They read, and thought, and talked together, rambling through the lovely combs and by the ever-changing sea. “My brother," she says, “handles the spade with great dexterity,” while she herself was engaged in reading Italian authors. A writer in Blackwood, a few years ago, referring to Miss Wordsworth at this time, says: “She had been separated from her brother since their childhood, and now at the first moment when their re-union was possible, seems to have rushed to him with all the impetuosity of her nature. Without taking his sister into consideration, no just estimate can be formed of Wordsworth. He was, as it were, henceforward, the spokesman to the world of two souls. It was not that she visibly or consciously aided and stimulated him, but
that she was him—a second pair of eyes to see, a second . ! . and more delicate intuition to discern, a second heart * to enter into all that came before their mutual observation. This union was so close, that in many instances it becomes difficult to discern which is the brother and which the sister. She was part not only of his life, but of his imagination. He saw by her, felt through her, at her touch the strings of the instrument began to thrill, the great melodies awoke. Her journals are Wordsworth in prose, just as his poems ale Dorothy in verse. The , / one soul kindled at the other. The brother and sister met with all the enthusiasm of youthful affection, strengthened and concentrated by long separation, and the delightful sense that hele at last was the possibility of making for themselve a home." After referring to their pecuniary means, the writer adds: “And with this, in their innocent frugality and courage, they faced the world like a new pair of babes in the wood. Their aspirations in one way were infinite, but in another modest as any cottager's. Daily bread sufficed them, and the pleasure to be derived from Nature, who is cheap, and gives herself lavishly without thought Or hope of reward.” Although at this remote place friends and visitors were few, it was here the Wordsworths first made the acquaintance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who, in conjunction with Southey, had already begun to make a name. This acquaintance ripened into a close and uninterrupted friendship, only to be ended by o It was here also that Wordsworth composed his tragedy The Borderers and “The Ruined Cottage,” which latter
poem afterwards formed the first part of the “Excursion.” The ardour with which the young poets entered into each other's plans, and the enthusiasm of the sister, who was in such perfect rapport with them, is gathered from her statement that the “first thing that was read when he (Coleridge) came was William's new poein, “The Ruined Cottage,’ with which he was much delighted; and after tea he repeated to us two acts and a half of his tragedy Osorio. The next morning William read his tragedy The Borderers.” The following description of Coleridge, from the pen. of Miss Wordsworth, cannot fail to be of interest. Writing to a friend, she says: “You had a great loss in not seeing Coleridge. He is a wonderful man. His conversation teems with soul, mind, and spirit. Then he is so benevolent, so good-tempered and cheerful, and, like William, excites himself so much about every little trifle. At first I thought him very plain—that is, for about three minutes. He is pale, thin, has a wide mouth, thick lips, and not very good teeth; longish, loose-growing, half-curling, rough, black hair. But if you hear him speak for five minutes, you think no more about them. His eye is large and full, and not very dark, but grey—such an eye as would receive from a
heavy soul the dullest expression; but it speaks every
emotion of his animated mind. It has more of the
.“poet's eye in fine frenzy rolling’ than I ever witnessed.
He has fine dark eyebrows and an overhanging fore
head.” .. By the side of this striking picture of Coleridge
may be fittingly placed his first impressions of Miss
wordsworth. Writing to Mr. Cottie frei=>ether Stowey, in somersetshire, where he was then-residing, he says: “Wordsworth and his exquisite sister are with me. She is a woman, indeed!—in mind, I mean, and heart; for her person is such that, if you expected to ste 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 most innocent soul outbeams so brightly that who saw her would say:
“Guilt was a thing impossible in her.'
Her information various; her eye watchful in minutest observation of Nature; and her taste a perfect electrometer. It bends, protrudes, and draws in at subtlest beauties and most recondite faults.” 2. From this description of Coleridge it might appear that Miss Wordsworth was one of those happy possessors of a face and features which though in repose might appear homely, became illumined by the sweet smiles of love-slashed into beauty by the gleam of the soul-lit cyc, --The pleasure which the friendship of Coleridge assorded them induced Wordsworth and his sister to change their residence in order to be near him. Accordingly, in the summer of 1797, they settled at Alfoxden, near Nether Stowey, Alfoxden is described by Hazlitt as a "romantic ord family mansion of the St. Aubins," and he gives the additional information that it was then in the possession of a friend of the poet, who gave him the free use of it. De Quincey states that he