« PreviousContinue »
“No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living calendar:
The opening of the year.
“Love, now a universal birth,
From heart to heart is stealing,
- It is the hour of feeling.
“ •One moment now may give us more
Than years of toiling reason :
The spirit of the season.
". Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey;
Our temper from to-day.
“And from the blessed power that rolls
About, below, above,
They shall be tuned to love.
"Then come, my Sister ! come, I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress;
We'll give to idleness.'”
It was also during their residence at Alfoxden that Miss Wordsworth and her brother made their tour on the banks of the Wye, so signally memorialized in his famous lines on Tintern Abbey, of which he says, no poem of his was composed under circumstances more pleasant for him to remember. Its elevating reflections and rhythmic strains take captive the affections of the lover of Nature, and linger in his memory like the music of youth. In this place our interest in it arises from the allusions it contains to his beloved companion. He refers to the sweet sensations which, in hours of weariness in towns and cities, he has owed to the beauteous forms of Nature to which his mind has turned. He calls to memory the time when he had, indeed, loved Nature more passionately, and compares it with his present more mature and thoughtful affection, concluding with a fervid address to her who was by his side, and whose presence imparted an added charm— that of double vision — to every object and feeling; a sense of blessing shared :
“For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river: thou, my dearest Friend,
The language of my former heart, and read
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Nor wilt thou then forget
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
Although Coleridge was at this time married, his wife does not seem to have entered very warmly into his pursuits — not, indeed, with the same interest that Miss Wordsworth did. It cannot be out of place, since it is a matter of almost common knowledge, to remark that we have in Coleridge one more instance of the many men of genius who have not been very suitably mated. Mrs. Coleridge did not feel the sympathy in her husband's aims to enable her to take pleasure in their intellectual conversations or perpetual rambles. In both of these Miss Wordsworth delighted. De
Quincey, in his uncontrollable propensity to chatter, has taken occasion from this fact to suggest that Mrs. Coleridge resented the familiar friendship of the poetic trio. Although not mentioning Miss Wordsworth by name, he refers to a young lady who became a neighbor and a daily companion of Coleridge's walks, and who was “intellectually much superior to Mrs. Coleridge,” in a way that shows that none other than Miss Wordsworth could be alluded to. He adds: “Mrs. Coleridge, not having the same relish for long walks or rural scenery, and their residence being at this time in a very sequestered village, was condemned to a daily renewal of this trial. Accidents of another kind embittered it still further. Often it would happen that the walking party returned drenched with rain; in which case the young lady, with a laughing gayety, and evidently unconscious of any liberty that she was taking, or any wound that she was inflicting, would run up to Mrs. Coleridge's wardrobe, array herself, without leave asked, in Mrs. Coleridge's dresses, and make herself merry with her own unceremoniousness and Mrs. Coleridge's gravity. In all this she took no liberty that she would not most readily have granted in return; she confided too unthinkingly in what she regarded as the natural privileges of friendship, and as little thought that she had been receiving or exacting a favor as, under an exchange of their relative positions, she would have claimed to confer one." Although De Quincey states that the feelings of Mrs. Coleridge were moderated by the consideration of the kind-heartedness of the young lady, that she was always attended by her brother, and that mere intellectual sympathies in reference to literature and natural scenery associated them, it is to be regretted that the perfectly innocent friendship should have been the cause of this small gossip, a thing in which De Quincey rather delighted, and which sometimes mars the pleasurableness of his otherwise felicitous recollections. He was not at this time acquainted either with Coleridge or the Wordsworths, and the information could only have been derived from them during subsequent years of confidential friendship, and not intended for repetition. However it may have appeared to her then, Mrs. Coleridge had in the future much cause to be thankful for the disinterested friendship of Miss Wordsworth.
How conducive to the best interests of her brother at this time was the companionship of Miss Wordsworth, and how complete was his restoration to a healthy and vigorous life after the political distractions of his Continental experience, we gather from an allusion in the Biographia Literaria of Coleridge. Referring to his life at Nether Stowey, he says: “I was so fortunate as to acquire, shortly after my settlement there, an invaluable blessing in the society of one to whom I could look up with equal reverence, whether I regarded him as a poet, a philosopher, or a man. His conversation extended to almost all subjects, except physics and politics; with the latter he never troubled himself.”
The residence of Miss Wordsworth aud her poet brother at Alfoxden, was terminated by circumstances