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lingua communis, not only as the best, but as the only commendable style, should have proceeded from a poet, whose diction, next to that of Shakspeare. and Milton, appears to me of all others the most individualized and characteristic. And let it be remembered too, that I am now interpreting the controverted passages of Mr. W's critical preface by the purpose and object, which he may be supposed to have intended, rather than by the sense which the words themselves must convey, if they are taken without this allowance.
A person of any taste, who had but studied three or four of Shakspeare's principal plays, would without the name affixed scarcely fail to recognize as Shakspeare's, a quotation from any other play, though but of a few lines. A similar peculiarity, though in a less degree, attends Mr. Wordsworth's style, whenever he speaks in his own person ; or whenever, though under a feigned name, it is clear that he himself is still speaking, as in the different dramatis personæ of the “ Recluse.” Even in the other prems in which he purposes to be most dramatic, there are few in which it does not occasionally burst forth. The reader might often address the poet in his own words with reference to the persons introduced;
“It seems, as I retrace the ballad line by line
That but half of it is theirs, and the better balf is thine.”
Who, having been previously acquainted with any considerable portion of Mr. Wordsworth's publications, and having studied them with a full feeling of the author's genius, would not at once claim as Wordsworthian the little poem on the rainbow ?
« The child is father of the man, &c."
Or in the
“ No mate, no comrade Lucy kąew;
She dwelt on a wide moor;
Or in the “ Idle Shepherd-boys”?
“ Along the river's stony marge
The sand-lark chaunts a joyous song:
Need I mention the exquisite description of the Sea Lock in the “ Blind Highland Boy."
Who but a poet tells a tale in such language to the little ones by the fire-side as
“ Yet had he many a restless dream
Both when he heard the eagle's scream,
Near where their cottage stood.
Beside a lake their cottage stood,
And stirring in its bed.
For to this lake by night and day,
And rivers large and strong:
Then hurries back the road it came
As long as earth shall last.
And with the coming of the tide,
Bring tales of distant lands."
I might quote almost the whole of his “Ruth,” but take the following stanzas :
“ But as you have before been told,
Of Indians in the West.
The wind, the tempest roaring high,
And such impetuous blood.
Whatever in those climes he found
The workings of his heart.
Nor less to feed voluptuous thought
Into those magic bowers.
Yet in his worst pursuits, I ween,
Of noble sentiment."
But from Mr. Wordsworth's more elevated compositions, which already form three-fourths of his works; and will, I trust, constitute hereafter a still larger proportion ;—from these, whether in rhyme or blank-verse, it would be difficult and almost superfluous to select instances of a diction peculiarly his own, of a style which cannot be imitated without its being at once recognized, as originating in Mr. Wordsworth. It would not be easy to open on any one of his loftier strains, that does not contain examples of this; and more in proportion as the lines are more excellent, and most like the author. For those, who may happen to have been less familiar with his writings, I will give three specimens taken with little choice. The first from the lines on the “ Boy OF WINANDER-MERE,"—who
“Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
* Mr. Wordsworth's having judiciously adopted "concourse wild” in this passage for “ a wild scene” as it stood in the former edition, encourages me to hazard a remark,