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pronounced very plain — to exercise all the practical fascination of beauty, through the mere compensatory charms of sweetness all but angelic, of simplicity the most entire, womanly self-respect and purity of heart speaking through all her looks, acts, and movements. Words, I was going to have added; but her words were few. In reality, she talked so little, that Mr. Slave-Trade Clarkson used to allege against her, that she could only say, ' God bless you !' Certainly, her intellect was not of an active order; but, in a quiescent, reposing, meditative way, she appeared always to have a genial enjoyment from her own thoughts; and it would have been strange, indeed, if she, who enjoyed such eminent advantages of training, from the daily society of her husband and his sister, failed to acquire some power of judging for herself, and putting forth some functions of activity. But, undoubtedly, that was not her element: to feel and to enjoy in a luxurious repose of mind — there was her forte and her peculiar privilege ; and how much better this was adapted to her husband's taste, how much more adapted to uphold the comfort of his daily life, than a blue-stocking loquacity, or even a legitimate talent for discussion, may be inferred from his verses, beginning –
She was a Phantom of delight,
... I will add to this abstract of her moral portrait, these few concluding traits of her appearance in a physical sense. Her figure was tolerably good. In
complexion she was fair, and there was something peculiarly pleasing even in this accident of the skin, for it was accompanied by an animated expression of health, a blessing which, in fact, she possessed uninterruptedly. Her eyes, the reader may already know, were
• Like stars of Twilight fair,
Like Twilight, too, her dark brown hair,
Yet strange it is to tell that, in these eyes of vesper gentleness, there was a considerable obliquity of vision; and much beyond that slight obliquity which is often supposed to be an attractive foible in the countenance : this ought to have been displeasing or repulsive ; yet, in fact, it was not. Indeed all faults, had they been ten times more and greater, would have been neutralized by that supreme expression of her features, to the unity of which every lineament in the fixed parts, and every undulation in the moving parts of her countenance, concurred, viz., a sunny benignity - a radiant graciousness — such as in this world I never saw surpassed.”
It will be observed that De Quincey here speaks rather slightingly of Mrs. Wordsworth's intellect, almost in such a way as suggests a desire to “ damn with faint praise." Notwithstanding the unique charm of his style and power of language, of which his extensive learning and reading had made him such a master, his pen, even when portraying his most cherished friends, seems to be slightly touched with an envious venom. That Mrs. Wordsworth’s intellect was of no mean order there are in her life abundant traces. The dignified repose and simplicity of her manner, doubtless, formed a striking contrast to that of the impassioned and ardent Dorothy. But it could hardly be other than a lofty intellect that added two of the most exquisite and thoughtful lines to one of the poet's most charming of pieces. Who, having once read, does not remember the lines on the daffodils ? —
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
“Continuous as the stars that shine
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The lines in italics, suggested by Mrs. Wordsworth, here form the kernel of truth, the central gem around which the lesser beauties are clustered.
What a true “inmate of the heart” the poet's wife was, and continued to be, to him, we well know. Among other tributes to her soothing and sustaining aid might be mentioned the dedication to her of the “White Doe of Rylstone,” and many other pieces. Happy is the man who, after twenty years of married companionship, can thus write of his wife:
“Oh, DEARER far than light and life are dear,
“Misgivings, hard to vanquish or control,
“That sigh of thine, not meant for human ear,
Tells that these words thy humbleness offend;
“Peace settles where the intellect is meek,
And when many following years had passed over them, and they had together grown old, their love and devotion, which had increased with their years, retained that freshness and fervor of youth which enables aged hearts to rejoice in all things young and beautiful :
“Morn into noon did pass, noon into eve,
The marriage of the poet only introduced into the circle another kindred spirit, and did not to any extent deprive him of the society of his sister, who, as before, continued to reside with him, finding a genial companion in one who had long been a cherished friend. Shall we not then say that Wordsworth was in his companionships at this period happy in a degree to which most of his brother bards have been strangers ? With these two high-souled and appreciative women to encircle him with their love and minister to him, to stimulate to lofty thought and high endeavor, what wonder that his life and work attained a fulness and completion seldom reached ?