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was fostered by the beauties of the natural scenery in the midst of which a large portion of her childhood was cast. The beauty of wood, and lake, and mountain early sank into their receptive minds, and helped to make them what they became, both to each other, and to the world. To the influence of Nature in the maturing of their intellect, the development of both mind and heart, it may be necessary to refer later.
During the last of his college vacations — that of the year 1790, so remarkable in French history — Wordsworth made a three months' tour on the Continent with his friend, Mr. Robert Jones. Writing to his sister, then budding into womanhood, from the Lake of Constance, a fine description of the scenery through which they were passing, he says: “I have thought of you perpetually; and never have my eyes rested upon a scene of great loveliness but I have almost instantly wished that you could for a moment be transported to the place where I stood to enjoy it. I have been more particularly induced to form those wishes, because the scenes of Switzerland have no resemblance to any I have found in England; consequently it may probably never be in your power to form an idea of them.” And he concludes by saying: “I must now bid you adieu, with assuring you that you are perpetually in my thoughts.”
Wordsworth took his degree, and left Cambridge in 1791. Being undecided as to his future occupation, he spent the succeeding twelve months in France. His life for some time was wandering and uncertain. He has himself stated that he was once told by an
intimate friend of his mother's that she had said the only one of her five children about whose future life she was anxious was William ; and he, she said, would be remarkable either for good or for evil.
Wordsworth's experience of the French Revolution was far from being happy. His expectations were ruthlessly disappointed. With his ardent spirit he could not be an unconcerned observer of the stirring events which then agitated that ill-fated country. He had bright hopes of great results from the Revolution
- of signal benefits to mankind. How bitterly he was disappointed we learn something from “ The Prelude.” The awful scenes of the time of blood and terror which followed were so deeply imaged on his mind, that for years afterwards they haunted his dreams, and he seemed
"To hear a voice that cried,
To the whole city, sleep no more."
Fortunately for him he was obliged to return home, led, as he afterwards acknowledged, “ by the gracious Providence of heaven.”
It was now quite time that Wordsworth should determine upon his future career; and this important subject seems to have occasioned some anxiety amongst his friends. His father, having been taken away in the prime of life, had not been able to make much provision for his children, especially as a considerable sum which had been due to him from the Earl of Lonsdale remained unpaid. It had been intended that, after leaving the University, Wordsworth should enter the Church. To this, however, he had conscientious objections. On other grounds the profession of the law was equally distasteful to him. His three brothers had chosen their pursuits, in which they all lived to distinguish themselves; but the one who was destined to be the greatest of them all, we find, at the age of twenty-three, still undetermined as to his future course of life. He had, indeed, at an early age, begun to write some of his earlier poems, to which, it is worthy of remark, he was incited and encouraged by his sister. Among other pieces, his “Evening Walk," addressed to his sister, had been composed when, at school and during his college vacations, he had been “far from that dearest friend.”
However much Wordsworth's relatives and friends generally may have been disappointed in his want of decision, Dorothy's confidence in him and her love to him never wavered. In a letter, written to a dear friend, dated February, 1792, she says, speaking of her brothers Christopher and William : “Christopher is steady and sincere in his attachments. William has both these virtues in an eminent degree, and a sort of violence of affection - if I may so term it - which demonstrates itself every moment of the day, when the objects of his affection are present with him, in a thousand almost imperceptible attentions to their wishes, in a sort of restless watchfulness which I know not how to describe, a tenderness that never sleeps, and, at the same time, such a delicacy of manner as I have observed in few men.” Again, writing in June, 1792, to the same friend, she says: “I have strolled
into a neighboring meadow, where I am enjoying the melody of birds and the busy sounds of a fine summer's evening. But, oh! how imperfect is my pleasure whilst I am alone! Why are you not seated with me? and my dear William, why is he not here also ? I could almost fancy that I see you both near me. I hear you point out a spot, where, if we could erect a little cottage and call it our own, we should be the happiest of human beings. I see my brother fired with the idea of leading his sister to such a retreat. Our parlor is in a moment furnished; our garden is adorned by magic; the roses and honeysuckles spring at our command; the wood behind the house lifts its head, and furnishes us with a winter's shelter and a summer's noonday shade. My dear friend, I trust that ere long you will be, without the aid of imagination, the companion of my walks, and my dear William may be of our party. ... He is now going upon a tour in the West of England with a gentleman who was formerly a schoolfellow — a man of fortune, who is to bear all the expenses of the journey, and only requests the favor of William's company. He is perfectly at liberty to quit this companion as soon as any thing more advantageous offers. But it is enough to say that I am likely to have the happiness of introducing you to my beloved brother. You must forgive me for talking so much of him. My affection hurries me on, and makes me forget that you cannot be so much interested in the subject as I am. You do not know him ; you do not know how amiable he is. Perhaps you may reply: ‘But I know how blinded you are.' Well, my dearest, I plead guilty at once; I must be blind; he cannot be so pleasing as my fondness makes him. I am willing to allow that half the virtues with which I fancy him endowed are the creation of my love ; but surely I may be excused! He was never afraid of comforting his sister; he never left her in anger; he always met her with joy; he preferred her society to every other pleasure — or, rather, when we were so happy as to be within each other's reach, he had no pleasure when we were compelled to be divided. Do not, then, expect too much from this brother, of whom I have delighted so to talk to you. In the first place, you must be with him more than once before he will be perfectly easy in conversation. In the second place, his person is not in his favor — at least, I should think not — but I soon ceased to discover this; nay, I almost thought that the opinion I had formed was erroneous. He is, however, certainly rather plain, though otherwise has an extremely thoughtful countenance; but when he speaks, it is often lighted up by a smile which I think very pleasing. But enough, he is my brother; why should I describe him? I shall be launching again into panegyric.” Again she says: “William writes to me regularly, and is a most affectionate brother.”
It is gratifying to know that this warm attachment of Miss Wordsworth to her brother was at all times returned. In the year 1793, when they were discussing the means of realizing their cherished idea of retiring to their little cottage, Wordsworth writes : “I will write to my uncle, and tell him I cannot think