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of going anywhere before I have been with you. Whatever answer he gives me, I certainly will make a point of once more mingling my transports with yours. Alas! my dear sister, how soon must this happiness expire; yet there are moments worth ages.” Again he says: “Oh, my dear, dear sister, with what transport shall I again meet you ! with what rapture shall I again wear out the day in your sight! ... I see you in a moment running, or rather flying, to my arms."
In the early part of 1794, having still no fixed residence, we find Wordsworth staying at Halifax. Writing in February of that year to a friend, he says, “ My sister is under the same roof with me; indeed, it was to see her that I came into the country. I have been doing nothing, and still continue to do nothing. What is to become of me I know not.” About this time the brother and sister together made a tour in the Lake District. She writes : “After having enjoyed the company of my brother William at Halifax, we set forward by coach towards Whitehaven, and thence to Kendal. I walked, with my brother at my side, from Kendal to Grasmere, eighteen miles, and afterwards from Grasmere to Keswick, fifteen miles, through the most delightful country that was ever seen. We are now at a farmhouse about half a mile from Keswick. When I came I intended to stay only a few days; but the country is so delightful, and, above all, I have so full an enjoyment of my brother's company, that I have determined to stay a few weeks longer."
In his uncertainty of mind Wordsworth projected the publishing of a periodical, and afterwards contributing to the London Newspaper Press. That the latter scheme was not put into practice was owing to the fact that just at this time an incident occurred which had no small influence upon what may be considered the turning point in his life.
RACEDOWN AND ALFOXDEN.
To all lovers of Wordsworth it is well known how,
1 while he was yet undecided as to his future calling, he went to nurse a young friend named Raisley Calvert, who was afflicted with a malady which threatened to prove fatal, and by whose side he felt it his duty to remain. After a protracted illness his friend died, and bequeathed him a legacy of £900. It is probable that in this generous act, to which Wordsworth has more than once recorded his indebtedness, Mr. Calvert was actuated by mixed motives; that it was to be regarded not only as an expression of gratitude, but that he also perceived in his friend talents which others were slow to recognize, and desired thus to provide him with the means of devoting himself, at any rate for a time, to the pursuit of poetry. However this may be, the incident cannot but be regarded as a link in the chain of providential circumstances which combined to prepare the poet for his future high calling. It is not, however, intended in this sketch to refer to Wordsworth himself more than is necessary for the purpose of elucidating any events in the life and character of his sister, or of tracing her influence upon him. Having thus obtained the means of livelihood for a few years, one of their cherished hopes was realized. His childhood's playmate became his constant and lifelong companion, devoting herself to him and his interests and aims as only a noble woman could have done.
At what a critical time Miss Wordsworth thus entered more closely into the life of her brother we learn from his biography, as well as from his works. Dejected and despondent by reason of the scenes of which he had been an eyewitness in France, and the terrible days which followed, Wordsworth was at this time greatly in danger of becoming misanthropic, and of giving way to a melancholy which might have colored all his life, and deprived his works of the healthful and educating influence which they breathe. All disappointment and sorrow may become the precursor of blessing, the mother of a great hope. It is the bruised herb that exudes its fragrance; the broken heart that, when bound, pulsates most truly. It was a saying of Goethe that he never had an affliction which did not turn into a poem. But disappointment may also be the parent of gloom, and pave the way to a spirit of morose indifference. At such junctures a life may, by the skilful leading of a wise affection, be saved for beauty and happiness, for greater good and more exalted attainment and enjoyment, by reason of the very sorrow which, unhallowed, would have plunged it into bitterness.
However much Wordsworth's goodness of heart and ardent love of Nature helped to protect him, it was at this critical period that he was chiefly indebted to the soothing and cheering power of his sister for uplifting him from the gloom which had gathered around him, and for restoring and maintaining that equable frame of mind which from thenceforth unvaryingly characterized him. (Her clear insight and womanly instinct at this time saw deeper into the sources of real satisfaction; and her helpful and healing sympathy came to his aid. By her tact she led him from the distracting cares of political agitation to those more elevating and satisfying influences which an ardent and contemplative love of Nature and poetry cultivate, and which sweet and kindred human affections strengthen and develop. It remained for Miss Wordsworth, if not to awaken, to draw out and stimulate her brother's better nature, to deaden what was unworthy, and to encourage, by tender care and patient endeavor, that higher life towards which his mind and soul were turned. She became, and for many years continued to be, the loadstar of his existence, and affords one of the most pleasing instances of sisterly devotion and fidelity on record. In her brother was verified the poet's prophecy :
“True heart and shining star shall guide thee right."
Well was it for Wordsworth, and for us, that he had a sister, and that it was to this brother - one after her own heart — she at this juncture devoted herself. In this we may see another of the providential circumstances that beset the career of Wordsworth. As Spenser says :