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linc of Wordsworth has been quoted and requoted ; every feel. in echoed back, and every drop of that “cup of still aud serious thought” drunk up by some “spirit profound ;" enɔugh to satis fy the giver.
Wordsworth is emphatically the friend and teacher of mature ars. Youth, in whose bosom "the stately passiolis buru," is Ile disposed to drink with him from the
Of lowly pleasure." He has not an idealizing tendency, if by this be meant the desire
f creating from materials supplied by our minds, and by the orld in which they abide for a season, a new and more beau.
sul world. It is the aspiration of a noble nature animated by genius, it is allied with the resolve for self-perfection; and Few, without some of its influcnce, can bring to blossom the bud o fany virtue. It is fruitful in illusions, but those illusions have beavenly truth interwoven with their temporary errors.
But the nind of Wordsworth, like that of the man of science, finds enough of beauty in the real present world. He delights in penetrating the designs of God, rather than in sketching designs of his own. Generally speaking, minds in which the faculty of observation is so prominent, have little enthusiasm, little dignity of sentiment. That is, indeed, an intellect of the first order, which can see the great in the little, and dignify the petty operations of Nature, by tracing through them her most sublime principles. Wordsworth scrutinizes man and nature with the exact and searching eye of a Cervantes, a Fielding, or a Richter, but without any love for that humorous wit which cannot obtain its ncedful food unaided by such scrutiny; while dissection merely for curiosity's sake is his horror. He has the delicacy of perception, the universality of feeling which distinguish Shakspeare and the three or four other poets of the first class, and might have taken rank with them had
he been equally gifted with versatility of talent. Many might reply, “ in wanting this last he wants the better half.” To this I cannot agree. Talent, or facility in making use of thought, is dependent, in a great measure, on education and circumstance ; while thought itself is imınortal as the soul from which it radiates. Wherever we perceive a profound thought, however imperfectly expressed, we offer a higher hoinage than we can to common. place thoughts, however beautiful, or if expressed with all that grace of art which it is often most easy for ordinary minds to ac. quire. There is a suggestive and stimulating power in original thought which cannot be gauged by the first sensation or temporary effect it produces. The circles grow wider and wider as the impulse is propagated through the deep waters of eternity. An exhibition of talent causes immediate delight; almost all of us can enjoy seeing a thing well done; not all of us can enjoy be. ing roused to do and dare for ourselves. Yet when the mind is roused to penetrate the secret meaning of each human effort, a higher pleasure and a greater benefit may be derived from the rude but masterly sketch, than from the elaborately finished nin. iature. In the former case our creative powers are taxed to supply what is 'wanting, while in the latter our tastes are refined by adıniring what another has created. Now, since I esteern Words. worth as superior in originality and philosophic unity of thought, to the other poets I have been discussing, I give him the highest place, though they may be superior to him either in melody, bril. liancy of fancy, dramatic power, or general versatility of talent. Yet I do not place hiin on a par with those who combine those minor excellencies with originality and philosophic unity of thought. He is not a Shakspeare, but he is the greatest poet of the day; and this is more remarkable, as he is, par excellence, 1 didactic poet.
I have paid him the most Nattering tribute in saying that there is not a line of his which has not been quoted and reguoted.
Men have found such a response to their lightest as well as their deepest fcelings, such beautiful morality with such lucid philoso. phy, that every thinking mind has, consciously or unconsciously, appropriated something from Wordsworth. Those who have never read his poems have imbibed some part of their spirit from the public or private discourse of his happy pupils; and it is, as yet, impossible to estimate duly the effect which the balm of his meditations has had in allaying the fever of the public heart, as exhibited in the writings of Byron and Shelley.
But, as I said before, he is not for youth, he is too tranquil. His early years were passed in listening to, his mature years in interpreting, the oracles of Nature; and though in pity and in love he sympathizes with the conflicts of life, it is not by min. gling his tears with the sufferer's, but by the consolations of pa. tient faith, tnat he would heal their griefs.
The sonnet on Tranquillity, to be found in the present little volume, exhibits him true to his old love and natural religion.
poetry from their earliest days. One young person in partioular I knew, very like his own description of
" Those whose hearts every hour run wild,
But never yet did go astray;" who had read nothing but Wordsworth, and had by him been plentifully fed. I do not mean that she never skimmed novels nor dipped into periodicals; but she never, properly speaking, read, i. e, comprehended and reflected on any other book. as all knowledge has been taught by Professor Jacotot from the Telemachus of Fenelon, so was she taught the secrets of the uni. 'erse from Wordsworth's poems. He pointed out to her how
“The primal dutira shine aloft like stars,
" Tranquillity, the solemn aim wert thou
In heathen schools of philosophic lore;
Heart-stricken by stern destiny of yore,
And what of hope Elysium could allow
Frogs shadowy fountains of the Infinite,
He read her lectures about the daisy, the robin red-breast, and the waterfall. He taught her to study Nature and feel God's presence; to enjoy and prize human sympathies without needing the stimulus of human passions ; 'to love beauty with a faith which enabled her to perceive it amid seeming ugliness, to hope goodness so as to create it. And she was a very pretty specimen of Wordsworthianism ; so sincere, so simple, so animated and so equable, so hopeful and so calm. She was confiding as an in. fant, and so may remain till her latest day, for she has no touch of idolatry; and her trustfulness is not in any chosen person or persons, but in the goodness of God, who will always protect those who are true to themselves and sincere towards others.
But the young, in general, are idolaters. They will have their private chapels of ease in the great temple of nature ; they will ornament, according to fancy, their favorite shrines; and ah! too frequently look with aversion or contempt upon all others. Till this ceases to be so, till they can feel the general beauty of de. sign, and live content to be immortal in the grand whole, they
The doctrine of tranquillity does not suit the impetuous blood of the young, yet some there are, who, with puiscs of temperate and even though warm and lively beat, are able to prize such
cannot really love Wordsworth ; nor can to them “the simplest flower" bring " thoughts that lie too deep for tears." Happy his pupils; they are gentle, they are calm, and they must always be progressing in our knowledge; for, to a mind which can sym. pathize with his, no hour, no scene can possibly be barren.
The contents of the lately published little volume* accord per. fectly, in essentials, with thoso of the preceding four. 'The son. nets are like those he has previously written-equally unfinished as sonnets, equally full of meaning as poems. If it be the case with all his poems, that scarcely one forms a perfect whole by it. self, but is valuable as a leaf out of his mind, it is peculiarly so with his sonnets. I presume he only makes use of this difficult mode of writing because it is a concise one for the expression of a sin. gle thought or a single mood. I know not that one of his sonnets is polished and wrought to a point, as this most artistical of all poems should be ; but neither do I know one which does not con. tain something we would not willingly lose. As the beauritul sonnet which I shall give presently, whose import is so wide and yet so easily understood, contains in the motto, what Messes Pe. trarca would have said in the two concluding lines.
(Miss not the occasion ; by the forclock tako
That subtle power, the never-halting time,
Mischance alınost as heavy as a crime) -
Forth to her dove, and took no further hoed;
Across the harp, with soul-engrossing speed;
Forced from that voice so lately tuned to a strain
She could not rescue, perished in her sight!" Even the Sonnet upon Sonnets, so perfect in the details, is not perfect as a whole.
However, I am not so fastidious as some persons about the dress of a thought. These sonnets are so replete with sweetness and spirit, that we can excuse their want of symmetry; and probably should not feel it, except from comparisor, with more highly-finished works of the same kind. One more let me ex. tract, which should be laid to heart :
“Desponding father! mark this altered bough
So beautiful of late, with sunshine warmed,
To hope-in parents sinful above all." “ Yarrow Revisited” is a beautiful reverie. Il ought to be read as such, for it has no determined aim. These are fine verses.
" And what for this frail world were all
That mortals do or suffer,
Menorial tribute offer?
Her features, could they win us,
That hourly speaks within us?
• Yarrow Rovisited, and other poema