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each poem, however rounded, there streams off a long train of thought; like the tail of a comet, which, while testifying its power, mars its aspect of oneness. The Excursion,' avowedly a fragment, seems the splinter of a larger splinter ; like a piece of Pallas, itself a piece of some split planet. Of all his poems, perhaps, his sonnets, his · Laodamia, his "Intimations of Immortality, and his verses on the Eclipse in Italy,' are the most complete in execution, as certainly they are the most classical in design. Dramatic power he has none, nor does he regret the want. I hate, he was wont to say to Hazlitt, those interlocutions between Caius and Lucius. He sees, as from a tower, the end of all.' The waving lights and shadows, the varied loopholes of view, the shiftings and fluctuations of feeling, the growing, broadening interest of the drama, have no charm for him. His mind, from its gigantic size, contracts a gigantic stiffness. It 'moveth altogether, if it move at all. Hence, some of his smaller poems remind you of the dancing of an elephant, or of the hills leaping like lambs. Many of the little poems which he wrote upon a system are exceedingly tame and feeble. Yet often, even in his narrow bleak vales, we find one 'meek streamlet-only one 'beautifying the desolation; and feel how painful it is for him to become poor, and that, when he sinks, it is with compulsion and laborious flight.' But, having subtracted such faults, how much remains—of truth-of tenderness--of sober, eve-like grandeur—of purged beauties, white and clean as the lilies of Eden-of calm, deep reflection, contained in lines and sentences which have become proverbs-of mild enthusiasm-of minute knowledge of natureof strong, yet unostentatious, sympathy with man--and of devout and breathless communion with the Great Author of all! Apart altogether from their intellectual pretensions, Wordsworth's poems possess a moral clearness, beauty, transparency, and harmony, which connect them immediately with those of Milton; and beside the more popular poetry of the past age
such as Byron's, and Moore's they remind us of that unplanted garden, where the shadow of God united all trees of fruitfulness, and all flowers of beauty, into one ; where the
large river, which watered the whole, ran south, toward the sun of heaven—when, compared with the gardens of the Hesperides, where a dragon was the presiding deity, or with those of Vauxhall or White Conduit-house, where Comus and his rabble rout celebrate their undisguised orgies of miscalled and miserable pleasure.
st To write a great poem demands years—to write a great undying example, demands a life-time. Such a life, too, becomes a poem--higher far than pen can inscribe, or metre make musical.
Such a life it was granted to Wordsworth to live in severe harmony with his verse—as it lowly, and as it aspiring, to live too amid opposition, obloquy, and abuse-to live too amid the glare of that watchful observation, which has become to public men far more keen and far more capacious in its powers and opportunities, than in Milton's days. It was not, unquestionably, a perfect life, even as a man's, far less as a poet's. He did feel and resent, more than beseemed a great man, the pursuit and persecution of the hounds, whether · grey' and swift-footed, or whether curs of low degree, who dogged his steps. His voice from his woods sounded at times rather like the moan of wounded weakness, than the bellow of masculine wrath. He should, simply, in reply to his opponents, have written on at his poems, and let his prefaces alone. 'If they receive your first book ill,' wrote Thomas Carlyle to a new author, write the second better—80 much better as to shame them.'
to shame them.' When will authors learn that to answer an unjust attack, is, merely to give it a keener edge, and that all injustice carries the seed of oblivion and exposure in itself? To use the language of the masculine spirit just quoted, it is really a truth, one never knows whether praise be really good for one-or whether it be not, in very fact, the worst poison that could be administered. Blame, or even vituperation, I have always found a safer article. In the long run, a man has, and is, just what he is and has—the world's notion of him has not altered him at all, except, indeed, if it have poisoned him with self-conceit, and made a caput mortuum of him.'
The sensitiveness of authors were it not such a sore subjectmight admit of some curious reflections. One would sometimes fancy that Apollo, in an angry hour, had done to his sons, what fable records him to have done to Marsyas---flayed them alive. Nothing has brought more contempt upon authors than this implying, as it does, a lack of common courage and manhood. The true son of genius ought to rush before the public as the warrior into battle, resolved to hack and hew his way to eminence and power, not to whimper like a schoolboy at every scratch-to, acknowledge only home thrusts—large, life-letting-out blows determined either to conquer or to die--and, feeling that battles, should be lost in the same spirit in which they are won. If Wordsworth did not fully answer this ideal, others have sunk far more disgracefully and habitually below it.
In private, Wordsworth, we understand, was pure, mild, simple, and majestic-perhaps somewhat austere in his judgments of the erring, and, perhaps, somewhat narrow in his own economics. In accordance, we suppose, with that part of his poetic system, which magnified mole-heaps to mountains, pennies assumed the importance of pounds. It is ludicrous, yet characteristic, to think
of the great author of the Recluse,' squabbling with a porter about the price of a parcel, or bidding down an old book at a stall. He was one of the few poets who were ever guilty of the crime of worldly prudence—that ever could have fulfilled the old paradox, "A poet has built a house.' In his young days, according to Hazlitt, he said little in society--sat generally lost in thought-threw out a bold or an indifferent remark occasionally—and relapsed into reverie again. In latter years, he became more talkative and oracular. His health and habits were always regular, his temperament happy, and his heart sound and pure.
We have said that his life, as a poet, was far from perfect. Our meaning is, that he did not sufficiently, owing to temperament, or position, or habits, sympathize with the on-goings of society, the fulness of modern life, and the varied passions, unbeliefs, sins, and miseries of modern human nature. His soul dwelt apart. He came, like the Baptist, neither eating nor drinking,' and men said, "he hath a demon.' He saw at morning, from London bridge, all its mighty heart' lying still; but he did not at noon plunge artistically into the thick of its throbbing life; far less sound the depths of its wild midnight heavings of revel and wretchedness, of hopes and fears, of stifled fury and eloquent despair. Nor, although he sung the mighty stream of tendency of this wondrous age, did he ever launch his poctic craft upon it, nor seem to see the whitherwards of its swift and awful stress. He has, on the whole, stood aside from his time -not on a peak of the past-not on an anticipated Alp of the future, but on his own Cumberland highlands-hearing the tumult and remaining still, lifting up his life as a far-seen beacon-fire, studying the manners of the humble dwellers in the vales below- piping a simple song to thinking hearts,' and striving to waft to brother spirits, the fine infection of his own enthusiasm, faith, hope, and devotion. Perhaps, had he been less strict and consistent in creed and in chararacter, he might have attained greater breadth, blood-warmth, and wide-spread power, have presented on his page a fuller reflection of our present state, and drawn from his poetry a yet stronger moral, and become the Shakespere, instead of the Milton, of the age. For himself, he did undoubtedly choose the better part ;' nor do we mean to insinuate that any man ought to contaminate himself for the sake of his art, but that the poet of a period will necessarily come so near to its peculiar sins, sufferings, follies, and mistakes, as to understand them, and even to feel the force of their temptations, and though he should never yield to, yet must have a fellow-feeling' of its prevailing infirmities.
The death of this eminent man took few by surprise. Many VOL. XXVIII.
anxious eyes have for a while been turned towards Rydal Mount, where this hermit stream was nearly sinking into the ocean of the Infinite. And now, to use his own grand word, used at the death of Scott, a 'trouble' hangs upon Helvellyn's brow, and over the waters of Windermere. The last of the Lakers has departed. That glorious country has become a tomb for its more glorious children. No more is Southey's tall form seen at his library window, confronting Skiddaw—with a port as stately as its own. No more does Coleridge's dim eye look down into the dim tarn, heavy laden, too, under the advancing thunderstorm. And no more is Wordsworth’s pale and lofty front shaded into divine twilight, as he plunges at noon-day amidst the quiet woods. A stiller, sterner power than poetry has folded into its strict, yet tender and yearning embrace, those
Serene creators of immortal things.' Alas! for the pride and the glory even of the purest products of this strange world! Sin and science, pleasure and poetry, the lowest vices and the highest aspirations, are equally unable to rescue their votaries from the swift ruin which is in chase of
Golden lads and girls all must
Like chimney-sweepers come to dust.' But Wordsworth has left for himself an epitaph almost superfluously rich—in the memory of his private virtues—of the impulse he gave to our declining poetry—of the sympathies he discovered in all his strains with the poor, the neglected, and the despised-of the version he furnished of Nature, true and beautiful as if it were Nature describing herself-of his lofty and enacted ideal of his art and the artist-of the thoughts, too deep for tears,' he has given to meditative and lonely hearts—and, above all, of the support he has lent to the cause of the primal duties and eldest instincts of man-to his hope of immortality, and his fear of God. And now we bid him farewell, in his own words
Blessings be with him, and eternal praise,
The poet, who on earth has made us heirs
Of truth and pure delight, by heavenly lays.' Although, as already remarked, not the poet of the age—it has, in our view, been, on the whole, fortunate for poetry and society that for seven years William Wordsworth has been poet-laureate. We live in a transition state in respect to both. The march and the music are both changing—nor are they yet fully attuned to each other-and, meanwhile, it was desirable that a poet should preside, whose strains formed a fine musical confusion,' like that of old in the wood of Crete'-of the old and
the new-of the Conservative and the Democratic-of the golden age, supposed by many to have existed in the past, and of the millennium, expected by more in the future-a compromise of the two poetical styles besides—the one, which clung to the hoary tradition of the elders, and the other, which accepted innovation because it was new, and boldness because it was daring, and mysticism because it was dark-not truth, though new; beauty, though bold ; and insight, though shadowy and shy. Nay, we heartily wish, had it been for nothing else than this, that his reign had lasted for many years longer, till, perchance, the discordant elements in our creeds and literature had been somewhat harmonized. As it is, there must now be great difficulty in choosing his successor to the laureateship; nor is there, we think, a single name in our poetry whose elevation to the office would give universal, or even general, satisfaction.
Milman is a fine poet, but not a great one. Croly is, or ought to have been, a great poet; but is not sufficiently known, nor en rapport with the spirit of the time. Bowles is dead
-Moore dying. Lockhart and Macaulay have written clever ballads ; but no shapely, continuous, and masterly poem. John Wilson, alias Christopher North, has more poetry in his eye, brow, head, hair, figure, voice, talk, and the prose of his
Noctes,' than any man living; but his verse, on the whole, is mawkish—and his being a Scotchman will be a stumbling-block to many, though not to us; for, had Campbell been alive, we should have said at once, let him be laureate-if manly grace, classic power, and genuine popularity, form qualifications for the office. Tennyson, considering all he has done, has received his full meed already. Let him and Leigh Hunt repose under the shadow of their pensions. Our gifted friends, Bailey, of Festus,' and Yendys, of the “Roman,' are yet in blossomthough it is a glorious blossom. Henry Taylor is rather in the sere and yellow leaf—nor was his leaf ever, in our judgment, very fresh or ample: a masterly builder he is, certainly, but the materials he brings are not highly poetical. When Dickens is promoted to Scott's wizard throne, let Browning succeed Wordsworth on the forked Helvellyn! Landor is a vast monumental name; but, while he has overawed the higher intellects of the time, he has never touched the general heart, nor told the world much, except his great opinion of himself, the low opinion he has of almost everybody else, and the very learned reasons and sufficient grounds he has for supporting those twin opinions. Never was such power so wasted and thrown away. The proposition of a lady laureate is simply absurd, without being witty. Why not as soon have proposed the Infant Sappho? In short, if we ask again, 'Where is the poet worthy to wear the