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this is the character and privi ege of genius, and one of the marks which distinguish genius from talents." Goethe says: "Old age does not make childish, as men say; it only finds us still as true children."
One of these true world-children, whose home is everywhere in the heart of humanity, is Wordsworth. The mere verse-maker the artisan, working with imitative skill-is a kind of gipsey wanderer, homeless, friendless, and, to Apollo's household, worthless; while the true poet, the artist-is at length housed in the affections, warmed in the bosom of love, and at the feast of the gods is commanded by Jove himself to come up hither. Wordsworth, as a true poet, existed in unity. His life was not a widening arc, but a circle with continually lengthening radius. Many exist as a multitude of small arcs, with different radii, lacking unity, harmony, rotundity. There is no connection between their past and their future. They have no sympathy with what they have been. All the keys of their being are flats and sharps. The delicate fingers of Nature are answered by discordant tones. The poet alone, with his unity and harmony of being, understands the past, alone can prophesy of the future; for the continually full circumference of his life expands through the arcs of all fragmentary existences. Tenderly and beautifully, and out of his own heart, has Wordsworth expressed this fact:
"My heart leaps up when I behold
So was it when my life hegan;
So let it be when I grow old,
The child is father of the man,
Wordsworth was sincere from the necessity of his poetic constitution. To him may
be applied the pregnant words of Novalis : "Man exists in truth. If he exposes truth, he exposes himself. If he betrays truth, he betrays himself." He spoke as the unsophisticated child always speaks-from the heart. Serpent-critics might hiss, but his time was too precious to waste with them. He who is conversing with angels, feels not the bite of vipers. He has other than carnal weapons with which to bruise their heads. Born among the hills, the favorite of nature, what did Wordsworth care for Jeffrey's ridicule, or the neglect of contemporaries! More than half a century he wrote and lived poetry. Hills and mountains put on for him looks of benediction; Nature smiled upon him in flowers, and sung to him her love with warbling tongues. He could afford to be laughed at by the foolish, to be hooted at by literary owls. What had he to do with the world's approbation! He was a born poet, and could not listen to the cry of critic or multitude. Like a benign spirit, he brooded over the world of affection and sentiment, and in being true to these, he was true to himself. His voice has been borne on the bosom of the mountain wind, and already the ear of humanity is ravished with its kindly tone. An age of imitation never recognizes the inspired teacher who is true to man in being true to his own nature. Just so far as the spiait of the times is false will the true poet be neglected. The one who tacks to catch the popular breeze, may run with great rapidity-alas, not often heavenwards. When the multitude are repenting, woe to those who have received their greatest favors, and joy to those who have raised heroic and prophetic voices of warning and true guidance! Happy the age in which a strong, devout soul converses with the Spirit of the universe in the hearing of men! Words of bitterness and of jest may be thoughtlessly uttered, but many shall learn to worship; seeing the light of consecrated genius that shines in truth and sincerity, they shall learn to glorify Him whose most perfect image is the divinest poet.
It is well for us to ascertain, as clearly as may be, Wordsworth's relation to his times. His name is associated with great changes in poetry and philosophy. He seems to be one of the connecting links between two very different periods. He saw the mocking-birds that sung around the grave of Pope, pierced with the poisoned arrows of
Gifford, and witnessed many symptoms of returning faith in nature. He beheld the close of an unbelieving age in the earthquakeshock and volcano-blaze of the French Revolution, and over the ruins heard the tone of violence softening into regret, or trembling with remorse-first indications of awakening spiritual life. Wordsworth in England, surrounded by Coleridge, Southey, Lloyd, Shelley, Scott, Keats, and Byron, we may dare to say, occupies a position somewhat analogous to that of Goethe, surrounded by Schiller and others, in Germany. Upon these two points, then, we must dwell, but briefly as their importance will permit.
In regard to changes in poetry, we may say that they are only new manifestations of the same thing modified by time and place. Poetry is poetry, in the vale of Cashmere or in Wyoming. As a part of history, it comes from within humanity. Its elements are every where the same, but these elements are combined in different proportions in different places. The material is every where the same, but it is shaped by external nature, or by existing institutions. With its elements there is often mixed a foreign element, at the dictation of a perverted or half-formed taste. Sometimes one or more of its elements is rejected. Criticism therefore often clips the wings of the poet, and then demands a flight against the storm; it lays a weight upon the spirit, and then demands a soaring aloft with joy. Poetry has its roots in the soul. Those faculties that create it will emancipate it from the bondage of narrow criticism, and will reanimate it when starved on imitation.
For more than half a century after the death of Pope, there was a poetical drought in the land of England. One should study that period well, if he would awaken in himself any feeling of regard for mosquitokilling Gifford. Dryden and Pope were not without a manly vigor of mind, and an earnest purpose. With the best helps of their times they studied the poetry of Greece and Rome. They learned to admire the beauties of ancient poetry, but did not catch the spirit of antiquity. The delicately thinking, the sensitive, the profoundly intellectual Greek, best represented by Plato, they did not understand. They listened to a far-off ravishing melody, and attempted to imitate it with a harmonic jingle. The names of
gods and goddesses were used in vain, for neither of them comprehended the real meaning of Grecian mythology. We may safely say that Landor is the only English poet who has caught the genuine spirit of ancient Greece. Prior, Akenside, and many others have shown a familiarity with mythologic history, but that which is unexpressed, that indefinable something, that poetic air which the Grecian breathed, has rarely been felt. It cannot be trapped by a historical name. You might as well try to shut the sunlight in a room by closing the blinds. The external life of the Grecian was a kind of language which he unconsciously used in uttering his poetic thoughts. Grecian mythology, history, and philosophy must be understood and felt in order to get a clear insight into Grecian poetry. But let one study the subject until he carries all Greece in his bosom, yet what business has a Greek in modern England? Who will listen to one who speaks a dead language? English words may be used, but more than half the language may still be Grecian. Landor is a real ancient, a true genius, but there is little sympathy between him and the one who uses the language of the nineteenth century. If these things are true, then, in regard to one who has caught the spirit of classic antiquity, how much more are they true in regard to those who have merely remembered words without understanding their latent meaning. I would not say of Dryden and Pope, that they were only shadows of ancient poetry, and mirrors of French poetry. It is certain, however, that their poetry was an exotic on Saxon soil. The so-called correct school was certainly an artificial one. The bee-sting of Pope's satire, the diamond-flash of his wit, his power of pointed condensation, the elvish frolic of his fancy, indicated superior genius, although many elements that characterize the highest poetry were wanting. The period of Queen Anne was a lamentable one in English literature, when viewed in relation to the preceding age, and as containing in itself the causes of future decay. English poets were irreverently saying sharp things over the graves of Shakspeare and Spenser, Johnson and Fletcher, Raleigh and Bacon. Strange that they should look for other than Teutonic gods. Woe to the age that regarded as barbarian, those early ballads that bear the burden of sturdy young England's
hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, expressed | teacher of Lamb, Southey, Wilson, Lloyd, in strong melodious Saxon phrase, fresh and and Coleridge; he has been affectionately wholesome as the fields in early summer, regarded by Cornwall, Rogers, and Montuttered from the depths of stoutly-beating, gomery; Byron, with thievish skill, kept off earnest, valiant hearts! Degeneracy must attention by ridicule while he plundered; follow such an age. Pope was imitated by Scott loved him even to reverence; and a those who could not see beyond his artificial multitude of inferior poets have imbibed style. Pope's genius enabled him to write their inspiration from fountains which he vigorously in spite of an enervating manner. opened. Whatever defects there may be in Those that meditated on the smoothness of the poetry of our times, its freshness and his lines, the harmony of his couplets, the vigor contrast greatly with the staleness and balancing position of casural pauses, were enervation of the old rhymes. The ear, sick a spectacle to laughing gods and weeping of the jingle and tinkling of the last cenmen. Heroic England for once became tury, turns with delight to the more than sentimental, sipped delicate love potions earthly harmony of Coleridge, the Mozartfrom beautiful cups bearing unmentionable music of Tennyson, and the organ-melody ornamental figures, played the courtier at of Wordsworth. Poetry is once more true, St. Cupid's, waxed sickly and pale, and because it is born from the union of the soul daubed a face once glowing with the hue of with nature. health thicker and thicker with French rouge. If there were some morsels of genuine poetry during this period, they were oases in Sahara, or gentle memories of early affection that wring a tear of sincerity from the withered soul of a roué. The greatest amount of that stuff called poetry was but the shadow of a shadow.
Change at length came, for the spirit of humanity, with Rhadamanthine severity, seizes upon an age of imitation. The hero of St. Crispin must fulfil his mission by crimping apish poets. The good-natured public, lashed to indignation, looked on approvingly. Readers were tired of scalding literary soup, and demanded a new course. They could relish better a paté-de-foie-gras literary dish, fresh from France, or the bottled moonshine of transcendental Germany. The popular heart demanded some degree of sincerity, and approved it even in sentimentality. It was apparent, both from what was rejected and what received, that earnestness was demanded. The reading public began to listen right reverently to the heart-tones of beer-gauging and beer-drinking Burns: alas for the age that had no other work for such a Nature's son to do! Memory of that age in English literature, more illustrious than the age of Augustus, Leo, or Pericles, was revived. A Cleopatra-muse was paid up to parting; nature and humanity were studied anew. In the reaction against the artificial school, Wordsworth has perhaps done more than any other one poet. He has done it, not by antagonism, but by exploring a new tract of nature and life. He has been the
Wordsworth has been called the greatest of metaphysical poets, hence it is necessary to ascertain his connection with changes in philosophy. We must begin back of the spiritual philosophy, in order to determine any thing in regard to its real influence, Only of general laws and most important results can we speak here.
Modern philosophy, although the daughter of scholasticism, is nevertheless its antagonist. It was not the authority of reason to which the philosophy of the middle ages submitted. Reason is the ruling authority in all modern philosophy. The great Reformation, says Guizot, was
insurrection of the human mind against authority." Descartes has given his name to the philosophy that was established on the ruins of scholasticism. Cartescanism recognizes the psychological method, by which the mind attempts to render an account to itself of what passes within itself, by which we take cognizance through consciousness of the scenes mirrored from the soul. It is not necessary for our present purpose to show how Cartescanism was developed until it embraced the first thinkers of Europe. It enlisted the services of the meditative Malebranch, of the mathematical Leibnitz, of the solitary and rigorous Spinoza, and found its professor in the learned and pedantic Wolf, who clothed it in a severe and orderly dress. As the result of awakened attention in speculation, appeared the "Critical History of Philosophy," by Brucker.
Locke was an offspring of the Cortesian philosophy. He followed the method of
England and Germany were saved from the last results of such a philosophy by almost opposite causes. The English mind is too sober to act upon an untried theory. Common sense prevails, and preserves from those eccentricities of action to which the French with their ardent feelings are sub
Descartes, and sought to analyze conscious-linked lightnings of hate flash through the ness. His error was that he took part for murky atmosphere. The muttered thunthe whole. He found certain elements of ders of antagonism fall heavily on the ear, mind, built up his system on those, and re- and the earth trembles beneath the heavy jected the rest. He saw nothing beyond tread of approaching revolution. Mortals perception and reflection. In England his with quaking hearts attempt to hide themphilosophy was not carried to its last practi- selves in vain. Floods of fire are poured cal results. It was demonstrated by Con- from the bursting bosom of the clouds; dillac in France, that reflection, according to Phlegethon-rivers with awful gleaming roar the system of Locke, was nothing but a around; and over that sea of passion, instead modified sensation. In his " Traité des Sen- of darkness, there is now lurid light. Beausations," he regarded sensation as the only tiful gospel of Pleasure! Its leaven is poinstrument of consciousness. Reason, atten- tent; its unholy spirit illumines the world. tion, comparison, all come from sensation. The voices of its disciples are heard from The soul is nothing but intelligence; all the charnel-house of drunkenness and lust, intelligence is the result of sensation; hence crying with hollow, sepulchral accents, "Eat the soul itself is sensation. The metaphy- and drink, for to-morrow ye die." Beautisician must be followed by the moralist. ful gospel of Pleasure! Its baptism is that Helvetius came to prove that morality con- of blood, its worship is that of self, the most sists in shunning disagreeable sensations, saintly distributors of its holy charities were and seeking pleasing ones. Duty shall Danton and Robespierre, Mirabeau and St. henceforth be agreeable and easy. A new Just. Its Pentecostal days were those of code, in which pleasure is the foundation July. principle, and self-interest the highest law, was the production of St. Lambert. A system so neat and beautiful must be carried to its practical application in every institution. Physiology was regarded as only a combination of functions, as the soul was regarded as only a collection of sensations. What is government but a collection of in- ject. The English were sufficiently prone to dividuals, the law of whose being is pleasure? | sensualism, but they were not ready for the What supreme law could there be then but sake of an idea to try an experiment which the desire of the multitude? It is melan- would put at hazard their boasted civil and choly to think that a devout English soul political institutions. Immobility has been should be the author, indirect indeed, of the characteristic of England, while mobility such a spreading, all-embracing system of has been that of France. On the other sensualism. The malady spread until all hand Germany is not the soil for a rank France was infected. Every French heart growth of sensualism. The German mind leaps in the belief that pleasure evermore was somewhat infected, but only for a short shall be the true philosophy of life. Alas, time. The German spirit by no means infacilis descensus Averni! It is sorrowful clines to materialism. The erudite German to trace the effects of the new gospel of sen could find even in Aristotle, and most espesualism among an intelligent, joyous-hearted cially in Plato, something more than a senpeople. The acts of its apostles are counted sual philosophy. The gospel of Pleasure, by tons of written and printed sheets. Vol- however, was not without its influence in taire scoffings, Diderot love-letters, and Germany. There was a general feeling, not works which lips that would remain unsoiled only that happiness is our being's end and may not name, were the results of such a aim, but also that we are entitled to happicomprehensive system. From Paris there ness. Pleasure is a Proteus that is never flowed a stream of fiction, compared with caught by direct seeking. He that would which the Styx itself were drinkable. The save his own soul shall lose it. Happiness A-Theos, brooding over a sea of human pas- did not come for the bidding; a belief in sion, said, "Let there be darkness, and there the right to it was nevertheless entertained. was darkness." Anon the sea is disturbed When mortals receive not what they conby the breath of coming storm. Zig-zag,ceive to be their due, they indulge in self
pity, flatter themselves to tears, and give the highest seat in their hearts to the angel of sorrow. Such for a season was the condition of the popular German mind. This feeling found a tongue in the Werther of Goethe, which was followed by innumerable hoots, howls, and sentimental brays. There is still another phase of the same feeling. When the heart receives not the happiness to which it conceives itself entitled, instead of sorrow, anger is apt to follow. Hence the loud and bitter complaining of Byron. With his fierce, strong, passionate nature, he could scream the loudest of all Europe's crying children. With Mephistopheles-shriek he could pierce the ears of the Muses, and at intervals smile defiance at the gods. Heroic soul, and worthy of a better mission! Some strains of diviner music are continually bursting forth from a spirit that knows the good while pursuing the wrong.
preaching to his Yankee friends this sublime nonsense. This spiritualism, modified in various ways, has deeply tinged all the literature of Germany. The eclectics have imported an element of it into France. It colors the best poetry of England and America to-day. The leaders in this direction were Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Shelley; Tennyson, Keats, and others followed; and no one who has read Manfred will require to be told that Byron at least knew the way. Goethe, after telling the tale of sorrow that rested on the heart of Germany, led off with manly strength in the new course, and could then say:
Thy lot is appointed, go follow its hest;
the latter nevertheless must be regarded as
Against sensualism a reaction at length came. It first appeared in Scotland, and was but little more than a mere protesta-losophy more thoroughly than Wordsworth, tion of common sense against the extravagances of empiricism. Reid was by no means profound, but was healthy. He is regarded as one of the founders of rational psychology, but he was rather the denier of the old system than the constructer of the new. Germany was the place for the development. of the spiritual philosophy. Kant with great vigor described, classified, and enumerated the laws of reason. He regarded the laws by which we gain a knowledge of external things, of Deity, and of what passes within our own minds, as properties of the thinking subject. He considered thought the only real world. Upon all external things he would impose the subjective laws of thought. Fichte went farther than Kant, not only regarding all outward things as subjected to the laws of reason, but also as inductions of the thinking principle. Kant taught that a conception of God is an irresistible thought of the soul. Fichte regarded Deity as thought itself, conceived in an absolute sense-as the me. In fairness, however, it should be stated that Fichte distinguishes two mes: the one, that of which we are conscious; the other, the absolute, or Deity. When one speaks of God as an absolute me, he has arrived at the highest heaven of transcendentalism. Fichte has found an honest, sharp-sighted representative on this side of the ocean, who is now
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,