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were charmed with each other's society, and became friends for life. Wordsworth and his sister next moved to a residence near Coleridge's, at Alfoxen, near Nether Stowey. At this place many of his smaller poems were written, and also a tragedy, the ‘Borderers,' which he attempted to get acted at Covent Garden Theatre, but it was rejected. În 1797, appeared the Lyrical Ballads,' to which Coleridge contributed his “Ancient Mariner.' A generous provincial bookseller, Joseph Cottle of Bristol, gave thirty guineas for the copyright of this volume; he ventured on an impression of five hundred copies, but was soon glad to dispose of the largest proportion of the five hundred at a loss, to a London bookseller. The ballads were designed by their author as an experiment how far a simpler kind of poetry than that in use would afford permanent interest to readers. The humblest subjects, he contended, were fit for poetry, and the language should be that really used by men. The fine fabric of poetic diction which generations of the tuneful tribe had been laboriously rearing, he proposed to destroy altogether. The language of humble and rustic life, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, he considered to be a more permanent and far more philosophical language than that which is frequently substituted for it by poets. The attempt of Wordsworth was either totally neglected or assailed with ridicule. The transition from the refined and sentimental school of verse, with select and polished diction, to such themes as “ The Idiot Boy, and a style of composition disfigured by colloquial plainness, and by the mixture of ludicrous images and associations with passages of tenderness and pathos, was too violent to escape ridicule or insure general success. It was often impossible to tell whether the poet meant to be comic or tender, serious or ludicrous ; while the choice of his subjects and illustrations, instead of being regarded as genuine simplicity, had an appearance of silliness or affectation. The faults of his worse ballads were so glaring, that they overpowered, at least for a time, the simple natural beauties, the spirit of gentleness and humanity, with which they were accompanied. It was a first experiment, and it was made with out any regard for existing prejudices or feelings, or any wish to conciliate.
In 1798, Wordsworth, his sister, and Coleridge went to Germany, the latter parting from them at Hamburg, and going to Ratzeburg, where he resided four months ; while the Wordsworths proceeded to Goslar, and remained there about half a year. On their return to England, they settled at Grasmere, in Westmoreland, where they lived for eight years. In 1800 he reprinted his . Lyrical Ballads,' with the addition of many new pieces, the work now forming two volumes. In October 1802, the poet was married to Mary Hutchinson, a lady with whom he had been early intimate, and on whom he wrote, in the third year of his married life, the exquisite lines, ‘She was a Phantom of Delight.'
She came, no more a Phantom to adorn
In 1803, accompanied by Coleridge and his sister, Wordsworth made a tour in Scotland, which forms an epoch in his literary history, as it led to the production of some of his most popular minor poems. He had been for some years engaged on a poem in blank verse, 'The Prelude, or Growth of my own Mind,' which he brought to a close in 1805, but it was not published till after his death. In 1805, also, he wrote his 'Waggoner,' not published till 1819. Since Pope, no poet has been more careful of his fame than Wordsworth, and he was enabled to practise this abstinence in publication, because, like Pope, he was content with moderate means and limited desires. His circumstances, however, were at this time so favourable, that he purchased, for £1000, a small cottage and estate at the head of Úlleswater. Lord Lonsdale generously offered £800 to complete this purchase, but the poet accepted only of a fourth of the sum. În 1807 appeared two volumes of · Poems' from his pen. They were assailed with all the severity of criticism, but it was seen that, whatever might be the theory of the poet, he possessed a vein of pure and exalted description and meditation which it was impossible not to feel and admire. The influence of nature upon man was his favourite theme; and though sometimes unintelligible from his idealism, he was also, on other occasions, just and profound. His worship of nature was ennobling and impressive. In 1809 the poet struck out into a new path. He came forward as a political writer, with an Essay on the Convention of Cintra, an event to which he was strongly opposed. His prose was as unsuccessful as his poetry, so far as sale was concerned; but there are fine vigorous passages in this pamphlet, and Canning is said to have pronounced it the most eloquent production since the days of Burke. Wordsworth had now abandoned his republican dreams, and was henceforward conservative of all time-honoured institutions in church and state. His views were never servile—they were those of a recluse politician, honest but impracticable. In the Spring of 1813 occurred Wordsworth’s removal from Grasmere to Rydal Mount. one of the grand events of his life; and there he resided for the long period of thirt. seven years—a period of cheerful and dignified poetical retirement
* This respected lady died at Rydal Mount, January 17, 1859. For some years her powers of sight had entirely failed her, but she continued cheerful and bright,' and full of conversational power as in former days.
Long have I loved what I behold,
The dragon's wing, the magic ring,
And with a soul of power.
Prologue to . Peter Bell.'
The circle of his admirers was gradually extending, and he continued to supply it with fresh materials of a higher order. In 1814 appeared “ The Excursion,' a philosophical poem in blank verse, by far the noblest production of the author, and containing passages of sentiment, description, and pure eloquence, not excelled by any living poet, while its spirit of enlightened humanity and Christian benevolence-extending over all ranks of sentiment and animated being - imparts to the poem a peculiarly sacred and elevated character. The influence of Wordsworth on the poetry of his age has thus been as beneficial as extensive. He turned the public taste from pompous inanity to the study of man and nature; he banished the false and exaggerated style of character and emotion which even the genius of Byron stooped to imitate; and he enlisted the sensibilities and sympa. thies of his intellectual brethren in favour of the most expansive and kindly philanthropy. The pleasures and graces of his muse are all simple, pure, and lasting: In working out the plan of his Excursion,' the poet has not, however, escaped from the errors of his early poems. The incongruity or want of keeping in the most of Wordsworth's productions is observable in this work. The principal character is a poor Scotch pedlar, who traverses the mountains in company with the poet, and is made to discourse, with clerk-like fluency,
Of truth, of grandeur, beauty, love, and hope.
It is thus that the poet violates the conventional rules of poetry and the realities of life; for surely it is inconsistent wüh truth and probability that a profound moralist and dialectician should be found in such a situation. In his travels with the Wanderer,' the poet is introduced to a 'Solitary,' who lives secluded from the world, after a life of busy adventures and high hope, ending in disappointment and disgust. They all proceed to the house of the pastor, who-in the style of Crabbe's 'Parish Register'-recounts some of the deaths and mutations that had taken place in his sequestered valley; and with a description of a visit made by the three to a neighbouring lake, the poem concludes. "The Excursion' is an unfinished work, part of a larger poem, The Recluse,' . having for its principal object the sen sations and opinions of a poet living in retirement.' The narrative part of The Excursion' is a mere framework, rude and unskilful, for a series of pictures of mountain scenery and philosophical dissertations, tending to shew how the external world is adapted to the mind of man, and good educed out of evil and suffering.
Within the soul a faculty abides,
Book IV. In a still loftier style of moral observation on the changes of life, the 'gray-haired wanderer'exclaim's:
So fails, so languishes, grows dim and dies,
Book VII. The picturesque parts of The Excursion’are full of a quiet and tender beauty characteristic of the author. We subjoin two passages, the first descriptive of a peasant youth, the hero of his native vale.
A Noble Peasant.
The mountain ash
Glows at her feet, and all the gloomy rocks
Book VII. The peasant youth, with others in the vale, roused by the cry to arms, studies the rudiments of war, but dies suddenly:
To him, thus snatched away, his comrades paid
Of lamentation never heard before. A description of deafness in a peasant would seem to be a subject hardly susceptible of poetical ornament; yet by contrasting it with