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of poetry, disused among living men, -this custom had by repetition so deadened their effect, that they had ceased to be symbols recalling any thing whatsoever, but the precedents for their use in some other writer. Wordsworth attempted to remedy this by seeking for fresh reservoirs of expression in the real language of mankind, as springing from their genuine feelings and he found his best materials among those classes whom the habits of society have not compelled to dilute into weakness the mode of communicating their sensations; though in drawing his language in a great degree from the less instructed ranks, he of course omitted every thing that by its rarity would have been unintelligible, or which was not in conformity either with human nature in general, or with the necessary principles of human discourse. But it is a mistake to suppose that he never employs a dialect which might not have been collected from the lips of ploughmen; on the contrary, using simple phrases for simple things, and giving unpedantic expressions to uninstructed men; he also wields, and far more powerfully than any one, between Milton and himself, a language sufficient to the heights and depths of all philosophy, and more subtle and powerful in expressing the most delicate and complex shades of feeling, than any English writer whatsoever, Shakspeare alone excepted. At the same time the habitual use of an uninflated phraseology gives extraordinary vigour to all that homely illustration, and fresh, natural imagery, which are so conspicuous in Wordsworth's poems. But in general his sonnets, the larger number of his minor poems, the "White Doe of Rylstone," and the "Excursion," are by no means marked with the lowliness of diction which it is so common to dwell upon and to ridicule. We find still vigorous in these poems, and in none but them, and the works of Coleridge and of Shelley, the full harmony and profusion, the swell and force, of our English tongue, the green old age of
that majestic speech, in which Spenser wrote the "Fairie Queen," and Milton discoursed the " Areopagitica" to angels, to men, and to eternity.
Connected with this charge is that of Mr. Wordsworth's propensity to represent as his heroes, obscure, and therefore uninteresting, personages. But is there, or is there not, in the hearts of men, that true catholic faith in our nature, from which we learn that what interests and engages all our better, and therefore all our stronger feelings, is not the accidental peculiarity of circumstance, but the immoveable foundations of human being, and its incorporeal, indivisible essence? Place these where you will, so that they show themselves through the accidental accompaniments, and are not stifled by them, there is in them that which draws us to itself, and makes us feel the stirrings of kindred pulses. But how generally, among the instructed classes, is every free emotion checked or masked! Sympathy is called. affectation; earnestness, enthusiasm ; religion, fanaticism; and the whole of society beaten down and shrunk into flat barrenness. But among the ranks of men which are less subjected to fashion, there are still to be seen yearnings and ebullitions of natural feeling, and among them mankind may be studied with more accuracy, and examples of deeper and truer interest discovered, than in the portion to which we belong. Acting upon this belief, Wordsworth has done more than any one who has written in our language for two centuries, to realize and bring home to our minds the character of the larger portion of our species. At a time when the favourite personages of even our best poets were Celadons and Musidoras, when poetry confiued itself either to Gentlemen and Ladies, or to the shadowy indiscriminate mockeries of humanity, the swains of pastoral absurdity-it was doing a mighty service to society to represent the artisau and the peasant even with the external minuteness of
Crabbe. We all feel, nevertheless, that he has looked upon the poor, the uninstructed, and the despised, with an eye rather to the peculiarities of the individual and the class; and that he has often neglected those things which belong not to classes or to individuals, but to mankind-the original and still undiminished inheritance of glorious hopes and divine faculties. But it is Wordsworth almost alone who has shown us how precious are the associations connected with the foot-print of the clouted shoe. He who paints to us the differences of manners and habits between ourselves and the mass of men, who brings into the strongest light the contrast between stars, lawnsleeves, and epaulettes, on the one hand, and smock-frocks, and checked shirts on the other, does much towards making us conceive of weavers and ploughmen, as living and busy beings; instead of leaving us to think of stage figurants in pink-hats and lemon-coloured breeches, with gilded crooks and jingling tambourines, But how infinitely more is done to compel our best sympathies, when herdsmen and pedlars are presented to us not only breathing the breath of the same existence, and treading the same green earth as we, but, in their different degrees, thinking similar thoughts, agitated by like passions and misgivings, thrilled by kindred impulses of love, joying in the universal presence of one essential beauty, and feeling within them, and pouring abroad over the world for their own contemplation, the power and tenderness of that spirit who lives as strongly in the chalit of the mountaineer, and in the sod-built hut, as among primates, and kaisers, and the conclaves of emblazoned aristocracies.
This has been done by Wordsworth; and the immortal writings which have been the instruments and fruits of his labour, afford an admirable illustration of the mode in which it is really useful and wise to combat the evil cause of privileged monopolies and unchristian secta
rianism. It is the effect of almost all his works to make men look within for those things in which they agree, instead of looking without for those in which they differ, and to turn to that one source of universal harmony which consists, not in the adoption of the same dogmas or the establishment of the same forms, but in the powers and the tendencies that belong alike to all, that are in communion with the divine nature, and constitute the humanity that distinguishes us from meaner animals. It is this propensity to look at man as an object of affectionate interest indepen dently of any lowliness of station, except in so far as the external cir cumstances may have influenced the general developement of the charac ter, which would commonly be referred to as the greatest and worst peculiarity of Wordsworth. But it is in truth so intimately connected with the general tendencies of his mind and spirit of his philosophy, that it is impossible to refer to it without advocating or opposing all those principles which guide his mode of treating other matters. His general intention obviously is to view all existence as actuated by a single purport, and parts of one great har mony. But in the present state of society, whatever men may say, the points to which almost every body attaches a feeling of importance, are those which derive an interest from being mixed up with our own individual selfishness. We do not trouble ourselves about the poor, for thanks to the vagrant act and the standing army they are kept pretty much out of our way. We laugh at the law against cruelty to animals, because it would not be consistent in fox-hunters, and lovers of luxurious eating, to care for a little superfluous suffering among oxen and cart-horses. We make speeches in praise of steam engines and commercial competition, for without these sources of happiness and virtue, where should we get our comforts and our splendors? But we shut our ears to the gasping of decrepit children in the stifling
atmosphere of cotton-mills, and turn away with carelessness from the flood of debasement and misery which rolls along our streets, and overflows into our prisons; while we talk with veneration, the deeper as being indicated rather than expressed, of great capitalists and monied interests. Luther is a fanatic, and Milton a visionary, because the recollection of unselfish zeal is oppressive to the barren littleness, and troublesome to the fat indolence of the age and to sacrifice any worldly advantage from love either to God or our neighbour is extravagant folly; for it is not required either by the laws or by public opinion. Thus it is, that the vulgar uniformly condemn as absurd any attempt to act from higher motives, or with wider views than they do; and therefore are the hearts of most men as hard as the nether mill-stone to the perception of the vast and glorious unity of design and feeling, at once the object and the fruit of that divine presence in which the universe lives and moves and has its being. Wordsworth has done immensely more than any English writer of modern times to correct this narrowness and meagreness of feeling. He has seen, that even though the men aud women of instructed society, or the rude warriors of the middle ages, the heroes of ancient Greece, or the ruffians of modern Turkey, are in themselves, perhaps, as good materials for poetry as the peasant poor of Cumberland; yet we are prone enough to sympathise with the former classes, and when their thoughts and actions are covered by writers with a varnish of refinement, to deify misanthropy, and fall in love with poliution; but that our affections are cold and dead towards the lowly and the despised, the men who compose the mass of every nation, not arrayed in the renown of splendid crimes; not carried on through a long and uniform career by one absorbing passion; not beings of exaggerated impulses and gigantic efforts; but frail and erring, misguided by vulgar
hopes, and grasping eagerly at momentary objects. We are ready enough to allow that wisdom is treasured up in books; that the thoughts and deeds of the wise and powerful are fit subjects of contemplation; to pour forth our souls in delight at the aspect of armed and towered cities; and to give out the inmost heart of admiration, when we see the thronging armadas of an empire spring forward like the eagle of the deity, to sail before the tempest, and bear the thunder round the globe. We rejoice in the goodliness of our own imaginations, and boast ourselves in the might of our own hands. But it is Wordsworth, and such as Wordsworth, who withdraw us from these exultations, to feel the beauty of a pebble or a leaf; to listen to the still small voice which whispers along the twilight streamilet, and murmurs in the sea-side shell; and to lift among the stars a hymn of humble thanksgiving from the crags of lonely mountains. The exuberant sympathies of the poet gush out on every grain of sand; they find a germ of love in every wild-flower of the solitude; they go forth conquering and to conquer, to meet with matter and support even in the dim corners and far wildernesses of creation; but they have their most congenial ob-. jects wherever there is a human heart, which the poet may speak to in the tone of a kinsman, and find in it a home for his affections.
These peculiarities of Mr. Wordsworth's mind, as displayed in his writings, spring partly from the essential individuality of his nature, and partly from those tendencies of the time, which he has wisely thought himself called on to oppose. The succession of men of pure and lofty genius is, indeed, a kind of compensation-balance to society; counteracting alike the opposite extremes of its moral temperature. To the demands of this the appointed office of great men, we may in some degree refer one of the especial points of interest in Mr. Wordsworth's disposition and powers. He seems to have
scarcely any propensity to increase his knowledge or sharpen his apprehension of the every-day doings of worldly men. He loves to repose upon meditation, or only to send forth the mind for the purpose of contemplating the beauty of the material world, or of studying man in the individual; instead of mingling actively with the busy life of society. He pours into his personages the strong life and moving breath of genius, but they have little of the air of the mart or the farm-yard. They have, indeed, all that which is so completely wanting in the heroes of Lord Byron, the absolute truth of being, the nature which is so uniform under so many varieties; they are made up of the elements of universal, but want the accidents of social, humanity. Wordsworth appears to take no pleasure in watching the entangled threads of passion which bind together crowds with such manycoloured, yet scarcely distinguishable feelings. He retires from the conflict of mingled and heterogeneous interests. He loves to muse by winding rivers; but the tumultuous current of men's ordinary motives has little for his contemplation. He delights to gaze upon cities; but it is when "all that mighty heart is ly ing still." He cares not to trace through all the eagerness of men's selfish pursuits, a subtle vein of better feeling; or to look with keen and searching eye upon the follies and fluctuations of society. He has, therefore, no dramatic power whatsoever, and would probably fail completely in the simplest form of tragedy; while comedy is entirely out of the question. In all this he is directly the opposite of his greatest contemporary poet, Goethe, who seems to take almost equal pleasure in the study of every class of human character, and to delight in tracing the involutions of cunning or the rush of crime; at least, as much as in observing and sympathizing with pure and lofty excellence. Goethe, moreover, is peculiarly shrewd and philosophical in detecting the action and
re-action of social circumstances on individual character, the intertwining of good and evil motive, and the most delicate and apparently causeless shades of capricious selfishness. The difference of the two minds is, perhaps, wisely ordained. For the practical and working Englishman will be benefited and improved by those aspirations to invisible good, and inward perfection, towards which the Germans are already far more generally inclined. Whether the German is or is not too abstracted a being, may admit of dispute; but there can be little doubt that the Englishman is vastly too much engrossed with the casual business of the hour. His thinking is far too completely guided by the multiplication-table and the foot-rule.
This fondness for the actual and the outward, this tendency to wrap ourselves up in the petty interest of the moment, is opposed by the whole strain of Wordsworth's poetry. He diffuses his affections over every thing around him; and lets them be restricted by no arbitrary limits, and confined within no sectarian enclosures. He looks round upon the world and upon man with eyes of serene rejoicing; and traces all the workings of that spirit of good, of whose influence he is conscious in his own heart. But from his want of that mastery over forms which was never possessed so perfectly by any one as by Shakspeare, he cannot make so intelligible to all men, as he otherwise might, the depth and value of his own feelings. This has prevented his works from becoming more powerful instruments than they can for ages be, in diffusing the free philosophy and catholic religion so conspicuous throughout his writings. For those, however, who really wish to understand the mind, and sympathise with the affec tions, of this glorious poet, there is nothing in his works of rugged or ungrateful. The language is the most translucent of atmospheres for the thought. The illustrations are furnished by a sensibility of perception
which has made his memory a store-
Like those angels who are made a flame of fire, he burns with a calm and holy light, and the radiance which shows so strange amid the contrasted glare and blackness of the present, will blend with the dawning of a better time as with its native sub
JOHN ROSE, THE GAUGER.
Had the Highlanders been fortu-
In those lonely wilds, the gauger, or exciseman, was, some thirty years ago, a man of many woes. The sending him thither could not be with
any view to augmenting the revenue of the country; for, in many of the "divisions," and those too, in which there was no want of "dew upon the heather," the whole of the levies and seizures did not bring half the guager's salary. The real causes were, to enable the great distillers in the south to continue their monopoly, and to add to the patronage of that party, to which Scotland happened for the time being, to be farmed by the minister. The people of the mountains, who though a plain, were a very shrewd people, saw this well; and therefore they considered playing tricks upon the gauger, as being a virtue rather than a vice. When, too, the gauger was a man of sense and feeling, he could not help seeing the total uselessness of his labours for any public purpose, either political or moral; and thus the gauger became, in many places, the protector of illicit distillation, by keeping more prying persons out of the dis
All, however, were not of this forbearing character; and of these, one was John Rose, the gauger, who was, as the story goes, for a considerable time, the execration of all the whiskey-loving inhabitants of the remote and romantic valley of Strathglass; or rather of that still more remote and romantic dell which lies above that most picturesque of all cascades, the Ess nan Phidaich, or the "Raven's Linn," upon, I forget what brawling mountain stream.
I do not mean to say that the "dew distillers" of this singular place were much disturbed by John