Imágenes de páginas

“ Along the river's stony marge

The sand-lark chants a joyous song;
The thrush is busy in the wood,
And carols loud and strong.
A thousand lambs are on the rocks,
All newly born! both earth and sky
Keep jubilee, and more than all,
Those boys with their green coronal;
They never hear the cry,
That plaintive cry! which up the hill

Comes from the depth of Dungeon-Ghyll.”
Need I mention the exquisite description of the Sea-Loch in
The Blind HIGHLAND Boy? Who but a poet tells a tale in such
language to the little ones by the fireside as-

“ Yet had he many a restless dream;

Both when he heard the eagle's scream,
And when he heard the torrents roar,
And heard the water beat the shore

Near where their cottage stood.

Beside a lake their cottage stood,
Not small like ours, a peaceful flood;
But one of mighty size, and strange ;
That, rough or smooth, is full of change,

And stirring in its bed.
For to this lake, by night and day,
The great Sea-water finds its way,
Through long, long windings of the hills,
And drinks up all the pretty rills

And rivers large and strong:
Then hurries back the road it came-
Returns on errand still the same;
This did it when the earth was new;
And this for evermore will do,

As long as earth shall last.

And, with the coming of the tide,
Come boats and ships that sweetly ride,
Between the woods and lofty rocks;
And to the shepherds with their flocks

Bring tales of distant lands."5

s (Ib., iii., pp. 145-6. Mr. Wordsworth has altered “gweetly” in the I might quote almost the whole of his Ruth, but take the following stanzas :

“ But, as you have before been told,

This Stripling, sportive, gay, and bold,
And, with his dancing crest,
So beautiful, through savage lands
Had roamed about with vagrant bands

Of Indians in the West.

The wind, the tempest roaring high,
The tumult of a tropic sky,
Might well be dangerous food
For him, a Youth to whom was given
So much of earth—so much of heaven,

And such impetuous blood.

Whatever in those climes he found
Irregular in sight or sound
Did to his mind impart
A kindred impulse, seemed allied
To his own powers, and justified

The workings of his heart.

Nor less, to feed voluptuous thought,
The beauteous forms of nature wrought,
Fair trees and lovely Auwers;
The breezes their own languor lent;
The stars had feelings, which they sent

Into those magic bowers.

Yet in his worst pursuits, I ween,
That sometimes there did intervene
Pure hopes of high intent:
For passions linked to forms so fair
and stately, needs must have their share,

Of noble sentiment."

But from Mr. Wordsworth’s more elevated compositions,

last stanza to “safely.” In the first I venture to prefer “the eagle's scream,” which my father wrote, to “ the eagles," as it is written by Mr Wordsworth—because eagles are neither gregarious nor numerous, and the first expression seems to mark the nature of the bird, and to bring it more interestingly before the mind, than the last. S. C.]

[P. W., ii., p. 106. S. €.]

which already form three-fourths of his works; and will, I trust, constitute hereafter a still larger proportion ;—from these, whether in rhyme or blank verse, it would be difficult and almost superfluous to select instances of a diction peculiarly his own, of a style which cannot be imitated without its being at once recognised, as originating in Mr. Wordsworth. It would not be easy to open on any one of his loftier strains, that does not contain examples of this; and more in proportion as the lines are more excellent, and most like the author. For those, who may happen to have been less familiar with his writings, I will give three specimens taken with little choice. The first from the lines on the Boy of WINANDER-MERE, who

“ Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,

That they might answer him. And they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
With long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of mirth and jocund din !. And when it chanced,
That pauses of deep silence mocked his skill,
Then sometimes in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain-torrents ; or the visible scene 8

7 [There was a Boy. P. W., ii., p. 79. S. C.]

& Mr. Wordsworth’s having judiciously adopted concourse wild" in this passage for “ a wild scene" as it stood in the former edition, encourages me to hazard a remark, which I certainly should not have made in the works of a poet less austerely accurate in the use of words, than he is, to his own great honor. It respects the propriety of the word “scene,even in the sentence in which it is retained Dryden; and he only in his more careless verses, was the first, as far as my researches have discovered, who for the convenience of rhyme used this word in the vague sense, which has been since too current even in our best writers, and which (unfortunately, I think) is given as its first explanation in Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, and therefore would be taken by an incautious reader as its proper sense. In Shakspeare and Milton the word is never used without some clear reference, proper or metaphorical, to the theatre. Thus Milton;

“ Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm

A sylvan scene; and, as the ranks ascend
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stateliest view."

* [Par. Lost, Iv., 1. 139. 8. C.)

Would enter unavares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the boson of the steady lake."9

I object to any extension of its meaning, because the word is alrealy more equivocal than might be wished; inasmuch as in the limited use which I recommend, it may still signify two different things; namely, the scenery, and the characters and actions presented on the stage during the presence of particular scenes. It can therefore be preserved from obscurity only by keeping the original signification full in the mind. Thus Milton again,

-“ Prepare thee for another scene.”

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9 [Part of this poetical description has been altered or expanded thus ;

And they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call,-with quivering peals,
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of jocund din! And, when there came a pause
Of silence, such as baffled his best skill:
Then, sometimes, in that silence

I fear it is presumptuous even to express a feeling which hardly dares to be an opinion, about these fine verses (one of the most exquisite specimens of blank verse that I know, and fit to be placed beside the most exquisite specimens from Milton, though different from them in the kind of excel. lence) and yet I cannot forbear to express the feeling, that the latter part of this quotation stood better at first ; or that any improvement,-if any. there be,-in the first of the two altered lines, is dearly purchased by the comparative languor which has thus been occasioned in the second :

Of silence such as baffled his best skill seems to me almost prose in comparison with

That pauses of deep silence mocked his skill,which presents the image (if so it may be called) at once without dividing it, while the spondaic movement of the verse corresponds to the sense. Neither can I think that “ mirth” is here a superfluity even in addition to “ jocund din;" the logic of poetic passion may admit or even require what the mere logic of thought does not exact; and what is the objection to “ chanc'd,” which Milton uses just in the same way in Paradise Lost? The utter silence of the owls after such free and full communications, is

(Par. Lost, xi., 1. 637


Book ix., 1. 575.

The second shall be the noble imitation of Drayton (if it was not rather a coincidence) in the lines To JOANNA."


-“ When I had gazed perhaps two minutes' space,
Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld
That ravishment of mine, and laughed aloud.
The Rock, like something starting from a sleep,
Took up the Lady's voice, and laughed again!
That ancient Woman seated on Helm-crag
Was ready with her cavern; Hammar-scar,
And the tall Steep of Silver-How sent forth
A noise of laughter; southern Loughrige heard,
And Fairfield answered with a mountain tone.
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky
Carried the lady's voice !-old Skiddaw blew
His speaking trumpet !-back out of the clouds
From Glaramara southward came the voice :
And Kirkstone tossed it from his misty head!"


The third, which is in rhyme, I take from the Song AS Feast of BROUGHAM CASTLE, upon the restoration of Lord Clifford, the Shepherd, to the Estates and Honors of his Ancestors."


-“ Now another day is come,
Fitter hope, and nobler doom;
He hath thrown aside his crook,
And hath buried deep his book ;

as good an instance of chance, or an event of which we cannot see the cause, as the affairs of this world commonly present; and the word seems to me particularly expressive. S. C.)

10 Which Copland scarce had spoke, but quickly every hill,

Upon her verge that stands, the neighboring valleys fill ;
Helvillon from his height, it through the mountains threw,
From whom as soon again, the sound Dunbalrase
From whose stone-trophied head, it on the Wendross went,
Which, tow'rds the sea again, resounded it to Dent.
That Brodwater, therewith within her banks astound,
In sailing to the sea, told it to Egremound,
Whose buildings, walks, and streets, with echoes loud and long
Did mightily commend old Copland for her song.

Drayton's POLYOLBION: Song XXX. 11 [P. W., ii., p. 299. S. C.] 1? [1b., p. 151. S. C.]

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