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gate the meaning of every word, and the reason of its choice and position, logic presents itself as an old acquaintance under new
On some future occasion, more especially demanding such disquisition, I shall attempt to prove the close connexion between veracity and habits of mental accuracy ; the beneficial after. effects of verbal precision in the preclusion of fanaticism, which masters the feelings more especially by indistinct watchwords; and to display the advantages which language alone, at least which language with incomparably greater ease and certainty than any other means, presents to the instructor of impressing modes of intellectual energy so constantly, so imperceptibly, and, as it were, by such elements and atoms, as to secure, in due time, the formation of a second nature. When we reflect, that the cultivation of the judgment is a positive command of the moral law, since the reason can give the principle alone, and the con. science bears witness only to the motive, while the application and effects must depend on the judgment: when we consider that the greater part of our success and comfort in life depends on distinguishing the similar from the same, that which is peculiar in each thing from that which it has in common with others, so as still to select the most probable, instead of the merely possible or positively unfit, we shall learn to value earnestly, and with a practical seriousness, a mean, already prepared for us by nature and society, of teaching the young mind to think well and wisely by the same unremembered process, and with the same never forgotten results, as those by which it is taught to speak and converse. Now, how much warmer the interest is, how much more genial the feelings of reality and practicability, and thence how much stronger the impulses to imitation are, which a contemporary writer, and especially a contemporary poet, excites in youth and commencing manhood, has been treated of in the earlier pages of these sketches. I have only to add, that all the praise which is due to the exertion of such influence for a purpose so important, joined with that which must be claimed for infrequency of the same excellence in the same perfection, belongs in full right to Mr. Wordsworth. I am far, however, from denying that we have poets whose general style possesses
the same excellence, as Mr. Moore, Lord Byron, Mr. Bowles, and, in all his later and more important works, our laurel-honor. ing Laureate. But there are none, in whose works I do not appear to myself to find more exceptions, than in those of Wordsworth. Quotations or specimens would here be wholly out of place, and must be left for the critic who doubts and would invalidate the justice of this eulogy so applied.
The second characteristic excellence of Mr. Wordsworth's works is: a correspondent weight and sanity of the Thoughts and Sentiments,-won, not from books; but—from the poet's own meditative observation. They are fresh and have the dew upon them. His muse, at least when in her strength of wing, and when she hovers aloft in her proper element,
Makes audible a linked lay of truth,
Even throughout his smaller poems there is scarcely one, which is not rendered valuable by some just and original reflection.
See page 25, vol. ii.,99 or the two following passages in one of his humblest compositions.
“O Reader ! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
“I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning;
or in a still higher strain the six beautiful quatrains, page 134.
“ Thus fares it still in our decay :
And yet the wiser mind
31 (Coleridge's Poet. Works, vol. i., p. 208. S. C.]
or the sonnet on Bonaparte, page 202, vol. ii. ; or finally (for
34 [The Fountain. P. W., V., p. 34-5. S. C.]
I grieved for Bonaparte, with a vain
True Power doth grow on; and her rights are there.
a volume would scarce suffice to exhaust the instances), the last stanza of the poem on the withered Celandine, vol. ii., p. 312.38
“ To be a Prodigal's Favorite—then, worse truth,
A Miser's Pensioner-behold our lot!
Both in respect of this and of the former excellence, Mr. Wordsworth strikingly resembles Samuel Daniel, one of the golden writers of our golden Elizabethan age, now most causelessly neglected : Samuel Daniel, whose diction bears no mark of time, no distinction of age, which has been, and as long as our language shall last, will be so far the language of the to-day and for ever, as that it is more intelligible to us, than the transitory fashions of our own particular age. A similar praise is due to his sentiments. No frequency of perusal can deprive them of their freshness. For though they are brought into the full day-light of every reader's comprehension ; yet are they drawn up from depths which few in any age are privileged to visit, into which few in any age have courage or inclination to descend. If Mr. Wordsworth is not equally with Daniel alike intelligible to all readers of average understanding in all passages of his works, the comparative difficulty does not arise from the greater impurity of the ore, but from the nature and uses of the metal. A poem is not necessarily obscure, because it does not aim to be popular. It is enough, if a work be perspicuous to those for whom
a it is written, and
“ Fit audience find, though few.”
To the “ Ode on the Intimations of Immortality from Recol. lections of early Childhood” the poet might have prefixed the lines which Dante addresses to one of his own Canzoni
“Canzone, i' credo, che saranno radi
Color, che tua ragione intendan bene,
Tanto lor sei faticoso ed alto." 37 38 [The Small Celandine. P. W., V., p. 294. S. C.]
37 (Canzoni Morali, lib. iv., Canz. i. Tanto lor parli faticoso e forte is the original third line. 'S. C.]
“O lyric song, there will be few, think I,
Who may thy import understand aright:
But the ode was intended for such readers only as had been accustomed to watch the flux and reflux of their inmost nature, to venture at times into the twilight realms of consciousness, and to feel a deep interest in modes of inmost being, to which they know that the attributes of time and space are inapplicable and alien, but which yet can not be conveyed, save in symbols of time and space. For such readers the sense is sufficiently plain, and they will be as little disposed to charge Mr. Words. worth with believing the Platonic pre-existence in the ordinary interpretation of the words, as I am to believe, that Plato himself ever meant or taught it.
Πολλά οι υπ’ αγκώ.
Third (and wherein he soárs far above Daniel) the sinewy strength and originality of single lines and paragraphs ; the fre
38 [Olymp. ii., v. 150.
Beneath mine elbow a full quiver lies
Clamoring, like daws, at Jove's celestial bird.