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most evanescent feelings which could a boy's mind. He remembers a d. both with its blue sky and with happiness,
• One of those heavenly days that ca
on which he sallied forth upon a boy foraging upon the hazel-trees. The hope, the luxury of animal delight, ar bered, but not more so than the ra feeling, -one of those sudden reaction quick heart of childhood, which rises pected sense of pain to an exquisit which imagination spiritualizes the in nature :
“ O'er the pathless rocks, I forced my
Where fairy water breaks do murmur on
The foundations of Wordsworth's mind were thus laid in communion with the grand and beautiful scenery of his native region :
“ He had felt the power
Conjoined with this,—the first virgin passion of a soul
“Communing with the glorious universe," —
was his studious, reverential communion with the pages of his great predecessors,—the masters of English poetry, --and chiefly of Milton. Another element of his genius began very early to display itself, - his ever-active sympathy with his fellow men. Deep as his passion for nature has always been, the living nature of mankind has been dearer to him; and it is part of the history of his mind that he hoped greatly and enthusiastically for the cause of social and political regeneration, when for a short season, at the close of the last century, the whole earth
“ The beauty wore of promise,—that which sets
His young spirit, which had fed upon its lonely masings in the mountains and its poetic sympathies with the souls of the dead poets, was prompt to change them for the more active fellow-feeling with mankind struggling for freedom :
“Farewell, farewell! the heart that lives alone,
Housed in a dream, at distance from the kind !
Is to be pitied, for 'tis surely blind."
Full of hope, Wordsworth passed over into France in the early part of the French Revolution, and was an eyewitness of some of its terrific commotions. His heart was with the down-trodden people, and he was elated with the pure enthusiasm which trusted in the virtues of what proved a worthless cause. He witnessed the wretchedness that had been wrought by tyranny; and, young and ardent, he over-estimated the restraining influences on the people's vengeance. One of the darkest reproaches which rests on the Revolution of France is the wrong done to the eternal cause of freedom; for, when at the present day we seek to appreciate the sufferings which first heaved that vast commotion, there rise up,
intercepting the view, the blood-boltered spectres hideous agencies in that drama. The sympathies of Wordsworth were with only the pure elements of the cause, especially because of what he witnessed in the miseries of the peasantry.
The incident is told, that, walking one day, in the neighbourhood of Orleans, in company with a citizen of France, fervid with republicanism, they came suddenly on the spectacle of a girl of seventeen or eighteen years old, hunger-bitten and wasted to a meagre shadow, knitting in a dejected, drooping way, whilst to her arm was attached by a rope the horse, equally famished, that earned the miserable support of her family. The spectacle told, in one instant, the whole story of wretchedness; and, seizing Wordsworth by the arm, his companion exclaimed, “ Dear English friend, brother, from a nation of freemen! That it that is the curse of our people, in their widest division; and to cure this it is, as well as to maintain our work against the kings of the earth, that blood must be shed, and tears must flow, for many years to come.”
The atmosphere of the Revolution grew more and more murky. France was stricken with the worst of Egypt's plagues : benighted in moral darkness, it was visited with the pestilence of blood throughout the land. Wordsworth sought the homeward road to England, - the innocent delusion of his enthusiasm scattered, but hi heart unembittered by disappointment, and its pulse of
genuine freedom beating as strongly as ever. Whilst travelling back to his native region, in crossing the sands of one of the great estuaries, he chanced to inquire of a horseman who overtook him, “Is there any news ?" and to hear the tidings, “Yes: Robespierre has perished.” Forgetful of the returning tide coming in over the waste of sands, he stopped to utter a heartfelt thanksgiving for that vindication of justice and outraged liberty.
When Wordsworth retired to dwell in the mountaindistrict of the North of England, there was in the spirit of his seclusion nothing of a morbid solitariness. It was a retirement sought as favourable not only to the genial and studious culture of his endowments, but also to the most propitious intercourse with his fellow-men. There was nothing of that faint and false-hearted flight from society of which genius has sometimes been guilty; but retirement was chosen as the vantage-ground of imagination and meditative truth, and in his solitude he has nursed his heart in a quick sensibility to all healthy sympathies with his country and mankind. His plan of life has been kept in violate : his home is still among the mountains; his heart is with humanity the wide world over :
“He murmurs near the running brooks
A music sweeter than their own.
Or fountain in a noonday grove:
He will seem worthy of your love.
Of hill and valley, he has viewed,
Have come to him in solitude.”