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He never considered the discussion of the evils of Ireland to be a bore, and he appreciated in the kindest spirit the better traits in the character of her people. To several of her more distinguished sons he was bound in ties not only of esteem but of affection. I may mention, as within my own cognizance, Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Professor Archer Butler, Sir Aubrey de Vere, and the living inheritor of that name, and of a double portion of his father's poetic talent. Another Irishman was at one time much with Wordsworth, and the object to him of a peculiar psychological interest and admiration. I refer to Mr. Archer, son of a citizen of Dublin, who with no mean amount of original power, had a passion for poetic literature, and possessed so remarkable a memory, that he knew by heart the works of all the classical English poets, and on the prompting of a phrase from Wordsworth, could take up the passage on the instant, and recite in continuation ad libitum. I believe he died early. Of our Sir William Hamil. ton Wordsworth spoke with quite a special warmth of admiration and affection : indeed he bracketed him with Coleridge, as one of the two men personally known to him whose powers had impressed him with wonder; and to the mind and poetry of Eliza Hamilton, Sir William's sister, (herself admitted to the honouring intimacy of his family,) he awarded unusual marks of his estimation. His one short tour in Ireland was unfortunately, as I have heard him record with regret, made in the carriage-and-four of his friend Mr. Marshall, and therefore supplied him
with few new images and little motive to write. It embraced Dublin with the Observatory, Killarney, and the Giant's Causeway. Attached as he was to the English Lake Land, of which his poetry is the atmosphére, his spirit the genius loci, he yet admitted that for concentration of beauty, romantic, fantastic, and luxuriant, it had nothing to show equal to the group of the Killarney lakes. The advantage of the English lakes was in their number and their variety of character, and generally in the forms and proportions of the surrounding mountains. The only record in his poems of his visit consists of a reference to two eagles which he saw at the Promontory of Fairhead. In a fine sonnet, mourning the condition of the imprisoned eagle of Dunolly Castle, near Oban, he says :
" The last I saw
But in a letter written soon after his return to England, he says, “ If I were a younger man, and could prevail upon an able artist to accompany me, there are few things I should like better than giving a month or six weeks to explore the county of Kerry
only." How one could desire that our Petrie had been his guide and companion, and that with Petrie, Wordsworth had not only explored Kerry, but had visited the 'Home of the Heron’in Connemara and the historic remains of Clonmacnois ! I have heard it said in this place by one whom I could easily forgive for saying it, that Petrie looked on nature with a “more loving eye than Wordsworth.” I confess this is to me impossible to imagine, and I sincerely believe would have been as unimaginable by Petrie himself, who was a life-long lover of Wordsworth's poems, and in the latest months of his life sought consolation for his constrained withdrawal from nature herself in the renewed study of poems which were to him, in no condemnable sense, authentic scriptures of nature.
Let us now pass to Wordsworth in his home, and to his poetry. I deprecate not the imputation of partiality in what I say of either. I am deeply sensible of the honour of his friendship, and I gratefully own that some of the best influences of my life have been derived from intercourse with him and his family. Yet, with regard to his poetry, I may say that I have the personal satisfaction of thinking that my love and value for it were for years unbiassed by any personal consideration whatever. While yet a boy, I discovered among the contents of a box of old books, stowed away in the garret of a country house, a tattered volume, which I still possess, of the Lyrical Ballads, and I immediately took to my heart the writer of the Lines written above Tintern
Abbey, and the author of Genevieve and The Ancient Mariner.
There are many portraits of Wordsworth. Upon that which longest represented him to the publicthe portrait by Pickersgill, of which the original is at St. John's College, Cambridge, and which was engraved as a frontispiece for several editions of the works, I cannot but pronounce a condemnatory verdict, remembering all the while that it drew from the poet a sonnet both beautiful and touching. Whilst, of course, it conveys some idea of the general form, it fails to impart the characteristic expression of strength, and gives, instead, an attempt at the sentimental, which suggests the epithet of 'maudlin.' I can have little doubt that that frontispiece, conveying 'a false impression of the poet, has even conduced with many to a misinterpretation of his poetry. The bust by Chantrey, an engraving of which appears in the one volume edition of the poems, is a work of thought and elevation, but is not a striking likeness : that by Angus Fletcher is much more so, being, as I conceive, truer both to the form and bearing of the head. A miniature by Miss Gillies, also engraved, gives a pleasing aspect of the poet in his less earnest conversational and domestic mood, but, if amiable, it, as well as Pickersgill's, is weak. Far otherwise is it with the portrait by Haydon : this alone deserves to be the historic portrait of Wordsworth : it represents him musing on the side of Helvellyn, the mountain mists floating around him. Nothing can be truer to the original than the droop of the head weighed down by the thoughts and feelings over which the active imagination is pleasurably brooding; and if there be some want of finish and refinement in the modelling of the features, there is a grandeur at the same time poetical and truthful in the fine development of the temple and crown—in the visionary look, and in the hanging under-lip, quivering with the coming verse. Mrs. Browning has celebrated it in a fine sonnet, commencing with the words “Wordsworth upon Helvellyn !" and concluding, “ This is the Poet and his Poetry.” There is a good engraving from it of the head by Lupton. I have seen, but not near enough to judge of it, the sitting statue by Theed, which is in the Baptistery of Westminster Abbey. But one criticism at once suggested itself to me. It supposes the poet composing with a pencil in his hand. Now, this conveys an idea in exact opposition to what was the habit of the poet. Almost all his poems, as I have heard from himself, were composed out of doors, as he either freely traversed hill and vale, or paced some favourite level strip, such as that at Lancrigg, or that in the fir-grove consecrated to the memory of his brother, or a terrace in his garden. It was in such places that, to use his own words, he