Слике страница
PDF
ePub

THE APPLETHWAITE ESTATE.

125

and almost inaccessible grove, his was that heart, warm no doubt, if you could reach it, some did reach it, but most never were able to turn aside the boughs or find the entrance to the cave. Concerning the very present of Sir George Beaumont to him of the Applethwaite Estate, he says, writing to Sir George. “If any person were to be informed of the particulars of your kindness to me, if it were described to them in all its delicacy and nobleness, and he should afterwards be told that I suffered eight weeks to elapse without writing to you one word of thanks or acknowledgement, he would deem it a thing impossible. It is nevertheless true. This is in fact the first time than I have taken up my pen, not for writing letters, but on any account whatever, except once, since Mr. Coleridge shewed me the writings of the Applethwaite Estate, and told me the little history of what you had done for me, the motives &c.” We do not on this found any remarks on defect of character, the truth is, this is a trait belonging to a class of character with which we are seldom charmed, or even pleased, it quite sets aside our notions of what is agreeable and amiable, but at the same time belongs to the character in which we have more unhesitating confidence. Proud natures receive all that is done by or for them without any embarrassment, or sense of want or desert, they do not encumber or embarrass you with thanks, they move with all companies, even the very highest, and are instantly entirely at home, they are sustained by their own consciousness, they are not perhaps persons with whom you feel immediately at case,

but they are persons on whom you can absolutely depend. When we were first introduced to Mr. Wordsworth, this impression of his character was upon us, every succeeding interview deepened it; there was a kingliness, a royalty in his bearing which we have never seen equalled, he was one of those men who attract man towards them by their evident pre-eminence in thought and character. Eminently one of those men on whom conferring a gift, you are struck with an impression as if instead you were receiving a gift from them, and before whom the mere gift presenter, whose present was not an act of homage and of love, found himself sadly dwarfed and shrivelled.

[graphic]

CHAPTER V.

MORAL SUFFERING AND INDIVIDUALITY.

“ There seems to have been a period of Shakspere's life, when his heart was ill at ease, and ill content with the world or his own conscience, the memory of hours mispent, the pang of affection misplaced or unrequited, the experience of man's worser nature, which intercourse with ill-chosen associates, by chance or circumstances, peculiarly teaches ; these as they sank down into the depths of his great mind seem not only to have inspired into it the conception of Lear and Timon, but that of one primary character, the censurer of mankind. This type is first seen in the philosophic melancholy of Jacques gazing with 'undiminished serenity, and with a gaiety of fancy, though not of manners, on the follies of the world. It assumes a graver cast in the exiled Duke of the same play.”

HENRY HALLAM.

“ (I had) a most emphatic feeling of my individuality-my insulated existence-except that close and interminable connection from the very necessity of existence with the Deity. To the continent of human Nature, I am a small island near its coast; to the Divine existence I am a Peninsula."

John FOSTER. -Journal.

“ His introverted spirit, bestowed
Upon his life an outward dignity
Which all acknowledged.”

EXCURSION.

We have before noticed how interesting it is to read the Biography of Wordsworth, as written by himself in his Poems-many of his Poems form the history of his

great adventures – they are the chronicles of the meetings and the musings which gave life to his mind. But in harmony of course with his character they are subjective. Thus, in that very fine Poem the Leech Gatherer, on the Lonely Moor. To a mind like that of our Poet, especially as we have described him in the early years of his life, there come moments of deep and bitter despondency when the spirit hangs wondering on the future, and life seems a dark, a most difficult and unsolved riddle. It was in such a moment among the mountains, when his spirit was reflecting their sternness, and cold and misty clouds hung brooding over his spirit, it was a time of strong and potent reaction, he had before been excited by enthusiastic dreams; the Poet rose after a night of storm, the wind had been roaring, and the rain fell in floods, but now over the whole face of nature came a change; the birds were chattering and singing among the trees, and the pleasant noise of waters echoed among the hills, the grass was bright with rain drops, and the hare run over the plashy and sedgy earth, it was the glad morning of a glad day after the turbulent and the troubled night; the Poet felt the gladness and the glory of the seasonas happy as a boy was he-the roar of the distant woods and waters, the sky-lark warbling in the heavens, the beauty, the majesty, of nature only impressed him still more with the vanity of man, deep melancholy struck into his spirits, his former elevation was now the measure of his fall and prostration, he felt himself to be out of harmony with nature and with all her

THE APPARITION OF THE LEECH GATHERER.

129

gladness and her joy. How know I, reasoned he, how long it may be thus with me? The ghosts of poverty, and care, and solitude, and distress, and pain of heart, haunted him even on the bright morning. His meditations were the meditations of thousands of men, my whole life has hitherto been a summer mood, all things have come unsought to me, but how can I expect that it will be so with me for ever. If I take no heed of myself have I any right to expect that others will take heed of me, and then to confirm these impressions came the melancholy recollections of Chatterton “ the Marvellous Boy,"

“The sleepless soul that perished in his pride
Of him who walked in glory and in joy,
Following his plough along the mountain side."

He thought of the gladness with which their life began, and of its melancholy close, “despondency and madness." This is the most solemn and afflictive of human moods, this is that state of the soul in which we impeach Providence and make shipwreck of faith, and reasoning is useless to redeem from it; no cleverly constructed argument can avail, no ingenious rhetoric, nothing can impress the spirit like the spectacle of a soul in deeper distress than we are yet maintaining, a brave, and faithful, and heroic heart. And this spectacle was reserved for the Poet, he beheld in his distance beside a base black pool or tarn leaning against the sky, an old man, greyheaded, feeble, a very photograph of desolation, a being, half alive, half dead, bent double, prest by sickness,

« ПретходнаНастави »