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dence had erected between himself and Katherine Holland, and to unfold to her his wishes and his aspirations a feat which he achieved after a fashion which was entirely his own, and which may fairly be said to have been unparalleled amongst the annals of love-suits.
the room he advanced upon a sofa, placed immediately below the gas lamp, on which Miss Holland happened to be sitting, in conversation with a long-necked, somewhat weak-eyed young man, a professor of philology, who had lately come up to London from Cambridge. Both started slightly and looked up as he approached, the professor pausing in the middle of a sentence, and pushing back his spectacles with some surprise, for the new-comer's air was rather that of a man who comes to deliver some supremely important piece of intelligence than of one charged with the ordinary unemphatic nothings of society. Lord Borroughdale was emphatic enough, however.
"This is the very first moment I have been able to get near you the whole evening!" he exclaimed, in a tone loud enough to be audible to the entire room, seating himself as he spoke in the chair nearest to Miss Holland, and utterly, in his preoccupation, ignoring the presence of the unfortunate professor, who, after a momentary gasp of sheer bewilderment, slid gently away and disappeared, leaving the other in full possession of the field.
"You were talking, were you not?" she answered rather vaguely, at a loss, to tell the truth, what exactly she was to say.
"I wasn't talking, I assure you. I hadn't anything to talk about. Some of the others were talking to me. I wanted all the time to come and sit by you."
He had arrived early, and as a not unnatural consequence had been instantly ingulfed by the whole of the Macmanus family, even the professor himself being routed out of his retirement to do honor to his distinguished guest. This our young man endured with passable philosophy for some time, solacing himself by keeping a watchful lookout towards the door by which Miss Holland and her chaperon were bound, he knew, to enter. Even after that event had duly happened, however, he found that his escape was by no means a matter of very easy accomplishment. Youthful marquises were not particularly rife amongst the circles in which the Miss Macmanuses moved, and now that fate had thrust one alive into their hands they had naturally no idea of allowing him to evade them, showing, in deed, in their watchful clutch not a little of that undaunted and untiring energy which is known to distinguish the objects of their father's research above all other denizens of the animal world. In vain poor Borroughdale made effort after effort to escape; always one or other member of the family engaged his attention; always some new object or person required to be brought before his notice; and when supper-time come he found himself still hedged in by a compact hedge of his too hospitable entertainers, beyond which he could only faintly and intermittently discern Miss Holland across fast diminishing piles of plum cake and quavering moun tains of jelly. Now this, as it happened, was just the sort of stimulus which his particular temperament needed. It aroused all that latent, never very far-disNot that I think the amiable bard of Rytant obstinacy which, as all who knew him as the popular mind cannot sympathize in. I dale shows judgment in choosing such subjects intimately were aware, formed a distinctly do not compare myself in point of imagination recognizable portion of his character. with Wordsworth, far from it; for his is natuHe grew irritated, he grew silent, finally rally exquisite, and highly cultivated from he grew morose and desperate, and when constant exercise. . . . But I cry no roastat last he had effected his escape, and had meat. There are times a man should rememgot up-stairs again, all his timidity was forber what Rousseau used to say: "Tais-toi, the time being at an end. He stood ready primed for any enterprise, any sole. cism however gigantic, with that complete and heroic disregard of what might be said or thought or imagined about him, of which only a desperately shy man once thoroughly roused to action is capable.
Marching straight down the middle of
From The National Review.
WORDSWORTH'S THEORY OF POETRY.
Jean Jacques, car on ne t'entend pas.".. The error is not in you yourself receiving deep impressions from slight hints, but in supposing must rise in the minds of men, otherwise of that precisely the same sort of impressions kindred feeling; or that the commonplace folk of the world can derive such inductions at any time or under any circumstances. (Scott's Journal, January 1, 1827.)
the eighteenth century is the poetry of society and manners.
So long as a powerful necessity compelled men to think and act for them. selves, their work was marked by a vital originality of matter and form, and hence in literature almost everything of imagi. native value belonging to what may be broadly called the eighteenth-century movement came into existence between the Restoration and the accession of George III. Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Gray, Johnson, among the poets; Swift, Steele, Addison, Fielding, and Smollett, among the essayists and novelists, had written their all or their best before 1760. "The Deserted Village," "The Traveller," "The Vicar of Wakefield," and Miss
after this date and before the French Revolution. When the liberties of the nation were finally secured, and the principles of taste and manners advocated in the "Tatler" and "Spectator" had met with general acceptance, the creative impulse of the age seems to have ceased. Faction reigns supreme in politics: the Church sinks into slumber: artifice in poetry prevails over thought. We see a Junius succeeding a Swift as a controversialist: a Warburton following a Butler in theology: for Pope as a satirist we have to put up with Churchill: and the pure Horatian style of the "Epistle to Arbuthnot" is exchanged for the sonorous emptiness of "The Botanic Garden."
IN a recent endeavor to estimate the imaginative genius of the eighteenth century, I said that one of its most marked features was its limitation. When the range of thought and feeling in the "Can terbury Tales," "The Faery Queen," Shakespeare's plays, and "Paradise Lost," is compared with the subject matter of Dryden and Pope's satires, of "The Vanity of Human Wishes," the "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," "The Bard," and "The Progress of Poesy," the odes on Liberty and "The Passions," "The Deserted Village," and "The Traveller," every one must perceive within how narrow a tract the imagination of the later period is circumscribed, and that the mines of poetry which the region contains, though precious, are not inexhaust- Burney's novels, are nearly all the works ible. of genius or talent, peculiarly characterThe causes of this limitation are read-istic of the eighteenth century, produced ily discoverable by the light of history. Chaucer had at his disposal all the resources of a social system highly stimulative to the imagination, which was not peculiar to one country, but prevailed over the whole of Europe. His successors, after the period of the Reformation, drew inspiration from still deeper wells. With minds dramatically excited by the spirit of religious liberty and ardent patriotism, they employed the materials afforded by the still vivid traditions of romantic chivalry, together with the wealth of ideas and the beauty of form discovered in the revival of classical letters. All these opposite veins of thought may easily be detected in the wonderfully compounded work of Spenser, Shakespeare, and Mil- I endeavored to illustrate the decay of ton. But after the civil war, religious, mediævalism in the seventeenth century political, and social influences turned the by citing two poems of Cowley and Craimagination of the English people exclu- shaw; a comparison of a passage from sively upon their own manners. The old Thomson's "Seasons" with one from modes of medieval thought had lost their Darwin's poem mentioned just above, power over the mind: the spirit of reli- will be equally suggestive of the exhausgious fanaticism which rose up in opposition of the inspiring impulse of the eightion to them, seemed hostile to every form of creative imagination. In the sphere of politics the ancient traditions of monarchical government were subverted first by the Rebellion and afterwards by the Revolution. Everywhere men were asking themselves wherein consisted the foundations of society, what were the limitations of liberty, and how they were to recognize the first principles of art. And, these being the questions which agitated the mind of the nation above all others, it was these for which a natural, an irresistible instinct drove men of genius to provide an answer, either in a philosophic or in an imaginative shape. The poetry of
teenth century. The following extract
Derived, thou secret all-invading power
Let down the flood, and half-dissolved by day
The whole imprisoned river growls below.
In the following from "The Botanic Garden" the same spirit is seen in its decay:
blow his wreathèd horn." Darwin feigns, without a blush, that the operations of nature are performed by a whole army of nymphs, sylphs, and gnomes, yet in the very same breath describes with scientific coldness the mechanical forces to which they owe their origin.
Poetry of this kind is as sure a symp tom as the lethargy of the Church or the prevalence of petty faction in politics that the vigorous and constructive conservatism of the eighteenth century, the nature of which I attempted to describe in the September number of this review,* has become crystallized in lifeless forms and conventions. Side by side, however, with these indications of exhaustion in the established order of society there are many signs of the activity and progress of the democratic spirit. Wilkes in the field of
Nymphs, your fine forms with steps impassive politics, Wesley in the sphere of religion,
and Burns in the realms of poetry, all,
The rank is but the guinea stamp,
At the same time, the centrifugal movement of the individual away from society, which appears to be a natural accompani ment of democracy, and which manifests itself in France in the philosophy of Rousseau, is seen in the blended Methodism and love of nature in Cowper's poetry. Many influences thus combined to prepare the way for that strife between the spirit of aristocracy and the spirit of democracy both in politics and art, the outbreak of which was hastened by the incidents of the French Revolution.
In literature the battle began with the controversy excited by the publication of Wordsworth's "Lyrical Ballads." prevent the historical accuracy of this assertion being questioned, let me quote what Coleridge, who had every means of knowing, says, in his "Biographia Litera ria," about the origin of the volume, and the influence it exerted on the taste of the times:
There is evidently something in common between these two passages. In both (though only in the first few lines of Thomson) the description is, to some extent, scientific, and, as far as it is so would find a more fitting expression in prose; in both the frequent use of Latin words and the Latin method of linking epithets to substantives is observable; The thought suggested itself (to which of us but while Thomson has evidently con- I do not recollect) that a series of poems might ceived his subject with enthusiasm, and be composed of two sorts. In the one, the inimparts his enthusiasm to the reader, cidents and agents were to be, in part at least, Darwin thinks throughout in a matter-of-supernatural; and the excellence aimed at was fact spirit, and uses metre merely for dec. orative purposes; so small is his sense of sublimity that he does not perceive any thing ridiculous in imagining one volcano hallooing to another. Wordsworth lamented that he could not "hear old Triton
to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real.
For the second
class, subjects were to be chosen from ordi
• LIVING AGE, No. 2102.
nary life; the characters and incidents were to be such as will be found in every village and its vicinity where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them when they present themselves. In this idea originated the plan of the "Lyrical Ballads;" in which it was agreed that my endeavors should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for those shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was to propose to himself, as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernat ural, by awakening the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonder of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude, we have eyes yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel
Coleridge accordingly wrote the "Ancient Mariner" with a view to its insertion in a volume of poems composed upon this double principle, but it was eventually determined that Wordsworth's poems should be published by themselves, and they therefore appeared under the title of "Lyrical Ballads."
To the second edition [says Coleridge] he added a preface of considerable length, in which, notwithstanding some passages of ap: parently a contrary import, he was understood to contend for the extension of this style to poetry of all kinds, and to reject as vicious and indefensible all phrases and forms of style that were not included in what he (unfortunately, I think, adopting an equivocal expression) called the language of real life. From this preface, prefixed to poems in which it was impossible to deny the presence of real genius, however mistaken its direction might be deemed, arose the whole long-continued controversy. For from the conjunction of perceived power with supposed heresy I explain the inveteracy, and in some instances, I grieve to say, the acrimonious passions, with which the controversy has been conducted by the
justify such an assumption. My intention has been to examine historically, and, as far as I can, impartially, the meaning of the movement, its causes, and the effects it has produced on imaginative art. I suppose it will be generally allowed that liberalism in literature as well as in politics implied, in the last century at least, revolt; a revolt in the former case on behalf of individual liberty against certain canons of taste which were supposed by the critics of the day to have acquired an established authority. It does not follow that a conservative should hold such a revolt to have been unjustifiable. On the contrary, in all great creative artists the elements of liberalism and conservatism have ever been fairly compounded; they have been liberal by force of their imagination and invention, conservative by the restraint of their taste and judgment. Scott, with all his political Toryism and appreciative admiration for the writers of the eighteenth century, was a bold innovator in respect of form. Byron, a rebel against every kind of social convention, constantly and firmly upheld the authority of the eighteenth century in questions of criticism. Wordsworth appears to me to have been at once a great conservative and a great radical. The man who is incapable of feeling enthu siastic admiration for his genius when it is doing itself justice has no right to criticise him at all; but when he is doing himself the most justice he is working in his own way on traditional lines; while, on the other hand, in his theory and in much of his practice he uncompromisingly defies tradition and experience. I shall attempt, in the present paper, to inquire how far his theory of poetry, which, as Coleridge says, so largely influenced the public taste, is in harmony with the fundamental principles of the art of poetry. If an apology be required for carrying the reader into the regions of abstract discussion, it must be remembered that Wordsworth and his followers defend their practice by reasoning, and that it is therefore incumbent on those who object to their practice to examine how far their reasoning is satisfactory.
Here, then, is an announcement made on the very highest authority that "Lyri In the first place, however, in order to cal Ballads" sounded the first note of the test the character of Wordsworth's theory, "new departure" which I have called it is important to recall the circumstances the "liberal movement in English lit- under which it was evolved. What roused erature." It has been assumed in many him into rebellion against the canons of quarters that my object in writing these criticism generally accepted in his day, papers is to make a vain and foolish at- was undoubtedly the style of "poetical tack on the poets who initiated the move-diction" then considered to be the indisI know not what I have said to pensable dress of all true poetry. He
The principal object, then, proposed in these from common life, and to relate or describe poems was to choose incidents and situations them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men, and at the same time to throw over them a certain coloring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect; and further and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly as far as regards the manner in which
we associate ideas in a state of excitement.
saw that the mode of expression employed | imagination to present objects to the by Darwin in his "Botanic Garden" was reader with a view of producing pleasure. widely admired; yet the coloring of this On this point it is best to let him speak poem appeared to him, as to most men of for himself. just and manly taste, to be false and gaudy. Looking back to the earlier poets of the century, he found that germs of the same diction were discoverable in them; as, for instance, in Pope's "Messiah," in some of Johnson's verses, and, indeed, in almost all the characteristic poems of the age. Instead of reasoning that the defect might spring from the natural corruption of some true principle of art, he inferred from his observations that it arose from a false ideal of composition, consciously adopted by the poets. And, as so often happens to men of a combative turn, his violent sentiments of dislike led him to argue that all true poetry must be composed on a system exactly opposite to the style which he condemned. Darwin seemed to withdraw himself deliberately from the common sympathies of humanity; true poetry, Wordsworth argued, should, therefore, look for its subjects in the objects and incidents of every-day life. Darwin's diction was artificial in the high. est degree; it follows that the genuine language of poetry should resemble as closely as possible the language of the peasantry. Darwin wrote in a style which was the antithesis of prose; hence Words worth would have us believe that there is no essential difference between the language of prose and verse, and that the fact of poems being written in metre is merely to be regarded as an accident of the art.
In considering the justice of these views I suppose that everybody would be on Wordsworth's side as far as he was opposed to Darwin. Almost any species of verse writing, if it show sincere feeling, is better than a style inspired simply by pomposity and affectation. To enlarge the spiritual experience of an artificialized society by imaginative representations of the beauty of nature and common life was a just and noble aim for poetry, but it was not a new one. To take only a few examples which at once occur, Virgil had written the "Georgics," Thomson "The Seasons," Gray the "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," Goldsmith "The Deserted Village." All these were "subjects chosen from ordinary life," just as much as "Peter Bell," "The Idiot Boy," "Alice Fell," "Beggars," or "The Sailor's Mother." The real innovation introduced by Wordsworth was one of poetical form, and lay in the manner in which he employed the
Here we have a compendious statement of the radical difference between the prac tice of Wordsworth and that of preceding poets who had dealt with "subjects chosen from ordinary life." Neither Virgil, nor Thomson, nor Gray, nor Goldsmith, had attempted to present the objects they described "to the mind in an unusual aspect." They trusted to produce pleasure by associating qualities inherent in these objects with other beautiful ideas, naturally connected with them, and expressed in a noble and harmonious form of verse. With them the subject matter of poetry lay in associations of ideas existing in their readers' imaginations equally with their own. With Wordsworth, on the other hand, all depended on the perception of the poet himself, and his power to displace and recombine the ordinary association of ideas so as to "present them to the mind in an unusual aspect." And, of course, if he had been able to produce great and permanent pleasure on the principles he lays down, all objection would have been silenced, and the only thing to be said would be that he had discovered principles of art which had hitherto been unknown or neglected. Fortunately Wordsworth's works comprise poems composed on the old principles as well as on his own, so that we are able to compare the two systems at work in the same mind, with the result, as I have already said, that his finest poetical effects are seen to be produced when he is most flagrantly violating his own rules.
Comparing "Lucy Gray," for instance, which every one will admit to be a perfect work of art, with "The Idle Shepherds," which is one degree less successful, and, again, with "The Sailor's Mother" or "Peter Bell," which are not successful at