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NEW YORK: 46 East I4th Streht.


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By Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.


The poet whose works are contained in the present volume was born in the ifcJe town of Cockermouth, in Cumberland, on April 7, 1770. He died at Rydal Vmnt in the neighboring county of Westmoreland, on April 23, 1850. In this 'ass span of mortal years, events of vast and enduring moment shook the world. A handful of scattered and dependent colonies in the northern continent of 'jaerica made themselves into one of the most powerful and beneficent of states. ]>,e ancient monarchy of France, and all the old ordering of which the mon:-±r had been the keystone, was overthrown, and it was not until after many a i".Jent shock of arms, after terrible slaughter of men, after strange diplomatic ruabinations, after many social convulsions, after many portentous mutations of Esspire, that Europe once more settled down for a season into established order and .yian. In England almost alone, after the loss of her great possessions across the Adannc Ocean, the fabric of the State stood fast and firm. Yet here, too in these Eighty years, an old order slowly gave place to new. The restoration of peace, after . war conducted with extraordinary tenacity and fortitude, led to a still more « -»derful display of ingenuity, industry, and enterprise, in the more fruitful field of rwnerce and of manufactures. Wealth, in spite of occasional vicissitudes, -creased with amazing rapidity. The population of England and Wales grew from *mg seven and a half millions in 1770, to nearly eighteen millions in 1850. f Jtlical power was partially transferred from a territorial aristocracy to the middle ayi trading classes. Laws were made at once more equal and more humane. Tlorinc all the tumult of the great war which for so many years bathed Europe in ire, through all the throes and agitations in which peace brought forth the new awe, Wordsworth for half a century (1799-1850) dwelt sequestered in unbroken :r3imosare and steadfastness in his chosen home amid the mountains and lakes of ". native region, working out his own ideal of the poet's high office.

The interpretation of life in books and the development of imagination under»enl changes of its own. Most of the great lights of the eighteenth century were I burning, though burning low, when Wordsworth came into the world. Pope, ajeed, had been dead for six and twenty years, and all the rest of the Queen Anne sen had gone. But Gray only died in 1771, and Goldsmith in 1774. Ten years Cater Johnson's pious and manly heart ceased to beat. Voltaire and Rousseau, those rv, diverse oracles of their age, both died in 1778. Hume had passed away two »;ars before. Cowper was forty years older than Wordsworth, but Cowper's most ccjgbtful work was not produced until 1783. Crabbe, who anticipated Words

Furn's choice of themes from rural life, while treating them with a sterner realism, B virtually his contemporary, having been born in 1754, and dying in 1832. The two great names of his own date were Scott and Coleridge, the first born in 1771, and the second a year afterwards. Then a generation later came another new and illustrious group. Byron was born in 1788, Shelley in 1792, and Keats ir 1795. Wordsworth was destined to see one more orb of the first purity and brilliance rise to its place in the poetic firmament. Tennyson's earliest volume of poems was published in 1830, and " In Memoriam," one of his two masterpieces, in 1850. Anyone who realizes for how much these famous names will always stand in the history of human genius, may measure the great transition that Wordsworth's eighty years witnessed in some of men's deepest feelings about art and life and "the speaking face of earth and heaven."

Here, too, Wordsworth stood isolated and apart. "Scott and Soutney were valued friends, but he thought little of Scott's poetry, and less of Southey's. Byror and Shelley he seems scarcely to have read; and he failed altogether to appreciate Keats. {Myers.) Of Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience" he said, "There is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott." Coleridge was the only man of the shining company with whom he ever had any real intimacy of mind, for whom he ever nourished real deference and admiration, as one "unrelentingly possessed by thirst of greatness, love, and beauty," and in whose intellectual power, as the noble line in the Sixth Book of the " Prelude " so gorgeously attest, he took the passionate interes: of a man at once master, disciple, and friend.If It is true to say, as Emerson says, that Wordsworth's genius was the great exceptional fact of the literature of hi; period; but he had no teachers nor inspirers save nature and solitude. ||

Wordsworth was the son of a solicitor, and all his early circumstances were homely, unpretentious, and rather straitened. His mother died when he was; eight years old, and when his father followed her five years later, two of his uncle: provided means for continuing at Cambridge the education which had been begur in the rural grammar school of Hawkshead. It was in 1787 that he went up t< St. John's College. He took his Bachelor's degree at the beginning of 1791, anc there his connection with the university ended.

For some years after leaving Cambridge, Wordsworth let himself drift. He die not feel good enough for the Church; he shrank from the law; fancying that he had talents for command, he thought of being a soldier. Meanwhile, he passed s short time desultorily in London. Towards the end of 1791, through Paris, he passed on to Orleans and Blois, where he made some friends and spent most of: year. He returned to Paris in October, 1792. France was no longer standing on the top of golden hours. The September massacres filled the sky with a lurk flame. Wordsworth still retained his ardent faith in the Revolution, and was ever ready, though no better than "a landsman on the deck of a ship struggling with r hideous storm," to make common cause with the Girondists. But the prudence o friends at home forced him back to England before the beginning of the terrible year of '93. With his return closed that first survey of its inheritance, which most serious souls are wont to make in the fervid prime of early manhood.

It would be idle to attempt any commentary on the bare facts that we have just recapitulated; for Wordsworth himself has clothed them with their full force ant. meaning in the " Prelude." This record of the growth of a poet's mind, told by tin poet himself with all the sincerity of which he was capable, is never likely to Ik popular. Of that, as of so much more of his poetry, we must say that, as a whole, it has not the musical, harmonious, sympathetic quality which seizes us in even tin prose of such a book as Rousseau's " Confessions." Macaulay thought the " Prelude" a poorer and more tiresome " Excursion," with the old flimsy philosophy about the effect of scenery on the mind, the old crazy mystical metaphysics, and the endless

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