Billeder på siden

marriages and christenings, and with of your history, I leave you for the a vulture's scent or sight (I decline present, in order to speak of myself ; entering into the Waterton Contro. but, you will take notice, that I am versy), your presence at a burial was not done with you, as I intend to come infallible. Here, indeed, your conduct back on the subject, and consider in was often far from praiseworthy: for detail the whole points in your cha. on such melancholy occasions it was racter and career that bear upon the observed that the price of your ribbons poetical part that you have been made and gown-pieces always rose in pro- to play: portion to the affliction of the suffer- I shall not here anticipate, more than ers and your own sympathy with is necessary, the interesting particulars their loss. Indeed, you were ever a of my life, or the origin and progress knowing fellow, and looked constantly of my own powers.°" Anche io son to the main chance. I ask no better pittore.Tomkins too, perhaps, has proof of this than a passage in which composed a long philosophical poem, your friend Mr Wordsworth has un- “ containing views of Man, Nature, wittingly let the cat out of the bag. and Society, and to be entitled, the He makes you say, after detailing the Commercial Traveller, as having for very heart-rending story of that poor its principal subject the sensations woman Margaret, that at the mere and opinions of a Poet, living on the sight of some springing plants about road, and engaged in business.” Whethe place," those weeds, and the high ther and when I shall publish the spear-grass on that wall," you were so whole of this poem, or any portion of reconciled to the idea of her sorrows a part of it, needs not now be explainand death, that you turned away, “and ed. But, if I am advised to commuwalked along your road in happiness." nicate to the public a prospectus or It is before said that you could afford sample of it, you shall

, with Christo suffer, though we never hear of topher's permission, have an opporyour affording to give Margaret five tunity of perusing it in the pages of shillings; and here even your sympa- Maga. For my present purpose, it thy disappears at a moment's warning. is enough that I reveal thus much of Was this the part of a friendly and my life: I was born and bred in a sympathetic man who had received civilized country: I spoke English such touching acts of kindness from from the moment when I could speak that bereaved and afflicted creature ? at all: as soon as I could walk I wore I suspect not. But, in truth, you were stockings and shoes : and I was early then occupied with thoughts which put into breeches, which I have never you were too cunning to let Mr discontinued, except now and then Wordsworth know. You were making when Mrs Tomkins put them on by a professional application of Virgil's mistake ; and except further on that phrase, "primo avulso non deficit al- memorable morning which Christopher ter," though in a different way from has so facetiously recorded as exhibitwhat the dentist did. Your notion ing my femoral muscles in a defencewas this : “ Well, Margaret is away, less condition. I received a good but Martha succeeds. I lose one cus- education in reading and counting, tomer, but there soon comes another !" at school, acquiring at the same Even in your strongest perceptions of time a knowledge of some Latin human grief, you did the thing in the words and some Greek letters. I afterway of business. You observed it, wards served for some months as clerk that you might tell it again. Like the in a coach-office, and was allowed penny-a-liners of the newspapers, occasionally to drive a few stages out you collected in your rounds the full of town, to give me a strong whipparticulars, and something more, of hand. I was finally rounded off with sad afflictions and moving accidents, a session of academical study in the that you might repeat them to your metropolis of your own country, where next customers, and thereby enhance I also distinguished myself greatly as the price of your wares. Have we for- a member of the Spouter's Union. got Shakspeare's Autolycus? Accord- Fully prepared by this curriculum of ingly, it is admitted, that you pretty instruction, wide awake and up to well feathered your nest, and are now every thing, with an eye like an arenjoying a better competency than be- row, and a tongue like a tavern bell, longs to many a better man.

I entered on that honourable profesHaving given this general sketch sion for which I was all along designed, and have now for about forty years I proceed to compare in detail the carried the bag in various grades and principal points in our respective condepartments, with some emolument to ditions that affect the question of fitmyself, and great satisfaction to the ness for a poetical character. public.

Now, Christopher, for here an apostrophe to you breaks involuntarily

1. Early Life and Education. from my pen-look on this picture, If there had been nothing else to deter and on that, and repent in sackcloth Mr Wordsworth from the choice which and ashes the grievous wrong you be made in your favour, he might, I. have done to me, and your own judg- think, have been moved by the consiment. In your September Number, deration that he must thereby forego you thus write as to the exclusive fit. the praise of originality. This is not ness of the Pedlar for the poetical the first time that the developement of hero of a work like the Excursion. intellect and imagination in an hum

6 What would you rather have had ble mountain-boy has been made the the Sage in the Excursion to have subject of poetry, and of good poetry been? The Senior fellow of a Col. too. We have most of us read Beatlege? A Head? A retired Judge? tie's Minstrel, and some of us may reAn ex-Lord Chancellor? A Nabob? turn to that poem even after reading A Banker? A Millionaire ? or, at the Excursion, without feeling much once to condescend on Individuals, disenchantment of the old charm Natus Consumere Fruges, Esquire? or which it exerted over us.

Nay, the the Honourable Custos Rotulorum?” Minstrel may give us greater plea

Where, Christopher, were you lo- sure than ever from our considering cated when you thus wrote? You it as the original of so admirable an seem to have turned over the Oxford imitation. So closely has the idea of Calendar, the Red Book, and the Edin. Edwin been followed by Mr Words. burgh Directory. But was Pigot worth in your own history, that I not at hand? Was he not, as usual, think at least some aknowledgment in the Sanctum, or were you really was due to the source from which the writing among the mountains at the conception must have been derived. The moment? It must have been so: for two stories coincide in almost every a glance at his portly volumes would, particular. The country, Scotlandin your philosophical soul, have been the locality, a mountainous district, followed by a flash-like perception of the youth's profession, pastoral—the the truth. But oh! even in absence forms of nature represented as the of Pigott, could Christopher forget means of exciting and spiritualizing his Isaac--North, his Tomkins,-the his mind and the aim of it all to Master of Maga, his own son, The illustrate the pursuit of knowledge BAGMAN!

under difficulties.' Let any one closeYes, Christopher, and you Mac- ly compare the passages that follow, glashan, to whom I once more return, and ask whether the balance of praise the question propounded as to the may not be held pretty equally beappropriate hero of the Excursion

tween them, considering, at least, that should have been thus answered. The the one last quoted was the first writPedlar should have been discarded- ten. They are both admirable, and the Bagman should have been install- certainly your friend's is the more ed in his place. How much more subtle and ethereal; but I suspect the fiitingly, how much more gracefully, general feeling would back the dead would he have filled it!

poet against the living one.


He had felt the power
Of Nature, and already was prepared,
By his intense conceptions, to receive
Deeply the lesson of deep love, which he
Whom Nature, by whatever means, has taught
To feel intensely, cannot but receive.

Such was the Boy- but for the growing youth
What soul was his when from the naked top
Of some bold headland, die heheld the sun
Rise up and bathe the world in light! He looked-

Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth,
And ocean's liquid mass beneath him lay
In gladness and deep joy. The clouds were touch'd,
And in their silent faces did he read
Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy. His spirit drank
The spectacle ; sensation, soul, and forin
All melted into him ; they swallowed up
His animal being; in them did he live,
And by them did he live; they were his life.
In such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the living God.
Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.
No thanks he breathed, he proffered no request.
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him : it was blessedness and love.


Lo! where the stripling wrapt in wonder roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine,
And sees on high amidst th' encircling groves
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine :
While waters, woods, and winds in concert join,
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies:
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign
For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies ?
Ah! no, he better knows great Nature's charms to prize!
And oft he traced the uplands, to survey,
When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain grey,
Aud lake dim gleaming on the smoky lawn ;
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while ;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil :
But lo! the sun appears, and heaven, carth, ocean smile
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost :
What dreadful pleasure there to stand sublime,
Like shipwrecked mariner on desert coast,
And view the enormous waste of vapour tost
In billows lengthening to the horizon round,
Now scooped in gulls, with mountains now embossed :
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound,
Flocks, herds, and waterfalls along the hoar profound.
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene;
In darkness and in storm he found delight,
Nor less than when on Ocean wave serene
The southern sun diffused his dazzling sheen,
Even sad vicissitude amused his soul;
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,
A sigh, a tear so sweet, he wished not to control.

In these two quotations we cannot serve, that while the Doctor has tho help seeing a resemblance both in the merit of having led the way, he is in general purpose and in the individual some points, also, the more accurate of pictures, particularly in that of the the two. Edwin's country was either rising sun ; but I may further ob- Aberdeenshire, or any other place, real or imaginary, that might suit the French Revolution had occurred to poet or the reader. You, Murdoch, frighten him into them, I think it are tied down to the district of Atholl, would have been as well if, in the

--for this took place before you be- choice of his leading character, Mr came a pedlar,—and I request to know Wordsworth had avoided this addifrom what bold headland in that neigh- tional point of resemblance. If he bourhood you ever beheld the sun rise wished to escape, as much as possible, while - Ocean's liquid mass beneath the censure of imitation, he should you lay?". I am not aware of any have let alone the herd-boy and taken point in the Perthshire Highlands up the embryo Bagman. Here was from which the sea is at all visible; scope for a truly creative mind-here and there can be none where Ocean is was a fresh and virgin sward untrod seen lying in a liquid mass beneath before by the Muse's foot-here Wordsthe spectator's eye.

worth might have boasted with his When I further consider that the mighty master of attuning his harp to Excursion is, in its general plan, a things unattempted yet in prose and vindication of those very principles of rhyme-here he might have sung with hope and faith which Beattie so well Lucretiusinculcated in his Minstrel, before a

" Avia Pieridum peragro loca, nullius ante

Trita solo : juvat integros accedere fontes
Atque haurire ; juvatque novos decerpere flores
Insignemque meo capiti petere inde coronam
Unde prius nulli velarint tempora Muse."

But independently, Murdoch, of head of cattle may be reared on the the want of originality in your sup. hill in summer or winter. But to the posed story, I beg leave to demur to townsman, visiting the lofty mountain the philosophical correctness of the or the blooming valley, amid his interprinciples advanced in it. It is quite vals of toil and care, they appear enclear that individuals reared in the tirely in a poetical point of view. country are not the most distinguished They are not in his eyes combined for quickness or experience, and it with the prosaic thoughts of usefulness seems to me a very questionable pro- or money-making: they are wholly position, whether they are even the beautiful or sublime. They are not best and warmest admirers of natural stained by every-day associations : but beauty. Certain I am, that among rise or expand before him in all the persons of better station, those who sacredness and purity of an ideal have been bred in towns, and have picture. What associations they do made them their chief residence, are bring are in the highest degree pleagenerally much more enthusiastic and surable and endearing. They tell enlightened lovers of rural scenery him of freedom newly gained - of than those to whom the country is health and cheerfulness about to be their constant domicile : and I don't restored-of misery and weariness left see why it should not be so likewise behind. All the elasticity of lightened with those of humbler condition. By spirits--all the enchantment of romanthe mere countryman, the country tic illusion – combine to make him is regarded too much in a profes- drink in the forms and hues of natural sional point of view. It is his place imagery with an avidity and joy unof business—his shop- the scene of known to those who are for ever in his daily drudgery--the source of his the midst of them, and who, for the animal subsistence and commercial most part of their time, must regard profit: and its different appearances them with callous indifference while must, therefore, strike him more ac. occupied in the tame or vulgar avocording to their utility than according cations of a work-day world. Hear to their picturesque or imaginative accordingly what the poets say on this character. A farmer or shepherd looks theme. Hear Horace. at the features of nature with reference quando ego te aspiciam !" Such is to questions of crops and stocking the aspiration of the man surrounded and speculates how many returns of by the vexations of urban life. Hear wheat the dale may yield-how many Milton

« O rus,

As onewho long in populous city pent,
Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoined, from each thing met conceives delight;
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound.

So much for ordinary or direct per- it essential to the free developement of ceptions of nature. Then as to the the higher faculties that the lower appoetical vision of her charms, the case petites and necessities should first be is perhaps still stronger against the reasonably well provided for. Neimere native. In addition to the dis- ther the rational nor the imaginative turbing effect of those associations, powers can begin to act with effect which, in his thoughts, cling to all until the stomach shall have previously natural objects as interwoven with received a regular supply of nutritious his daily routine of employments, the food, and the surface of the body have education of his mind seems to be un- been comfortably protected from the favourable for lofty or inspired con- external air. I'his last prerequisite ceptions. If poetic power consists Iconsider of peculiar importance. The in clothing external objects with hu- connexion of the intellect with the man or spiritual life, we must enquire posterior portions of the human form where this creative and intelligent prin- has been long recognised both in priciple is best to be fostered. It appears vate families and in public schools; to me, that the spirit of intelligence and no channel of instruction more must be first caught, not from a visual direct and efficacious has yet been disperception of rocks, or fields, or groves, covered. But with this view it is but from a contemplation of the human necessary that the cuticle should be face divine, and a sympathetic contact preserved in a state of considerable with that world of wonders, the human sensibility. The constant exposure, heart. This feeling must, I should therefore, of these important regions think, be gained in society, and is na- to the biting blast or the damp soil must turally thence transferred to the great be attended with a corresponding calor graceful features of natural imagery, losity in the intellectual susceptibiliwhich we feel to be beautiful or sub. ties. Hence it happens that, so far as lime as we are enabled to animate I have heard, there is no well authenthem with emotions or influences ana- ticated example on record of any conlogous to those of spiritual beings. I siderable progress in mental refineam not sure that I have either de- ment in the case of an individual who monstrated the truth of this view, or has long worn the kilt or philabeg ; made it very intelligible; but, if not, and I am disposed to ascribe to this, it will be more nearly on a par with rather than to any other cause, the some of your own speculations. This general inferiority of the Celtic tribes I feel quite sure of, that the perfect to those of Gothic origin. I may obdevelopement of the human heart and serve, in passing, that the laté Sir intellect, whether in wisdom or in James Mackintosh affords no contradictaste, is to be discerned, not in him tion to this remark, as it is well known who dreams away his days on a hill. that he was early put into breeches. side as a herdsman or a herdsman's Samuel Boyse is the only poet, so master, but in him who opens his senses far as I remember, who is said to have and feelings to all the varieties of na- appeared in public without that article tural objects and suggestions, rural or of attire. But this singularity was in urban, moral or physical, solitary or him only occasional, and must doubt. social.

less have impaired the man's genius, But waving the further debate of such as it was. Altogether it appears this more difficult controversy, I de- to me that your friend Mr Wordsworth mand next whether, if a country boy has here fallen into the common error is to be made the hero of a philoso- of many foreigners with reference to phical poem, the locality of Blair- Scotland, in overlooking the distinc. Atholl is the best that can be chosen tion between the different divisions of for the place of his birth and nurture. that country. The occurrence of inI opine not. I have always considered tellect or poetry in an Ayrshire

« ForrigeFortsæt »