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Yet still ask'd pardon, and was not denied.
(I sigh to tell)
To fetch a sacrifice out of my fold,
So I went
Thinking with that, which I did thus present,
Who was to take it from me, slipt his hand,
Unto my house, where to repair the strength
But when I thought to sleep out all these faults,
I found that some had stuff'd the bed with thoughts,
For I had given the key to none but one:
It must be he. Your heart was dull, I fear."
Indeed a slack and sleepy state of mind
Did oft possess me; so that when I pray'd,
Who took my guilt upon him. "Truly, Friend,
"For aught I hear, your Master shews to you
More favour than you wot of. Mark the end.
"The caldron suppled what was grown too hard:
Each day, each hour, each moment of the week,
The former subject continued―The neutral style, or that common to Prose and Poetry, exemplified by specimens from Chaucer, Herbert, and others.
HAVE no fear in declaring my conviction, that the excellence defined and exemplified in the preceding chapter is not the characteristic excellence of Mr. Wordsworth's style; because I can add with equal sincerity, that it is precluded by higher powers. The praise of uniform adherence to genuine, logical English is undoubtedly his; nay, laying the main emphasis on the word uniform, I will dare add that, of all contemporary poets, it is his alone. For, in a less absolute sense of the word, I should certainly include Mr. Bowles, Lord Byron, and, as to all his later writings, Mr. Southey, the exceptions in their works being so few and unimportant. But of the specific excellence described in the quotation from
7 [The three poems are at pp. 87, 40, and 133 respectively. S. C.]
Garve, I appear to find more, and more undoubted specimens in the works of others; for instance, among the minor poems of Mr. Thomas Moore, and of our illustrious Laureate. To me it will always remain a singular and noticeable fact; that a theory, which would establish this lingua communis, not only as the best, but as the only commendable style, should have proceeded from a poet, whose diction, next to that of Shakespeare and Milton, appears to me of all others the most individualized and characteristic. And let it be remembered too, that I am now interpreting the controverted passages of Mr. Wordsworth's critical preface by the purpose and object, which he may be supposed to have intended, rather than by the sense which the words themselves must convey, if they are taken without this allowance.
A person of any taste, who had but studied three or four of Shakespeare's principal plays, would without the name affixed scarcely fail to recognise as Shakespeare's a quotation from any other play, though but of a few lines. A similar peculiarity, though in a less degree, attends Mr. Wordsworth's style, whenever he speaks in his own person; or whenever, though under a feigned name, it is clear that he himself is still speaking, as in the different dramatis personæ of THE RECLUSE. Even in the other poems, in which he purposes to be most dramatic, there are few in which it does not occasionally burst forth. The reader might often address the poet in his own words with reference to the persons introduced:
"It seems, as I retrace the ballad line by line
That but half of it is theirs, and the better half is thine."1
[Altered from The Pet Lamb, P. W. p. 30. S. C.]
Who, having been previously acquainted with any considerable portion of Mr. Wordsworth's publications, and having studied them with a full feeling of the author's genius, would not at once claim as Wordsworthian the little poem on the rainbow?
"The Child is father of the Man, &c."2
Or in the LUCY GRAY?
"No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
She dwelt on a wide moor;
The sweetest thing that ever grew
Or in the IDLE SHEPHERD-BOYS? 4
Along the river's stony marge
The sand-lark chants a joyous song;
A thousand lambs are on the rocks,
That plaintive cry! which up the hill
2 P. W. p. 2, line 7.
"My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety." S. C.]
16. S. C.]
4 [Ib. I. p. 31. S. C.]
Need I mention the exquisite description of the SeaLoch in THE BLIND HIGHLAND BOY. Who but a poet tells a tale in such language to the little ones by the fire-side as
"Yet had he many a restless dream;
Beside a lake their cottage stood,
For to this lake, by night and day,
And rivers large and strong:
Then hurries back the road it came-
As long as earth shall last.
And, with the coming of the tide,
[Ib. III. p. 145-6. Mr. Wordsworth has altered "sweetly' in the last stanza to "safely." In the first I venture to prefer "the eagle's scream," which my father wrote, to "the eagles," as it is written by Mr. Wordsworth-because eagles are neither gregarious nor numerous, and the first expression seems to mark the nature of the bird, and to bring it more interestingly before the mind, than the last. S. C.]