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and that which best reveals the wonderful power of God, that order of genius which is able, as second cause, to copy or imitate it, is unquestionably the highest. If then we speak of genius, certainly, as all the world hold, the artistic is the sublimest, the most beautiful, and the most godlike. It requires a higher order of genius to produce a great poem, picture, or symphony, than it does to criticise it. Even we ourselves have the presumption to think that we can form a tolerable judgment of Wordsworth's poetry, but we could not have produced the least worthy of his poems. We do not fear to form a judgment of Beethoven's symphonies, but we could no more have composed any one of them than we could have created a universe. We could not even have written Alban, but we can appreciate in some degree its merits and defects. The author of Alban, however, is right when he pronounces the creative order of genius the highest, and denies it to us; but he can write novels better than he can judge them. His artistic genius is superior to his philosophical genius, and he would write better novels than he has yet written, if he had a better philosophy of art, or if none at all, and would write more as the blackbird sings.

As art imitates the Divine act in the first cycle as expressed in the ontological judgment, Being-God — creates existences, it will be higher or lower as it takes this act, so to speak, on the side of being or on that of existences, and imitates the Divine act in its primary revelation, or only as it is copied by existences in the order of second causes. In the former case, art is sublime, in the latter case it is at best beautiful, and usually only pretty. Here the ancients excelled the moderns. Modern artists, instead of copying or imitating, so to say, the Divine act at first hand, take it only at second hand, in its pale reflex in the order of second causes, and really express or embody in their productions only the activity of creatures. Doubtless, there is something of the Divine activity in creatures themselves, for God is actively present in all his works, and no creature acts in its own sphere even except by the Divine concurrence; but the activity thus seized is divine only in a participated sense. Hence it is that all modern art is feeble, wants grandeur of conception, freedom, and boldness in execution, and is admirable only in petty details. The only exception, if ex

ception there be, is in regard to music, the only species of art which is not struck with the general frivolezza of the modern world.

At the head of what are called the liberal arts, as the highest species of art, we place poetry, not only because it surpasses all the others in expressing the sublime, but because it expresses the sublime and beautiful in the greatest variety of forms, or under the greatest variety of aspects. The other species of art address themselves chiefly to the senses, and do not of themselves interpret to the understanding the Intelligible or Ideal. Music, painting, sculpture, architecture, must be interpreted by the poet before their expression is complete. Left to themselves, their expression is vague, dreamy, confused, revealing the splendor, it may be, but not the resplendent. The poet addresses himself not only to sense and imagination, but also to the intellect and heart. He expresses the true and the good under the form of the sublime and beautiful, but so that the form, instead of concealing, reveals them,reveals them as clearly, as distinctly, as does the philosopher, but, as the philosopher does not, in their splendor, their grandeur, and their loveliness. Of all God's gifts in the natural order, true poetical genius is the greatest; and it is surpassed only by his gift of heroic virtue in the supernatural order, expressed in the life of the saint.

Having made these preliminary remarks, we may now ask, Is Wordsworth a poet? and if so, what is his rank? There can be no doubt that Wordsworth had true poetic sensibility, and that he aimed at being a poet of the first order. During a long life he devoted himself with praiseworthy assiduity to the cultivation of his poetical powers, and strove hard to produce something that posterity should not willingly let die." He had, too, some very just notions of the vocation of the poet, and of the noble mission of poetry. He seems fully aware that in all things, even the most common and trivial, as well as in the most extraordinary and grand, there is an ideal element, something divine, that in the lowest there is something not low, in the familiar something elevated and noble, in the transitory something permanent, in the changing something immutable, in the homely something beautiful,-which it is the province of the poet to seize and embody in his verse. All this is true and just. But he seems to us to conceive

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it not unfrequently in a pantheistic sense, as the emanation of the Divine Being, not as God in his creative act. It is, if we may so say, being as quiescent, and not being as creating, that he contemplates. Moreover, he does not disengage the ideal element, and express it in forms of his own creation, wherein lies the essence of all art. he does so occasionally, he does not generally, nor for more than a moment at a time. He starts with the assumption, which we readily concede, that there is poetry in common and every-day life; but when he undertakes to express the ideal revealed by that life, he copies or imitates its common and every-day forms. Hence he gives us every-day life itself, not its poetry. He imitates its expressions, not its ideal activity. Take as illustrations The Idiot Boy, The Waggoner, Peter Bell, or even The White Doe of Rylstone, and the Sonnets to the River Duddon. These, though rhymed, are veritable prose, with the exception of now and then a line, and the ideal beauty there may be, and certainly is, in their subjects, receives no new expression, and is expressed only under its natural symbols. The author has not given exterior forms to his intuitions of the Ideal; he has merely transcribed the forms in which he apprehended it. We see no more beauty in these subjects after reading his poems than we did before, and the nature he sings has received no new embellishment; he has added nothing, and they wear for us no new or more vivid forms. He is a painter of what is called the Dutch school.

Nobody can deny that Wordsworth had a remarkable command of fine poetical language, and his verses are often admirable for their harmony and liquid sweetness. He had a delicate sensibility, and a well-tuned ear, and Byron is wrong in insinuating that his language is prosaic. It is generally no such thing, and, so far as poetic diction is concerned, no poet has better understood or more completely mastered the resources of the English language. His feeblest poems, his Evening Walks, and Descriptive Sketches, have always a sort of soothing and lullaby-baby effect on the reader, which reminds us of Mother Goose's Melodies, which we regard as no inconsiderable merit, for we confess to reading those world-famous melodies in our advancing age with undiminishing pleasure. But Wordsworth lacks intellectual strength. He had the tempera

ment of a poet, but not the intellectual power to be a great poet. He never rises above the creature, even when he attempts to sing the Creator, and what he sings is existence, and quiescent existence even at that. He has rendered a service to English poetry by avoiding the turgid diction of the feeble imitators of Pope and Dryden, and by recalling our poets to the naturalness and simplicity of expression which comport so well with the genius of our language; but he has done our poetry an equal disservice by rendering it tame and feeble.

Wordsworth, like all English poets not of the first order, was too fond of what is called descriptive poetry. Descriptive poetry, where description is the end, is simply no poetry at all. Of course we do not exclude description from poetry, and all great poets, from Homer downwards, abound in descriptions; but their descriptive passages are not introduced for the sake of description. With great poets description is introduced only to illustrate a truth or to heighten an effect. Wordsworth's descriptions are long and wearisome, though no doubt exact; but they serve only a descriptive purpose. They heighten no effect, illustrate no truth, bring home no thought or sentiment. Compare his descriptions with those of Goldsmith in his Deserted Village, a poem we would not exchange for the whole seven volumes of Wordsworth. Scott abounds, in his poems and in his novels, with descriptions of external nature; but, unless he be really the author of Moredun, they are never introduced for their own sake, and always serve to heighten or help on the action of the piece, or to explain the situation of the actors. So is it with Byron. There is more description, we were about to say, in Childe Harold than in all Wordsworth; but it never annoys, for in it external nature is subordinated to moral and intellectual nature. The spiritual always triumphs over the material, and matter succumbs to mind. In Wordsworth mind succumbs to matter, and with all his pretensions to spiritualism he is in reality only a very ordinary materialist. Take The Excursion, intended to be the second part of a grand religious and philosophical poem, and you will find that, if the author regards external nature as symbolical of spiritual truth, he seldom succeeds in interpreting the symbol. His pedler, intended to represent the views of the author, is, no doubt, a very remarkable pedler; but as tire


some and as little edifying in his long-winded discourses an Evangelical preacher. His descriptions of woodlands, meadows, lakes, and paddocks with flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, may be very truthful, and the result of much careful observation; but they serve no purpose beyond themselves, bring home no moral truth, illustrate no spiritual dogma, and put us in possession of nothing objectively true, good, or beautiful. They give us indeed glimpses of the author, make us familiar with his moods of mind, and make us acquainted with his manner of looking upon nature and the problem of man's existence and destiny; but they do not raise us to the intelligible or ideal world itself, as existing independently of the poet, or enable us to seize as it were by intuition the solution of the problem about which he discourses in such languid verse. He sings himself, as it was usually of himself, his poems, and his theory of poetry, that he spoke with his visitors.

Wordsworth was a man of delicate sensibility, sweet and gentle feelings, perhaps warm and tender affections,one likely to be held dear in the circle of his intimate friends; but he strikes us as a man of very moderate intellectual powers. He appears to have cultivated his powers with great assiduity, but he always remained intellectually weak. His mind was feeble and fragmentary, and could never grasp the universe as a whole. He had some religious sensibility, some reverence for ecclesiastical establishments, and a vague love of some of the externals of Christianity; but he had no clear, well-defined religious convictions, no strong and earnest faith. He paddles always on the surface, and dwells on the outside of things, and never was there a greater mistake than to suppose that his poems are written in accordance with a profound and world-embracing philosophy. They reveal or conceal no such philosophy; they reveal to us only the phases of the poet's own mind, his own whims, crotchets, vagaries, dreams, reveries, his subjective moods or states. His larger poems, where he attempts anything of a little intellectual importance, are failures, though they may contain now and then a passage or a line which the reader values in proportion to the extent of the arid waste he has travelled over before finding it; but we cheerfully admit that several of his smaller poems are really pretty. We remember with pleasure," The Pet Lamb," "We are

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