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add, to the poetry of Wordsworth, of which, it might have been expected, I would have made room to speak more at large. I should certainly have rejoiced in the opportunity of deepening the sense of thoughtful admiration and gratitude to Wordsworth's genius in any mind that has already possessed itself of the treasures of such emotions, and possibly of persuading some so to approach that poetry as to find in it, what it can surely give to all who are willing as well as worthy to find it—a ministry of wisdom and happiness, both in the homely realities of daily life, and in the deepest spiritual recesses of our being. But such a theme transcends the limit now left for me; and I propose therefore only to notice two or three points having a connection with subjects I have already had occasion to speak of. With regard to language, an English editor of Wordsworth has said, “By no such great poet, besides Shakspeare, has the English tongue been used with equal purity, and yet such flexible command of its resources. Spenser gives us too many obsolete forms, Milton too much un-English syntax, to make either of them available for the purpose of training the young men of our country in the laws, and leading them to apprehend and revere the principles of their magnificent language. But in Wordsworth
is the English tongue seen almost in its perfection; its powers of delicate expression, its flexible idioms, its vast compass, the rich variety of its rhythms, being all displayed in the attractive garb of verse, and yet with a most rigorous conformity to the laws of its own syntax." This high tribute will bear the test of close study; and, let me add, that this admirable command of the language is the reward of that dutiful culture which is a characteristic of the poet.
In the early part of this lecture, I had occasion to speak of those miserable poetic sophistries which tempted men and women to think that there is magnanimity in the littleness of a morbid pride, and poetic beauty in dreary moodiness. It was Wordsworth's function, with his manly wisdom, with the true feeling of his full-beating heart, and with the further-reaching vision of his imagination, to sweep these heresies. away, showing by his own example that
" A cheerful life is what the Muses love,
A soaring spirit is their prime delight,” and teaching that lesson, which poetry and morals alike should give:
“ If thou be one whose heart the holy forms
-Henceforth be warned ; and know that Pride,
For any living thing, hath faculties
In lowliness of heart." I have also had occasion to show how morbid and dangerous the love of innocent, inanimate nature may become when it is linked with infidelity—how it will sink down into a vile and weak materialism. By no poet that ever lived has the face of nature, the world of sight and sound, from the planetary motions in the heavens down to the restless shadow of the smallest flower, been so sedulously studied during a long life, and all the utterance his poetry gives of that study is meant to inspire
** The glorious habit by which sense is made
Subservient still to moral purposes,
Auxiliar to divine." Never, as in the sensuous and irreligious poets, is the material world suffered to encroach upon the spiritual, still less to get dominion over it. So far from any such delusion, observe how in that well-known passage in The Excursion, the sublimity of which is sometimes overlooked in the beauty of the illustration, he proclaims this truth—that the universe, this material universe, is a shell, from which the ear of Faith can hear mysterious murmurings of the Deity.
6 I have seen
The love of nature thus taught, associated with holy thoughts and grent emotions, is made perpetual enjoyment, open, too, to every human being: and he who receives the poet's teaching may make the poet's words his own.
I had reserved for the conclusion of this lecture some notice of the female authors of this century. Ungracious as it will be for such a subject, I feel that I must give it a brevity considerate of your patience. It is a fine characteristic of the literature of our times, that the genius of woman has shared largely and honourably in it. It has been so, from the share which Joanna Baillie had in the restoration of a more truthful tone of poetic feeling, and the delightful fictions with which Maria Edgeworth used to charm our childhood, down to the later company of women who still adorn both prose and poetic literature. There have been instances of female authorship in such modest retirement that the world has not known them well enough. There is much that illustrates the gracefulness and delicacy of the womanly mind, but over and above all this, and combined with it, the literature of our times has developed an energy which womanly authorship had not shown before : I do not mean a masculine energy, but a genuine womanly power. Those writers who are, I think, chiefly distinguished for such power, as well as beauty of genius, are Mrs. Jameson, as a prose-writer, and especially in her admirable criticisms both on art and literature; Mrs. Kemble, Mrs. Norton, and Mrs. Browning, formerly Miss Barrett. Indulge me with a few minutes more for an illustration or two of the poetic power I speak of. Every person, probably, after youth is passed, is conscious at some time of a deep craving for repose, for a tranquillity inward and outward: this universal feeling is thus expressed in these lines:
“But to be still! oh, but to cease awhile
The panting breath and hurrying steps of life,
From this quick, gasping life, were to be blest !”. It is an honourable and characteristic distinction of the female authorship of the day that it has devoted itself, in several forms, to the cause of suffering humanity.
Would you know what might there is in the voice that speaks from a woman-poet's full heart, what power of imagination no less than of sympathy and pity, find that earnest plea which Elizabeth Barrett uttered against the horrid sacrifice to Mammon, which was once the shame of Britain's factories. It is entitled “ The Cry of the Children.” I quote only the opening stanza :
“Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
Ere the sorrow comes with years ?
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young birds are chirping in the nest,
The young flowers are blowing toward the West;
They are weeping bitterly;
In the country of the free." I am loth to leave so stern a strain of impassioned verse the last in your minds: she speaks with as genuine, but a gentler, voice of poetic power in the lines entitled “ Patience Taught by Nature :"
""O‘dreary life !' we cry, 'O dreary life!'
And still the generations of the birds
Tragic and Elegiac Poetry.
CONTRAST OF SUBJECTS, SERIOUS AND GAY--TRAGIC POETRY-ILLUSTRATED IN HISTORY
DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN-CLARENDON'S RAISING THE STANDARD AT NOTTINGHAM MORAL USE OF TRAGIC POETRY-ALLSTON'S CRITICISM-ELEGIAC POETRY-ITS POWER NOT MERE SENTIMENTALISM-GRAY'S ELEGY, AN UNIVERSAL POEM-PHILIP VAN ARTEVELDE-CAROLINE BOWLES—"PAUPER'S DEATH BED"-WORDSWORTH'S ELEGIES-MILTON'S LYCIDAS-ADONAIS-IN MEMORIAM-SHELLEY'S POEM ON DEATH OF KEATES--TENNISON-IN MEMORIAM REVIEWED.
The two lectures I am about to deliver relate to subjects aside froin the continuous course just completed. They are, however, illustrative of it, though not part of it; and therefore, I hope, not inappropriate or unwelcome. The first lecture relates to the literature of tragedy and sorrow, the second to the literature of wit and humour; whether I shall add another to this brief supplementary course will depend on personal considerations which I need not now refer to. It is not necessary, I hope, for me to disclaim, in this arrangement of two of these lectures, all attempts at the mere effect of contrast, for it is no ambition of mine to catch the attention of my hearers by any such artifice, or to startle them with an antithesis of subjects. My purpose in placing, immediately after the serious subjects of the first lecture, the literature of Wit and Humour, was rather to show that the transition need not be a violent one; that there may be found in literature a response to the sad and solemn feelings of our nature, and also for its happy and joyous emotions; and that over both these departments of letters there may be seen shining the same moral light. I have set these subjects, apparently so different, in close continuity, in the hope of thus proving the completeness of such companionship as books can add to that between living human beings a companionship for life, in shadow or in sunshine; in the hope of showing that there is a wisdom in books which holds genial and restorative communion with tears and a sorrowing spirit, and no less genial and salutary with that other attribute of humanity, smiles and a cheerful heart.
Thus there may be a discipline for faculties and powers too often fitfully or unequally indulged or cultivated-a discipline of the thoughts and feelings which are associated with the sorrows of life, and no less of those which have fellowship with its joys and merriment: for those who are docile to receive, or sedulous to seek them, there are lessons which teach a sanity