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opened them both to each family alike. This cottage and its grounds were formerly the property of Charles Lloyd, the brother-in-law of Dr. Wordsworth, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, also a Friend, and one of the Bristol and Stowey coterie. Both he and Lovell have long been dead; Lovell, indeed, was drowned, on a voyage to Ireland, in the very heyday of the dreams of Pantisocracy, in which he was an eager participant.
The poet's house itself is a proper poet's abode. It is at once modest, plain, yet tasteful and elegant. An ordinary dining-room, a breakfast-room in the centre, and a library beyond, form the chief apartments. There are a few pictures and busts, especially those of Scott and himself, a fine engraving of Burns, and the like, with a good collection of books, few of them very modern. In the diningroom there stands an old cabinet, which is a sort of genealogical piece of furniture, bearing this inscription :
Hoc op' fiebat Ao D ni M°CCCCC XXV° ex sūptu WuI'mi Wordsworth,
Pengstõ quorü aniabus p' picietur De'! A great part of the labour of laying out the garden, raising the terraces at Rydal, and planting the trees, was that of the poet himself. The property belongs to Lady Fleming, but Wordsworth bought a piece of land lying just below, with the fatherly intent, that should his daughter at any time incline to live there, she might, if she chose, erect a house for herself in the old and endeared situation.
The trees display a prodigality of growth, that make what are meant for walks almost a wilderness. On observing to the poet that he really should have his laurels pruned a little, the old man smiled, paused, and said, with a pardonable self-complacency,—“Ay, I will tell you an anecdote about that. A certain general was going round the place attended by the gardener, when he suddenly remarked, as you do, the flourishing growth of the trees, especially of the evergreens, and said, “Which of all your trees do you think flourishes most here?
I don't know, Sir,' said James ; 'but I think the laurel.' “ "Well, that is as it should be, you know,' added the general.
“ Why it should be so, James could not tell, and made the remark.
“Don't you know,' continued the general, “that the laurel is the symbol of distinction for some achievement, and especially in that art of which Mr. Wordsworth is so eminent a master ? therefore it is quite right that it should flourish so conspicuously here.'
By this," continued the poet, “James acquired two new pieces of intelligence ; first, that the laurel was a symbol of eminence, and that his master was an eminent inan, of both which facts he had been before very innocently ignorant."
It may be supposed that, during the summer, Wordsworth being in the very centre of a region swarming with tourists and hunters of the picturesque, and in the very highway of their route, was regularly beset by them. Day after day brought up whole troops of them from every quarter of these kingdoms, and no few from America. The worthy old man professed a good deal of andoraHD at being thus lionized, but it was an annoyance which obviously bsd its agreeable side. No one can doubt that it would have been a far greater annoyance if, after a life devoted to poetry, people, in quest of “the sublime and beautiful,” had hurried past, scoured over al the hills and dales, and passed unnoticed the poet's gate. As it is he had an ever-swinging censer of the flattery of public curiosity tossing at his door. Note after note was sent in, the long leren continued from day to day-the aged minstrel voted it a bore, ad quietly enjoyed it.
Some years ago, Mrs. Howitt and myself spending a few dar there, we witnessed a curious scene of this kind. The serrut came in, announcing that a gentleman and a large party of li wished to see the place. “Very well, they can see it," said Mr. Wordsworth.
“But the gentleman wished to see you, Sir.” “Who is it 1-D. he give his name?” “No, Sir.” “Then ask him for it."
The servant went, and returned, saying, “The gentleman si that he knew Mr. Wordsworth's name very well, as everybods des but that Mr. Wordsworth would not know his if he sent him his card.”
“Then say, I am sorry, but I cannot see him."
The servant once more disappeared, and the poet broke forth into a declamation on the bore of these continual and importunate, Dit to say impudent, visits. In the midst of it the servant entered
“ Well, what did he say?"
“ That he had had the honour to shake hands with the Duke of Wellington, and that his last remaining wish in life was to slal: hands with Mr. Wordsworth."
This was too good. The poet rose, laughing heartily. Mrs so Miss Dora Wordsworth, laughing as heartily, gently seized him, ac by an arm, and merrily pushed him out of the room. In another ninute, we beheld the worthy host bowing to the man who pois sessed such irresistible rhetoric, and to his large accompaniment of ladies, and doing the amiable, by pointing out to them the proiniru beauties of the view.
The life of Wordsworth is not yet written. It is not in the mente family memoir that you see the complete man—the man, as well as the poet and philosopher—the man in his daily habits, and in the character which he presented to those constantly about him. What ever may be the ideal of a poet, “a man's a man for a' that;" it is that genuine, domestic, and homely view of him, combined with our conception of his genius, which we always wish to seur, and so rarely do, from the limnings of filial or kindred biographie who are generally anxious to present us, not a mortal man, but a hero. The son of Crabbe is an admirable exception to this rule and he has given us numerous traits of his father which make it smile, but only heighten our regard. And an abundance of such trata had Wordsworth, not yet to be met with in any biography. He is
with all his solemnity and his poetry, a plain man. He did not walk his mountains in stilts, but in good hob-nailed shoes, often with a grey shepherd's plaid on his shoulders, and a broad straw hat, or a simple cloth cap, on his head. You might have taken him for a good honest old countryman, and it would only be by entering into conversation with him that you would discover the man of great mind.
In truth, no man ever devoted a whole life so thoroughly, so exclusively to his art, as did Wordsworth. It was his one and perpetual employment. His distributorship of stamps went on with scarcely a thought from him. To ramble up and down his mountain-glens, humming over and shaping his poetry, was his life-long business. Like almost all poets, he was an actual humming-bird ; that is, he went about perpetually humming aloud the verses which he was making. By this hum you might find him at any time if he were on the premises.
By his habit of living almost wholly apart from society, and dwelling in his own mental perceptions, he had certainly acquired a very cold and solemn exterior. His whole soul, and the totality of his sympathies, appeared centred in himself. That he did sympathise with other men you had to learn from his writings. He had, undoubtedly, a very serious conviction that he was nearly the sole, and certainly far the most exalted poet in England. Hogg has recorded, in infinite disgust, his undisguised display of this feeling in the presence of himself and John Wilson; and though Wilson was the man who, by chalking up the praises of Wordsworth regularly and for a long time in Blackwood, as Warren used to chalk up his blacking, did really stem the tide of public ridicule, and accelerate his popularity, we nowhere perceive in Wordsworth, as we have stated, a reciprocation of this generous feeling, and Wilson is scarcely mentioned in the whole Life of Wordsworth, though they lived many years within a few miles of each other. Nay, no one could be long in Wordsworth's company without discovering that he was affected by a deep jealousy of the great fame of Sir Walter Scott, and delighted to depreciate his claims to it, as is very truly noticed by Moore in his Journal.
On the other hand, never was he so happy as when detailing the merits of William Wordsworth, or reading you his poetry; and if you expressed an approbation of any passage, he would say, “Ha! do you like that?" and read it you again. Egotism in him was become a simple and unconscious egotism. Yet in the most ordinary or unceremonious hours of life he never seemed to relax his stately solemnity, and this sometimes gave an irresistibly ludicrous character to his proceedings. Emerson has given a laughable account of his breaking out and declaiming to him some of his verses in schoolboy style, and his appearance rendered the more strange by his green goggles.
If you sat down and entered into earnest conversation with him, Mrs. Wordsworth would come very quickly and seat herself on the other side of him. She would bring a great basket of stockings to mend, or would pull off her slipper and begin stitching it. She said that her object on these occasions was to prevent his forgetting to breathe; but you soon discovered another cause. Leigo Hunt observed, even in his youth, that he had a habit of putting his band into his waistcoat bosom when engaged in argument, and scening to clutch at himself as he became earnest. This had grown so much upon him, that if not prevented he would soon pull his shirt quita out at his bosom. A hint from time to time by his watchful sp 253 prevented this catastrophe.
A lady who spent a considerable time at Rydal Mount was, 8000 after going there, rather astonished at this incident. They were sitting by each other in Grasmere church, to which they had walked when the poet, taking the skirt of her dress, and spreading it over his knees, whispered to her, “Excuse me, but I forgot to put on my drawers this morning, and I find it very cold.”
On another occasion, as they were walking up the mountain side behind Rydal Mount, the poet wrapped in his grey plaid, and wear ing a remarkably broad hat, and still more remarkable pair of grati spectacles, was haranguing on his poetry in a high and solemn stran, when suddenly he disappeared. The lady, in amazement, loodud round, but she could perceive nothing but a very rapid motion and whirling of the dead leaves which filled a ravine beneath her, till, at length, she saw Wordsworth roll out of these leaves at the bottom of the glen. He had set his foot, not upon solid ground, but on this delusive accumulation of leaves, and had spun down the ravi through them to the valley below.
The lady hastened in alarm down the hill side as well as she opull and inquired if he was hurt. To all appearance he was greatly su He stood motionless, dark and solemn; but to her anxious inquit, he replied, raising his finger in a most imposing manner, in a deep and serious tone, “ Promise me, that while I live you will never mistion this circumstance. Promise-promise faithfully." He did not say why he extorted this great promise, but the lady felt that it was because he considered his dignity at stake.
But Rogers once told me a still more amusing occurrence, and ap peared to enjoy the relation of it greatly. Soon after being appointed poet laureate, he said, Wordsworth being in town, and his guest came in one day in great trepidation, exclaiming, “What is to be done? I have received the commands of her Majesty to attend the levee to-morrow. I never was at court in my life, and what is work, I have no other dress than this in town!” an ordinary morning costume, of not the most fashionable cut. “Oh! never mind," said Rogers, “ I'll tog you out. And so,” he continued, “We stuttet him into my court suit, as well as we could ; but, as he was a moc larger man than me, that was no easy matter. However, by diat of labour, we did it. He was buttoned up as tight as a beetle in itz shell, and away I sent him in my carriage.”
The next day a lady called, and was talking over the incidents of the levee. “But of all things," she said, “I would like to know wha that venerable old gentleman was, who knelt so long before the Queen. Her Majesty smiled most graciously upon him, and there the old gentleman remained, as though he would never get up."
“Ah, madam !” said Rogers, laughing, "he would have been glad enough to get up, I can tell you. That was Wordsworth; but he had my breeches on, and they were so tight for him, that he was actually in despair of ever rising to his feet again."
These are simple incidents which might occur in any one's life; but it is the characteristic solemnity of Wordsworth's demeanour which gives them a peculiar force. To Scott or Campbell, or John Wilson, who with all their reputation could indulge in whim and merriment, they would have been but the laughter of the moment. And who thinks one whit the worse of Wordsworth for such amusing occurrences ? He is not the less the great poet, but he is far more the actual man of flesh and blood. It is when we discover that he was like ourselves, had his little oddities and foibles, that we approach nearer to him. He ceases to be to us a mere picture or statue, a mere walking phantasm amongst his mountain mists, and we now feel the pulsation in his extended hand, and know that his blood has warmth in it.
It is well known that the dread of a railroad into the lake country alarmed Wordsworth into the firing off a sonnet against it, and that his annoyance was increased by the launch of a steam-boat on Windermere. There is some mitigation of our surprise, that the poet who knew and had so well described the nuisances of cities and manufacturing towns, should thus see with disgust the beautiful and breezy region of the lakes laid open to them, when we know that this railroad was proposed to be carried close under his beloved retirement; but still it was befitting the generosity of the man, who had, in so many forms, given us an interest in the toil-worn and the lowly, to be prepared to make some sacrifice of that quiet which he had so long and so richly enjoyed, to the spread of health and rational pleasure amongst the humble workers of the mill ; remembering his own impressive words :
"Turn to private life
For all, and yet how few are warmed or cheered!” None of our poets had ampler opportunities of expanding their intellectual horizon, and storing their minds with various and sublime imagery by travel, than Wordsworth. He made numerous tours in Italy, France, Germany, and into all the finest parts of these islands. One of the haunts of Wordsworth must not be omitted, that of Colcorton, the seat of his friend, Sir George Beaumont, the artist, in Leicestershire, where there are several memorials with inscriptions by the poet, erected in the grounds, commemorating his visits there.
Wordsworth lost his very interesting daughter, Dora, before his own death. She was married to Mr. Quillinan in 184), and died in 1817. His brother, Dr. Wordsworth, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, died in 1846, and the poet closed his own career in 1850, on the twenty-third of April, the day of Shakspeare's birth und death, having just completed his eightieth year.