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The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. III by William Wordsworth

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Some pensive musings which might well beseem
Maturer years.
A grove there is whose boughs
Stretch from the western marge of Thurston-mere, [k]
With length of shade so thick, that whoso glides 460
Along the line of low-roofed water, moves
As in a cloister. Once--while, in that shade
Loitering, I watched the golden beams of light
Flung from the setting sun, as they reposed
In silent beauty on the naked ridge 465
Of a high eastern hill--thus flowed my thoughts
In a pure stream of words fresh from the heart:
Dear native Regions, [m] wheresoe'er shall close
My mortal course, there will I think on you;
Dying, will cast on you a backward look; 470
Even as this setting sun (albeit the Vale
Is no where touched by one memorial gleam)
Doth with the fond remains of his last power
Still linger, and a farewell lustre sheds
On the dear mountain-tops where first he rose. 475

Enough of humble arguments; recal,
My Song! those high emotions which thy voice
Has heretofore made known; that bursting forth
Of sympathy, inspiring and inspired,
When everywhere a vital pulse was felt, 480
And all the several frames of things, like stars,
Through every magnitude distinguishable,
Shone mutually indebted, or half lost
Each in the other's blaze, a galaxy
Of life and glory. In the midst stood Man, 485
Outwardly, inwardly contemplated,
As, of all visible natures, crown, though born
Of dust, and kindred to the worm; a Being,
Both in perception and discernment, first
In every capability of rapture, 490
Through the divine effect of power and love;
As, more than anything we know, instinct
With godhead, and, by reason and by will,
Acknowledging dependency sublime.

Ere long, the lonely mountains left, I moved, 495
Begirt, from day to day, with temporal shapes
Of vice and folly thrust upon my view,
Objects of sport, and ridicule, and scorn,
Manners and characters discriminate,
And little bustling passions that eclipse, 500
As well they might, the impersonated thought,
The idea, or abstraction of the kind.

An idler among academic bowers,
Such was my new condition, as at large
Has been set forth; [n] yet here the vulgar light 505
Of present, actual, superficial life,
Gleaming through colouring of other times,
Old usages and local privilege,
Was welcome, softened, if not solemnised.

This notwithstanding, being brought more near 510
To vice and guilt, forerunning wretchedness
I trembled,--thought, at times, of human life
With an indefinite terror and dismay,
Such as the storms and angry elements
Had bred in me; but gloomier far, a dim 515
Analogy to uproar and misrule,
Disquiet, danger, and obscurity.

It might be told (but wherefore speak of things
Common to all?) that, seeing, I was led
Gravely to ponder--judging between good 520
And evil, not as for the mind's delight
But for her guidance--one who was to _act_,
As sometimes to the best of feeble means
I did, by human sympathy impelled:
And, through dislike and most offensive pain, 525
Was to the truth conducted; of this faith
Never forsaken, that, by acting well,
And understanding, I should learn to love
The end of life, and every thing we know.

Grave Teacher, stern Preceptress! for at times 530
Thou canst put on an aspect most severe;
London, to thee I willingly return.
Erewhile my verse played idly with the flowers
Enwrought upon thy mantle; satisfied
With that amusement, and a simple look 535
Of child-like inquisition now and then
Cast upwards on thy countenance, to detect
Some inner meanings which might harbour there.
But how could I in mood so light indulge,
Keeping such fresh remembrance of the day, 540
When, having thridded the long labyrinth
Of the suburban villages, I first
Entered thy vast dominion? [o] On the roof
Of an itinerant vehicle I sate,
With vulgar men about me, trivial forms 545
Of houses, pavement, streets, of men and things,--
Mean shapes on every side: but, at the instant,
When to myself it fairly might be said,
The threshold now is overpast, (how strange
That aught external to the living mind 550
Should have such mighty sway! yet so it was),
A weight of ages did at once descend
Upon my heart; no thought embodied, no
Distinct remembrances, but weight and power,--
Power growing under weight: alas! I feel 555
That I am trifling: 'twas a moment's pause,--
All that took place within me came and went
As in a moment; yet with Time it dwells,
And grateful memory, as a thing divine.

The curious traveller, who, from open day, 560
Hath passed with torches into some huge cave,
The Grotto of Antiparos, [p] or the Den
In old time haunted by that Danish Witch,
Yordas; [q] he looks around and sees the vault
Widening on all sides; sees, or thinks he sees, 565
Erelong, the massy roof above his head,
That instantly unsettles and recedes,--
Substance and shadow, light and darkness, all
Commingled, making up a canopy
Of shapes and forms and tendencies to shape 570
That shift and vanish, change and interchange
Like spectres,--ferment silent and sublime!
That after a short space works less and less,
Till, every effort, every motion gone,
The scene before him stands in perfect view 575
Exposed, and lifeless as a written book!--
But let him pause awhile, and look again,
And a new quickening shall succeed, at first
Beginning timidly, then creeping fast,
Till the whole cave, so late a senseless mass, 580
Busies the eye with images and forms
Boldly assembled,--here is shadowed forth
From the projections, wrinkles, cavities,
A variegated landscape,--there the shape
Of some gigantic warrior clad in mail, 585
The ghostly semblance of a hooded monk.
Veiled nun, or pilgrim resting on his staff:
Strange congregation! yet not slow to meet
Eyes that perceive through minds that can inspire.

Even in such sort had I at first been moved, 590
Nor otherwise continued to be moved,
As I explored the vast metropolis,
Fount of my country's destiny and the world's;
That great emporium, chronicle at once
And burial-place of passions, and their home 595
Imperial, their chief living residence.

With strong sensations teeming as it did
Of past and present, such a place must needs
Have pleased me, seeking knowledge at that time
Far less than craving power; yet knowledge came, 600
Sought or unsought, and influxes of power
Came, of themselves, or at her call derived
In fits of kindliest apprehensiveness,
From all sides, when whate'er was in itself
Capacious found, or seemed to find, in me 605
A correspondent amplitude of mind;
Such is the strength and glory of our youth!
The human nature unto which I felt
That I belonged, and reverenced with love,
Was not a punctual presence, but a spirit 610
Diffused through time and space, with aid derived
Of evidence from monuments, erect,
Prostrate, or leaning towards their common rest
In earth, the widely scattered wreck sublime
Of vanished nations, or more clearly drawn 615
From books and what they picture and record.

'Tis true, the history of our native land,
With those of Greece compared and popular Rome,
And in our high-wrought modern narratives
Stript of their harmonising soul, the life 620
Of manners and familiar incidents,
Had never much delighted me. And less
Than other intellects had mine been used
To lean upon extrinsic circumstance
Of record or tradition; but a sense 625
Of what in the Great City had been done
And suffered, and was doing, suffering, still,
Weighed with me, could support the test of thought;
And, in despite of all that had gone by,
Or was departing never to return, 630
There I conversed with majesty and power
Like independent natures. Hence the place
Was thronged with impregnations like the Wilds
In which my early feelings had been nursed--
Bare hills and valleys, full of caverns, rocks, 635
And audible seclusions, dashing lakes,
Echoes and waterfalls, and pointed crags
That into music touch the passing wind.
Here then my young imagination found
No uncongenial element; could here 640
Among new objects serve or give command,
Even as the heart's occasions might require,
To forward reason's else too scrupulous march.
The effect was, still more elevated views
Of human nature. Neither vice nor guilt, 645
Debasement undergone by body or mind,
Nor all the misery forced upon my sight,
Misery not lightly passed, but sometimes scanned
Most feelingly, could overthrow my trust
In what we _may_ become; induce belief 650
That I was ignorant, had been falsely taught,
A solitary, who with vain conceits
Had been inspired, and walked about in dreams.
From those sad scenes when meditation turned,
Lo! every thing that was indeed divine 655
Retained its purity inviolate,
Nay brighter shone, by this portentous gloom
Set off; such opposition as aroused
The mind of Adam, yet in Paradise
Though fallen from bliss, when in the East he saw 660
[r] Darkness ere day's mid course, and morning light
More orient in the western cloud, that drew
O'er the blue firmament a radiant white,
Descending slow with something heavenly fraught.
Add also, that among the multitudes 665
Of that huge city, oftentimes was seen
Affectingly set forth, more than elsewhere
Is possible, the unity of man,
One spirit over ignorance and vice
Predominant, in good and evil hearts; 670
One sense for moral judgments, as one eye
For the sun's light. The soul when smitten thus
By a sublime _idea_, whencesoe'er
Vouchsafed for union or communion, feeds
On the pure bliss, and takes her rest with God. 675
Thus from a very early age, O Friend!
My thoughts by slow gradations had been drawn
To human-kind, and to the good and ill
Of human life: Nature had led me on;
And oft amid the "busy hum" I seemed [s] 680
To travel independent of her help,
As if I had forgotten her; but no,
The world of human-kind outweighed not hers
In my habitual thoughts; the scale of love,
Though filling daily, still was light, compared 685
With that in which _her_ mighty objects lay.

* * * * *


[Variant 1:

... which ...

MS. letter to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 2:

Is yon assembled in the gay green field?

MS. letter to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 3:

... family of men,
Twice twenty with their children and their wives,
And here and there a stranger interspersed.
Such show, on this side now, ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 4:

Sees annually; if storms be not abroad
And mists have left him ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 5:

It is a summer Festival, a Fair,
The only one which that secluded Glen
Has to be proud of ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 6:

... heat of noon,
Behold! the cattle are driven down, the sheep
That have for this day's traffic been call'd out

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 7:

... visitant!
The showman with his freight upon his back,
And once, perchance, in lapse of many years

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 8:

But one is here, ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 9:

... orchard, apples, pears,
(On this day only to such office stooping)
She carries in her basket and walks round

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 10:

... calling, ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 11:

... rich, the old man now (l. 44)
Is generous, so gaiety prevails
Which all partake of, young and old. Immense (l. 55)

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 12:

... green field:

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 13:

... seem,
Their herds and flocks about them, they themselves
And all which they can further ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 14:

The lurking brooks for their ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

[Variant 15:

And the blue sky that roofs ...

MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]

* * * * *


[Footnote A: Dorothy Wordsworth alludes to one of these "Fairs" in her
Grasmere Journal, September 2, 1800. Her brothers William and John, with
Coleridge, were all at Dove Cottage at that time.

"They all went to Stickle Tarn. A very fine, warm, sunny, beautiful
morning. We walked to the fair. ... It was a lovely moonlight night.
We talked much about our house on Helvellyn. The moonlight shone only
upon the village. It did not eclipse the village lights; and the sound
of dancing and merriment came along the still air. I walked with
Coleridge and William up the lane and by the church...."


[Footnote B: These lines are from a descriptive Poem--'Malvern
Hills'--by one of Wordsworth's oldest friends, Mr. Joseph Cottle of
Bristol. Cottle was the publisher of the first edition of "Lyrical
Ballads," 1798 (Mr. Carter 1850).--Ed.]

[Footnote C: The district round Cockermouth.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: Possibly an allusion to the hanging gardens of Babylon,
said to have been constructed by Nebuchadnezzar for his Median queen.
Berosus in Joseph, _contr. Ap._ I. 19, calls it a hanging _Paradise_
(though Diodorus Siculus uses the term [Greek: kaepos]).--Ed.

The park of the Emperor of China at Gehol, is called 'Van-shoo-yuen',
"the paradise of ten thousand trees." Lord Macartney concludes his
description of that "wonderful garden" by saying,

"If any place can be said in any respect to have similar features to
the western park of 'Van-shoo-yuen,' which I have seen this day, it is
at Lowther Hall in Westmoreland, which (when I knew it many years ago)
... I thought might be reckoned ... the finest scene in the British

See Barrow's 'Travels in China', p. 134.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: 150 miles north-east of Pekin. See a description of them in
Sir George Stanton's 'Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of
Great Britain to the Emperor of China' (from the papers of Lord
Macartney), London, 1797, vol. ii. ch. ii. See also 'Encyclopaedia
Britannica', ninth edition, article "Gehol."--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Compare 'Paradise Lost', iv. l. 242.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: Compare 'Kubla Khan', ll. 1, 2:

'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree.'


[Footnote H: The Hawkshead district.--Ed.]

[Footnote I: Compare 'Michael', vol. ii. p. 215, 'Fidelity', p. 44 of
this vol., etc.--Ed.]

[Footnote K: See Virgil, 'AEneid' viii. 319.--Ed.]

[Footnote L: See Polybius, 'Historiarum libri qui supersunt', vi. 20,
21; and Virgil, 'Eclogue' x. 32.--Ed.]

[Footnote M: See 'As You Like It', act III. scene v.--Ed.]

[Footnote N: See 'The Winter's Tale', act IV. scene iii.--Ed.]

[Footnote O: See Spenser, 'The Shepheard's Calendar (May)'.--Ed.]

[Footnote P: An Italian river in Calabria, famous for its groves and the
fine-fleeced sheep that pastured on its banks. See Virgil, 'Georgics'
iv. 126; Horace, 'Odes' II. vi. 10.--Ed.]

[Footnote Q: The Adriatic Sea. See Acts xxvii. 27.--Ed.]

[Footnote R: An Umbrian river whose waters, when drunk, were supposed to
make oxen white. See Virgil, 'Georgics' ii. 146; Pliny, 'Historia
Naturalis', ii. 103.--Ed.]

[Footnote S: A hill in the Sabine country, overhanging a pleasant
valley. Near it were the house and farm of Horace. See his 'Odes' I.
xvii. 1.--Ed.]

[Footnote T: The plain at the foot of the Harz Mountains, near

[Footnote U: In the Fenwick note to the poem 'Written in Germany', vol.
ii. p. 73, he says that he "walked daily on the ramparts."--Ed.]

[Footnote V: 'Hercynian forest'.--(See Caesar, 'B. G.' vi. 24, 25.)
According to Caesar it commenced on the east bank of the Rhine,
stretching east and north, its breadth being nine days' journey, and its
length sixty. Strabo (iv. p. 292) included within the Hercynia Silva all
the mountains of southern and central Germany, from the Danube to
Transylvania. Later, it was limited to the mountains round Bohemia and
extending to Hungary. (See Tacitus, 'Germania', 28, 30; and Pliny,
'Historia Naturalis', iv. 25, 28.) A trace of the ancient name is
retained in the 'Harz' mountains, which are clothed everywhere with
conifers, Harz=resin.--Ed.]

[Footnote W: Yewdale, Duddondale, Eskdale, Wastdale, Ennerdale.--Ed.]

[Footnote X: Compare the sonnet in "Yarrow Revisited," etc., No. XI.,
'Suggested at Tyndrum in a Storm'.--Ed.]

[Footnote Y: See book vi. l. 485 and note [Footnote Z, below].--Ed.]

[Footnote Z: Corin=Corydon? the shepherd referred to in the pastorals of
Virgil and Theocritus. Phyllis, see Virgil, 'Eclogue' x. 37, 41.--Ed.]

[Footnote a: While living in Anne Tyson's Cottage at Hawkshead.--Ed.]

[Footnote b: Compare 'Tintern Abbey', vol. ii. p. 54:

'Nature then,
To me was all in all, etc.'


[Footnote c: He spent his twenty-second summer at Blois, in

[Footnote d: Compare 'Hart-Leap Well', vol. ii. p. 128, and 'The Green
Linnet', vol. ii. p. 367.--Ed.]

[Footnote e: The 'Evening Walk', and 'Descriptive Sketches', published
1793. See especially the original text of the latter, in the appendix to
vol. 1. p. 309.--Ed.]TWO FOOTNOTES

[Footnote f: It is difficult to say where this "smooth rock wet with
constant springs" and the "copse-clad bank" were. There is no copse-clad
bank fronting Anne Tyson's cottage at Hawkshead. It may have been a rock
on the wooded slope of the rounded hill that rises west of Cowper
Ground, north-west of Hawkshead. A rock "wet with springs" existed
there, till it was quarried for road-metal a few years since. But it is
quite possible that the cottage referred to is Dove Cottage, Grasmere.
In that case the "rock" and "copse-clad bank" may have been on
Loughrigg, or more probably on Silver How. The "summer sun" goes down
behind Silver How, so that it might smite a wet rock either on Hammar
Scar or on the wooded crags above Red Bank. These could be seen from the
window of one of the rooms of Dove Cottage. Seated beside the hearth of
the "half-kitchen and half-parlour fire" in that cottage, and looking
along the passage through the low door, the eye would rest on Hammar
Scar, the wooded hill behind Allan Bank. The context of the poem points
to Hawkshead; but the details of the description suggest the Grasmere
cottage rather than Anne Tyson's.--Ed.]

[Footnote g: See the distinction drawn by Wordsworth between Fancy and
Imagination in the Preface to "Lyrical Ballads" (1800 and subsequent
editions), and embodied in his classification of the Poems.--Ed.]

[Footnote h: Westmoreland.--Ed.]

[Footnote i: See note [Footnote a], book ii. l. 451.--Ed.]

[Footnote k: Coniston lake; see note [Footnote m below] on the following

[Footnote m: The eight lines which follow are a recast, in the blank
verse of 'The Prelude', of the youthful lines entitled 'Extract from the
Conclusion of a Poem, composed in Anticipation of leaving School'. These
were composed in Wordsworth's sixteenth year. As the contrast is
striking, the earlier lines may be transcribed:

'Dear native regions, I foretell,
From what I feel at this farewell,
That, wheresoe'er my steps may tend,
And whensoe'er my course shall end,
If in that hour a single tie
Survive of local sympathy,
My soul will cast the backward view,
The longing look alone on you.

Thus, while the Sun sinks down to rest
Far in the regions of the west,
Though to the vale no parting beam
Be given, not one memorial gleam,
A lingering light he fondly throws
On the dear hills where first he rose.'

The Fenwick note to this poem is as follows:

"The beautiful image with which this poem concludes suggested itself
to me while I was resting in a boat along with my companions under the
shade of a magnificent row of sycamores, which then extended their
branches from the shore of the promontory upon with stands the
ancient, and at that time the more picturesque, Hall of Coniston."

There is nothing in either poem definitely to connect "Thurstonmere"
with Coniston, although their identity is suggested by the Fenwick note.
I find, however, that Thurston was the ancient name of Coniston; and
this carries us back to the time of the worship of Thor. (See Lewis's
'Topographical Dictionary of England', vol. i. p. 662; also the
'Edinburgh Gazetteer' (1822), articles "Thurston" and "Coniston.") The
site of the grove "on the shore of the promontory" at Coniston Lake is
easily identified, but the grove itself is gone.--Ed.]

[Footnote n: Compare book iii. ll. 30 and 321-26; also book vi, ll. 25
and 95, both text and notes.--Ed.]

[Footnote o: Probably in 1788. Compare book vii. ll. 61-68, and note
[Footnote K].--Ed.]

[Footnote p: A stalactite cave, in a mountain in the south coast of the
island of Antiparos, which is one of the Cyclades. It is six miles from
Paros, was famous in ancient times, and was rediscovered in 1673.--Ed.]

[Footnote q: There is a cave, called Yordas Cave, four and a half miles
from Ingleton in Lonsdale, Yorkshire. It is a limestone cavern, rich in
stalactites, like the grotto of Antiparos; and is at the foot of the
slopes of Gragreth, formerly called Greg-roof. It gets its name from a
traditional giant 'Yordas'; some of its recesses being called "Yordas'
bed-chamber," "Yordas' oven," etc. See Allen's 'County of York', iii. p.
359; also Bigland's "Yorkshire" in 'The Beauties of England and Wales',
vol. xvi. p. 735, and Murray's 'Handbook for Yorkshire', p. 392.--Ed.]

[Footnote r: From Milton, 'Paradise Lost', book xi. 1. 204:

'Why in the East
Darkness ere day's mid-course, and Morning light
More orient in yon Western Cloud, that draws
O'er the blue Firmament a radiant white,
And slow descends, with something heav'nly fraught?'


[Footnote s: See 'L'Allegro', l. 118.--Ed.]

* * * * *



Even as a river,--partly (it might seem)
Yielding to old remembrances, and swayed
In part by fear to shape a way direct,
That would engulph him soon in the ravenous sea--
Turns, and will measure back his course, far back, 5
Seeking the very regions which he crossed
In his first outset; so have we, my Friend!
Turned and returned with intricate delay.
Or as a traveller, who has gained the brow
Of some aerial Down, while there he halts 10
For breathing-time, is tempted to review
The region left behind him; and, if aught
Deserving notice have escaped regard,
Or been regarded with too careless eye,
Strives, from that height, with one and yet one more 15
Last look, to make the best amends he may:
So have we lingered. Now we start afresh
With courage, and new hope risen on our toil
Fair greetings to this shapeless eagerness,
Whene'er it comes! needful in work so long, 20
Thrice needful to the argument which now
Awaits us! Oh, how much unlike the past!

Free as a colt at pasture on the hill,
I ranged at large, through London's wide domain,
Month after month [A]. Obscurely did I live, 25
Not seeking frequent intercourse with men,
By literature, or elegance, or rank,
Distinguished. Scarcely was a year thus spent [A]
Ere I forsook the crowded solitude,
With less regret for its luxurious pomp, 30
And all the nicely-guarded shows of art,
Than for the humble book-stalls in the streets,
Exposed to eye and hand where'er I turned.

France lured me forth; the realm that I had crossed
So lately [B], journeying toward the snow-clad Alps. 35
But now, relinquishing the scrip and staff,
And all enjoyment which the summer sun
Sheds round the steps of those who meet the day
With motion constant as his own, I went
Prepared to sojourn in a pleasant town, [C] 40
Washed by the current of the stately Loire.

Through Paris lay my readiest course, and there
Sojourning a few days, I visited,
In haste, each spot of old or recent fame,
The latter chiefly; from the field of Mars 45
Down to the suburbs of St. Antony,
And from Mont Martyr southward to the Dome
Of Genevieve [D]. In both her clamorous Halls,
The National Synod and the Jacobins,
I saw the Revolutionary Power 50
Toss like a ship at anchor, rocked by storms; [E]
The Arcades I traversed, in the Palace huge
Of Orleans; [F] coasted round and round the line
Of Tavern, Brothel, Gaming-house, and Shop,
Great rendezvous of worst and best, the walk 55
Of all who had a purpose, or had not;
I stared and listened, with a stranger's ears,
To Hawkers and Haranguers, hubbub wild!
And hissing Factionists with ardent eyes,
In knots, or pairs, or single. Not a look 60
Hope takes, or Doubt or Fear is forced to wear,
But seemed there present; and I scanned them all,
Watched every gesture uncontrollable,
Of anger, and vexation, and despite,
All side by side, and struggling face to face, 65
With gaiety and dissolute idleness.

Where silent zephyrs sported with the dust
Of the Bastille, I sate in the open sun,
And from the rubbish gathered up a stone,
And pocketed the relic, [G] in the guise 70
Of an enthusiast; yet, in honest truth,
I looked for something that I could not find,
Affecting more emotion than I felt;
For 'tis most certain, that these various sights,
However potent their first shock, with me 75
Appeared to recompense the traveller's pains
Less than the painted Magdalene of Le Brun, [H]
A beauty exquisitely wrought, with hair
Dishevelled, gleaming eyes, and rueful cheek
Pale and bedropped with everflowing tears. 80

But hence to my more permanent abode
I hasten; there, by novelties in speech,
Domestic manners, customs, gestures, looks,
And all the attire of ordinary life,
Attention was engrossed; and, thus amused, 85
I stood, 'mid those concussions, unconcerned,
Tranquil almost, and careless as a flower
Glassed in a green-house, or a parlour shrub
That spreads its leaves in unmolested peace,
While every bush and tree, the country through, 90
Is shaking to the roots: indifference this
Which may seem strange: but I was unprepared
With needful knowledge, had abruptly passed
Into a theatre, whose stage was filled
And busy with an action far advanced. 95
Like others, I had skimmed, and sometimes read
With care, the master pamphlets of the day;
Nor wanted such half-insight as grew wild
Upon that meagre soil, helped out by talk
And public news; but having never seen 100
A chronicle that might suffice to show
Whence the main organs of the public power
Had sprung, their transmigrations, when and how
Accomplished, giving thus unto events
A form and body; all things were to me 105
Loose and disjointed, and the affections left
Without a vital interest. At that time,
Moreover, the first storm was overblown,
And the strong hand of outward violence
Locked up in quiet. For myself, I fear 110
Now in connection with so great a theme
To speak (as I must be compelled to do)
Of one so unimportant; night by night
Did I frequent the formal haunts of men,
Whom, in the city, privilege of birth 115
Sequestered from the rest, societies
Polished in arts, and in punctilio versed;
Whence, and from deeper causes, all discourse
Of good and evil of the time was shunned
With scrupulous care; but these restrictions soon 120
Proved tedious, and I gradually withdrew
Into a noisier world, and thus ere long
Became a patriot; and my heart was all
Given to the people, and my love was theirs.

A band of military Officers, 125
Then stationed in the city, were the chief
Of my associates: some of these wore swords
That had been seasoned in the wars, and all
Were men well-born; the chivalry of France.
In age and temper differing, they had yet 130
One spirit ruling in each heart; alike
(Save only one, hereafter to be named) [I]
Were bent upon undoing what was done:
This was their rest and only hope; therewith
No fear had they of bad becoming worse, 135
For worst to them was come; nor would have stirred,
Or deemed it worth a moment's thought to stir,
In any thing, save only as the act
Looked thitherward. One, reckoning by years,
Was in the prime of manhood, and erewhile 140
He had sate lord in many tender hearts;
Though heedless of such honours now, and changed:
His temper was quite mastered by the times,
And they had blighted him, had eaten away
The beauty of his person, doing wrong 145
Alike to body and to mind: his port,
Which once had been erect and open, now
Was stooping and contracted, and a face,
Endowed by Nature with her fairest gifts
Of symmetry and light and bloom, expressed, 150
As much as any that was ever seen,
A ravage out of season, made by thoughts
Unhealthy and vexatious. With the hour,
That from the press of Paris duly brought
Its freight of public news, the fever came, 155
A punctual visitant, to shake this man,
Disarmed his voice and fanned his yellow cheek
Into a thousand colours; while he read,
Or mused, his sword was haunted by his touch
Continually, like an uneasy place 160
In his own body. 'Twas in truth an hour
Of universal ferment; mildest men
Were agitated; and commotions, strife
Of passion and opinion, filled the walls
Of peaceful houses with unquiet sounds. 165
The soil of common life, was, at that time,
Too hot to tread upon. Oft said I then,
And not then only, "What a mockery this
Of history, the past and that to come!
Now do I feel how all men are deceived, 170
Reading of nations and their works, in faith,
Faith given to vanity and emptiness;
Oh! laughter for the page that would reflect
To future times the face of what now is!"
The land all swarmed with passion, like a plain 175
Devoured by locusts,--Carra, Gorsas,--add
A hundred other names, forgotten now, [K]
Nor to be heard of more; yet, they were powers,
Like earthquakes, shocks repeated day by day,
And felt through every nook of town and field. 180

Such was the state of things. Meanwhile the chief
Of my associates stood prepared for flight
To augment the band of emigrants in arms [L]
Upon the borders of the Rhine, and leagued
With foreign foes mustered for instant war. 185
This was their undisguised intent, and they
Were waiting with the whole of their desires
The moment to depart.
An Englishman,
Born in a land whose very name appeared
To license some unruliness of mind; 190
A stranger, with youth's further privilege,
And the indulgence that a half-learnt speech
Wins from the courteous; I, who had been else
Shunned and not tolerated, freely lived
With these defenders of the Crown, and talked, 195
And heard their notions; nor did they disdain
The wish to bring me over to their cause.

But though untaught by thinking or by books
To reason well of polity or law,
And nice distinctions, then on every tongue, 200
Of natural rights and civil; and to acts
Of nations and their passing interests,
(If with unworldly ends and aims compared)
Almost indifferent, even the historian's tale
Prizing but little otherwise than I prized 205
Tales of the poets, as it made the heart
Beat high, and filled the fancy with fair forms,
Old heroes and their sufferings and their deeds;
Yet in the regal sceptre, and the pomp
Of orders and degrees, I nothing found 210
Then, or had ever, even in crudest youth,
That dazzled me, but rather what I mourned
And ill could brook, beholding that the best
Ruled not, and feeling that they ought to rule.

For, born in a poor district, and which yet 215
Retaineth more of ancient homeliness,
Than any other nook of English ground,
It was my fortune scarcely to have seen,
Through the whole tenor of my school-day time,
The face of one, who, whether boy or man, 220
Was vested with attention or respect
Through claims of wealth or blood; nor was it least
Of many benefits, in later years
Derived from academic institutes
And rules, that they held something up to view 225
Of a Republic, where all stood thus far
Upon equal ground; that we were brothers all
In honour, as in one community,
Scholars and gentlemen; where, furthermore,
Distinction open lay to all that came, 230
And wealth and titles were in less esteem
Than talents, worth, and prosperous industry.
Add unto this, subservience from the first
To presences of God's mysterious power
Made manifest in Nature's sovereignty, 235
And fellowship with venerable books,
To sanction the proud workings of the soul,
And mountain liberty. It could not be
But that one tutored thus should look with awe
Upon the faculties of man, receive 240
Gladly the highest promises, and hail,
As best, the government of equal rights
And individual worth. And hence, O Friend!
If at the first great outbreak I rejoiced
Less than might well befit my youth, the cause 245
In part lay here, that unto me the events
Seemed nothing out of nature's certain course,
A gift that was come rather late than soon.
No wonder, then, if advocates like these,
Inflamed by passion, blind with prejudice, 250
And stung with injury, at this riper day,
Were impotent to make my hopes put on
The shape of theirs, my understanding bend
In honour to their honour: zeal, which yet
Had slumbered, now in opposition burst 255
Forth like a Polar summer: every word
They uttered was a dart, by counter-winds
Blown back upon themselves; their reason seemed
Confusion-stricken by a higher power
Than human understanding, their discourse 260
Maimed, spiritless; and, in their weakness strong,
I triumphed.

Meantime, day by day, the roads
Were crowded with the bravest youth of France, [M]
And all the promptest of her spirits, linked
In gallant soldiership, and posting on 265
To meet the war upon her frontier bounds.
Yet at this very moment do tears start
Into mine eyes: I do not say I weep--
I wept not then,--but tears have dimmed my sight,
In memory of the farewells of that time, 270
Domestic severings, female fortitude
At dearest separation, patriot love
And self-devotion, and terrestrial hope,
Encouraged with a martyr's confidence;
Even files of strangers merely seen but once, 275
And for a moment, men from far with sound
Of music, martial tunes, and banners spread,
Entering the city, here and there a face,
Or person singled out among the rest,
Yet still a stranger and beloved as such; 280
Even by these passing spectacles my heart
Was oftentimes uplifted, and they seemed
Arguments sent from Heaven to prove the cause
Good, pure, which no one could stand up against,
Who was not lost, abandoned, selfish, proud, 285
Mean, miserable, wilfully depraved,
Hater perverse of equity and truth.

Among that band of Officers was one,
Already hinted at, [N] of other mould--
A patriot, thence rejected by the rest, 290
And with an oriental loathing spurned,
As of a different caste. A meeker man
Than this lived never, nor a more benign,
Meek though enthusiastic. Injuries
Made _him_ more gracious, and his nature then 295
Did breathe its sweetness out most sensibly,
As aromatic flowers on Alpine turf,
When foot hath crushed them. He through the events
Of that great change wandered in perfect faith,
As through a book, an old romance, or tale 300
Of Fairy, or some dream of actions wrought
Behind the summer clouds. By birth he ranked
With the most noble, but unto the poor
Among mankind he was in service bound,
As by some tie invisible, oaths professed 305
To a religious order. Man he loved
As man; and, to the mean and the obscure,
And all the homely in their homely works,
Transferred a courtesy which had no air
Of condescension; but did rather seem 310
A passion and a gallantry, like that
Which he, a soldier, in his idler day
Had paid to woman: somewhat vain he was,
Or seemed so, yet it was not vanity,
But fondness, and a kind of radiant joy 315
Diffused around him, while he was intent
On works of love or freedom, or revolved
Complacently the progress of a cause,
Whereof he was a part: yet this was meek
And placid, and took nothing from the man 320
That was delightful. Oft in solitude
With him did I discourse about the end
Of civil government, and its wisest forms;
Of ancient loyalty, and chartered rights,
Custom and habit, novelty and change; 325
Of self-respect, and virtue in the few
For patrimonial honour set apart,
And ignorance in the labouring multitude.
For he, to all intolerance indisposed,
Balanced these contemplations in his mind; 330
And I, who at that time was scarcely dipped
Into the turmoil, bore a sounder judgment
Than later days allowed; carried about me,
With less alloy to its integrity,
The experience of past ages, as, through help 335
Of books and common life, it makes sure way
To youthful minds, by objects over near
Not pressed upon, nor dazzled or misled
By struggling with the crowd for present ends.

But though not deaf, nor obstinate to find 340
Error without excuse upon the side
Of them who strove against us, more delight
We took, and let this freely be confessed,
In painting to ourselves the miseries
Of royal courts, and that voluptuous life 345
Unfeeling, where the man who is of soul
The meanest thrives the most; where dignity,
True personal dignity, abideth not;
A light, a cruel, and vain world cut off
From the natural inlets of just sentiment, 350
From lowly sympathy and chastening truth;
Where good and evil interchange their names,
And thirst for bloody spoils abroad is paired
With vice at home. We added dearest themes--
Man and his noble nature, as it is 355
The gift which God has placed within his power,
His blind desires and steady faculties
Capable of clear truth, the one to break
Bondage, the other to build liberty
On firm foundations, making social life, 360
Through knowledge spreading and imperishable,
As just in regulation, and as pure
As individual in the wise and good.

We summoned up the honourable deeds
Of ancient Story, thought of each bright spot, 365
That would be found in all recorded time,
Of truth preserved and error passed away;
Of single spirits that catch the flame from Heaven,
And how the multitudes of men will feed
And fan each other; thought of sects, how keen 370
They are to put the appropriate nature on,
Triumphant over every obstacle
Of custom, language, country, love, or hate,
And what they do and suffer for their creed;
How far they travel, and how long endure; 375
How quickly mighty Nations have been formed,
From least beginnings; how, together locked
By new opinions, scattered tribes have made
One body, spreading wide as clouds in heaven.
To aspirations then of our own minds 380
Did we appeal; and, finally, beheld
A living confirmation of the whole
Before us, in a people from the depth
Of shameful imbecility uprisen,
Fresh as the morning star. Elate we looked 385
Upon their virtues; saw, in rudest men,
Self-sacrifice the firmest; generous love,
And continence of mind, and sense of right,
Uppermost in the midst of fiercest strife.

Oh, sweet it is, in academic groves, 390
Or such retirement, Friend! as we have known
In the green dales beside our Rotha's stream,
Greta, or Derwent, or some nameless rill,
To ruminate, with interchange of talk,
On rational liberty, and hope in man, 395
Justice and peace. But far more sweet such toil--
Toil, say I, for it leads to thoughts abstruse--
If nature then be standing on the brink
Of some great trial, and we hear the voice
Of one devoted, one whom circumstance 400
Hath called upon to embody his deep sense
In action, give it outwardly a shape,
And that of benediction, to the world.
Then doubt is not, and truth is more than truth,--
A hope it is, and a desire; a creed 405
Of zeal, by an authority Divine
Sanctioned, of danger, difficulty, or death.
Such conversation, under Attic shades,
Did Dion hold with Plato; [O] ripened thus
For a Deliverer's glorious task,--and such 410
He, on that ministry already bound,
Held with Eudemus and Timonides, [P]
Surrounded by adventurers in arms,
When those two vessels with their daring freight,
For the Sicilian Tyrant's overthrow, 415
Sailed from Zacynthus,--philosophic war,
Led by Philosophers. [Q] With harder fate,
Though like ambition, such was he, O Friend!
Of whom I speak. So Beaupuis (let the name
Stand near the worthiest of Antiquity) 420
Fashioned his life; and many a long discourse,
With like persuasion honoured, we maintained:
He, on his part, accoutred for the worst.
He perished fighting, in supreme command,
Upon the borders of the unhappy Loire, 425
For liberty, against deluded men,
His fellow country-men; and yet most blessed
In this, that he the fate of later times
Lived not to see, nor what we now behold,
Who have as ardent hearts as he had then. 430

Along that very Loire, with festal mirth
Resounding at all hours, and innocent yet
Of civil slaughter, was our frequent walk;
Or in wide forests of continuous shade,
Lofty and over-arched, with open space 435
Beneath the trees, clear footing many a mile--
A solemn region. Oft amid those haunts,
From earnest dialogues I slipped in thought,
And let remembrance steal to other times,
When, o'er those interwoven roots, moss-clad, 440
And smooth as marble or a waveless sea,
Some Hermit, from his cell forth-strayed, might pace
In sylvan meditation undisturbed;
As on the pavement of a Gothic church
Walks a lone Monk, when service hath expired, 445
In peace and silence. But if e'er was heard,--
Heard, though unseen,--a devious traveller,
Retiring or approaching from afar
With speed and echoes loud of trampling hoofs
From the hard floor reverberated, then 450
It was Angelica [R] thundering through the woods
Upon her palfrey, or that gentle maid
Erminia, [S] fugitive as fair as she.
Sometimes methought I saw a pair of knights
Joust underneath the trees, that as in storm 455
Rocked high above their heads; anon, the din
Of boisterous merriment, and music's roar,
In sudden proclamation, burst from haunt
Of Satyrs in some viewless glade, with dance
Rejoicing o'er a female in the midst, 460
A mortal beauty, their unhappy thrall.
The width of those huge forests, unto me
A novel scene, did often in this way
Master my fancy while I wandered on
With that revered companion. And sometimes--465
When to a convent in a meadow green,
By a brook-side, we came, a roofless pile,
And not by reverential touch of Time
Dismantled, but by violence abrupt--
In spite of those heart-bracing colloquies, 470
In spite of real fervour, and of that
Less genuine and wrought up within myself--
I could not but bewail a wrong so harsh,
And for the Matin-bell to sound no more
Grieved, and the twilight taper, and the cross 475
High on the topmost pinnacle, a sign
(How welcome to the weary traveller's eyes!)
Of hospitality and peaceful rest.
And when the partner of those varied walks
Pointed upon occasion to the site 480
Of Romorentin, home of ancient kings, [T]
To the imperial edifice of Blois, [U]
Or to that rural castle, name now slipped
From my remembrance, where a lady lodged, [V]
By the first Francis wooed, and bound to him 485
In chains of mutual passion, from the tower,
As a tradition of the country tells,
Practised to commune with her royal knight
By cressets and love-beacons, intercourse
'Twixt her high-seated residence and his 490
Far off at Chambord on the plain beneath; [W]
Even here, though less than with the peaceful house
Religious, 'mid those frequent monuments
Of Kings, their vices and their better deeds,
Imagination, potent to inflame 495
At times with virtuous wrath and noble scorn,
Did also often mitigate the force
Of civic prejudice, the bigotry,
So call it, of a youthful patriot's mind;
And on these spots with many gleams I looked 500
Of chivalrous delight. Yet not the less,
Hatred of absolute rule, where will of one
Is law for all, and of that barren pride
In them who, by immunities unjust,
Between the sovereign and the people stand, 505
His helper and not theirs, laid stronger hold
Daily upon me, mixed with pity too
And love; for where hope is, there love will be
For the abject multitude. And when we chanced
One day to meet a hunger-bitten girl, 510
Who crept along fitting her languid gait
Unto a heifer's motion, by a cord
Tied to her arm, and picking thus from the lane
Its sustenance, while the girl with pallid hands
Was busy knitting in a heartless mood 515
Of solitude, and at the sight my friend
In agitation said, "'Tis against 'that'
That we are fighting," I with him believed
That a benignant spirit was abroad
Which might not be withstood, that poverty 520
Abject as this would in a little time
Be found no more, that we should see the earth
Unthwarted in her wish to recompense
The meek, the lowly, patient child of toil,
All institutes for ever blotted out 525
That legalised exclusion, empty pomp
Abolished, sensual state and cruel power,
Whether by edict of the one or few;
And finally, as sum and crown of all,
Should see the people having a strong hand 530
In framing their own laws; whence better days
To all mankind. But, these things set apart,
Was not this single confidence enough
To animate the mind that ever turned
A thought to human welfare? That henceforth 535
Captivity by mandate without law
Should cease; and open accusation lead
To sentence in the hearing of the world,
And open punishment, if not the air
Be free to breathe in, and the heart of man 540
Dread nothing. From this height I shall not stoop
To humbler matter that detained us oft
In thought or conversation, public acts,
And public persons, and emotions wrought
Within the breast, as ever-varying winds 545
Of record or report swept over us;
But I might here, instead, repeat a tale, [X]
Told by my Patriot friend, of sad events,
That prove to what low depth had struck the roots,
How widely spread the boughs, of that old tree 550
Which, as a deadly mischief, and a foul
And black dishonour, France was weary of.

Oh, happy time of youthful lovers, (thus
The story might begin). Oh, balmy time,
In which a love-knot, on a lady's brow, 555
Is fairer than the fairest star in Heaven! [Y]
So might--and with that prelude _did_ begin
The record; and, in faithful verse, was given
The doleful sequel.

But our little bark
On a strong river boldly hath been launched; 560
And from the driving current should we turn
To loiter wilfully within a creek,
Howe'er attractive, Fellow voyager!
Would'st thou not chide? Yet deem not my pains lost:
For Vaudracour and Julia (so were named 565
The ill-fated pair) in that plain tale will draw
Tears from the hearts of others, when their own
Shall beat no more. Thou, also, there may'st read,
At leisure, how the enamoured youth was driven,
By public power abased, to fatal crime, 570
Nature's rebellion against monstrous law;
How, between heart and heart, oppression thrust
Her mandates, severing whom true love had joined,
Harassing both; until he sank and pressed
The couch his fate had made for him; supine, 575
Save when the stings of viperous remorse,
Trying their strength, enforced him to start up,
Aghast and prayerless. Into a deep wood
He fled, to shun the haunts of human kind;
There dwelt, weakened in spirit more and more; 580
Nor could the voice of Freedom, which through France
Full speedily resounded, public hope,
Or personal memory of his own worst wrongs,
Rouse him; but, hidden in those gloomy shades,
His days he wasted,--an imbecile mind. [Z] 585

* * * * *


[Footnote A: This must either mean a year from the time at which he took
his degree at Cambridge, or it is inaccurate as to date. He graduated in
January 1791, and left Brighton for Paris in November 1791. In London he
only spent four months, the February, March, April, and May of 1791.
Then followed the Welsh tour with Jones, and his return to Cambridge in
September 1791.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: With Jones in the previous year, 1790.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: Orleans.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: The Champ de Mars is in the west, the Rue du Faubourg St.
Antoine (the old suburb of St. Antony) in the east, Montmartre in the
north, and the dome of St. Genevieve, commonly called the Pantheon, in
the south of Paris.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: The clergy, noblesse, and the 'tiers etat' met at Notre
Dame on the 4th May 1789. On the following day, at Versailles, the
'tiers etat' assumed the title of the 'National Assembly'--constituting
themselves the sovereign power--and invited others to join them. The
club of the Jacobins was instituted the same year. It leased for itself
the hall of the Jacobins' convent: hence the name.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: The Palais Royal, built by Cardinal Richelieu in 1636,
presented by Louis XIV. to his brother, the Duke of Orleans, and
thereafter the property of the house of Orleans (hence the name). The
"arcades" referred to were removed in 1830, and the brilliant 'Galerie
d'Orleans' built in their place.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: On the 14th July 1789, the Bastille was taken, and
destroyed by the Revolutionists. The stones were used, for the most
part, in the construction of the Pont de la Concorde.--Ed.]

[Footnote H: Charles Lebrun, Court painter to Louis XIV. of France

[Footnote I: The Republican general, Michel Beaupuy. See p. 302
[Footnote N below], and the note upon him by Mons. Emile Legouis of
Lyons, in the appendix [Note VII] to this volume, p. 401.--Ed.]

[Footnote K: Carra and Gorsas were journalist deputies in the first
year of the French Republic. Gorsas was the first of the deputies who
died on the scaffold. Carlyle thus refers to them, and to the "hundred
other names forgotten now," in his 'French Revolution' (vol. iii. book
i. chap. 7):

"The convention is getting chosen--really in a decisive spirit. Some
two hundred of our best Legislators may be re-elected, the Mountain
bodily. Robespierre, with Mayor Petion, Buzot, Curate Gregoire and
some threescore Old Constituents; though we men had only _thirty
voices._ All these and along with them friends long known to the
Revolutionary fame: Camille Desmoulins, though he stutters in speech,
Manuel Tallein and Company; Journalists Gorsas, Carra, Mersier, Louvet
of _Faubias_; Clootz, Speaker of Mankind, Collet d'Herbois, tearing a
passion to rags; Fahre d'Egalantine Speculative Pamphleteer; Legendre,
the solid Butcher; nay Marat though rural France can hardly believe
it, or even believe there is a Marat, except in print." Ed.]

[Footnote L: Many of the old French Noblesse, and other supporters of
Monarchy, fled across the Rhine, and with thousands of emigres formed a
special Legion, which co-operated with the German army under the Emperor
Leopold and the King of Prussia.--Ed.]

[Footnote M: Compare book vi. l. 345, etc.--Ed.]

[Footnote N: Beaupuy. See p. 297 [Footnote I, above]:

"Save only one, hereafter to be named," [Line 132]

and the note on Beaupuy, in the appendix [Note VII] to this volume, p.

[Footnote O: Compare Wordsworth's poem 'Dion', in volume vi. of this

[Footnote P: When Plato visited Syracuse, in the reign of Dionysius,
Dion became his disciple, and induced Dionysius to invite Plato a second
time to Syracuse. But neither Plato nor Dion could succeed in their
efforts to influence and elevate Dionysius. Dion withdrew to Athens, and
lived in close intimacy with Plato, and with Speusippus. The latter
urged him to return, and deliver Sicily from the tyrant Dionysius, who
had become unpopular in the island. Dion got some of the Syracusan
exiles in Greece to join him, and "sailed from Zacynthus," with two
merchant ships, and about 800 troops. He took Syracuse, and became
dictator of the district. But--as was the case with the tyrants of the
French Revolution who took the place of those of the old regime (record
later on in 'The Prelude')--the Syracusans found that they had only
exchanged one form of rigour for another. It is thus that Plutarch
refers to the occurrence.

"Many statesmen and philosophers assisted him (_i. e._ Dion); "as for
instance, Eudemus, the Cyprian, on whose death Aristotle wrote his
dialogue of the Soul, and Timonides the Leucadian."

(See Plutarch's 'Dion'.) Timonides wrote an account of Dion's campaign
in Sicily in certain letters to Speusippus, which are referred to both
by Plutarch and by Diogenes Laertius,--Ed.]

[Footnote Q: See the previous note [Footnote P directly above].--Ed.]

[Footnote R: See the 'Orlando Furioso' of Ariosto, canto i.:

'La donna il palafreno a dietro volta,
E per la selva a tutta briglia il caccia;
Ne per la rara piu, che per la folta,
La piu sicura e miglior via procaccia.

The lady turned her palfrey round,
And through the forest drove him on amain;
Nor did she choose the glade before the thickest wood,
Riding the safest ever, and the better way.'


[Footnote S: See the 'Gerusalemme Liberata' of Tasso, canto vi. Erminia
is the heroine of 'Jerusalem Delivered'. An account of her flight occurs
at the opening of the seventh canto.--Ed.]

[Footnote T:

"_Rivus Romentini_, petite ville du Blaisois, et capitale de la
Sologne, aujourd'hui sous-prefecture du depart. de Loir-et-Cher."

It was taken in 1356 and in 1429 by the English, in 1562 by the
Catholics, in 1567 by the Calvinists, and in 1589 by the Royalists.

"Henri IV. l'erigea en comte pour sa maitresse Charlotte des Essarts,
1560. Francois I. y rendit un edit celebre qui attribuait aux prelats
la connaissance du crime d'heresie, et la repression des assemblees

('Dictionnaire Historique de la France', par Ludovic Lalaune. Paris,

[Footnote U: Blois,

"Louis XII., qui etait ne a Blois, y sejourna souvent, et
reconstruisit completement le chateau, ou la cour habita frequemment
au XVI'e. siecle."

('Dict. Histor. de la France', Lalaune.) The town is full of historical
reminiscences of Louis XII., Francis I., Henry III., and Catherine and
Mary de Medici. Wordsworth went from Orleans to Blois, in the spring of

[Footnote V: Claude, the daughter of Louis XII.--Ed.]

[Footnote W: Chambord;

"celebre chateau du Blaisois (Loir-et-Cher), construit par Francois
I., sur l'emplacement d'une maison de plaisance des comtes de Blois.
Donne par Louis XV. a son beau-pere Stanislas, puis au Marechal de
Saxe, il revint ensuit a la couronne; et en 1777 Louis XVI. en accorda
la jouissance a la famille de Polignac."


A national subscription was got up in the 'twenties, under Charles X.,
to present the chateau to the posthumous son of the Duc de Berry, who
afterwards became known as the Comte de Chambord, or Henri V.--Ed.]

[Footnote X: The tale of 'Vaudracour and Julia'. (Mr. Carter, 1850.)]

[Footnote Y: The previous four lines are the opening ones of the poem
'Vaudracour and Julia'. (See p. 24.)--Ed.]

[Footnote Z: The last five lines are almost a reproduction of the
concluding five in 'Vaudracour and Julia'.--Ed.]

* * * * *



It was a beautiful and silent day
That overspread the countenance of earth,
Then fading with unusual quietness,--
A day as beautiful as e'er was given
To soothe regret, though deepening what it soothed, 5
When by the gliding Loire I paused, and cast
Upon his rich domains, vineyard and tilth,
Green meadow-ground, and many-coloured woods,
Again, and yet again, a farewell look;
Then from the quiet of that scene passed on, 10
Bound to the fierce Metropolis. [A] From his throne
The King had fallen, [B] and that invading host--
Presumptuous cloud, on whose black front was written
The tender mercies of the dismal wind
That bore it--on the plains of Liberty 15
Had burst innocuous. Say in bolder words,
They--who had come elate as eastern hunters
Banded beneath the Great Mogul, when he
Erewhile went forth from Agra or Lahore,
Rajahs and Omrahs [C] in his train, intent 20
To drive their prey enclosed within a ring
Wide as a province, but, the signal given,
Before the point of the life-threatening spear
Narrowing itself by moments--they, rash men,
Had seen the anticipated quarry turned 25
Into avengers, from whose wrath they fled
In terror. Disappointment and dismay
Remained for all whose fancies had run wild
With evil expectations; confidence
And perfect triumph for the better cause. 30

The State, as if to stamp the final seal
On her security, and to the world
Show what she was, a high and fearless soul,
Exulting in defiance, or heart-stung
By sharp resentment, or belike to taunt 35
With spiteful gratitude the baffled League,
That had stirred up her slackening faculties
To a new transition, when the King was crushed,
Spared not the empty throne, and in proud haste
Assumed the body and venerable name 40
Of a Republic. [D] Lamentable crimes,
'Tis true, had gone before this hour, dire work
Of massacre, [E] in which the senseless sword
Was prayed to as a judge; but these were past,
Earth free from them for ever, as was thought,--45
Ephemeral monsters, to be seen but once!
Things that could only show themselves and die.

Cheered with this hope, to Paris I returned, [F]
And ranged, with ardour heretofore unfelt,
The spacious city, and in progress passed 50
The prison where the unhappy Monarch lay,
Associate with his children and his wife
In bondage; and the palace, lately stormed
With roar of cannon by a furious host.
I crossed the square (an empty area then!) [G] 55
Of the Carrousel, where so late had lain
The dead, upon the dying heaped, and gazed
On this and other spots, as doth a man
Upon a volume whose contents he knows
Are memorable, but from him locked up, 60
Being written in a tongue he cannot read,
So that he questions the mute leaves with pain,
And half upbraids their silence. But that night
I felt most deeply in what world I was,
What ground I trod on, and what air I breathed. 65
High was my room and lonely, near the roof
Of a large mansion or hotel, a lodge
That would have pleased me in more quiet times;
Nor was it wholly without pleasure then.
With unextinguished taper I kept watch, 70
Reading at intervals; the fear gone by
Pressed on me almost like a fear to come.
I thought of those September massacres,
Divided from me by one little month, [H]
Saw them and touched: the rest was conjured up 75
From tragic fictions or true history,
Remembrances and dim admonishments.
The horse is taught his manage, and no star
Of wildest course but treads back his own steps;
For the spent hurricane the air provides 80
As fierce a successor; the tide retreats
But to return out of its hiding-place
In the great deep; all things have second-birth;
The earthquake is not satisfied at once;
And in this way I wrought upon myself, 85
Until I seemed to hear a voice that cried,
To the whole city, "Sleep no more." The trance
Fled with the voice to which it had given birth;
But vainly comments of a calmer mind
Promised soft peace and sweet forgetfulness. 90
The place, all hushed and silent as it was,
Appeared unfit for the repose of night,
Defenceless as a wood where tigers roam.

With early morning towards the Palace-walk
Of Orleans eagerly I turned; as yet 95
The streets were still; not so those long Arcades;
There, 'mid a peal of ill-matched sounds and cries,
That greeted me on entering, I could hear
Shrill voices from the hawkers in the throng,
Bawling, "Denunciation of the Crimes 100
Of Maximilian Robespierre;" the hand,
Prompt as the voice, held forth a printed speech,
The same that had been recently pronounced,
When Robespierre, not ignorant for what mark
Some words of indirect reproof had been 105
Intended, rose in hardihood, and dared
The man who had an ill surmise of him
To bring his charge in openness; whereat,
When a dead pause ensued, and no one stirred,
In silence of all present, from his seat 110
Louvet walked single through the avenue,
And took his station in the Tribune, saying,
"I, Robespierre, accuse thee!" [I] Well is known
The inglorious issue of that charge, and how
He, who had launched the startling thunderbolt, 115
The one bold man, whose voice the attack had sounded,
Was left without a follower to discharge
His perilous duty, and retire lamenting
That Heaven's best aid is wasted upon men
Who to themselves are false. [K]
But these are things 120
Of which I speak, only as they were storm
Or sunshine to my individual mind,
No further. Let me then relate that now--
In some sort seeing with my proper eyes
That Liberty, and Life, and Death would soon 125
To the remotest corners of the land
Lie in the arbitrement of those who ruled
The capital City; what was struggled for,
And by what combatants victory must be won;
The indecision on their part whose aim 130
Seemed best, and the straightforward path of those
Who in attack or in defence were strong
Through their impiety--my inmost soul
Was agitated; yea, I could almost
Have prayed that throughout earth upon all men, 135
By patient exercise of reason made
Worthy of liberty, all spirits filled
With zeal expanding in Truth's holy light,
The gift of tongues might fall, and power arrive
From the four quarters of the winds to do 140
For France, what without help she could not do,
A work of honour; think not that to this
I added, work of safety: from all doubt
Or trepidation for the end of things
Far was I, far as angels are from guilt. 145

Yet did I grieve, nor only grieved, but thought
Of opposition and of remedies:
An insignificant stranger and obscure,
And one, moreover, little graced with power
Of eloquence even in my native speech, 150
And all unfit for tumult or intrigue,
Yet would I at this time with willing heart
Have undertaken for a cause so great
Service however dangerous. I revolved,
How much the destiny of Man had still 155
Hung upon single persons; that there was,
Transcendent to all local patrimony,
One nature, as there is one sun in heaven;
That objects, even as they are great, thereby
Do come within the reach of humblest eyes; 160
That Man is only weak through his mistrust
And want of hope where evidence divine
Proclaims to him that hope should be most sure;
Nor did the inexperience of my youth
Preclude conviction, that a spirit strong, 165
In hope, and trained to noble aspirations,
A spirit thoroughly faithful to itself,
Is for Society's unreasoning herd
A domineering instinct, serves at once
For way and guide, a fluent receptacle 170
That gathers up each petty straggling rill
And vein of water, glad to be rolled on
In safe obedience; that a mind, whose rest
Is where it ought to be, in self-restraint,
In circumspection and simplicity, 175
Falls rarely in entire discomfiture
Below its aim, or meets with, from without,
A treachery that foils it or defeats;
And, lastly, if the means on human will,
Frail human will, dependent should betray 180
Him who too boldly trusted them, I felt
That 'mid the loud distractions of the world
A sovereign voice subsists within the soul,
Arbiter undisturbed of right and wrong,
Of life and death, in majesty severe 185
Enjoining, as may best promote the aims
Of truth and justice, either sacrifice,
From whatsoever region of our cares
Or our infirm affections Nature pleads,
Earnest and blind, against the stern decree. 190

On the other side, I called to mind those truths
That are the common-places of the schools--
(A theme for boys, too hackneyed for their sires,)
Yet, with a revelation's liveliness,
In all their comprehensive bearings known 195
And visible to philosophers of old,
Men who, to business of the world untrained,
Lived in the shade; and to Harmodius known
And his compeer Aristogiton, [L] known
To Brutus--that tyrannic power is weak, 200
Hath neither gratitude, nor faith, nor love,
Nor the support of good or evil men
To trust in; that the godhead which is ours
Can never utterly be charmed or stilled;
That nothing hath a natural right to last 205
But equity and reason; that all else
Meets foes irreconcilable, and at best
Lives only by variety of disease.

Well might my wishes be intense, my thoughts
Strong and perturbed, not doubting at that time 210
But that the virtue of one paramount mind
Would have abashed those impious crests--have quelled
Outrage and bloody power, and, in despite
Of what the People long had been and were
Through ignorance and false teaching, sadder proof 215
Of immaturity, and in the teeth
Of desperate opposition from without--
Have cleared a passage for just government,
And left a solid birthright to the State,
Redeemed, according to example given 220
By ancient lawgivers.
In this frame of mind,
Dragged by a chain of harsh necessity,
So seemed it,--now I thankfully acknowledge,
Forced by the gracious providence of Heaven,--
To England I returned, [M] else (though assured 225
That I both was and must be of small weight,
No better than a landsman on the deck
Of a ship struggling with a hideous storm)
Doubtless, I should have then made common cause
With some who perished; haply perished too, [N] 230
A poor mistaken and bewildered offering,--
Should to the breast of Nature have gone back,
With all my resolutions, all my hopes,
A Poet only to myself, to men
Useless, and even, beloved Friend! a soul 235
To thee unknown!

Twice had the trees let fall
Their leaves, as often Winter had put on
His hoary crown, since I had seen the surge
Beat against Albion's shore, [O] since ear of mine
Had caught the accents of my native speech 240
Upon our native country's sacred ground.
A patriot of the world, how could I glide
Into communion with her sylvan shades,
Erewhile my tuneful haunt? It pleased me more
To abide in the great City, [P] where I found 245
The general air still busy with the stir
Of that first memorable onset made
By a strong levy of humanity
Upon the traffickers in Negro blood; [Q]
Effort which, though defeated, had recalled 250
To notice old forgotten principles,
And through the nation spread a novel heat
Of virtuous feeling. For myself, I own
That this particular strife had wanted power
To rivet my affections; nor did now 255
Its unsuccessful issue much excite
My sorrow; for I brought with me the faith
That, if France prospered, good men would not long
Pay fruitless worship to humanity,
And this most rotten branch of human shame, 260
Object, so seemed it, of superfluous pains,
Would fall together with its parent tree.
What, then, were my emotions, when in arms
Britain put forth her free-born strength in league,
Oh, pity and shame! with those confederate Powers! 265
Not in my single self alone I found,
But in the minds of all ingenuous youth,
Change and subversion from that hour. No shock
Given to my moral nature had I known
Down to that very moment; neither lapse 270
Nor turn of sentiment that might be named
A revolution, save at this one time;
All else was progress on the self-same path
On which, with a diversity of pace,
I had been travelling: this a stride at once 275
Into another region. As a light
And pliant harebell, swinging in the breeze
On some grey rock--its birth-place--so had I
Wantoned, fast rooted on the ancient tower
Of my beloved country, wishing not 280
A happier fortune than to wither there:
Now was I from that pleasant station torn
And tossed about in whirlwind. I rejoiced,
Yea, afterwards--truth most painful to record!--
Exulted, in the triumph of my soul, 285
When Englishmen by thousands were o'erthrown,
Left without glory on the field, or driven,
Brave hearts! to shameful flight. It was a grief,--
Grief call it not, 'twas anything but that,--
A conflict of sensations without name, 290
Of which _he_ only, who may love the sight
Of a village steeple, as I do, can judge,
When, in the congregation bending all
To their great Father, prayers were offered up,
Or praises for our country's victories; 295
And, 'mid the simple worshippers, perchance
I only, like an uninvited guest
Whom no one owned, sate silent; shall I add,
Fed on the day of vengeance yet to come.

Oh! much have they to account for, who could tear, 300
By violence, at one decisive rent,
From the best youth in England their dear pride,
Their joy, in England; this, too, at a time
In which worst losses easily might wean
The best of names, when patriotic love 305
Did of itself in modesty give way,
Like the Precursor when the Deity
Is come Whose harbinger he was; a time
In which apostasy from ancient faith
Seemed but conversion to a higher creed; 310
Withal a season dangerous and wild,
A time when sage Experience would have snatched
Flowers out of any hedge-row to compose
A chaplet in contempt of his grey locks.

When the proud fleet that bears the red-cross flag [R] 315
In that unworthy service was prepared
To mingle, I beheld the vessels lie,
A brood of gallant creatures, on the deep;
I saw them in their rest, a sojourner
Through a whole month of calm and glassy days 320
In that delightful island which protects
Their place of convocation [S]--there I heard,
Each evening, pacing by the still sea-shore,
A monitory sound that never failed,--
The sunset cannon. While the orb went down 325
In the tranquillity of nature, came
That voice, ill requiem! seldom heard by me
Without a spirit overcast by dark
Imaginations, sense of woes to come,
Sorrow for human kind, and pain of heart. 330

In France, the men, who, for their desperate ends,
Had plucked up mercy by the roots, were glad
Of this new enemy. Tyrants, strong before
In wicked pleas, were strong as demons now;
And thus, on every side beset with foes, 335
The goaded land waxed mad; the crimes of few
Spread into madness of the many; blasts
From hell came sanctified like airs from heaven.
The sternness of the just, the faith of those
Who doubted not that Providence had times 340
Of vengeful retribution, theirs who throned
The human Understanding paramount
And made of that their God, [T] the hopes of men
Who were content to barter short-lived pangs
For a paradise of ages, the blind rage 345
Of insolent tempers, the light vanity
Of intermeddlers, steady purposes
Of the suspicious, slips of the indiscreet,
And all the accidents of life were pressed
Into one service, busy with one work. 350
The Senate stood aghast, her prudence quenched,
Her wisdom stifled, and her justice scared,
Her frenzy only active to extol
Past outrages, and shape the way for new,
Which no one dared to oppose or mitigate. 355

Domestic carnage now filled the whole year
With feast-days; old men from the chimney-nook,
The maiden from the bosom of her love,
The mother from the cradle of her babe,
The warrior from the field--all perished, all--360
Friends, enemies, of all parties, ages, ranks,
Head after head, and never heads enough
For those that bade them fall. They found their joy,
They made it proudly, eager as a child,
(If like desires of innocent little ones 365
May with such heinous appetites be compared,)
Pleased in some open field to exercise
A toy that mimics with revolving wings
The motion of a wind-mill; though the air
Do of itself blow fresh, and make the vanes 370
Spin in his eyesight, _that_ contents him not,
But, with the plaything at arm's length, he sets
His front against the blast, and runs amain,
That it may whirl the faster.
Amid the depth
Of those enormities, even thinking minds 375
Forgot, at seasons, whence they had their being;
Forgot that such a sound was ever heard
As Liberty upon earth: yet all beneath
Her innocent authority was wrought,
Nor could have been, without her blessed name. 380
The illustrious wife of Roland, in the hour
Of her composure, felt that agony,
And gave it vent in her last words. [U] O Friend!
It was a lamentable time for man,
Whether a hope had e'er been his or not; 385
A woful time for them whose hopes survived
The shock; most woful for those few who still
Were flattered, and had trust in human kind:
They had the deepest feeling of the grief.
Meanwhile the Invaders fared as they deserved: 390
The Herculean Commonwealth had put forth her arms,
And throttled with an infant godhead's might
The snakes about her cradle; that was well,
And as it should be; yet no cure for them
Whose souls were sick with pain of what would be 395
Hereafter brought in charge against mankind.
Most melancholy at that time, O Friend!
Were my day-thoughts,--my nights were miserable;
Through months, through years, long after the last beat
Of those atrocities, the hour of sleep 400
To me came rarely charged with natural gifts,
Such ghastly visions had I of despair
And tyranny, and implements of death;
And innocent victims sinking under fear,
And momentary hope, and worn-out prayer, 405
Each in his separate cell, or penned in crowds
For sacrifice, and struggling with fond mirth
And levity in dungeons, where the dust
Was laid with tears. Then suddenly the scene
Changed, and the unbroken dream entangled me 410
In long orations, which I strove to plead
Before unjust tribunals,--with a voice
Labouring, a brain confounded, and a sense,
Death-like, of treacherous desertion, felt
In the last place of refuge--my own soul. 415

When I began in youth's delightful prime
To yield myself to Nature, when that strong
And holy passion overcame me first,
Nor day nor night, evening or morn, was free
From its oppression. But, O Power Supreme! 420
Without Whose call this world would cease to breathe,
Who from the fountain of Thy grace dost fill
The veins that branch through every frame of life,
Making man what he is, creature divine,
In single or in social eminence, 425
Above the rest raised infinite ascents
When reason that enables him to be
Is not sequestered--what a change is here!
How different ritual for this after-worship,
What countenance to promote this second love! 430
The first was service paid to things which lie
Guarded within the bosom of Thy will.
Therefore to serve was high beatitude;
Tumult was therefore gladness, and the fear
Ennobling, venerable; sleep secure, 435
And waking thoughts more rich than happiest dreams.

But as the ancient Prophets, borne aloft
In vision, yet constrained by natural laws
With them to take a troubled human heart,
Wanted not consolations, nor a creed 440
Of reconcilement, then when they denounced,
On towns and cities, wallowing in the abyss
Of their offences, punishment to come;
Or saw, like other men, with bodily eyes,
Before them, in some desolated place, 445
The wrath consummate and the threat fulfilled;
So, with devout humility be it said,
So, did a portion of that spirit fall
On me uplifted from the vantage-ground
Of pity and sorrow to a state of being 450
That through the time's exceeding fierceness saw
Glimpses of retribution, terrible,
And in the order of sublime behests:
But, even if that were not, amid the awe
Of unintelligible chastisement, 455
Not only acquiescences of faith
Survived, but daring sympathies with power,
Motions not treacherous or profane, else why
Within the folds of no ungentle breast
Their dread vibration to this hour prolonged? 460
Wild blasts of music thus could find their way
Into the midst of turbulent events;
So that worst tempests might be listened to.
Then was the truth received into my heart,
That, under heaviest sorrow earth can bring, 465
If from the affliction somewhere do not grow
Honour which could not else have been, a faith,
An elevation and a sanctity,
If new strength be not given nor old restored,
The blame is ours, not Nature's. When a taunt 470
Was taken up by scoffers in their pride,
Saying, "Behold the harvest that we reap
From popular government and equality,"
I clearly saw that neither these nor aught
Of wild belief engrafted on their names 475
By false philosophy had caused the woe,
But a terrific reservoir of guilt
And ignorance rilled up from age to age,
That could no longer hold its loathsome charge,
But burst and spread in deluge through the land. 480

And as the desert hath green spots, the sea
Small islands scattered amid stormy waves,
So that disastrous period did not want
Bright sprinklings of all human excellence,
To which the silver wands of saints in Heaven 485
Might point with rapturous joy. Yet not the less,
For those examples in no age surpassed
Of fortitude and energy and love,
And human nature faithful to herself
Under worst trials, was I driven to think 490
Of the glad times when first I traversed France
A youthful pilgrim; [V] above all reviewed
That eventide, when under windows bright
With happy faces and with garlands hung,
And through a rainbow-arch that spanned the street, 495
Triumphal pomp for liberty confirmed, [W]
I paced, a dear companion at my side,
The town of Arras, [X] whence with promise high
Issued, on delegation to sustain
Humanity and right, _that_ Robespierre, 500
He who thereafter, and in how short time!
Wielded the sceptre of the Atheist crew.
When the calamity spread far and wide--
And this same city, that did then appear
To outrun the rest in exultation, groaned 505
Under the vengeance of her cruel son,

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