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

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As Lear reproached the winds--I could almost
Have quarrelled with that blameless spectacle
For lingering yet an image in my mind
To mock me under such a strange reverse. 510

O Friend! few happier moments have been mine
Than that which told the downfall of this Tribe
So dreaded, so abhorred. [Y] The day deserves
A separate record. Over the smooth sands
Of Leven's ample estuary lay 515
My journey, and beneath a genial sun,
With distant prospect among gleams of sky
And clouds, and intermingling mountain tops,
In one inseparable glory clad,
Creatures of one ethereal substance met 520
In consistory, like a diadem
Or crown of burning seraphs as they sit
In the empyrean. Underneath that pomp
Celestial, lay unseen the pastoral vales
Among whose happy fields I had grown up 525
From childhood. On the fulgent spectacle,
That neither passed away nor changed, I gazed
Enrapt; but brightest things are wont to draw
Sad opposites out of the inner heart,
As even their pensive influence drew from mine. 530
How could it otherwise? for not in vain
That very morning had I turned aside
To seek the ground where, 'mid a throng of graves,
An honoured teacher of my youth was laid, [Z]
And on the stone were graven by his desire 535
Lines from the churchyard elegy of Gray. [a]
This faithful guide, speaking from his death-bed,
Added no farewell to his parting counsel,
But said to me, "My head will soon lie low;"
And when I saw the turf that covered him, 540
After the lapse of full eight years, [b] those words,
With sound of voice and countenance of the Man,
Came back upon me, so that some few tears
Fell from me in my own despite. But now
I thought, still traversing that widespread plain, 545
With tender pleasure of the verses graven
Upon his tombstone, whispering to myself:
He loved the Poets, and, if now alive,
Would have loved me, as one not destitute
Of promise, nor belying the kind hope 550
That he had formed, when I, at his command,
Began to spin, with toil, my earliest songs. [c]

As I advanced, all that I saw or felt
Was gentleness and peace. Upon a small
And rocky island near, a fragment stood 555
(Itself like a sea rock) the low remains
(With shells encrusted, dark with briny weeds)
Of a dilapidated structure, once
A Romish chapel, [d] where the vested priest
Said matins at the hour that suited those 560
Who crossed the sands with ebb of morning tide.
Not far from that still ruin all the plain
Lay spotted with a variegated crowd
Of vehicles and travellers, horse and foot,
Wading beneath the conduct of their guide 565
In loose procession through the shallow stream
Of inland waters; the great sea meanwhile
Heaved at safe distance, far retired. I paused,
Longing for skill to paint a scene so bright
And cheerful, but the foremost of the band 570
As he approached, no salutation given
In the familiar language of the day,
Cried, "Robespierre is dead!"--nor was a doubt,
After strict question, left within my mind
That he and his supporters all were fallen. 575

Great was my transport, deep my gratitude
To everlasting Justice, by this fiat
Made manifest. "Come now, ye golden times,"
Said I forth-pouring on those open sands
A hymn of triumph: "as the morning comes 580
From out the bosom of the night, come ye:
Thus far our trust is verified; behold!
They who with clumsy desperation brought
A river of Blood, and preached that nothing else
Could cleanse the Augean stable, by the might 585
Of their own helper have been swept away;
Their madness stands declared and visible;
Elsewhere will safety now be sought, and earth
March firmly towards righteousness and peace."--
Then schemes I framed more calmly, when and how 590
The madding factions might be tranquillised,
And how through hardships manifold and long
The glorious renovation would proceed.
Thus interrupted by uneasy bursts
Of exultation, I pursued my way 595
Along that very shore which I had skimmed
In former days, when--spurring from the Vale
Of Nightshade, and St. Mary's mouldering fane, [e]
And the stone abbot, after circuit made
In wantonness of heart, a joyous band 600
Of school-boys hastening to their distant home
Along the margin of the moonlight sea--
We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand. [f]

* * * * *


[Footnote A: He left Blois for Paris in the late autumn of 1792--Ed.]

[Footnote B: King Louis the Sixteenth, dethroned on August 10th,

[Footnote C: "The Ormrahs or lords of the Moghul's court." See Francois
Besnier's letter 'Concerning Hindusthan'.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: The "Republic" was decreed on the 22nd of September

[Footnote E: The "September Massacres" lasted from the 2nd to the 6th of
that month.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: He reached Paris in the beginning of October 1792.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: The Place du Carrousel.--Ed.]

[Footnote H: See notes [E] and [F].--Ed.]

[Footnote I:

"One day, among the last of October, Robespierre, being summoned to
the tribune by some new hint of that old calumny of the Dictatorship,
was speaking and pleading there, with more and more comfort to
himself; till rising high in heart, he cried out valiantly: Is there
any man here that dare specifically accuse me? ''Moi!'' exclaimed one.
Pause of deep silence: a lean angry little Figure, with broad bald
brow, strode swiftly towards the tribune, taking papers from its
pocket: 'I accuse thee, Robespierre,--I, Jean Baptiste Louvet!' The
Seagreen became tallow-green; shrinking to a corner of the tribune,
Danton cried, 'Speak, Robespierre; there are many good citizens that
listen;' but the tongue refused its office. And so Louvet, with a
shrill tone, read and recited crime after crime: dictatorial temper,
exclusive popularity, bullying at elections, mob-retinue, September
Massacres;--till all the Convention shrieked again," etc. etc.

Carlyle's 'French Revolution', vol. iii. book ii. chap. 5.--Ed.]

[Footnote K: Robespierre got a week's delay to prepare a defence.

"That week he is not idle. He is ready at the day with his written
Speech: smooth as a Jesuit Doctor's, and convinces some. And
now?...poor Louvet, unprepared, can do little or nothing. Barrere
proposes that these comparatively despicable _personalities_ be
dismissed by order of the day! Order of the day it accordingly is."

Carlyle, _ut supra_.--Ed.]

[Footnote L: Harmodius and Aristogiton of Athens murdered the tyrant
Hipparchus, 514 B.C., and delivered the city from the rule of the
Pisistratidae, much as Brutus rose against Caesar.--Ed.]

[Footnote M: He crossed the Channel, and returned to England
reluctantly, in December 1792. Compare p. 376, l. 349:

'Since I withdrew unwillingly from France.'


[Footnote N: Had he remained longer in Paris, he would probably have
fallen a victim, amongst the Brissotins, to the reactionary fury of the
Jacobin party.--Ed.]

[Footnote O: He left England in November 1791, and returned in December

[Footnote P: He stayed in London during the winter of 1792-3 and spring
of 1793, probably with his elder brother Richard (who was a solicitor
there), writing his remarkable letter on the French Revolution to the
Bishop of Landaff, and doubtless making arrangements for the publication
of the 'Evening Walk'. The 'Descriptive Sketches' were not written till
the summer of 1793 (compare the thirteenth book of 'The Prelude', p.
366); but in a letter dated "Forncett, February 16th, 1793," his sister
sends to a friend an interesting criticism of her brother's verses. The
'Evening Walk' must therefore have appeared in January 1793.--Ed.]

[Footnote Q: The movement for the abolition of slavery, led by Clarkson
and Wilberforce. Compare the sonnet 'To Thomas Clarkson, on the final
passing of the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, March' 1807,
in vol. iv.--Ed.]

[Footnote R: The red-cross flag, i. e. the British ensign.

"On the union of the crowns of England and Scotland, James I. issued a
proclamation that _all subjects of this isle and the kingdom of Great
Britain should bear in the main-top the red cross commonly called St.
George's Cross, and the white cross commonly called St. Andrew's
Cross, joined together according to the form made by our own heralds._
This was the first Union Jack."

'Encyclopaedia Britannica' (ninth edition), article "Flag."--Ed.]

[Footnote S: In the Isle of Wight. Wordsworth spent a month of the
summer of 1793 there, with William Calvert. (See the Advertisement to
'Guilt and Sorrow', vol. i. p. 77.)--Ed.]

[Footnote T: The goddess of Reason, enthroned in Paris, November 10th,

[Footnote U: Jeanne-Marie Phlipon--Madame Roland--was guillotined on the
8th of November 1793.

"Arrived at the foot of the scaffold, she asked for pen and paper _to
write the strange thoughts that were rising in her_: a remarkable
request; which was refused. Looking at the Statue of Liberty which
stands there, she says bitterly: _O Liberty, what things are done in
thy name!_ ... Like a white Grecian Statue, serenely complete," adds
Carlyle, "she shines in that black wreck of things,--long memorable."

'French Revolution', vol. iii. book v. chap. 2.

Madame Roland's apostrophe was

'O Liberte, que de crimes l'on commet en ton nom!'


[Footnote V: In the long vacation of 1790, with his friend Jones.--Ed.]

[Footnote W: Compare the sonnet, vol. ii. p. 332, beginning:

'Jones! as from Calais southward you and I
Went pacing side by side, this public Way
Streamed with the pomp of a too-credulous day,
When faith was pledged to new-born Liberty.'


[Footnote X: Robespierre was a native of Arras.--Ed.]

[Footnote Y: Robespierre was guillotined with his confederates on the
28th July 1794. Wordsworth lived in Cumberland--at Keswick, Whitehaven,
and Penrith--from the winter of 1793-4 till the spring of 1795. He must
have made this journey across the Ulverston Sands, in the first week of
August 1794. Compare Wordsworth's remarks on Robespierre, in his 'Letter
to a Friend of Burns',--Ed.]

[Footnote Z: The "honoured teacher" of his youth was the Rev. William
Taylor, of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, who was master at Hawkshead
School from 1782 to 1786, who died while Wordsworth was at school, and
who was buried in Cartmell Churchyard. See the note to the 'Address to
the Scholars of the Village School of----' (vol. ii. p. 85).--Ed.]

[Footnote a: The following is the inscription on the head-stone in
Cartmell Churchyard:

'In memory of the Rev. William Taylor, A. M., son of John Taylor of
Outerthwaite, who was some years a Fellow of Eman. Coll., Camb., and
Master of the Free School at Hawkshead. He departed this life June the
12th 1786, aged 32 years 2 months and 13 days.

His Merits, stranger, seek not to disclose,
Or draw his Frailties from their dread abode,
There they alike in trembling Hope repose,
The Bosom of his Father and his God.'


[Footnote b: This is exact. Taylor died in 1786. Robespierre was
executed in 1794, eight years afterwards.--Ed.]

[Footnote c: He refers to the 'Lines written as a School Exercise at
Hawkskead, anno aetatis' 14; and, probably, to 'The Summer Vacation',
which is mentioned in the "Autobiographical Memoranda" as "a task
imposed by my master," but whether by Taylor, or by his predecessors at
Hawkshead School in Wordsworth's time--Parker and Christian--is

[Footnote d: Compare Hausman's 'Guide to the Lakes' (1803), p. 209.

"Chapel Island on the right is a desolate object, where there are yet
some remains of an oratory built by the monks of Furness, in which
Divine Service was daily performed at a certain hour for passengers
who crossed the sands with the morning tide."

This, evidently, is the ruin referred to by Wordsworth.--Ed.]

[Footnote e: See note, book ii. ll. 103-6.--Ed.]

[Footnote f: By Arrad Foot and Greenodd, beyond Ulverston, on the way to

* * * * *



From that time forth, [A] Authority in France
Put on a milder face; Terror had ceased,
Yet every thing was wanting that might give
Courage to them who looked for good by light
Of rational Experience, for the shoots 5
And hopeful blossoms of a second spring:
Yet, in me, confidence was unimpaired;
The Senate's language, and the public acts
And measures of the Government, though both
Weak, and of heartless omen, had not power 10
To daunt me; in the People was my trust,
And, in the virtues which mine eyes had seen. [1]
I knew that wound external could not take
Life from the young Republic; that new foes
Would only follow, in the path of shame, 15
Their brethren, and her triumphs be in the end
Great, universal, irresistible.
This intuition led me to confound
One victory with another, higher far,--
Triumphs of unambitious peace at home, 20
And noiseless fortitude. Beholding still
Resistance strong as heretofore, I thought
That what was in degree the same was likewise
The same in quality,--that, as the worse
Of the two spirits then at strife remained 25
Untired, the better, surely, would preserve
The heart that first had roused him. Youth maintains,
In all conditions of society,
Communion more direct and intimate
With Nature,--hence, ofttimes, with reason too--30
Than age or manhood, even. To Nature, then,
Power had reverted: habit, custom, law,
Had left an interregnum's open space
For _her_ to move about in, uncontrolled.
Hence could I see how Babel-like their task, 35
Who, by the recent deluge stupified,
With their whole souls went culling from the day
Its petty promises, to build a tower
For their own safety; laughed with my compeers
At gravest heads, by enmity to France 40
Distempered, till they found, in every blast
Forced from the street-disturbing newsman's horn,
For her great cause record or prophecy
Of utter ruin. How might we believe
That wisdom could, in any shape, come near 45
Men clinging to delusions so insane?
And thus, experience proving that no few
Of our opinions had been just, we took
Like credit to ourselves where less was due,
And thought that other notions were as sound, 50
Yea, could not but be right, because we saw
That foolish men opposed them.
To a strain
More animated I might here give way,
And tell, since juvenile errors are my theme,
What in those days, through Britain, was performed 55
To turn _all_ judgments out of their right course;
But this is passion over-near ourselves,
Reality too close and too intense,
And intermixed with something, in my mind,
Of scorn and condemnation personal, 60
That would profane the sanctity of verse.
Our Shepherds, this say merely, at that time
Acted, or seemed at least to act, like men
Thirsting to make the guardian crook of law
A tool of murder; [B] they who ruled the State, 65
Though with such awful proof before their eyes
That he, who would sow death, reaps death, or worse,
And can reap nothing better, child-like longed
To imitate, not wise enough to avoid;
Or left (by mere timidity betrayed) 70
The plain straight road, for one no better chosen
Than if their wish had been to undermine
Justice, and make an end of Liberty. [B]

But from these bitter truths I must return
To my own history. It hath been told 75
That I was led to take an eager part
In arguments of civil polity,
Abruptly, and indeed before my time:
I had approached, like other youths, the shield
Of human nature from the golden side, 80
And would have fought, even to the death, to attest
The quality of the metal which I saw.
What there is best in individual man,
Of wise in passion, and sublime in power,
Benevolent in small societies, 85
And great in large ones, I had oft revolved,
Felt deeply, but not thoroughly understood
By reason: nay, far from it; they were yet,
As cause was given me afterwards to learn,
Not proof against the injuries of the day; 90
Lodged only at the sanctuary's door,
Not safe within its bosom. Thus prepared,
And with such general insight into evil,
And of the bounds which sever it from good,
As books and common intercourse with life 95
Must needs have given--to the inexperienced mind,
When the world travels in a beaten road,
Guide faithful as is needed--I began
To meditate with ardour on the rule
And management of nations; what it is 100
And ought to be; and strove to learn how far
Their power or weakness, wealth or poverty,
Their happiness or misery, depends
Upon their laws, and fashion of the State.

O pleasant exercise of hope and joy! [C] 105
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven! [D] O times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways 110
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights
When most intent on making of herself
A prime enchantress--to assist the work, 115
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole Earth,
The beauty wore of promise--that which sets
(As at some moments might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of Paradise itself) 120
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams, 125
The play-fellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers,--who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there 130
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;--they, too, who of gentle mood
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;--135
Now was it that _both_ found, the meek and lofty
Did both find helpers to their hearts' desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish,--
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia,--subterranean fields,--140
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,--the place where, in the end,
We find our happiness, or not at all!

Why should I not confess that Earth was then 145
To me, what an inheritance, new-fallen,
Seems, when the first time visited, to one
Who thither comes to find in it his home?
He walks about and looks upon the spot
With cordial transport, moulds it and remoulds, 150
And is half pleased with things that are amiss,
'Twill be such joy to see them disappear.

An active partisan, I thus convoked
From every object pleasant circumstance
To suit my ends; I moved among mankind 155
With genial feelings still predominant;
When erring, erring on the better part,
And in the kinder spirit; placable,
Indulgent, as not uninformed that men
See as they have been taught--Antiquity 160
Gives rights to error; and aware, no less,
That throwing off oppression must be work
As well of License as of Liberty;
And above all--for this was more than all--
Not caring if the wind did now and then 165
Blow keen upon an eminence that gave
Prospect so large into futurity;
In brief, a child of Nature, as at first,
Diffusing only those affections wider
That from the cradle had grown up with me, 170
And losing, in no other way than light
Is lost in light, the weak in the more strong.

In the main outline, such it might be said
Was my condition, till with open war
Britain opposed the liberties of France. [E] 175
This threw me first out of the pale of love;
Soured and corrupted, upwards to the source,
My sentiments; was not, as hitherto,
A swallowing up of lesser things in great,
But change of them into their contraries; 180
And thus a way was opened for mistakes
And false conclusions, in degree as gross,
In kind more dangerous. What had been a pride,
Was now a shame; my likings and my loves
Ran in new channels, leaving old ones dry; 185
And hence a blow that, in maturer age,
Would but have touched the judgment, struck more deep
Into sensations near the heart: meantime,
As from the first, wild theories were afloat,
To whose pretensions, sedulously urged, 190
I had but lent a careless ear, assured
That time was ready to set all things right,
And that the multitude, so long oppressed,
Would be oppressed no more.

But when events
Brought less encouragement, and unto these 195
The immediate proof of principles no more
Could be entrusted, while the events themselves,
Worn out in greatness, stripped of novelty,
Less occupied the mind, and sentiments
Could through my understanding's natural growth 200
No longer keep their ground, by faith maintained
Of inward consciousness, and hope that laid
Her hand upon her object--evidence
Safer, of universal application, such
As could not be impeached, was sought elsewhere. 205

But now, become oppressors in their turn,
Frenchmen had changed a war of self-defence
For one of conquest, [F] losing sight of all
Which they had struggled for: now mounted up,
Openly in the eye of earth and heaven, 210
The scale of liberty. I read her doom,
With anger vexed, with disappointment sore,
But not dismayed, nor taking to the shame
Of a false prophet. While resentment rose
Striving to hide, what nought could heal, the wounds 215
Of mortified presumption, I adhered
More firmly to old tenets, and, to prove
Their temper, strained them more; and thus, in heat
Of contest, did opinions every day
Grow into consequence, till round my mind 220
They clung, as if they were its life, nay more,
The very being of the immortal soul.

This was the time, when, all things tending fast
To depravation, speculative schemes--
That promised to abstract the hopes of Man 225
Out of his feelings, to be fixed thenceforth
For ever in a purer element--
Found ready welcome. Tempting region _that_
For Zeal to enter and refresh herself,
Where passions had the privilege to work, 230
And never hear the sound of their own names.
But, speaking more in charity, the dream
Flattered the young, pleased with extremes, nor least
With that which makes our Reason's naked self
The object of its fervour. What delight! 235
How glorious! in self-knowledge and self-rule,
To look through all the frailties of the world,
And, with a resolute mastery shaking off
Infirmities of nature, time, and place,
Build social upon personal Liberty, 240
Which, to the blind restraints of general laws
Superior, magisterially adopts
One guide, the light of circumstances, flashed
Upon an independent intellect.
Thus expectation rose again; thus hope, 245
From her first ground expelled, grew proud once more.
Oft, as my thoughts were turned to human kind,
I scorned indifference; but, inflamed with thirst
Of a secure intelligence, and sick
Of other longing, I pursued what seemed 250
A more exalted nature; wished that Man
Should start out of his earthy, worm-like state,
And spread abroad the wings of Liberty,
Lord of himself, in undisturbed delight--
A noble aspiration! _yet_ I feel 255
(Sustained by worthier as by wiser thoughts)
The aspiration, nor shall ever cease
To feel it;--but return we to our course.

Enough, 'tis true--could such a plea excuse
Those aberrations--had the clamorous friends 260
Of ancient Institutions said and done
To bring disgrace upon their very names;
Disgrace, of which, custom and written law,
And sundry moral sentiments as props
Or emanations of those institutes, 265
Too justly bore a part. A veil had been
Uplifted; why deceive ourselves? in sooth,
'Twas even so; and sorrow for the man
Who either had not eyes wherewith to see,
Or, seeing, had forgotten! A strong shock 270
Was given to old opinions; all men's minds
Had felt its power, and mine was both let loose,
Let loose and goaded. After what hath been
Already said of patriotic love,
Suffice it here to add, that, somewhat stern 275
In temperament, withal a happy man,
And therefore bold to look on painful things,
Free likewise of the world, and thence more bold,
I summoned my best skill, and toiled, intent
To anatomise the frame of social life, 280
Yea, the whole body of society
Searched to its heart. Share with me, Friend! the wish
That some dramatic tale, endued with shapes
Livelier, and flinging out less guarded words
Than suit the work we fashion, might set forth 285
What then I learned, or think I learned, of truth,
And the errors into which I fell, betrayed
By present objects, and by reasonings false
From their beginnings, inasmuch as drawn
Out of a heart that had been turned aside 290
From Nature's way by outward accidents,
And which was thus confounded, more and more
Misguided, and misguiding. So I fared,
Dragging all precepts, judgments, maxims, creeds,
Like culprits to the bar; calling the mind, 295
Suspiciously, to establish in plain day
Her titles and her honours; now believing,
Now disbelieving; endlessly perplexed
With impulse, motive, right and wrong, the ground
Of obligation, what the rule and whence 300
The sanction; till, demanding formal _proof_,
And seeking it in every thing, I lost
All feeling of conviction, and, in fine,
Sick, wearied out with contrarieties,
Yielded up moral questions in despair. 305

This was the crisis of that strong disease,
This the soul's last and lowest ebb; I drooped,
Deeming our blessed reason of least use
Where wanted most: "The lordly attributes
Of will and choice," I bitterly exclaimed, 310
"What are they but a mockery of a Being
Who hath in no concerns of his a test
Of good and evil; knows not what to fear
Or hope for, what to covet or to shun;
And who, if those could be discerned, would yet 315
Be little profited, would see, and ask
Where is the obligation to enforce?
And, to acknowledged law rebellious, still,
As selfish passion urged, would act amiss;
The dupe of folly, or the slave of crime." 320

Depressed, bewildered thus, I did not walk
With scoffers, seeking light and gay revenge
From indiscriminate laughter, nor sate down
In reconcilement with an utter waste
Of intellect; such sloth I could not brook, 325
(Too well I loved, in that my spring of life,
Pains-taking thoughts, and truth, their dear reward)
But turned to abstract science, and there sought
Work for the reasoning faculty enthroned
Where the disturbances of space and time--330
Whether in matters various, properties
Inherent, or from human will and power
Derived--find no admission. [G] Then it was--
Thanks to the bounteous Giver of all good!--
That the beloved Sister in whose sight 335
Those days were passed, [H] now speaking in a voice
Of sudden admonition--like a brook [I]
That did but _cross_ a lonely road, and now
Is seen, heard, felt, and caught at every turn,
Companion never lost through many a league--340
Maintained for me a saving intercourse
With my true self; for, though bedimmed and changed
Much, as it seemed, I was no further changed
Than as a clouded and a waning moon:
She whispered still that brightness would return, 345
She, in the midst of all, preserved me still
A Poet, made me seek beneath that name,
And that alone, my office upon earth;
And, lastly, as hereafter will be shown,
If willing audience fail not, Nature's self, 350
By all varieties of human love
Assisted, led me back through opening day
To those sweet counsels between head and heart
Whence grew that genuine knowledge, fraught with peace,
Which, through the later sinkings of this cause, 355
Hath still upheld me, and upholds me now
In the catastrophe (for so they dream,
And nothing less), when, finally to close
And seal up all the gains of France, a Pope
Is summoned in, to crown an Emperor--[K] 360
This last opprobrium, when we see a people,
That once looked up in faith, as if to Heaven
For manna, take a lesson from the dog
Returning to his vomit; when the sun
That rose in splendour, was alive, and moved 365
In exultation with a living pomp
Of clouds--his glory's natural retinue--
Hath dropped all functions by the gods bestowed,
And, turned into a gewgaw, a machine,
Sets like an Opera phantom.
Thus, O Friend! 370
Through times of honour and through times of shame
Descending, have I faithfully retraced
The perturbations of a youthful mind
Under a long-lived storm of great events--
A story destined for thy ear, who now, 375
Among the fallen of nations, dost abide
Where Etna, over hill and valley, casts
His shadow stretching towards Syracuse, [L]
The city of Timoleon! [M] Righteous Heaven!
How are the mighty prostrated! They first, 380
They first of all that breathe should have awaked
When the great voice was heard from out the tombs
Of ancient heroes. If I suffered grief
For ill-requited France, by many deemed
A trifler only in her proudest day; 385
Have been distressed to think of what she once
Promised, now is; a far more sober cause
Thine eyes must see of sorrow in a land.
To the reanimating influence lost
Of memory, to virtue lost and hope, 390
Though with the wreck of loftier years bestrewn.

But indignation works where hope is not,
And thou, O Friend! wilt be refreshed. There is
One great society alone on earth:
The noble Living and the noble Dead. 395

Thine be such converse strong and sanative,
A ladder for thy spirit to reascend
To health and joy and pure contentedness;
To me the grief confined, that thou art gone
From this last spot of earth, where Freedom now 400
Stands single in her only sanctuary;
A lonely wanderer art gone, by pain
Compelled and sickness, [N] at this latter day,
This sorrowful reverse for all mankind.
I feel for thee, must utter what I feel: 405
The sympathies erewhile in part discharged,
Gather afresh, and will have vent again:
My own delights do scarcely seem to me
My own delights; the lordly Alps themselves,
Those rosy peaks, from which the Morning looks 410
Abroad on many nations, are no more
For me that image of pure gladsomeness
Which they were wont to be. Through kindred scenes,
For purpose, at a time, how different!
Thou tak'st thy way, carrying the heart and soul 415
That Nature gives to Poets, now by thought
Matured, and in the summer of their strength.
Oh! wrap him in your shades, ye giant woods,
On Etna's side; and thou, O flowery field
Of Enna! [O] is there not some nook of thine, 420
From the first play-time of the infant world
Kept sacred to restorative delight,
When from afar invoked by anxious love?

Child of the mountains, among shepherds reared,
Ere yet familiar with the classic page, 425
I learnt to dream of Sicily; and lo,
The gloom, that, but a moment past, was deepened
At thy command, at her command gives way;
A pleasant promise, wafted from her shores,
Comes o'er my heart: in fancy I behold 430
Her seas yet smiling, her once happy vales;
Nor can my tongue give utterance to a name
Of note belonging to that honoured isle,
Philosopher or Bard, Empedocles, [P]
Or Archimedes, [Q] pure abstracted soul! 435
That doth not yield a solace to my grief:
And, O Theocritus, [R] so far have some
Prevailed among the powers of heaven and earth,
By their endowments, good or great, that they
Have had, as thou reportest, miracles 440
Wrought for them in old time: yea, not unmoved,
When thinking on my own beloved friend,
I hear thee tell how bees with honey fed
Divine Comates, [S] by his impious lord
Within a chest imprisoned; how they came 445
Laden from blooming grove or flowery field,
And fed him there, alive, month after month,
Because the goatherd, blessed man! had lips
Wet with the Muses' nectar.
Thus I soothe
The pensive moments by this calm fire-side, 450
And find a thousand bounteous images
To cheer the thoughts of those I love, and mine.
Our prayers have been accepted; thou wilt stand
On Etna's summit, above earth and sea,
Triumphant, winning from the invaded heavens 455
Thoughts without bound, magnificent designs,
Worthy of poets who attuned their harps
In wood or echoing cave, for discipline
Of heroes; or, in reverence to the gods,
'Mid temples, served by sapient priests, and choirs 460
Of virgins crowned with roses. Not in vain
Those temples, where they in their ruins yet
Survive for inspiration, shall attract
Thy solitary steps: and on the brink
Thou wilt recline of pastoral Arethuse; 465
Or, if that fountain be in truth no more,
Then, near some other spring--which, by the name
Thou gratulatest, willingly deceived--
I see thee linger a glad votary,
And not a captive pining for his home. 470

* * * * *


[Variant 1: In the editions of 1850 and 1857, the punctuation is as
follows, but is evidently wrong:

in the People was my trust:
And, in the virtues which mine eyes had seen,
I knew ...


* * * * *


[Footnote A: The Reign of Terror ended with the downfall of Robespierre
and his "Tribe."--Ed.]

[Footnote B: He refers doubtless to the effect, upon the Government of
the day, of the dread of Revolution in England. There were a few
partisans of France and of the Revolution in England; and the panic
which followed, though irrational, was widespread. The Habeas Corpus Act
was suspended, a Bill was passed against seditious Assemblies, the Press
was prosecuted, some Scottish Whigs who clamoured for reform were
sentenced to transportation, while one Judge expressed regret that the
practice of torture for sedition had fallen into disuse.--Ed.] TWO

[Footnote C: See p. 35 ['French Revolution'].--Ed.]

[Footnote D: Compare 'Ruth', in vol. ii. p. 112:

'Before me shone a glorious world--
Fresh as a banner bright, unfurled
To music suddenly:
I looked upon those hills and plains,
And seemed as if let loose from chains,
To live at liberty.'


[Footnote E: In 1795.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Referring probably to Napoleon's Italian campaign in

[Footnote G: In 1794 he returned, with intermittent ardour, to the study
of mathematics and physics.--Ed.]

[Footnote H: In the winter of 1794 he went to Halifax, and there joined
his sister, whom he accompanied in the same winter to Kendal, Grasmere,
and Keswick. They stayed for several weeks at Windybrow farm-house, near
Keswick. The brother and sister had not met since the Christmas of 1791.
It is to those "days," in 1794, that he refers.--Ed.]

[Footnote I: Compare in the first book of 'The Recluse', l. 91:

Her voice was like a hidden Bird that sang;
The thought of her was like a flash of light,
Or an unseen companionship.


[Footnote K: In 1804 Bonaparte sent for the Pope to anoint him as
'Empereur des Francais'. Napoleon wished the title to be as remote as
possible from "King of France."--Ed.]

[Footnote L: Coleridge was then living in Sicily, whither he had gone
from Malta. He ascended Etna. See Cottles' 'Early Recollections, chiefly
relating to the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge' (vol. ii. p. 77), and also
compare note [Book 6, Footnote U], p. 230 of this volume.--Ed.]

[Footnote M: Timoleon, one of the greatest of the Greeks, was sent in
command of an expedition to reduce Sicily to order; and was afterwards
the Master, but not the Tyrant, of Syracuse. He colonised it afresh from
Corinth, and from the rest of Sicily; and enacted new laws of a
democratic character, being ultimately the ruler of the whole island;
although he refused office and declined titles, remaining a private
citizen to the end. (See Plutarch's Life of him.)--Ed.]

[Footnote N: See book vi. l. 240.--Ed.]

[Footnote O: Compare 'Paradise Lost', book iv. l. 269.--Ed.]

[Footnote P: Empedpocles, the philosopher of Agrigentum, physicist,
metaphysician, poet, musician, and hierophant.--Ed.]

[Footnote Q: The geometrician of Syracuse.--Ed.]

[Footnote R: The pastoral poet of Syracuse.--Ed.]

[Footnote S: Theocrit. Idyll vii. 78. (Mr. Carter, 1850.)]

* * * * *



Long time have human ignorance and guilt
Detained us, on what spectacles of woe
Compelled to look, and inwardly oppressed
With sorrow, disappointment, vexing thoughts,
Confusion of the judgment, zeal decayed, 5
And, lastly, utter loss of hope itself
And things to hope for! Not with these began
Our song, and not with these our song must end.--
Ye motions of delight, that haunt the sides
Of the green hills; ye breezes and soft airs, 10
Whose subtle intercourse with breathing flowers,
Feelingly watched, might teach Man's haughty race
How without injury to take, to give
Without offence [A]; ye who, as if to show
The wondrous influence of power gently used, 15
Bend the complying heads of lordly pines,
And, with a touch, shift the stupendous clouds
Through the whole compass of the sky; ye brooks,
Muttering along the stones, a busy noise
By day, a quiet sound in silent night; 20
Ye waves, that out of the great deep steal forth
In a calm hour to kiss the pebbly shore,
Not mute, and then retire, fearing no storm;
And you, ye groves, whose ministry it is
To interpose the covert of your shades, 25
Even as a sleep, between the heart of man
And outward troubles, between man himself,
Not seldom, and his own uneasy heart:
Oh! that I had a music and a voice
Harmonious as your own, that I might tell 30
What ye have done for me. The morning shines,
Nor heedeth Man's perverseness; Spring returns,--
I saw the Spring return, and could rejoice,
In common with the children of her love,
Piping on boughs, or sporting on fresh fields, 35
Or boldly seeking pleasure nearer heaven
On wings that navigate cerulean skies.
So neither were complacency, nor peace,
Nor tender yearnings, wanting for my good
Through these distracted times; in Nature still 40
Glorying, I found a counterpoise in her,
Which, when the spirit of evil reached its height.
Maintained for me a secret happiness.

This narrative, my Friend! hath chiefly told
Of intellectual power, fostering love, 45
Dispensing truth, and, over men and things,
Where reason yet might hesitate, diffusing
Prophetic sympathies of genial faith:
So was I favoured--such my happy lot--
Until that natural graciousness of mind 50
Gave way to overpressure from the times
And their disastrous issues. What availed,
When spells forbade the voyager to land,
That fragrant notice of a pleasant shore
Wafted, at intervals, from many a bower 55
Of blissful gratitude and fearless love?
Dare I avow that wish was mine to see,
And hope that future times _would_ surely see,
The man to come, parted, as by a gulph,
From him who had been; that I could no more 60
Trust the elevation which had made me one
With the great family that still survives
To illuminate the abyss of ages past,
Sage, warrior, patriot, hero; for it seemed
That their best virtues were not free from taint 65
Of something false and weak, that could not stand
The open eye of Reason. Then I said,
"Go to the Poets, they will speak to thee
More perfectly of purer creatures;--yet
If reason be nobility in man, 70
Can aught be more ignoble than the man
Whom they delight in, blinded as he is
By prejudice, the miserable slave
Of low ambition or distempered love?"

In such strange passion, if I may once more 75
Review the past, I warred against myself--
A bigot to a new idolatry--
Like a cowled monk who hath forsworn the world,
Zealously laboured to cut off my heart
From all the sources of her former strength; 80
And as, by simple waving of a wand,
The wizard instantaneously dissolves
Palace or grove, even so could I unsoul
As readily by syllogistic words
Those mysteries of being which have made, 85
And shall continue evermore to make,
Of the whole human race one brotherhood.

What wonder, then, if, to a mind so far
Perverted, even the visible Universe
Fell under the dominion of a taste 90
Less spiritual, with microscopic view
Was scanned, as I had scanned the moral world?

O Soul of Nature! excellent and fair!
That didst rejoice with me, with whom I, too,
Rejoiced through early youth, before the winds 95
And roaring waters, and in lights and shades
That marched and countermarched about the hills
In glorious apparition, Powers on whom
I daily waited, now all eye and now
All ear; but never long without the heart 100
Employed, and man's unfolding intellect:
O Soul of Nature! that, by laws divine
Sustained and governed, still dost overflow
With an impassioned life, what feeble ones
Walk on this earth! how feeble have I been 105
When thou wert in thy strength! Nor this through stroke
Of human suffering, such as justifies
Remissness and inaptitude of mind,
But through presumption; even in pleasure pleased
Unworthily, disliking here, and there 110
Liking; by rules of mimic art transferred
To things above all art; but more,--for this,
Although a strong infection of the age,
Was never much my habit--giving way
To a comparison of scene with scene, 115
Bent overmuch on superficial things,
Pampering myself with meagre novelties
Of colour and proportion; to the moods
Of time and season, to the moral power,
The affections and the spirit of the place, 120
Insensible. Nor only did the love
Of sitting thus in judgment interrupt
My deeper feelings, but another cause,
More subtle and less easily explained,
That almost seems inherent in the creature, 125
A twofold frame of body and of mind.
I speak in recollection of a time
When the bodily eye, in every stage of life
The most despotic of our senses, gained
Such strength in _me_ as often held my mind 130
In absolute dominion. Gladly here,
Entering upon abstruser argument,
Could I endeavour to unfold the means
Which Nature studiously employs to thwart
This tyranny, summons all the senses each 135
To counteract the other, and themselves,
And makes them all, and the objects with which all
Are conversant, subservient in their turn
To the great ends of Liberty and Power.
But leave we this: enough that my delights 140
(Such as they were) were sought insatiably.
Vivid the transport, vivid though not profound;
I roamed from hill to hill, from rock to rock,
Still craving combinations of new forms,
New pleasure, wider empire for the sight, 145
Proud of her own endowments, and rejoiced
To lay the inner faculties asleep.
Amid the turns and counterturns, the strife
And various trials of our complex being,
As we grow up, such thraldom of that sense 150
Seems hard to shun. And yet I knew a maid, [B]
A young enthusiast, who escaped these bonds;
Her eye was not the mistress of her heart;
Far less did rules prescribed by passive taste,
Or barren intermeddling subtleties, 155
Perplex her mind; but, wise as women are
When genial circumstance hath favoured them,
She welcomed what was given, and craved no more;
Whate'er the scene presented to her view,
That was the best, to that she was attuned 160
By her benign simplicity of life,
And through a perfect happiness of soul,
Whose variegated feelings were in this
Sisters, that they were each some new delight.
Birds in the bower, and lambs in the green field, 165
Could they have known her, would have loved; methought
Her very presence such a sweetness breathed,
That flowers, and trees, and even the silent hills,
And every thing she looked on, should have had
An intimation how she bore herself 170
Towards them and to all creatures. God delights
In such a being; for her common thoughts
Are piety, her life is gratitude.

Even like this maid, before I was called forth
From the retirement of my native hills, 175
I loved whate'er I saw: nor lightly loved,
But most intensely; never dreamt of aught
More grand, more fair, more exquisitely framed
Than those few nooks to which my happy feet
Were limited. I had not at that time 180
Lived long enough, nor in the least survived
The first diviner influence of this world,
As it appears to unaccustomed eyes.
Worshipping then among the depth of things,
As piety ordained; could I submit 185
To measured admiration, or to aught
That should preclude humility and love?
I felt, observed, and pondered; did not judge,
Yea, never thought of judging; with the gift
Of all this glory filled and satisfied. 190
And afterwards, when through the gorgeous Alps
Roaming, I carried with me the same heart:
In truth, the degradation--howsoe'er
Induced, effect, in whatsoe'er degree,
Of custom that prepares a partial scale 195
In which the little oft outweighs the great;
Or any other cause that hath been named;
Or lastly, aggravated by the times
And their impassioned sounds, which well might make
The milder minstrelsies of rural scenes 200
Inaudible--was transient; I had known
Too forcibly, too early in my life,
Visitings of imaginative power
For this to last: I shook the habit off
Entirely and for ever, and again 205
In Nature's presence stood, as now I stand,
A sensitive being, a _creative_ soul.

There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence, depressed 210
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse, our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired; 215
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
This efficacious spirit chiefly lurks
Among those passages of life that give 220
Profoundest knowledge to what point, and how,
The mind is lord and master--outward sense
The obedient servant of her will. Such moments
Are scattered everywhere, taking their date
From our first childhood. [C] I remember well, 225
That once, while yet my inexperienced hand
Could scarcely hold a bridle, with proud hopes
I mounted, and we journeyed towards the hills: [D]
An ancient servant of my father's house
Was with me, my encourager and guide: 230
We had not travelled long, ere some mischance
Disjoined me from my comrade; and, through fear
Dismounting, down the rough and stony moor
I led my horse, and, stumbling on, at length
Came to a bottom, where in former times 235
A murderer had been hung in iron chains.
The gibbet-mast had mouldered down, the bones
And iron case were gone; but on the turf,
Hard by, soon after that fell deed was wrought,
Some unknown hand had carved the murderer's name. 240
The monumental letters were inscribed
In times long past; but still, from year to year,
By superstition of the neighbourhood,
The grass is cleared away, and to this hour
The characters are fresh and visible: 245
A casual glance had shown them, and I fled,
Faltering and faint, and ignorant of the road:
Then, reascending the bare common, saw
A naked pool that lay beneath the hills,
The beacon on the summit, and, more near, 250
A girl, who bore a pitcher on her head,
And seemed with difficult steps to force her way
Against the blowing wind. It was, in truth,
An ordinary sight; but I should need
Colours and words that are unknown to man, 255
To paint the visionary dreariness
Which, while I looked all round for my lost guide,
Invested moorland waste, and naked pool,
The beacon crowning the lone eminence,
The female and her garments vexed and tossed 260
By the strong wind. When, in the blessed hours
Of early love, the loved one at my side, [E]
I roamed, in daily presence of this scene,
Upon the naked pool and dreary crags,
And on the melancholy beacon, fell 265
A spirit of pleasure and youth's golden gleam;
And think ye not with radiance more sublime
For these remembrances, and for the power
They had left behind? So feeling comes in aid
Of feeling, and diversity of strength 270
Attends us, if but once we have been strong.
Oh! mystery of man, from what a depth
Proceed thy honours. I am lost, but see
In simple childhood something of the base
On which thy greatness stands; but this I feel, 275
That from thyself it comes, that thou must give,
Else never canst receive. The days gone by
Return upon me almost from the dawn
Of life: the hiding-places of man's power
Open; I would approach them, but they close. 280
I see by glimpses now; when age comes on,
May scarcely see at all; and I would give,
While yet we may, as far as words can give,
Substance and life to what I feel, enshrining,
Such is my hope, the spirit of the Past 285
For future restoration.--Yet another
Of these memorials;--
One Christmas-time, [F]
On the glad eve of its dear holidays,
Feverish, and tired, and restless, I went forth
Into the fields, impatient for the sight 290
Of those led palfreys that should bear us home;
My brothers and myself. There rose a crag,
That, from the meeting-point of two highways [F]
Ascending, overlooked them both, far stretched;
Thither, uncertain on which road to fix 295
My expectation, thither I repaired,
Scout-like, and gained the summit; 'twas a day
Tempestuous, dark, and wild, and on the grass
I sate half-sheltered by a naked wall;
Upon my right hand couched a single sheep, 300
Upon my left a blasted hawthorn stood;
With those companions at my side, I watched,
Straining my eyes intensely, as the mist
Gave intermitting prospect of the copse
And plain beneath. Ere we to school returned,--305
That dreary time,--ere we had been ten days
Sojourners in my father's house, he died,
And I and my three brothers, orphans then,
Followed his body to the grave. The event,
With all the sorrow that it brought, appeared 310
A chastisement; and when I called to mind
That day so lately past, when from the crag
I looked in such anxiety of hope;
With trite reflections of morality,
Yet in the deepest passion, I bowed low 315
To God, Who thus corrected my desires;
And, afterwards, the wind and sleety rain,
And all the business of the elements,
The single sheep, and the one blasted tree,
And the bleak music from that old stone wall, 320
The noise of wood and water, and the mist
That on the line of each of those two roads
Advanced in such indisputable shapes;
All these were kindred spectacles and sounds
To which I oft repaired, and thence would drink, 325
As at a fountain; and on winter nights,
Down to this very time, when storm and rain
Beat on my roof, or, haply, at noon-day,
While in a grove I walk, whose lofty trees,
Laden with summer's thickest foliage, rock 330
In a strong wind, some working of the spirit,
Some inward agitations thence are brought,
Whate'er their office, whether to beguile
Thoughts over busy in the course they took,
Or animate an hour of vacant ease. 335

* * * * *


[Footnote A: Compare Shakespeare's "Stealing and giving odour."
('Twelfth Night', act I. scene i. l. 7.)--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Mary Hutchinson.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: Compare the 'Ode, Intimations of Immortality', stanzas v.
and ix.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: Either amongst the Lorton Fells, or the north-western
slopes of Skiddaw.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: His sister.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: The year was evidently 1783, but the locality is difficult
to determine. It may have been one or other of two places. Wordsworth's
father died at Penrith, and it was there that the sons went for their
Christmas holiday. The road from Penrith to Hawkshead was by Kirkstone
Pass, and Ambleside; and the "led palfreys" sent to take the boys home
would certainly come through the latter town. Now there are only two
roads from Ambleside to Hawkshead, which meet at a point about a mile
north of Hawkshead, called in the Ordnance map "Outgate." The eastern
road is now chiefly used by carriages, being less hilly and better made
than the western one. The latter would be quite as convenient as the
former for horses. If one were to walk out from Hawkshead village to the
place where the two roads separate at "Outgate," and then ascend the
ridge between them, he would find several places from which he could
overlook _both_ roads "far stretched," were the view not now intercepted
by numerous plantations. (The latter are of comparatively recent
growth.) Dr. Cradock,--to whom I am indebted for this, and for many
other suggestions as to localities alluded to by Wordsworth,--thinks

"a point, marked on the map as 'High Crag' between the two roads, and
about three-quarters of a mile from their point of divergence, answers
the description as well as any other. It may be nearly two miles from
Hawkshead, a distance of which an active eager school-boy would think
nothing. The 'blasted hawthorn' and the 'naked wall' are probably
things of the past as much as the 'single sheep.'"

Doubtless this may be the spot,--a green, rocky knoll with a steep face
to the north, where a quarry is wrought, and with a plantation to the
east. It commands a view of both roads. The other possible place is a
crag, not a quarter of a mile from Outgate, a little to the right of the
place where the two roads divide. A low wall runs up across it to the
top, dividing a plantation of oak, hazel, and ash, from the firs that
crown the summit. These firs, which are larch and spruce, seem all of
this century. The top of the crag may have been bare when Wordsworth
lived at Hawkshead. But at the foot of the path along the dividing wall
there are a few (probably older) trees; and a solitary walk beneath
them, at noon or dusk, is almost as suggestive to the imagination, as
repose under the yews of Borrowdale, listening to "the mountain flood"
on Glaramara. There one may still hear the bleak music from the old
stone wall, and "the noise of wood and water," while the loud dry wind
whistles through the underwood, or moans amid the fir trees of the Crag,
on the summit of which there is a "blasted hawthorn" tree. It may be
difficult now to determine the precise spot to which the boy Wordsworth
climbed on that eventful day--afterwards so significant to him, and from
the events of which, he says, he drank "as at a fountain"--but I think
it may have been to one or other of these two crags. (See, however, Mr.
Rawnsley's conjecture in Note V. in the Appendix to this volume, p.

* * * * *



From Nature doth emotion come, and moods
Of calmness equally are Nature's gift:
This is her glory; these two attributes
Are sister horns that constitute her strength.
Hence Genius, born to thrive by interchange 5
Of peace and excitation, finds in her
His best and purest friend; from her receives
That energy by which he seeks the truth,
From her that happy stillness of the mind
Which fits him to receive it when unsought. [A] 10

Such benefit the humblest intellects
Partake of, each in their degree; 'tis mine
To speak, what I myself have known and felt;
Smooth task! for words find easy way, inspired
By gratitude, and confidence in truth. 15
Long time in search of knowledge did I range
The field of human life, in heart and mind
Benighted; but, the dawn beginning now
To re-appear, 'twas proved that not in vain
I had been taught to reverence a Power 20
That is the visible quality and shape
And image of right reason; that matures
Her processes by steadfast laws; gives birth
To no impatient or fallacious hopes,
No heat of passion or excessive zeal, 25
No vain conceits; provokes to no quick turns
Of self-applauding intellect; but trains
To meekness, and exalts by humble faith;
Holds up before the mind intoxicate
With present objects, and the busy dance 30
Of things that pass away, a temperate show
Of objects that endure; and by this course
Disposes her, when over-fondly set
On throwing off incumbrances, to seek
In man, and in the frame of social life, 35
Whate'er there is desirable and good
Of kindred permanence, unchanged in form
And function, or, through strict vicissitude
Of life and death, revolving. Above all
Were re-established now those watchful thoughts 40
Which, seeing little worthy or sublime
In what the Historian's pen so much delights
To blazon--power and energy detached
From moral purpose--early tutored me
To look with feelings of fraternal love 45
Upon the unassuming things that hold
A silent station in this beauteous world.

Thus moderated, thus composed, I found
Once more in Man an object of delight,
Of pure imagination, and of love; 50
And, as the horizon of my mind enlarged,
Again I took the intellectual eye
For my instructor, studious more to see
Great truths, than touch and handle little ones.
Knowledge was given accordingly; my trust 55
Became more firm in feelings that had stood
The test of such a trial; clearer far
My sense of excellence--of right and wrong:
The promise of the present time retired
Into its true proportion; sanguine schemes, 60
Ambitious projects, pleased me less; I sought
For present good in life's familiar face,
And built thereon my hopes of good to come.

With settling judgments now of what would last
And what would disappear; prepared to find 65
Presumption, folly, madness, in the men
Who thrust themselves upon the passive world
As Rulers of the world; to see in these,
Even when the public welfare is their aim,
Plans without thought, or built on theories 70
Vague and unsound; and having brought the books
Of modern statists to their proper test,
Life, human life, with all its sacred claims
Of sex and age, and heaven-descended rights,
Mortal, or those beyond the reach of death; 75
And having thus discerned how dire a thing
Is worshipped in that idol proudly named
"The Wealth of Nations," _where_ alone that wealth
Is lodged, and how increased; and having gained
A more judicious knowledge of the worth 80
And dignity of individual man,
No composition of the brain, but man
Of whom we read, the man whom we behold
With our own eyes--I could not but inquire--
Not with less interest than heretofore, 85
But greater, though in spirit more subdued--
Why is this glorious creature to be found
One only in ten thousand? What one is,
Why may not millions be? What bars are thrown
By Nature in the way of such a hope? 90
Our animal appetites and daily wants,
Are these obstructions insurmountable?
If not, then others vanish into air.
"Inspect the basis of the social pile:
Inquire," said I, "how much of mental power 95
And genuine virtue they possess who live
By bodily toil, labour exceeding far
Their due proportion, under all the weight
Of that injustice which upon ourselves
Ourselves entail." Such estimate to frame 100
I chiefly looked (what need to look beyond?)
Among the natural abodes of men,
Fields with their rural works; [B] recalled to mind
My earliest notices; with these compared
The observations made in later youth, 105
And to that day continued.--For, the time
Had never been when throes of mighty Nations
And the world's tumult unto me could yield,
How far soe'er transported and possessed,
Full measure of content; but still I craved 110
An intermingling of distinct regards
And truths of individual sympathy
Nearer ourselves. Such often might be gleaned
From the great City, else it must have proved
To me a heart-depressing wilderness; 115
But much was wanting: therefore did I turn
To you, ye pathways, and ye lonely roads;
Sought you enriched with everything I prized,
With human kindnesses and simple joys.

Oh! next to one dear state of bliss, vouchsafed 120
Alas! to few in this untoward world,
The bliss of walking daily in life's prime
Through field or forest with the maid we love,
While yet our hearts are young, while yet we breathe
Nothing but happiness, in some lone nook, 125
Deep vale, or any where, the home of both,
From which it would be misery to stir:
Oh! next to such enjoyment of our youth,
In my esteem, next to such dear delight,
Was that of wandering on from day to day 130
Where I could meditate in peace, and cull
Knowledge that step by step might lead me on
To wisdom; or, as lightsome as a bird
Wafted upon the wind from distant lands,
Sing notes of greeting to strange fields or groves, 135
Which lacked not voice to welcome me in turn:
And, when that pleasant toil had ceased to please,
Converse with men, where if we meet a face
We almost meet a friend, on naked heaths
With long long ways before, by cottage bench, 140
Or well-spring where the weary traveller rests.

Who doth not love to follow with his eye
The windings of a public way? the sight,
Familiar object as it is, hath wrought
On my imagination since the morn 145
Of childhood, when a disappearing line,
One daily present to my eyes, that crossed
The naked summit of a far-off hill
Beyond the limits that my feet had trod,
Was like an invitation into space 150
Boundless, or guide into eternity. [C]
Yes, something of the grandeur which invests
The mariner who sails the roaring sea
Through storm and darkness, early in my mind
Surrounded, too, the wanderers of the earth; 155
Grandeur as much, and loveliness far more.
Awed have I been by strolling Bedlamites;
From many other uncouth vagrants (passed
In fear) have walked with quicker step; but why
Take note of this? When I began to enquire, 160
To watch and question those I met, and speak
Without reserve to them, the lonely roads
Were open schools in which I daily read
With most delight the passions of mankind,
Whether by words, looks, sighs, or tears, revealed; 165
There saw into the depth of human souls,
Souls that appear to have no depth at all
To careless eyes. And-now convinced at heart
How little those formalities, to which
With overweening trust alone we give 170
The name of Education, have to do
With real feeling and just sense; how vain
A correspondence with the talking world
Proves to the most; and called to make good search
If man's estate, by doom of Nature yoked 175
With toil, be therefore yoked with ignorance;
If virtue be indeed so hard to rear,
And intellectual strength so rare a boon--
I prized such walks still more, for there I found
Hope to my hope, and to my pleasure peace 180
And steadiness, and healing and repose
To every angry passion. There I heard,
From mouths of men obscure and lowly, truths
Replete with honour; sounds in unison
With loftiest promises of good and fair. 185

There are who think that strong affection, love [D]
Known by whatever name, is falsely deemed
A gift, to use a term which they would use,
Of vulgar nature; that its growth requires
Retirement, leisure, language purified 190
By manners studied and elaborate;
That whoso feels such passion in its strength
Must live within the very light and air
Of courteous usages refined by art.
True is it, where oppression worse than death 195
Salutes the being at his birth, where grace
Of culture hath been utterly unknown,
And poverty and labour in excess
From day to day pre-occupy the ground
Of the affections, and to Nature's self 200
Oppose a deeper nature; there, indeed,
Love cannot be; nor does it thrive with ease
Among the close and overcrowded haunts
Of cities, where the human heart is sick,
And the eye feeds it not, and cannot feed. 205
--Yes, in those wanderings deeply did I feel
How we mislead each other; above all,
How books mislead us, seeking their reward
From judgments of the wealthy Few, who see
By artificial lights; how they debase 210
The Many for the pleasure of those Few;
Effeminately level down the truth
To certain general notions, for the sake
Of being understood at once, or else
Through want of better knowledge in the heads 215
That framed them; nattering self-conceit with words,
That, while they most ambitiously set forth
Extrinsic differences, the outward marks
Whereby society has parted man
From man, neglect the universal heart. 220

Here, calling up to mind what then I saw,
A youthful traveller, and see daily now
In the familiar circuit of my home,
Here might I pause, and bend in reverence
To Nature, and the power of human minds, 225
To men as they are men within themselves.
How oft high service is performed within,
When all the external man is rude in show,--
Not like a temple rich with pomp and gold,
But a mere mountain chapel, that protects 230
Its simple worshippers from sun and shower.
Of these, said I, shall be my song; of these,
If future years mature me for the task,
Will I record the praises, making verse
Deal boldly with substantial things; in truth 235
And sanctity of passion, speak of these,
That justice may be done, obeisance paid
Where it is due: thus haply shall I teach,
Inspire, through unadulterated ears
Pour rapture, tenderness, and hope,--my theme 240
No other than the very heart of man,
As found among the best of those who live,
Not unexalted by religious faith,
Nor uninformed by books, good books, though few,
In Nature's presence: thence may I select 245
Sorrow, that is not sorrow, but delight;
And miserable love, that is not pain
To hear of, for the glory that redounds
Therefrom to human kind, and what we are.
Be mine to follow with no timid step 250
Where knowledge leads me: it shall be my pride
That I have dared to tread this holy ground,
Speaking no dream, but things oracular;
Matter not lightly to be heard by those
Who to the letter of the outward promise 255
Do read the invisible soul; by men adroit
In speech, and for communion with the world
Accomplished; minds whose faculties are then
Most active when they are most eloquent,
And elevated most when most admired. 260
Men may be found of other mould than these,
Who are their own upholders, to themselves
Encouragement, and energy, and will,
Expressing liveliest thoughts in lively words
As native passion dictates. Others, too, 265
There are among the walks of homely life
Still higher, men for contemplation framed,
Shy, and unpractised in the strife of phrase;
Meek men, whose very souls perhaps would sink
Beneath them, summoned to such intercourse: 270
Theirs is the language of the heavens, the power,
The thought, the image, and the silent joy:
Words are but under-agents in their souls;
When they are grasping with their greatest strength,
They do not breathe among them: this I speak 275
In gratitude to God, Who feeds our hearts
For His own service; knoweth, loveth us,
When we are unregarded by the world.

Also, about this time did I receive
Convictions still more strong than heretofore, 280
Not only that the inner frame is good,
And graciously composed, but that, no less,
Nature for all conditions wants not power
To consecrate, if we have eyes to see,
The outside of her creatures, and to breathe 285
Grandeur upon the very humblest face
Of human life. I felt that the array
Of act and circumstance, and visible form,
Is mainly to the pleasure of the mind
What passion makes them; that meanwhile the forms 290
Of Nature have a passion in themselves,
That intermingles with those works of man
To which she summons him; although the works
Be mean, have nothing lofty of their own;
And that the Genius of the Poet hence 295
May boldly take his way among mankind
Wherever Nature leads; that he hath stood
By Nature's side among the men of old,
And so shall stand for ever. Dearest Friend!
If thou partake the animating faith 300
That Poets, even as Prophets, each with each
Connected in a mighty scheme of truth,
Have each his own peculiar faculty,
Heaven's gift, a sense that fits him to perceive
Objects unseen before, thou wilt not blame 305
The humblest of this band who dares to hope
That unto him hath also been vouchsafed
An insight that in some sort he possesses,
A privilege whereby a work of his,
Proceeding from a source of untaught things, 310
Creative and enduring, may become
A power like one of Nature's. To a hope
Not less ambitious once among the wilds
Of Sarum's Plain, [E] my youthful spirit was raised;
There, as I ranged at will the pastoral downs 315
Trackless and smooth, or paced the bare white roads
Lengthening in solitude their dreary line,
Time with his retinue of ages fled
Backwards, nor checked his flight until I saw
Our dim ancestral Past in vision clear; 320
Saw multitudes of men, and, here and there,
A single Briton clothed in wolf-skin vest,
With shield and stone-axe, stride across the wold;
The voice of spears was heard, the rattling spear
Shaken by arms of mighty bone, in strength, 325
Long mouldered, of barbaric majesty.
I called on Darkness--but before the word
Was uttered, midnight darkness seemed to take
All objects from my sight; and lo! again
The Desert visible by dismal flames; 330
It is the sacrificial altar, fed
With living men--how deep the groans! the voice
Of those that crowd the giant wicker thrills
The monumental hillocks, and the pomp
Is for both worlds, the living and the dead. 335
At other moments (for through that wide waste
Three summer days I roamed) where'er the Plain
Was figured o'er with circles, lines, or mounds, [F]
That yet survive, a work, as some divine,
Shaped by the Druids, so to represent 340
Their knowledge of the heavens, and image forth
The constellations; gently was I charmed
Into a waking dream, a reverie
That, with believing eyes, where'er I turned,
Beheld long-bearded teachers, with white wands 345
Uplifted, pointing to the starry sky,
Alternately, and plain below, while breath
Of music swayed their motions, and the waste
Rejoiced with them and me in those sweet sounds.

This for the past, and things that may be viewed 350
Or fancied in the obscurity of years
From monumental hints: and thou, O Friend!
Pleased with some unpremeditated strains
That served those wanderings to beguile, [G] hast said
That then and there my mind had exercised 355
Upon the vulgar forms of present things,
The actual world of our familiar days,
Yet higher power; had caught from them a tone,
An image, and a character, by books
Not hitherto reflected. [H] Call we this 360
A partial judgment--and yet why? for _then_
We were as strangers; and I may not speak
Thus wrongfully of verse, however rude,
Which on thy young imagination, trained
In the great City, broke like light from far. 365
Moreover, each man's Mind is to herself
Witness and judge; and I remember well
That in life's every-day appearances
I seemed about this time to gain clear sight
Of a new world--a world, too, that was fit 370
To be transmitted, and to other eyes
Made visible; as ruled by those fixed laws
Whence spiritual dignity originates,
Which do both give it being and maintain
A balance, an ennobling interchange 375
Of action from without and from within;
The excellence, pure function, and best power
Both of the object seen, and eye that sees.

* * * * *


[Footnote A: Compare 'Expostulation and Reply', vol. i. p. 273:

'Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.

Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
Of things for ever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
But we must still be seeking?'

Mr. William Davies writes:

"Is he absolutely right in attributing these powers to the objects of
Nature, which are only symbols after all? Is there not a more
penetrative and ethereal perceptive power in the human mind, which is
able to transfer itself immediately to the spiritual plane,
transcending that of visible Nature? Plato saw it; the old Vedantist
still more clearly--and what is more--reached it. He arrived at the
knowledge and perception of essential Being: though he could neither
define nor limit, in a human formula, because it is undefinable and
illimitable, but positive and abstract, universally diffused, 'smaller
than small, greater than great,' the internal Light, Monitor, Guide,
Rest, waiting to be seen, recognised, and known in every heart; not
depending on the powers of Nature for enlightenment and instruction,
but itself enlightening and instructing: not merely a receptive, but
the motive power of Nature; which bestows _itself_ upon Nature, and
only receives from it that which it bestows. Is it not, as he says
farther on, better 'to see great truths,' even if not so strictly in
line and form, 'touch and handle little ones,' to take the highest
point of view we can reach, not a lower one? And surely it is a higher
thing to rule over and subdue Nature, than to lie ruled and subdued by
it? The highest form of Religion has always done this."


[Footnote B: Compare 'The Old Cumberland Beggar', l. 49 (vol. i. p.

[Footnote C: For a hint in reference to this road, I am indebted to the
late Dr. Henry Dodgson of Cockermouth. Referring to my suggestion that
it might be the road from Cockermouth to Bridekirk, he wrote (July

"I scarcely think that road answers to the description. The hill over
which it goes is not naked but well wooded, and has probably been so
for many years. Besides, it is not visible from Wordsworth's house,
nor from the garden behind it. This garden extends from the house to
the river Derwent, from which it is separated by a wall, with a raised
terraced walk on the inner side, and nearly on a level with the top. I
understand that this terrace was in existence in the poet's time....
Its direction is nearly due east and west; and looking eastward from
it, there is a hill which bounds the view in that direction, and which
fully corresponds to the description in 'The Prelude'. It is from one
and a half to two miles distant, of considerable height, is bare and
destitute of trees, and has a road going directly over its summit, as
seen from the terrace in Wordsworth's garden. This road is now used
only as a footpath; but, fifty or sixty years ago it was the highroad
to Isel, a hamlet on the Derwent, about three and a half miles from
Cockermouth, in the direction of Bassenthwaite Lake. The hill is
locally called 'the Hay,' but on the Ordnance map it is marked 'Watch

There can be little doubt as to the accuracy of this suggestion. No
other hill-road is visible from the house or garden at Cockermouth. The
view from the front of the old mansion is limited by houses, doubtless
more so now than in last century; but there is no hill towards the
Lorton Fells on the south or south-east, with a road over it, visible
from any part of the town. Besides, as this was a very early experience
of Wordsworth's--it was in "the morn of childhood" that the road was
"daily present to his sight"--it must have been seen, either from the
house or from the garden. It is almost certain that he refers to the
path over the Hay or Watch Hill, which he and his "sister Emmeline"
could see daily from the high terrace, at the foot of their garden in
Cockermouth, where they used to "chase the butterfly" and visit the
"sparrow's nest" in the "impervious shelter" of privet and roses.

Dr. Cradock wrote to me (January 1886),

"an old map of the county round about Keswick, including Cockermouth,
dated 1789, entirely confirms Dr. Dodgson's statement. The road over
'Hay Hill' is marked clearly as a carriage road to Isel. The miles are
marked on the map. The 'summit' of the hill is 'naked': for the map
marks woods, where they existed, and none are marked on Hay

[Footnote D: A part of the following paragraph is written with sundry
variations of text, in Dorothy Wordsworth's MS. book, dated May to
December 1802.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: In the summer of 1793, on his return from the Isle of
Wight, and before proceeding to Bristol and Wales, he wandered with his
friend William Calvert over Salisbury plain for three days.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Compare the reference to "Sarum's naked plain" in the third
book of 'The Excursion', l. 148.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: The reference is to 'Guilt and Sorrow'. See the
introductory, and the Fenwick, note to this poem, in vol. i. pp.

[Footnote H: Coleridge read 'Descriptive Sketches' when an undergraduate
at Cambridge in 1793--before the two men had met--and wrote thus of

"Seldom, if ever, was the emergence of a great and original poetic
genius above the literary horizon more evidently announced."

See 'Biographia Literaria', i. p. 25 (edition 1842).--Ed.]

* * * * *



In one of those excursions (may they ne'er
Fade from remembrance!) through the Northern tracts
Of Cambria ranging with a youthful friend, [A]
I left Bethgelert's huts at couching-time,
And westward took my way, to see the sun 5
Rise from the top of Snowdon. To the door
Of a rude cottage at the mountain's base
We came, and roused the shepherd who attends
The adventurous stranger's steps, a trusty guide;
Then, cheered by short refreshment, sallied forth. 10

It was a close, warm, breezeless summer night,
Wan, dull, and glaring, with a dripping fog
Low-hung and thick that covered all the sky;
But, undiscouraged, we began to climb
The mountain-side. The mist soon girt us round, 15
And, after ordinary travellers' talk
With our conductor, pensively we sank
Each into commerce with his private thoughts:
Thus did we breast the ascent, and by myself
Was nothing either seen or heard that checked 20
Those musings or diverted, save that once
The shepherd's lurcher, who, among the crags,
Had to his joy unearthed a hedgehog, teased
His coiled-up prey with barkings turbulent.
This small adventure, for even such it seemed 25
In that wild place and at the dead of night,
Being over and forgotten, on we wound
In silence as before. With forehead bent
Earthward, as if in opposition set
Against an enemy, I panted up 30
With eager pace, and no less eager thoughts.
Thus might we wear a midnight hour away,
Ascending at loose distance each from each,
And I, as chanced, the foremost of the band;
When at my feet the ground appeared to brighten, 35
And with a step or two seemed brighter still;
Nor was time given to ask or learn the cause,
For instantly a light upon the turf
Fell like a flash, and lo! as I looked up,
The Moon hung naked in a firmament 40
Of azure without cloud, and at my feet
Rested a silent sea of hoary mist.
A hundred hills their dusky backs upheaved
All over this still ocean; and beyond,
Far, far beyond, the solid vapours stretched, 45
In headlands, tongues, and promontory shapes,
Into the main Atlantic, that appeared
To dwindle, and give up his majesty,
Usurped upon far as the sight could reach.
Not so the ethereal vault; encroachment none 50
Was there, nor loss; only the inferior stars
Had disappeared, or shed a fainter light
In the clear presence of the full-orbed Moon,
Who, from her sovereign elevation, gazed
Upon the billowy ocean, as it lay 55
All meek and silent, save that through a rift--
Not distant from the shore whereon we stood,
A fixed, abysmal, gloomy, breathing-place--
Mounted the roar of waters, torrents, streams
Innumerable, roaring with one voice! 60
Heard over earth and sea, and, in that hour,
For so it seemed, felt by the starry heavens.

When into air had partially dissolved
That vision, given to spirits of the night
And three chance human wanderers, in calm thought 65
Reflected, it appeared to me the type
Of a majestic intellect, its acts
And its possessions, what it has and craves,
What in itself it is, and would become.
There I beheld the emblem of a mind 70
That feeds upon infinity, that broods
Over the dark abyss, [B] intent to hear
Its voices issuing forth to silent light
In one continuous stream; a mind sustained
By recognitions of transcendent power, 75
In sense conducting to ideal form,
In soul of more than mortal privilege.
One function, above all, of such a mind
Had Nature shadowed there, by putting forth,
'Mid circumstances awful and sublime, 80
That mutual domination which she loves
To exert upon the face of outward things,
So moulded, joined, abstracted, so endowed
With interchangeable supremacy,
That men, least sensitive, see, hear, perceive, 85
And cannot choose but feel. The power, which all
Acknowledge when thus moved, which Nature thus

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