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in England,—God knows, are done in England every day,--but would never be spoken of. In America I wish to know not how many churches or schools, but what newspapers ? My friend, Colonel Hamilton, at the foot of the hill, who was a year in America, assures me that the newspapers are atrocious, and accuse members of Congress of stealing spoons !" He was against taking off the tax on newspapers in England, which the reformers represent as a tax upon knowledge, for this reason, that they would be inundated with base prints. He said he talked on political aspects, for he wished to impress on me and all good Americans to cultivate the moral, the conservative, etc. etc., and never to call into action the physical strength of the people, as had just now been done in England in the Reform Bill, -a thing prophesied by Delolme. He alluded once or twice to his conversation with Dr. Channing, who had recently visited him (laying his hand on a particular chair in which the Doctor had sat).
The conversation turned on books. Lucretius he esteems a far higher poet than Virgil: not in his system, which is nothing, but in his power of illustration. Faith is necessary to explain anything, and to reconcile the foreknowledge of God with human evil. Of Cousin (whose lectures we had all been reading in Boston) he knew only the name.
I inquired if he had read Carlyle's critical articles and translations. He said, he thought him sometimes insane. He proceeded to abuse Goethe's Wilhelm Meister heartily. It was full of all manner of fornication. It was like the crossing of flies in the air. He had never gone farther than the first part ; so disgusted was he that he threw the book across the room. I deprecated this wrath, and said what I could for the better parts of the book; and he courteously promised to look at it again. Carlyle, he said, wrote most obscurely. He was clever and deep, but he defied the sympathies of everybody. Even Mr. Coleridge wrote more clearly, though he had always wished Coleridge would write more to be understood. He led me out into his garden, and showed me the gravel walk in which thousands of his lines were composed. His eyes are much inflamed. This is no loss, except for reading, because he never writes prose, and of poetry he carries even hundreds of lines in his head before writing them. He had just returned from a visit to Staffa, and within three days had made three sonnets on Fingal's Cave, and was composing a fourth, when he was called in to see me. He said, “If you are interested in my verses, perhaps you will like to hear these lines." I gladly assented ; and he recollected himself for a few moments, and then stood forth and repeated, one after the other, the three entire sonnets, with great animation. I fancied the second and third more beautiful than his poems are wont to be. The third is addressed to the flowers, which, he said, especially the oxeye daisy, are very abundant on the top of the rock. The second alludes to the name of the cave, which is “Cave of Music ;" the first to the circumstance of its being visited by the promiscuous company of the steamboat.
This recitation was so unlooked for and surprising, -he, the old Wordsworth, standing apart, and reciting to me in a garden-walk, like a schoolboy declaiming —that I at first was near to laugh ; but recollecting myself, that I had come thus far to see a poet, and he was chanting poems to me, I saw that he was right and I was wrong, and gladly gave myself up to hear. I told him how much the few printed extracts had quickened the desire to possess his unpublished poems. He replied, he never was in haste to publish ; partly, because he corrected a good deal, and every alteration is ungraciously received after printing; but what he had written would be printed, whether he lived or died. I said, “Tintern Abbey” appeared to be the favourite poem with the public, but more contemplative readers preferred the first books of the "Excursion," and the Sonnets. He said, “Yes, they are better." He preferred such of his poems as touched the affections, to any others; for whatever is didactic, --what theories of society, and so on,-might perish quickly; but whatever combined a truth with an affection was knua es act, good to-day and good for ever. He cited the sonnet “On the feelings of a highminded Spaniard,” which he preferred to any other (I so understood him), and the “Two Voices;" and quoted, with evident pleasure, the verses addressed “To the Skylark.” In this connection, he said of the Newtonian theory, that it might yet be superseded and forgotten ; and Dalton's atomic theory.
When I prepared to depart, he said he wished to show me what a common person in England could VOL. IV.
do, and he led me into the enclosure of his clerk, a young man, to whom he had given this slip of ground, which was laid out, or its natural capabilities shown, with much taste. He then said he would show me a better way towards the inn; and he walked a good part of a mile, talking, and ever and anon stopping short to impress the word or the verse, and finally parted from me with great kindness, and returned across the fields.
Wordsworth honoured himself by his simple adherence to truth, and was very willing not to shine ; but he surprised by the hard limits of his thought. To judge from a single conversation, he made the impression of a narrow and very English mind; of one who paid for his rare elevation by general tameness and conformity. Off his own beat, his opinions were of no value. It is not very rare to find persons loving sympathy and ease, who expiate their departure from the common, in one direction, by their conformity in every other.
VOYAGE TO ENGLAND.
THE occasion of my second visit to England was an invitation from some Mechanics' Institutes in Lancashire and Yorkshire, which separately are organised much in the same way as our New England Lyceums, but, in 1847, had been linked into a “Union," which embraced twenty or thirty towns and cities, and presently extended into the middle counties, and northward into Scotland. I was invited, on liberal terms, to read a series of lectures in them all. The request was urged with every kind suggestion, and every assurance of aid and comfort, by friendliest parties in Manchester, who, in the sequel, amply redeemed their word. The remuneration was equivalent to the fees at that time paid in this country for the like services. At all events, it was sufficient to cover any travelling expenses, and the proposal offered an excellent opportunity of seeing the interior of England and Scotland, by means of a home, and a committee of intelligent friends, awaiting me in every town.
I did not go very willingly. I am not a good