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not have felt more interest about the antiquities of the heathens tban about those of the Christians, even if the latter had left any monuments and vestiges for examination. But as the case stands, what is there for them, as antiquaries, to explore? It is a matter of some historical interest, that there was once a Christian society at Ephesus or Smyrna; and it might be worth some research in books to ascertain the time and circumstances of its extinction. But the local investigations of the antiquarian traveller have constantly for their immediate object, something now existing, which he endeavours to connect with ancient history, in order to render both more intelligible. It were mere folly to go to a particular spot for the purpose of writing the history of people that once lived there, when there is now nothing remaining on it that has the smallest relation to them. The ancient heathens, on the contrary, have left something illustrative of their character, taJents, superstitions, and periods of greatness and decline, in the ruins of iemples, mausoleums, and aqueducts. Primitive Christianity gave far different occupation to its disciples; but therefore it precluded them from creating the means and causes of visible, striking, permanent association between themselves and the places where they made their transient sojourn on earth.The relics monumental of the ancient heathens are, besides, in what are called the classical regions, of great interest regarded as subjects of taste, as productions displaying knowledge, art, and genius.
Art. VI. The River Duddon, a Series of Sonnets : Vaudracour and
Julia : and other Poems. To which is annexed, a Topographical Description of the Country of the Lakes, in the North of England. By William Wordsworth. 8vo. pp. 321. London. 1820. THIS publication is designed to form, fog-ther with “ The T
“ Thanksgiving Ode," “ The Tale of Peter Bell,” and " The Waggoner," the third and last volume of the Author's Miscellaneous Poems. Mr. Wordsworth appears to be satisfied that he bas written enough ; quite enough, at least, for the illustration of his theory, which if the Public do not by this tiine understand or appreciate, it is not his fault: witb this volume, therefore, the indignant Author closes his inetrical labours. a poet has lived too long, who has written quite enough. Measured by this rule, Mr. Wordsworth's literary existence bas long touched upon superannuation : the Author of the Excursion is almost forgotten in the Author of Peter Bell, and the Poet's warmest adınirers are beginning to be ashamed of standing out for the genius of a man who, whether in the wantonness of selfconceit, or from infirmity of judgement, couli, in an age of brilliant competition like the present, decin such productions as
those worthy of the Press. It is evident that Mr. Wordsworth has felt the universal ridicule which they brought upon him, from the manner in which he calls upon his friend Peter, in the following sonnet, not to mind the naughty critics. It is entitled, a
Sonnet on the detraction which followed the publication of a certain poem. See Milton's Sonnet,' it is added, beginning
“A Book was writ of late called Tetrachordon."! We shall see into that matter presently.
' A Book came forth of late called, “ Peter Bell;"
In the just tribute of thy Poet's pen!' Mr. Wordsworth bas very frequently puzzled us before now by the equivocal character of his lighter productions : bis gravity is often so facetious, and bis humour is often so grave, that we have been at a loss to know whether to take him as in jest or in earnest. This is the case with the above lines. We should certainly bave supposed from the reference to Milton's burlesque sonnet, that Mr. Wordsworth neant on this occasion to be jocose. But on looking the Poet steadfastly in the face while addressing bis friend Peter in the latter half of the sonnet, we could not discern the least relaxation of feature that betrayed a latent smile, and were compelled to conclude that he was in very sober earnest. Now, if we are right, it seems unaccountable why the reader should be referred to Milton's sonnet at all, unless Mr. Wordsworth, in whom we have frequently observed a sort of half-concealed fidgetty ambition to be taken for a cousin- gerinan of the great patriot-bard, bas really, in the simplicity of bis mind, mistaken the character of that jeu d'esprit. Some persons bad, it seems, laughed at the Greek title of Milton's treatise, just as the public were diverted at the title of Peter Bell. Thus far the parallel holds. But we do not learn that the public laughed at Milton's book, and he could not, therefore, have been seriously hurt at the jokes passed upon ' a word on the titlepage.' It afforded him however, as he thought, a good occasion for turning the joke upon his polemical assailants, on the ground of the far more uncouth and cacophonous combination of vocables of
which their names were composed. • Gordon' is evidently brought in to supply the rhyme; but · Colkitto, Macdonnel, or Galasp, those rugged names that would have made Quintilian stare and
gasp,' were at that period not yet familiarized to Southern ears ; and Milton, who hated every thing Scotch, and had an exquisite ear, was no doubt unaffectedly diverted at these barbarous ap. pellatives. And then in the close of the sonnet he has a good Aing at hvis opponents for their dislike of Greek, which was the only sin of his title.
Thy age, like ours, O Soul of Sir John Cheek,
When thou taught'st Cambridge, and King Edward, Greek.' But to descend to Mr. Wordsworth. Io our notice of his Peter Bell, we had occasion to remark, that his title confirmed us in the suspicion that, as he is himself devoid of any talent for humour, so he is, through a singular simplicity of mind, insusceptible of the ludicrous. Were not this the case, be would scarcely have trusted his name and that of his friend Peter, so near that of Milton, in the present instance; nor would he have blundered in his serious imitation of a burlesque poem ; nor would he have called upon Peter Bell, at least in the hearing of the public, to lift up his grey-haired forehead, and rejoice in having such a poet as our Author's eccentric self, to write about him; nor, lastly, would he have been now at any loss to know why the formal annunciation of a poem with such a title, and coming from Mr. Wordsworth, should have excited more merriment than the title of the thrilling and matchless “ Tam a Shan“ ter" of a poet who could not be ridiculous.
We take it, however, as a good sign, that Mr. Wordsworth has been made sensible of the fact, that the public do not wish for any more Peter Bells. How depraved soever their taste, how unjust soever their ridicule, the thing will not do again. And he seems determined to please the lovers of euphony this time by at least half of his
titlepage, by the melodious names of Vaudracour and Julia. - The River Duddon' stands boldly forward, indeed, in defiance of all ludicrous associations ; but it has had this name given it, and cannot help itself. We question whether Mr. W. does not think it the most sweetly sounding title of the two.
The contents of the volume are very miscellaneous. A third part is occupied with the topographical description of the Lake country; and it forms by no means the least valuable portion. The Notes to the Sonnets contain a prose memoir of the Rev. Robert Walker, curate of Seathwaite, the abstract of whose character is given in “ The Excursion.” He appears to have been a man of very singularly primitive character, and incomparably more deserving of poetical honours, than most of our
Author's Lakers. The reader must excuse us, if we suffer Mr. Wordsworth's prose for once to detain us from his poetry.
The subject of the memoir was born at Under Crag in Seath. waite, in 1709. He was the youngest of twelve children, born of obscure parents, who seeing him to be a sickly child, not likely to earn a livelihood by bodily labour, deemed it best to breed ' him a scholar. He was accordingly duly initiated into the mysteries of reading: writing, and arithmetic, by the parish schoolmaster; and made sufficient progress to be qualified while yet a lad, to take upon himself the didascalic functions at Loweswater. By the assistance of a gentleman of the neighbour
hood, however, he managed to acquire in his leisure hours, a knowledge of the classics, and he now aspired to holy orders. The choice of two curacies was offered to him upon his ordination : the value of each was the same, viz. five pounds per an. num ; ' but the cure of Seathwaite having a cottage attached to 'it, as he wished to marry, he chose it in preference. He got, as he expresses it, to the value of 401. for his wife's fortune, the savings of her wages ; and with this the worthy couple began housekeeping. The following letter describes his situation nineteen years after his entering upon bis curacy.
« To Mr. SIR,
Coniston, July 26, 1754, I was the other day upon a party of pleasure, about five or six miles from this place, where I met with a very striking object, and of a nature not very common. Going into a clergyman's house (of whom I had frequently heard) I found him sitting at the head of a long square table, such as is commonly used in this country by the lower class of people, dressed in a coarse blue frock, trimmed with black horn buttons; a checked shirt, a leathern strap about his neck for a stock, a coarse apron, a pair of great wooden-soled shoes, plated with iron to preserve them, (what we call clogs in these parts,) with a child upon his knee eating his breakfast: his wife, and the remainder of his children, were some of them employed in waiting on each other, the rest in teazing and spinning wool, at which trade he is a great proficient; and moreover, when it is made ready for sale, will lay it by sixteen or thirty-two pounds weight upon his back, and on foot, seven or eight miles will carry it to the market, even in the depth of winter. I was not much surprised at all this, as you may possibly be, having heard a great deal of it related before. But I must confess myself astonished with the alacrity and the good humour that appeared both in the clergyman and his wife, and more so, at the sense and ingenuity of the clergyman himself. *
Another letter, dated the following year, represents him as keeping the wolf from the door by frugality and good manage'ment,' without any desire after further preferment.
• He is settled among the people that are happy among themselves i and lives in the greatest unanimity and friendship with them, and, I
believe, the nunister and people are exceedingly satisfied with eacii other; and indeed how should they be dissatisfied, when they have a person of su much worth and probity for their pastor? A man who, for his cardour and meekness, his sober, chaste, and virtuous convérsation, his soundness in principle and practice, is an ornament to his profession, and an honour to the country he is in ; and bear with me if I say, the plainness of his dress, the sanctity of his manners, the simplicity of his doctrine, and the vehemence of his expression, have a sort of resemblance to the pure practice of primitive Christianity.'
In a letter from Mr. Walker himself, it is stated that the annual income of his chapel was at this time, as near as he could compute it, about 171. 108. And yet, when the Bishop of the diocese recommended the joining to the curacy of Seath waite the contiguous one of Ulpba, it was a sufficient reason for his declining the offer, that it might be disagreeable to his auditory 'at Seathwaite,' and that the inhabitants of Ulpha despaired of being able to support a schoolmaster who should not be curate there also. In a second letter to the Bishop, he writes thus :
• My Lord, • I have the favour of yours of the 1st. instant, and am exceedingly obliged on account of the Ulpha affair : if that curacy should lapse into your Lordship's hands, I would beg leave rather to decline than embrace it; for the chapels of Seathwaite and Ulpha annexed together, would be apt to cause a general discontent among the inhabitants of both places; by either thinking themselves slighted, being only served alternately, or neglected in the duty, or attributing it to covetousness in me; all which occasions of murmuring I would willing: ly avoid.'
The stipend attached to the curacy was subsequently ang. mented, but Mr. Walker's income was still extremely scanty. Nevertheless, the frequent offer of much better benefices, could not tempt bin to quit a situation where he had been so long happy, with a consciousness of being useful.' It appears that he met with some liberal benefactors, or such as he deemed liberal, by whose assistance he was enabled to rear a numerous family, and, strange to say, to support one of his sous for some time as a student at Dublin college. The same man who was thus liberal in the education of bis family,' was even munificent,' it is added, “ in hospitality as a parish priest.'
• Every Sunday, were served upon the long table at which he has been described sitting with a child upon his knee, messes of broth for the refreshment of those of his congregation who came from a distance, and usually took their seats as parts of his own household. It seems scarcely possible that this custom could have commenced before the augmentation of his cure; and, what would to many have been a high price of self-denial, was paid by the pastor and his family, for this gratification; as the treat could only be provided by dressing at one time the whole, perhaps, of their weekly allowance of fresh