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of Wordsworth's children met each other in the galleries of the Louvre! Have those galleries ever been the scene of a more interesting assignation ?
So far the whole course of the difficult relation between the Wordsworths and the French mother and daughter had run with remarkable smoothness. But later on there was trouble. Professor Edith Morley, who is preparing the Crabb Robinson papers for publication, has recently discovered that Caroline's husband, whose name was Baudouin, made some claim upon the poet when he became Laureate and upon his family after his death. If he added any threat to publish inconvenient facts, as Professor Morley assumes, he mistook both the character of his father-in-law and the courage of Mrs. Wordsworth and the rest of the poet's friends after his death. Wordsworth refused Baudouin's application, on Crabb Robinson's advice, in 1843, and so, on the same advice, did his representatives in 1850. But hardly any of the letters dealing with these transactions have survived, and Robinson's diary contains few allusions to them. Those few, with some letters on the subject, are given by Professor Morley in The Times Literary Supplement of 15th February 1923. Other letters were destroyed, as is clear from a surviving letter of Quillinan, quoted by Professor Morley. So, after Wordsworth's death, were all the poet's papers concerning Annette and Caroline. The result of all this is that some parts of the story must always remain obscure. M. Legouis, writing to The Literary Supplement, on 8th March 1923, protests, not unnaturally, against Professor Morley's use of the word ' blackmail' in connexion with Baudouin's application for money. It is clear that that application was resented by the poet's friends : and it seems that they contemplated publishing the story in Christopher Wordsworth's biographical memoir as a means of forestalling, if necessary, any revelations that might be made by Baudouin. But none were made : and it is, at least, not clear that Baudouin ever went beyond a not unnatural request that some assistance should be given to Caroline and her children who were in difficult circumstances. But, however this may be, the new evidence proves, as M. Legouis points out, that Wordsworth had, at some time or other, done something for his daughter : for we find Crabb Robinson noting in his diary that, in his letter to Baudouin he had said that
Wordsworth had not the means of doing anything further and that his means had been reduced ’.
The story is not likely to be further elucidated. We shall
never know what Wordsworth did for Annette and Caroline at or after his marriage to Mary; and we shall never be certain why he did not marry Annette in 1792. There may well have been reasons which we cannot now guess, besides the reasons which, as we have seen, are obvious enough. And possibly, as M. Legouis suggests, the temperamental caution and prudence of the poet may have been among them. Prudence is not now a popular virtue and never was among the prettiest. But it is a virtue still. If Shelley had had more of it how much misery he would have saved himself and Harriet! Perhaps Wordsworth himself, even as it was, did not altogether escape remorse. There are several poems, Vaudracour and Julia, Ruth, The Thorn and others, which may possibly reflect something of the kind. The story of Vaudracour and Julia is indeed utterly unlike that of Wordsworth and Annette, and I see little reason for the view of M. Legouis that it is autobiographical. There is in fact nothing in it to be autobiographical except the central fact of the birth of a child without marriage of the parents. In all other details the story is plainly not that of Annette. But in this and those other poems of unhappy or deserted women he may well have had Annette in his mind. He must have been haunted sometimes, one would think, by the thought of her, as Shelley seems to have been, with so much more reason, by the memory of Harriet. Still, if we are to hear the conclusion of the whole matter, most people will agree that it must be that of M. Legouis whose minute investigation of the thirty years of the story leaves him with the conviction that the discovery only serves to make plainer than ever 'l'honnêteté profonde de l'homme '.
APPENDIX B It does not appear that the revision of The Prelude in 1839 amounted to very much. Mr. Gordon Wordsworth writes to me that the early copies in his possession, two of which were made by Dorothy Wordsworth and Sara Hutchinson, do not, so far as he can see,' support the theory of extensive modification in later years. They do not appear to contain any allusions to Annette or any cancelled Godwinisms. All Mr. Wordsworth's transcripts exhibit alterations in the poet's hand, but they seem to be of style and technique rather than of substance.
THACKERAY AND THE ENGLISH
The historical development of the story, whether it take the form of epic, drama, or novel, has been one from incident to character. In the matter of drama, Aristotle, as is well known, laid the main stress on plot, whereas it is the function of a modern critic, like Prof. C. E. Vaughan in his admirable work, Types of Tragic Drama, to point out that the balance has now shifted, and that in the drama of the modern world the main interest is not that of plot but that of character. And this is true whether we look at Shakespeare and the Romantics or at the classical tragedy of Racine or Alfieri. But the general law is really not so conspicuous in drama as it is in poetry and the novel. It is even obvious, for instance, that there is more study of character in Aeschylus and Sophocles, to say nothing of Euripides, than there is in the drama of Victor Hugo. The truth is that we do not possess any important drama-if any ever existed of the period before character became an important interest. Directly Aeschylus, in the famous chorus, denied the accepted theory that prosperity causes the wrath of the gods and produces ruin, directly he proclaimed the new doctrine that it was never wealth or happiness, but always and only sin, that brought upon men the Divine anger, the really decisive step was taken. Man had become the architect of his own fate ; character had become destiny; and incident, the fact or event in itself, the thing that just happens to a man irrespective of what he is, had been displaced by the greater interest of the deed which issues from a man's personality and results in his weal or woe, his life or death. No doubt the lesson was very insufficiently learned. The plays of the Middle Age, for instance, were, on the whole, childish things. But the very compactness of its form makes it more difficult for the drama than for the story in verse or prose to be satisfied with what one may call externality. It is on too small a scale to be able, like the mediaeval story, to give the loose helter-skelter of a world of disconnected events. And not only had it no room for multiplicity; it stood in visible need of unity; and real unity can only come into the picture through character. Consequently there is no great drama without it, the principal apparent exceptions to this rule, such as the earlier plays of Shakespeare, being great, so far as they are great at all, as poetry, history or story, rather than as drama. The only thing dramatically great in them is indeed just their partial introduction of internality, of the study of character, into what would otherwise represent life as a mere external pageant of strange, exciting, or amusing events. The essential condition of the drama is that it has to produce its effect within the space of two or three hours ; and the insufficiency for that purpose of the loose method of the chronicle is obvious almost at once.
1 This essay first appeared in the Quarterly Review for April 1912, as a review of the Centenary Biographical Edition of Thackeray.
But it was not so obvious in other fields. / Adventures as adventures, alike endless, meaningless and incredible, satisfied in the main the literary curiosity of the Middle Age. Chaucer came indeed for a moment to transform the mere picture of occurrences into an interpretation of human life, as Dante had read into it a still higher significance ; but Chaucer's lesson, like Dante's, was on the whole lost with the teacher, and the story, whether in prose or verse, remained for centuries in an almost childish stage of externality. Boccaccio is not only the creator of Italian prose ; he is a great artist. But in him, as in the authors of the
Fabliaux, the mere intrigue is the principal thing; the study of character is elementary or non-existent. And so it remains, broadly speaking, down to the eighteenth century, with the partial exception of Cervantes. The hour of the great novel was still not come. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the age of the drama, not of the novel ; of life seen on a stage, not of life studied in a book ; and those who asked of art an insight into the meaning of life went for their answer to the theatre of Shakespeare or Molière or Racine, not to any book which they could read at home. The genius of Cervantes could, in fact, only begin a work which could not be completed till more than a century after his death. The novel had no real chance till the age of the printed book and the general habit of reading had come, till poetry had begun to share its supremacy with prose, till the beginnings of the arrival of the social and intellectual middle class, that is to say, till the eighteenth century.
But then came a curious thing. The novel, which had hitherto paid almost no attention to character, took at once to paying too much. It is true that Defoe and Fielding still followed the old lines in the main. Robinson Crusoe is nothing but an individual placed in a singular situation, the consequences of which are set before us with amazing verisimilitude. The man himself is nothing. And though that cannot be said of Tom Jones and Parson Adams, it is still true of them that they are rather buried under their adventures. Fielding expects to interest us by what happens to them at least as much as by what they are. But the greatest English novelist of the eighteenth century was not Fielding, but Richardson. I am, of course, aware that this would not be universally admitted ; but to me, at any rate, it seems plain that, though Fielding was the more attractive man of the two, the saner thinker, and even the better writer, he stands distinctly below Richardson as a master of the