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suppose such a character: for the every-day experience of human life will have shown him that the faculties of men, so far from being cramped by circumstances, perpetually escape from them, and follow the irresistible bent of some strong, and probably inborn, propensity. If the cheapening of duffel and sheeting be supposed necessarily to confine and degrade the intellect, so might the cutting out of soles and upper-leathers for ladies' shoes: yet the author of "The Baviad," and of the matchless version of Juvenal, worked mathematical problems with an awl, in default of pen and paper: and Bloomfield, while occupied with the hammer and the lap-stone, meditated a genuine English Georgic, agreeably descriptive of local scenery, and of rural manners and incidents.
It is an arrogant ignorance of the nature of the human mind that ventures thus to prescribe to the poet his probabilities of character. They, indeed, who sneer at the fine sentiments of a pedlar have conveniently overlooked the whole of his existence, prior to his taking up this wandering occupation: which among the solitary villages of Cumberland or Scotland must be acknowledged to be precisely that which affords a man no opportunities of conversing with the scenes of nature. All the innumerable items that contribute to fill up the sum of human character: all the imperceptible, yet indelible, impressions of early childhood; all the obscure vestiges of thought; the expanded inclinations; the stimulated tastes; the created fondnesses or aversions; which are brought about by a thousand causes: by circumstance or chance that has eluded remembrance, or that would baffle analysis all, in short, that prepares the foundations and builds up the future structure of the man, is left completely out of the account. It is, indeed, far more easy to ask with the mob of Gentlemen who think with ease,' "How should a shoe-maker write poetry? How can a pedlar philosophize?"
The whole process of mind in this intelligent mountaineer is, in fact, traced by Mr. Wordsworth with beautiful consistency and truth. We extract the description of those first hints which a child collects from external nature, and of which the impression never forsakes him. The school-house, which the boyherdsman frequented during the winter,
And travell'd through the wood, with no one near
This boy is now an old man: the pensive historian of many who have died before him. He tells the painfully interesting story of a kind-hearted woman who dwelt in the ruined cottage; and who, after her husband had left her in the hope of bettering his condition by a soldier's life, pined away in his protracted absence, and died. The reflections on the desolate well are original, and affecting in the highest degree:
"Beside yon spring I stood,
The useless fragment of a wooden bowl,
The most interesting personage of the poem is distinguished by the name of "the Solitary." The conception of this character indicates a deep knowledge of the motives of human action. is the instance of an amiable and cultivated mind, shattered and thrown from the balance of its principles by the heavy stroke of affliction, in the sudden and complex loss of a wife and two children. Such a tumultuous interest as that produced by the French revolution would naturally seize on such a mind; left naked of all that constituted its resources and enjoyments; and eagerly grasping at an occasion to fill the dreadful and insupportable vacuum by scenes of political agitation; and by a transfer of individual affections to the whole human race. A sceptical distrust of Providence from the imagined insufficiency of religious consolations; a tendency to bitter questionings of the reality of virtue, and the certainty of revealed truth, might also be natural food for a despair thus disdainful of comfort. But in deducing this taint of infidelity by necessary consequence from the spirit which operated the revolution in France, the reasoning is unphilosophical. Mr. Wordsworth, as we conceive, has mistaken the signs of the times; and has seen nothing but the agency of evil in the subversion of an ancient government and hierarchy. We venture to regard the French revolution as not only a scourge, but a mean: we see in it, through all its progresses and relapses, the hand of that Being, who by his mysterious agency educes good of evil, preparing by the shock of principles and passions,
the collision of opinions, and the conflict of experiments, a recognition of justice and virtue in rulers and people; and probably the universal downfall of anti-christian superstition and of lawless power.
Our introduction to the Recluse is prepared with much of wellcontrived interest. The old man and his companion, while on their way to his retired cottage, are startled by the characteristic local circumstance of a dirge chaunted in the hollow of the mountains:
"From out the heart
Of that profound abyss a solemn voice,
Or several voices in one solemn sound,
Was heard ascending: mournful, deep, and slow,
"God rest his soul!'
The wanderer cried, abruptly breaking silence;
Passing on, they find between the angle, formed by a rock and a ruinous wall, a rustic seat screened by a pent-house of sods. The plan betrays the hand of children; who have cut the turf into walks, as a miniature garden, and reared babyish houses of stones and moss; an incident very much beneath the dignity of great wits, but interesting, perhaps, to those fond and silly beings who love the ways of children. One of the props of these artificial fairy palaces is a book: and this book is the "Candide" of Voltaire.
The wanderer cried: 'It cannot but be his :
"Here, then, has been to him
The burial had, however, belonged to another: and they encounter the Recluse:
"I knew from the appearance and the dress
That it could be no other: a pale face,
A tall and meagre person, in a garb
Not rustic, dull and faded, like himself."
After a repast, described with an appropriation of poetry to the purposes of common life, by some poets perhaps carried a little too far, and by others squeamishly rejected, they walk abroad amidst this calm and beautiful assemblage of rural images:
"A humming bee, a little tinkling rill,
By each and all of these the pensive ear
When through the cottage threshold we had pass'd
Once more, beneath the concave of the blue
The Solitary relates his history: and while describing the dreariness of his state of mind during a voyage across the Atlantic, breaks out into an apostrophe, which is full of the bitter wisdom of melancholy experience:
Of soul and sense, mysteriously allied!
To promote the cheerfulness of those who consider pure poetry as a most risible absurdity, a most wild and unintelligible sort of raving, we extract the following passage:
"Here you stand:
Adore and worship, when you know it not:
The vespers, Nature fails not to provide
The company of the ramblers is increased by a rural vicar; who points out the graves in a mountain church-yard, and gives the stories and the characters of those who are buried beneath its turf. The description which we shall select seems new to poetry; and leaves in our opinion no room for doubt whether Mr. Wordsworth be, or be not, a poet:
"Almost at the root
Of that tall pine, the shadow of whose bare
Oft stretches towards me, like a long straight path
A plain blue stone a gentle dalesman lies,
From whom in early childhood was withdrawn
Murmur'd the labouring bee. When stormy winds
Was silent as a picture: evermore
Were all things silent, wheresoe'er he moved."
The description of the joys of blooming youth and sportive innocence, and the sad reverse of blighted youth and poisoned innocence in a beautiful cottage girl, is so enchantingly poetical and tender, that we cannot part with Mr. Wordsworth without again holding him forth to the taste of his countrymen in the following specimen :