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he had not thought that the labour bestowed by THE EXCURSION,
him upon what he has heretofore and now laid
before the public, entitled him to candid attention BEING A PORTION OF THE RECLUSE. for such a statement as he thinks necessary to
throw light upon his endeavours to please, and he
would hope, to benefit his countrymen.-Nothing PREFACE.
further need be added, than that the first and third The title announces that this is only a portion parts of the Recluse will consist chiefly of meditaof a poem ; and the reader must be here apprized tions in the author's own person; and that in the that it belongs to the second part of a long and intermediate part (the Excursion) the intervention laborious work which is to consist of three parts. of characters speaking is employed, and something
-The author will candidly acknowledge that, if of a dramatic form adopted. the first of these had been completed, and in such It is not the author's intention formally to ana manner as to satisfy his own mind, he should nounce a system : it was more animating to him to have preferred the natural order of publication, and proceed in a different course; and if he shall suchave given that to the world first; but, as the ceed in conveying to the mind clear thoughts, lively second division of the work was designed to refer images, and strong feelings, the reader will have more to passing events, and to an existing state of no difficulty in extracting the system for himself. things, than the others were meant to do, more And in the mean time the following passage, taken continuous exertion was naturally bestowed upon from the conclusion of the first book of the Recluse, it, and greater progress made here than in the rest may be acceptable as a kind of prospectus of the of the poem ; and as this part does not depend upon design and scope of the whole poem. the preceding, to a degree which will materially injure its own peculiar interest, the author, com- “ On man, on nature, and on human life, plying with the earnest entreaties of some valued Musing in solitude, I oft perceive friends, presents the following pages to the public. Fair trains of imagery before me rise,
It may be proper to state whence the poem, of Accompanied by feelings of delight which the Excursion is a part, derives its title of Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixt; the Recluse.-Several years ago, when the author And I am conscious of affecting thoughts retired to his native mountains, with the hope of And dear remembrances whose presence soothes being enabled to construct a literary work that Or elevates the mind, intent to weigh might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should The good and evil of our mortal state. take a review of his own mind, and examine how – To these emotions, whensoe'er they come, far nature and education had qualified him for such Whether from breath of outward circumstance, employment. As subsidiary to this preparation, he or from the soul-an impulse to herself, undertook to record, in verse, the origin and pro- I would give utterance in numerous verse. gress of his own powers, as far as he was acquaint-Of truth, of grandeur, beauty, love, and hope ed with them. That work, addressed to a dear And melancholy fear subdued by faith; friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and Of blessed consolations in distress; genius, and to whom the author's intellect is Of moral strength, and intellectual power; deeply indebted, has been long finished ; and the Of joy in widest commonalty spread ; result of the investigation which gave rise to it was of the individual mind that keeps her own a determination to compose a philosophical poem, Inviolate retirement, subject there containing views of man, nature, and society; and To conscience only, and the law supreme to be entitled, the Recluse; as having for its of that Intelligence which governs all ; principal subject the sensations and opinions of a I sing :-fit audience let me find though few ! poet living in retirement.-The preparatory poem “So pray'd, more gaining than he ask'd, the is biographical, and conducts the history of the bard, author's mind to the point when he was im- Holiest of men.-l'rania, I shall need boldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently Thy guidance, or a greater muse, if such matured for entering upon the arduous labour Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven! which he had proposed to himself; and the two For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink works have the same kind of relation to each Deep-and, aloft ascending, breathe in world other, if he may so express himself, as the anti-To which the heaven of heavens is but a veil. chapel has to the body of a Gothic church. Con- | All strength--all terror, single or in bands, tinuing this allusion, he may be permitted to add, That ever was put forth in personal form ; that his minor pieces, which have been long before Jehovah-with his thunder, and the choir the public, when they shall be properly arranged, of shouting angels, and the empyreal throneswill be found by the attentive reader to have such I pass them unalarm’d. Not chaos, not connexion with the main work as may give them The darkest pit of lowest Erebus, claim to be likened to the little cells, oratories, Nor aught of blinder vacancy--scoop'd out and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily included in By help of dreams, can breed such fear and awe those edifices.
As fall upon us often when we look The author would not have deemed himself into our minds, into the mind of man, justified in saying, upon this occasion, so much of My haunt, and the main region of my song. performances either unfinished, or unpublished, if | --Beauty-a living presence of the earth,
Surpassing the most fair ideal forms
My heart in genuine freedom :-all pure thoughts
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
WILLIAM, EARL OF LONSDALE, K. G. &c. &c. Or a mere fiction of what never was
OFT, through thy fair domains, illustrious peer! For the discerning intelleet of man,
In youth I roam'd, on youthful pleasures bent; When wedded to this goodly umiverse
And mused in rocky cell or sylvan tent, In love and holy passion, shall find these
Beside swift-flowing Lowther's current clear. A simple produce of the common day.
-Now, by thy care befriended, I appear -I, long before the blissful hour arrives,
Before thee, Lonsdale, and this work present, Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse
| A token (may it prove a monument !) Of this great consummation ;-and, by words
Of high respect and gratitude sincere. Which speak of nothing more than what we are,
Gladly would I have waited till my task Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep
Had reached its close ; but life is insecure, Of death, and win the vacant and the vain
Aud hope full oft fallacious as a dream: To doble raptures; while my voice proclaims
Therefore, for what is here produced I ask How exquisitely the individual mind
Thy favour; trusting that thou wilt not deem (And the progressive powers perhaps no less
The offering, though imperfect, premature. Of the whole species) to the external world
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. Is fitted ;-and how exquisitely, too,
Rydal Mount, Westmoreland,
July 29, 1814
THE EXCURSION. -Such grateful haunts foregoing, if I oft
ARGUMENT. Must turn elsewhere-to travel near the tribes
A summer forenoon. The author reaches a ruined cottage And fellowships of men, and see ill sights
upon a common, and there meets with a revered friend Of madding passions mutually inflamed;
the Wanderer, of whom he gives an account. TheWan. Must hear humanity in fields and groves
derer while reeting under the shade of the trees that Pipe solitary anguish ; or must hang
surround the collage relates the history of its lagt inha Brooding above the fierce confederate storm
THE WANDERER -Descend, prophetic spirit! that inspirest
'Twas summer, and the sun had mounted high : The human souls of universal earth,
Southward the landscape indistinctly glared Dreaming on things to come; and dost possess Through a pale steam: but all the northern downs, A metropolitan temple in the hearts
In clearest air ascending, show'd far off Of mighty poets ; upon me bestow
A surface dappled o'er with shadows flung A gift of genuine insight; that my song
From brooding clouds : shadows that lay in spots With star-like virtue in its place may shine; Determined and unmoved, with steady beams Shedding benignant influence, and secure,
Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed; Itself, from all malevolent effect
Pleasant to him who on the soft cool moss Of those mutations that extend their sway
Extends his careless limbs along the front Throughout the nether sphere !--And if with this
Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casts I mix more lowly matter ; with the thing
A twilight of its own, an ample shade, Contemplated, describe the mind and man
Where the wien warbles ; while the dreaming maa, Cuntemplating, and who, and what he was, Half conscious of the soothing melody, The transitory being that beheld
With sidelong eye looks out upon the scene,
To finer distance. Other lot was mine ;
As grateful resting-place, and livelier joy.
Across a bare wide common I was toiling Express the image of a better time,
With languid steps that by the slippery ground More wise desires, and simpler manners ;--nurse Were baffled ; nor could my weak arm disperse
The host of insects gathering round my face, * Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
And ever with me as I paced along.
Upon that open level stood a grove,
Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom
His graces unreveal'd and unproclaim'd. Spread by a brotherhood of lofty elms,
But, as the mind was fill'd with inward light, Appear'd a roofless hut; four naked walls
So not without distinction had he lived, That stared upon each other ! I looked round, Beloved and honour'd-far as he was known. And to my wish and to my hope espied
And some small portion of his eloquent speech, Him whom I sought; a man of reverend age, And something that may serve to set in view But stout and hale, for travel unimpair'd.
The feeling pleasures of his loneliness, There was he seen upon the cottage bench, His observations, and the thoughts his mind Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep;
Had dealt with— I will here record in verse ; An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.
Which, if with truth it correspond, and sink
The high and tender muses shall accept
And listening time reward with sacred praise. Detain'd for contemplation or repose,
Among the hills of Athol he was born ; Graceful support; his countenance meanwhile Where, on a small hereditary farm, Was hidden from my view, and he remain'd An unproductive slip of rugged ground, Unrecognised ; but, stricken by the sight, His parents, with their numerous offspring, dwelt; With slacken'd footsteps I advanced, and soon A virtuous household, though exceeding poor! A glad congratulation we exchanged,
Pure livers were they all, austere and grave, At such unthought of meeting.–For the night And fearing God ; the very children taught We parted, nothing willingly; and now
Stern self-respect, a reverence for God's word, He by appointment waited for me here,
And an habitual piety, maintain'd Beneath the shelter of these clustering elms. With strictness scarcely known on English ground.
We were tried friends : amid a pleasant vale, From his sixth year, the boy of whom I speak, In the antique market village where were pass'd In summer tended cattle on the hills; My school-days, an apartment he had own'd, But, through th' inclement and the perilous days To which at intervals the Wanderer drew,
of long-continuing winter, he repair’d, And found a kind of home or harbour there. Equipp'd with satchel, to a school, that stood He loved me; from a swarm of rosy boys
Sole building on a mountain's dreary edge, Singled out me, as he in sport would say,
Remote from view of city spire, or sound For my grave looks—too thoughtful for my years. Of minster clock ! From that bleak tenement As I grew up, it was my best delight
He, many an evening, to his distant home To be his chosen comrade. Many a time,
In solitude returning, saw the hills On holydays, we rambled through the woods : Grow larger in the darkness, all alone We sate-we walk'd; he pleased me with report Beheld the stars come out above his head, Of things which he had seen ; and often touch'd And travell’d through the wood, with no one near Abstrusest matter, reasonings of the mind
To whom he might confess the things he saw. Turn'd inward; or at my request would sing So the foundations of his mind were laid. Old songs--the product of his native hills ;
In such communion, not from terror free, A skilful distribution of sweet sounds,
While yet a child, and long before his time, Feeding the soul, and eagerly imbibed
He had perceived the presence and the power As cool, refreshing water by the care
of greatness; and deep feelings had impressd Of the industrious husbandman, diffused (drought, Great objects on his mind, with portraiture Through a parch'd meadow-ground, in time of And colour so distinct, that on his mind Still deeper welcome found his pure discourse: They lay like substances, and almost seem'd How precious when in riper days I learn'd
To haunt the bodily sense. He had received To weigh with care his words, and to rejoice A precious gift; for, as he grew in years, In the plain presence of his dignity!
With these impressions would he still compare 0! many are the poets that are sown
All his remembrances, thoughts, shapes, and forins By nature; men endow'd with highest gifts, And, being still unsatisfied with avght The vision and the faculty divine ;
Of dimmer character, he thence attain'd
An active power to fasten images
The liveliness of dreams. Nor did he fail,
While yet a child, with a child's eagerness Or a nice backwardness afraid of shame,)
Incessantly to turn his ear and eye Not having here as life advanced, been led On all things which the moving seasons brought By circumstance to take unto the height
To feed such appetite: nor this alone The measure of themselves, these favour'd beings, Appeased his yearning:-in the after day All but a scatter'd few, live out their time,
Of boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn, Husbanding that which they possess within, And mid the hollow depths of naked crags And go to the grave unthought of. Strongest minds He sate, and e'en in their fix'd lineaments, Are often those of whom the noisy world
Or from the power of a peculiar eye, Hears least; else surely this man had not left for by creative feeling overborne.
Or by predominance of thought oppress'd,
O then how beautiful, how bright appear'd E'en in their fix'd and steady lineaments
The written promise! Early had he learn'd He traced an ebbing and a flowing mind,
To reverence the volume that displays
The mystery, the life which cannot die;
But in the mountains did he feel his faith.
Breathed immortality, revolving life, And many a legend, peopling the dark woods, | And greatness still revolving; infinite : Nourish'd imagination in her growth,
There littleness was not; the least of things And gave the mind that apprehensive power Seem'd infinite; and there his spirit shaped By which she is made quick to recognise
Her prospects, nor did he believe,-he saw. The moral properties and scope of things.
What wonder if his being thus became But eagerly he read, and read again,
Sublime and comprehensive! Low desires, Whate'er the minister's old shelf supplied ;
Low thoughts had there no place; yet was his heart The life and death of martyrs, who sustain'd, Lowly; for he was meek in gratitude, With will inflexible, those fearful pangs
Oft as he call'd those ecstasies to mind, Triumphantly display'd in records left
And whence they flow'd; and from them he acquired Of persecution, and the covenant-times
Wisdom, which works through patience; thence Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour !
he learn'd And there, by lucky hap, had been preserved In oft-recurring hours of sober thought A straggling volume, torn and incomplete,
To look on nature with a humble heart, That left half told the preternatural tale,
Self-question'd where it did not understand, Romance of giants, chronicle of fiends,
And with a superstitious eye of love. Profuse in garniture of wooden cuts
So pass'd the time; yet to the nearest town Strange and uncoutn ; dire faces, figures dire, He duly went with what small overplus Sharp-kneed, sharp-elbow'd, and lean-ankled too, | His earnings might supply, and brought away Witb long and ghostly shanks—forms which once The book that most had tempted his desires seen
While at the stall he read. Among the hills
He gazed upon that mighty orb of song,
The divine Milton. Lore of different kind,
The annual savings of a toilsome life, Was wanting yet the pure delight of love
His schoolmaster supplied : books that explain By sound diffused, or by the breathing air,
The purer elements of truth involved Or by the silent looks of happy things,
In lines and numbers, and, by charm severe, Or flowing from the universal face
(Especially peiceived where nature droops Of earth and sky. But he had felt the power And feeling is suppress'd) preserve the mind Of nature, and already was prepared,
Busy in solitude and poverty. By his intense conceptions, to receive
These occupations oftentimes deceived Deeply the lesson deep of love which he,
The listless hours, while in the hollow vale, Whom nature, by whatever means, has taught Hollow and green, he lay on the green turf To feel intensely, cannot but receive.
In pensive idleness. What could be do, Such was the boy-but for the growing youth Thus daily thirsting, in that lonesome life, What soul was his, when, from the naked top With blind endeavours? Yet still uppermost, Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Nature was at his heart as if he felt, Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He look'd Though yet he knew not how, a wasting power Ocean and earth, the solid frame of carth
In all things that from her sweet influence And ocean's liquid mass, beneath him lay
Might tend to wean him. Therefore with her hues, In gladness and deep joy. The clouds were touch'd, Her forms, and with the spirit of her forms, And in their silent faces did he read
He clothed the nakedness of austere truth. Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
While yet he linger'd in the rudiments Nor any voice of joy ; his spirit drank
Of science, and among her simplest laws, The spectacle; sensation, soul, and form,
His triangles--they were the stars of heaven, All melted into him; they swallow'd up
The silent stars! Oft did he take delight His animal being; in them did he live,
To measure the altitude of some small crag And by them did he live ; they were his life. That is the eagle's birthplace, or some peak In such access of mind, in such high hour
Familiar with forgotten years, that shows
Inscribed, as with the silence of the thought,
Or obscure records of the path of fire.
And thus before his eighteenth year was told, His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
Accumulated feelings press'd his heart That made him, it was blessedness and love! With still increasing weight; he was o’erpower'd
A herdsman on the lonely mountain tops, By nature, by the turbulence subdued Such intercourse was his, and in this sort
Of his own mind ; by mystery and hope, Was his existence oftentimes possess'd.
And the first virgin passion of a soul
Communing with the glorious universe.
Their manners, their enjoyments and pursuits, Full often wish'd he that the winds might rage Their passions and their feelings; chiefly those When they were silent; far more fondly now Essential and eternal in the heart, Than in his earlier season did he love
That, mid the simpler forms of rural life, Tempestuous nights the conflict and the sounds Exist more simple in their elements, That live in darkness :-from his intellect
And speak a plainer language. In the woods,
Itinerant in this labour, he had pass'd
Amid the bounties of the year, the peace
And liberty of nature ; there he kept
His mind in a just equipoise of love.
Serene it was, unclouded by the cares
No wild varieties of joy and grief.
His heart lay open ; and, by nature tuned And drinking from the well of homely life. And constant disposition of his thoughts But, from past liberty, and tried restraints,
To sympathy with man, he was alive He now was summon'd to select the course
To all that was enjoy'd where'er he went, Of humble industry that promised best
And all that was endured; for in himself To yield him no unworthy maintenance.
Happy, and quiet in his cheerfulness, Urged by his mother, he essay'd to teach
He had no painful pressure from without A village school; but wandering thoughts were then That made him turn aside from wretchedness A misery to him; and the youth resign'd
With coward fears. He could afford to suffer A task he was unable to perform.
With those whom he saw suffer. Hence it came That stern yet kindly spirit, who constrains That in our best experience he was rich, The Savoyard to quit his naked rocks
And in the wisdom of our daily life. The freeborn Swiss to leave his narrow vales, (Spirit attach'd to regions mountainous
“We learn from Cæsar and other Roman writers, that Like their own steadfast clouds,) did now impel
the travelling merchants who frequented Gaul and other
barbarous countries, either newly conquered by the Roman His restless mind to look abroad with hope.
arms, or bordering on the Roman conquests, were ever the An irksome drudgery seems it to plod on,
first to make the inhabitants of those countries familiarly Through hot and dusty ways, or pelting storm, acquainted with the Roman modes of life, and to inspire A vagrant merchant bent beneath bis load!
them with an inclination to follow the Roman fashions, Yet do such travellers find their own delight; and to enjoy Roman conveniencies. In North America, And their hard service, deem'd debasing now,
travelling merchants from the settlements bave done and
continue to do much more toward civilizing the Indian Gain'd merited respect in simpler times;
natives, than all the missionaries, Papist or Protestant, When squire, and priest, and they who round them
vho round them who have ever been sent among them. dwelt
" It is farther to be observed, for the credit of this most In rustic sequestration all dependent
useful class of men, that they commonly contribute, by Upon the pedlar's toil-supplied their wants, their personal manners, no less than by the sale of their Or pleased their fancies with the wares he brought.
wares, to the refinement of the people among whom they
travel. Their dealings form them to great quickness of Not ignorant was the youth that still no few
wit and acuteness of judgment. Having constant occaOf his adventurous countrymen were led
sion to recommend themselves and their goods, they ac. By perseverance in this track of life
quire habits of the most obliging attention and the most To competence and ease ;--for him it bore
insinuating address. As in their peregrinations they have Attractions manifold ;-and this he chose.
opportunity of contemplating the manners of various men His parents on the enterprise bestow'd
and various cities, they become eminently skilled in the
knowledge of the world. As they wander, each alone, Their farewell benediction, but with hearts
through thinly-inhabited districts, they form habits of reForeboding evil. From his native hills
flection and of sublime contemplation. With all these He wander'd far; much did he see of men,* qualifications, no wonder, that they should often be, in
remote parts of the country, the best mirrors of fashion, * At the risk of giving a shock to the prejudices of arti- and censors of manners: and should contribute much to ficial society, I have ever been ready to pay hornage to the polish the roughness, and soften the rusticity of our pea. arigtocracy of nature; under a conviction that vigorous santry. It is not more than twenty or thirty years. since a human-heartedness is the constituent principle of true young man going from any part of Scotland to England, Lasta. It may still, however, be satisfactory to have prose of purpose to carry the pack, was considered, as going to testimony how far a character, employed for purposes lead the life, and acquire the fortune of a gentleman. of imagination, is founded upon general fact. I, therefore, When, after twenty years' absence, in that honourable subjoin an extract from an author who had opportunities line of employment, he returned with his acquisitions to of being well acquainted with a class of men, from whom his native country, he was regarded as a gentleman to all my own personal knowledge imboldened me to draw this intents and purposes."--Heron's Journey in Scotland, portrait.
| vol. i. p. 89.