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23.—THE GOOD LORD CLIFFORD.
WORDSWORTH. SONG AT THE FEAST OF BROUGHAM CASTLE, UPON THE RESTORATION
OF LORD CLIFFORD, THE SHEPHERD, TO THE ESTATES AND HONOURS OF HIS ANCESTORS.
[The greatest name in the literature of our own age is William Wordsworth. Twenty years ago we should have been sneered at for this opinion; no one now ventures to doubt its truth, who has outlived the poetical creed of the first Edinburgh Reviewers. Hazlitt, a critic in many respects before his age, writes thus of Wordsworth :-“ He is the most original poet now living, and the one whose writings could the least be spared, for they have no substitute elsewhere. The vulgar do not read them; the learned, who see all things through books, do , not understand them; the great despise, the fashionable may ridicule them; but the author has created himself an interest in the heart of the retired and lonely student which can never die.” The tastes of the retired and lonely student have triumphed over the pedantry of the learned and the coldness of the great and fashionable; and by dint of better education, and a familiarity with good models, the class whom Hazlitt calls “the vulgar” do read the poems of the secluded thinker, who has made the earnest cultivation of the highest poetry the one business of his life. We will not say that he has lived to see his reward;—his reward, his own “exceeding great reward,” has been in the tranquil but satisfying course of his contemplative life. Content with competence of worldly goods, he has lived apart from the world ;and has at last influenced the world more enduringly than any of his contemporaries, although his power has been slowly won. The secret of Wordsworth's success is his universality-a secret only known to the very highest of human intellects,—the secret of Shakspere.
Mr. Wordsworth was born in 1770. The poet of seventy-seven is still strong in his intellectual and bodily vigour. He is one, that with “blind Mæonides,” and with Milton, might be apostrophized in his own beautiful lines :
Brothers in soul! though distant times
High in the breathless Hall the Minstrel sate,
“ From town to town, from tower to tower,
“ They came with banner, spear, and shield;
“ How glad is Skipton at this hourThough she is but a lonely tower! To vacancy and silence left; Of all her guardian sons bereftKnight, squire, or yeoman, page or groom; We have them at the Feast of Brougham. How glad Pendragon-though the sleep Of years be on her!-She shall reap A taste of this great pleasure, viewing As in a dream her own renewing. Rejoiced is Brough, right glad I deem Beside her little humble stream ; And she that keepeth watch and ward Her statelier Eden's course to guard ; They both are happy at this hour, Though each is but a lonely tower :-But here is perfect joy and pride For one fair House by Emont's side, This day, distinguished without peer, To see her Master and to cheer; Him, and his Lady Mother dear!
“ Oh! it was a time forlorn,
Maid and mother undefiled,
"Now who is he that bounds with joy
“Alas! when evil men are strong No life is good, no pleasure long. The boy must part from Mosedale's groves And leave Blencathara's rugged coves, And quit the flowers that summer brings To Glenderamakin's lofty springs; Must vanish, and his careless cheer Be turned to heaviness and fear. -Give Sir Lancelot Threlkeld praise ! Hear it, good man, old in days ! Thou free of covert and of rest For this young bird, that is distrest; Among the branches safe he lay, And he was free to sport and play When falcons were abroad for prey.
“A recreant harp, that sings of fear
A weak and cowardly untruth !
-Now another day is come, .