Page:Poems and extracts - Wordsworth.djvu/19

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INTRODUCTION

have been awakened, or at least stimulated, by Charles Lamb's Essay, as it is evident that (with the exception of the first passage) the transcription has been made from a copy of Lamb's Essay and not from a volume of Wither's works. It shows what Wordsworth must have thought of Lamb's taste and judgement on such a matter, and this is confirmed by the quotation from the Essay on p. 41 of the Album. The Webster extract is also perhaps due to Lamb.

The piece from Cowper is typical of his retired life rather than of his writings, but it harmonizes with the succeeding themes of peace, solitude, and quiet meditation, so as to suggest that Wordsworth is illustrating these Wordsworthian aspects of life rather than the poet's general outlook.

James Thomson is represented by three pieces, for 'the sweet-souled Poet of the Seasons' was a favourite, as the 'Stanzas written in a copy of the Castle of Indolence' sufficiently attest. The subject matter of the extracts is again 'mildly-pleasing solitude,' then 'the retired life' (p. 49), and last (p. 83) the gradual loss of the wealth of life as friends pass away and we are left alone. A fragment from Beattie's poem on Retirement comes next, then some lines by Langhorne on the contemplative life, the second piece by Thomson, and Pope's Ode on Solitude, quoted partly perhaps as a curiosity of literature because 'written at about twelve years old.'

W. J. Mickle, Wordsworth told Miss Fenwick, 'as it appears from his poem on Sir Martin, was not without poetic feelings[1],' and thirty-two lines of natural description from the poem here illustrate

  1. See Fenwick note to the sonnet 'Part fenced by man, part by a rugged steep' (1831).

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