Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/276

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

The change was not the abandonment of his old sentiments, but the indication that they were again coming to the surface and casting off a heterogeneous element. The superficial change, indeed, was marked enough. To Wordsworth, the revolutionary movement now represented not progress—the natural expansion of his sympathies—but social disintegration and the attack upon all that he held to be the most valuable. The secret is revealed by his remarkable letter to Fox in 1801. There he calls the statesman's attention to two of his most significant poems, The Brothers and Michael. These poems are intended to describe the domestic affections 'as they exist among a class of men now almost confined to the North of England.' He observes that the little holdings of the 'statesmen' serve to strengthen the family tie, and thus protect a 'fountain of affection pure as his heart was intended for.' This class, he adds, is rapidly disappearing, and its disappearance indicates the greatest of our national dangers. These most touching poems, written in 1800, represent Wordsworth's final solution of his problem, and embody a sentiment which runs through his later work. Its meaning is clear enough. Wordsworth had