Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/280

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

placency and an optimistic tendency which, however pleasant, dulled his poetic fervour, and made him acquiesce in much that he would once have rejected. But it was also the source of a power which should be recognised by men of a different belief. When J. S. Mill went through the mental crisis described in his Autobiography, he thought that he had injured his powers of feeling by the habit of constant analysis. He had so destroyed the associations and with them the sympathies which make life desirable. In this state of mind he found an admirable restorative in Wordsworth's poetry. 'Analysis' represents just the intellectual habit which Wordsworth denounces. It is the state of mind in which his imaginary man of science botanises on his mother's grave; picks the flowers to pieces and drops the sentiment. Mill, accordingly, tried and tried, he says, successfully, to adopt Wordsworth's method; and to find happiness in 'tranquil contemplation,' while yet strengthening his interest in the 'common feelings and common destiny of human beings.' With 'culture of this sort,' he says, 'there was nothing to dread from the most confirmed habit of analysis' (146-9). If Mill's great aim was to 'humanise'