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[227] But I doubt if he was ever really convinced, and to his dying day he could never quite shake off that habit of over-minute detail which renders the narratives of uncultivated people so tedious, and sometimes so distasteful.1Simon Lee,’ after his latest revision, still contains verses like these:—

And he is lean and he is sick;
His body, dwindled and awry,
Rests upon ankles swollen and thick;
His legs are thin and dry;

Few months of life he has in store,
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ankles swell,—

which are not only prose, but bad prose, and moreover guilty of the same fault for which Wordsworth condemned Dr. Johnson's famous parody on the ballad-style,—that their ‘matter is contemptible.’ The sonorousness of conviction with which Wordsworth sometimes gives utterance to commonplaces of thought and trivialities of sentiment has a ludicrous effect on the profane and even on the faithful in unguarded moments. We are reminded of a passage in the ‘Excursion’:—

List! I heard
From yon huge breast of rock a solemn bleat,
Sent forth as if it were the mountain's voice.

In 1800 the friendship of Wordsworth with Lamb began, and was thenceforward never interrupted. He

1 “On my alluding to the line,

Three feet long and two feet wide,

confessing that I dared not read them aloud in company, he said, ‘They ought to be liked.’ ” Crabb Robinson, 9th May, 1815. His ordinary answer to criticisms was that he considered the power to appreciate the passage criticised as a test of the critic's capacity to judge of poetry at all.

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