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1 Byron, then in his twentieth year, wrote a review of these volumes not, on the whole, unfair. Crabb Robinson is reported as saying that Wordsworth was indignant at the Edinburgh Review's attack on Hours of Idleness. ‘The young man will do something if he goes on,’ he said.
2 The Rev. Dr. Wordsworth has encumbered the memory of his uncle with two volumes of Memoirs, which for confused dreariness are only matched by the Rev. Mark Noble's ‘History of the Protectorate House of Cromwell.’ It is a misfortune that his materials were not put into the hands of Professor Reed, whose notes to the American edition are among the most valuable parts of it, as they certainly are the clearest. The book contains, however, some valuable letters of Wordsworth; and those relating to this part of his life should be read by every student of his works, for the light they throw upon the principles which governed him in the composition of his poems. In a letter to Lady Beaumont (May 21, 1807) he says, ‘Trouble not yourself upon their present reception; of what moment is that compared with what I trust is their destiny!-to console the afflicted, to add sunshine to daylight by making the happy happier; to teach the young and the gracious of every age, to see, to think and feel, and therefore to become more actively and securely virtuous; this is their office, which I trust they will faithfully perform long after we (that is, all that is mortal of us) are mouldered in our graves. . . . . To conclude, my ears are stone-dead to this idle buzz [of hostile criticism], and my flesh as insensible as iron to these petty stings; and, after what I have said, I am sure yours will be the same. I doubt not that you will share with me an invincible confidence that my writings (and among them these little poems) will co-operate with the benign tendencies in human nature and society wherever found; and that they will in their degree be efficacious in making men wiser, better, and happier.’ Here is an odd reversal of the ordinary relation between an unpopular poet and his little public of admirers; it is he who keeps up their spirits, and supplies them with faith from his own inexhaustible cistern.
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