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[235] and generally dictating his poems. His daily life was regular, simple, and frugal; his manners were dignified and kindly; and in his letters and recorded conversations it is remarkable how little that was personal entered into his judgment of contemporaries.

The true rank of Wordsworth among poets is, perhaps, not even yet to be fairly estimated, so hard is it to escape into the quiet hall of judgment uninflamed by the tumult of partisanship which besets the doors.

Coming to manhood, predetermined to be a great poet, at a time when the artificial school of poetry was enthroned with all the authority of long succession and undisputed legitimacy, it was almost inevitable that Wordsworth, who, both by nature and judgment was a rebel against the existing order, should become a partisan. Unfortunately, he became not only the partisan of a system, but of William Wordsworth as its representative. Right in general principle, he thus necessarily became wrong in particulars. Justly convinced that greatness only achieves its ends by implicitly obeying its own instincts, he perhaps reduced the following his instincts too much to a system, mistook his own resentments for the promptings of his natural genius, and, compelling principle to the measure of his own temperament or even of the controversial exigency of the moment, fell sometimes into the error of making naturalness itself artificial. If a poet resolve to be original, it will end commonly in his being merely peculiar.

Wordsworth himself departed more and more in practice, as he grew older, from the theories which he had laid down in his prefaces;1 but those theories undoubtedly

1 How far he swung backward toward the school under whose influence he grew up, and toward the style against which he had protested so vigorously, a few examples will show. The advocate of the language of common life has a verse in his Thanksgiving Ode which, if one met with it by itself, he would think the achievement of some later copyist of Pope:—

While the tubed engine [the organ] feels the inspiring blast.

And in ‘The Italian Itinerant’ and ‘The Swiss Goatherd’ we find a thermometer or barometer called

The well-wrought scale
Whose sentient tube instructs to time
A purpose to a fickle clime.

Still worse in the ‘Eclipse of the Sun,’ 1821:—

High on her speculative tower
Stood Science, waiting for the hour
When Sol was destined to endure
That darkening.

So in ‘The Excursion,’

The cold March wind raised in her tender throat
Viewless obstructions.

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