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The Concept of Grace in Wordsworth's Poetry

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Biisstttoeth Geen
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfllijsent of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy,
In the Department of English, in the Graduate
College of the State University of Iowa
August, 1941
ProQuest N um ber: 10831723
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2
In w
& & *?
Cl
Its would toe ungracious net to acknowledge ay
Intellectual debt to Professors Herman Foerster and Joseph
Baker of the University of Iowa and to a true Wordsworthian,
Herr Professor ®»11 Wolff of the University of Hamburg.
X
should also like here to pay my humble tribute to the memory
came to appreciate the significance of Aristotelian high
seriousness#
£ W .
2PFEB1942
HERTZ
.S D
of Irving Babbitt, in whose presence and in whose class I
OT/fO-'T O
3
COKTEKTO
Fag#
Introduction # * *
It
* # * • * « # * ♦ # » * * # *
1800*1807# Early View of Qrae#
4
. * •
18
lit
1807*1888* Grace* Thelam and Dogma « *
81
III#
1822*1845* Grace and Orthodoxy * * • #
52
Conclusion * » • # » * » « « • * • # • •
#
# •
42
*
• *
45
» • * » » » * • •
55
• » * * # • * * • * • « « * *
56
Kotos and Refer#**### # # # * * • * « * • *
Appendix « * • • «
t
Bibliography • * » i
• * « « • *
«
XWTBOIftOnOX
On® sentence In Wordsworth’a long letter to Dorothy
describing his Journey through France and Switzerland in 1790
might very well he need as a datum line from which to chart
later utterances of the poet* either In prose or poetry* on
God and nature#
Wordsworth says* "Among the more awful scenes
of the Alps 1 had not a thought of man or a single created be­
ing; my whole soul was turned to him who produced the terrible
majesty before me*"’1* When we add to this a sentence from a
letter to Mathews written from Keswick late In 1794* "Cata­
racts and mountains are good occasional society* but they will
not do for constant companions,
we can measure more or less
accurately the distance Wordsworth had covered between 1790
and 179S* when cataracts and mountains had become "the soul
of all [his] moral being" and he who had produced the terrible
majesty a "motion and a spirit" that "rolls through all things."
Both sentences serve a salutary purpose In focusing attention
on those formative elements in Wordsworth’s early training
which we tend under the influence of descriptions in The Pre­
lude and its apostrophes to the "Wisdom and spirit of the
Universe" either to forget or to push into the background#
With their outlines sharpened by a proper perspective they
support the contention that Wordsworth’s later orthodoxy is
less a retreat from the naturalism of "Tlntern Abbey* and
The Prelude than it is a return to an earlier position* which,
4
6
while all its implications at th© time may not have been con­
sciously realigned, was more In line with the later Wordsworth
than with the pantheist of 1798-1802*
It Is well to remember that Wordsworth* s career at
Cambridge was admittedly directed toward obtaining a curacy*3
That did not Involve special theological training other than
readings In Paley, Butler, Locke, Qlarke, and writers recom­
mended to all undergraduates as preparation for aexamination
Wednesday#*4, We can safely assume that those readings and
the college **actsw would have equipped Wordsworth with all
the orthodox arguments against both Deism and pantheism, as
well as with & certain amount of pietism, discernible not
only In the letter to Dorothy quoted above but also In De­
scriptive Sketches and ffihft Borderers*5
By 1798 Wordsworth
had definitely shaken off the pietism,5 but the conservative,
orthodox trend of his training, Joined with a hard, matterof-fact streak In his own character, which Coleridge pointed
out to Hazlltt,7 combined to make him extremely wary of any­
thing smacking of heresy,
Wordsworth* s recoil from panthe­
istic "shapings of the unregenerate mind"5 disturbs, even
though faintly, both the movement and the mood of verse which
records what appears to be the poet9a deepest conviction*
One of the earliest and most revealing of those quick tac­
tical retreats from an extreme statement occurs in "Tintern
e
Abbey$” when Immediately after lines $6-80 Wordsworth quail*
flea hia mystical claim with a cautious and wholly matter*
of-fact wlf thla ha hut a vain belief*” Again in Jh© Prelude
Wordsworth made a similar reservation in a passage written
soon after his return from Germany.
In it he described how
by his seventeenth year he "saw one life, and felt that it
was joy” ©specially when ”the fleshly ear **» Forgot its func­
tions* and slept undisturbed”* he concluded in a strain ©von
more cautious than that in Tlntem Abbey;
ttIf this be error9 and another faith
«
Find easier access to the pious mind *
It was as if a hard core of conservatism resisted dissolution
and stubbornly persisted in presenting the claims of common
sense*
It would be a mistake to Interpret such mental re­
servations as cautious guarding© against offence* It would be
an even greater mistake to overlook them*
To do either Is to commit the grave critical error
of Interpreting Wordsworth1© period of greatest poetic pro­
ductivity (1798-1S08) as one of undivided alms*
In the undue
emphasis on the "early" or the '’later” Wordsworth critics
have oversimplified the movement of Wordsworth1® early think­
ing and have overlooked or obscured such passages as those
cited above which clearly reveal as early as 1798 the pres­
ence ”of indecisive Judgments that impaired And shook the
mind’s simplicity*”
7
The principal aim of this paper has been to secure
an unbiased account of tlx® changes In one line of Wordsworth's
thought during the years he was writing poetry*
To that end
the method adopted was one advocated in a recent article on
m>rdsworth^°^the selection of a key word for careful semasi©logical examination, in this case the theological t e n space*
Wordsworth1® use of the term stretches In time from 1800 to
1845, from his earliest to his latest period, and its shifts
in meaning between those dates are outward and visible signs
of Wordsworth*® deviations from, or approaches towards, the
regularly accepted definition of the torm*^
In those shifts
of meanings we have Implicit the means with which to chart
the complexities and progress of the poet's thought over a
long period of time-.
When we consider Wdrdsworth* s training, his educa­
tion, and his early association with Coleridge, there can be
little doubt that the poet not only knew the generally ac­
cepted Anglican definition of the term but also was aware of
its grave theological burden*
Wordsworth's training in the rites, the catechism,
and the prayers of the Anglican faith began in early child­
hood*
Along with other children In Oockermouth, *fr©m Little
down to Least,11
he attended a catechism class, where he
could not have escaped learning the oatechiatical references.. -,
a
to sacrament and grace*1®
$he word recurs constantly In both
morning and evening prayers# and toe Impact ■of the repetitive
force of toe word must have left an impression#
Wordsworth#
as we know, had a singularly retentive
verbal memory#and there
is no reason
to believe that it should
have held longpassages
of toe poets
and have failed to retain
toe solemn answers of
toe Anglican
catechism#
But even If the word had not struck
one of those bells In toe memory that bring to mind a clear
picture# a definite association# or an instant definition# it
is safe to argue that Wordsworth could not have used the term
In any sense remotely approaching its accepted orthodox mean*
lag without awaking in the dim storehouse of toe unconscious
memories and associations clustered around toe term;
his
mother* s anxious fears for him as he was catechised with the
^trembling# earnest Company,**14 morning and evening prayers
at Cambridge*1® fashionable services in London#1® agonised
hours In ITOS1^**-*m©jaories and associations linked with the
Anglican faith#
Among toe theological books listed In the Hydal
Mount library catalogue were many which were also on the Cam**
bridge reading list for undergraduates#1®
In all likelihood
Wordsworth acquired them during his student days; sermons and
theological treatises were necessary in all well equipped
student libraries*
titles of books appearing in the Rydal
9
Mount catalogue which fa* may have bought between 1787 and 1791
lnolude sin Matthew Hale'a grlaltlye origination of Mankind,
Samel Clarke's Placourse Concerning the Being and Attribute^
s£ 3 M * P«ley*e Principle^ of tjoyal agd .felltigajL JMiSaS^E*
David Hartleys otwieryatlohs on Ian#
Wordsworth was never an
idle reader* and the auctioneer in the catalogue at tee ted to
the well read appearance of the hooka*
Grace aa a religious
term appears occasionally In most of the books mentioned above*
Hartley* for Instance* in hie Observations on Man* a book
which Wordsworth knew well* argues that the doctrine of
mechanism breeds In man a proper Christian humility which ac­
knowledges that man Is destitute of all power and perfection
ia
and exists entirely through the "Grace and Goodness of God* ft'1'*'
Sir Matthew Male in his address to the reader says that he
knows no better cure for atheism ttnext to the Grace of God
than the due consideration of the origination of Mankind#
It must be admitted that In none
of
these books does grace
figure so prominently as providence* the latter term apparit.
ently appealing to rationalist minds of the late seventeenth
and early eighteenth century theologl&ta *
®he book* however* which bears most pertinently on
the question of Words worth*© acquaintance with the term and
Its history is John Galvin»s IhatltutjLo Ohriatlanae Rell&ionia,
listed as item 004 In the Eydal Mount library catalogue*
Significantly enough* It bore the autograph signatures of
10
both Coleridge and Wordsworth*
It mist h a w been acquired
early in the history of their friendship# probably in 1797#
when both were interested in defining for the benefit of each
other the limits of their personal religion*
In May, 1796#
Coleridge was planning the ostabllshment of a school for eight
young m m whom he would instruct among other things in an
historic summary of all religions and the arguments for and
against natural r e l i g i o n * that plan probably determined to
a certain extent the theological writers whom Coleridge read
between 1796 end 1796#
Calvin would necessarily be on the
list# as would Luther#
It is to Coleridge we must look as
the moving force in the purchase of the Institution but the
signature of Wordsworth bears witness to an Interest on his
part that must have had active issue in discussions with
Coleridge arising from the book*
If Calvin's book was used
by the two poets as an introduction to the discussions on re*
llglon in 1797 which came to an abrupt halt when they found
their 11data dissimilar#11^
then certainly they must have con­
sidered tikie central problem of Galvin’s Institution th© re­
conciliation of the rival claims of grace and free will*
Finally there Is Coleridge's use of the term In
poetry h© had written before his Intimacy with Wordsworth
began*
From what we know of those first days of excited ad*
miration for each other's poetry# the high centers© arising
from the readings* the careful consideration given each word*
11
it is inconceivable that th© term which occurs three times in
Coleridge*a Terse before 17972S could escape Wordsworth’s at­
tention#
11* Coleridge attempted to elucidate for Wordsworth
his own conception of grace embedded in Religious Musing©2^
he must have had a difficult time of it since the poem is a
far from successful mixture of Oalvinistic theories of pre­
destination, of philosophic necessity of the Hartleian type
and of the neo-Platonism of St# y©hm#25
Grace for Coleridge
at the time of the writing of Religious Musing© (and he was
wtorturing” himself with corrections on it as late as Feb­
ruary, 1796) was evidently the active force, or law of love,
which acts providentially on passive beings kept by the
forces of self from an all pervasive God of love#
He left
unreconciled the obvious difficulties in a system which ex­
cludes all but the wElect regenerate thro* faith1*26 while it
looks toward a millennium which all shall enjoy*
Perhaps the
Xnstitutip was bought by the two men as a commentary on the
wElect regenerate thro1 faith1* whose dark passions are
transformed by tt0 upernal grace#11
Whether or not Coleridge attempted to explain his
own winfra seu plusquam Soelnian* view of grace to Words­
worth there can be little doubt that the two men must have
touched on the subject enough at least to have the term take
on more than a superficial meaning for Wordsworth*
That
conclusion is Inescapable in the light of Coleridge’s in-
12
terest in the concept2*7 and the discussions on religion which
ire know occupied the two men in the spring of 1797% the joint
ownership of a hook whose central theme la grace simply con*
firms it#
fhus if we take into consideration words worth fs theo­
logical readings at Cambridge (a type of reading which he con­
tinued throughout his life) and his discussions with Coleridge
in 1797 there can be little doubt that Words worth must hay©
had a mental background for the term# and that he could not
have used it unadvised either of its grave Import or of th©
part its definition had played in the history of Christian
theology#
CHAPTER I20
1800-1807.
BAELX VIEWS OF GRACE
III a conversation with Aubrey de Vere, Wordsworth,
refuting the oonofii charge that he was a pantheist, remarked
that, while in later years he had been more and more impressed
by the dignity of religious truth, he had formed hie poetic
habit to suit the thought of hie earlier years#2®
the stub­
born persistence of a habit of thought or of language which
that statement Implies bears significantly not only on the
poetry of the later period, to which Wordsworth was referring,
but also on that of his earliest and greatest poetry*
To
all Intents and purposes the post after 1797 had given all
his heart to Mature and had turned his back on the language
and the piety of Descriptive Sketches $ however he had not
succeeded In entirely throwing off earlier habits either of
mind or of language as we can see in his use of grace in
hackneyed pious phrases and in quick reservations whenever
he felt he had ventured too far outside the realm of orthodozy*
It is obvious that a nfilm of familiarity1* dulls the
term in “Michael'1%
And whan by Heaven’s good grace the boy grew up
A healthy lad, and carried In his cheek
Two steady roses that were five years old*30
The term here Is used incidentally#
The same can be said of
the reference in the passage In ffhe prelude where Wordsworth
describes th® obnoxious prig produced by th© "mew education**
13
1© sifts, he weighs;
Takes nothing upon trust# U s Teachers stare
The O w n try people pray for God's good grace,
And tremble at his deep experiments •ox
With the exception of the two references considered
above, which fall Into the category of the habitual, It Is
clear that between 1798 and 1805 Wordsworth was shaping his
own conception of grace, approaching It, as he had approached
life, from the "golden aide11 of the shield#
During this early
period of definition the term faced, Janus-like, In two di­
rections and Involved the two unreconciled (at least for
eighteenth oentury Anglioan theology)30 concepts of a God
transcendent and a God immanent in nature#
On the one hand
God Is conceived of as distinct from and unrelated to nature,
with grace the means of a transcendent God's making known His
favourable Interest In men#
On the other hand, God is im­
manent In nature, with grace the spirit that binds all to­
gether— man, nature, and God#
Though the latter concept un­
doubtedly dominated the poet's thought between 1798 and 1805,
Wordsworth's use of the former with its emphasis on a tran­
scendent God is of fundamental Importance in a consideration
of the poet's total thought since it reveals the deep-seated,
though probably unrealised, influence of an orthodox metaphysic#
However neither of the two concepts of grace appar­
ent in the poetry written between 1798 and 1805 approaches
the Christian mystery of grace sine© they both fail to In-
15
elude the all important consciousness of evil— ”©vil overweeningly so-called"33 as Wordsworth arrogantly put it In
1804#
fh© first reference to grace directed toward man
by a transcendent 0od occurs in "Resolution and Independence,®
written in 1802.
As the poet walked "a traveller upon th©
moor® on a day when the air was filled with the pleasant
noise of waters and th® hare was running races in her mirth,
he fell a prey to sudden dejection#
Was there any certainty
that he, to shorn "life's business® was a "summer's mood" would
not be visited by the despondency and madness of other poets?
Would a "genial faith" alone furnish him with "needful
things"?3® From that mood he was rescued by what seemed to
him divine interventions
Wow, whether it were by peculiar grace,
A leading from above, a
something given,
Xet it befell, that, inthis lonely place.
When 1 with these untoward thoughts had striven,
Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven
1 saw a Man before me unawares t
The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs*35
Here grace apparently Includes the two Ideas of apunctual,
directional force and of a gift#
As a directional force It
leads to the "something given," in this case "human strength,
by apt admonishment"5® drawn from an experience which grace
had engineered*
ghlle the encounter confers a belief in a
"stay secure" above the fluctuating passions of an uncertain
world, the final emphasis Is laid less on grace as th© "lead-
16
tog front above” than m
th® "something given”!
,#dod*” said 1# wb© my h©lp and stay seeurej
„„
I'll think of to© fcoech-gatoerer on toe lonely moor*”0'
to© original questlon whether a ”genial faith” la alone suf­
ficient la implicitly answered to the affirmative#
A lees significant referene© to grace as a leading
from above occurs to ”fo a Highland girl#11 Heaven is specifi­
cally mentioned# but toe recompense {which is not identified
as a gift of grace) does not act to interpose ease between
toe poet and a troubled heart#
to&t results from the "lead­
ing from above11 is an aesthetic experience which, recollected
to tranquillity# may result to poetrys
How thanks to He&venJ that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place#
tfoy have X hadj and going hgne©
I bear away my recompense#®
$wo of toe remaining three references to grace di­
rected toward man occur in the Prelude# Although they subtil­
ise toe concept of grace as lb has so far emerged# they to no
way extend toe boundaries of grace as Wordsworth had defined
them to "Resolution and Independence"; grace may be either a
leading from above or a gift#
In Book VI of toe prelude
Wordsworth turns to a description of his tendencies and in­
terests during the last year of his residence at Cambridge#
toen was he first encouraged to believe that he might leave
some monument behind him "which pure hearts might cherish”!
then It was# too# that he glimpsed toe Independent world of
17
pur© mathematics#
m
concludes th© description of himself by
saying!
Such dispositions then were mine, almost
3Q
through grace of Heaven and inborn aptitudes.
Grace In the passage obviously means divine favour or benefit
oenoe* While Wordsworth does not Unit"grace as a ^leading
from aboveH to grace as favour* they are inferenti&Xly con­
nected with the ^leading from above*1 the dynamic* occasional
expression of a constant* divine favour*
fhe second and fi­
nal reference in fhe Freinds occurs in Wordsworth*© address
to Coleridge in the last booh*
Hereafter* Wordsworth says,
they will be
Bless rd with true happiness if we may be
United helpers forward of a day
Of firmer trust* jcint-labourers in a work
{Should Providence such grace to u® vouchsafe)
Of their redemption* surely yet to come*
Grace here seems to be commensurate with a gift of power and
links itself to th® idea of grace as *some thing given*?
Its
chief difference from the ^something given*1 in "Resolution
and Independence11 is the increased sense of dependence on
other than human aid* as the parenthetical remark in the
passage would seem to indicate*
*£h® whole clause* however*
has a ready made ring to it and hovers on the edge of the
stock phrases discussed earlier#
$*he last reference to consider In the B^elusff might
have been considered earlier if it had not been for the dif*
41
fieulty of dating it*
While it adds nothing new, it does
18
seem t® deepen th© ©motional content of the Idea#
It la
definitely linked to a trans aendent 0od and to th© ©oneept
of an original state of grate toy Its reference to the 0bowers
of blissful Men**
after the passage in which Wordsworth re*
counts the tola®sings for which he must toe grateful he con*
tlnues i
the boon Is absolute} surpassing grace
To me hath been vouchsafed} among the bowers
Of blissful M e n this was neither given
Her could toe given* possession of the good
Which had been sighed for* ancient thought fulfilled
and dear Imaginations realised*42
But It Is when Wordsworth treats grace In Nature
that we hear the genuine "Orphic* not© of his Inspiration#
The single mention of grace in nature In the 1805 version of
j&£ JSS&B&a oaowre in a long passage in the twelfth books
and it was proved Indeed that not in vain
t had been taught to reverence a fewer
That is the very quality and shape
and Image of right reason* that matures
Her processes toy steadfast laws* gives birth
To no Inpatient or fallacious hopes*
«#* but lifts
The Being Into mgnanimity;
Holds up before the mind *«*
«m a temperate shew
Of objects that endure* and by this course
Pisposes her *««
To seek In Han* and In th© frame of life*
•** what there is
Desirable* affecting, good or fair
Of kindred permanence* the gifts divine
m d universal* the pervading grace
That hath been* is* and shall toe* *3
"pervading grace11 is her® undoubtedly a "blessed power that
rolls# about* below* above*** which "Nature's holy plan"4^
leads man to discover in "man and in the frame of Ufa#"
"Pervading grace“ is nothing less than a divine emanation*
which links all things in a graduated scale of being*
Any
number of passages in The Prelude can, of course* be adduced
48
to support th© interpretation*
tout the most cogent Is one
which through a later revision was explicitly linked with
grace i
tout* Great God I
Who send*at thyself into this breathing world
Through Nature and through every kind of life*
And makf»b man what he Is* Creature divine#
In single or In social eminence
Above all these rala fd infinite ascents
When reason# which enables him to toe*
Is not sequester fd*^r
Xn 1838 Wordsworth changed the first four lines to readi
But* 0 Power Supreme I
Without Whose call this world would cease to breathe*
Who from the fountain of Thy grace dost fill
The veins that branch through every frame of life#
Making man mfoat he is* creature divine**®
Th© later substitution while it introduces a trans­
cendent God keeps m m a "creature divine"*
The overwhelming
consciousness of the difference between the nature of man and
the nature of God that lies at the very heart of the Christian
mystery of grace was totally lacking in Wordsworth's early
concept of the tern* For him pervasive grace inNature
anal*
hilated the difference of being and lifted man not only to
magnanimity tout also to divinity*
*». all beings live with god* themselves
Are &od» Existing in th© mightywKS$e*
Is!imistlngulshatole as the cloudless East
At noon is from the cloudless west* when all
The hemisphere is one cerulean blue*w
80
Grace In Mature between 1798-X8G2 was Inconceivable except
as a sort ©f ©sanative xveuyi#^ or as a force that had no
need to regenerate a will* uncontaminated by evil* which per­
formed the will of God involuntarily*
As he said in Jftxe
isssaa*
A gracious Spirit ofer this earth presides#
And o' er the heart of mans invisibly
It comes# directing those to works of love
Wcu> car© not* know not* think not what they do#®*
But Wordsworth1s failure about 1808 to retain the
power of seeing Into the life of things was to take away both
a glory from the earth and his own sense of divinity*
in
other words that loss cut at the root the reason for Wordsworth1s emotional assent to the concept of immanence*
He
was as a result thrown back on the doctrine of transcendence;
more and more was he to become conscious of two states of be­
ing*
fhe loss of th© consciousness of God In himself and in
nature served to change Wordsworth1© concept of grace in that
It emphasised (if it did not introduce) into Wordsworth1s
thinking that dement in consciousness which had been the
source of th© Christian concept of grace— the humbling reali­
sation of man*© weakness*
524.9:1.0
CHAPTER IX
M07~i889*
GRACE* THEISM« AMD DOGMA
Between 1805 and X807 three powerful sorrows ~«*fche
closing 0 f the "hiding places1,52 of Wordsworth*# supreme
peetie power* Jfobn*8 deaths and the change of Coleridge* s
love to a "comfortless and hidden well"33***#battered th© unity
which Wordsworth had seen and felt In the universe between
1798 and ISOS*
At the came time they introduced Into the
domain of the "feeling intellect"54 thought# that sprang from
an immediate contact with th© reality of man*# weakness and
of the mutability of all that had seamed permanent*
it was
Inevitable that these new elements in consciousness should
work together in reshaping the concept of grace which had
emerged by 1808#
Since an abyss now separated God from both
man and nature, either because Wordsworth could no longer see
the unity or because the unity that he had seen had been a
"fond illusion" and a "Poet*© dream,"53 he was forced to
abandon the earlier concept of grace in Mature and to de­
velop and to subtilise the concept of grace as a gift and as
a leading from above*
Dike most things evolved under the
pressure of experience the concept was to bear faint marks
of its progress from Its "dear native regions". to. ”t&©## __ #
fountainhead of peace divine**33
7\ .\”7 *' : ' :
■
i* *:*•.*./
Wordsworth*® first reaction under th© tptkjl .impact
: ::*::•*„* ’•*
of all three sorrows, though more particularly libdef1 that of
John's death, had been to take temporary refuge In the Stol-
22
©ism expressed in the "0&© to Duty#"
That phllos ophy# how­
ever* If we Judge by ©videnc© In Jhg White Doe of lyle tone#
proved to 0© a© uncongenial as Oodwlnism* and % 1807 Words­
worth had rejected SboielsM m
In 1797*
decisively as he had Godwinism
The reason for the repudiation was undoubtedly the
same In both eases * the tendency of both Godwlnism and Stoi­
cism to banish ’’humbleness and love*’’8*7 While the **Ode to
Duty” signifies Wordsworth*s abandonment of the aesthetic
morality of "splendour In the grass* of glory in the flower®
for the stem and rigorous claims of duty* The White Doe of
Saristone celebrates the re-entry of the principles of pleas­
ure and joy* pleasure that had been dead but was now
to lire again on earth*
A second and yet nobler birth;
Dire overthrow* and yet how high
The re-ascent In sanctity!
From fair to fairer; day by day
A more divine and lof tier way!
Three out of the six references to grace In The
Shite Doe of Byla ton© refer to the do©# whose "apotheosis1159
at the close of the poem neither Lamb nor Jeffrey could under­
stand*
To penetrate beyond the "shadowy influence"80 of the
doe to what Wordsworth meant to convey by her figure would
be to break down what Is oonnotativ© to Its constituent parts*
at th© same time probably rendering the connections "dead and
spiritless."
Wordsworth* with his usual reluctance to be ex­
plicit In the presence of the intangible* resorted to his
23
favorite d«trl«i of the alternative in suggesting the doe1a
origins
Whether she he of forest hovers*
From the hovers of earth below;
Or a Spirit for one day given*
A gift of grace from purest h e a v e n # 6 a *
Some light is thrown on the subject by a letter to Coleridge
in ISO©*
Speaking of the White hoc* Wordsworth aaldt
*** it could not he popular because some of the
principal objects and agents* such as the Banner
and the Boo* produced their Influences and effects
not by powers naturally inherent in them* hut such
as they were endued with by the Imagination of the
human wind on whdm they operated#^
cm© point Is at least dear' from this i If the doe Is a sym­
bol of nature and 11the embodiment of the comfort that he
j^Wordsworth) found in the continued subtle breathings of
nature**66 power-^or graoe-~ls not naturally Inherent in
nature*
It is the imagination that bestows it* resting and
assuring itself upon Divine protection and favour*®^
An element almost of debate runs through the White
Doe of Bylstone to make perfectly apparent two opposed ways
of life* the Stole* and the thelabl*#6
Wordsworth never
falls to emphasise the opposition as shown in Francis and
Billy*
Thus* Bally following Francis* stoical path Is
"thoroughly forlorn*®® but with the return of the doe {and
thereby hope which Francis had denied her) she is "forlorn
but not disconsolate**67
Had brought all
Under Francis* ©mjoinmente Bally
24
To the subjection of a half,
fhough stern and rigorous, melancholy*®*3
With th© help of the doe her soul was blest
With a *oft aprlng-day of holy.
Mild, and grateful, melancholy*®9
For Francis* the *bondman* of Duty* the chief vir­
tue is a stole acceptance of the doom that has come upon their
house*
Els advice to, telly Is*
Espouse thy doom at once* and cleave
fo fortitude without reprieve*70
Grace as God*s favour Is infinitely removed from man's reach
and even hope is denied*' Grace for Francis is merely an out­
ward manifestation that has no allevlativ© forcet
Hope nothing* 1 repeat; for we
Are doomed to perish utterly*
*fls meet thou with me divide
fhe thought while % m by thy side*
Acknowledging a .grace In this*
a comfort in the dark abyss#”1
telly's duty In addition to abandoning hope is to be strong
so as to be ^worthy cf th© grace of God***7®
Tim flaw in
Francis1 stoicism for telly* as it was for Wordsworth* was the
despair that caused Francis to forbid Emily even the comfort
of reclining 11with hop© upon th© Will divine*”73
fhe agency of the doe is paramount in telly's
was cent of love*”*74 Hope had quietened in telly when* con­
trary to Francis' prophecy* the doe had returned* Sorrow
that had been b o m and had left Emily "thoroughly forlorn”
was now welcomed with the saddest thought the doe brings as
a ”glft of grace#*175 fbe moment ©I* their meeting was the be­
ginning of a "high coKBmanlon1*’76 which oast out all came of
wpain or fear#”77
J*Ue® the &ady Aaliza, mil?, "when God*a
grace At length hud to her heart found place,1,78 could feel
:
i
the “second and yet nobler birth” of pleasure and could start
the 11ascent of love” that led through sorrow to God*
The doe,
who has filled a holy place by transmuting sorrow, finally
“Fartakes in her degree, Heaven*» grac©,”7®
The concept of grace that emerges from the White Doe
of ffrlstone stands in vivid contrast with that held by Francis.
Two points are clean
It is apprehensible by Imagination82* as
Wordsworth implied in his letter to Coleridge and in the son­
net “Weak is the will of man#11 prefixed to the White Poe in
1820, and it is linked in a transmuting way with sorrow*
Between 1809 and 1813,w when eThe
aaaaew** Excursion was being
written# Wordsworth1a thought ”0n Man# on Mature# and on
Human life” assumed almost the proportions of a system,
shadowy ambiguities of Jhe
jgg
The
tyl&toue disappeared
to be replaced by terns and functions clearly defined though
not always perfectly articulated#
One result of systematic
thinking was the advancement of the problem of grace to the
threshold of ©masclous thought#
It presents a central prob­
lem for explication In the Solitary*® despairing cry in the
26
Religion tells of amity sublime
Wbloh no condition can preclude! of On#
Who sees all suffering, comprehends all wants,
411 weakness fathoms, can supply all needs $
But Is that bounty amolute?*-Mis gifts,
are they not, still, in some degree, rewards.
For acts of service? dan his loir# extend
$ 0 hearts that own not him? Will showers of grace,
W m n in the sky no promise may be seen,
Fall to refresh a parched and withered land?
Or shall the groaning Spirit cast her load
At the Redeemer* s f##%?«*&
It is dear that Wordsworth is considering here for
the first time the nexus of problems implicit in the concept
of grace since its formulation as a Chris tian doctrine $ the
relation between man's nature and grace, between man's works
and grace, the whole theological problem of .justification-,
?he Solitary's question shows that- Wordsworth had conscious*
ly entered a field of discourse In which his personal theories
and beliefs were subject to the shaping Influence of the tra­
ditional and orthodox#
It la hardly necessary to say that the "Orphic" song
that grace In nature had Inspired In jfhe Prelude has completely
died away,
Chen In look ? of %tie B&emraion Wordsworth speaks
of "nature*® grace" he has no reference to "the blessed power
that roll® About, below, above," with which he had unmistaka­
bly identified grace in Mature in fhe Prelude# "Mature*a
grace* in Jh# m m m t m la nothing but a sort of happy for­
tuity In the meeting of natural laws to form in a t e n be­
ing capacities for spontaneous enjoyment much like the wood­
land bird*s "gifts of happy i n s t i n c t * M a t u r e in so far as
27
she appears la the work of regeneration of a man Is minis trac­
tive and admonftivej she In no way inspirits*
The "fount of
gr&oe dlvln©* rests In the soul of man rather than in nature#
Only after the "fount of grace" within the soul has been
opened earn nature assist In the work of grace*
hut Innocence Is strong*
And m entire simplicity of mind*
A thing most sacred In the eye of Heaven*
That opens* for such sufferers* relief
Within their souls* a fount of grass divine*
m d doth commend their weakness and disease
to Hatwre’s care* assisted In her office
By all the elements that found her wait
to generate* to preserve* and to restore*84
If man follows ways that run parallel to nature’s course and
does not afford through self-disparagement "to meditative
spleen a grateful feast**88 his matins* performed at day­
break shall obtain "Or**** be their composition what it may*"86
Although Wordsworth by 1814 had given up his earlier
claim in The Prelude for the supreme powers of "right reason"
he had not gone so far m
to deny reason a function in the
shaping of man’s belief*
The Wanderer
,
to the model of his own pure heart
Framed his belief* as grace divine inspired
Or human reason dictated with aw©*87
Faith
in The R%euralog* was the joint product of diligence and
of illuminating grace*
The Anglican martyrs bequeathed from
out the smouldering flame
The faith which they by diligence had e
and through illuminating grace received#
28
it is precisely here— in Wordsworths Insistence on the nonjoint working of the fparticle divine1 in man and 0od*s
grace— that Wordsworth reaches that via media of Anglican
dogma as distinguished from Galvlnlstl© dogma and its insistenoe on prevenlent grace#
his solution of the antinomies
of grace and free will is that of the High Church tradition
that stretches back to lead* the seventeenth century Platonlsts and their meliorative .and Armlniai* interpretation of
the Galvlnlstlo articles of the Anglican church#
Ultimately,
however, it is grace as 0odfs favour that keeps the ^particle
divine*1®® of reason un^uenehed#
Under the dispensation of
grace# sKXndly nature9 and reason work together to bring
forth one of those propitious periods in history in which man
may develop his powers unimpeded by debasing poverty or
tyranny#90
With the help of grace **th© law of faith work­
ing through love9 may even bring the Hew Jerusalem*®1
Sorrow and the power in sorrow to start the indi­
vidual on an 9ascent of .love9 ( m in The White Doe) receive
little or no attention in ffhs tecursiw#9® Sorrow had lost
its sting because of the belief in immortality?®3 the source
of sorrow Is found in fha Bxcuralon less in bereavement than
in the inability of man to live by faith*®*
Though words worth oven in his earliest period had
not been unaware of the existence of evil# his tendency bad
29
been be dismiss it as 11evil QVerweeningly so-called11 before
man "Inwardly contemplated" and 11Instinct with Godhead*"95
By 1814 the Godhead had shrunk to a "particle divine#" ?jhich
succoured though It was by grace had yet to wage war against
man*s nature which Ilea
Bedded for good and evil in a gulf
Fearfully low*®®
Wordsworth1s appreciation of taan*s weakness as a moral agent
had been growing since the composition of the "Ode to Duty*w
In Jbig White Ujoe of telston^ duty had been repudiated in
favour of the "Sacred tower" of Imagination which plucks "the
amaranthine flower of Faith#
in The ^euraion while Words-
worth9s increasing dependence on ohris tisn orthodoxy98 and
increasing humility presage an early capitulation to the ex­
treme Pauline position of faith Itself as a gift of grace to
the elect#®9 that step was not taken#
The remaining references to grace between 1614 and
1826# when the .lodes las tical Sonne.tjg were published# show
how the gulf between grace and man9a "fearfully low" nature
had widened in the poet9® mind#
la ^he Excursion Wordsworth
had accepted the investiture of "Inward feelings” in the
"outward ritual" and established forms of the Anglican
Church;*1*00 it was no doubt wordsworth9s own ever deepening
inward feeling of humility that led M m to accept the theo­
logical doctrine of man9a fall from an original state of
grace#
The giants of Albion were a brood "who never tasted
30
grace* and goodness no* or had felt*"
* and tortured spirits
la the central earth pine "for grace and goodness lost*1*2-02
The concept of the Fall awakened genuine poetle
emotion when* by a process of thought perfectly natural In a
student of 1111ton* Wordsworth conceived the state of man1a
Innocence and of grass as coexisting with a similar state In
Mature#
The ttabsolute serenity” of the stars "testify of
l»ove and Grace divine1110 3 because they image the serenity of
the native habitations of celestial spirits*
The emotion
evoked by the concept takes on an added poignancy* as it does
in the poem ’’Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splen­
dour*" when Wordsworth identifies man* a loss of grace and of
paradise with his own loss of the vision splendid*
In that
poem a light similar to that which had had "the glory and the
freshness of a dream" is regiven* hut now it presages a
"second birth*w intimations of the Christian immortality that
is to come rather than the immortality that was?
.From THE! if I would swerve
Oh* let thy grace rewind me of the light
Full early lost* m d fruitlessly deplored;
Which* at this moment* on my waking sight
appears to shine* by miracle restored;
My soul* though yet confirmed to earth*
Rejoices In a second birth! 1U4
By W 2 2 the circumscriptive movement of Words worth* s
thought had embraced an area which extended far beyond the
early orbit of the personal and particular*
It might fairly
he said that within its periphery was now included the total-
31
iby of human experience*
The complexity of that world of
eonsclouanesa had been Increased by the realization of two
discrete region** a world of "endless agitation" and a tran­
scendent world of "central peace*"
If in the "ascent of
love" each stair "mysteriously was meant" Wordsworth in 1822
would have named them hope* love* Imagination* reason sublimed
by faith* and faith assisted by grace*
Prayer# which Is named
Incidentally* receives no especial emphasis*
though Wordsworth* a thought on grace during this
second period had set Itself forward on the path that had been
grooved for It by centuries of theological controversy* there
Is every reason to believe that the concept was Impelled by
the force of his own thought*
It Is significant to remember
at this point that Coleridge* commenting on the truisms of
The Bxcurslon, said that they were caused not by Wordsworth’s
v
acceptance of second hand truths but by the poet’s convincing
himself through "the conjoint operation of his own experience*
feelings* and reason*" of truths "which the generality of per­
sons have either taken for granted from their Infancy or at
least adopted in early Ilfe*"^0 5
The appearance of a certain amount of dogma was
Inevitable from the Inclusion of religious thought within his
own* but the "matter-of~faotneas11 of Wordsworth’s thinking
(to which Coleridge had objected) acted like an anchor in
reality#
Beyond ritualism ho saw "humble-mlnded experience*"
and dogma he reinterpreted* as In the case of the doctrine of
the Fall* in the light of his own experience*
tiH&mft i n
1822-1845.
GMOI AHD ORTHODOX!
At the tim© Words worth wrote the Becles laa tlcal
Sonnets© his concept of grace was fully defined as both a
gift and the favour of God inclined toward sinful raanj its
only changes thereafter were those occasioned toy the height­
ening and deepening of contrasts.
Although references to
Christ Increase in frequency. Words worth* s conception of
grace was never to have a marked Christological emphasis*
The Solitary*© question In The Excursion whether it was
necessary for the groaning soul to cast Its load at the He-*
deemer*s feet1 0 0 Wordsworth was never to answer explicitly*
With a due recognition of the po©t*s evident respect and
love for the figure of Christ, it might he said that his
religion from 1814 on was more Platonic and thelatic than it
was definitely Christian In the narrow sense of the word;
Christ for Wordsworth was never the way to the
central
peace*1 of God*107
The sacraments Wordsworth la The Excursion106 had
accepted as symbols that attest man*s realisation of his own
fearfully low nature.
With a heightened respect for the
symbolic act itself. Wordsworth in the Ecclesiastical Son­
nets accepted the church as an ”Arbitress”109 and dispenser
of grace through the sacraments*110
32
For the third edition of the Koclealaatloal S carnets
in 1827 Wordsworth wrote four sonnets to expand the liturgi­
cal scheme*
hr* Potto says of them. "A comparison of these
with other poems first published in 1827 shows that the poet*s
assess of seal for spiritual freedom was shaped Into a clear
definition of the means whereby he thought it was to be
secured!
Faith end Grace**.Meekness, piety and exalted pur­
pose were already to be found in .the Bccleafastidal Sketches
of 1322f faith and grace were emphasised in the additions of
1827**111
In two of the sonnets. "Baptism" and "Sacrament,"
references to grace occur*
Grace descends from above to
transmute a growth from "Sinful Nature*s bed of weeds" into
a "Christian Flower*"11^ and God is spoken of as the "Foun­
tain of grace, whose Son for sinners died*"1 1 3
Neither marks
a change in emphasis from views Wordsworth had first advanced
in The Excursion, but there is a subtle change in tone that
comes as a result of Words worth* s genuinely deep love for
the church*
Grace was localized as the heart and center of
the church*
Just as the moon when it hung midway between
the hills had grown dearer to Wordsworth because it had
seemed to appertain by a peculiar right to his own "darling
vale." so grace grew dearer as it became identified in the
poet* a mind as a property of a church to which he was bound
by deep emotional ties.
And in that "localisation" grace
34
reflected the Xustre of the golden mean which was for Words*
worth the very essense of togl1oanlsm* ^
How much the sacra*
nents meant to M m personally may he felt In the sonnet "Other
Benefits#w where against a background of feudal warfare Words­
worth drew a picture of the domes tie oratory to which the
knight and M s retainers might repair to- take the sacraments*
Wordsworth concludes t
How sad would be their durance, if forlorn
Of offices dispensing heavenly grace€XXS
While the poetry of Wordsworth*s last period is filled
with 49the still sad music of humanity* ** it is far from a music
that suggests despairj rather it has the grave and reasoned
note of one who had forged for himself a vigorous faith that
gives body and meaning to life as it works upon th© will of
man.
Although long and chastening meditation on man's weak­
ness had led Wordsworth to heighten the contrast between faith
and human reason* he kept steadfastly to the golden mean which
allowed both for man*® freedom and for the power of grace*
His insistence to the last was that man can "by help of grace,
enthrone fhe peace of Sod within his single breast#*1^
6
fhe lower place that reason**1^ took in Wordsworth*®
mature thought can be attributed to his distrust of the wGenius *
of the age which seemed to him to increase man's pride in his
own power at the expense of Cod's*
fhe last stanza of one of
the most significant poems of his last period* ttStanzas sug­
gested in a steamboat off St# Be© ® 1 Heads,*1 sums up his
posltlom
Alaal the Genius of our age, from S ehools
Hess humble, draws her lessons, alms, and rules*
T© Prowess guided toy her Insight keen
Matter and spirit are as one Machinej
Boastful idolatress of formal skill
She in her own would merge the eternal wills
Better, If Reason's triumphs match with these,
Her flight before the bold credulities
That furthered the first teaching of St# Bees•
In the same poem Wordsworth raised the question that was to
him paramount s
ITet, while each useful Art augments her store,
Shat hoots the gain if Mature should lose more?
And wisdom, as she holds a Christian place
In man's intelligence sublimed toy grace?!*9
Wordsworth was no ©toe©urantis t;!g0 he wished for a return
neither of the "credulities11 of the monks of St# Bees nor of
the conditions under which they had worked#
But he saw in
schemes that flattered the reason and carried men to the
"giddy top of self-esteem,"*1^
alone could not dissipate#
evils that the human reason
It is with that in mind as well
as the example of the Heign of terror in a godless France
that Wordsworth in "the Warning" addresses the labourers in
18531
Gh for a torldle bitted with remorse
To atop your leaders in their headstrong course!
Oh may the Almighty scatter with his grace
These mists, and lead you to a safer place
By paths no human wisdom can for©trace**22
36
Vftmt can Toe considered Wordsworth* a final view on
the connection between Hature and grace la found in a rather
cryptic passage in the poem "Not in the lucid intervals of
life***
After the introductory line® which ins 1 st that nature
can not move the soul of genius If it la untaught that meek­
ness is the cherished bent lfof all the truly great and all
the innocent#
the obvious question is raised "But who is
innocent?” In an analogous, passage in the Rkcuts ion Words*
worth had answered that nature could offer solaee after an
*entire simplicity of mind#11 "a thing most sacred in the eyes
of Heaven*" had opened a fount of grace divine within the
aowl.1 2 4
Vtor<3aworth*a answer In the later poem goes beyond
that to assert that not otherwise than by grace divine are we
Kature* a* What is more# the Batura which is ours through
grace is not the Hature on whose bounded field grows only an
imperfect cure*
presumably it is an unfallen Hature.125
the obscurity of the poem is lightened by "The
Cuckoo at Laverna*" written four years later in Italy*
in
it Wordsworth describes how the companionship between St.
Francis and the lower animals was likened by his companions
to that which was held "with all kinds in Eden’s blissful
bowers" before the Fall "darkened the earth with fear*"126
Wordsworth goes on to say that the power of St* Francis is
shared by others who trust in "the power# the faith# of a
baptised imagination*"12,7
undoubtedly the baptism is an act
37
Of grew#
gwe«{ for the baptised imagination Mature can offer
only monitor which bring Impulses sublime*3,28
dees not give m
Grace then
to Mature# but allows us through the wbap­
tised imagination" either to see ah unfallen Mature or to re­
ceive Impulses sublime from her*3,22
It is impossible not to feel that the nbaptised
imagination" of 1837 m & tbs "P'ower" of 1804130 are different
in kind as are Kature’s "humblest monitors0 of
1 S37
and the
"collateral" powers which had dwelt In Mature In 1804.
If
we search for the source of the "baptised imagination" we
find It not In Wordsworth*s early feeling of the "majestic
away we haws, As natural beings la the strength of nature";1 31
it comes rather from the later humbling recognition of a gap
between man and God that can be bridged only by man* a imagi­
native faith* assisted* or baptised* by grace*
It was the
recognition of this ontological difference and of the power
of grace to surmount it* that made Wordsworth*s later re­
ligion a "religion of gratitude"3,32 rather than what It had
teen before* a religion of joy*
By 1833* grace had become
so much a part of Wordsworth*s thinking that he found the
manifestations not only in the "monumental grace of faith"3,33
but also in the "humblest springs" of pleasure*3"34
In Wordsworth* s final conception of grace as we
find it expressed in this last period of his poetic production
there seems to be no conflict between the workings of grace
38
and toe freedom of men* a will*
While resignation Is a gift
of grace to the face of stash an Irremediable fact as death,135
the "healing might of virtuous action’13'36 is the surest weapon
against m&n«s weakness*
with trust in effort abandoned man
can subdue passion by grace alone*3*37
Usually shat Wordsworth stresses is the harmony of
purpose of both grace and manf» will that is brought about by
faith and love*
Probably the best expression of that view
occurs to the poem "Written after toe Death of Charles Lamb” i
««» ye were taught
that the remembrance of foregone distress*
tod toe worst fear of future 131. •«#
•** may be boto alike
Disarmed of power to unsettle present good
So prised* and things toward and outward held
In such an even balance, that the heart
Acknowledges god’s grace, his mercy feels,
tod to its depth of gratitude Is still*3'38
One of the wEvening VoluntariesH expresses toe same view of
toe interaction of human effort and grace*
fhe main emphasis
of toe poem is laid on the calm that succeeds the moral ef­
fort to find that "to Sis will is our peace" *
to&te’er to© path these mortal feet may trace,
Breathe through my soul the blessing of toy grace.
Glad, through a perfect love, a faith sincere
Drawn from the wisdom that begins with fear*i59
tolls in the ’’Lines Inscribed in a Oopy of His Poems
for Queen Victoria" Wordsworth seems to insist on to© primacy
of man’s moral effort,14 0 a poem published in 1848 gives what
may fairly be called his final viewt
Grace is given to all,
39
both to those who ask and those imho do not, to the des erving
as well as to the un&as ervlng t
bounty without measure! while the grace
Of Heaven doth In such wise, from humblest springs,
Pour pleasure forth, and solaces that trace
A massy course along familiar things,
Well may our hearts have faith that blessings com©
»** both for souls who 0 od*s forbearance try,
n ...
tod those that aesk his help, and for his mercy cigjh,^**
0
this reconciliation of the antinomies of grace and free will
by granting the claims of both, yet yielding priority to
neither, yields evidence of the persistence of that strong*
est element of Wordsworth*© thought, its matter*of-factneas •
By virtue of It Wordsworth held firmly to what was given him
in experiences
a sense of moral responsibility, and, at the
same time, a profoundly humbling sense of ma»*s weakness*142
It is interesting to compare the last few lines of
ffibe Prelude with the "prelude" to the 1842 volume of poems to
see what "bumble minded experience11 had done to change Wordsworth*a conception of the function of the poet*
In fhe pre-
lude Wordsworth had foreseen how he and Coleridge, "Prophets
of nature,*1 were to redeem men by ahowing them how the mind
of man m y become
A thousand times more beautiful than the earth
On which he dwells, above this Frame of things
# * •
In beauty exalted, as it la its elf
Of substance and of fabric more divine***®
the "Prelude11 of 1848 seta a humbler, and probably more human,
task*
The years between, while they had not disturbed words*
worth*a faith that m m possesses a "particle divine," had
revealed the., "atony in man1© heart" that only grace can r©<*
move i
m forth upon a mission best fulfilled
When and wherever, in this changeful world,
Power hath been given to please for higher ends
$han pleasure only* gladdening to prepare
For wholesome sadness, troubling to refine,
Calming to, raise5 and, .by a sapient art
Diffused through all the mysteries of our Being,
Softening the tolls and pains that have not ceased
to east their shadows m our mother Earth
Since the primeval doom, Such Is the grace :
Which, though unsued for, fails not to descend
With heavenly Inspiration* such the aim
fhat Boason dictates#1 4 4
Dives ted of its emotional content, the meaning that
grace had acquired for Wordsworth by 1845 can be said to fit
the theological meaning of the word as it is given in the
Has ting's Sag2ai2E2&& M
HMdSifll *3§ g M S g .*"**8 unmerited
Divine love which stoops to pardon and bless the guilty#"
The final congruence with orthodoxy had not been an easy
achievement for Wordsworth*
It represents above all the
unceasing laboring of his mind to fit the complete data of
experience into an intelligible whole.
It had Involved the
scrapping of the doctrine of Immnmae, and the gradual, even
painful progression through Stoicism to a religion which
granted peace as it called for unceasing moral effort*
Dogma
Wordsworth had avoided, entangling himself in its meshes for
only a short time to jge Excursion#
He had kept clear of
the extremes of a relentless logic by keeping himself firmly
41
grounded m
what he knew experi©ntlally* fbat his experience
was universal and his thinking wild would seem to he indicated
hy tho final agreement of his concept of gr&oe with that which
In Its haaio principles Is held universally by Christians*
ammmzm
In summary w© ©an ©ay that through this dls en­
tanglement of one central strand of Words worth* s thought from
the closely woven fabric of the whole, two periods in Words*
worth*s life have received additional light# J&e White Poe
of Ihdhttqne which by some critics has been considered a eon*
tinuatlon of stoical thought*^® has been shown as a definite
repudiation of the principles underlying the HGde to Duty."
By far the most important result of the Investigation* however,
has been to show clearly and unmistakably the existence of two
discrete ontological concepts in the most important period of
the poet's poetic productivity* fh&i for Wordsworth himself
they were fundamentally opposed may be seen in the faint ex­
pressions of doubt^^ that occasionally appear when the con­
cept of immanence pushes claims that the concept of transeendenee would not allow*
fhere is no doubt as to which is
the constant in Wordsworth's thought; a belief in a tran­
scendent God was Implicit in the poems written before 1797*
as it was explicit in the poems written after 1807#
It is
impossible to escape the conclusion that Wordsworth's natu­
ralism is a deviation from his fundamental beliefs rather than
their most genuine expression*
42
43
HOIBS AHD RKFBRBHCES
8*
Xbld»m pm
120*
8*
Wordsworth entered Cambridge with the hope of following
the study of law# but his poor health# the length of
time and. the amount of money required deterred him* His
family connections assured him of appointment to a curacy,
and Wordsworth seems to have accepted it as a matter of
course that he would go into orders when he was twenty-*
three. In hay 1792 Wordsworth wrote to hathews from
Blais that it was his intention to take orders in the
approaching winter or spring# But in the next letter to
the same correspondent# Feb# 17# 1794# he wrote# "What
Is to become of me 1 know not; I cannot bow down my mind
to take orders# and as for the law 1 have neither strength
of mind# purse# or constitution# to engage in that pursuit*’*
4*
"The work of Examination Tuesday” was similar to that of
the Monday ah<I so 'was''ISmT*of’"the Wednesday until the year
1777# when it was determined to give more prominence to
the examination in "natural Religion# Moral Philosophy#
and Locke" which was at that time very superficial con­
sisting as it did at best of an occasional question or
two in Locke# Butler*a Analogy, or Clarke*o Attributes *
thrown in by the Moderator after he had exhausted his
mathematical stock* % grace of March 19# 1779# the ex­
amination was continued till five p* m* on a fourth day*
Thursday# and all Wednesday was devoted to the moral
subjects*" Christopher Wordsworth* schoice Academlcae,
Cambridge# 1877# p* 89*
5#
In Descriptive Sketches (1793 version) statements that
might be oonsidered adimbratlone of the naturalism of
"Tintem Abbey" are relegated to their proper sphere by
such as the following*
To viewless realms his Spirit towers amain*
Beyond the senses and their little reign* (11* 548-9)
M&rmaduke in The Borderers is full of benevolence
and sententious piety# Sorrx'/ied by the unmasking of
Herbert*s mock fatherhood* Marmaduke soliloquises*
Father) to Cod himself we cannot give
A holier name# (11* 343-4)
44
&«
(Continued)
An amusing sidelight on Wordsworth1s later philosophy
is the conversation between Lacy and Wallaces
Lacy
I have noticed
that often# when the name of Cod is uttered#
A sudden blankness overspreads his face*
Tot | reasoner as he is# his pride has built
3oese uncouth superstition of its own#
•** Once he headed
A band of Pirates in the Norway seas j
And when the King’of Denmark summoned him
Wo the oath of fealty# I well remember#
tfw&s a strange answer that he made? he said#
"I hold of Spirits# and the Sun In heaven.rt
Wallace
Such Hinds as find among their fellow-men
No heart that loves them# none that they can love#
fill turn perforce and seek for sympathy
“ dim relation to imagined Beings# (11* X437~j
For further examples of shopworn pious phraseology
to gg».lH&SS&gg.ttBMSMft ■ « * |S» B<g.der.g«. seat
atetiea, 11* ItmJfj mo Tf| 544
£ti 792*
M.* 195} 615-16} 791*0} 839-40} 999 £ £ }
1345} 0023} 2145 ffj 2350 £ £ *
What Coleridge meant by sailing Wordsworth a "semiatheist" (letter to a*fc©lwalX# Hay 13# 1786) Heaven alone
knows# At about the same time Coleridge wrote Ratlin
that Wordsworth venerated Christ* In a letter to Edwards
(Harsh 80# 1706) Coleridge described Priestley as an
atheist since in priestly is system "everything was God*"
in view of the expressed pantheism of the "Bolian Harp"
and "Religious Mualnga* it is interesting to speculate
on how Coleridge would have classed himself— as atheist
or semi-atheist* fha whole question of Coleridge’s influenee on Wordsworth in this early period# of th© degree
of orthodoxy of both is a difficult one and needs further
Investigation#
6#
pietism persisted until at least the spring of 1797# when
ffhe Borderers was being written#: See G* R* MeGilllvr&y#
wBate of the Compos1tion of th® Borderers#" Modem Language
Notes# V# 49# pp* 304*11#
7*
"Be [Coleridge] lamented that Wordsworth was not prone
enough to believe in the traditional superstitions of the
place# and that there was something corporeal# a matterof-fastness * a clinging to the palpable# or often to She
petty. In M s poetry# in consequence*" Hazlitt# "My First
Acquaintance with Poets#"
45
©#
gMeridge.* "Bolian Harp#” 1 * 65* For those ^shapings11
,® \ess philosophical Sara bade Coleridge ”walk humbly
with his 0 0 d*«
■
®
*
9* lESlMS* 33i 405-456 (ISO5-06)»
Joseph Warren Beach# ”Beacon and Hature In Wordsworth#”
^ s a f t Sl JSst
M. M8&&* v* x# 9 o« 3# pp# 33511 It See referencea listed under
o in Concordance to the
@d by kane Cooper#
| S ^ g £ . M U l a m jgawlawwpltto, e
# See Appendix
12*
13«
kgnaetw, a, 32, X,
Catechist* My good child# know this j that thou art not
a ole todo these things of thyself# nor to walk In the
commandments of Ood# and to serve him# without M s special
grace* which them must leam at all time to call for by
diligent prayer*
3E2SISB*
What meanest
iSSIgB*
mean an outward and visible sign of an in­
ward and spiritual grace given unto us# or­
dained by Christ himself# as a means whereby
we receive the same# and a pledge to assure
us thereof#
by this word
1
Bow many parts are there in a Sacrament?
Answer#
fwof the outward visible sign# and the inward
spiritual grace*
s s s Mai *
m & % is- the inward, and spiritual grace?
A death unto sin# and a new birth unto righteousneesf for being by nature born In sin# and
the children of wrath# we are hereby made the
children of grace* Jhe look of ffepmp prayer*
14#
domets* 3*
22#
4#
15*
Prelude* X U # 307-322 {1805-06} *
16*
Ibid*, fJl# 846-565 (1808*0006)*
17*
Ibid** X* 272-275 (1805-1006)*
18*
For a reprint of the Rydal Mount Mbrary catalogue see
46
18*
(Contimed)
m m
_ _ _ _ _
je reading "llst see Christopher
■
&&!»» P* 129# An excellent discussion
reading between 1795«*1814:Is contained
^gJ B W E L lg n j M W f f W
g.ai ^
mrren Beacn* Ma©2itlllan# l930* pp*
19.
20
David Hartley,
$ ° * &*
th©
Wordsworth, op.
of WordawortWs
In The Concept
JP2lSg fcy Joseph
Man* hondcn, 1749, p» 510*
. Matthew
Hale# the
OodMd# 1677*
Mankind. Wm.
See letter to Thomas Poole, May 3# 1796*
L# edited % Am Turnbull, 1911,
oES
Society,
s i i a f e M s
Miscellanies of the Fhiiobiblon
P* 33*
23*
"Religious Musing©," 1* 92f "On receiving a better in-*
forming ate of the Birth of a S on,n 11* 3, 11*
24#
Wordsworth had great admiration for 11* 364*375 and
403-428 in Religions Musing©* See Coleridge*s letter
, »ay 13, 7fm, in Settgw of
to £bha The!
edited by E* H-* folerioge,
25*
See S* F* 0 ingerlch, "From necessity to Transcendental
ism in Coleridge,* JM£*&*A*
35, 1*59#
25*
wReligious Muslngs,w
27*
0 ©leridge*a later views on grace have no bearing on
Wordsworth*s concept of grace* The only point 1 have
wished to establish is the one that Wordsworth was
fully aware of the theological significance of the term*
28,
the yoema of william Wordsworth was
e©
usea to isolate st occurrences ^ j^ace* A process of
elimination necessarily followed in order to segregate
grace used in a religious sense* In particular cases
whenever I harbored a doubt as to whether a citation
should be included, 1 was inclusive rather than ex­
clusive# It Is doubtful that in the winnowing any
fruitful grains fell with the chaff*
1*
92#
William Am Knight, Wordsworthlana * Macmillan, 1889,
p« 340#
47
30#
"Michael*” XI. 177*179*
IpiH&S» V# 838*541 (1805*08)• In 1832 to© last three
1 ittftl
deleted either beeaus e their faeetiousness
offended the later Wordsworth or beoaus© the term grace
had lost Its "film of familiarity” when It had pasoslt
through the alembic of the poet*® thought and experience.
This same mechanical us© of grace was moat la evidence
after 1830* See* for lnstanc5* the Somnambulist* 1. 140s
toe Sonnet ”At Albano,” X* Sj r,Th©
1* 295j
"The Armenian Ladyt* Love*” 1* 35| "Russian Fugitive,”
X# 85) ”Westmoreland 0lrl#« 1* @0| "Peter Bell*" 1* 871
(added in 1819)) "Who Highland Broach*" 1* 44) "Song at
toe Feast of Brougham Gastl©,” 1* 158 (grace added in
1845); "The Poet*a Bream*” 1* 111 ”Xf these brief records*”
X* 13*
52*
There la no doubt that the concept of transcendence held
sway in the Anglican church of the eighteenth century*
The Divine Governor and Author for Bishop Butler was in­
disputably separate from toe natural world and was ap­
prehensible only through man1s conscience# Wordsworth’s
early remarks on Cod and Katur© (Descriptive Sketches*
IX* 286-7} 408.-8} 433-440} 438-60} 8^3 If) all" throw
light on the Butlerian* semi-Deistic religious training
of his youth*
33.
Prelude* 7* 278 (1805-06) *
34*
The same question la asked by The Solitary in The Ex­
cursion* 17# 1088-1102* but % 1814 It had connected
lt» elf with the specifically theological problem of
justification*
35.
"Resolution and Independence*” 11* 50-50* Wordsworth
in a letter t© Sara Hutchinson* June 14* 1802* comments
©n the stance In question* ”1 think of this miserable
reverses ©f young poets till X am so deeply impressed
by it* that 1 consider the manner In which I was rescued
from my dejection and despair almost as an interposition
of Providence.” It Is Interesting to note that in The
orderers (11. 1368-1560) an analogous "interposition”
a described by Herbert#
f
36.
Ibid.. 1* 112*
37.
Ibid.* 11* 139-140*
38.
”T© a Highland 0irl#” 11# 68—65.
48
39*
ZEgluOe, VI, 3,88-89 (1805-06) * 3?h© 1880 version reads *
S u m dispositions then were mine unearned
By aught, I fear* of genuine desert-*
Mine* through heaven* s grace and inborn aptitudes *
40* JJbid* # XXIX* 437-441 (1805-06),
43k* Harper dates "The Heclus e* about 1800, Lines 73-78 in
"At the Crave of Burns** present the same difficulty of
date* the poem was composed in 1803, published in 1842,
X am relatively certain (mainly because of the references
to Christ) that lines 73-78 were later additions,
42*
"fh© Heclus e,” 11* 103-109*
43*
Prelude* XXXt 24*44 (1805-06),
44*
"To My Sister,** XX, 33-34,
45.
"Lines Written in Early Spring," 1, 22#
46*
©, g, prelude* XI* 420 ffi III* 185 ffi V* 13-17 s
VIII, &S1T1106-06) ,
47,
Ibid,* X, 386-94 (1805-06),
48*
Ibid,, X* 420-488 (I860)*
49*
Italics mine* the lines are from an isolated piece of
blank verse found In a MS belonging between 1796-1800*
Be Selincourt quotes them in a note on Prelude, II,
224*
(1805-06).
SO*
Prelude* V, 222 (1805-06)#
"EeSaSETof Cod*"
51*
I M d *, V, 816-518 (1805-06)*
62,
Ibid** XX, 336 (1805-06)«
53.
"A Complaint*"
64*
prelude* XIII, 205 (1806-06)*
65*
"Elegiac Stanaas suggested by a Picture of Peel© Castle*"
56*
Wordsworth was as thrifty ideologically as he was prac­
tically* He was no [email protected]&er and traces of earlier,
abandoned beliefs are to be found in hia latest poems*
See note 120*
"Mature*© self, which is the
49
57.
M f l M t # XI* 237 (1805-06) *
58*
Sii®
59*
866
60*
1. D© Selineourt* Letters of Dorothy and William Words*
worth* fh© Middle W a r e * OxTor&y'i^
6l>*
the_Jhl%e
75-8 (text of 1816)» Significantly enough,
WordsworfihTlS 1886 altered line 78 to read? "A pledge of
grace from purest heaven* ”
62*
D© Selincourt# loc. clt* It is ironical that Coleridge
raised the same ooJSctlon to the White Doe that Wordsworth had raised against w7h© incTmt"Mariner.n
63#
Walter Haleigh, Wordsworth. London* 19091 p. 193*
64*
Bee quotation from Bacon prefixed to White Poe*
66*
If# as Harper says (William Wordsworth. London. 1932#
p. 440-1)# Wordswortn 4©il^
e a stoic way of
life in preference to a dhris tiari way* it is apparent
that between writing the w0de to Duty” and ffhe White
Doe he,reversed his decision*
66#
fhs White Doe. 1622*
67*
Ibid*. 1820 {text of 1836)* the 1818 text reads
For that she cam©* there oft and long
She sate in meditation strong*
68
.
J SS (1844*49).
Fenwick note to Jhe White Poe.
Ibid* * 1896-7* In a recent critical edition of 3?he
T O # M l (BE
P?e Si M M S S M * Cornell University
#r«SI lT § 4 0 T ^ l T 5 T ? a l f e e ^ « ^ 5 ;iitI points out that
Wordsworth was using the word “melancholy1
9 in its Miltonic
sense “to denote a calm of soul and perfect faith result­
ing from contemplative effort*M
69*
Ibid.* 1787-8.
70*
Ibid.. 544-6*
71.
Ibid.* 532-7#
78*
Ibid. # 585.
50
^3*
SMS** M01* Wordsworth emphasized the Stoic flaw of
vppi* in 1836 by revising Emily1® original liness
Speak to M m with a voice and say
"That he must east despair awayt11
to read
nIf hope be a rejested stay*
Bo thou* my Christian Son* beware
Of that most lamentable snare*
The self-reliance of despair! ”
74*
Be Selinoourt, log* clt* fh® Platonic implications In
the phrase doutilTesa oerlve in part from the translation
Wordsworth was making In 1803 of certain of the sonnets
of Michelangelo# The phrase suggests the argument of
the translated sonnet "Yes! hope may with my strong de­
sire keep pace*1* in which grace is used to signify Ood's
benevolent interest and help in the rtascent of love#11
*?5# She White Doe* 1678-9 (text of 1836)# The 1816 version
readwT5H3 take this gift of Heaven with grace*”
IMS** * « U
77* IMS**
1 7 43*
78*
Ibid## 831-8 (text of 1816)*
79*
W d >i 1875-6*
80*
It la Interesting to not© In view of Francis1 pacifism
that Wordsworth at the time he was writing The White Doe
in 1807 was reading Thomas Clarkson*a Fortraitureof
Quakerism*
81*
Undoubtedly the ethical imagination* "When he [words worth J spoke of either imagination or reason In its high­
est signification* he was touching upon the very root of
life# which he Identified with divine love*w Melvin Bader#
presiding Ideas in Wordsworth*® poetry* University of
Wshington W'ess $ 1931,' p*'157*
82 •
Bxouralon* IV# 1089-1100*
83* lbId#* V* 844-49*
84* Ibid** VI# 177-85
85* Ibid*# IV* 477*
(text of 1814).
51
86,
&b&d,* *7# 491-2* Probably a development of what In
Welnaoa XXV, 315, Wordsworth had called "Hature1©
Secondary grace,n
87*
SMS** ** 418-13 (text Of 1S14).
®B,
Ibid#i VI, 71-8 (text of 1S14)* By the substitution of
or for and In line 72, Wordsworth In 1S27 suggested the
possibility that faith was not earned but was a divine
gift*
89,
Ibid,, IV, 50-51 j
By thy grace
The particle divine remained unquenched*
90*
Ibid,, IX, 104-13 f
*«» 1 cannot but believe
That far as kindly Hatur© hath free scope
And Reasons sway predominates **«
Country, society and time itself, #*»
Bo, by the Almighty Ruler*© grace, partake
Of one maternal spirit, bringing forth
And cherishing with ever-eonstant love,
91,
Ibid,* IX# 672-8*
98*
Baring the time The Excursion was being written there
were three referenoesr"to"graee acting on hearts visited
by sorrow. They occur In "Epistle to Sir George Beau­
mont11 (1811}# "Maternal Orief* (originally intended to
be part of The Excursion) * and in the sonnet "November,
1813*w
93* ^be Excursion* IV# X38-61»
94.
Ibid,, IV# 130 ff.
ff^lude, VIII# 630-39 (1805-06),
96,
Excursion, V# 293-6*
97#
"weak 1© the will of man," prefixed to The White Doe in
the 1820 edition,
98,
The growth of the language of dogma may be seen in "Ode#
January 18* 1816.9
99,
KxCuffSioffi* IX* 631-646,
100,
Ibid,, V# 295-300,
52
101*
**totegal and IXidure***
26SE&S JSSSffi* XX# X#
The cguofc&tlQn la from The
102#
"Pure element of waters***
105*
"Vernal ode*1 (text of 183*?)*
104*
11* 72 ff*
105*
Elsie Smith* to istlmate of William words worth* Oxford*
1052# p* 197* ,
,
106* Excursion, XV* 1092 ff*
107*
See two sonnets by Michel Angola translated by Wordsworth
(XXX and XXIX in Memorials j£ a four in Italy* 1857)*
Wordsworth* a conception o? grace woulaagree with the
first* Platonic in Its emphasis# rather than with the
second* which is definitely Christian*
108* Excursion* V# 300-15*
109* Ecclesiastical.s onnets* 1* 56, 1*
Ibid*, 2§ 6 # 14* The ttmtter~of-f actness* of Wordsworth’s
thought as well as his own whumble-minded experience** pre­
cluded his attaching great weight to the sacramental of*
flees* The might of the togllsan church for him lay in
"simple truth with grace divine imbued*tt (Ecclesiastical
Sonnets* 5* 40* 8 )*
111* Ecclesiastical Sonne t3 of William lords worth* edited by
“
i r Fin> o t % V Sew H a v e n , d ® f pi,
lC
~
112* EceiQaiaBtlOiil S onneta * 3, 20, 4*An interesting article
ilght be written ‘do!'the changes in Wordsworth's view of
childhood. See also "She infant M-M-" line 1} and "Like
a shipwrecked Sailor tost" 1. 37.
113.
Ibid.,3, 25, 8,
114.
Ihid..3, 11, 13.
115.
Ihid..2,
116.
Ihid..2, 37, 13-14.
6,
12-13.
53
117*
3
fhe argument that Joseph Warren Beach advances in his
article "Reason and Hatars in Wordsworth” needs both
amplification and qualification* ihat argument is (to
quote Mr* Beach directly): "Where Wordsworth uses the
phrase fright reason* and most often where he uses the
simple word reason he is making appeal to that ethical
intuitive reason which the new humanists are inclined
to deny to him along with the other romantics*” fh&fc,
as can be shown, is true up to the time Wordsworth wrote
SM i
fhlte. Boa £f Kyis tono* After that the intuitive
reason is superseoiubytho "imaginative will” and even*
tually by faith* Unassisted reason has no access to the
laws of God, which are outside the natural order;
truths
Which unassisted reason*® utmost power
la too infirm to reach* (§££*
3®®*®)*
By 1853 reason was something to distrust* The last
atansa of "Stanzas Off St* Bees* Heads” says so ex­
plicitly* One of the itinerary poems of 1835 {"De­
sire we past illusions*1) give® his final position on
reasons
Conquering Reason, if soIf-glorified,
Can nowhere move uncrossed by some new wall
Or gulf of mystery, which thou alone,
Imaginative Faithi canst overleap,
In progress toward the fount of love*
118*
"Stans&s suggested in a Steamboat off St* Bees* Heads,”
154-6®*
11*
119*
Ibid*, 11*
88-31*
120*
He comes close to being one In "Presentiments*” The
poem is interesting not only for it® Indication of
Wordsworth*® belief that presentiment® often guide
"when lights of reason fail” but also for it® late
reference to the scale of being, The instinct of the
"Kind” is spoken of as a "special grace*”
121,
"fhe Warning,” line 124*
122*
Ibid,, 11*
125.
11*
124*
Excursion, VI, 177-86*
125,
"Hot in the lucid Intervals of life,”
129-153*
14-16,
11*
20
ff*
54
186*
"The Guokoo at havema,"
11,
49-65,
187 *
M 4 i i 11, 69-70,
128.
Ibid,, 11, 71*73,
129.
The moon Is a monitor in the poem "To the Boon" 11, 13-14j
so too is nature monitorial In "Soft as a Blond" 1* 21.
130.
Prelude, VI, 527,
131*
Ibid., Ill, 193*4.
132.
"Theologians may pussle their heads atoont dogma as they
will, the religion of gratitude cannot mislead us#w To
Sir Oeorg© Beaumont# May 98* 1825* Rioted by Bdlth Batho
in 2Sg hater fordsworth# Cambridge* ,1933# p* 285*
133*
**The Bus® lan Fugitive#11 11* 84-5#
154*
*Th© Ouckoo Clock#tt 1 * 35*
135*
"By a bleat Husband guided#n 11* 21*22*
136*
nThe World Forsaken*" 11* 3*4#
137 *
£M&* * *** XO.^X04#
(1805*6),
(1805*06),
138* *Written after the Death of Charles lamb#rt 11# 111-80#
139* ”030 a High fart of the Coast of Cumberland#n 11* 21-24#
140* "Lines Inscribed in a Copy of His poems,w 11# 5-8*
141*
"The Ouckoo Clock*11 11* 39-44#
142* See also EeciealaaticalSonnets* 11# 19# 13-14$ "The La­
bourer^ SocS-diay 'HS'SP*
r~
143*
Prelude* XXIX# 447-452 (1805-06)*
144*
"prelude*11
145*
See lewfcon P. S tallknecht 11Wordsworth*s *0de to Duty*
and aohone Scele" P.M.Ji.A. V. 52, pp. 230-7.
146.
See Introduction, pp. 1-2.
11*
20-39*
55
A v rn m m
Wieifwortfc uses the word « > m
one hundred and
seventy-seven times (ope hundred and seventy-five occurences
are listed in the O.eaeogdansa* two additional are to fee found
in S8. Jteti&ftl tl808), V, 839) XII, 243),
Seventy-three ref­
erences out of the total one hundred and seventy-seven are
used with defied to religious meaning* It is on these seventy
three that this article has been based* Fer the convenience
of the reader the references used In this article are listed
by pagetOxford edition of Wordsworth'S foetioal Works) as
they are given In the Concordance! pp# 98, 94, 119, 134,
140, 168, 196, 806, 886, (2 references), 289, 847, 866, 869,
270, 874, 866, 288, 323, 338, 560,(8 references), 368, 366,
366,
373,390, 897, 596, 402,(8 references), 414, 416, 423,
427,
450, 438, 443, 443, 446, 450, 464, 466, 468, 458, 469,
488,
479,602, 806, 606, 526, 588, 548, 84®, 576, 586, 086,
677,
784,768, 768, 60S, 808, 817, 88®, 839, 841, 888, 894.
As could toe expected the t e w occurs most fre­
quently in verse written after 1822*
From 2800 to 1807
Wordsworth used the term with definite religious meaning nine
times, from 1807 to 1822, twenty-four times, from 1828 to 1845,
forty times,
5G
BIBLIOGRAPHY
1* Abbey, C, Jf and Gvonton, J, H t>
Kngllsh Church in
®nth Century# 2 vMiT^OTn Tt ong na ni i,
2* Babbitt, Irving, On Being; Creative# Boston and New York.
Houghton MifFlInriOM;---5. Babbitt, Irving, Rousseau and Romantl©Ism, Boston and
Hew York,
4* Batho, Edith
The hater Wordsworth#. Cambridge, Uni­
versity Frees, ISSS7
Beach, J» W*, The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth Centtury E n g T m n ^ S i ^ ^ew^orlc m m n g S T T B t f t r
6*
Beach, J# W., "Reason and Nature In Wordsworth," Journal
of the History of Ideas. v* 1 , No* 3 , June T 5WT”
7. Beatty, Arthur, William Wordsworth*
Madison, i W ;
~
~
His Doctrine and Art.
*-----------—
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