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Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 5: The Excursion; The Recluse (Second Edition)

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VFrom MS. 18 a, the note-book containing MS. D of "The Ruined Cottage" etc. (v. p. 404)

  • Editor’s Notei
  •    There are who tell us that in recent times
  • We have been great discoverers, that by dint
  • Of nice experience we have lately given
  • To education principles as fixed
  • And plain as those of a mechanic trade;
  • Fair books and pure have been composed, that act
  • Upon the infant mind as does the sun
  • Upon a flower. In the corrected scheme
  • Of modern days all error is block'd out
  • So jealously, that wisdom thrives apace,
  • And in our very boyhood we become
  • Familiar friends with cause and consequence.
  • Great feats have been performed, a smooth high-way,
  • So they assert, has lately overbridged
  • The random chaos of futurity,
  • Hence all our steps are firm, and we are made
  • Strong in the power of knowledge. Ample cause
  • Why we, now living in this happy age,
  • Should bless ourselves. For, briefly, 'tis maintained
  • We now have rules and theories so precise
  • That by the inspection of unwearied eyes
  • We can secure infallible results.
  • But if the shepherd to his flock should point
  • The herb which each should feed on, were it not
  • pg 346Service redundant and ridiculous?
  • And they, the tutors of our youth, our guides
  • And Masters, Wardens of our faculties,
  • And stewards of our labour, watchful men
  • And skilful in the usury of time,
  • Sages who in their prescience would coerce
  • All accidents, and tracing in their map
  • The way we ought to tread, would chain us down
  • Like engines, etc. as Prelude (1805), V. 383–8.
  • My playmates! brothers! nurs'd by the same years,
  • And fellow-children of the self-same hills,
  • Though we are moulded now by various fates
  • To various characters, I do not think
  • That there is one of us who cannot tell
  • How manifold the expedients, how intense
  • The unwearied passion with which nature toils
  • To win us to herself, and to impress
  • Our careless hearts with beauty and with love.
  • There was a Boy etc. as Prelude (1805), V. 389 et seq.
  • ii Fragment with heading "Redundance"
  •                            Not the more
  • Failed I to lengthen out my watch. I stood
  • Within the area of the frozen vale,
  • Mine eye subdued and quiet as the ear
  • Of one that listens, for even yet the scene,
  • Its fluctuating hues and surfaces,
  • And the decaying vestiges of forms,
  • Did to the dispossessing power of night
  • Impart a feeble visionary sense
  • Of movement and creation doubly felt

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
p. 345. V. i. There are who tell us, etc. An early draft of the passage first printed in Prelude (1805), v. 370–88.
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