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possessed an independent value as assisting the recollection, and consequently the preservation; of any series of truths or incidents. But I am not convinced by the collation of facts, that the “ Children in the Wood” owes either its preservation, or its popularity, to its metrical form. Mr. Marshal's repository affords a number of tales in prose inferior in pathos and general merit, some of as old a date, and many as widely popular. Tom HICKATHRIFT, JACK THE GIANT-KILLER, Goody Two-SHOES, and LITTLE Red RIDING-HOOD are formidable rivals. And that they have continued in prose, cannot be fairly explained by the assumption, that the comparative meanness of their thoughts and images, precluded even the humblest forms of metre, The scene of Goody Two-shoes in the church is perfectly susceptible of metrical narration; and among the Ocúpata Jaupasótata even of the present age, I do not recollect a more astonishing image than that of the “ whole rookery, that flew oật of the giant's beard” scared by the tremendous voice, with which this monster answered the challenge of the heroic Tom HICKATHRIFT!:
If from these we turn to compositions univer. sally, and independently of all early associations, beloved and admired ; would the MARIA, THE MONK, or The Poor Man's Ass of STERNE, be read with more delight, or have a better chance of immortality, had they without any change in the diction been composed in rhyme, than in their present state? If I am not grossly mistaken, the general reply would be in the negative. Nay, I will confess, that in Mr. Wordsworth's own volumes the ANECDOTE FOR FATHERS, SIMON LEE, ALICE FELL, THE BEGGARS, AND THE SAILOR'S MOTHER, notwithstanding the beauties which are to be found in each of them where the poet interposes the music of his own thoughts, would have been more delightful to me in prose, told and managed, as by Mr. Wordsworth they would have been, in a moral essay, or pedestrian tour.
Metre in itself is simply a stimulant of the attention, and therefore excites the question : Why is the attention to be thus stimulated? Now the question cannot be answered by the pleasure of the metre itself: for this we have shown to be conditional, and dependent on the appropriateness of the thoughts and expressions, to which the metrical form is superadded. Neither can I conceive any other answer that can be rationally given, short of this : I write in metre, because I am about to use a language different from that of prose. Besides, where the language is not such, how interesting soever the reflections are, that are capable of being drawn by a philosophic mind from the thoughts or incidents of the poem, the metre itself must
often become feeble. Take the three last stanzas of the Sailor'S MOTHER, for instance. If I could for a moment abstract from the effect produced on the author's feelings, as a man, by the incident at the time of its real occurrence, I would dare appeal to his own judgement, whether in the metre itself he found a sufficient reason for their being written metrically?
“And thus continuing, she said .
I had a son, who inany a day
The bird and cage, they both were his;
He to a fellow-lodger's care
If disproportioning the emphasis we read these stanzas so as to make the rhymes perceptible, even tri-syllable rhymes could scarcely produce an equal sense of oddity and strange
ness, as we feel here in finding rhymes at all in sentences so exclusively colloquial. I would further ask whether, but for that visionary state, into which the figure of the woman and the susceptibility of his own genius had placed the poet's imagination (a state, which spreads its influence and coloring over all, that co-exists. with the exciting cause, and in which “ The simplest, and the most familiar things
Gain a strange power of spreading awe around* them')
I would ask the poet whether he would not have 'felt an abrupt down-fall in these verses from the preceding stanza ?
“ The ancient spirit is not dead;
Old times, thought I, are breathing there!
It must not be omitted, and is besides worthy of notice, that those stanzas furnish the
* Altered from the description of Night-Mair in the Remorse. « Oh Heaven ! 'twas frightful! Now run-down and stared at,
By hedious shapes that cannot be remembered ;
N.B. Though Shakspeare has for his own all.justifying purposes introduced the Night-Mare with her own foals, get Mair means a Sister or perhaps a Hag.
only fair instance that I have been able to discover in all Mr. Wordsworth's writings, of an actual adoption, or true imitation, of the real and very language of low and rustic life, freed from provincialisms.
Thirdly, I deduce the position from all the causes elsewhere assigned, which render metre the proper form of poetry, and poetry imperfect and defective without metre. Metre therefore having been connected with poetry most often and by a peculiar fitness, whatever else is combined with metre must, though it be not itself essentially poetic, have nevertheless some property in common with poetry, as an intermedium of affinity, a sort (if I may dare borrow a well-known phrase from technical chemistry) of mordaunt between it and the superadded metre. Now poetry, Mr. Wordsworth truly affirms, does always imply PASSION; which word must be here understood in its most general sense, as an excited state of the feelings and faculties. And as every passion has its proper pulse, so will it likewise have its cha-, racteristic modes of expression. But where there exists that degree of genius and talent which entitles a writer to aim at the honors of a poet, the very act of poetic composition itself is, and is allowed to imply and to produce, an unusual state of excitement, which of course justifies and demands a correspondent