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Sonnet XXII. (page 148).--Composed October, 1803. In 1845 1. 8 runs: “So that a doubt almost," etc.; and in 1827 1. 12 becomes :
“And tremble, seeing whence proceeds the strength "
EDITOR'S NOTES ON THE AUTHOR'S
Note 1. (page 155).— The lines quoted from Chaucer are taken from The Legende of Good Women, 11. 78-82 (Urry's text).
Note Il. (page 156). — The passage quoted in this note is 11. 548-550 of The Floure and the Leafe -a poem now excluded from the canon of Chaucer's Works.
Note III. ( page 156).—Egremont Castle is hard by the ancient town of Egremont, on the banks of the Ehen (or, as Wordsworth spells it, 'End, Eyne, or Enna.' See Author's Note on l. 310 of The Brothers)—the river which flows from Ennerdale
Water into the Irish Sea about eight miles below St. Bees. The castle dates from the twelfth century, and was built by William de Meschines. The Dacre joins the Eamont below Ullswater. John Huddlestone, the famous Roman priest of Restoration times, was of the Hutton John family. The Hall, which belonged in the fourteenth century to the Greystoke barony, passed in Elizabeth's time to the Huddlestones.
Note VI. (page 157).—The line is from Skelton's Bowge of Court, stanza vi. :
“Her takelynge ryche and of hye apparayle."
Note VIII. (page 158).-In ed. 1837, vol. iii., p. 355, Wordsworth has the following note on this passage: " • Danger which they fear, and honour which they
understand not.' Words in Lord Brooke's Life of Sir P. Sidney,"
END OF EDITOR'S NOTES ON VOL. I.
NOTE ON THE WORDSWORTHIAN
Wordsworth’s theory of the Sonnet may be ascertained by comparing the following documents : (1) a letter written in 1833 to the Rev. Alex. Dyce; (2) a letter of about the same date to (Sir) Henry Taylor; (3) a note dated January 26, 1836 in Crabb Robinson's Diary; (4) a letter dated April 20 (1822] to W. S. Landor; (5) the sonnet, 'Nuns fret not” etc. (page 101), with the Fenwick Note thereto; and the following sonnets of the Miscellaneous Series of 1849-50: Dedication; II., i. ; xix. ; xxxvii. (all four published in 1827). For the letters and the entry see Knight's Life of Wordsworth, iïi., pp. 95, 231, 233, 258.
Wordsworth produced no fewer than five hundred and twenty-three sonnets—a striking proof of
his esteem for this form of poetry. His mature and final judgment as to its worth is contained in the sonnets of 1827 referred to above.
Wordsworth had not always prized the Sonnet. Though it was with a sonnet of Shakespearian form that, as a lad of sixteen, he had made his first appearance in print, he was thirty-seven before he gave a sonnet to the world under his own name, and of the fifty-six which he then published only one (“ Calm is all Nature," etc.) was written before his thirty-third year. At one time, indeed, he tells Landor, he used to regard the Sonnet as an “egregiously absurd” form; " though,” he adds, “ the greatest poets since the revival of literature have written in it.” Why was this ?
Wordsworth's earliest attempts at verse fell at a time when the vogue of Rousseau and Sensibility was still supreme (1786-1789). It was the age of puling—the triumph and apotheosis, as it were, of “ querulous egotism ” and “puny pathos." Those were the days when “ The pensive poet ʼmid the wild waste walk'd And ponder'd on the ills life's paths unfold
Full oft his bosom heaves with rending throes,
“Les larmes," writes M. Emile Legouis,' “ étaient alors le signe infaillible de la vertu et la source de volupté préférée. Le sonnet étant l'urne exquise où les poètes aiment à distiller les leurs, on le voit après cent ans d'éclipse reparaître et se multiplier dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle.” Now Wordsworth's earliest verses, like those of all youthful poets, were modelled on the work of his contemporaries; and accordingly, before his seventeenth birthday, he had, as we have said, published in the European Magazine, March, 1787 a Sonnet, signed Aciologus, On Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams weep at a Tale of Distress, in which, after the fashion then prevailing, the luxury of feeling is given free course, while the sonneteer
? La Jeunesse de Wordsworth, p. 157. M. Legouis breaks new ground in his luminous and exhaustive study of the Poems of 1793.