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Wordsworth's eye : a study of the nature of vision in Wordsworth's poetry in relation to contemporary… Rudrum, June Rose 1973

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0 i u z e > WORDSWORTH'S EYE: A STUDY O F THE NATURE O F V I S I O N IN WORDSWORTH'S POETRY IN RELATION T O C O N T E M P O R A R Y C O N C E P T S O F V I S I O N by June Rudrum M . A . , O x o n . , 1968 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE O F DOCTOR O F PHILOSOPHY in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A September, 1973 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission fo r extensive copying of t h i s thesis fo r scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s representatives. It i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date Abstract Wordsworth's treatment of the eye is discussed in relation to contemporary concepts, especial ly those of the Neoplatonists, and shown as i l luminating the relation of subject and object in percept ion. His use of philosophic ideas is ec l ec t i c . He had some contact, either from his own reading or through Coler idge, with the main thinkers discussed, Newton, Locke, Berkeley, Hart ley, Plato, Plotinus, Cudworth, Shaftesbury and Thomas Taylor. The development of Wordsworth's attitude to his own eye is recorded in The Prelude, the Immortality O d e , "Tintern A b b e y , " and "Peele C a s t l e . " As a c h i l d , the games he enjoyed incidental ly fostered a close relationship with nature, thus awakening the imaginat ion. Unl ike The Prelude, the Immortality Ode describes the chi ld 's vision as brighter than the adul t 's . It also suggests that the chi ld is conscious of l i fe as mind, whi le the adult loses this insight into the world beyond the senses. The Prelude, which makes no such claims for chi ldhood, also describes experiences of perception as union of perceiver and perceived in a manner reminiscent of Neoplatonism. The Prelude describes how Wordsworth comes later to love nature for its.own beauty. The developing power of his eye guarantees a proper sense of real i ty . However, his growing visual appetite possibly contributed to the mental crisis of early adulthood, one feature of which was a feverish seeking out of visual pleasure. The eye usurps the dominant role in v is ion, while the mind becomes excessively i i i passive. This resembles Neoplatonic discussion of the relation of sense and in te l lec t . This brief crisis taught Wordsworth the val ue of a true relationship between mind and sense. "Tintern A b b e y , " the Immortality Ode and "Peele Cas t le " a l l express a sense of loss in connection with visual exper ience. They record different experiences but a similar pattern: a l l describe a loss of intense perception and a compensatory deeper understanding of human suffering. "The inward eye" and similar phrases are used of the eye which sees what is not physical ly present. This phrase is used by contemporary translations of Plotinus and by Shaftesbury: Wordsworth's inward eye has some relationship with Neoplatonic thought, but the inward eye for him has a firm relationship with the bodi ly eye . Wordsworth's poetry describes an external power working purposively on the mind through the senses. His thought has aff init ies with empiricism. "Wise passiveness" is an enlargement into the moral plane of an observation of Locke 's , whi le his accounts of the education of nature have obvious links with Associat ionism. Yet he understands the external power as forming man's mind intentionally: different versions of The Prelude show this: the description of the power changes, yet it remains purposive. Divine grace operates s imi lar ly. Wordsworth's sense that everything moves through the same spirit resembles the classical anima mundi, and similar suggestions in later writers. His though also parallels Berkeley's in important ways. A study of poems exp l i c i t l y connected with the imagination shows the external power operating through the senses on an independently act ive mind iv which in organizing sense impressions,, transforms them. Wordsworth's imagery of sight and light suggests the mind's act ive powers and the mutuality of percept ion. The artist^ imaginat ion, in te l lec t , al l are expressed through light imagery. The mind is radiant. Thus vision is an interaction of l ights. Neoplatonic writ ings, too, express intel lect as light and see the mind as essentially act ive and true perception as interchange between perceiver and perceived. Wordsworth's ideas of v is ion, inevi tably influenced by empiricism, are closer to Neoplatonism. Yet he drew on both to express similar ideas, for he cared, not for a log ica l ly consistent philosophy, but rather for communicating his understanding of his own exper ience. V C O N T E N T S Page Introduction 1 Chapter One : Wordsworth and the Philosophers Introductory 12 i . The Philosophic Wordsworth and the Cr i t ics * 14 i i . Wordsworth and Coler idge 19 i i i . Newton 25 i v . The British Empiricists 27 v . European Philosophers 32 v i . Platonism and Neoplatonism 34 Notes 39 Chapter Two: The History of the Eye Introductory 43 i . Chi ldhood 44 i i . Beyond the Senses 49 i i i . The Educated Eye 56 i v . The Eye as Despot 63 v . The Sense of Loss 78 v i . Experience Imagined and Realised 84 v i i . The Inward Eye 85 Notes 92 Chapter Three: The Eye and the Ac t i ve Principle in Nature: Wordsworth and British Empiricism Introductory 96 i . Wise Passiveness 98 i i . Locke , Hart ley, and the Education of Nature 103 i i i . The External and Purposive Power 115 i v . Grace 133 v i v . The Anima Mundi 138 v i . Berkeley and the Language of G o d 142 v i i . The Imagination 153 Notes 167 Chapter Four: The Eye and the Ac t i ve M ind : Wordsworth and the Neoplatonists Introductory 171 i . Imagery of Sight and Light 172 i i . Light in Neoplatonic Writings 183 i i i . The Ac t i ve Mind 186 i v . Reciprocity in Perception 194 Notes 217 Conclusion 219 List of Works C i ted 227 v i i Acknowledgements I am grateful to the Pinney family and to the Librarian of the Wi l ls Memorial Library of the University of Bristol for permission to examine the Pinney Papers, and to the Librarian and staff of the English Faculty L ibrary, Ox fo rd , for their hospital i ty, assistance and courtesy. Notes on the Editions Used The main body of work on this thesis was completed before the publication in December, 1972, of The Prose Works of Wi l l iam Wordsworth, edited by W . J . B . Owen and J . W . Smyser, by the Oxford University Press. Therefore a l l references to Wordsworth's prose are to Grosart 's edit ion of 1876. A l l references to The Prelude are to the 1850 version, unless otherwise stated. Abbreviations The fol lowing abbreviations are used: E Y : The Letters of Wi l l iam and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early Years, 1787-1805, ed . Ernest de Sel incourt , rev. Chester L. Shaver (Oxford, 1967). BL: Samuel Taylor Co ler idge, Biographia L i terar ia , ed . J . Shawcross (1907, reprinted Ox fo rd , 1969). C L : Co l lec ted Letters of Samuel Taylor Co le r idge , e d . Earl Lesl ie Gr iggs , 6 v o l s . , (Oxford, 1956-71). Exc: The Excursion v i i i I .F. : Notes dictated by Wordsworth to Isabella Fenwick. L Y : The Letters of Wi l l iam and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Later Years , e d . Ernest de Selincourt (Oxford, 1939). M Y : T h e Letters of Wi l l i am and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Midd le Years , e d . Ernest de Sel incourt, 2 v o l s . , Part I, 1806-11 rev. Mary Moorman, Part II, 1812-20 rev. Mary Moorman and Alan G . Hi l l (Oxford, 1969-1970) PW: The Poetica:l!Works of Wi l l iam Wordsworth, ed . Ernest de Selincourt, 5 vo ls . (Oxford, 1940-49). TWS: Transactions of the Wordsworth Society. 1 . Introduction A vital impulse of early Romantic poetry is to establish a new relationship between the intel lect and the senses. Cer ta in ly in the poetry of Wordsworth, and consequently in the crit icism of that poetry, one central theme is the relation of nature to mind, of object to subject. The following study attempts to contribute to the already lengthy discussion of this matter by concentrating on just one of the senses, namely sight, the sense generally understood as most important and as typical of a l l the senses: it examines Wordsworth's imagery of sight and l ight, his references to the nature of sight, and his attitudes to his own visual exper ience. In order to understand this material properly in the context of contemporary assumptions about sight, it also explores the relevant writings of those philosophers whose works possibly contributed to the formation of Wordsworth's ideas on these subjects. In thus placing Wordsworth's thought more precisely in relation to the history of ideas, it may help towards a clearer understanding of the or ig ina l i ty , as wel l as the meaning, of his poetry. Sight is of particular importance to Wordsworth's poetry. The mind of man was the main region of his song, as he claimed in the Prospectus to The Excursion , and for h im, sense experience and especial ly visual exper ience, was an essential part of intel lectual act iv i ty and growth, as is apparent from the early books of The Prelude. His attitude to the eye is ambiguous, and this ambiguity is evident both in his attitude to his own visual experiences, as I shall show at length in 2 . chapter II, and in the epistemological assumptions underlying his work: the act iv i ty of object and subject in vision are discussed in chapters III and IV respect ively. Wordsworth's own eye was to him a source of delight and intel lectual growth throughout his l i f e , and yet it was also potential ly a barrier to delight and intel lectual growth by its tendency to become the medium of an obsessive sensuous pleasure, enslaving the mind. The Prelude (Books XII and XIII ) records a period of impaired imagination and taste When the bodi ly eye , in every stage of l i fe The most despotic of our senses, gained Such strength in me as often held my mind In absolute dominion. (XII, 127-31) This mental suffering was the result of the mind's excessive passivity in the act of percept ion. For Wordsworth, the poetic act of perception is essentially a matter of reciprocal action between subject and object , between man and nature, and thus for him moments of vi tal understanding came with those "spots of t ime" which enable him to understand to what point, and how, The mind is lord and master—outward sense The obedient servant of her w i l l . (Prelude XI I , 221-23) Wordsworth's bel ief in the reciprocal nature of the act of perception is also apparent in his imagery of sight and l ight, which is of vi tal importance to much of his best work; it is clear from the nature of the imagery that the eye is seen both as shedding and as receiving l ight . This assertion is supported, and its implications studied, in chapter IV. 3. Wordsworth's attitude to vision was pecul iar ly his own. Yet v is ion , and indeed the senses in genera l , were a matter of equal importance to his great contemporaries^ Wordsworth suggests in the figure of the Wanderer the feverish interest with which as a youth he himself "scanned the laws of l i gh t , " while for Co ler idge, too, as John Beer shows,^ light was the most interesting scient i f ic phenomenon. Coler idge shared, and indeed perhaps reinforced, Wordsworth's sense of the despotism of the eye , as I w i l l show in chapter II, while for B lake, the eye , l ike a l l the senses, fettered the imagination and restricted intel lectual ac t i v i t y . In this, the poets were the (rather forward) children of their generation, and thus grandchildren of an earl ier generation. Ever since the publication of Newton's Opt icks in 1704, the eye had been a matter of intense interest, while Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding (1690) had of course made a l l later thinkers very much aware of the role of the senses in knowledge, through his stress on empirical as opposed to innate knowledge. Locke:'s./v.iews were popularized by The Spectator, and especial ly by Addison's essays on "The Pleasures of the Imaginat ion," which emphasized the importance of the reception of ideas through sight. Throughout the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a l l philosophers treated sight as first among the senses, as typical of them a l l , and as paral lel to the in te l lec t . For Locke , "the perception of the mind" is "most aptly 2 explained by words relating to the s ight . " Ernest Tuveson writes that fbr Locke "only sight Jamongst the sensesl is signif icant for the understanding facul ty , for 3 thought is see ing . " Hartley wrote that " in a l l Cases of Magni tude, Distance, 4 . Mo t ion , Figure, and Posit ion, the visible idea is so much more v iv id and ready than the tangible one, as to prevail over i t , notwithstanding that our Information 4 from Feeling is more precise than that from Sight, and the test of its Truth." The great popular interest in optics partly accounted for the success of Berkeley's Essay Towards a New Theory of V i s i on . Marjorie Hope Nicolson stresses the importance of sight in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, writ ing that "Sight , to Locke , as to Descartes, was 'the most comprehensive of a l l our senses, conveying to our minds the ideas of light and colours, which are peculiar only to that sense, . . . . . " To Berkeley, sight was ;the most noble, pleasant, and comprehensive of a l l the senses.' To Addison it was the one essential sense on which imagination rests . . . . Philosophers, scientists, laymen, al l showed great interest in the problem of a 'man born b l ind ' which Wi l l iam Molyneux raised, and 5 which became a commonplace of the generat ion." These writers had a strong in f luence, both negative and positive^ on Wordsworth's poetry, as several writers have tried to show. A study of the precise nature of their ideas on sight, which are very important in themselves, is l i ke ly to i l luminate the assumptions and arguments about v is ion, and the act of perception in general , in Wordsworth's works. The theories of vision under discussion naturally epitomize the entire view of man in relation to the universe. A study of the empiricist attitudes to the eye brings into clear focus the concept of mind which was commonly accepted by Wordsworth's contemporaries. The inf luence of these writers on the discussion 5 . of such matters was enormously important and indeed their works are sti l l the basis of much twentieth century epistemological discussion: "Since the time of Locke and Berkeley philosophical discussion of perception, of 'our knowledge of the external wor ld , ' has been unceasing. It has been prosecuted with enormous industry and ingenuity, but also with a certain lack of or ig inal i ty—a lack which is itself a striking tribute to the power of our seventeenth- and eighteenth-century predecessors. Their terminology has been abandoned . . . but the questions they asked have continued to be asked and even their answers (with more or less modification) adopted . "^ The empiricist world picture was the established world picture in Wordsworth's l i fet ime: to the ordinary man it was a matter of assumption rather than of discussion. Current beliefs about the eye of man assumed that it looked on objects which had form but no intrinsic colour, as this was a secondary qual i ty , not inherent in the object i tself , but merely the reaction of the eye to reflected l ight. The eye received images passively, according to these doctrines, and al l human knowledge and ideas were based on the experience of the external world imprinted on the mind through its agency and that of the other senses. The mind and the universe were thus radical ly d iv ided. This concept of the mind and the universe was obviously not accepted without question even in the eighteenth century. Le ibn iz was an early cr i t ic of empiricist concepts. G i a n Orsin i notes that "to the empiricist maxim that 'there is nothing in the mind that does not come through the senses,' he aff ixed in 1765 the clause 'with the exception of the mind i tse l f . . . a clause which Coler idge was fond of 6. repeating, and which was ful ly developed and worked out in Kant's Cri t ique of Pure Reason. "^ Berkeley, of course, reacted strongly to Locke's concept of the material universe, as Warhock shows: "the idea that we inhabit a blankly unth ink ing, ' inert' and 'stupid' universe, and hence that facts are in the end to be merely accepted; that there comes a point at which explanations can no longer be given because it no longer even makes sense to ask for explanations—this idea he not only detested, but genuinely found incomprehensible, 'repugnant' (as he said) in more senses than one" (pp. 120-21). There was a strong reaction to the commonly accepted world picture in France too, which was expressed by Diderot, in the Reve d'Alembert and De I'Interpretation de la Nature, and was furthered by the extreme g materialism of Holbach's Systeme de la Nature with its pantheistic impl icat ions. The great eighteenth century partisan of the mind as opposed to the senses was of course Kant who "presented a view of the human mind in knowledge which was radical ly different from those of his predecessors; and in general this radical difference consists in his regarding the mind, not as essentially passive in the face of a world communicating itself to mind, but as essentially act ive in exercising certain powers, wh ich , he he ld , are a necessary condition of knowledge, and of 9 knowledge of a world of ob jects . " These writers, and Kant's successors, Schel l ing and F ichte, were of great importance to the development of theories of mind, but their influence had not made itself felt in England while Wordsworth's mind was developing; thus this thesis, which is concerned with the possibly inf luential contemporary cl imate of opinion discusses their influence only minimal ly . 7. Another way in which the reaction to empiricism manifested itself, and one which I bel ieve was more important to Wordsworth's development, was in the growing interest in intel lectual circles in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, in Platonic and Neoplatonic ideas of the mind and the universe, an interest, paral leled in the Neoclassicism of the visual arts in the per iod. This aspect of the reaction to empiricism is probably the most important for the development of the early Romantic poets, and I bel ieve that an understanding of Neoplatonism is of especial importance to the understanding of Wordsworth's ideas of perception. Here aga in , a study of the eye is part icularly relevant. There are remarkable and suggestive similarit ies between certain aspects of Wordsworth's ideas of these matters and those of the Neoplatonists, and these'isimilarities are most striking in the treatment of sight and l ight . Sight was of especial importance to the Neoplatonists because of their doctrines concerning l ight, which they understood as in te l lec t , both in symbol and in fact . Thomas Taylor, who devoted his l i fe to the translation and interpretation of the Neoplatonic writers, bel ieved that "sight corresponds to in te l l igence, and this is the same with that which is both inte l l ig ib le and in te l lec tua l " and that " l ight . . . is nothing more than the sincere energy of an intel lect perfectly pure, i l luminating in its proper habitation the middle region of the heavens: and from this exalted situation scattering its l ight , it f i l ls a l l the celestial orbs with powerful vigour, and il luminates the universe with divine and incorruptible l ight . Nevertheless, despite a l l this questioning of empiricism it was sti l l the 8. generally accepted viewpoint in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and was powerful enough to goad the great early Romantic poets, B lake, Wordsworth and Co le r idge , to strong reaction against i t , in various ways and intensit ies. Indeed, this reaction is one of the sources of the poetic inspiration of a l l three writers. They are a l l poets of the mind. The subject of their poetry is not, of course, as if was for the philosophers, the nature of the ordinary, inevitable act of percept ion, but the nature of the act of perception for the extraordinary man, the artist or prophet or for the ordinary man in moments of artistic or prophetic insight. They dist inguish, each in his own way, between the world as seen by the indifferent and the world as seen by the artist. Wordsworth knows that there are men who, l ike Peter B e l l , see primroses as yel low primroses and nothing more, who see "the heavens/ A blue vault merely and a glittering c loud . ^ Blake knows that for some the sun is merely a "round disk of fire somewhat l ike a guinea" though to the imagination it is "an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying 'Ho l y , ho ly , holy is the Lord God Almighty ' " (Vision of the Last Judgment, 95). Coler idge knows that there is a "co ld world a l l o w e d / To the poor loveless everanxious crowd" as wel l as a world i l luminated with joy ( "De jec t ion , " 51-52) . For a l l three poets an important object was to communicate the reali ty and the value of the world of imagination and joy that comes through the reciprocal action of subject and object in heightened perception. Their poetry is a rejection of the passive mind and a celebration of the act ive mind, and the imaginat ion. 9. Both Coler idge and Blake identif ied their rejection of the concept of the mind as passive with a rejection of empiricism. Their rejection went to the lengths of disparagement of Newton (whom they saw somewhat unjustly as the epitome of empiricism) which shows some intel lectual bravado as Newton was then the great embodiment of in te l lec t , learning and sc ience. Coler idge wrote to Thomas Poole on 23 M a r c h , 1801, (blaming Newton himself for the influence which his work had had on the thinking of others) "Newton was a mere materialist— Mind in his system is always passive—a lazy Looker-on on an external Wor ld . If the mind be not passive, i f it be indeed made in God 's Image, & that too in the sublimest sense—the image of the Creator—there is ground for suspicion, that any 12 system built on the passiveness of the mind must be fa lse, as a system." Bacon, Newton, and Locke epitomized empiricism to B lake, and he saw them as denying "a conscience in man, and the communion of saints and a n g e l s , / Contemning the Divine Vision and frui t ion, worshipping the deus/ O f the heathen, the god of this wor ld , and the goddess Nature" (Jerusalem, plate 93). Wordsworth is equal ly concerned to express the mind as essentially ac t i ve . Yet his reaction to empiricism is less apparent and more complex. The assumptions underlying Wordsworth's poetry, the ideas which he uses as a means of organizing his experience and insights shows both a partial acceptance and dependence on British empiristl theories of the mind and an ultimate rejection of the mental universe which it puts forward. An examination of Wordsworth's language and ideas about the eye and the 10. act of vision makes his position in the Romantic rejection of empiricism more c lear . A study of the main relevant empiricist writings is necessary for a proper understanding both of what he assimilated and what he rejected. And in a study of the relevant and avai lable Neoplatonic writers I have found parallels to Wordsworth's own thought which suggest that, as with Blake and Co ler idge, this was one of the sources of Wordsworth's alternative to empiricism. The eventual aim of this thesis is cr i t ical and thus some parts of it are purely concerned with the poetry. It is not its purpose merely to link Wordsworth with the development of theories of v is ion , but to establish what he thought and felt about sight, and to show how these thoughts and feelings affected his poetry. 11. Notes John Beer, Coler idge the Visionary (London, 1959), p .52. 2 John Locke , An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, e d . Alexander Campbell Fraser (New York , 1959), Book II, x x i x , 2: I, 486-87. 3 Ernest Lee Tuveson, The Imagination as a Means of Grace (Berkeley, 1960), p. 21 . 4 David Hart ley, Observations on Man . . . (1749) facsimile reproduction with an introduction by Theordore L. Huguelet (Ga inesv i l le , F lor ida, 1966), I, 204. 5 Marjorie Hope N ico l son , Newton Demands the Muse (Princeton, 1946), pp .82 -83 . ^Geoffrey J . Warnock, Berkeley (Peregrine Books e d . , Harmondsworth, Middlesex^ 1969), p .225. ^ G i a n N . G . O r s i n i , Coler idge and German Romanticism: A Study in the History of Philosophy (Carbondale, III., 1969), p .64 . 8 H . W . Piper, The Act ive Universe (London, 1962), pp. 16-28. 9 D . G . James, Scepticism and Poetry: An Essay on the Poeticclmagination (1937, 2nd e d . , New York , 1960), pp. 18-19. ^ T h e Craty lus, Phaedo, Parmenides and Timaeus of Plato, trans. Thomas Taylor (London, 1793), notes on the Craty lus, pp. 26 and 29. 11 The Prelude, ed . Ernest de Selincourt: 2nd ed . rev. Helen Darbishire (Oxford, 1959), p. 575 : M S . Y . 141 . 12 The Co l lec ted Letters of Samuel Taylor Coler idge , ed . Earl Lesl ie Griggs (Oxford, 1956-71), II, 709. 12. Chapter One : Wordsworth and the Philosophers Introductory Wordsworth's poetry deals with the whole human intellectual experience of seeing and feeling and thinking; he is an independent and powerful thinker. Yet his work is not concerned with philosophical argument, or with the expression of one philosophic viewpoint. However, because of Wordsworth's concern with the process of mental growth, of the transformation of experience into intellect, he necessarily employs those concepts which philosophers treat in their epistemological writings. At times he consciously uses the concepts of one particular philosophy to communicate his own understanding, as he did with the Platonic notion of pre-existence in the Immortality Ode. At other times, philosophical concepts are less explicitly used, but are implied in image, vocabulary, or the very choice of subject. At these times, it is difficult to know the status of these ideas, that is, to know whether Wordsworth is using them as a convenient vehicle for the expression of his own particular meaning through an accepted pattern of ideas, or whether he is writing of his own beliefs. In any case, it is necessary first of all to discover the nature of these ideas. This thesis, therefore, will attempt to describe Wordsworth's ideas of the senses and especially of vision, in terms of those concepts which were certainly available to him, and to establish an appropriate vocabulary for the discussion of 13. those ideas in relation to his poetry. However, it is not intended as an attempt to establish a close relationship between his poetry and any one philosopher or school of philosophy, and it is in no sense a source study. Indeed, I bel ieve it is seriously misleading to say for instance that the key to the Immortality Ode lies in 1 . 2 Proclus, or to see The Prelude as an elaboration of Hart ley. Wordsworth's use of ideas is l ike ly to be ec lec t ic and synthetic, for he did not write philosophical treatises pursuing one idea through each logical stage, but poems uniquely combining i dea , sensation, and emotion. The most serious implication of his best poetry surely is that vital experience involves the whole person and not the intel lect in isolat ion. In The Prelude, when Wordsworth contrasts his early l i fe with that of Co ler idge, he writes with pity for his friend who has had to piece together his images of greatness from ideas and books because his young mind was: Debarred from Nature's l iv ing images, Compel led to be a l i fe unto herself, And unrelentingly possessed by thirst O f greatness, love , and beauty. (Prelude V I , 302-05) The same stress on personal experience is felt throughout Wordsworth's work; one may compare for instance "Expostulation and Rep ly , " and "The Tables Turned. " Mental energy should be directed towards the shaping of personal exper ience, rather than the mere assimilation of other people's concepts and arguments. Obviously Wordsworth recognized that the mind and mental act iv i ty were v i ta l ly important, and if he was not concerned with philosophical argument as such, he was certainly interested in ideas. In later chapters I shall attempt to 14. show how some of his ideas relate to contemporary or avai lable ideas; in the present chapter, which merely forms a base for this later discussion, I discuss the kind of contact and the extent of the contact which Wordsworth had with those works which contain the most important discussion of the nature of the eye and of v is ion. As far as it is possible to establish Wordsworth's actual contact with these works, this can be done by consulting the fol lowing documents: Wordsworth's works and correspondence; the catalogue of the sale of Wordsworth's Rydal Mount l ibrary, published in Transactions of the Wordsworth Society 6 (1884); the catalogue of the contents of two bookcases, which were at Racedown Lodge, Dorset in 1795-97, whi le Wordsworth l ived there, now among the Pinney Papers in the Bristol University Library; records of those books which were recommended for study at 3 Hawkshead school and Cambridge at the relevant time; Coler idge's works, correspondence and notebooks for the evidence they give of his own particular interests during the years of act ive friendship between Wordsworth and Coler idge; the correspondence and reminiscences of Wordsworth's other friends and acquaintances. This chapter col lects a l l the external evidence of Wordsworth's contacts with the relevant and inf luential works of philosophy. i . The Philosophic Wordsworth and the Cri t ics Such a catalogue of external evidence is important because Wordsworth's attitude to philosophy has been much debated and because much crit icism suffers from false assumptions about this. Therefore it is necessary to establish brief ly the 15. extent and nature of Wordsworth's interest in ideas and indicate briefly the assumptions about Wordsworth and the philosophers on which this thesis is based. It has been said that "Wordsworth was not a philosopher, either by incl inat ion or natural ab i l i ty ; and we can al low for confusion in whatever of philosophical theories he undertook to present" (James, p. 141). This modern view has the authoritative backing of Matthew Arno ld , who wrote of Wordsworth that "his poetry is the real i ty , his philosophy,—so far, at least, as it may put on the form and habit of 'a scient i f ic system of thought, ' and the more it puts them on ,—is the 4 i l l us ion . . . . we cannot do him justice until we dismiss his formal phi losophy." Arnold's argument was directed against that "ardent Wordsworthian" Lesl ie Stephen, who wrote of Wordsworth as "a true phi losopher," saying that "his poetry wears w e l l , because it has solid substance. He is a poet and a moralist, as wel l as a mere singer. His ethical system, in part icular, is as dist inctive and capable of 5 systematic exposition as that of But ler . " Several scholars have followed Stephen's lead and have claimed Wordsworth for various schobls. They might, indeed, have cited in support of their assumption, that Wordsworth was a ph i lo -sophical poet, the words of the first and best Wordsworthian. "What M r . Wordsworth wi l l produce it is not for me to prophesy," wrote Co le r idge , "but I could pronounce with the l ivel iest convictions what he is capable of producing. It is the FIRST G E N U I N E PHILOSOPHIC P O E M . " 6 Yet these apparently quite different ways of viewing Wordsworth are divided only by the excessive dogmatism of their fol lowers. Wordsworth makes no attempt 16. in his poetry to present an abstract and systematic philosophic argument. Nor do his prose works suggest much concern with philosophic problems although they show a l i ve ly interest in pol i t ics , education and poetic theory. His correspondence, too, discloses l i t t le concern with philosophy, although occasional ly he writes with passion about pol i t ics or rel ig ion; of course, only part of his correspondence survives. What evidence we have of his tastes in reading also seems negative or inconclusive. Throughout his l i fe he seems to have preferred poetry and ancient history to volumes of philosophy, and Hoxie Nea le FairchiId argues that Wordsworth must therefore have "derived his most characteristic philosophical and religious ideas largely, though not of course ent i re ly, from poet ry . "^ He undoubtedly did prefer imaginative works to philosophy, as the fifth book of The Prelude shows; he refers there to "the ape Philosophy" (525-26). In later l i f e , he cared mainly for religious works: in 1824, he speaks of himself as having " l i t t le relish for any other" though he says later "but a l l great poets are . . . powerful Religionists, and therefore among many literary pleasures lost, I have not yet to lament over that of verse as departed." Yet this same letter also indicates the way in which he was interested in ideas for he writes that "even in poetry it is the imaginative on l y , v i z . , that which is conversant (with), or turns upon in f in i ty , that powerfully affects me . . . I mean to say that, unless in those passages where a l l things are lost in each other, and limits vanish, and aspirations are raised, I read with something too much l ike g ind i f ference." Now Wordsworth's own poetry is certainly rich in that which 17. "turns upon in f in i ty" and as such necessarily involves the questions which have concerned serious philosophers as well as theologians of al l ages and cultures: the relationship of G o d , man and the natural universe; the nature of the senses and the mind which they inform. In this sense, Coler idge's assertion cannot be doubted: Wordsworth's poetry does show that he was capable of writ ing a great 9 philosophic poem. Wordsworth's independent, observant, and very persistent interest in ideas, and especial ly those concerned with mental processes, is shown, for example, by his treatment of the formation of deep impressions. "There was a boy" shows how natural beauty impresses Itself on a mind which was at first quite unconscious of it: he comments further on the process demonstrated in this poem in his 1815 Preface: "Gu ided by one of my own primary consciousnesses, I have represented a commutation and transfer of internal feel ings, cooperating with external accidents to plant, for immortality, images of sound and sight, in the celestial soil of the Imagination. The Boy, there introduced, is l is tening, with something of a feverish and restless anx iety , for the recurrence of the riotous soundsvwhich he had previously exc i ted , and , at the moment when the intenseness of his mind is beginning to remit, he is surprised into a perception of the solemn and tranqui l l iz ing images which the poem describes" (Prelude, p.547). Wordsworth discussed the same process with de Quincey in relation to these lines: "I have remarked, from my earliest days, that, i f under any circumstances the attention is energet ical ly braced up to an act of steady observation orff of steady expectat ion, then, i f this intense 18. condition of v ig i lance should suddenly re lax , at that moment any beaut i fu l , any impressive visual object , or col lect ion of objects upon the eye, is carried to the heart with a power unknown under other c i r cums tances . " ^ This process is Wordsworth's original discovery, observed in action in his own mind, worked out carefu l ly , and described exact ly . Such discoveries are the result of a keen concern with the nature of the mind's ac t iv i t y . Other mental processes are shown in other poems: in "Peter Be l l " the arousing and thus regenerative effect of sense impressions on a blunted sensibi l i ty; in " M i c h a e l " (21-23) the growth of love for mankind through tales such as that which the poem te l ls . But it is misleading to list separate poems, for the whole of Wordsworth's work shows this powerful interest in the nature and development of the mind. As an educated man, and one with such strong interests in this a rea , it is certain that he wi l l have been aware of a l l the concepts discussed in this thesis, even if he had not himself read al l the works in which they are discussed, just as an educated person today is aware of the principal concepts of the existentialists and l inguistic analysts even though he may not have read a word of Sartre or Aye r . A man indifferent to the systematic argument and narrow appl icat ion of most philosophical works, and yet with a vital interest in ideas, is unl ikely to have checked his own concepts against those of others and adopted them consciously into a system; he would rather have seized on and used in his own work those parts of other men's systems which were sympathetic and relevant to h im. His poetry shows that this was indeed Wordsworth's usual procedure in dealing with other people's ideas. O f a l l the scholars who have 19. discussed Wordsworth's approach to philosophy, Me lv in Rader seems to express most accurately the poet's peculiar mentality: "as I interpret Wordsworth, he was a bold and romantic thinker, gathering ideas from many sources and adapting them freely to his own purposes. His direct experience of l i fe was by far the most important source of his ideas; next to this was the l iv ing presence of Coler idge; f inal ly there was the inf luence of books, and among these he roamed far and w i d e . " 1 1 i i . Wordsworth and Coler idge In discussing the extent of Wordsworth's contact with the philosophers, I shall often use as evidence of a k i nd , i f not the clearest k i nd , Coler idge's known interest in certain philosophers during the time of his act ive friendship with Wordsworth, 1796-1810. The quotation above suggests my reasons, and yet this kind of evidence has been used rather rashly by some writers as indicat ing Wordsworth's undeniable and intimate acquaintance with various works of philosophy. So I should state my view of Coler idge's influence on Wordsworth, and the problem of how much knowledge of current philosophical ideas Wordsworth is l i ke ly to have absorbed from conversation with Coler idge. We know that during the fourteen years of close friendship the two poets inf luenced each other deeply. Wordsworth's extreme anxiety to have Coler idge's notes for "The Recluse" shows clear ly his bel ief in the importance of Coler idge's ideas for his own work. On 6 M a r c h , 1804, he wrote: "I am very anxious to have 20. your notes for the Recluse. I cannot say how much importance I attach to this, i f it should please G o d that I survive you, I should reproach myself forever in . 1 2 writ ing the work if I had neglected to procure this h e l p . " Later, hearing that Coler idge had been seriously i l l , he wrote: " . . . I cannot say what a load it would be to me, should I survive you and you die without this memorial left behind. Do for heaven's sake, put this out of the reach of accident immediately" (EY, p.464: 29 March , 1804). Two years later, he wrote to Sir George Beaumont, "Within this last month I have returned to the Recluse, and have written 700 addit ional l ines. Should Coler idge return, so that I might have some conversation 13 with him on the subject, I should go on swimmingly." The importance of Coler idge's ideas to Wordsworth in this case must surely have been paral leled by the influence of his ideas on the poems written for their joint production, theLy r i ca l Bal lads, and in the poem addressed to Co le r idge , The Prelude, though for reasons of space it is impossible to discuss in detail Coler idge's influence on Wordsworth's poetry here. It seems l i ke ly that the reason why he found Coler idge's ideas so important is that Coler idge was not only a great but a trained and informed thinker— he was famil iar with the coin of philosophic thought. This view of their intel lectual relationship surely suggests that Wordsworth and Coler idge did discuss philosophical ideas, and that Wordsworth found Coler idge's intimate knowledge of philosophical writings useful to himself. Another reason for supposing that Wordsworth could have acquired information about relevant philosophical works from Coler idge is that both were interested in 21 . the same ideas during the early years of their friendship; Coler idge is l i ke ly to have contributed to their conversation his knowledge of the philosophical treatments of these ideas. It is obvious that the two poets were drawn together in 1796, because, whi le their beliefs were not iden t i ca l , their deepest interests were shared. They both cared profoundly for the "one l i fe " in man and nature. In 1796, in "The Aeol ian Harp" Coler idge wrote: O ! the one Li fe within us and abroad, Which meets a l l motion and becomes its soul , A light in sound, a sound-l ike power in l ight , Rhythm in a l l thought, and joyance everywhere— Methinks it should have been impossible Not to love a l l things in a world so f i l l ' d , q (26-31) whi le a year later, Wordsworth was to write: Wonder not If such his transports were; for in a l l things He saw one l i fe and felt that it was joy. ' 4 A connected matter is the relationship of the mind and the external wor ld, another question of the deepest concern to both poets. In "De jec t ion" Coler idge wrote; O Lady, we perceive but what we g ive , And in our l i fe alone doth Nature l ive : Ours is her wedding garment, Ours her shroud! Although Wordsworth came to different conclusions, his preoccupation, the preoccupation of most of his best work, is the same, and so is his relating of joy to these matters; 22. Paradise, and groves Elys ian, Fortunate F ie lds—l ike those of old Sought in the At lant ic Main—why should they be A history only of departed things, O r a mere f ict ion of what never was? For the discerning intel lect of M a n , When wedded to this goodly universe In love and holy passion, shall find these A simple produce of the common day. — I, long before the blissful hour arrives Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse O f this great consummation:- and , by words Which speak of nothing more than what we are, Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep O f Death, and win the vacant and the vain To noble raptures; whi le my voice proclaims Now exquisitely the individual Mind (And the progressive powers perhaps no less O f the whole species) to the external World Is f i t ted:- and how exquis i te ly, too— Theme this but l i t t le heard of among men— The external World is fitted to the M i n d ; And the creation (by no lower name Can it be called) which they with blended might Accompl ish . (Prospectus to The Excursion, 47-71) In the course of this thesis the differences and similarit ies in their views of such matters should become evident. Their views on lesser matters were sometimes ident ica l : Crabb Robinson reports of Coler idge's lectures on education in 1808 that he disparaged the " improving" kind of chi ldren's books as teaching "not virtue but vani ty" and said "I inf in i te ly prefer the l i t t le books of The Seven Champions of Jack 15 the G i a n t - K i l l e r , e t c . , e t c . , for at least they make the chi ld forget himsel f . " Wordsworth expressed ident ical views in The Prelude, Book V . Such deep common interests, resulting occasional ly in identity of opin ion, make it at least extremely probable that what one read the other would soon hear of; especial ly when, as in 23. the case of the works to be discussed, the subject matter touched on topics of the greatest importance to both. There is , in any case, clear evidence that the poets did discuss philosophical works. Conversations about Sp inoza, for instance, are recorded in Biographia Literaria X , (I, 126-27), no doubt with a l i t t le garnish, when Coler idge is writing about the government agent who spied on them, when because of their sympathies with the French Revolution and acquaintance with radicals l ike John The lwa l l , the two poets were suspected of sedit ion: "At first he fancied we were aware of our danger; for he often heard me talk of one Spy N o z y , which he was incl ined to interpret of himself, and of a remarkable feature belonging to him, but he was speedily convinced that it was the name of a man who had made a book and who l ived long ago. Our talk ran most upon books and we were perpetually desiring each other to look at this and to listen to that . " It seems that they also discussed the British empiricists, Hobbes, Locke and Hume, and that Coler idge valued Wordsworth's judgment of such writers, for he wrote of them to Thomas Poole on 16 M a r c h , 1801, "I am confident, that I can prove that the Reputation of these three men has been wholly unmerited, & I have in what I have already written traced the whole history of the causes that effected this reputation entirely to Wordsworth's satisfaction" (CL II, 707). The two friends were naturally informed of each other's intel lectual history. Writ ing in September 1817 of his independent arrival at conclusions similar to Schel l ing 's , he says: "As Wordsworth, Southey, and indeed al l of my intel l igent friends can attest, I had formed it during the study of 24. Plato, and the Scholars of Ammonius, and in later times of Scotus (Joan. Erigena), Giordano Bruno, Behmen and the much calumniated Spinoza . . . " (CL IV, 775: To C . A . Tulk) . Indeed, Coler idge was so communicative about his philosophical interests to the Wordsworths that he was prepared to joke with Dorothy about Fichte i (CL II, 673 : 9 February, 1801). It seems quite certain that Coler idge did discuss his philosphical interests with Wordsworth; that because of their great sympathy in their most serious interests each w i l l have wanted to communicate to the other anything which related to these interests; that these interests included the problems of the senses discussed here; and also that either poet much admired and was much influenced by the other, and that Wordsworth would therefore have been prepared to accept ideas and information from Coler idge in the years of their closest friendship, which of course correspond with the period in which he produced most of his best work. Newton P. Stallknecht writes with some truth that Knowing what we do of Coler idge's habits of torrential conversation and of the many hours of conversation that Wordsworth and Coler idge shared when they were almost constantly together in 1797 and 1798, I do not think it i l legit imate to suppose that Wordsworth gained what we might ca l l an intensive survey of the thought of Coler idge's philosophical heroes. These included Plato and the Neoplatonists, Bruno,Spinoza, Boehme; of course Hartley and Berkeley, after whom Coler idge named his boys; and George Fox and Wi l l i am Law; and in later conversations, the Germans, Kant, Sch i l le r , Sche l l i ng , and Fichte must have appeared. 25. There is no reason to suppose that Wordsworth had retained or further developed an acquaintance with each of these writers; but when we find doctrines or phrases appearing in Wordsworth's work which closely resemble those belonging to any one of the above-mentioned philosophers we have no reason to reject the possibil ity of such an influence on the grounds that external evidence is lacking to show that Wordsworth was in any way acquainted with the author in question. For these reasons I have been prepared to evince Coler idge's knowledge of certain philosophic works as evidence of Wordsworth's contact with these works, though, of course, l ike most of the other evidence it only shows possible or probable contact. i i i . Newton In writing of the external evidence of Wordsworth's famil iarity with the works and ideas of the most important philosophers who have treated the nature of the senses and sense-objects, I shall consider first the British Empiricists, then modern European philosophers, and f inal ly Plato, and the Neoplatonists. But before discussing the British Empiricists, it is necessary to discuss Newton, whose Opt icks was the most inf luential work in forming eighteenth century ideas of the eyes and the senses. It is wrong to identify Newton with the British Empiricists, for in fact they tended to seize upon those parts of his work which supported their 26. concepts, and thus acquire his authority for their ideas, although the actual 17 implications of his work are often rather different. Yet as his discoveries did so influence their thought it is natural to consider him with them. Wordsworth evidently had a deep respect for Newton, and moreover his imagination was stirred by thoughts of Newton's intel lectual adventures, as his account of his Cambridge days records: And from my p i l low, looking forth by light O f moon or favouring stars, I could behold The antechapel where the statue stood O f Newton with his prism and silent face, The marble index of a mind for ever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, a lone. (Prelude III, 58-63) It is l i ke ly that Wordsworth read the Opt icks as an undergraduate at Cambridge. It was one of the works assigned by St. John's Col lege when he was an under-graduate there in 1789, although as he had decided not to read for a place in 1 g the tripos, there is no certain evidence that he did read the work then. As for the Pr inc ip ia , B .R. Schneider says (p.168), quoting The Prelude, VI (1805), 144-46, " in his excursions into geometry Wordsworth used to ponder 'Upon the a l l iance of these simple, pure Proportions and relations with the frame And laws of Natu re . ' When a graduate of eighteenth-century Cambridge speaks of an a l l iance between natural law and geometry we are bound to assume that he refers to the famous a l l iance between these two subjects which is Newton's P r i nc ip ia . " Another way in which he could have become familiar with Newton's ideas, in an eighteenth-century version, is through Mart in 's Introduction to the Newtonian Philosophy, which was among the books at Racedown when Wordsworth l ived there, 27. from 1795-1797. But almost certainly by this period his Cambridge education wi l l have ensured ah adequate knowledge of Newton's work. i v . The British Empiricists Locke's work, too, w i l l certainly have been famil iar to Wordsworth. He was the most generally popular and inf luential philosopher of the eighteenth century, and no educated person could have avoided some acquaintance with his works. As Schneider shows (p. 110), his influence was part icularly strongly felt at Cambridge, and even as a non-reading man, Wordsworth would have been required to show knowledge of the Essay concerning Human Understanding at the Senate House examinations. Schneider concludes that "certainly at Cambridge, where Locke was the starting point of so much that was thought and said, Wordsworth could not have escaped its [the Essay's] inf luence" (p. 111). Wordsworth is recorded as having said that "the best of Locke's work, as it seems to me, is that in which he attempts the least—his Conduct of the Understanding," which makes it fair ly certain that he had read this work and some others. He also comments on Locke's in f luence, saying that the success of his work "was not due to its own merits, which are considerable; but to external circumstances. It came forth at a happy opportunity and coincided with the prevalent opinions of 20 the t ime . " Coler idge seems to assume not only that Wordsworth knew Locke's work but that he shared his own low opinion of it: in a letter explaining his disappointment with The Excursion he writes, "I supposed you first to have meditated the facult ies of Man in the abstract, in their correspondence with his 28. Sphere of action . . . to have laid a solid and immoveable foundation for the edif ice by removing the sandy Sophisms of Locke , and the Mechanic Dogmatists, and demonstrating that the Senses were l iv ing growths and developments of the Mind & Spirit in a much juster as wel l as higher sense, than the mind can be said to be formed by the Senses" (CL IV, 574: 30 M a y , 1815). Whether Coler idge was right in assuming that Wordsworth shared his opposition to Locke's notion of the mind as being formed by the senses is a matter which must be discussed elsewhere. Coler idge certainly knew Locke's work closely and opposed his views consistently: his four philosophical letters to Josiah Wedgewood in February 1801 demonstrate this (CL II, 677 f f ; ) . But it is clear that Wordsworth knew the works of Locke fair ly w e l l , without supposing a stimulus through Co ler idge. About Berkeley the case is less c lear . Wordsworth did own one of Berkeley's works. This was A lc iphron , or the Minute Philosopher (TWS, 6 , 223), the work of Berkeley's which is least concerned with the nature of vision and the general nature of sense impressions, be ing, as the t i t le says, An Apology for the Christian Rel ig ion. Nevertheless it is by no means total ly irrelevant, for the fourth dialogue discusses these matters, and indeed summarizes the main drift of Berkeley's argument, which is developed more ful ly in A New Theory of V i s i o n , The Principles of Human Knowledge and the Three Dialogues. A letter of Southey's may suggest that he had discussed Alc iphron with Wordsworth and that they had agreed that they shared Berkeley's concept of Chr is t iani ty . But this may be reading too much between the l ines. Southey writes: " . . . I want you , and pray you to read 29. Berkeley's Minute Philosopher: I want you to learn that the religious bel ief which Wordsworth and I ho ld , and which—I am sure you know in my case, and wi l l not doubt in his—no earthly considerations would make us profess i f 21 we did not hold i t , 'is as reasonable as it is desirable . . . " Coler idge is well known to have been keenly interested in Berkeley's thought in the years in which his friendship with Wordsworth began. In December 1796, he wrote of himself as "Be rk le ian , " and this enthusiasm lasted, as John Beer notes (pp. 106-07), at least until his departure for Germany in September 1798. In May of that year , his son, who was to die in in fancy, was christened Berkeley. It is probable that Berkeley's concept of sense perceptions as the language of G o d influenced the lines from "Frost at Midnight^" when he wrote that his son, Hart ley, should l ive amidst natural beauty: So shalt thou see and hear The lovely shapes and sounds inte l l ig ib le O f that eternal language, which thy G o d Utters, who from eternity doth teach Himself in a l l , and al l things in himself. When sending the manuscript of "This Lime-tree Bower my Prison" to Southey, Coler idge again referred to himself as a "Berk le ian , " in a note which he made to the word "v iew" in the fol lowing l ines, which are related to the same concept: So my friend Struck with joy's deepest ca lm, and gazing round On the wide v iew, may gaze t i l l a l l doth seem Less gross than bodi ly , a l iv ing Thing That acts upon the mind, and with such hues As cloathe the Almighty Spir i t , when he makes Spirits perceive His presence: (CL I, 335) 30. Berkeley may have Influenced Wordsworth's writings in two ways, both through his ear l ier , empiricist works (see chapter three) and through his later, more Platonic writings (see chapter four). Coler idge knew and was influenced by both the empirical writings and Siris , though f inal ly he preferred the latter, ca l l ing Berkeley "a Platonist in his riper and better years" (CL V , 13-;. 14 January, 1820). Wordsworth's relationship to Hartley was much discussed by crit ics thirty or forty years ago, fol lowing the publication of Arthur Beatty's dogmatic but unconvincing treatment of the subject. As one of Hartley's commentators observed, 22 there is no direct evidence that Wordsworth read the Observations, but it seems most probable that he d i d , for in a letter of 1808 he counts Hartley as being among the "men of real power" whose work is not immediately valued properly, saying "Take for instance in philosophy, Hartley's book upon M a n , how many years did it sleep in almost entire ob l i v ion" ( M Y , Part I, 266 : to Richard Sharp, 27 September, 1808). Coler idge was much influenced by Hartley in his early l i f e , and told Southey in December 1794 "I am a compleat Necessitarian—and understand the subject as well almost as Hartley himself—but I go further than Hartley and bel ieve the corporeality of thought—namely, that it is motion" (CL , I, 137). "Religious Musings" written in the same year also shows his involvement with Hartley's thought for Co ler idge, who also praises M i l t o n , Newton and Priestley, speaks of him there as "he of mortal k i n d / Wisest, he first who marked the ideal t r ibes/ Up the fine fibres through the sentient brain" (364-76). Coler idge's eldest c h i l d , born in 1796, was named after the philosopher: Coler idge wrote to 3 1 . Thomas Poole: "It's name is DAVID HARTLEY C O L E R I D G E . I hope, that ere he be a man . . . his head w i l l be convinced of & his heart saturated with truths so ably supported by that great master of Christ ian Philosophy" (CL , I, 236 : 24 September, 1796). Coler idge gradually discarded his Hartleian ideas; this process probably began in 1797 and by 1801 he was able to write to Poole: "If I do not greatly delude myself, I have not only completely extricated the notions of Time and Space, but I have overthrown the doctrine of Association as taught by Hart ley, and with a l l the irreligious metaphysics of modern Infidels" (CL , II, 706 : 16 M a r c h , 1801). By the time of writ ing Biographia Literaria he was of course quite convinced of the falseness of Hartley's posit ion. During the period when Coler idge was speculating about Hartley's theories it is again extremely probable that he discussed them with Wordsworth. However, as Rader points out (p. 51), i f Wordsworth had been a confirmed Hart le ian, as Beatty tries to depict h im, surely Henry Crabb Robinson would have referred to this, as would Coler idge have done in the Biographia Literaria , which both attacks Hartley and cr i t ic izes Wordsworth on several points. Despite Hume;S immense current prestige amongst at least English philosophers, he seems to have had no influence on either Wordsworth or Coler idge; Coler idge 23 never writes of him with respect. Wordsworth must have had some contact with his writ ings, for he wrote to Crabb Robinson in M a y , 1846, that he and Professor Forbes, a geologist, " talked a good deal about David Hume, and a recent publication referring to him" (Crabb Robinson and the Wordsworth C i r c l e , II, 623). 32. v i . The European Philosophers It is probable that any contact Wordsworth had with the ideas of perception of European philosophers came largely through English sources. Therefore I have merely indicated brief ly the more l i ke ly contacts. There was in Wordsworth's l ibrary at Rydal Mount a copy of Descartes' Principia Philosophiae (TWS, 6 , 210). Coler idge's interest in Descartes was not part icular ly intense, but he was among the first to recognise Locke's debt to Descartes (CL, II, 677-78) . This may have been discussed with Wordsworth, as it was exercising Coler idge's thoughts before 1801. Important as German Idealism is to the development of thought about percept ion, it is discussed only brief ly and in passing in this thesis. What I am concerned with is the climate of opinion l ike ly to have influenced Wordsworth, as I have sa id , and the great German philosophers had l i t t le influence in England until the nineteenth century, b^i which time Wordsworth's ideas were formed. There is l i t t le indicat ion of a new strain of idealism at any period after the beginning of Wordsworth's poetic career. E . D . Hirsch, though he devotes a book to the similarit ies between Wordsworth and Sche l l ing , demonstrates that it is unl ikely that Wordsworth was influenced at a l l by German Idealism, and writes spec i f ica l ly that " i t seems reasonable to assume that Schell ing's 24 philosophy in no way influenced Wordsworth's fundamental attitudes and ideas. " A t the age of seventy, Wordsworth declared proudly that he had "never read 25 a word of'JSerman metaphysics." Crabb Robinson, who surely should have known, certainly thought that Wordsworth was ignorant of German philosophy, at least as far as the imagination was concerned: he wrote that Wordsworth "represented . . . much as, unknown to h im, the German philosophers have done—that, by the imagination the mere fact is exhibited as connected with 26 that inf ini ty without which there is no poetry." There is further evidence 27 that Wordsworth denied any knowledge of Kant's work, although he had once shown some interest in it: Coler idge's letters from Germany, published as "Satyrane's Let ters," quote some notes which Wordsworth made of his conversations with the German poet, Klopstock, which record that Wordsworth asked Klopstock what he thought of Kant (BL XXII : II, 179). He w i l l probably have been asking for Coler idge's sake. Coler idge's interest in Kant was shown as early as 1796 (CL I, 209: to Thomas Poole, 5 M a y , 1796), and he was certainly reading Kant by 1801: he writes "I turn at times half-reluctant ly from Leibniz or Kant even to read a smoking new newspaper, such a purus putus Metaphysicus am I become" (CL II, 676: to Thomas Poole, 13 February, 1801). Newton P. Stallknecht (p.23) is convinced that Wordsworth's works show signs of Spinoza's in f luence. As external evidence he evinces Wordsworth's own denial that there are Spinosistic elements in The Excursion ( M Y , Part 2 , 188: to Catherine Clarkson, January, 1815), as this, he feels, shows that he grasped Spinoza's main concepts, and that after al l the more Spinosistic parts of Wordsworth's work are not in The Excursion. He also refers to the "Spy N o z y " story, mentioned above. De Qu incey also felt that Wordsworth could be 28 , ! Spinosistic" and applies this eipthet to " N u t t i n g . " Coler idge was certainly interested in Spinoza during the years of his closest friendship with Wordsworth, 34. and announced in September, 1799, that he was "sunk in Spinoza" (Ors in i , p.23). None of this evidence seems very strong. v i . Platonism and Neoplatonism Amongst the Platonists I shall consider some who are only loosely connected with that movement of thought. Rader (p.40) points out that in the Rydal Mount Library sa le , there were a considerable number of works on Platonism, compared with only a few on empiricism. He comments that "either Wordsworth never possessed the works of the empiricists, or he was not suff iciently attached to them to keep them until his death, or the books were withheld from the sa le . At any rate, it is surprising that no philosophical work of Hobbes, Hume, Godwin or Priestley appeared in the cata logue. " Such evidence is very inconclusive, however. In discussing Platonism, one must first consider Plato. Amongst Wordsworth's books were Schleiermacher's introduction to"the dialogues of Plato, and also Thomas Taylor's translation of the Craty lus, the Phaedo, the Parmenides, and the Timaeus, and another edition of f ive dialogues of Plato (TWS 6 , 234). A volume described as "Plato on the soul" was among the books at Racedown (no. 660). Wordsworth quite certainly had read Plato; indeed it is unl ikely that any serious and educated man would not have read at least the more famous dialogues. In "D ion " (8-9) he writes of the "lunar b e a m / O f Plato's genius," while in his "Answer to the Letter of Mathetes, " he says that " . . . in the persons of P la to , Demosthenes, and Homer, and . . . of Shakespeare, Mi l ton and Lord Bacon, were enshrined so much of the divini ty of intel lect as the 35. inhabitants of this planet can hope wi l l ever take up its abode among them" (Grosart I, 312). He is also reported to have said: " . . . the English, with their devotion to Ar istot le, have but half the truth; a sound philosophy must 29 contain both Plato and Ar i s to t le . " In the sonnet "I heard (alas! 'twas only in a dream)," he refers to this world as "the uncongenial Ho l l ow / O f the dull earth" and in a note explains "See the 'Phaedo' of Plato, by which this sonnet was suggested." Coler idge's interest in Plato is well established. He wrote that Plato's theology was one of the two subjects "which have in the very depth of my Nature interested me" (CLI I , 866: to Wi l l iam Sotheby, 10 September, 1802). Wordsworth possessed a copy of Paracelsus' O f the Chymical Transmutations Genealogy and Generat ion of Metals and Minera ls , e t c . , with Experiments, and the way of making the Great Stone of the Philosophers (TWS 6 , 210). Coler idge's early interest in the Neoplatonists is wel l known, and was certainly known to Wordsworth, who wrote of his friend's "toils abstruse/ Among the Schoolmen, and Platonic forms/ of wi ld ideal pageantry . . . " (Prelude. V I , 297-99). Coler idge was l ike ly to have been reading some of these obscure thinkers in the early period of his friendship with Wordsworth. Among the books which he asked John Thelwall to send him from London, in 1796, were works of lamblichus, Porphyry, Proc I us and Plotinus, (CL I, 262: 19 November, 1796), and many of his writings demonstrate his famil iar i ty with Neoplatonic writ ings. J . D . Rea's attempt at proving Wordsworth's dependence on Proclus for the Platonic elements in the Immortality Ode seems overstrained, however. 36. Plotinus was part ial ly avai lable to Wordsworth in the translations of Thomas Taylor. Concerning the Beautiful (a translation of Ennead I, vi) was published in 1787, and a second edition appeared in 1792. In 1794, a translation of Five Books of Plotinus was published, whi le in 1817 and 1834 translations of further books appeared. (A complete English Plotinus was not avai lable until Stephen MacKenna published his translations in this century). Coler idge studied Plotinus at an early stage (BL I, 94), and his interest did not fade. His notebook for November, 1803, makes it c lear that he had been 30 rereading the Enneads. He quotes from the Enneads in Biographia L i terar ia , and discusses Plotinus in the same work (I, 166-67). His treatment of the nature of art in " O n Poesy or Ar t " is influenced by Plotinus, as John Shawcross points out (BL II, 318). It seems possible that Wordsworth was acquainted with the work of Jacob Boehme, the seventeenth century theosopher. Not only did he own a copy of De Signatura Rerum (perhaps Boehme's most important work), but also a work of one of Boehme's early exponents, The Theosophick Philosophy Unfolded,by Edward Taylor, "with L i f e , e t c . , of that divinely- instructed Author" (TWS, 6 , 217). Coler idge's comment in Biographia Literaria IX (I, 98) on Boehme, Fox, and Law is wel l -known: "If they were too often a moving cloud of smoke to me by day, yet they were always a pi l lar of fire throughout the night, during my wanderings through the wilderness of doubt, and enabled me to skirt, without crossing, the sandy deserts of utter unbel ie f . " Coler idge's interest in Boehme was early and had certainly been formed by the time of his friendship with 37. Wordsworth. He speaks of Boehme's Aurora as a work which he had "conjured over at school" and says that it had probably influenced his ideas before his visit to Germany in 1798 (CL IV, 751: to Ludwig T ieck , 4 Ju l y , 1817). The Cambridge Platonist, Ralph Cudworth, was very probably read by Wordsworth. A copy of Cudworth's principle work, The True Intellectual System of the Universe,was in the Rydal Mount library (TWS, 6 , 219). Wordsworth could also have read this as a young man, for there was a copy at Racedown (719 in the catalogue). Coler idge's Notebooks show that he was reading this work closely in the years 1796-97, probably whi le Wordsworth was at Racedown, and whi le his friendship with Wordsworth was growing. He both quotes from Cudworth and also notes that one of Cudwortfv's own references (from Aristotle's Metaphysics ) can be used against the theories of "Sir Isaac Newton and other material theists" in an essay on Berkeley which he was planning at the time (Notebooks, 1,200 G l 96fandcnote; I, 203, G199 and note) . Rader (p.75) thinks it "a safe inference, that Wordsworth imbibed the ideas of Cudworth from Co le r i dge , " because of his use of the word "p last ic" in Book II of The Prelude (362), in what seems l ike Cudworth's sense as possibly adopted by Co ler idge. Wordsworth certainly did read the Earl of Shaftesbury's Characteristics of M e n , Manners, Opin ions, Times. It was among the books which he owned (TWS 6 , 266), and in the Essay Supplementary to the Preface (1815), writ ing of the peculiari t ies of taste in the Restoration per iod, he notes that "Shaftesbury, an author at present unjustly depreciated, describes the English Muses as only yet lisping in their cradles" (Grosart, II, 116). 38. The matter of Thomas Taylor is undertain. Taylor , of course, not only translated Plato, Ar is tot le , Plotinus, Porphyry and others, but also popularized the ideas of these writers and commented on them at length. He was so pro l i f i c , that nobody at al l interested in Platonic thought could ignore his work; his numerous translations and commentaries were extremely important in reawakening interest in Plato and the Neoplatonists in nineteenth-century 31 England. Coler idge's notes on Taylor's translation of volume I of Proclus' Commentaries on Eucl id are in the British Museum (Notebooks I, Appendix B). O f course, he was not dependent on Taylor's translations, nor did he esteem them highly. He described Taylor as "a thorough bl ind Bigot, ignorant of a l l with which he is intoxicated—rather with the slang of which he is bewitched" (Notebooks I, Appendix B, 458-59). O f Proclus' Platonic Theology, he comments that " A Bart of it has been translated by Taylor; but so translated that di f f icul t Greek is transmuted into incomprehensible English" (CL III, 279: to Lady Beaumont, 21 January, 1810). However, incomprehensible or not, Wordsworth did own two volumes of Taylor's translations, the dialogues of Plato mentioned above, and Pausanias' Description of Greece (TWS, 6 , 213), and no doubt used them and read Taylor's comments. Emerson made a rather ambiguous comment on Wordsworth's ignorance of Taylor: "Wordsworth knew l i t t le or nothing 32 of h i m . " This is probably an expression of distress at the di f f icul ty in finding new information about Taylor in England, for possessing as he did two of Taylor's works, and having been in contact with one most acutely interested in Neoplatonism, Wordsworth knew something of Taylor . Kathleen Raine is , however, far too 39. dogmatic in her assertion that "the gleam from Plotinus that il luminates Wordsworth's most famous Ode (and other of his poems) certainly comes through Taylor" (Raine and Harper, p .8) . Plotinus' influence on the Immortality Ode is by no means established, nor if it were could we be sure that it came through Thomas Taylor . The foregoing surely indicates that Wordsworth's contact with the avai lable writings concerned with the senses and the nature of perception is l ike ly to have been greater than many crit ics would have us be l ieve . Wordsworth's formal educat ion, his l ibrary, the nature of his interests, his friendship with Co ler idge, a l l make it very l i ke ly that he w i l l have been famil iar with the concepts discussed here, and wi l l have been prepared to use or discard them as they fitted with his personal exper ience. In genera l , the philosophical works quoted below are those with which I bel ieve he was most l ike ly to have some acquaintance . O n this basis, one can proceed to discuss the nature of Wordsworth's view of the senses in general and the eye in part icular, and the relationship of these views with these philosophical writ ings. The fol lowing chapters suggest that the internal evidence of Wordsworth's knowledge of certain philosophical works is considerably stronger very often than the external ev idence. Notes ^ See J . D . Rea, "Coler idge's Intimations of Immortality from Proclus," Modern Phi lo logy, 26 (1928), 201-213. 2 See Arthur Beatty, Wi l l i am Wordsworth: His Doctrine and Art in their Historical Relations, 3rd ed . (Madison, Wisconsin, 1960). 40 . 3 B .R. Schneider, Wordsworth's Cambridge Education (Cambridge, 1957), gives an excel lent account of Wordsworth's school and university careers. 4 "Wi l l iam Wordsworth," Essays in Cr i t i c i sm, Second Series (London, 1888), pp. 148-49. 5"Wordsworth's E th ics , " Hours in a Library (London, 1909), II, 265. ^Biographia L i terar ia , e d . John Shawcross, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1907), II, 129 (chapter XXI I ) . ^Hoxie Nea le Fa i rch i ld , Religious Trends in English Poetry (New York , 1949), III, 185. g The Letters of Wi l l iam and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Later Years, ed . Ernest de Selincourt (Oxford, 1937-39), I, 134-35; to Walter Savage Landor, 21 January, 1824. 9 Yet other statements about "The Recluse" suggest that for a l l his powers and for a l l his intimate knowledge of Wordsworth, Coler idge perhaps expected a " G E N U I N E PHILOSOPHIC P O E M " of a kind which Wordsworth was unl ikely to produce. S e e j C U V , 574 : to Wi l l iam Wordsworth, 30 M a y , 1815. ^ Q u o t e d from de Quincey 's Reminiscences by Markham L. Peacock, J r . , in The Cr i t i ca l Opinions of Wi l l iam Wordsworth (Baltimore, 1950), p .87 . ^ M e l v i n Rader, Wordsworth: A Philosophical Approach (Oxford, 1967), p . 3 . 12 The Letters of Wi l l iam and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Ear ly Years, 1787-1805, e d . Ernest de Sel incourt , rev. Chester L . Shaver (Oxford, 1967), p .452. Coler idge's notes never reached Wordsworth. Coler idge said that he sent them from Mal ta v ia a Major A d y e , who died on the plague en route , and whose luggage, including these notes, was therefore burned. See Mary Moorman, Wi l l i am Wordsworth : A Biography (Oxford 1957-65), II, 19. Rader (pp. 8-9) also quotes these letters to show Wordsworth's rel iance on Co ler idge. 13 The Letters of Wi l l iam and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Middle Years, ed . Ernest de Sel incourt, Part I rev. Mary Moorman, Part 2 rev. Mary Moorman and A lan G . Hi l l (Oxford, 1969-70), Part 1, 64: to Sir George Beaumont, 1 August, 1806. 14 Quoted from M s . D of "The Pedlar" by Jonathan Wordsworth, The Music of Humanity: A Cr i t i ca l Study of Wordsworth's Ruined Cottage (London, 1969), p. 179. These lines eventually became incorporated in The Prelude, II, 428-30 , in 1805, with the pronoun changed; in 1850, the reference to the "one l i f e " is omitted. 15 B lake, Co le r idge , Wordsworth, Lamb, e tc . Being Selections from the Remains of Henry Crabb Robinson, ed . Edith J . Mor ley (rpt. New York , 1967), p. 107. ^S t range Seas of Thought: Studies in Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature, 2nd ed . (Bloomington, Ind. , 1958), p. 71 . ^ S e e N ico l son , Newton, pp. 75 , 144. 18 A catalogue of the contents of these book-cases, made in 1793, is among the Pinney Papers, which are on permanent loan to Bristol University Library. This volume is numbered 409. 19 The Prose Works of Wi l l iam Wordsworth, e d . Alexander B. Grosarf (London, 1876), III, 462, quoting Christopher Wordsworth, Memoirs of Wi l l iam Wordsworth (London, 1951). 20 Grosart, III, 461 , quoting Memoirs. It is interesting that Coler idge's comments on the causes of Locke's reputation are simi lar, though less vague. Crabb Robinson (Blake, Coler idge . . . p. 36) says of Coler idge "the popularity of Locke's Essay he ascribed to his pol i t ica l position—he was the advocate of the new dynasty against the old and as a religious writer, against the Inf idel, tho' he was but an A r i a n . " A more detai led discussion of the same subject can be found in a letter to Josiah Wedgwood of February, 1801. See CL II, 701. 21 Southey to an unknown correspondent in October , 1824; The Life and Letters of Robert Southey, 6 v o l s . , e d . C . C . Southey (London, 1850), V I , 76-77 . Referred to rather vaguely by Hans Joachim Oertel in "George Berkeley und die Englische L i teratur , " Studien zur Englische Phi lo log ie, 80 (1934), 130. 22 Huguelet's introduction to the facsimile of the Observations, X V I . 23 However, they would have known only the Enquiry, a work popularized and reduced in scope, and not the earl ier and more radical Treat ise, according to G i a n O r s i n i , (p. 90). 24 Wordsworth and Schel l ing: A Typological Study in Romanticism (New Haven, 1960), pp. 3 -4 . 25 Crabb Robinson's Correspondence with the Wordsworth C i r c l e , e d . Edith J . Mor ley (Oxford, 1927), II, 401: / lO^March, 1840. 26 Diary, 11 September, 1816, quoted by Raymond Dexter Havens, The Mind of a Poet (Baltimore, 1941), p .240. John V e i t c b , Memoir of Sir Wi l l iam Hamilton (Edinburgh, 1869), p .88 , quoted by Stal lknecht, p .206, note 8 . "Wi l l iam Wordsworth," Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets in Works , e c . David Masson (Edinburgh, 1862), II, 161. 29 Peacock, p. 76, quoting Memories of O l d Friends, being extracts from the Journals and Letters of Carol ine Fox, e d . Horace N . Pym, 2nd ed . (Phi ladelphia, 1884), p .215. 30 The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Co ler idge, e d . Kathleen Coburn, 2 vols each in 2 Parts, (London, 1957), 1678-80. 31 The most recent relevant work on Taylor's influence is Kathleen Raine's essay "Thomas Taylor in Eng land, " in Thomas Taylor the Platonist: Selected Writ ings, ed . Kathleen Raine and George M i l l s Harper, Boll ingen Series 88 (Princeton, 1969), pp. 3-48:: but this is neither impartial or re l iab le . See also Frederick E. Pierce, "Wordsworth and Thomas Tay lo r , " Phi lo logical Quar ter ly , 7 (1928), 60-64 , and Frank B. Evans III, "Thomas Taylor, Platonist of the Romantic Per iod , " P M L A , 55 (1940), 1060-79. Raine and Harper, p. 75, quoting from an unpublished letter from Bronson A l co t t , 26 J u l y , 1874. Emerson's Journal V , 295, quoted by Raine and Harper pp. 54 -55 , gives a slightly different report. 4 3 . Chapter Two : The History of the Eye Introductory Before discussing in detail the various philosophical implications of Wordsworth's treatment of sight, it is necessary to establish Wordsworth's developing attitudes towards his own eye. The role of the eye in his mental l i fe naturally changed as he grew older, and the stages of these changes are expressed variously in the various poems which touch on the history of the eye— sometimes as crises of the eye in particular and sometimes more generally as changes in Wordsworth's attitude towards sense exper ience. The principal poems which describe the history of Wordsworth's eye are "Tintern A b b e y , " the Immortality O d e , the "Eleg iac Stanzas" ("Peele Cast le") and The Prelude. O f these The Prelude is probably the most important and certainly the most complex account, not only because of the greater length and elaboration of the history of the eye in this poem, but because its account is synthesized. Wordsworth included in it passages written as early as 1795, and worked on it intermittently until 1838, so that the poem not only tells of his changing attitudes towards sight during the years he writes of , but also reflects his different attitudes at the various periods at which it was wri t ten. It is di f f icul t to correlate perfectly the accounts in these various sources: John Bard M a c N u l t y points out that Wordsworth's autobiographical passages, though reconci leable in some cases, are inconsistent,^ whi le Jonathan Wordsworth considers that "Wordsworth 44. rat ional ized the stages of his development very differently at different times" (Music of Humanity, p. 217), which is true enough. Despite the differences, however, and whatever their causes, a coherent pattern can be t raced, although some problems of dating may remain insoluble. Indeed, it is foolish and uncomprehending to attempt to outl ine too rigid a schedule of development, as it were; Wordsworth himself does not attempt it and his remarks are a warning to students of his poetry: But who shall parcel out His intel lect by geometric rules, Split l ike a province into round and square? Who knows the individual hour in which His habits were first sown, even as a seed? (Prelude, II, 203-07) I shall attempt in this chapter to describe the development of Wordsworth's attitude to his eye chronological ly rather than by treating each poem separately, for a chronological treatment shows up more dist inctly both the similarit ies and the differences between the various poems concerning the same stage. Moreover, it seems valuable to compare the imaginative recreation of this development with the recorded facts, and to l ink the poetry with the avai lable biographical information. i . Ch i ldhood. Wordsworth was born with extraordinary powers, and extraordinari ly powerful senses. A poet, he says in the Preface to the Lyr ical Ballads (Grosart, II, 82) / " is possessed of more than usual organic sens ib i l i ty , " and he was a born poet. De Qu incey noted that Wordsworth's " intel lectual passions 45. rested upon a basis of preternatural animal sensibil i ty diffused through al l the animal passions (or appetites) 1 1 (Works, II, 246: quoted by Havens, p.92). The first book of The Prelude shows how, for a chi ld with the advantages of such a natural disposition and of such except ional ly beautiful and impressive surroundings, the ordinary games and sports of childhood—snaring woodcocks, birdsnesting, rowing, skating, f ishing, sail ing ki tes—all brought him incidental ly into a close relationship of fear and love with the natural objects, sky, lake , brook and mountain, which were their background. (The implications of the Ministry of Nature are discussed in the next chapter). At this stage, the chi ld 's eye was feeding his unconscious spir i t . Y e t , even at the age when his conscious mind was concerned almost entirely with sports and games, "even t hen , " he writes: I held unconscious intercourse with beauty O l d as creat ion, drinking in a pure Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths O f curl ing mist, or from the level plain O f waters coloured by impending cloud:. (I, 562-66) Thus, at the age of ten, he was already becoming aware of the delight which the close scrutiny of the natural world can bring: Y yet have I stood Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league O f shining water, gathering as it seemed Through every hair-breadth in that f ie ld of light New pleasure l ike a bee among the flowers. (I, 576-80) His eye begins to awaken to a sense of its own power, to feel its capaci ty for del ight , and amidst the exuberant act iv i ty of a healthy childhood he feels 46. the first stirrings of the imagination: 'mid that giddy bl iss, Wh ich , l ike a tempest, works along the blood And is forgotten; even then I felt Gleams l ike the flashing of a shield;-the earth And common face of Nature spake to me Rememberable things^ (I, 88) In these "gleams l ike the flashing of a sh i e l d , " with its undertones of powerful 2 enchantment from the Orlando Furioso and The Faerie Q u e e n , the chi ld is shown in a flash of recognition of his own dormant powers of intel lect and perception through a brief sharp revelation of nature's powers. The commonplace pleasures of chi ldhood, al l -absorbing at the t ime, fade from the memory, but the glimpses of forms of beauty and terror remains a l iv ing force—truly l iv ing for they remain present to the eye: And if the vulgar joy by its own weight Wearied itself out of the memory, The scenes which were a witness of that joy Remained in their substantial lineaments Depicted on the brain, and to the eye Were v is ib le . (I, 597-602) In The Prelude, as in the Immortality O d e , the chi ld 's l i fe is shown to be full of joy and v i ta l i t y , but unlike the Immortality O d e , The Prelude shows the intensity of his experience rather from the quali ty of the verse and the close and intense impressions which it records, than from any expl ic i t suggestion that the vision of the chi ld is brighter and clearer than that of the adul t . The emphasis in Book One of lifoe Prelude is not on the loss of power in a f te r - l i fe , but on the beginnings of the growth of power, and the richness of the soil in which that 47. power began ro grow: it is a description of a "Fair Seed-t ime"and the impl icat ion of The Prelude as a whole is that the harvest is poetry. The sense of the adult 's loss is, however, the inspiring feeling behind the Immortality Ode : "This poem rests entirely upon two recollections of ch i l d -hood; one that of a splendour in the objects of sense which is passed away; and the other an indisposition to bend to the law of death, as applying to our own particular case. A reader who has not a v iv id recol lect ion of these feelings having existed in his mind in childhood cannot understand that poem. " ( M Y , Part 2 , 189: to Catherine Clarkson, January, 1815). Indeed, Wordsworth bel ieved that everyone if he would consider it would assent to 3 "that dream-l ike vividness which invests objects of sight in ch i ldhood." This lost sphendour in the vision of childhood is also seen in the last stanza of "Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendour and Beauty": Such hues from their Celest ia l Urn Were wont to stream before mine eye , Wher'er it wandered in the morn O f blissful in fancy.4 (61-64) Now the first book of The Prelude, though it communicates "the glory and the freshness of a dream" in its account of such experiences of childhood as skating, never suggests that for the adult "there hath past away a glory from the ear th . " The chi ld there is a creature of rapture and abandon, and childhood is "that tempestuous t ime" (550), but his pastimes are largely "vulgar joy" (581 and 597) and much of his happiness is "that giddy b l iss/ Which l ike a tempest, works along the b lood / And is forgotten" (583-85). Yet aga in , in the Immortality O d e , in a passage which Coler idge found senseless (BL XXI I : II), the chi ld is seen as: Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep Thy heritage, thou Eye amongst the b l ind , That, deaf and s i lent , reads't the eternal deep, Haunted forever by the eternal mind— Mighty Prophet! Seer blest! On whom those truths do rest Which we are toi l ing a l l our l ives to f ind , In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave. (111-18) The chi ld inhis joy is at one with the noblest part of the world; he is not diminished by the ordinary adult mortal anxiety and sensuality, which is "the darkness of the g rave . " Without recognising or communicating his knowledge, he understands his own be ing, and his part in the larger be ing. The beginning of The Prelude communicates the joy of the ch i l d , but does not show him as endowed with such profound nobi l i ty . The work as a whole expresses the extreme fert i l i ty of the period largely from the strength of the remembered incidents of childhood scattered throughout the work (besides Book I and II pass see also V , 364-88, 426-59 and XI I , 225-61, 287-335), and later on there is a more expl ic i t acknowledgement of the power of ch i ldhood, and the decl in ing vision of progressing years: O h ! mystery of man, from what a depth Proceed thy honours. I am lost, but see In simple childhood something of the base O n which thy greatness stands; but this I f e e l , That from thyself it comes, that thou must g ive , Else never canst rece ive. The days gone by Return upon me almost from the dawn O f l i fe : the hiding places of man's power Open ; I would approach them, but they c lose. I see by glimpses now; when age comes on , May scarcely see at a l l . ^ (XII, 272-82) 49. Nevertheless, where The Prelude is primarily concerned with the chi ld and his eye , he is presented not as a "Seer blest" but a boy whose wi ld games lead him unaware to fostering Nature. i i . Beyond the Senses In relation to the Immortality O d e , Wordsworth wrote of his schooldays: I was often unable to think of external things as having external existence, and I communed with al l that I saw as something not apart from but inherent i n , my own immaterial nature. Many times whi le going to school have I grasped at a wal l or tree to recal l myself from this abyss of idealism to the real i ty . At that time I was afraid of such processes. In later periods of l i fe I have deplored, as we have al l reason to do , a subjugation of an opposite character, and have rejoiced over the remembrances, as expressed in the l ines— Obstinate questionings O f sense and outward things, ^ Fallings*from us, vanishings; e tc . Thus in the Ode the ch i ld experiences not only the glory of the objects of the senses but also a feel ing of disbel ief in the objects of the senses as object ive, a direct consciousness of l i fe as mind. The loss which man experiences in growing out of childhood into adult l i fe is not merely the lessening of an intense pleasure in the world of the senses; it is also a lessening of awareness of the world beyond the senses, of the world which is the true home of our souls 5 0 . and minds, but not of the bodi ly sense. The:sense that man is an al ien in this world is expressed in terms of the Platonic notion of pre-existence, for man having experienced pure intel lectual existence is in ex i le in the material wor ld . The chi ld unconsciously recognizes that it is " G o d , who is our home" and not this earth; that his proper place is "that imperial palace whence he came"; that The Soul that rises with us, our l i fe 's Star Hath had elsewhere its sett ing. And cometh from afar. This feel ing is echoed in The Prelude (VI , 603-05) : whether we be young or o l d , Our destiny, our being's heart and home, Is with inf in i tude, and only there.^ It is part of the Christ ian Neoplatonism which looks on the material world as essentially a l ien to the human soul . It is through the sense of this world of intel lect and spirit that the natural world is seen "apparel led in celestial l ight" and a truly "visionary g leam"; and it is in this sense that "Heaven lies about us in our in fancy . " For the adul t , the mere memory of this consciousness is the truest source of joy and spiritual refreshment, and therefore Wordsworth writes in praise and gratitude for those obstinate questionings O f sense and outward things, Fall ings from us, vanishings; Blank misgivings of a Creature Moving about in worlds not real ised, High instincts before which our mortal Nature Did tremble l ike a gui l ty Thing surprised: But for those first affect ions, Those shaUbwy=re:collections, W h i c h , be they what they may, Are yet the fountain light of al l our day, Are yet a master light of a l l our seeing; Uphold us, cher ish, and have power to make Our noisy years seem moments in the being 5T. O f the eternal Si lence: truths that wake, To perish never; Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour, Nor Man nor Boy, Nor a l l that is at enmity with joy, Can utterly abolish or destroy! (142-61) Thus the chi ld 's riches and the adult's loss are twofold; the intense glory in the objects of the senses and an intense awareness of a supersensual existence. This twofold nature of the motivating sense of loss behind the poem is presumably Geoffrey Hartman's basis for writ ing that "There are , i f we look closely two quite different 'intimations of immortality," Whereas one implies the mortality of nature: questionings O f sense and outward things, Eall ings from us, vanishings, Blank misgivings of a Creature Moving about in worlds not realised . . . the other implies its immortality: the primal sympathy Q Which having been must ever b e . " The doubleness of the intimations exists: paradoxical ly it is the radiant consciousness of the supersensuous that invests the sensuous with its glory. N o w , there are in The Prelude passages which describe Wordsworth's experience of l i fe in a mode beyond the senses, in a mode described by some cr i t ics , improperly, I be l ieve , as " m y s t i c a l . " ^ When Wordsworth writes of moments "when the light of sense/ Goes out, but with a flash that has revea led / The invisible wor ld" (Prelude V I , 600-02) , he is, I think referring to a similar 52 . kind of experience to the "obstinate questionings" of the Immortality O d e , although rather than presenting questionings of the sense, they convey a mood f" n which through the intensity of their own exper ience, the senses are laid to sleep, and the external world seems merged into the internal world through the extreme delight or disturbance of the senses so that there is a movement through the sense world to the spiritual wor ld . The normal sense of separation between subject and object is lost and the mind becomes one with what it beholds. This merging of perceiver and perceived is not always described as the same kind of exper ience, and that what is felt is the fading of the sense of distinctions and barriers. In The Prelude it is generally the awareness of the senses which is lost, as in the famous moment of understanding the imagination: That awful Power rose from the mind's abyss Like an unfathered vapour that enwraps, At once , some lonely t ravel ler . I was lost; Hal ted, without an effort to break through; But to my conscious soul I now can say— M recognise thy glory: ' in such strength O f usurpation,\,wh'en the light of sense Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed The invisible wor ld , doth greatness make abode, There harbours. (Prelude, V I , 594-603) The imagination blinds one to the normal sensuous contact with natural objects, as a mountain mist does. The world becomes entirely the world of the intel lect where perceiver and perceived are one. In a passage from The Excursion , or ig inal ly written some years earl ier than the lines quoted above, consciousness of both physical and mental act iv i ty disappear, and the poet's (or the Wanderer's) awareness of his own l i fe becomes awareness of the l i fe that he beholds, so that 53. his real experience is of l i fe as a unity: his spirit drank The spectacle: sensation, soul , and form, A l l melted into him; they swallowed up His animal being; in them did he l i v e , And by them did he l ive ; they were his l i f e . In such access of mind, in such high hour O f visitation from the l iv ing G o d , Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired. ( E x c , I, 206-13) In fragments connected with the earliest version of Book I of The Excursion in the "Al foxden Notebook" (Written between late January and early M a r c h , 1798) it is the awareness of the mind which is said to be lost: To gaze O n that green hi l l and on those scattered trees And feel a pleasant consciousness of l i fe In the impression of that loveliness Unti l the sweet sensation ca l led the mind Into itself, by image from without Unvis i ted, and al l her ref lex powers Wrapped in a sti l l dream of forgetfulness. (PW V , 341: Appendix B, II, iv) Geoffrey Hartman (p. 177) analyses this passage careful ly: "The poet passes beyond specif ic place (object) or an emotion that has fixed him to i t . The word 'gaze ' and the demonstratives of the second line suggest his visual and trance-l ike adhesion, but 'gaze' becomes ' fee l 1 and the particulars ("green hi l l . . . scattered trees') merge as 'the impressioncof that lovel iness. ' The syntax then relaxes, suggests a turning inwards, and the poet remarks exp l i c i t l y that the object-cause the 'image from wi thout , ' is no longer fe l t . A moment of intense unselfconsciousness ensues: 'I l ived without the knowledge that I l i v e d . " 1 In another fragment from the "Alfoxden Notebook, " is is again the mind which fades 54. out of consciousness, whi le the senses are exp l ic i t l y at least sporadical ly awake: . . . long I stood and looked, But when my thoughts began to fai l I turned Towards a grove, a spot which wel l I knew, For oftentimes its sympathies had fal len Like a refreshing dew upon my heart; I stretched myself beneath the shade And soon the stirring and inquisit ive mind Was laid asleep; the godl ike senses gave Short impulses of l i fe that seemed to tel l O f our existence, and then passed away. (PW V , 344: Appendix B, IV, vi i) A similar experience is communicated in a l l these passages (and many others, especial ly in The Prelude), the basis of which is a loss of consciousness of the various divisions between self and non-sel f . This is most expl ic i t in a third "Al foxden Notebook" fragment, when the poets writes of such moments that in external things No longer seem internal difference A l l melts away, and things that are without Live in our minds as in their native home* (PW V , 343: Appendix B, IV, i i i ) In this way it differs from the "obstinate questionings of sense" for when the senses are unrecognised they are unquestioned: it is similar in that there is a loss of bel ief in the separate existence of the common external material universe. Experience is one. In these passages, Wordsworth communicates the actual experience of what the Neoplatonists bel ieved in theory to be the true mode of perception. They bel ived that perception is a union of perceiver and perceived. Plotinus wrote that " in the Intel lectual-Pr inciple i tself , there is complete identity of Knower and Known, and this not by way of domic i l ia t ion , as in the case of even the highest 55. soul , bur by Essence, by the fact that, there, no distinction exists between Being and Knowing: we cannot stop at a princple containing separate parts; there must always be a yet higher, a principle above such d i v e r s i t y . " ^ He bel ieved that " in proportion to the truth with which the knowing faculty knows, it comes to ident i f icat ion with the object of its knowledge . . . the idea must not be left to l ie outside, but must be made one ident ical thing with the Soul of the nov ice , so that he finds it real ly his own" (Enneads 111, v i i i , 6: p.244). This is a formulation of an idea expressed by Wordsworth in terms of intense though brief experience; and experience is organized, understood and communicated through ideas. The correspondence between Wordsworthian and Neoplatonic thought wi l l be discussed more ful ly in the last chapter of this thesis. Meanwhi le it should be indicated that Wordsworth, having experienced such feel ings, wi l l certainly have been alert and interested when Coler idge discussed this subject; and that Coler idge did so, interested as he was in both Neoplatonism and in the relationship between subject and object , is beyond doubt, as it is beyond proof. In The Prelude, these passages in which the sense of distinctions and boundaries disappears are not connected with early chi ldhood, as are the obstinate questionings of the Immortality O d e . The earliest seems to refer, as w i l l be shown, to the time when the poet was at about the age of s ixteen. Thus the accounts of the eye in the earliest years show a chi ld whose vision was stirred through his boyish games, but was capable of recognising the intense delight which his eye gave him; a chi ld to whom the visible world was transcendental ly love ly , and yet who was, either then, or soon afterwards, capable of a consciousness of a world beyond 56. that of the eye , or rather of the world as one being which includes and transcends the eye . i i i . The Educated Eye Wordsworth's narration of his boyhood in Book II of The Prelude shows a growing tranqui l l i ty in his pleasures, and perhaps a growing consciousness that their true delight springs from the beauty of the external and internal wor ld . He tells of how he would rest in his boat on the lake while a schoolfriend on a nearby island played the flute: o h , then, the calm And dead sti l l water lay upon my mind Even with a weight of pleasure, and the sky, Never before so beaut i fu l , sank down Into my heart, and held me l ike a dream! Thus were my sympathies enlarged, and thus Da i ly the common range of visible things Grew dear to me. (Prelude II, 170-77) Eventually there is a complete transition from the period when beauty was incidental to boyish adventure to a love of natural beauty for its own sake: Those incidental charms which first attached M y heart to rural objects, day by day Grew weaker, and I hasten on to tel l How Nature, intervenient t i l l this time And secondary, now at length was sought For her own sake. (II, 198-203) After this passage there is a digression about the dangers oftexcessive rational analysis, and in reaction to this a description of the spontaneous and dynamic growth of the baby's awareness; but when Wordsworth returns to his own 57. development, he returns also to this theme of learning to love the world for its own beauty and not for the sake of the sport which it affords: . . . a trouble came into my mind From unknown causes. I was left alone Seeking the visible wor ld , nor knowing why. The props of my affection were removed, And yet the building stood, as i f sustained By its own spirit! (II, 276-281) The earlier lines about the weakening of the " incidental charms" of his childhood games, which is demonstrably discussing the same phenomenen, makes it clear that Wordsworth is here describing a period of sudden development in his boyhood, and not, as some cri t ics have supposed, the time after the death of his mother. Some di f f icul ty remains in these lines: why should what seems to be an understandable development be seen as a "trouble . . . From unknown causes"? Nevertheless, when read careful ly in context, it is obvious that "the gist of the testimony . . . is in fact that as a young boy, before the age of adolescence, he was learning to love Nature for herself, by way of various 'props' such as sports, adventures, and the pursuit of prey, with which his perception of the beauty and mystery of things was at first associated, but which soon ceased to be essential either to perceptions or del ight" (Moorman, I, 44). The pattern so far recorded of the changing and strengthening nature of his attachment to the visible world in the period from boyhood to early manhood is reiterated in Book VIII (342-54): 58. Nature herself was, at this unripe t ime, But secondary to my own pursuits And animal ac t iv i t ies , and al l Their tr iv ial pleasures; and when these had drooped And gradually expi red, and Nature, prized For her own sake, became my joy, even then— And upwards through late youth, until not less Than two-and-twenty summers had been to ld— Was Man in my affections and regards Subordinate to her, her visible forms And viewless agencies; a passion, she, A rapture often, and immediate love Ever at hand. This love of "visible' forms" fostered the "power of a peculiar eye" (Exc. I, 157) and made the young Wordsworth more alert to the subtleties of v is ion, more open to gentle agitations of the mind From manifold dist inctions, difference Perceived in things, where, to the unwatchful eye, No difference i s , and hence, from the same source, Sublimer joy. (Prelude, II, 298-302) The acute perceptiveness of the eye at this stage of development is elaborated on in a passage from manuscript Y of The Prelude which gives a unique insight into the combination of intel lectual and sensuous energy which formed the act of seeing for the youthful poet: As his powers advance, He is not l ike a man who sees the heavens A blue vault merely and a gl i t tering c loud, One old famil iar likeness over a l l , A superf ic ial pageant, known too wel l To be regarded; he looks nearer, calls The stars out of their shy retreats, and parts The mi lky stream into its separate forms, Loses and finds aga in , when baffled most Not least del ighted; f ina l ly he takes The optic tube of thought that patient men Have furnished with the toil Without the glass of G a l i l e o sees What Ga l i l eo saw; and as it were Resolving into one great faculty O f be ing, bodi ly eye and spiritual need The converse which he holds is l imitless; Not only with the firmament of thought, But nearer home he looks with the same eye Through the entire abyss of things. (Prelude, p.575) The acuteness and v i ta l i ty of his eye in connecting him with the nobi l i ty of everyday real i ty saved him from the worst effects of the sentimental and fantastic excesses wh ich , l ike any other creative adolescent, he found at t ract ive. A citybred c h i l d , l ike Co ler idge, without the freedom to develop his eye , could have no such anchor in the romantic storm; his vital works must be that of "the firmament of thought" rather than of "the abyss of things." Wordsworth describes the stories which he constructed out of odd sights and incidents, but acknowledges with gratitude that for him they were harmless: Y e t , mid the fervent swarm O f these vagaries, with an eye so rich As mine was through the bounty of a grand And lovely region, I had forms distinct To steady me: each airy thought revolved Round a substantial centre, which at once Incited it to motion and control led. I did not pine l ike one in cit ies bred, As was thy melancholy lot , dear Friend! Great Spirit as thou art, in endless dreams O f sickl iness, d is jo in ing, joining things Without the light of knowledge. (Prelude, 426-37) This Is thus a period of intense and ferti le visual ac t i v i t y , yet it i s , as I have said before, at about this period that Wordsworth first records in The Prelude his experience of a state of being in which he has no sense of distinction between the internal and the external worlds, and al l that he experiences seems l ike part of his own mind. For him, such experiences give "a superadded soul , a virtue not its own" to the power in nature which moves the mind to del ight, and this surely is the power of the poet's mind reflected back through natural objects in such intense moments of exper ience. Such moments would come when at dawn he sat alone above the lonely va l ley: How shall I seek the or ig in? where find Faith in the marvellous things which then I fel t? Of t in these moments such a holy calm Would overspread my soul , that bodily eyes Were utterly forgotten, and what I saw Appeared l ike something in myself, a dream, A prospect in the mind. (II, 346-52) Thus the eye , at this stage of his development, was the source of a newly awakened pleasure and yet was felt perhaps as merely the intermediary on the path to a higher experience. As the eye grew more and more keen in the perception of fine dist inctions, it led him towards a deeper experience in which even the largest dist inctions, those between the subject and the object,were lost. And the other senses, in the same way, were both the source of noble pleasure and the stepping-stone towards a nobler, "f leshly ear" as well as "bodi ly e y e . " A l l things to him at this time threw back his own delight to h im, and he felt the community of joy in a l l things. In 1798 he wrote of this experience that 13 " in a l l things/ He saw one l i fe and felt that it was joy" : this was eventually changed (though not until some time after 1839) to express a more Christian interpretation of the exper ience, c lear ly differentiating between the l ife of the created and the uncreated. However, the experience of moving beyond the senses is communicated in the same way in al l versions, so that the final version reads: Wonder not If high the transport, great the joy I fe l t , Communing in this sort through earth and heven With every form of creature, as it looked Towards the Uncreated with a countenance O f adorat ion, with an eye of love. One song they sang, and it was audible Most audib le, then, when the fleshly ear, O'ercome by humblest prelude of that strain, Forgot her functions, and slept undistufibed. (II, 409-18) Up to 1797, the development of Wordsworth's eye and mind unfolded natural ly, fostered by an unhampered interaction between himself and the natural wor ld . It is apparent from the tone in which he writes of Coler idge's less fortunate schooldays in London (Prelude V I , 297-305) that he bel ieved that this was the most favourable soil for growth. But inevitably this interaction was eventual ly broken: the seventeen-year-old Wordsworth left his mountains and lakes for the social and scholastic world of the Cambridge undergraduate. This change made no immediate difference to his essential intel lectual growth, and indeed his separation from the sights which he loved at first merely made him more conscious of the fundamental independence of his mind, and its abi l i ty to exercise its powers even among the " level f ields" (III, 93) 62. I et me dare to speak A higher language, say that now I felt What independent solaces were mine, To mitigate the injurious sway of place O r circumstance, how far soever changed In youth, or to be changed in manhood's prime. — (III, 99-104) His eye and mind, and the intensity of his own feelings, are shown in this passage or ig inal ly written in 1798, working together to f i l l him with bel ief in the feel ing and consciousness of a l l things, a bel ief which in various forms threads through much of his poetry up to about 1800: . . . I was mounting now To such community with highest truth A track pursuing, not untrod before, From strict analogies by thought supplied O r consciousnesses not to be subdued , To every natural form, rock, fruit or flower, Even the loose stones that cover the h igh-way, I gave a moral l i fe : I saw them fee l , O r l inked them to some feel ing. ( I l l , 125-33) Just as the eye is acknowledged as the anchor of reason in the turbulence of adolescent fantasy, so it is the guarantee of sanity throughout intense motions of the imaginat ion. The eye here again works with the mind, and with external nature in the conscious seeking of natural distinctions and of what is particular and spec ia l . Wordsworth writes: It was no madness, for the bodi ly eye Amid my strongest workings evermore Was searching out the lines of difference As they l ie hid in al l external forms, Near or remote, minute or vast, an eye Which from a tree, a stone, a withered leaf, To the broad ocean and the azure heavens Spangled with kindred multitudes of stars, 63 . Could find no surface where its power might sleep; Which spake perpetual logic to my sou l , And by an unrelenting agency Did bind my feelings even as in a cha in . ( I l l , 158-69) i v . The Eye as Despot However, the distractions of university l i fe did quite soon take effect on the young Wordsworth, so that these "quiet and exalted thoughts/Of loneliness gave way to empty no ise/ And superficial pastimes" (III, 210-12). Yet i t was a time of "submissive idleness" (632) rather than one of real mental disturbance. It was after al l during these years as an undergraduate that Wordsworth made his impressive and important walking tour of France and the A lps , and at that time he could write with naive sincerity to his sister: "I am a perfect Enthusiast in my admiration of Nature in a l l her various forms; and I have looked upon and as it were conversed with the objects which this country has presented to my view so long, and with such increasing pleasure, that the idea of parting from them oppresses me with a sadness similar to what I have always felt in quitting a beloved fr iend" (EL, 'p.35: 6 and 16 September, 1790). An Evening Wa lk , which he wrote during the Cambridge per iod, and completed the year before he went to the A lps , shows the clear traces of this enthusiasm, despite the extremely l i terary quality of its dict ion and sentiment. At the age of seventy-three, Wordsworth noted that every image in the poem had been based on his own close observation, and indeed remembered the time and place where most of them were 14 observed. Geoffrey Hartman (p.92) writes of the strong emphasis on the visual 64. in this poem: "An incredible visual appetite is at play: the poet relies mainly on sight . . . or on a strong reduction of the visual to alternations of high and low, stasis and motion, and , above a l l , light and shade." Now it seems l i ke ly that the very keenness of the eye , valuable though it was to h im, was beginning to overreach i tself , and that his " incredible visual appeti te" was a contributing cause of that diseased attitude to l i fe which aff l icted him a few years later. From 1791-1792, Wordsworth was working on Descriptive Sketches and according to Hartman's extremely interesting discussion of this poem, it shows both the sickness and its intrinsic cure: he writes that in this poem "the eye , the most despotic of the bodi ly senses in Wordsworth, is thwarted in a pecul iar manner. It seeks to loca l i ze in nature the mind's intuitions of 'powers and presences' yet nature itself seems opposed to this process, and leads the eye relentlessly from scene to scene. Through this restless movement the poet always nears yet avoids total imaginative commitment" (pp. 107-08). Hartman sees the period of crisis over the eye thus: In waking to his own power he passes through a curious moment of blindness to i t , which forces him to go out ( i . e . to nature) rather than i n . Wordsworth later interprets this error as provident ia l , but Descriptive Sketches no more than records i t . A result of this inner blindness is , of course, too much sight: the eyes defeat themselves by looking everywhere, ' St i l l craving combinations of new forms, / New pleasure, wider empire for the sight. 1 And by thus putting the eye against i tself , nature helps the poet eventually to confront his own 'separate fantasy', the autonomous power in his mind 65. that makes him a poet, though deeply , perhaps inextr icably involved with an idea of nature . . . i f we respect the style of Descriptive Sketches, especial ly verse-form and syntax, we see how faithful ly the poet records a defeat of the eyewh i ch eventually leads him through nature beyond i t . .p (p. 110) Whi le Descriptive Sketches may reflect this crisis in its sty le, it is consciously recorded in two works, those books of The Prelude concerned with "Imagination and Taste, how Impaired and Restored," and "Tintern A b b e y , " though in the latter, the nature of the crisis is the subject of al lusion rather than discussion. It is impossible to date the period of crisis precisely, as the evidence is contradictory, no doubt because sickness and cure worked together at the same t ime. Yet it is clear that the worst time was after Wordsworth's involvement with the French Revolut ion, and the shocks he had undergone through Britain's declaration of war against revolutionary France in 1793, and through the decl ine of the revolutionary regime into oppression and aggression. The degree of Wordsworth's pol i t ica l involvement at this period is shown by his vehement but unpublished Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff, who had written in i l l iberal opposition of the French Revolut ion. In the obstinacy arising from the general opposition to his ideas: did opinions every day Grow into consequence, t i l l round my mind They c lung , as if they were its l i f e , nay more The very being of the immortal soul . (XI, 219-22) This drove him to such distraction that eventually he "y ielded up moral questions 66. in despair" (XI , 305), and tried to console himself with the fixed and measureable in scient i f ic studies (mathematics, according to the 1805 version X , 904). In this state, his relationship with the external universe was also ta inted, for his new habits of pol i t ical and logical analysis undermined his sense of mystery and sympathy: What wonder, then, if to a mind so far Perverted, even the visible Universe Fell under the domination of a taste Less spi r i tual , with microscopic view Was scanned, as I had scanned the moral wor ld. (XII, 88-92) From what has been said of the extraordinary appetite and vigour of the eye in the years immediately before the cr is is, it seems l ike ly that it was basical ly as much a visual as a moral cr is is, and that the causes lay as much in his old relationship with the natural universe, as in his new relationship with man and society. The effect of this change in the focussing of the eye, this wi l led scrutiny of natural objects, was to make his pleasure in nature less spontaneous; to some extent he was infected by the modish appreciation of landscape of the kind that was to enable Catherine Morland a few years later to dismiss the whole ci ty of Bath as unworthy of inclusion in the composition of a landscape: even in pleasure pleased Unworthi ly, dis l ik ing here, and there L ik ing ; by rules of mimic art transferred To things above al l art . (XII, 109-12) 67. But he was more incl ined by temperament: To a comparison of scene with scene, Bent overmuch on superficial things, Pampering myself with meagre novelties O f colour and proportion; to the mopds O f time and season, to the moral power, The affections and the spirit of the p lace , Insensible. (XII, 115-21) Thus, whi le he had not lost contact with the natural wor ld , nor pleasure in i t , his eye and his mind were working separately and thus in isolation from complete exper ience, so that his pleasure in nature tended to become merely the sensuous pleasure of passivity: V i v i d the transport, v iv id though not profound. I roamed from hi l l to h i l l , from rock to rock, Sti l l craving combinations of new forms, New pleasures, wider empire for the sight Proud of her own endowments, and rejoiced To lay the inner facult ies asleep. (XII, 142-47) This is very much l ike the state of mind described in "Tintern A b b e y , " when Wordsworth writes of his first visit to the Wye Va l l ey in 1793, when he was rushing after the beauties of the scene: more l ike a man Flying from something that he dreads than one Who sought the thing he loved . (70-72) Mary Moorman (I, 232) usefully reminds us that "it was nearly two years since he had been alone*with the English landscape. Coming in the midst of a period of conf l ic t and doubt about the va l id i ty of his own exper ience, this tour brought him back once more to solitude and to al l that had formerly given 68. him his deepest del ight." This was the time when "nature to me was a l l in a l l , " when The sounding cataract Haunted me l ike a passion: the tal l rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feel ing and a love , That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought suppl ied, nor any interest Unborrowed from the eye . (76-83) The essential relationship of eye to mind is the same as in The Prelude: the eye has usurped the dominant role in v is ion, and its pleasures at this period are not deepened by thought or by the "inner facu l t ies . " The tone however is different: there is a great difference between "pampering myself with meagre novel t ies/ O f colour and proportion' 1 and "the tal l r o c k , / The mountain and the deep and gloomy w o o d , / Their colours and their forms." The Prelude conveys an unrelieved distaste for the poet's mental condition at this period, whi le the attitude shown in "Tintern Abbey" is more ambivalent. The states of mind described in the two poems are similar but not iden t i ca l . In "Tintern Abbey" Wordsworth writes that Dorothy Wordsworth is now strong in delights which he has lost in the intervening f ive years: "In thy voice I ca t ch / The language of my former heart, and read / M y former pleasures in the shooting l ights/ O f thy wi ld eyes . " (116-119) Now Dorothy Wordsworth had not undergone the kind of mental crisis which is described in The Prelude; it just so happened that she was at that stage of development, and Wordsworth recognized that it would be a transitory phase for her as it had been for h im, and spoke of the days "when these 69. ecstasies shall be matured/ Into a sober pleasure" for her as they were for h im. Thus in "Tintern Abbey" this state of mind is not thought of as a crisis induced by a particular combination of circumstances and mental attitudes, as it is in The Prelude f but as a normal stage of development. Moreover, the crisis in The Prelude is seen as a barren t ime, when the eye's act iv i ty was ster i le, while in "Tintern A b b e y , " the very existence of the poem is based on the fert i l i ty of his experience when first he saw the Wye: from this has come the "tranquil restoration" of "sensations sweet" in "hours of weariness," feelings which have made him more kindly and loving;! these experiences may even have contributed to that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight O f a l l this unintel l ig ible wor ld , Is l ightened:- that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us o n , — U n t i l , the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a l iv ing soul: Whi le with an eye made quiet by the power O f harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the l i fe of things. (37-49) Apparent ly, whi le in 1798 Wordsworth could look on this past period of disturbance with some regret, bel ieving in the partial benevolence of the i feverish act iv i ty of the eye , by the time he came to write his account of the period in The Prelude, he separated more r igidly the symptoms of health and of disease in his mental condi t ion, and looked onithe purely sensuous act iv i ty of the eye with less tolerance. In both these poems, the worst of this experience is seen to l ie in the dominance of the eye , which seemed to Wordsworth to be almost an innate fault in the composition of the human psyche: A twofold frame of body and of mind . I speak in recol lect ion of a time When the bodi ly eye , in every stage of l i fe The most despotic of our senses, gained Such strength in me , as often held my mind In absolute dominion. (Prelude, XII , 126-31) Through Wordsworth's works there runs this vein of mistrust of the eye as a potential despot, concurrent with the sense of gratitude for the gifts brought through the eye . The Immortality O d e , as we have seen, shows an intense concern with these two paradoxical ly interrelated attitudes, with the love it expresses for "fountains, meadows, hi l ls and groves," and its thankfulness for "those obstinate questionings/ O f sense and outward th ings." What is written the eye may be extended to a l l the senses, for they can al l be the means of enslavement; yet certainly for Wordsworth the eye was the most dangerous and the most assertive, no doubt because it was so strong in h im. He wrote of sight that "As we grow up, such thraldom of that sense/ Seems hard to shun" (XII, 150-51). The eye is a fine servant but a humil iating master; the mind needs the enrichment given by the senses, but even more than this it needs its own intel lectual world: In "Personal T a l k , " Wordsworth writes: Chi ldren are blest, and powerful; their world lies More justly balanced; partly at their feet, And part far from them:- Sweetest melodies Are those that are by distance made more sweet; Whose mind is but the mind of his own eyes, He is a Slave; the meanest we can meet! (23-28) The eye is looked upon as a possible source of confusion and misunderstanding, as is indicated in a rather obscure passage from The Excursion: Look forth, or each man dive into himself; What sees he but a creature too perturbed; That is transported to excess; that yearns, Regrets, or trembles, wrongly, or too much; Hopes rashly, in disgust as rash recoi ls; Battens on spleen, or moulders in despair? Thus comprehension fa i ls , and truth is missed; Thus darkness and delusion round our path Spread, from disease, whose subtle injury lurks Within the very faculty of sight. (V, 505-14) A l l in a l l , as Geoffrey Hartman says, "Wordsworth's later thought is constantly busy with the fact that the eye is or should be subdued" (p. 114). In fac t , the disturbance of this period which Wordsworth deplores, is largely caused by a loss of the "questionings of sense" ascribed to childhood in the Immortality O d e . It is a time of unquestioning, passive dependence on the senses, and especial ly the eye . Wordsworth shares this mistrust of the eye with Coler idge: both describe the eye as despotic. Co le r idge , indeed, was less l ike ly by nature to experience intensely the despotism of the eye, for on the whole his poetry shows a less close and passionate act iv i ty of the eye than does Wordsworth's; he is more l i ke ly to f ly away into the world of his own in te l lec t . Indeed, he wrote to Thomas Poole: "I never regarded my senses in any way as the criteria of my bel ief . I regulated a l l my creeds by my conceptions not by my sight . . . " (CL, I, 354: 16 October , 1797). And because of this temperamental di f ference, while the young Wordsworth experienced himself how the despotic eye prevents the proper functioning of the imaginat ion, Coler idge had a strong intel lectual 72. awareness of the way in which our human dependence on sight confuses our ideas. He writes in Biographia L i terar ia , VI : "Under that despotism of the eye . . . under this strong sensuous influence we are restless because invisible things are not the objects of v is ion; and metaphysical systems, for the most part, become popular not for their truth but in proportion as they attribute to causes a susceptibi l i ty of being seen, i f only our visual organs were suff iciently powerful" (I, 74). The same concern over the distortion of truth through the strength of the common human over-dependence on the eye is also shown in the much later Treatise on Logic: "To emancipate the mind from the despotism of the eye is the first step towards its emancipation from the 15 influences and intrusions of the senses, sensations and passions genera l ly . " Incidental ly, in this as in so many other respects Coler idge was at variance with Locke , who bel ieved that the perception of the mind was most aptly explained by words relating to the s i g h t . 1 6 This strong distrust of sense is in part an orthodox Christ ian phenomenon although to the Christ ian the emphasis is different, for the senses are distrusted rather because they lead to the indulgence of passions than because they mislead the mind in its search for truth, or because they lead to the al ienation of man from both the natural and the human wor ld. In their distrust of sense, Wordsworth and Coler idge show a closer connection with the Neoplatonic school which commonly insists that a l l real truth and beauty are in te l lec tua l , and therefore depreciates the bodi ly senses. Thomas Taylor, for instance, exhorts his readers thus: "Let us bui ld for ourselves the raft of v i r tue, and departing 73. from this region of sense, l ike Ulysses from the charms of Ca lypso, direct our course by the light of ideas, those bright intel lectual stars, through the dark ocean of a material nature, until we arrive at our father's land" (note to Taylor's trans . of The Hymns of Orpheus, 'London, 1787} in Raine and Harper, pp.292-93) . It is understood that true insight wi l l never come through the senses, but wi l l involve overcoming them: "when she [the soul] advances into the more interior recesses of herself, and as it were into the sanctuary of the soul , she wi l l be enabled to contemplate, with her eyes closed to corporeal v is ion, the genus of the gods, and the unities of be ings." ' Throughout the Enneads, Plotinus insists on the low place of the senses in true perception: "it is now t ime, leaving every object of sense far behind, to contemplate, by a certain ascent, a beauty of a much higher order : a beauty not visible to the corporeal eye , but alone manifest to the brighter eye of the sou l , independent of all corporeal a i d . " ' 8 Among the English Neoplatonic writers, Shaftesbury too, despite his enthusiastic love of natural beauty, looked on the senses as inadequate: " h o w , " he asked, "can the rational Mind rest here, or be satisfy'd with the absurd 19 Enjoyment which reaches the Sense a l o n e . " Cudworth equal ly recognized and deplored the dangers of a "fond and sottish dotage upon corporeal sense," which divides its subjects from G o d because "the chief of his essence, and , as it were his inside, must by these be acknowledged to consist in mind, wisdom; and understanding, he could not possibly as to this, fal l under corporeal sense 20 (sight or touch) any more than tought c a n . " This underlying bel ief of the 74. Neoplatonists in the inessential and even intrusive qual i ty of sense experience in true experience is thus paral leled in Coler idge's bel ief that sense and part icularly sight interfere with the apprehension of intel lectual truth and Wordsworth's bel ief that sight can interfere with the mind's apprehension of natural beauty and human sympathy. Yet again I would suggest that these three parallel lines are in fact indicat ive of the transmission of ideas: that the Neoplatonic view of the senses certainly transmitted to Coler idge was thus transmitted to Wordsworth. Because Wordsworth himself had experienced these dif f icult ies in the relation of sense to truth, he was naturally sensitive to such ideas, and both w i l l ing to use them and unable to use them without adaptation to his own particular understanding, arrived at through personal exper ience. Wordsworth's suffering through the despotism of the eye was not long-last ing. Besides the influence of his sister, with whom he was able to l ive from T'795 onwards, and Co le r idge , his friend from 1796 o n , and the legacy from Raisley Calvert in 1795, which rel ieved him from anxiety about money, the enrichment which his mind had already undergone in contact with the forms of nature aided his eye's recovery. When he was left in unbroken contact with his "native h i l l s " I fe l t , observed, and pondered; did not judge, Y e a , never thought of judging, with the gift O f al l this glory f i l led and satisf ied. (XII, 188-90) When he visited the A lps , his feelings were sti l l the same, and fortif ied as he was in this way, the disease of judging soon left him: 75. In truth, the degradation—howso'er Induced, effect, in whatsoe'er degree, O f custom that prepares a partial scale In which the l i t t le oft outweighs the great; O r any other cause that hath been named; O r last ly, aggravated by the times And their impassioned sounds, which wel l might make The milder minstrelsies of rural scenes Inaudible—was transient; I had known Too forc ib ly , too early in my l i f e , Visit ings of imaginative power For this to last: I shook the habit off Entirely and for ever, and again In Nature's presence stood, as now I stand, A sensitive be ing, a creative soul . TXII, 193-207) The poet eventual ly benefited from this period of feverish seeking out delights for the passive eye , for he became conscious of the necessity for calming the eye and of understanding it as part of the whole in te l lect . In "Tintern Abbey" the seeking eye is made tranquil by the profound experience of both the inner and outer worlds, that i s , by the "deep power of joy" and the "power of Harmony," and it is through this quiet eye that true insight is reached: that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us o n , — Unti l . . . we are laid asleep In body, and become a l iv ing soul: Whi le with an eye made quiet by the power O f harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the l i fe of things. (41-49) Simi lar ly in " A Poet's Epitaph" the combination of inward and outward experience leads to a quiet eye , and genuine understanding: The outward shows of sky and earth, O f hi l l and va l l ey , he has viewed; And impulses of deeper birth Have come to him in sol i tude. In common things that round us l ie Some random truths he can impart,— The harvest of a quiet eye That broods and sleeps on his own heart. (45-52) The Prelude too suggests, though rather confusingly, a changed and enlarged consciousness growing out of this experience of a crisis of v is ion. It seems to be after suffering this crisis that he comes to an understanding, to a knowledge born from exper ience, that the highest perception can be best understood as the contact between two v i ta l i t ies , of interaction between internal and external The very passivity of the eye during his period of mental distress brings about a new consciousness that the mind must be act ive in its dealings with external nature, not only in those moments when the senses are laid asleep and the whole world becomes a projection of the mind, but throughout exper ience. A l l the implications of the structure and ordering of Book XII of The Prelude of 1850 suggest that the disturbance of the mind in the feverish search for new pleasures for the eye grows from the passivity of the mind in the act iv i ty of the sense. Wordsworth's description of his sickness and his recovery, when once more he stands in Nature's presence as "accreative soul" <is fol lowed by the very carefull structured discussion of the "spots of t ime, " which f i l ls the rest of the book (207-335); and these spots of time are total ly relevant to the diseased eye for in them its cure. For those suffering as the young Wordsworth suffered; 77. By false opinion and contentious thought, O r aught of heavier or more deadly weight, In tr iv ial occupations, and the round O f ordinary intercourse (211-14) there is regeneration in the understanding wel l ing from those passages of l i fe which give Profoundest knowledge to what point, and how, The mind is lord and master—outward sense The obedient servant of her w i l l . (220-23) Between his accounts of two such scattered moments, Wordsworth writes of the understanding arising from these memories O h ! mystery of man, from what a depth Proceed thy honours. I am lost, but see In simple childhood something of the base O n which thy greatness stands; but this I f ee l , That from thyself it comes, that thou must g ive, Else never canst rece ive . (272-77) And at the conclusion of his two books on the impairing and restoration of imagination and taste, it is clear that he sees his restoration to mental health as bringing him into a stage of loving interaction between an act ive mind and an act ive universe. (The question of reciprocity is discussed more closely in relation to its philosophic background in chapter four). O f his l i fe immediately after his recovery, which he associates with the period when he was working 21 on " G u i l t and Sorrow," he writes: in l i fe 's everyday appearances I seemed about this time to gain clear sight O f a new world—a wor ld, too, that was fit To be transmitted, and to other eyes Made vis ib le; assruled by those fixed laws Whence spiritual dignity originates, Which do both give it being and maintain A balance, an ennobling interchange O f action from without and from within; The exce l lence , pure funct ion, and best power, Both of the object seen, and eye that sees. (XIII, 368-78) v . The Sense of Loss Despite this restoration to healthy sight and a proper relationship with the external wor ld , at the beginning of his career as a serious and a committed poet, there is in several of the most important writings of the "great decade" which fo l lowed, and occasional ly in works of the later years, a sense of loss, a loss which is part icularly connected with the eye . The sense of loss is not real ly present in The Prelude, which is overtly concerned with the years up to about 1797, although much of it was written at the time when he was most acutely aware of change and loss; and it is communicated in different ways as a different loss; in 1798 in "Tintern A b b e y , " in 1802-4 in the Immortality O d e , and in 1806 in "Peele C a s t l e , " Curiously enough, the first suggestion that this is to be a pattern in Wordsworth's understanding of his own experience and his consequent general iz ing about human exper ience, comes in An Evening Walk , which he wrote as a boy, from the ages of seventeen to n ineteen, looking back with nostalgia to his youth: Fair scenes! with other eyes, than once, I gaze , The ever-varying charm your round displays, Than when, erewhi le, I taught, 'a happy c h i l d , ' The echoes of your rocks my carols w i ld : Then did no ebb of chearfulness demand Sad tides of joy from Melancholy 's hand. In youth's wi ld eye the l ivelong day was bright The sun at morning and the stars at n ight .^2 (16-24) 79. This sounds very much l ike the prescribed blending of melancholy and nostalgia of the eighteenth-century descriptive poem of which in some ways An Evening Walk is so typical a specimen. Yet this poem presents under a disguising vei l of conventional poetic d ic t ion , many themes and images which were to be r ichly developed in the later poems, and here it also reflects a genuine sense of glory in the past. This could not be developed properly in this poem, for Wordsworth at this stage necessarily lacked the required experience, both poetic and human, but it seems very probable that although the sense of loss communicated in "Tintern A b b e y , " the Immortality O d e , and "Peele Cast le " refers to a genuinely newly-fe l t bereavement, the sense of loss was a constantly recurring experience throughout Wordsworth's art iculate l i f e , which was expressed in different forms at intervals when particular occasions had aroused the poet, and enabled him to formalize and organize this general awareness 23 into a pattern and an explanat ion. Thus it is in a way misleading to discuss this sense of loss here, as if it were connected with one particular period of Wordsworth's l i f e . Throughout his poetic l i fe he was aware of the vigour and spontaneity of youth, and equal ly he was aware throughout his poetic l i fe that youth in this sense was in the past: "For youth has its own wealth and independence; it is rich in health of body and animal spirits, in its sensibil i ty to the impressions of the natural universe, in the conscious growth of knowledge, in l i ve ly sympathy and famil iar communion with the generous actions recorded in history, and with the high passions of poetry; and above a l l , youth is r ich in the possession of t ime, and the accompanying consciousness of freedom and 80. power" (Grosart I, 315: Answer to the Letter of Mathetes). In The Excursion too, this sense of the past powers of youth is expressed: the Wanderer says "What visionary powers of eye and s o u l / In youth were mine" (IV, 111-12). "Tintern Abbey" is the first of the great poems of loss, though loss is not its central theme, but merely one aspect of the theme of man's relationship with nature. As we have seen, Wordsworth writes of his feverish state as a young man in 1793 in search of beauty, and although there is some recognition that this was a period of disturbance and over-exci tement, it is regretted as a period of joy and rapture, though these are qual i f ied: That time is past And al l its aching joys are now no more, And al l its d izzy raptures. (83-85) The later gifts are looked on as "abundant recompense" for this loss: and these, the gifts of maturity and the fruit of suffering, are the ab i l i ty to look on nature in the awareness of the "st i l l sad music of humanity," and then a higher experience of nature which unites man with her in his sense of their one l i fe: A sense sublime O f something far more deeply interfused . . . (95-96) Because of this new insight, despite the loss of joy, the mature poet sti l l loves "the mighty wor ld / O f eye and ear,—both what they half c rea te / And what perceive; well pleased to recogn ize / In nature and the language of the sense/ The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse , / The guide, the guardian of my heart, and sou l / O f a l l my moral being" (105-111). So that his love for nature has now become more intense and more dedicated: he returns to the Wye Va l l ey "with far deeper z e a l / O f holier l o v e . " Herbert Lindenberger believes that in each of the three major philosphical poems of the great decade, that i s , Tintern Abbey, the Immortality O d e , and The Prelude, there is a transition from "pathos" to "ethos," that i s , from a 24 delight in sensation to a dependence on moral values. Certa in ly in "Tintern Abbey" there is a movement from the ecstatic seeking of the pleasures of nature to a more sober and serious love of nature for the understanding which it brings. And the Immortality Ode shows a similar development, though the loss here is different; it is not the aching joy and the d izzy raptures of the most disturbed period of youth which is lost, but the chi ld 's vision of glory in the natural world and beyond i t . The sense of this more painful loss is expressed more certainly and strongly: What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now forever taken from my sight Though nothing can bring back the hour O f sprendour in the grass, of glory in the f lower. (1 76-79) And the compensation for this loss does not l ie entirely in the new growth of maturity but also in the memories of the chi ld 's vision of an independence of the senses which can bring truths that wake To perish never; Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour, Nor Man nor Boy, Nor a l l that is at enmity with joy, Can utterly abolish or destroy. (156-61) 82. Yet maturity has its own peculiar rewards although they are not spontaneously and heedlessly joy fu l , but grave and sober, the appropriate rewards of suffering and contemplation: We wi l l grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind; In the primal sympathy Which having been must ever be; In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering; In the faith that looks through death In years that bring the philosophic mind. (180-87) The eye which is chastened sti l l enriches the objects it beholds, though with a darker shade: The Clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o'ermah'srmo'litailiiity. (197-99) There is , however, certainly a deeper sense of loss in the Immortality Ode and a stronger sense of the dreariness of the preoccupations and anxieties of adult l i f e , "our noisy years" Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight, And custom l ie upon thee with a weight, Heavy as frost, and deep almost as l i f e ! (127-29) The pattern shifts again in the "Elegiac Stanzas" ("Peele Cas t le " ) . The loss is shown, but it is no longer regretted in the same way; the commonplace obscuring and distracting anxieties of adult l i fe are not mentioned, while the anguish of human experience is posit ively welcomed as uniting the artist with his fel low men. In strong contrast with the Immortality O d e , where the good 83 . dwells in and springs from chi ldhood, maturity represents the good in this poem, which surely Jonathan Wordsworth must have overlooked in asserting that "as Wordsworth became obsessed by decl in ing poetic powers, he tended to place more and more emphasis on childhood as the source of inspiration and less and less on the value of wisdom gained by experience" (Music of Humanity, p.217). " Peele Castle " is concerned with the changing nature of his poetic powers, and it values most highly the wisdom which is gained by exper ience. To the young Wordsworth, the proper business of art was to create a world of eternal beauty; the older poet hasMearnt through suffering that he is man as wel l as poet, and that art is concerned with the transient and painfu l , as wel l as the eternal and beaut i fu l . The shock of the contrast between Beaumont's painting of the storm, with its ship in distress in the foreground, reminding the poet of his brother, drowned in a shipwreck, and his own memory of the unbroken calm of the scene which he had witnessed in 1794, makes him consider his own earl ier vision to be false. " A power has gone , " and from the context it could be either the power of unthinking joy in art or in l i fe or maybe both. The qualit ies which he welcomes, "fortitude and patient cheer , " are not, as in "Tintern Abbey" and the Immortality Ode qualities most conducive to the writ ing of poetry, though here, as there, we find a greater sympathy with human troubles. He resigns himself to perpetual suffering from his brothers death: The feeling of my loss wi l l ne'er be o ld ; This, which I know, I speak with mind serene. (39-40) The eye in this poem is no longer the source of delight which it has once been, nor the indirect means of moral awakening which it is by impl icat ion in much of the poetry of about 1800. It is an eye experienced in painful and ugly sights, and capable of beholding such sights and drawing from them both strength and the poetry of exper ience, the kind of poetry of which these "E leg iac Stanzas" are themselves a fine example. v i . Experience imagined and real ised. During the years when he was apparently most aware of the sense of loss, Wordsworth expressed further doubts of the val id i ty of the visual exper ience. The physical eye needs to be fed with noble images, for the sake of the heart, but it can be overfed; Wordsworth felt that it is desirable that somethin should be left to the mind's eye . Some spectacles, long contemplated by the imagination because of their fame, whether owing to their beauty, or to story or history, can be experienced more v i ta l ly by the imagination than by the bodi ly eye . Such a spectacle is Mont Blanc: From a bare ridge we also first beheld Unvei led the summit of Mont Blanc, and grieved To have a soulless image on the eye That had usurped upon a l iv ing thought That never more could be. (Prelude, V I , 524-28) The Yarrow poems record similar feelings: the Yarrow was or ig inal ly unvisited 1803 because: 85. We have a vision of our own; A h ! why should we undo i t ? The treasured dreams of time long past W e ' l l keep them, winsome Marrow ! For when we're there, although 'tis fa i r , 'Twi l l be another Yarrow. (51-56) Yet in this case eventually the imagined experience is able to enhance the actual exper ience, so that despite sadness at the disappearance of a dream, the combined experience is profitable: I see—but not by sight a lone, Loved Yarrow, have I won thee;' A ray of fancy sti l l survives— Her sunshine plays upon thee! Thy ever youthful waters keep A course of l i ve ly pleasure; And gladsome notes my lips can breathe, Accordant to the measure. (73(4-80) As an old man Wordsworth discussed this question in a note to the sonnet "At Rome" ("Is this, ye Gods , the Capi to l ian Hi l l " ) which records a similar kind of experience: "Sight is at first a sad enemy to imagination and to those pleasures belonging to old times with which some exertions of that power wi l l always mingle . . . Ab i l i t y to recover from this disappointment wi l l exist in proportion to knowledge, and the power of the mind to reconstruct out of fragments and parts, and to make details in the present subservient to more adequate comprehension of the past ( I .F. Note: P W , III, 494). v i i . The Inward Eye The eye of the imaginat ion, the inward eye , is a v i ta l ly important aspect 86. of Wordsworth's attitude to the eye , for, as has been shown, the bodi ly eye can be understood either as sti f l ing the inward eye or as giving it l i f e . The "inward eye" and various similar phrases are frequently used, with a fundamental s imi lar i ty, but nevertheless with differences, so that the meaning is somewhat e last ic . The basic meaning is "the eye that sees what is not present to the bodily senses." The inward eye can see through a powerfully retained memory: this is how the phrase is used in "To a Painter , " when the poet says that the painter could only portray Mary Wordsworth to her husband's satisfaction Couldst thou go back into far-distant-years, O r share with me, fond thought! that inward eye . "That inward eye" is so strong in Wordsworth that it has overcome the bodi ly eye , and he cannot recognize that Mary has become faded. Possibly his use of this phrase here is intended as a tribute to his w<i>fe, whom he said had given him 25 the two famous lines in which it occurs in "I wandered lonely as a c loud" : They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of sol i tude. Here too the inward eye is an organ dependent on memory, but the memory has a curious energy of its own. The poet is not shown as arousing the inward eye through his own mental act iv i ty ; on the contrary, he is " in vacant or in pensive mood, " when the daffodils " f lash" upon his inward eye . They have retained the vital joyful energy which they had when first seen "fluttering and danc ing , " "tossing their heads in sprightly dance , " outdoing "the sparkling waves in g l e e . " Indeed, this is a poem of doubled experience; the unfocussed lonely wandering of the first stanza is the "vacant or pensive mood" of the last stanza; the image 87. of the daffodils breaks into this state with the same suddenness and energy each t ime. The poet's own energy and power of memory have opened the 26 inward eye forever to that exper ience. The inner eye is the organ of the imaginat ion, in the common sense of that word, in Book V of The Prelude , where Wordsworth who is writing about the value of works of romance to the chi ld 's mind, describes his own experience as a small boy when he saw the body of a drowned man hauled out of the lake, and was able to see actual experience with the transforming power of imagined experience: no soul-debasing fear, Young as I was, a ch i ld not nine years o l d , Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen Such sights before, among the shining streams O f faeryland, the forest of romance •"; Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle With decoration of ideal grace; A d igni ty , a smoothness, l ike the works O f Grec ian art and purest poesy. (451-59) It is not only the imaginary and the past worlds on which the inward eye looks, but also the in te l lec tua l , the world of existences which we know or bel ieve to be rea l , but cannot experience through the physical senses. Here the bodi ly eye and the inward eye work together (as indeed they must also do in different ways when the inward eye looks at a memory given by the outer eye , or the outer eye looks at a scene imagined by the inward eye). The intel lectual eye is seen taking over from the educated bodi ly eye in the fol lowing passage, from manuscript additions to An Evening Wa lk , which shows Wordsworth's deep respect for both facult ies: 88. those favoured souls who, taught By act ive Fancy or by patient Thought, See common forms prolong the endless chain O f joy and grief, of pleasure and of pain; But chief ly those to whom the harmonious doors O f Science have unbarred celestial stores, To whom a burning energy has given That other eye which darts thro' earth and heaven, Roams through al l space and ( ) unconfined, Explores the i l l imi table tracts of mind, And piercing the profound of time can see Whatever man has been and man can be , From him the local tenant of the shade To man by a l l the elements obeyed. With them the sense no tr iv ia l object knows, Of t at its meanest touch their spirit glows, And proud beyond a l l limits to aspire Mounts through the fields of thought on wings of f i re . (PW, I, 12-13) When Wordsworth writes of the " intel lectual eye" in his description of his own restoration, he is referring not to the "inward eye" precisely, but to the physical eye as it is informed by the in te l lec t , and as it acts in cooperation with i t . This seems l ike ly because of the context, for Wordsworth describes his new sense of Nature's power in the lines immediately preceding these. The eye and the in te l lec t , which had passed through a period of barren and unhappy separation, are reunited, so that the eye's experience is no longer pure sensation, nor the intel lect 's pure theory, but either faculty reinvigorates the other. Wordsworth writes that after his period of darkness 'Twas proved that not in vain I had been taught to reverence a Power That is the visible qual i ty and shape And image of right reason. This power is Nature, which gives to fevered man "a temperate show of objects that endure." More part icularly he remembers his early lessons, teaching him: 8 9 . To look with feelings of fraternal love Upon the unassuming things that hold A silent station in this beauteous wor ld . It is by this means "thus moderated, thus composed" that he is able to feel that I found Once more in Man an object of del ight, O f pure imaginat ion, and of love; A n d , as the horizon of my mind enlarged, Again I took the intel lectual eye For my instructor, studious more to see Great truths, than touch and handle l i t t le ones. (Prelude, XIII, 1-63) It is important to understand the true relationship between the "inward eye" and the bodi ly eye , and to recognize that the latter for Wordsworth though acknowledged as a potential despot, was also honoured as a source of intel lectual well be ing . I disagree with Me lv in Rader, who, when rightly pointing out Wordsworth's similarity to Shaftesbury over the concept of "the inward e y e , " states that "Re [Wordsworth] uses such phrases as 'my inward eye,,' 'the eye of l o ve , ' ' a n : eye which spake perpetual logic to my soul , " 'a quiet eye That broods and sleeps on his own heart'; and he contrasts this spiritual faculty with the 'bodi ly e y e ' , 'outward sense', and the 'f leshly ear ' " (p.54). There is no real contrast here, for except for the "inward e y e , " the other phrases a l l refer to the bodi ly eye which Wordsworth knew to be a means of enlargement and enrichment of intel lectual exper ience. It is quite wrong to assume that whenever the eye is spoken of in connection with the heart, soul or mind, it must be understood to mean the inward eye , for one of the insistent themes of Wordsworth's poetry is that the eye can give sustenance to the intel lectual capacit ies of man. 90. The similarity in this matter of the inward eye with Shaftesbury, whose work Wordsworth knew and respected (see chapter one) is real enough; but it is a similarity which also exists between Wordsworth and other Neoplatonic thinkers, for Shaftesbury in his treatment of this matter is at his most Neopla ton ic . His "inward eye" and that of the Neoplatonists is less closely related to the physical eye than is Wordsworth's, for whi le Wordsworth's beholds visions remembered or fanc ied, Shaftesbury's views a more abstract moral or intel lectual beauty: " N o sooner the Eye opens upon Figures, the Ear to Sounds, then straight the Beautiful results and Grace and Harmony are known and acknowledg'd. No sooner are A C T I O N S v i e w ' d , no sooner the Human Affections and Passions discern'd . . . than straight an inward EYE distinguishes and sees the Fair and Shapely, the Amiable and Admirable apart from the Deform'd, the Fou l , the Odious or the Despicable. "(Characteristicks II, 14: The Moral ists, Part 31 , Sect. 2) . At his most Neop la ton ic , Shaftesbury, deeply though he loved natural beauty, asserts a l l beauty to be intel lectual ' : ; "it should appear from our strict Search that there is nothing so divine as BEAUTY: Which belonging not to Body, nor having any Principle or Existence, except in M I N D and R E A S O N , is alone d iscovered and acquir 'd by this diviner part when it inspects i tself , the only Object worthy of i tself . For Whate'er is void of M i n d , is Vo id and Darkness to the Mind's E Y E . This languishes and grows d im, whene'er detach'd on foreign subjects; but thrives and attains its natural vigour when employed in the contemplation of what is l ike itself" (Characteristicks, II, 426: The Moral ists, part 3 , sect. 2). This has strong echoes of Plotinus, who also saw beautiful deeds 91 . as the proper object of the inward eye: " . . . having now closed the corporeal eye , we must stir up and assume a purer eye wi th in , which a l l men possess, but which is alone used by a few. What is it then this inward eye beholds? Indeed, suddenly raised to intel lectual v is ion , it cannot perceive an object exceeding bright. The soul must therefore be first aaccustbmeda to contemplate fair studies, and then beautiful works; not such as arise from the operations of art , but such as are the offspring of worthy men: and next to this, it is necessary 16 view the soul 27 which is the parent of this lovely r a c e . " Thomas Taylor , in a note to his translation of Plotinus, comments on this passage that "this inward eye is no other than in te l lec t , which contains in its most:inward recesses, a certain ray of l ight, participated from the sun o.f Beauty and G o o d , by which the soul is enabled to behold and become united with her d iv inely solitary or ig in" (Raine and Harper, p. 157). Elsewhere in this same sixth tractate of the first Ennead, so much beloved by the young Co ler idge, Plotinus refers in a similar sense to "the intel lectual eye" (p. 158), a phrase which Wordsworth uses, as has been noted, and the "brighter eye of the soul" (p. 149). I bel ieve that Wordsworth is l i ke ly to have picked up this Neoplatonic notion and adapted it to suit his own experience. This should be remembered when the relationship between patters of thought in the works of Wordsworth and in those of the Neoplatonists is considered more closely in chapter four. This chapter has attempted to show the development of Wordsworth's ideas about the eye , and how these arise from his own visual exper ience. It may be noted that in several ways Wordsworth's mode of expressing his own visual 92. experience seems to have a decidedly Neoplatonic ring to i t . The sense that it is " G o d , who is our home" echoes Christ ian Neoplatonism; the communication of the most intense moments of perception as a union of intel lect and object is also much l ike that expressed by the Neoplatonists. Wordsworth's crisis in his early years can be seen partly in Neoplatonic terms, for this made him conscious, as they are, of the ev i l in a rel iance on sense which ignores and suffocates the in te l lect . The "inward e y e , " too, is a Neoplatonic not ion. However, this strain must not be overemphasized. A l l these ideas were very much Wordsworth's own, the product of his personal exper ience. And he did not see vision or perception as being pure in te l lect . The object was of great importance to h im, and in this he has a close relationship with empiricist thought. The fol lowing chapters w i l l show how matters arising from a study of the eye in Wordsworth's poetry relate to connected trends in various schools of philosophy. Notes "Autobiographical Vagaries in Tintern A b b e y , " Studies in Phi lo logy, 42 (1945), 81 -86 . 2 In The Faerie Q u e e n , Prince Arthur's sword is so dazz l ing ly bright that it could bl ind his enemies. With it he defeated the giant Orgog l io . FQ I, 7 , x x x i i i - x x x v i i , 8; compare At lanta's shield in the Orlando Furioso, 2 , 55 -56 , xx i v . 3 From the I.F. note to the Ode quoted in The Poetical Works of Wi l l iam Wordsworth, ed . Ernest de Selincourt (Oxford, 1940-49), IV, 463-64. 4 Wordsworth says in a note to this poem that "allusions to the Ode entit led 'Intimations of Immortality' pervade this stanza" (PW, IV, 12-13). 93. 5 As Stephen G i l l notes in his revision of the de Selincourt edit ion of the 1805 Prelude (Oxford, 1970), p .313, this passage was composed only when the poem was being completed in 1804-05, whi le the childhood episodes in this book are taken from the work of 1799 and 1800. ^This I.F. note and other external evidence for Wordsworth's occasional descent into an "abyss of ideal ism" in childhood is given in PW, IV, 463 and 467. ^ G . H . Durrant points out, in Wi l l iam Wordsworth (Cambridge, 1969) p. 2 1 , that in "I wandered l one l y , " " in a l l creation man seems to be the only creature capable of feel ing not at home, of 'wandering lonely as a c l o u d . " 1 g M S . L includes the fol lowing two lines at this point: "Throw off from us, or mit igate, the s p e l l / O f that strong frame of sense in which we dwe l l " (PW, IV, 283: app. cr i t . ) 9 Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814 (New Haven, 1964), p.276. Hartman continues more arguably: "In stanza IX espec ia l ly , when Wordsworth says that his thanksgivings are less for the visionary gleam than for the visionary dreariness, and goes on to describe the latter as: those first affections Those shadowy recol lect ions, Which be they what they may, Are yet the fountain light of a l l our day Are yet a master light of a l l our see ing T it is hard to fol low him. He seems to be wi l fu l ly confusing moments of darkness and fear in which nature seems al ien to the chi ld with moments of splendour and beauty which first developed the chi ld 's affections and drew them to nature in a more intimate way" (p.276). It is surely misleading to connect the "shadowy recol lect ions" which are surely just faint memories, expressed in the very common image, of experiences not of darkness, fear and a l ientat ion, but of mental power, with "visionary dreariness," a quite different concept. ^ S e e , for instance, Havens, pp. 155-76. 11 Plotinus, The Enneads, trans. Stephen MacKenna , 2nd ed . rev. B . S . Page (London, 1956), p.245: Ennead III, v i i i , 8 . 12 At this point, the 1805 Prelude continues: "And whatsoever shape the fiit might t ake , / And whencesoever it might come, I s t i l l / A t al l times had a real solid wor ld / O f images about me" (601-14). 13 Jonathan Wordsworth, Music of Humanity, p. 179, quoting M S . D of "The Ped lar . " 1 4 | . F . note to An Evening Walk , PW, I, 318-19 . 94. 15 11 , 403-04, quoted by Owen Barfield in What Coler idge Thought (London, 1972), p . 2 1 . Barfield also quotes (p.20) from a note of Coler idge's on Mi l ton 's di f f icul ty with the concept of creation ex n ih i lo : "this di f f iculty arises wholly out of that Slavery of the Mind to the Eye and the visual Imagination or Fancy under the influence of which the Reasoner must have a picture and mistakes surface for substance." 1 6 S e e Essay Book II, c h . x x i x , 2: I, 486-87. Ernest Tuveson (p.21) says that of a l l the senses "only sight is significant Ito simple ideas of sensation] for thought is see ing . " ^Thomas Taylor, quoting Proclus in a note to his translation of Plotinus' "Concerning the Beauti ful" in Raine and Harper, p. 146. 1 g Plotinus, "Concerning the Beaut i fu l , " Raine and Harper, p. 146. 19 Anthony^Ashle^iCpqpekjoEarl o rfaShaftesbury, JdThe Mora l is ts , " Characteristicks of M e n , Manners, Opin ions, Times, 3rd e d . (n .p. 1723), II, 395: pt. 3 , sec. 2 . 20 Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe, 2nd ed . (London, 1743), II, 636: Bk. I, c h . v . 21 This makes any attempt at dating the period of crisis d i f f icu l t , for " G u i l t and Sorrow" was conceived in the summer of 1793 and finished in 1794, and it is in these years that some of the pr inciple events associated with the crisis took p lace , such as the declaration of war against France and the writ ing of the "Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff" in 1793 and the death of Robespierre in 1794. Thus these years are associated with the disease rather than the cure. In any case, as de Selincourt notes (p.618), it is certainly not "Gu i l t ' and Sorrow " but Descriptive Sketches which Coler idge read and admired before he had met Wordsworth"^ It is not uncommon for Wordsworth to confuse dates; and it is most understandable here, as his recovery is not l ike ly to have been immediate and sudden, or l inked with some particular date. Hartman (p.247) says "there is no ev idence, from Wordsworth's poetry, that the period of dejection was unbroken, and the recovery sudden. The poet's retrospective mingling of crisis and cure may have its basis in f ac t . " 22 The revised version of 1820 reads: "The spirit sought not than in cherished sadness./ A cloudy substitute for fa i l ing g ladness. / In youth's keen eye the l ivelong day was br ight / The sun at morning and the stars at night" (15-18). 95. 23 In view of other parallels between Wordsworth's thought and Neoplatonism, it is worth noting that John Beer comments (p.58) that "running through Swedenborgianism and Neoplatonism there is the sense of lost glory—which is what appealed to the Romantics." 24 Herbert Lindenberger, O n Wordsworth's Prelude (Princeton, 1963), p .32. 25 PW II, 507: the I.F. note says that "The two best lines in it are by M a r y , " and an added pencil note identifies the two lines as 21 and 22. 26 "The inward ear" in "Yes it was the Mountain Echo" is not understood in the same way as the organ of memory. Rather it is the organ of the spir i t , and brings intuitions and prsentiments: "Echoes from beyond the g r a v e , / Recognized in te l l i gence ! " Yet it too is not consciously exercised but rather receives " f lashes." 27 Plotinus, "Concerning the Beaut i fu l , " Raine and Harper, 158-59. i 96. Chapter Three: The Eye and the Ac t i ve Principle in Nature: Wordsworth and English Empiricism. Introductory Wordsworth's poetry is frequently concerned with a force which is outside the mind, and which works on i t , through the medium or inlet of the senses, and especial ly the eye . This force should not be understood as a material and mechanical external nature operating upon an essentially passive mind, in the manner of the empiricists, for although such theories are of course relevant, one of Wordsworth's most important poetic problems is how to place and name this external and natural force as an intel lectual or spiritual power, a problem manifestly important and troubling to h im, as several possible solutions are discarded. It must not be forgotten that Wordsworth is al l the time aware of another and co-operat ive power, namely the act ive mind. He saw both mind and nature not as static and mater ia l , but as full of process and working, although there is a development through the years from a stress on nature's working in the earl ier verse, to the stress on the mind's working in the later verse. The very importance of the ministry of fear in the early books of The Prelude shows this process, for fear involves two parties, the frightened subject and the object of fear, which i f not always external to the mind is always external to the w i l l . For the orthodox Lockean, such as Addison or Young, created nature was essentially stat ic , for the external world was "dead matter,"^ and man, though in perception he endowed matter with its secondary characteristics of colour and 97. sound, was not properly creat ive, for he absorbed passively the inevitable impressions made by matter. Wordsworth's whole world was creat ive; in that world the intel lect of man was part icularly creat ive, and amongst men the poet is pecul iar ly creat ive. A rather ar idly theoretical passage of The Excursion expresses this feel ing for process exp l ic i t l y enough: 'To every Form of being is assigned,' 1. . . An act ive Pr inc ip le : - howe'er removed From sense and observation, it subsists In a l l things, in al l natures; in the stars O f azure heaven, the unenduring clouds, In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks, The moving waters, and the invisible a i r Whate'er exists hath properties that spread Beyond itself, communicating good, A simple blessing, or with evi l mixed; Spirit that knows no insulated spot, No chasm, no solitude; from link to l ink It c i rculates, the soul of a l l the worlds, This is the freedom of the universe; Unfolded st i l l the more, more v is ib le , The more we know; and yet in reverenced least, And least respected in the human M i n d , Its most apparent home. (Excursion IX , 1-20) But it is impl ic i t throughout much of his work, and frequently more v i ta l ly when less theoret ical ly expressed. What concerns me in this chapter, however, is not the act ive pr inciple as such, nor its operation in the mind of man, not nature in itself as ac t i ve , as " l iv ing and re jo ic ing" (Exc. I l l , 943), but the act ive principle as an exter ior power working on and with the mind of man through the eye's agency. 98. i . Wise Passiveness The last chapter shows that Wordsworth actual ly experienced the eye both as despot and as benefactor. It is one aspect of the power of the external world that the eye is presented as a means of moral understanding and of a proper relationship with the wor ld . Co le r idge , in his famous account of the plan for the Lyr ical Ballads in Biographia Literaria X I V , said that Wordsworth's object was "to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure but one for wh ich , in consequence of the fi lm of famil iar i ty and selfish sol ic i tude, we have eyes yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand" (II, 6). The world before us is an "inexhaustible treasure" largely because it is not the world within us. The fancy and the reason in isolation from the external can be merely sol ips is t ic . The eye and the other senses when exercised properfy communicate the world of the non-self and thus make possible sympathy and love . It is for this reason that the Wanderer says: The estate of man would be indeed forlorn If false conclusions of the reasoning power Made the eye b l i nd , and closed the passages Through which the ear converses with the heart. (Exc. IV, 1152-55) The contrast between the M o r a l i s t and the Poet, in " A Poet's Epitaph,11;- is based largely on this perception of the external world working on the mind simply by being other to it: the poet is capable of love and of true intel lectual 9 9 . creat iv i ty , because of his consciousness of the sel f in a world: the Moral ist is capable of neither, for his consciousness is of the self as a world: A Moralist perchance appears; Led , Heaven knows how! to this poor ;sod: And he has neither eyes nor ears; Himself his wor ld , and his own G o d ; One to whose smooth-rubbed soul can c l ing Nor form, nor fee l ing, great or small; A reasoning, self-suff icing th ing, An intel lectual A l l - i n - a l l ! • • * But who is He , with modest looks, And clad in homely russet brown? He murmurs near the running brooks A music sweeter than their own. The outward shows of sky and earth, O f h i l l and va l l ey , he has viewed; And impulses of deeper birth Have come to him in sol i tude. In common things that round us l ie Some random truths he can impart, -The harvest of a quiet eye That broods and sleeps on his own heart. (25-52) It i s , as was suggested in chapter two, the combination of inward and outward experience which leads to a quiet eye and genuine understanding. As Geoffrey Hartman (p.327) writes in relation to The White Doe of Rylstone "the great virtue of nature . . . is to lead from self to other, or to remind the self of its power for re lat ionship." To be open to this power of otherness, man must not be constantly preoccupied with his own intel lectual development, for such preoccupation involves self-100. consciousness to a degree which naturally shuts the consciousness off from the external wor ld . This impl ies, not that the mind should be inact ive, but that it should be unanxious, for, acknowledging the essential benevolence of this external power ("Nature never did betray/ The heart that loved her" ) , it can afford to trust i t , knowing that its own act iv i ty may come at a later stage and that i t may be equal ly unwi l led . Thus apparent mental inact iv i ty can be more fruitful than the most energetic intel lectual act iv i ty : There is a holy indolence Compared to which our best act iv i ty Is oftimes deadly bane. They rest upon their oars Float down the might stream of tendency In the calm mood of holy indolence A most wise passiveness in which the heart Lies open and is well content to feel As nature feels and to receive her shapes As she has made them. (Prelude, p.566) It seems that Wordsworth on this subject had a sympathetic listener in Co ler idge, who six years after Wordsworth wrote these lines in the "Alfoxden Notebook" commented in his own notebook that: "the dignity of passiveness to worthy Ac t i v i t y when men shall be as proud within themselves of having remained an hour in a state of deep tranquil emotion, whether in reading or in hearing or in look ing, as they now are in having figured away one hour/ O how few can transmute act iv i ty of mind into emotion, yet there are who act ive as the stirring Tempest playful as a May blossom in a Breeze of M a y , can yet for hours together remain with hearts broad awake,& the Understanding asleep in a l l but its retentiveness and recept iv i ty / y e a , & the Latter evinces as great Genius as the 101. Former" (Notebooks I, 1834 16 217). At the time when Coler idge wrote this (in January 1804) he was staying with the Wordsworths at Town End and may wel l have been thinking of Wordsworth. (Kathleen Coburn notes the connection between this passage and "Expostulation and Reply" ) . Nature is regarded as a teacher in several poems of 1798, not in the sense that she f i l ls the mind with precise aphoristic teaching, but in that through the eye and the other senses, she spontaneously enlarges the mind. Lines such as One moment now may give us more Than years of to i l ing reason: Our minds shall drink at every pore The spirit of the season, ('{To My Sister ," 25-28) i l luminate others which have been stumbling blocks to some readers: One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, O f moral evi l and of good, Than al l the sages can . ("The Tables Turned, " 21-24) It is understandable that an enlarged sympathy contributes more to an understanding of man than does a reading of Aristot le's Ethics. For this reason Wordsworth rejects the "seeking" act iv i ty of constant study and waits to be sought, recognizing that there is potential good in the physical ly passive or involuntary nature of the eye: The eye—it cannot choose but see; We cannot bid the ear be s t i l l ; Our bodies f ee l , where'er they be , Against or with our w i l l . Nor less I deem that there are powers Which of themselves our minds impress That we can feed this mind of ours In a wise passiveness. 102. Think you , 'mid a l l this mighty sum O f things forever speaking, That nothing of itself w i l l come, But we must sti l l be seeking? ("Expostulation and Rep ly , " 17-25) This aspect of Wordsworth's thought obviously owes much to Locke , in that such a view of the mind is only possible after Locke's own work and his influence on the development of thought throughout Europe in the eighteenth century. Indeed, the stanzas just quoted are strongly reminiscent of Locke , who wrote: "But yet what he [man] does see, he cannot see otherwise than he does . . . . Just thus is it with our understanding: a l l that is voluntary in our knowledge is the employing or witholding any of our faculties from this or that sort of objects, and a more or less accurate survey of them: but, they being employed, our wi l l hath no power to determine the knowledge of the mind one way or another; that is done only by the objects themselves so far as they are 2 clearly discovered" (Essay IV, c h . x i i i , 2). The similarity is that both Wordsworth and Locke show that one important feature of perception is that it is not contro l led, except in the most l imited way, by the w i l l . Locke makes this point, which is essential to his concept of perception, again in his discussion of the difference between remembered and perceived images: Because sometimes I find I cannot avoid the having those ideas in my mind . . . . And therefore it must needs be some exterior cause, and the brisk acting of some objects without me whose ef f icacy I cannot resist, that produces those ideas in my mind whether I w i l l or no . Besides there is nobody who does not perceive the difference in himself between 103. contemplating the sun, as he hath the idea of it in his memory, and actual ly looking upon it . . . . And therefore he hath certain knowledge that they are not both memory, or the actions of his mind, and fancies only within him; but that actual seeing hath a cause wi thout . (Essay IV, i x , 495: II, 328-9) Whi le the involuntary nature of perception is merely reported by Locke , it is welcomed by Wordsworth, as a way in which the inevitable process of knowledge leads man beyond himself, and forces him to make relationships and connections. i i . Locke , Hart ley, and the Education of Nature This view of the essentially benevolent and enlarging process involved in an unhampered relationship with external nature was the basis of Wordsworth's theories of formal educat ion. These theories changed very l i t t le over the years; Wordsworth always considered learning through experience more important than formal educat ion, and increasing the powers of the imagination and the sympathies as more important than increasing the number of accomplishments and of remembered facts, "the dead lore of schools" (PW , V , 388): the eye and the other senses thus are v i ta l ly important in educat ion. In 1797, Dorothy Wordsworth described the methods which she and her brother were using in bringing up l i t t le Basil Montagu, then six years o ld: "We teach him nothing at present but what he learns from the evidence of his senses. He has an unsatiable curiosity which we are always careful to;satisfy to the best of our ab i l i t y . It is 104. directed to everything he sees, the sky, the f ie lds, trees, shrubs, corn, the making of tools, carts, &c &c & c . He knows his letters, but we have not 3 attempted any further step in the path of book learning" (EL, p. 180: to Mrs. John Marsha l l , 19 M a r c h , 1797). Near ly f i fty years later, Wordsworth was sti l l voicing the theories on which this practice was based: Is not the knowledge inculcated by the teacher, or derived under his managemtii/ .from books, too exclusively dwelt upon, so as almost to put out of sight that whrch comes without being sought for, from intercourse with nature and from experience in the actual employments and duties which a chi ld 's situation in the country, however unfavorable, w i l l lead him to or impose upon him. How much of what is precious comes into our minds in a l l ranks of society, not as knowledge entering formally in the shape of knowledge, but as infused thro' the constitution of things and by the grace of G o d . . . . It struck me also that, from the same cause, too l i t t le attention is paid to books of imagination which are eminently useful in ca l l ing forth intel lectual power. We must not only have knowledge but the means of wielding i t , and that is done inf in i tely more thro1 the imaginative faculty assisting both in the col lect ion and the appl icat ion of facts than is general ly be l ieved. (LY, III, 1268-69: to Seymour 3 Tremenheere, 16 December, 1845) This high value placed upon knowledge "infused through the constitution of things and by the grace of G o d , " causes him to rejoice that he was spared the over-anxious education fashionable in some circles at this per iod, which Wordsworth 105. saw as a foolish and Irrevent interference in the freedom of interaction between the chi ld and his wor ld , leading inevitably to a barren and self-destroying self-consciousness, a self-consciousness which wi l l inevitably cut him off from al l possibil ity of real interaction with his wor ld . The vict im of the educational theorist must l ive Knowing that he grows wiser every day Or else not l ive at a l l , and seeing too Each l i t t le drop of wisdom.'as it falls Into the dimpling cistern of his heart: For this unnatural growth the trainer blame, Pity the t ree.—Poor human vani ty , Wert thou extinguished, l i t t le would be left Which he could truly love; but how escape? For, ever as a thought of purer birth Rises to lead him toward a better c l ime, Some intermeddler too is on the watch To drive him back, and pound him, l ike a stray, Within the pinfold of his own concei t . Meanwhi le old grandame earth is grieved to find The playthings, which her love designed for h im, Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers Weep, and the river sides are a l l forlorn. O h ! give us once again the wishing cap O f Fortunatus, and the invisible coat O f Jack t he 'G ian t - k i l l e r , Robin Hood, And Sabra in the forest with St. George! The chi ld whose love is here, at least doth reap One precious ga in , that he forgets himself. (Prelude V , 323-46) The chi ld reading fantastic stories, l ike the chi ld playing or working amidst natural objects, must be constantly drawn outside the radius of his own achievements, abi l i t ies and comforts, and, what is more, led into the power of a force that is not his own conscious w i l l , nor that of any other person: 106. A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides, And o'er the heart of man: invisibly It comes, to works of unreproved del ight, And tendency benign, direct ing those Who care not, know not, think not what they do. (Prelude, V , 491-95) The operation of this force in educating the chi ld is seen most c lear ly in the early books of The Prelude which show how the poet developed "fostered a l ike by beauty and by fea r . " Natural objects are regarded as having in their act iv i t ies a positive benevolence towards human l i fe . For instance, Wordsworth deplores his own lack of direction thus: Was it for this That one , the fairest of a l l r ivers, loved To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song? (Prelude I, 269-71) The Derwent's murmurs are directed towards mankind, are intended, it is suggested, as a part of the formation of the mind of a poet, of one whose role w i l l be to murmur "near the running brooks/ A music sweeter than their o w n . " A l l the more intensely realised episodes from Book I, the snaring of woodcocks, the boat-steal ing, the skat ing, are intended to show How Nature by extrinsic passion first Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair And made me love them. (Prelude I, 545-47) Nature moulds and serves man; her processes are beneficent when they are al lowed to work, through the eye and ear, unhindered by the unnatural surroundings and strains of ci ty l i f e . The contrast at the Helvel lyn Fair between the size of the people and the size of the mountain makes Wordsworth see them as babies with a nurse: 107. Through utter weakness pi t iable dear, As tender infants are: and yet how great! For a l l things serve them: them the morning light. Loves, as it glistens on the silent rocks; And them the silent rocks, which now from high Look down upon them; the reposing clouds; The wi ld brooks prattling from invisible haunts; And old He lve i l yn , conscious of the stir Which animates this day their calm abode. (Prelude VIII , 61-69) Such passages show man in an ideal relationship with his world; they are an idy l l i c glimpse of a relationship which is possible, but rarely ac tua l . The claims made for the power of natural objects over the mind of man are enormous . Nature does not merely delight or terrify or awaken artistic powers, it actual ly forms, or helps to form, moral powers and achievements: ye mountains and ye lakes And sounding cataracts, ye mists and winds That dwell among the hi l ls where I was born. If inimy youth I have been pure in heart, If mingling with the wor ld , I am content With my own modest pleasures, and have l ived With G o d and Nature communing, removed From l i t t le enmities and low desires, The gift is yours . . . i f , in this time O f derel ict ion and dismay, I yet Despair not of our nature, but retain A more than Roman conf idence, a faith That fails not, in a l l sorrow my support, The blessing of my l i fe ; the gift is yours, Ye winds and sounding cataracts! 'tis yours, Y e mountains! th ine, O Nature! Thou has fed My lofty speculations; and in thee For this uneasy heart of ours, I find A never- fa i l ing principle of joy And purest passion. (Prelude II, 424-51) 108. The virtues are formed by the awakening of strength and power In man through the deep impressions of fear and love imprinted by Nature's forms, and by the early contemplation of noble objects: So the foundations of his mind were l a i d . In such communion, not from terror f ree, Whi le yet a c h i l d , and long before his t ime, Had he perceived the presence and the power O f greatness; and deep feelings had impressed So v iv id ly great objects that they lay Upon his mind l ike substances whose presence Perplexed the bodi ly sense. (Exc. I, 132-39) And as was observed in chapter two, this early contact with natural beauty prevented him from being misled too far by the fancyv (Prelude VII I , 426-32). The same bel ief in the ef f icacy of contact with Nature in forming the virtues is seen in a simpler form in the "Song at the Feast of Brougham Cast le : " Love had he found in huts where poor men l ie ; His dai ly teachers had been woods and r i l l s , The si lence that is in the starry sky, The sleep that is among the lonely h i l l s . In him the savage virtue of the Race, Revenge, and a l l ferocious thoughts were dead: Nor did he change; but kept in lofty place The wisdom which adversity had bred. "Ru th , " too, shows Wordsworth's bel ief in the strong effect which natural objects could have on the formation of the mind and consequently on behaviour, but this poem is unique in that it shows that natural objects can help to corrupt, 5 can indeed bring harm even to the innocent. Both Ruth and the Georgian youth are shown as formed by their surroundings; Ruth is "almost an infant of the woods," tranquil and good, but without any protective experience of human relationships; the youth is by nature more prone to evi l passions, and potential ev i l is actual ly fostered by the forces and forms of nature in native land: The w ind , the tempest roaring h igh, The tumult of a tropic sky, Might wel l be dangerous food For h im, a Youth to who was given So much of earth—so much of heaven, And such impetuous b lood. Whatever in those climes he found Irregular in sight or sound Did to his mind impart A kindred impulse, seemed a l l ied To his own powers, and justified The workings of his heart. Nor less, to feed voluptuous thought, The beauteous forms of nature wrought, Fair trees and gorgeous flowers; The breezes their own languor lent; The stars had feelings,vwhich they sent Into those favoured bowers. Yet in his worst pursuits I ween That sometimes there did intervene Pure hopes of high intent': For passions l inked to forms so fair And stately needs must have their share O f noble sentiment. But i l l he l i ved , much evi l saw, With men to whom no better law Nor better l i fe was known; Del iberately, and undeceived, These wi ld men's vices he received And gave them back his own. His genius and his moral frame Were thus impaired, and he became The slave of low desires. (121-53) n o . The English landscape has for a short time a more happy effect on his mind and consequently upon his actions: Before me shone a glorious world— Fresh as a banner bright, unfurled To music suddenly: I looked upon those hi l ls and plains, And seemed as if let loose from chains, To l ive at l iberty. (169-74) It is these same forms which eventually comfort Ruth when he deserts her, both as they are remembered in her c e l l , and as they are known in her wanderings. S t i l l , these consolations "rocks and p o o l s , / And airs that gently stir the vernal leaves" are described as "the engines of her pa in , the tools/ That shaped her sorrow." The whole poem is an attempt to show how surroundings and c i rcum-stances can work to mould not only a person's mind, but his whole fate and that of others. It is not possible to understand the landscapes entirely as mere imagery, the tropics reflecting the youth's passions, the English hi l ls Ruth's innocence. It is not entirely successful: we never fully understand the Georgian youth, for the explanation of his impaired genius only confuses, especial ly in the general context of Wordsworth's poetry about the influence of nature on the mind. There seems to be no reason why the passions aroused by Georgian winds and tempests should be more harmful than those stirred by English weather. Wordsworth's treatment of the formation of the mind by nature is obviously strongly inf luenced by Locke and his successors, though it is essentially different from theirs. There is no need for more than the briefest account of Wordsworth's debt to Locke and Hartley Jn this matter./'fof this; workrha'sebeen done or overdone before, by such scholars as Arthur Beatty. Locke asserted that a l l our knowledge is founded on exper ience, and that "our observation employed either about external sensible objects or about the internal operations of our minds perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies our understandings with a l l the materials of th ink ing. These two are the fountain of knowledge, from whence a l l the ideas we have, or can naturally have, do spring" (Essay II, c h . i , 2: I, 122). In the fourth edit ion of the Essay (1700) Locke added a chapter " O f the Association of Ideas," it being evident that mental rea ctions to experience are not as static as his earl ier treatment would suggest. Hartley's Observations on Man . . . (1749) elaborated Locke's treatment, explaining association as the exci t ing through the recal l ing of one already experienced stimulus of a chain of reactions already experienced in connection with that stimulus; memory operates thus: "When objects and ideas, with their most common Combinations , have often been presented to the M i n d , a Train of them, of a considerable Length, may, by once occur ing, leave such a Trace, as to recur in Imagination and in Min ia ture , in nearly the same Order and Proportion as in this single Occurence . For since each of the particular Impressions and Ideas is fami l iar , there wi l l want l i t t le more for their Recurrency, than a few connecting Links; and even these may be in some measure, supplied by former similar instances" ( i , 78). The pleasure or pain associated with certain patterns of association naturally leads to the formation of moral pr inciples, according to Hartley's doctr ine, though these can be encouraged and fostered by the exercise of reason: 112. It is of the utmost consequence to Moral i ty and Rel ig ion, that the Affections and Passions should be analysed into their simple compounding parts, by reversing the Steps of the Associations which concur to form them. For thus we may learn how to cherish and improve good ones, eheck and root out such as are mischievous and immoral, and how to suit our Manner of L i f e , in some tolerable Measure, to our intel lectual and religious Wants . . . . The Wor ld , i s , indeed, sufficiently stocked with general precepts for this Purpose, grounded on Experience; and whosoever wi l l fol low these fa i thfu l ly , may expect good general success. However, the Doctrine of Associat ion, which traced up to the first Rudiments of Understanding and Associat ion, unfolds such a scene as cannot fai l both to instruct and alarm al l such as have any Degree of interested Concern for themselves, or of a benevolent one for others. ( i , 81) Now Wordsworth is evidently concerned to show how a man's moral being is fostered through the associations of his contact with external nature. The early books of The Prelude show the origin of certain powers and feelings of adult l i fe in the remembrance of childhood incidents; they certainly show the influence of Associationism in their assertion and demonstration of how through the chi ld 's pleasure in games and sports he is impressed with fear and love by the beauty of nature, which he later comes to love for its own sake, whi le a later stage shows how the love of nature in its turn leads: to the love of man. A similar process is recorded in " M i c h a e l " : . . . It was the first O f those domestic tales that spake to me O f shepherds, dwellers in the va l leys, men Whom I already loved;-not ver i ly For their own sakes, but for the fields and hi l ls Which was their occupation and abode. And hence this ta le , while I was yet a Boy Careless of books, yet having felt the power O f Nature, by the gentle agency O f natural objects, led me on to feel For passions that were not my own, and think (At random and imperfectly indeed) O n man, the heart of man, and human l i f e . (21-33) T The role of the eye is naturally part icularly important in this process as the principle medium for the awful or beautiful in the external world; Wordsworth included in M S . Y of The Prelude a very Hartleyan account of the role of the eye in the formation of fai th: Then everyday appearances, which now The spirit of thoughtful wonder first pervades, Crowd in and give the mind its needful food; Nature's unfathomable works, or Man's Mysterious as her o w n , — a ship that sails The seas, the lifeless arch of stones in air Suspended, the cerulean firmament: . . . with these combine Objects of fear yet not without their own Enjoyment,— lightning and the thunder's roa<f:, Snow, rain and h a i l , and storm implacable. In turn these also slacken in their ho ld , And the world's native produce, as it meets The sense with less habitual stretch of mind, Is pondered:) as a mi rac le , and words By frequent repetition take the place O f theories, repeated t i l l faith grows Through aquiescence, and the name of God Stands a f ix 'd keystone in the mighty a rch . (Prelude, pp.572-73) 114. With this may be compared Hartley's own account of the relation of ideas and the understanding and the role of the eye: In Adul ts , the Pleasures of mere Colours are very languid in comparison of their present aggregates of Pleasure, formed by Associat ion. And thus the Eye approaches more and more, as we advance in Spir i tual i ty and Perfection to an inlet for mental Pleasure, and an Organ suited to the Exigencies of a Being, whose Happiness consists in the Improvement of his Understanding and Affect ions, However, the original Pleasures of mere Colours remain, in a small Degree, to the last, and those transferred upon them by Association with other pleasures (for the Influence is in these Things rec ip roca l , without Limits) is a considerable one. So that our intel lectual Pleasures are not only at first generated, but afterwards supported and recrui ted, in part from the Pleasures affecting the Eye: which holds part icularly in respect of the Pleasures afforded by the Beauties of Nature, and by the Imitations of them, which the Arts of Poetry and Painting furnish us w i th . ( i , 208) The processes of association which Wordsworth describes certainly follow a Hartleyan pattern; yet they are not those described by Hart ley. The "needful food" provided by the eye according to Wordsworth, is a very different concept from the "pleasure" which is the key note in Hartley's discussion. Wordsworth cannot be thought of as a versifier of Hart ley. 115. The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800) c lear ly shows Wordsworth's use and assumption of Associationist principles: For our continued influxes of feel ing are modified and directed by our thoughts, which are indeed the representatives of a l l our past feelings; and , as by contemplating the relation of these general representatives to each other, we discover what is real ly important to men, so, by the repetition and continuance of this ac t , our feelings w i l l be connected with important subjects, t i l l at length, i f we be or ig inal ly possessed of much sensibi l i ty, such habits of mind wi l l be produced, that, by obeying bl indly and mechanical ly the impulses of these habits, we shall describe objects, and utter sentiments of such a nature, and in such connection with each other, that the understanding of the Reader must necessarily be in some degree enl ightened, and his affections strengthened and pur i f ied. (Grosart, II, 82) The mainstream of English Empiricism, as represented by Locke and Hart ley, was thus obviously important in helping form Wordsworth's understanding of the process of growth in the mind, and his concept of the relationship of the mind with the external universe. i i i . The External and Purposive Power Y e t , for a l l this, any empiricist or materialist account of Wordsworth's poetry concerning man and nature is inadequate. Basil W i l l ey asserts that "to animise the ' rea l ' wor ld , the 'universe of death' that the mechanical 116. system of philosophy had produced, but to do so without either using an exploded mythology or fabricating a new one, this was the special task and mission of Wordsworth. This mis-states the case: Wordsworth's was not a "universe of death"; he actual ly perceived the universe as essentially ac t i ve . His problem was to find an inte l lectual ly acceptable means of communicating the nature of the l i fe outside the mind. He understood both the principles concerned in perception quite differently from the empiricists: he saw both the mind and the natural objects which it beholds as less mechanical and more energetic in their operations. Man is not merely a passive mind formed by the various contingencies of outward circumstances, but an act ive power in relation to another purposive act ive power. It is the force of the natural objects which are perceived by the eye which concerns us here. The essential difference between the normal contemporary understanding of the role of the natural universe which was basical ly Lockean, and Wordsworth's understanding, is shown by the reaction of the contemporary reviewers to The Excursion, as Herbert Piper has shown. The favorable Quarterly Review notes that "To a mind constituted l ike that of Mr .cWordsworth, the stream, the torrent and the stirring leaf . . . seem not merely to suggest associations of de i ty , but to be a kind of speaking communication with it . . . in his poetry nothing in Nature is dead. Motion is synonymous with l i f e . " The Monthly Review, commenting upon the same ideas, expresses the outrage felt at the questioning of the current empiricist assumptions: 117. The prevai l ing doctrine of M r . Wordsworth's poetical system is that of a soul animating and informing al l nature; and not content with this generalised exposition of the creed in question, he extends it to every individual object , with such constant and unvarying minuteness that not a stream sparkles in the sun, not a torrent descends from the h i l l s , not a cloud settles on the brow of a mountain, but stream, sun, leaf, breeze, torrent, h i l l , c loud , and mountain's brow are sure to be animated at once, as with the touch of Harlequinjs wand, and endued with powers of sensation and reflection equal to those enjoyed by the poet, or by the most refined and intel lectual of his readers . . . . M r . Wordsworth disdains metaphor and fab le . That which he describes is set forth in the colours of rea l i ty , not f i c t i on ;—l i ke the honest Swedenborgian who would stop short in the middle of the street in order to make a bow to St . Paul . . . . It is most unfortunate for the reader who is not prepared by a similar process of conversion for a similar myst ic ism.^ This may be a false description of The Excursion, but it certainly indicates what Wordsworth's contemporaries found new in his work, and one startling feature was an act ive nature, a nature therefore total ly different from the mechanical nature of Locke and Hart ley. Wordsworth, while feeling convinced of the existence of some kind of act ive power outside the mind, apparently found great di f f icul ty in elaborating its precise nature, for at different stages of his career what is essentially the same power of external nature working on the mind is formulated in different terms, 118. suggesting different systems of be l ie f . The consistent alterations of a l l relevant passages in the early books of The Prelude show how important it was for Wordsworth that the expression of such ideas should be as exact as possible. It seems l ike ly that a l l of these formulations were merely approximations which varied in the degree of their success. Wordsworth was evidently moving towards his later understanding of an act ive nature by 1794, in his revisions of An Evening Walk : A heart that vibrates evermore, awake To feeling for a l l forms that Life can take, That wider st i l l its sympathy extends And sees not any l ine where being ends; Sees sense, through Nature/s rudest forms betrayed, Tremble obscure in fountain, rock and shade, And while a secret power those forms endears Their social accents never vainly hears. (PW I, 10; app. cr i t .) Yet at this point the poet is merely moving towards his later posit ion. Jonathan Wordsworth is right in saying that these lines are "unquestionably important, but their resemblance to Wordsworth's later thought can easi ly be overstressed. Both Meyer 's 'essential spirit pervading a l l real i ty and making it dynamic' and Piper's more ambiguous ' l i fe in Nature ' , gloss over the basic distinction between a quasi-scient i f ic bel ief in animated matter on the one hand, and on the other, a bel ief in a universe permeated by the one L i f e " (Music of Humanity, p. 186). "Sense, through Nature's rudest forms betrayed" is a very different matter from that force in external nature which acts purposively on the mind and l i fe of man. Piper reads far too much into these l ines, and bases on them his surely false bel ief that "it seems tolerably 119. certain that he actual ly adopted these beliefs between October 1792 and Apr i l 1794" and his consequent assumption that the formative influence of these ideas was the pantheistic materialism popular in republican circles in France g and England, in which Wordsworth moved on the 1790s. These lines should not be read as more than a sign of the direction in which Wordsworth's mind was already moving In 11794. By 1798, Wordsworth describes himself as wel l pleased to recognize In nature and the language of the sense The anchor of my purest thoughts, the muse The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul O f a l l my moral be ing. (','Tintern A b b e y , " 207-11) The first strong statements of his beliefiiintfibebeneficient power of nature on the human mind are made at Alfoxden and worked out whi le Wordsworth was at Goslar from December 1798 to Apr i l 1799. During this per iod, and especial ly whi le at Gos la r , he began to express this power in the language of animism; but this language was merely a framework, I be l ieve , rather than an expression of strongly held bel iefs. The basic and genuine bel ief in an act ive power in nature operating through the senses at this time found expression in the classical notion of "the spirit of the p l a c e . " Havens writes (p.35) that "the great i l lustration of the trust which Wordsworth put in the non-rational part of our nature is furnished by his animism. He implied so frequently and at times affirmed with such certitude the existence of natural Powers and Spirits of the air that there can be no doubt of his instinctive bel ief in them." This confuses the issue; in fact a rather vague if strong bel ief in act ive nature finds for a period approximate expression in "natural Powers" and Spirits of the a i r . " At Alfoxden Wordsworth was moving towards this kind of formulation: in "Expostulation and Rep ly , " he writes of "Powers/ Which of themselves our mind impress" and these, though not precisely spirits of the p lace , are nevertheless act ive forces working on the mind from without. In "Peter Be l l " the "Spirits of the M i n d " have the same kind of funct ion; they are regarded as an outside agency working powerful ly, but eventually benef ic ia l ly on the mind; they are rather different from the spirits of nature which he was to write about at Goslar for they are seen as changing the perception of nature in some way, and thus interfering more direct ly with the mind: Dread Spirits! to confound the meek Why wander from your course so far, Disordering colour, form and stature! —Let good men feel the soul of nature, And see things as they are. Y e t , potent Spirits! wel l I know, How y e , that play with soul and sense, Are not unused to trouble friends O f goodness, for most gracious ends— And this I speak in reverence! Your presence often have I felt In darkness and the stormy night; And with l ike force, if need there be, Ye can put forth your agency When earth is ca lm, and heaven is bright. Then coming from the wayward wor ld , That powerful world in which ye dwe l l , Come Spirits of the M i n d ! and try, Tonight, beneath the moonlight sky, What may be done with Peter B e l l . (761-85) Yet although these spirits are not precisely natural in that they change the perception of Nature, nor are they just a mythologizing of the mind's processes, for they are described too certainly as external to the mind for this: And now the Spirits of the Mind Are busy with poor Peter Be l l ; Upon the rights of visual sense Usurping with a prevalence More terrible than magic spe l l . Close by a brake of flowering furze (Above it shivering aspens play) H e sees an unsubstantial creature His vet/y self in form and feature Not four yards from the broad highway. (916-25) The Spirits of the Mind are the equivalent in "Peter Be l l " of the supernatural spirits of "The Rime of the Ancient Mar ine r , " for these are surely companion poems of sin and regeneration, Coler idge's supernatural and Wordsworth's natural , according to the plan for the Lyrical Ballads already cited (BL XIV: II, 6) . In accordance with this p lan , the Spirits of the Mind must be 9 understood as natural . Their ambiguous nature does not seriously undercut the effect of the poem, partly because the reader has no dif f iculty in understanding what happens to Peter Bell as a combination of "act ion from without and from wi th in" and partly because of the jesting tone of the poem. The spirits are accepted as fictions l ike the " l i t t le boat / Shaped l ike the crescent moon" which both accord with the l ight-hearted tone and further the serious intent of the poem. It is surely because in such a work as "Peter Be l l " they are hardly l i ke ly to be taken l i teral ly as expressions of bel ief that these "spirits" were al lowed to stay in the published poem, whereas the spirits of "Nut t ing" 'and The Prelude were mostly either cut or a l tered. In 1798, the year in which he wrote Peter B e l l , Wordsworth also wrote the first version of " N u t t i n g , " which has a nearer approach to animism, the merest hint of which is retained in the final version. Amongst the discarded lines are these: Ye gentle Stewards of a Poet's t ime! Ye Powers! without whose aid the idle man Would waste full half of the long summer's day, Y e who, by virtue of its dome of leaves And its cool umbrage, make the forenoon walk , When July suns are b laz ing , to his verse Propitious, as a range o'er moonlight cl i f fs Above the breathing sea—and ye no less! Ye too, who with most necessary care Amid the concentration of your groves Restore the springs of his exhausted frame, And ye whose general ministry it is To interpose the covert of these shades, Even as a sleep, betwixt the heart of man And the uneasy wor ld , 'twixt man himself, Not seldom and his own unquiet heart, O h ! that I had a music and a voice Harmonious as your own, to tell the world What ye have done for me. (PW II, 505-06) Wordsworth evidently felt that the poem did not need these l ines, for certainly as it stands the very dict ion in which the incident is related communicates the strength of the effect which it has had on his imaginat ion, and the slight suggestion of the "powers" which remains in the last lines of the poem is a l l that is needed: 123. with gentle hand Touch—for there is a spirit in the woods. This spir i t , as the poem now stands, is perhaps just the very otherness of the hazel grove, which he had forgotten, thinking of his mood as one in which of its own joy secure, The heart luxuriates with indifferent things, Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones, And on the vacant a i r . (40-43) In treating the trees as indifferent things, as mere bearers of nuts, he forgets that when he has torn off their branches his eyes must behold and his mind be troubled by "the intruding sky" among the silent trees. The slight undercurrent of sexual imagery of virgin rape, reinforces this, as women are habitual ly looked on as objects until reaction demonstrates their subject ivi ty. The last seven lines of the rejected passage appear in The Prelude, XII , 24-31, where it is the groves which interpose the covert of the shades. Thus it is just the "powers" which completely disappear, partly no doubt because they are unnecessary to the poem and would therefore vi t iate its effect, and partly because these terms were soon felt to be inadequate to the ideas which Wordsworth wished to convey, or generally misleading. This seems part icularly l ike ly in view of the changes Wordsworth made in those parts of The Prelude which were written in Gos la r . In these passages, which are largely the earliest versions of Books I and II, Wordsworth is deeply concerned to express his sense of a loving power in nature working on the human mind, and arousing the imaginat ion. The main structure of Book I is designed 124. to communicate the nature of this power, and in the first versions the lines of invocation and theorization which run between the demonstrating incidents, the skat ing, the boat-steal ing, and so o n , are written in animistic terms, which are modified in later versions. The earliest manuscript, J J , was almost certainly written in Gos la r , and M S . V was part ly revised from it in the next year. Both of these manuscripts offer a rewarding comparison to the later versions of Books I and II. For instance, the various versions of (I, 351-72 of the 1805 version) run thus: Yes there are genii which when they would form A favoured spirit open out the clouds As with the touch of l ightning, seeking him With gentle visitation—others use Less homely? interference ministry O f grosser kind &o f their school was F Though haply aiming at the selfsame^endd And made me love them. (MS. J J : 1st version: Prelude, p.638) The soul of man is fashioned & buil t up Just l ike a strain of music I bel ieve That there are spirits which when they would form A favor'd being open out the clouds As at the touch of l ightning Seeking him with gentle visitation and with such Though rarely in my wanderings I have held Communion. Others too there are who use Yet haply aiming at the selfsame end Severer interventions, ministry O f grosser k ind , & of their school was I. ( M S . J J : 2nd version: Prelude, p.640) The mind of man is fashioned and built up Even as a strain of music: I bel ieve That there are Spirits wh ich , when they would form A favored be ing, from his very dawn O f infancy do open out the clouds As at the touch of l ightning, seeking him 125. With gentle visitat ions, quiet Powers! Retired and seldom recognized, yet kind And to the very meanest not unknown With me though rarely in my boyish days They communed; others too there are who use Severer interventions, ministry More palpable, and of their school was I They guided me, (MS. V : Prelude, pp .22 -23 , app.cr i t . ) The mind of man is fram'd even l ike the breath And harmony of music. There is a dark Invisible workmanship that reconciles Discordant, elements, and makes them move In one society. Ah me! that a l l The thoughts and feelings which have been infus'd Into my mind, should ever have made up The calm existence that is mine when I Am worthy of myself! Praise to the end! Thanks l ikewise for the means! But I bel ieve That Nature, oftentimes, when she would frame A favor'd Being, from his earliest dawn O f infancy doth open up the clouds, As at the touch of l ightning, seeking him With gentlest visi tat ion; not the less, Though haply aiming at the self-same end, Does it delight her sometime to employ Severer interventions, ministry More palpable and so she dealt with me. (I [1805], 351-71) Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows Like harmony in music; there is a dark Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles Discordant elements, makes them cl ing together In one society. How strange that al l The terrors, pains, and early miseries, Regrets, vexations, lassitudes interfused Within my mind, should e'er have borne a part, And that a needful part, in making up The calm existence that is mine when I Am worthy of myself! Praise to the end! Thanks to the means which Nature deigned to employ; 126. Whether her fearless visit ings, or those That came with soft a larm, l ike hurtless light Opening the peaceful clouds; or she may use Severer interventions, ministry More palpable as best might suit her a im. (I P 8 5 0 ] , 3 4 0 - 5 6 ) The passage changes and develops over the years and the changes in content are reinforced by the changes in sty le. The central thought remains much the same; a power external to the mind forms the mind either gently (as light in some form opens the clouds), and also through a grosser ministry, which is the kind most felt by the poet. In the first version this is stated barely; the outside power appears in the form of " g e n i i . " The second version is more exp l i c i t , and the image of music-making makes clear the harmonious blending of inf luences. The "gen i i " become "Sp i r i t s , " a vaguer and more acceptable word which moderates the overtones of the supernatural. In the 1 8 0 5 version, the music-making image is elaborated, so that we understand that the music is the calm mind, composed of apparently discordant elements. The "Spir i ts" are now "Na tu re " ; this suggests a more impersonal force, rather than a separate non-human inte l l igence; yet Nature st i l l exerts an act ive power over the mind, and is sti l l seen as intentional ly moulding "a favor'd Be ing . " The version of 1 8 5 0 is more Chr is t ian, with the contrast of the mortal flesh and the immortal spirit in the first l i ne . This perhaps makes the process described, the growth of an immortal spir i t , seem even more important. The discordant elements are elucidated; the vague "thoughts and feel ings" of 1 8 0 5 become more exp l ic i t l y "terrors, pains and early miseries/ Regrets, vexations, lassitudes. 1 1 In this version there are three distinct means of Nature's inf luence: the fearless; those 127. which come with soft alarms (and now the l ightning of the earl ier versions is softened to "hurtless l igh t / Opening the peaceful clouds"); and f inal ly the severer interventions which affect the poet. Nature remains the external force in forming the mind but her operations are less expl ic i t and more inc idental ; she is no longer seen as working to frame "a favor'd Being" ; however she is sti l l an act ive power employing her own means to form the individual mind. Thus we see how the sense of an act ive power remains, whi le the language in which the poet chooses to communicate it changes. This is seen in several other theoretical passages which were first written in Gos la r . When both the earliest manuscripts read: A h ! not in va in , ye Beings of the hi l ls And ye that walk the woods and open heaths By moon or starl ight, thus from my first dawn O f chi ldhood, did ye love to intertwine . . . (MSS. J J . and V : Prelude, pp.634 and 26-27) both the full versions read: Wisdom and Spirit of the universe! Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought! That givest to forms and images a breath And everlasting motion, not in v a i n , By day or star-l ight thus from my first dawn O f childhood didst thou intertwine for me j ^  The passions that build up our human soulk (I LI 805] 428-34; [1850] 401-07) Again the plural becomes the singular, the personal and classical inhabitants of nature, "ye that walk the woods and open heaths," become the underlying force in a l l creat ion. "Wisdom and Spirit of the Universe" is much more l ike 128. a force which could be addressed as "Nature"or indeed as " G o d " ; ir is more powerful, less charming; but its function is essentially the same. A l l versions show the influence of external nature, the power of "natural objects in ca l l ing forth and strengthening the imagination in boyhood and early you th , " as the t i t le the passage was given when it was published separately in the col lected edition of 1815 suggests. A g a i n , in the fol lowing passage, al l versions express the purposive and intentional act iv i ty of the external power operating through the senses. Here, although the animistic suggestions remain more strongly in the completed versions than they did in the previous passages quoted, the implicat ion of dryad-and na iad- l i ke spirits is lost, and what is f ina l ly expressed is a power which though exp l ic i t l y separate from the mind of man, is more easily understandable as projection from the mind than are the "spir i ts" of the earl ier version. Manuscript V reads: Y e Powers of earth, ye genii of the Springs And ye that have your voices in the clouds And ye that are familiars of the Lakes And standing pools, A h , not for tr iv ial ends Through snow and sunshine, through the sparkling plains O f moonlight frost and in the stormy day Did ye with such assiduous love pursue Your favorite and your joy. I may not think. . . (Prelude, pp. 28-29) For this the later versions substitute just three l ines: Ye Presences of Nature in the sky And on the earth! Y e Visions of the h i l l s ! ^ And souls of lonely places can I think . . . A l l continue: A vulgar hope was yours when ye employ'd Such ministry, when ye through many a year Haunting me thus among my boyish sports, O n caves and trees, upon the woods and h i l l s , Impressed upon al l forms the characters O f danger or desire, and thus did make The surface of the universal earth With triumph and del ight, and hope, and fear. Work l ike a sea? (I 118051490-501; 11850] 464-75) The shaping power of the external universe remains the dominant theme of Book I of The Prelude, though the formula for expressing this power changes. However, the nature of these statements about the external universe, and the val id i ty of the formulae through which they are made must be considered careful ly and seriously. Jonathan Wordsworth searches for traces of what he cal ls pantheism or the One Li fe in the poetry of this period and seems disappointed in what he finds here: "In the poetry of Goslar . . . the One l i fe plays almost no part" (Music of Humanity, p. 213). Later he acknowledges the existencecof these early versions of the theoretical passages, but describes their pantheism as of "an oddly water-down, subclassical k i n d , " and says of them that "nowhere . . . is there pantheism that carries any real conv ic t i on . " He believes that to passages such as those quoted above from M S S . J J and V "we react not as to an expression of bel ief in supernatural powers, but as to a figurative way of saying that in his (for the period) very surprising v iew, it was 13 the painful moments of a happy childhood that had been most format ive." In fact , I think we react to such passages as neither total ly figurative nor as precis l i t e ra l , but rather as indicat ive; we understand from these passages not that there are l i teral ly spirits, nor merely that there are formative elements in the mind's growth, but that there is some kind of external power working on the mind which can be expressed through these residual ly mythological figures. The consistency with which Wordsworth adapted these passages at various stages as he sought new ways of communicating this power seems to bear out this v iew. After the Goslar period Wordsworth's bel ie f in an external power working on the mind through the senses generally took other forms. However, in late 1805, it sti l l seemed to him a possible though ultimately unsatisfactory means of expressions, as we see in an alternative passage in M S . A to VI I I , 61-69: For a l l things serve them, serve them for delight O r profit , from the moment when the dawn Ah surely not without attendant gleams O f heart i l lumination strikes the sense With its first glistening on the silent rock Whose evening shadows led them to repose And doubt ye that these solitudes are paced By tutelary powers more safely versed In weal and woe than aught that fabling Greece Invented, Spirits gentle and benign Who now perhaps from yon reposing cloud Look down upon them or frequent the ridge O f old Helvel lyn listening to the stir That with this ancient Festival returns To animate and chear their calm abode. (Prelude, p .269, app.cr i t . ) The act iv i t ies of the tutelary powers disappear in the alternative and final version, and their act iv i t ies are merged into those of the l ight , the rocks, the clouds, the wi ld brooks and old He lve l l yn . It is natural objects themselves, rather than their spirits, which are f inal ly seen as loving and serving mankind. In general the act ive external world is expressed in later years as Nature, Nature's powers or laws, or eventually as God acting through nature. But sti l l i t retains its quality of voluntary action upon man and is never just a projection of man's mind, though for it to reach its greatest ef f icacy and transforming glory it must be transcended by the mind. This power remains constantly renovating because it is outside the mind and so can act upon a clouded mind. O f his period of despondency Wordsworth writes: What then remained in such ec l ipse? what light To guide or chear? The laws of thing which l ie Beyond the reach of human wi l l or power; The l i fe of nature, by the God of love Inspired, ce les t ia l , presence ever pure. (Prelude 11805] X I , 96-100) Nature as law and impulse forming a human l i fe is also seen in "Three Years sh grew"; but this poem is the work of the lyr ic imaginat ion, a love poem both to a woman and to Nature; so it communicates on a less l i teral and more suggestiv level than does The Prelude. Lucy is not only mentally and spir i tual ly but physical ly formed through the influence of natural objects: Beauty Born of murmuring sound Shall pass into her face: And vi tal feelings of delight r . Shall rear her form to^ stately height, Her virgin bosom swe l l . She epitomizes nature spir i tually and mental ly. She is lost because al l that is formed by nature is necessarily mortal , and because on one level as a pure dist i l lat ion of nature she can only exist in the imagination. The senses and part icularly the eye are obviousl'y the essential medium in 132. this interaction between the external power and the mind, and it is also essential that they should, be. unhampered in their intercourse with the natural force which forms and renews. This partly explains Wordsworth's distaste for the disorderly, ugly and lifeless scenes of c i ty l i f e , the close and overcrowded haunts O f c i t ies , where the human heart is s ick, And the eye feeds it not, and cannot feed. (Prelude XIII, 803-05) The c i t y , usually London, is the emblem of the sensual, the unorganized, the t r i v ia l . In "Home at Grasmere," in which the poet says that he seeks the aid of noble surroundings, not in distrust of the mind's independent energies, but rather in trust of the fortifying power of natural objects (PW, V , 318), the deprivation of those who lack this fortifying contact is also made pla in: he truly is a lone, He of the multitude whose eyes are doomed To hold a vacant commerce day by day With objects wanting l i f e , repell ing love; He by the vast Metropolis immured, Where pity shrinks from unremitting ca l l s , Where numbers overwhelm humanity, And neighbourhood serves rather to divide Than to unite. (PW, V , 333: 593 r 601) Thus Wordsworth's own intel lectual sickness came after his own stay in London. The basic requirement for nature's benevolent action on the mind is the physical contact of the eye and the forms of nature. Though this can be impeded or weakened by the false attitudes of the mind towards the eye , as we have seen in discussing the despotic eye in a previous chapter, nevertheless if the contact is there, the benevolent action of natural forms wi l l eventually restore the mind's tranqui l l i ty and heal th. 133. i v . Grace The concept of an external and intel lectual force act ing benevolently upon the mind and fate of man has obvious similarit ies with the Christ ian concept of the grace of G o d . Natural ly therefore as Christian ideas and institutions grew gradually increasingly important to Wordsworth, so his account of the external power was more frequently expressed in Christian terms. Nature's action and teaching in The Prelude indeed is sti l l Nature's; through al l the revisions that mode of expression remains apparently satisfactory. But at the same t ime, the sudden insights which seem to be brought about by an external agency are attributed to God 's agency. Grace is not indeed at first described as working direct ly on the mind in the usual Christ ian way, bringing an undeserved and unlooked-for spiritual g i f t . It operates through natural objects and events and as "Na tu re " was described as operat ing. There is a suggestion in an early manuscript version of The Prelude (1805) I 577-593 that Wordsworth may have considered describing the growth of his mind through the operation of two external forces, Nature working through "extrinsinc passion" for sports and childish games, and the Eternal Spirit impressing beautiful forms on the mind through a more direct and immediate contact; The mazes of this argument, I tread and paint How Nature by col lateral interest And by extrinsic passion peopled first M y mind with beauteous objects: may I wel l Forget what may demand a loftier song, For oft the eternal spir i t , he that has His l i fe in unimaginable things And he who painting what he is in a l l The visible imagery of al l the world 134. Is yet apparent chief ly as the soul O f our first sympathies—O bounteous power In chi ldhood, in rememberable days How often did thy love renew for me Those naked feelings wh ich , when thou would'st form A l iv ing th ing, thou sendestllike a breeze Into its infant be ing. (Prelude, p.636) This was rejected presumably because the double agency would have been too confusing and because the role of the "eternal spir i t" in these lines is too vague. In the 1805 Prelude God is described, though not consistently, as the power behind nature in forming man: Great G o d ! Who send'st thyself into this breathing world Through Nature and through every kind of l i f e , And mak'st man what he i s , Creature divine . . . (Prelude X [1805] 386-99) In the 1850 version of these l ines, God works more direct ly through His grace, though it seems that other forms of l i fe sti l l work to mould man: O Power Supreme! Without Whose ca l l this world would cease to breathe, Who from the fountain of Thy grace dost f i l l The veins that branch through every frame of l i f e , Making man what he is , creature divine . . . (Prelude X [1850] 420-24) The word "gracious" is surely used advisedly and in its narrower sense in the fol lowing passage, where it is associated with a power giv ing spiritual transformation to the heedless and undeserving: A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides, And o'er the heart of man: invisibly It comes, to works of unreproved del ight, And tendency benign, direct ing those Who care not, know not, think not what they do. (Prelude V , 491-95) 135. In "Resolution and Independence" there is a most expressive uncertainty about the use of the idea of grace: the alternatives given a l l express an external intervention, yet the "whether" leaves open the possibil ity of an unspoken alternative—maybe the creative mind itself is supplying the ordering power necessary to fortify and reassure itself: N o w , whether it were by peculiar grace, A leading from above, a something g iven , Yet it befell that, in this lonely p lace , When I wish these untoward thoughts had str iven, Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven I saw a Man before me unawares: The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs. (50-56) The suggestion of the leech-gatherer as the agent of supernatural intervention is taken up again: And the whole body of the Man did seem Like one whom I had met with in a dream; O r l ike a man from some far region sent, To give me human strength, by apt admonishment. Here the old man is l ike an angel sent from God to one of his chosen. A l l the strangeness of the old man's f igure, l ike a sea-beast-1 ike stone, neither a l ive or dead, and the powerful effect of his words, so powerful that the poet cannot understand them as words, a l l reinforce this sense of supernatural intervention. But st i l l the inc ident , however it came about, is a natural ordinary incident, and it is the poet's mind which transforms i t , as it transforms the figure into a huge stone into a seabeast, and the tale of hardship into a "stream scarce heard" which dispels his fears. Wordsworth here is showing how the truly marvellous is not " a mere f ict ion of what never was" but is the effect of natural objects 136. and events on the mind of man, "the discerning intel lect of man/ When wedded to this goodly universe." This is quite conscious and intent ional , as is made plain by Wordsworth's defence of the poem to Sara Hutchinson (EY, p.366 : 14 June, 1802): A Young Poet in the midst of the happiness of Nature is described as overwhelmed by the thought of the miserable reverses which have befal len the happiest of a l l men, v i z Poets—I think of a l l this t i l l I am so deeply impressed by i t , that I consider the manner in which I was rescued from my dejection and despair almost as an interposition of Providence. " N o w whether it was by a peculiar grace, A leading from above . " A person reading this Poem with feelings something l ike mine wi l l have been awed and controuled, expecting almost something spiritual and supernatural—What is brought forward? " A lonely p lace , a Pond" by which an old man was,far from al l house or home. The later poems of course use the concept of grace in a more orthodox 15 Christian way. "Nature 's g race , " which in these late poems operates rather through the lucid emblemization of natural objects, rather than through their more complex and obscure suggestions, is seen as inadequate without spiritual grace; that is , it can only operate properly on the wise and virtuous, unlike the "gracious spiri t" of The Prelude , which acts on the careless and thoughtless: what are helps of time and place When wisdoimstands in need of nature's grace; Why do good thoughts, invoked or not, descend, Like Angels from their bowers, our virtues to befriend; 137. If yet to-morrow, unbel ied, may say 'I come to open out, for fresh display, The elastic vanities of yesterday?' ("Evening Voluntar ies" V I , 20-26) The grace of G o d is seen working through nature in "Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendour and Beauty , " when the beauty of the s k y recalls the "celest ial l ight" of childhood v is ion: If aught unworthy be my cho ice , From THEE if I would swerve; O h , let Thy grace remind me of the light Full early lost, and fruitlessly deplored; W h i c h , at this moment, on my waking sight Appears to shine, by miracle restored. (71-76) In yet another "Evening Vo lun tary , " God 's grace is seen as working direct ly on the mind, and preparing it for nature, rather than working through nature. This is very different from the earl ier manifestations of the sense of an external power, and indeed is purely orthodox. He writes of Nature: Nor has her gentle beauty power to move With genuine rapture and with fervent love The soul of Gen ius , i f he dare to take Li fe 's rule from passion craved for passion's sake; Untaught that meekness is the cherished bent O f a l l the truly great and al l the innocent. But who is innocent? By grace d i v i n e , Not otherwise, O Nature! we are th ine, Through good and evi l thine, in just degree O f rational and manly sympathy. ("Evening Voluntar ies , " IV, 10-19) The various stages of the concept of the external power inf luencing the mind of man through the senses overlap greatly of course, but fall roughly into these stages: a general sense of a l i fe in nature l ike the l i fe of man; a stage of animistic 138. language when the power is embodied in "Spir i ts" even "gen i i " ; the power as nature; Nature's grace; and the grace of G o d . Most of these seem to be expressing essentially the same phenomenon, but divine grace is purely supernatural. v . The Anima Mundi A l l these stages show a power working on the mind which though it works through natural means is not purely natural but is partly voluntary and therefore in te l lec tua l . The essential difference between Wordsworth and the empiricists is that Wordsworth's poetic universe was essentially in te l lectual ; the intel lect is generally produced by an interaction of man and nature, though at times it seems entirely the product of nature's work on the mind, and at other times l ike a pure radiation from the mind shining on nature. However, certainly Wordsworth did not see man as moving through an inert and purposeless wor ld . The empiricists and the idealists differ fundamentally over this problem of what causes and what maintains l i fe or motion. If motion is not inherent in matter, as Descartes thought, how is it begun and how maintained? The empiricists bel ieved that the Creator started the movements of a universe which was then se l f -act ivat ing. The English Platonists, however, understood creation as constant process: Cudworth, using Coler idge's favourite quotation from St . Pau l , ^ wrote that " in the bodies of animals, the true and proper cause of motion, or the determination thereof at least, is not the matter itself organized, but the soul as either cogitative or plast ical ly se l f -ac t i ve , v i ta l ly united thereunto, and naturally ruling over i t . But in the 139. whole world it is either G o d himself, or ig inal ly impressing a certain quantity of motion upon the matter of the universe, and constantly conserving the same, according to that saying of the Scripture, In him we l ive and move, . . . or else it is instrumental ly an inferior created spir i t , soul or l i fe of nature" (True Intellectual System, Bk. I, c h . v: II, 668-69). Coler idge was fond of contrasting St . Paul's "In Him we l ive and move and have our Being" with a hypothetical Lockean "From G o d we had our being" for he deplored the bel ief in total separation of Creator and Created Universe, with its implications of a material 18 universe and isolated man. Wordsworth does not formulate his attitude in the same way , but he too rejects the idea of the separation of Creator and Creat ion, saying that "there is nothing in the course of the religious education adopted in this country and in the use made byujs of the Holy Scriptures, that appears to me so injurious as the perpetually talking about making by G o d " ( M Y , Pt. 2 , 189: to Catherine Clarkson, January, 1815). There is throughout his work the same sense of spirit in nature and of man as an act ive power in communication with other act ive powers. Such a view is obviously close to the concept of the anima mundi as expressed by writers whom Wordsworth is known to have read and admired, such as Plato in the Timaeus and V i rg i l in the Aeneid: Principio caelum ac terras camposque liquentis lucentemque globum lunae Titaniaque astra spiritus intus a l i t , totamque infusa per artus mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet. Inde hominum pecudumque genus, vitaeque volantum et quae marmoreo fert monstra sub aequore pontus igneus est o l l is vigor et caelestis origo seminibus, quantum non noxia corpora tardant terrenique hebetant artus moribundaque membra. (VI , 724-32) Newton's "much subtiler Medium than A i r " is obviously closely related to this ancient notion of the anima mundi, as the fol lowing passage would suggest; And is not this Medium the same with that Medium by which Light is refracted and ref lected, and by whose Vibrations Light communicates Heat to Bodies, and is put into Fits of easy Reflexion and easy Transmission? And do not the Vibrations of the Medium in hot Bodies contribute to the intenseness and duration of their Heat? And do not hot Bodies communicate their heat to contiguous cold ones by the vibrations of this Medium propagaged from them unto the cold ones? And is not this Medium exceedingly more rare and subtile than the A i r and exceedingly more elastick and ac t i ve? And doth it not readily pervade al l Bodies? And 19 is it not (by its elastick force) expounded through al l the Heavens . . . ? Newton clear ly did not bel ive that the Creator was total ly separated from his Creat ion , that "from God we had our be ing . " He rejected as too mechanistic the Cartesian concept of motion as an attribute of matter, and proposed this hypothetical effluvium as the cause of motion, reasonyigcthat "the vis inertiae is a passive Principle by which Bodies persist in their Mot ion or Rest, receive Mot ion in proportion to the Force impressing i t , and resist as much as they are resisted. By this principle alone there never could have been any motion in the wor ld. Some other Principle was necessary for putting Bodies into Mot ion; and now they are in Mot ion some other Principle is necessary for conserving the Mot ion" (Opt icks, p.397 ; Query 31). Rader (p.45) notes the similarity in these respects between Newton and the Cambridge Platonists, whom hecadmired, and goes on to suggest an echo between Newton's "subtle spirits and act ive principles in nature" and the "act ive pr inc ip le" passage at the beginning of Book IX of The Excursion. S . G . Dunn suggests that such a hypothesis solved Wordsworth's problem of 20 correlating a real l i fe in nature and man, and a distinct l i fe in G o d . A similar concept of the universe was held by the English Platonist, Shaftesbury, whose ideas of the inward eye and the act ive mind were also similar to Wordsworth's and whom Wordsworth respected. The unity of al l things is one of Shaftesbury's thenrvesiin the Character ist icks, and in the fol lowing passage it is expressed in a combination of ecstatics and scient i f ic explanation: A l l things in this world are uni ted. For as the branch is united with the tree, so is the tree as immediately with the earth, a i r , and water, which feed i t . As much as the fert i le mould is fitted to the tree, as " i . much as the strong and upright trunk of the oak or elm is fitted to the twining branches of the vine or ivy ; so much are the very leaves, the seeds, and fruits of these trees fitted to the various animals; these again to one another, and to which they a re , as appendices, in a manner fitted and joined; as either by wings for the a i r , fins for the water, feet for the earth; and by other correspondent inward parts of a more curious frame and texture. Thus in contemplating a l l on earth, we must of necessity view al l in one, as holding to one common stock. (Characteristicks i i , 287; quoted by Rader, p.55) The anima mundi vein in Wordsworth's poetry has been adequately discussed 142. elsewhere, and I w i l l not elaborate on it further. It is important to note, however, that here as elsewhere Wordsworth is closer to a Platonic than to an empiricist t radit ion. v i . Berkeley and the Language of G o d However, there is one English empiricist who does seem relevant to this vein in Wordsworth's thought. This is George Berkeley, and not only the more Platonic later Berkeley of Siris to whom Beach refers (p.71) but the younger Berkeley, the cr i t ic of Locke. His possible contribution to Wordsworth's thought has been noted by several scholars, the best of whom in this regard is probably Hans Joachim O e r t e l . Rader observes that " in combining a sensationist theory of knowledge with an immanent theism, Berkeley may have contributed substantially to Wordsworth's rel igion of Nature" (p.47). Ellen Douglas Leyburn, too, makes large claims: "a rereading of the entire Prelude with Berkeley in mind shows more convincingly than could any col lect ion of isolated passages from i t , how whole-heartedly Wordsworth grasped and clung to the central tenet of Berkeley's system, which is the placing of spiritual perception as a paramount in the relation between 22 man and the universe." Much of her evidence however suggests a confused idea of either Wordsworth's or Berkeley's meaning. Yet there are important similarit ies which have never been adequately discussed. These similarit ies seem helpful to the understanding of Wordsworth rather because the parallelism under-lines certain aspects of his work than because his work is l i ke ly to have been influenced by Berkeley in these aspects. 143. Geoffrey Warnock says of Berkeley that "he is c lear ly made most uncomfortable by the view that what there real ly is in the wor ld, i s , as Locke he ld , an inert, featureless 'stupid' something, of which we know nothing except that it exists and is named 'matter. ' Berkeley would detest so brutish a world as this, even if the assertion of its existence had not appeared to him to bristle 23 with gross mistakes and disastrous consequences" (p.92). Berkeley questions the foundations of Locke's bel ief in matter as "he cannot claim to have discovered it by observation, since in Locke's own view the objects of observation are always, necessari ly, and only ideas; we cannot . . . actual ly perceive external objects, but are aware only of the ideas they cause" (Warnock, p. 100) Now matter, Berkeley asserts, being by definit ion dead and inert, cannot cause anything. Any causation must be in te l lec tua l , and since we are aware from experience that we cause few of the impressions of our senses by our own in te l lects , we can assume that our sense impressions are caused by an external intel lectual power, which is G o d . A New Theory of Vision argues for the visible world as the language of G o d ; The Principles of Human Knowledge and most of the later works extend this, and a l l of the senses are seen as the media of divine communication. The primary insistence is sti l l on the eyes, however, and this visible language of G o d warns us and enables us to survive and to act providently: Since you cannot deny, that the great Mover and Author of Nature constantly explaineth Himself to the eyes of men by the sensible intervention of arbitrary signs which have no similitude or connection with the things signif ied; so as, by compounding and disposing them, 144. to suggest and exhibit an endless variety of objects differing in nature, t ime, and p lace; thereby informing and directing men how to act with respect to things distant and future, as well as near and present. In consequence, I say, of your own sentiments and concessions, you have as much reason to think, the Universal Agent or G o d speaks to your eyes, as you can have for thinking any particular person speaks to your ears. (Alciphron IV, x i i : III, 157). This concept of a divine visual language relates to Wordsworth's poetry in two ways: it can be considered profitably in relation to Wordsworth's act ive external power working on man's mind; and it underlines the significant importance in Wordsworth's visual world of what seems rather than what causes that seeming. The world which Wordsworth creates in his poetry reflects his view of the creation as full of l i f e , a l i fe which is closely directed towards the welfare of mankind and operates through the senses, and especial ly the eye , to this end; a l l the various ways of communicating the nature of the act ive external power agree in this respect. This is precisely how Berkeley describes the operations of the divine visual language: this optic language hath a necessary connexion with knowledge, wisdom, and goodness. It is equivalent to a constant creat ion, betokening an immediate act of power and providence. It cannot be accounted for by mechanical pr inciples, by atoms, attractions, or ef f luv ia . . . But this visual language proves, not a Creator merely, but a provident Governor, 145. actual ly and intimately present and attentive to a l l our interests and motions, who watches over our 'conduct, and takes care of our minutest actions and designs, throughout the whole course of our l ives, informing, admonishing, and directing incessantly, in a most evident and sensible manner. (Alciphron IV, x iv : III, 159-60) This seems to me extremely i l luminating in relation to Wordsworth's concept of an external power and its role in the l i fe of man. There are also possible indications of Wordsworth's reading of Berkeley in his references to visible things as speaking a language, and it is very probable that Wordsworth would have realised the Berkleian nature of such phrases in his earl ier poetry, for Coler idge would surely have pointed them out to him, recognizing as he did the Berkleian undertones in his own poetry (which are discussed in chapter one). The Wanderer tells the Solitary that he wi l l find restoration in the natural world Where l iv ing things and things inanimate, Do speak at Heaven's command to eye and ear, And speak to social reason's inner sense, With inart iculate language,. (Exc. IV, 1204-07) which seems strikingly Berk le ian. Oerte l (p. 130) writes that "Expostulation and Rep ly , " of which the language is very close to the passage just quoted, shows for the first t ime, in the lines "this mighty sum O f things forever speak ing, " Wordsworth using the concept of Nature as the language of G o d , and true perception as conversation with G o d . Oerte l goes on to quote as relevant "early converse with the works of G o d " (Prelude VI I , 742) and outward things 146. done visibly for other minds, words, signs, symbols or act ions" (Prelude, III, 174). He also refers to "the language of the sense" from "Tintern Abbey" as having a Berkleian relevance,as does E . D . Leyburn. Certa in ly there does seem to be a strong Berkleian element in this poem; for not only is "nature and the language of the sense" spoken of as "Thetanchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse , / The guide, the guardian of my heart, and sou l / of al l my moral be ing" which shows that this external power or language has the same providential role in the l i fe of man as has Berkeley's language of G o d ; but also the unity of things is described as " A motion and a spir i t , that impels/ A l l thinking things, al l objects of a l l thought/ and flows through a l l things" (my i ta l ics) . The created universe, apart from the motion and the spirit is seen as existing in its role in perception. Nature is "a l l objects of al l thought" while man is "a l l thinking th ings." A l l is essentially of the in te l lec t . This is very close to Berkeley, who bel ieved that the essential being of "mater ia l" things was to be perceived, and that the essential being of persons was to perceive. His universe too is in te l lec tua l . Nevertheless the difference must be acknowledged. The language of the sense is not the language of G o d , and the world of Wordsworth in "Tintern Abbey" though in te l lec t - f i l l ed is not exp l ic i t l y God - f i l l ed in consequence as is Berkeley's wor ld. As our eyes, according to Berkeley, communicate to our mind the language of G o d , rather than ideas which represent a reali ty beyond perception, then naturally we should be concerned with what we do see, the actual images before our eyes, and not with a " rea l " object which does not exist and which if it did 147. exist we could not know d i rect ly . Through habit our minds learn to interpret appearances so that we can act on them: distance, for instance, is estimated almost unconsciously. Berkeley claims that "I neither see distance itself nor anything that I take to be at a d is tance." Warnock comments that "Berkeley is not, presumably, denying that we take ourselves to see things at a distance; for this we certainly do. Rather he is suggesting that what we actual ly do see is not at a distance and is not even what we take to be at a distance. I may take myself to be seeing the moon at a distance of 240,000 miles; and the moon real ly is at that distance away; but then it is not, str ict ly speaking the moon that I see. What I actual ly see is 'a smal l , round, luminous f lat ' ; and this neither i s , nor is considered to be , at the distance and of the size of the moon itself" (p.35). The object of our vision is precisely what we see. Thus appearances have a new value and importance in the Berkleian scheme, and in this he is in complete contrast with Locke, to whom appearance was i l lusory, and the unperceived material real i ty b leak, colourless and si lent. Addison expresses Locke's wor ld-picture thus: Things would make but a poor appearance to the eye, if we saw them only in their proper figures and motions . . . We are everywhere entertained with pleasing shows and apparitions; we discover imaginary glories in the heavens, and in the earth, and see some of the visonary beauty poured out upon the whole creation; but what a rough unsightly sketch of Nature should we be entertained wi th , did a l l her colouring disappear, and the several distinctions of light and shade vanish? in short, our souls are at present del ightful ly lost and bewildered in a pleasing delusion, and we walk about l ike the enchanted hero of a romance, who sees beautiful castles, woods, and meadows; and at the same time hears the warbling of birds and the purling of streams; but upon the finishing of some secret spe l l , the fantastic scene breaks up, and the disconsolate 24 knight finds himself upon a barren heath or solitary desert. Now what is to Addison the "proper figures and motions" of things, to Berkeley is a philosopher's f ic t ion; : whi le what is to Addison "pleasing shows and apparit ions" is to Berkeley the vi ta l part of our visual exper ience, as it was to Wordsworth as a poet. He was certainly conscious of the silent and colourless nature of the conventional Lockean wor ld-p ic ture, for he refers in a note to "Tintern Abbey" with admiration to a a line of Young's which comes from a 25 passage expressing such a v iew. What we move i n , learn from, and love in the external world is what we see, not our dim understanding of a hypothetical "what i s . " Many of the most intense visual impressions recorded in Wordsworth's poems describe with scrupulous and scient i f ic care optical phenomena of a kind with which he would probably have been famil iar through a reading of Newton's Opt icks; it is the appearance which is careful ly recorded, for it was the appearance which worked on his mind and aroused his imagination; the scienti f ic explanation for that appearance, which concerned Newton (see for instance, Op t i cks , 347: query 16), is ignored as total ly irrelevant to poetry about the mind and the poet's imagination. Yet it is perhaps the adult's conscious knowledge of these laws combined with a very intense memory of their operations on these particular occasions which make the poet able to realise these moments with such accuracy and strength. In the boat-stealing episode of The Prelude, the lower and nearer peak hides the higher and more distant peak, until the boat moves far out into the lake, and suddently the more distant peak is seen: from behind that craggy steep t i l l then The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge, As i f with voluntary power instinct Upreared its head. I struck and struck aga in , And growing sti l l in stature the grim shape Towered up between me and the stars, and s t i l l , For so it seemed, with purpose of its own And measured motion l ike a l iv ing th ing, Strode after me. (I, 377-85) It is through such appearances that the "Wisdom and Spirit of the Universe" teaches us eventually to recognize "a grandeur in the beating of the heart . " The memories of skating at night are full of sound and movement, but perhaps most v iv id are the strange and impressive appearances of Nature at such a time: Not seldom from the uproar I retired Into a silent bay, or sportively G lanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng, To cut across the reflex of a star That f l ed , and f lying sti l l before me, gleamed Upon the glassy p la in; and oftentimes, When we had given our bodies to the w ind , And al l the shadowy banks on either side Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning sti l l The rapid line of motion, then at once Have I, recl in ing back upon my heels, Stopped short; yet st i l l the solitary cl i f fs Wheeled by me—even as if the earth had rolled With visible motion her diurnal round! Behind me did they stretch in solemn t ra in , Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched Ti l l a l l was tranquil as a dreamless sleep. (I, 447-63) 150. The star's reflection appears to be at one point, as i f it can be cut across, l ike a mark in the i ce ; but it exists only to the eyes and glides in front of the skater as he chases it; whi le the cl i f fs seem to the eye to be moving whi le the skater is s t i l l , and to wheel past at an ever-slackening pace, while in fact cliffs and skater move at the same unaltered pace together in earth's diurnal round. What impresses the poet and f i l ls his mind with forms, and what he therefore describes exists only as appearance, and it is appearance which acts on the growing mind. The action of the external world on the mind of the Wanderer may be compared; From that bleak torment He many an evening, to his distant home In solitude returning, saw the hi l ls Grow larger in the darkness, al l alone Beheld the stars come out above his head, And travelled through the wood, with no one near To whom he might confess the things he saw. So the foundations of his mind were laid . . . ( E x c , I, 125-32) The foundations of the mind are laid by appearances: the tangible and measurable hi l ls do not grow larger in the darkness, as do the visible hi l ls; for that matter, the stars do not "come out" to common knowledge, but to the eye . The eloquence of appearance is also apparent, in a different way, in " N u t t i n g , " for it is not consideration or reproof which shames the boy but the very appearance resulting from his act ion: I felt a sense of pain when I beheld The silent trees, and saw the intruding sky. (52-53) In fact throughout his poems, and especial ly in his greater poems, the visible world is taken as what it seems and what it suggests rather than as what tangible material real i ty it may stand for. The most evident example of this is the way the impressive appearance of the mountain shepherds f i l led the poet's heart with respect and love for them, and hence for mankind: suddenly mine eyes Have glanced upon him distant a few steps, In size a giant, stalking through thick fog, His sheep l ike Greenland bears; or , as he stepped Beyond the boundary l ine of some h i l l -shadow, His form hath flashed upon me, glori f ied By the deep radiance of the*setting sun: O r him have I descried in distant sky, A solitary object and sublime, Above a l l height! l ike an aerial cross Stationed alone upon a spiry rock O f the Chartreuse, for worship. Thus was man Ennobled outwardly before my sight, And thus my heart was early introduced To an unconscious love and reverence O f human nature. (VIII, 264-79) This ennobling appearance for Wordsworth is not misleading, for the lakeland shepherds to him did lead a l ife of "s impl ic i ty , And beauty, and inevitable grace" (VIII, 109-10). The working of nature, or God's visual language, to use Berkeley's own language, worked in his mind providential ly to transform his understanding and attitudes. It is this act ive process which is missed by those whose concept of real i ty is of a material world outside human experience, those who (as indeed I have done from the necessity of making distinctions) cal l such experiences "appearances" or dismiss them as shadows or delusion. Wordsworth recognizes that his own understanding was of a moving and l iv ing real i ty whereas 152. theirs was of a lifeless and static mental artefact, as Locke's material world seemed to Berkeley: C a l l ye these appearances Which I beheld of shepherds in my youth, This sanctity of Nature given to man— A shadow, a delusion, ye who pore O n the dead letter, miss the spirit of things; Whose truth is not a motion or a shape Instinct with vital functions, but a block Or waxen image which yourselves have made, And ye adore! But blessed be the G o d O f Nature and of Man that this was so; That men before my inexperienced eyes Did first present themselves thus pur i f ied, Removed, and to a distance that was fit: And so we al l of us in some degree Are let to knowledge, wheresoever l ed , And howsoever. (VIII, 293-308) Wordsowth treats things as they appear in his poetry in the avowed bel ief that this was his especial task as a poet: "The appropriate business of poetry, (which, nevertheless, i f genuine, is as permanent as pure science,) her appropriate employment, her privi lege and her duty, is to treat of things not as they are, but as they appear; not as they exist in themselves, but as they seem to exist to the senses, and to the passions" (Grosart, II, 106: Essay Supplementary to the Preface 1815). Now this makes it quite clear that Wordsworth, -writing in prose in 1815, was no Berk le ian, for he makes a distinction between things existing in themselves and things as they seem to exist to the senses which no Berkleian could make. In his poetry he is never concerned to explain the optical phenomena which he records so precisely. He does not attempt to explain why hil ls should seem larger in the darkness or how at a certain distance a smaller but nearer thing can 153. conceal a larger but farther th ing. It is not relevant, because what matters is the intensity of the visual exper ience, and the emotion and understanding arising from i t . In his poetic stress on the world of appearances and their role in the mental l i fe of man he is quite possibly influenced by a reading of Berkeley. In his prose however, communication has a practical rather than an intel lectual or artistic purpose, and he is ready to exp la in . In the Guide to the Lakes for instance, he explains the appearance of a magnificent castle within the lake or a newly 26 created is land. Thus in ordinary communication Wordsworth was prepared to accept the conventional Lockean materialism of the age. When writ ing poetry, however, he had deeper concerns than in ordinary communication, and had to reject such a view for others which could communicate more closely his perception of the nature of the mind. The very fact that he was prepared to use systems of ideas, as myths, as means of communication, shows that his interest in philosophy was quite different from that of the professional philosopher. He was not concerned with rational acceptance of a structure of ideas but with the communication of his own perception of thought, feel ing and object . v i . The Imagination. The external power working on the mind of man works through natural objects. Natura l l y , therefore, Wordsworth observes natural objects with scrupulous care: as a poet he consciously "endeavoured to look steadily at my subject" (Grosart II, 84; Preface to Lyr ical Bal lads, 1800). He judges other poets by the same cri terion: he wrote of Dryden "that his cannot be the language 154. of the imagination must have necessarily followed from this, that there is not a single image from Nature in the whole body of his works; and in his translation from Vergi l whenever Vergi l can be fair ly said to have had his eye upon his object , Dryden always spoils the passage" ( E Y , p. 641 : to W . Scott, 7 November, 27 1804). Evidently Wordsworth assumed a close connection between the language of the imagination and images from Nature. It seems that whi le the true purpose of the imagination may be to go beyond nature, the formation of the imagination can only come about through a close a n d r e s P e c ^ u ' relationship with nature, as is of course suggested by the "Wisdom and Spirit of the Universe" l ines, which show "the influence of natural objects in ca l l ing forth and strengthening the imagination in boyhood and early you th , " according to their t i t le . Imagination is an intel lectual facul ty , yet based firmly on the senses. The immature imagination is "duped by shows, enslaved by words, corrupted by mistaken de l icacy and false refinements, as not having even attended with care to the reports of the senses and therefore deficient grossly in the rudiments of its own power" (Grosart I, 323: "Answer to the letter of Mathetes," 1809). As Heffernan says " A l l too often his references to this important faculty [the imagination] , which holds the key to his theory of poetry, are fragmentary and 28 confused," and I have no intention here of attempting to sort out Wordsworth's changing meanings. Yet as a corrective to the work of such crit ics as Heffernan, who stresses the in te l lectual iz ing role of the imaginat ion, and Hartman, who stresses the opposition between Imagination and Nature in his poetry, it seems' necessary to reaffirm that Wordsworth understood the power and strength of the imagination as springing from the attentive ear and eye . 155. Yet the imagination is essentially to Wordsworth a creative power. It creates by "innumerable processes; and in none does it more delight than in that of consolidating numbers into unity and dissolving and separating unity into number,—alterations proceeding from, and governed by a sublime consciousness of the soul in her own mighty and almost divine powers" (Grosart II, 138: Preface to the edition of 1815). And Wordsworth asserts that in distinguishing his Poems of the Imagination, his use of the word "has no reference to images that are merely a faithful copy, existing in the mind, of absent external objects; but is a word of higher import, denoting operations of the mind upon these objects, and processes of creation or composit ion, governed by certain f ixed laws" (Grosart II, 1:35 : Preface toithe edition of 1815). Thus the imagination is not concerned with the mere recording of natural objects; it is a mental act iv i ty partly working on natural objects, and is evidence of the powers of the human in te l lec t . Yet s t i l l , the origins of its power are said to come from the senses. It is hard to reconci le these two aspects of the imaginat ion, and power originating in the soul , and the power originating in the senses. However it is surely false to suggest that the two aspects need no reconci l iat ion because they are two stages of understanding at different periods. It is true that in earl ier years Wordsworth was more l ike ly to write as if the imagination's strength came from the reports of the senses, and in later years as i f it were an intel lectual power. Nevertheless in most discussions there is this apparent ambivalence. This ambivalence seems to be a recognition of the complex interchange between the mind and the senses both in the process of perception and in the exercise of the imagination. The act ive external power 156. operates through the sense on a mind wh ich , act ive in its own right, organizes the impressions of the senses and thus transforms them. (The next chapter wi l l show how this interchange relates to the pattern of Wordsworth's impressions of the senses and thus transforms them. As I have shown in chapter two, the interior disturbance of Wordsworth's early twenties was caused partly by the despotism of the eye , by a too avid seeking for the external , but his cure came about mainly through the forcible and early "visit ings of imaginative power" which came through this early experience with natural objects (Prelude XI I , 174-207). (The next chapter wi l l show how this interchange relates to the pattern of Wordsworth's thought, and to philosophic thought.) Occas iona l ly this can be understood from prose statements: writing to Coler idge about a proposed method of organizing his col lected works, he described one of his classes of poems as "relat ing to natural objects and their influence on the mind either as growing or in an advanced state, to begin with the simply human and conclude with the highly imaginative as the Tintern Abbey to be immediately preceded by the Cuckoo Poems, the Nut t ing , after having passed through al l stages from objects as they affect the mere human being from properties with which they are endowed, and they affect the mind by properties conferred; by the l ife found in them, or their l i fe g iven" ( M Y , Part I, 335: 5 M a y , 1809). That natural objects have both l i fe in them and l i fe given by the mind is the explanation of their ambiguous relation to the imaginat ion. The mind's perception of their own l i fe stirs the imagination; the more powerful imagination resulting gives new life to the objects through its ordered perception. Yet any general ized explanation of such a process over-157. simplifies and thus obscures the process as it works in the poems. It is necessary to observe the poet at work. So I shall finish this chapter with a brief consideration of three passages, a l l of which are exp l ic i t l y connected by Wordsworth with the imagination, and a l l of which are evidently concerned with the act ive power external to the mind. It is partly because of their evident concern with this act ive power external to the mind, their extreme closeness to the events or scenes which inspired them, that W. J . B . Owen considers these three poems as not properly of the imaginat ion, in the sense that they describe but do not employ the imagination, for they do not rise towards general truth, and are not the embodiments of universal ideas, and because the 29 imagination in these lines receives rather than creates. I think that in these poems the imagination is at work, but that the general truths it communicates are impl ic i t , rather than exp l i c i t . "There was a boy^" which begins the Poems of the Imagination in the Col lec ted Poems, is concerned with "one of the earliest processes of Nature in the development of this facul ty . Gu ided by one of my own primary consciousnesses, I have represented a commutation and transfer of internal feel ings, cooperating with external accidents to plant, for immortality, images of sound and sight, in the celestial soil of the Imagination" (Preface 1815, quoted Prelude, p.547). In the midst of his expectation of further hootings from the owls, the sights and sounds of Winander impress themselves deeply on the boy's mind; and the emphasis in the poem is on the passivity and openness of the mind, and the active force of nature: 158. Then, sometimes in that s i lence, while he hung Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise Has carried far into his heart the voice O f mountain-torrents; or the visible scene Would enter unawares into his mind With a l l its solemn imagery, its rocks, Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received Into the bosom of the steady lake . (18-25) Without his w i l l , a shock carries the voice of the mountain torrents far into his heart; unawares the visible scene enters his mind; the external becomes the internal; in a submerged image of the process at work in the boy, the heaven is received into the bosom of the lake , a recurrent submerged image in Wordsworth's poetry. It appears in the 1794 manuscript additions to An Evening Walk : Yes , thou art blest, my fr iend, with mind awake To Nature's impulse l ike this l iv ing lake, Whose mirror makes the landscapes charms its own With touches soft as those to Memory known; Whi le exquisite of sense the mighty mass A l l vibrates to the lightest gales that pass. (PW, I, 12; app.cr i t . ) It is glimpsed in another description of a boy in a similar landscape: the calm And dead sti l l water lay upon my mind Even with a weight of pleasure, and the sky, Never before so beaut i fu l , sank down Into my heart, and held me l ike a dream. (Prelude, II, 170-74) The sky, the external object , is absorbed and reflected by the lake , or the mind or heart. The imagination is surely at work in the way the image communicates the sense of the whole verse paragraph which it ends. In The Prelude, this passage i l lustrates the operations of the external powers: A wiser spirit is at work for us, A better eye than theirs, most prodigal O f blessings, and most studious of our good. (Prelude V , 360-62) Thus we see how in childhood the Imagination, though present in potential in the c h i l d , is developed and fostered through the eye and ear, or through the external power in natural objects, quite unconsciously and involuntar i ly. The developed and cult ivated imagination of the poet is shown as responding quite differently to the external power. The image given to the eyes is not merely absorbed into the mind involuntari ly and accepted by it; it is immediately transformed by i t , given meaning,and this perhaps complex meaning, understood as it is instantly and simultaneously, rather than through the logical sequences of rational thought, can immediately deepen or rel ieve the feelings. This is seen in some unpublished l ines, unpublished no doubt because although the image is very beaut i fu l , its import is merely suggested, though its effect is stated, and the descriptive language is sti l l uncertain. O n a visit to London, in 1808, Wordsworth walked across the ci ty in'the early hours of the morning, deeply troubled by Coler idge's physical and mental sufferings: Press'd with conf l ict ing thoughts of love and fear I parted from thee, Fr iend, and took my way Through the great C i t y , pacing with an eye Downcast, ear sleeping and feet masterless That were sufficient guide unto themselves, And step by step went pensively. N o w , mark! Not how my trouble was entirely hush'd, (That might not be) but how, by sudden gif t , G i f t of Imagination's holy power, My Soul in her uneasiness received 160. An anchor of stabi l i ty . — It chanced That while I was thus pac ing, I raised up M y heavy eyes and instantly beheld, Saw at a glance in that familiar spot A visionary scene—a length of street Laid open in its morning quietness, Deep, ho l low, unobstructed, vacant, smooth, And white with winter's purest whi te , as fa i r , As fresh and spotless as he ever sheds O n fields or mountain. Moving Form was none Save here and there a shadowy Passenger Slow, shadowy, s i lent , dusky, and beyond And high above this winding length of street, This moveless and unpeopled avenue, Pure, s i lent , solemn, beautiful was seen The huge majestic Temple of St. Paul In awful sequestration, through a v e i l , Through its own sacred vei l of fa l l ing snow. (PW IV, 374-75) As in "Resolution and Independence," the uneasy soul is given an "anchor of stabi l i ty" by a sudden v is ion: the sight of St . Paul's through its vei l of snow brings the same reassurance as did the sight and the story of the Leech-gatherer; indeed the trouble is simi lar, for whi le in ''Resolution and Independence" the poet was troubled by the "despondency and madness" which seemed a l ike ly fate for him as a poet, here he is troubled by the despondency of one dear ly- loved fel low poet. The in i t ia l gift is from without; the faculty of sight is stressed: "I l i f ted up my heavy eyes , and instantly beheld, saw at a g lance" ; and the visible scene is described with some care. Yet the gift is thought of as springing from "Imagination's holy power"; in a letter in which he told Sir George Beaumont of this incident, he wrote "I cannot say how much I was affected at this unthought-of sight in such a p lace , and what blessing I felt there is in habits of exalted imaginat ion" (PW IV, 476). The educated imagination seizes instantly on the image, both in its own beauty and in its relevance to the troubled mind. London, whose chaos and corruption and tr iv ia l i ty Wordsworth disl iked so much, is transformed by the snow and the sti l lness, as it once was seen from Westminster Bridge to be transformed by the morning l ight . It is cleansed and its innocence restored (by "purest ," " f resh, " "spotless" snow), itssuproar is st i l led (the avenue is "moveless and unpeopled") and above a l l , it is ennobled, for the splendour and mystery of St. Pau l ' s , a triumph of human art, and a centre of the worship of G o d , dominates the quiet scene "the huge majestic temple of St. P a u l / In awful sequestration, through a v e i l / Through its own sacred vei l of fa l l ing snow" (the words " v e i l " and "temple" together, recal l ing the c ruc i f i x ion , reinforce the solemnity of the building as a religious symbol). The imaginat ion, by grasping the order and beauty which transforms a "famil iar spot" into a "visionary scene , " gives tranquil l i ty to a mind troubled by the confused and unhappy l i fe of his f r iend, perhpps by granting him the understanding that a similar beauty and peace can transform Co ler idge. It is surely signif icant that it is a cathedral , a great work of religious art, oz/hich dominates the scene which so eases the poet's mind when troubled about a great and essentially religious artist. Fa i th , art , and order are freshly understood as enduring values, despite the mutabil i ty and disorder of the ordinary wor ld . The imagination must be cul t ivated; it needs peace, beauty and intel lectual exercise in order to f lourish. But even the educated imagination is not a function of the w i l l . The moments when it awakes comes suddenly, unexpected 162. and unsol ic i ted. The poet in the St. Paul's l ines, is "pacing with an e y e / Downcast, ear sleeping and feet masterless." The senses are dormant, not giving even ordinary information. In his ascent of Snowdon, the poet's eyes are similarly cast earthward, until at my feet the ground appeared to brighten, And with a step or two seemed brighter s t i l l ; Nor was time given to ask or learn the cause, For instantly a light upon the turf Fell l ike a f lash, and l o ! as I looked up, The Moon hung naked in a firmament O f azure without cloud . . . (Prelude X I V , 35-41) The imagination operates suddenly, l ike a f lash, when the eyes are bent earthwards or the senses otherwise preoccupied. This is also seen in " A N igh t -P i e c e , " where the traveller walks "with unobserving e y e / Bent earthwards" until he is aroused by "a pleasant instantaneous beam" and he too looks up to see the clear moon. This poem is extraordinari ly interesting in its demonstration of the workings of the imaginat ion, both because of its power of suggestion, and because of its 31 relationship with the Snowdon episode of The Prelude. Wordsworth himself said that this poem and "Yew Trees" were among the best "for the imaginative 32 power displayed in them." It should be quoted in fu l l : The sky is overcast With a continuous cloud of texture c lose, Heavy and wan, al l whitened by the Moon , Which through that vei l is indist inct ly seen, A dull contracted c i r c l e , y ie ld ing light So feebly spread that not a shadow fa l ls , Chequering the ground—from rock, p lant , tree, or tower. At length a pleasant instantaneous gleam Startles the pensive traveller whi le he treads His lonesome path, with unobserving eye Bent earthwards; he looks up—the clouds are split Asunder,—and above his head he sees The clear Moon , and the glory of the heavens. There in a b lack-b lue vault she sails a long, Followed by multitudes of stars, that, small And sharp, and bright, along the dark abyss Drive as she drives: how fast they wheel away, Yet vanish not!—the wind is in the tree, But they are si lent;—sti l l they roll along Immeasurably distant; and the vaul t , Built round by those white clouds, enormous c louds/ , St i l l deepens its unfathomable depth. A t length the Vision closes and the mind, Not undisturbed by the delight it feels, Which slowly settles into peaceful ca lm, Is left to must upon the solemn scene. The poem shows, as does the St. Paul's fragment, how in a state of distract ion, a sudden vision of a beauty and power impresses itself on the mind, and changes the state of mind. The "pensive travel ler" is startled into conscious-ness of the visible world by the sudden clearing of the clouds over the moon. But his vision is not the only vision in the poem. He was unobserving whi le the sky was c louded, but the clouded sky is nevertheless observed, and with as close an observation as the cloudless vaul t . There are thus by implication two pairs of eyes, the narrator's and the t ravel ler 's , though they f ina l ly merge into "the mind" which is left to muse upon the solemn scene. The figure of the travel ler, startled by the sudden light is perhaps a figure of the sudden : intercession of the imagination through nature, showing the same process which is at work in the St. Paul's fragment, and in the Snowdon episode, in "I wandered lonely" and many other poems. The unnamed presence of the narrator is a 164. demonstration of the education of the imagination through observation of the common face of nature. Both narrator and traveller are in fact aspects of Wordsworth's own mind. Now the two states of mind are reflected by the two states of the sky: the careful but undistinguishing and unil lumined observation of natural objects by the narrator is paral leled in these lines: The sky is overcast With a continuous cloud of texture c lose, Heavy and wan, a l l whitened by the M o o n , Which through that vei l is indist inct ly seen, A d u l l , contracted c i r c l e , y ielding light So feebly spread that not a shadow fa l ls , Chequering the ground—from rock, plant, tree, or tower. (1 -7) The traveller's mind, suddenly awakened by the power of natural objects is paral leled in these lines: above his head he sees The clear Moon , and the glory of the heavens. There, in a b lack-b lue vault she sails a long, Followed by multitudes of stars, that, small And sharp, and bright, along the dark abyss Drive as she drives: how fast they wheel away, Yet vanish not! the wind is in the tree, But they are si lent;—sti l l they rol l along Immeasurably distant; and the vaul t , Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds, St i l l deepens its unfathomable depth. (12-22) It is beyond doubt that these skies are described with precision and love, and for the sake of their own beauty. But it also seems beyond doubt that the moon here is a figure of the imaginat ion, commonly contracted and d u l l , and i l luminating so dimly that "not a shadow fa l l s / Chequering the ground from rock, plant, tree, or 165. tower." That i s , in such a feeble state of imagination natural objects have no 33 mental extension beyond the image imprinted on the senses. The moon becoming apparent arouses the mind, as the imagination does, and makes it conscious of the grandeur and power of the universe which is normally forgotten; the stars "immeasurably distant" and silent in their movements, beyond the reach of the w ind . The moon thus has here the same function that it has in the lines on the climbing of Snowdon episode in The Prelude; it is an image of the mental powers of man. And there are closer simi lar i t ies, too, between the two passages: in both there is at first the obscuring mist or c loud; in the Snowdon episode the poet raises himself above the mist, while in " A Night 'SPiece" the wind breaks the cloud; in both cases the sudden light on the ground draws attention to the unveiled moon. In both cases there is a vault built of cloud or mist; in the Snowdon episode the moon and the poet look down into the break in the mist from which arises the roar of waters, whi le in " A N igh t -P iece " the traveller looks up through the vault of clouds through which he sees the moon and also the stars. It seems to me that these two chasms in mist and c loud , both of which are described (one directly) as the "dark abyss" are exposing the proper objects of the imagination— the mysterious voices of water, the immeasurable distances of the stars. Both these visions record real scenes. Dorothy Wordsworth records the experience on which " A N i g h t - P i e c e " was founded, in the Alfoxden Journal for 25 January, 1798: "The sky spread over with one continuous c loud, whitened by 166. the light of the moon, wh ich , though her dim shape was seen, did not throw forth so strong a light as to chequer the earth with shadows. At once the clouds seemed to cleave asunder, and left her in the centre of a b lack-b lue vault . She sailed a long, fol lowed by multitudes of stars, smal l , and bright and sharp. Their brightness (seemed concentrated, (half-moon)." The ascent of Snowdon is c lear ly enough the record of an actual inc ident . Both these pieces show how Wordsworth understood the imaginat ion, not only through their imagery, which is expl ic i t in the Snowdon l ines, impl ic i t in " A N i g h t - P i e c e , " but also in their handl ing. In both, the imagination is both aroused by and expressed by natural objects, whose own identity is closely respected; but in both cases it is seen as a light which transforms objects. There is in Wordsworth's poetry a power external to the mind, working through natural objects: but the true purpose of this power is to arouse the mind's own power, a power which lies dormant in a l l minds, but which is properly developed and vigorous in the mind of the man with an educated imagination: such minds are truly from the Deity For they are Powers. (Prelude X I V , 112-13) In the next chapter I w i l l go on to discuss some implications of the mind's ac t i v i t y , and the reciprocal action of the mindls power and that of the external wor ld . 16 7. Notes I Young , Night Thoughts, IV, 703-05: Read Nature; Nature is a friend of truth Nature is Christ ian; preaches to mankind; And bids dead matter a id us in our erred. Quoted by Joseph Warren Beach, The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth Century English Poetry, (1936, reissue New York , 1966), p .43 . 2 Berkeley makes the same point in coming to a different conclusion. See Warnock, p. 89. 3 Unfortunately this encouraged an i l l iberal attitude to the education of women and the poor; see, for instance, Grosart , III, 466-67. 4 de Selincourt (Prelude, pp.542-43) suggests that the kind of education to which Wordsworth refers here is that founded on Rousseau's teaching. Moorman also mentiones Thomas Wedgwood's plans for a nursery for genius (I, 332-37). 5 Havens (p. 114) comments on this as does David Perkins in The Quest for Permanence: The Symbolism of Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats (Cambridge, Mass . , 1959) pp .52 -53 . ^Basil W i l l e y , " O n Wordsworth and the Locke Trad i t ion , " in The Seventeenth Century Background (1934, Anchor Books edi t ion, New York , 1953), p. 295. ^Piper , pp. 4 - 5 , quoting first from Lamb's review as revised by Gi f ford in The Quarter ly Rev iew, 12, and then from The Monthly Review, 66. g Piper, pp. 62 -63 . M r . Piper's case for the influence of such thinkers on Wordsworth could have been more convincing if he had been content to present them as one influence among many, and if he had been consequently less anxious to present Wordsworth's ideas of the Act ive Universe as already formed by the time he met Co ler idge. 9 The relationship between "Peter Be l l " and "The Ancient Mar iner" is discussed by Kathleen Coburn in "Coler idge and Wordsworth and the Supernatural," University of Toronto Quar ter ly , 25 (1956), 121-30. ^ T h e punctuation is that of M S . V . I I The punctuation is that of 1850. 168. 12 The 1805 version reads "or on the ear th . " The punctuation is that of 1850. 1 3 " T h e Growth of a Poet's M i n d / ' Cornel l Library Journal , 2 (1970), 3 -24. 14 Hartman's interesting treatment of these animistic passages, though not immediately relevant to my theme, suggests their importance. He says (p.212): "How did Wordsworth raise himself from his obsession with specif ic place to the key notion of spots of t ime. I suspect the intermediate concept to have been that of genius loci or 'spirit of p l a c e . ' " 15 El izabeth Geen 's arguments, in "The Concept of Grace in Wordsworth's poetry," P M L A , 58 (1943), 689-715, support the contention that Wordsworth's later orthodoxy is less a retreat from the naturalism of "Tintern Abbey" than a return to an earl ier posit ion, wh ich , whi le a l l its implications may not have been realised at the t ime, was more in l ine with the later Wordsworth than with the pantheist of 1798-1802. ^ A c c o r d i n g to Ernest Tuveson (p.86) many eighteenth-century writers saw grace as operating through nature. It is interesting to compare his account of such writings but it is not relevant to my discussion of Wordsworth for there is no suggestion of a purposive force in nature itself—it is more l ike Wordsworth's later and more orthodox phase. 1 7 A c t s , 17, 28. 1 8 C L , II, 866: to Wm. Sotheby, 10 September, 1802; C L , IV, 768 : to C A . TuTk, September, 1817. 19 Isaac Newton, Op t i cks , reprinted from 4th ed . with introduction by E.T. Whittaker (London, 1931), p .349, query 18. 20 S . G . Dunn, " A Note on Wordsworth's Metaphysical System," Essays and Studies, 18 (1932), 74-109. 21 See Beach, pp.71 and 86, and Havens, p .195. 2 2 " B e r k e l e i a n Elements in Wordsworth's Thought, " J E G P , 47 (1948), 14-28. 23 It has been argued that Berkeley misunderstood Locke's ideas of substance, and that nearly a l l crit ics of the two philosophers, including Warnock, have fal len into the same error. However, I am more interested in what Locke was understood to have meant than what he actual ly did mean. For further discussion see Jonathan Bennet's "Substance, Reality and Primary Qua l i t ies" in American Philosophical Quar ter ly , 2 (1965), and Warnock's 1968 Preface. 169. 24 Spectator, 413, quoted by Kenneth MacLean , John Locke and English Literature, (1936; reissue, New Yo rk , 1962), p. 194. 25 To Young, men "Take in at once the landscape of the w o r l d , / At a small inlet which a grain might c l o s e , / And half create the wondrous world they s e e . / Our senses, as our reason, are d i v i n e , / But for the magic organ's powerful cha rm , / Earth were a rude uncoloured chaos s t i l l " (Night Thoughts, V I ) . 26 Gu ide to the Lakes, ed . E. de Selincourt (1906, reprinted Ox fo rd , 1970), pp. 105^09^ 27 He judged most of Dryden's contemporaries and successors in the same terms precisely: "It is remarkable that, excepting the nocturnal 'Reverie' of Lady Winch i lsea, and a passage or two in the 'Windsor Forest1 of Pope, the poetry of the period intervening between the publication of the 'Paradise Lost' and the 'Seasons' does not contain a single new image of external Nature; and scarcely presents a famil iar one from which it can be inferred that the eye of the poet had been steadily f ixed upon his object , much less that his feelingsihad urged him to work upon it in the spirit of genuine imagination" (Grosart, II, 118: Essay Supplementary to the Preface, 1815). 28 James A . W . Heffernan, "Wordsworth and the Imagination: The Emblemizing Power," P M L A , 81 (1966), 389-99. 29 W . J . B . O w e n , Wordsworth as C r i t i c , (London, 1969), pp.177-185. 30 C C . C la rke , The Romantic Paradox (London, 1962), p .26, notices this image: "the lake is a l iv ing lake , and so of courseiis the lake of the mind. Both have depth, and take impressions; both react sensitively at the mere touch . . . an attempt is made here to create a world in which the dimensions are , indifferently, spatial and menta l . " 31 The relationship between the cl imbing of Snowdon episode and " A Night-Piece" has been discussed by James Kissane ( ' "A Night-Piece": Wordsworth's emblem of the m ind , " Modern Language Notes, 71 D956] , 183-86), who notes the implications which this has for the imagery of " A Nights-Piece," but does not explore the parallel as ful ly as he might. W . J . B . Owen (p.50), also notes the simi lar i ty. 32 Crabbe Robinson's diary for 9 M a y , 1815, quoted by Havens, p .230. 33 Kissane writes of this passage: "This is the habitual condition of the human mind—to be clouded over with ' t r iv ial occupations and the round/ O f ordinary intercourse,' so that the light of the imaginat ion, l ike the light of the moon, is 'so feebly spread that not a shadow fa l l s . ' In this condi t ion, the operating faculty is the understanding, 'that false secondary power/ By which we mult iply dist inct ions. 1 This faculty for making precise distinctions is characterized in the first six lines of the poem . . . " 1 disagree with this interpretation of the passage and doubt i f the lines are at al l relevant to that "false secondary power. His position seems to ignore the existence'of two personages in the poem. 171. Chapter Four; The Eye and the Act ive M ind : Wordsworth and the Neoplatonists Introductory The importance of sight to Wordsworth is seen in the stress on his poetry on l ight, on that which makes sight possible. Wordsworth's own natural sensitivity to effects of light is seen early on in his work; An Evening Walk is unified by the movement of the sun from afternoon br i l l iance to the last fading of twi l ight. This sensitivity lasted until his old age: rhe mostly late "Evening Voluntaries" are greatly concerned with effects of sun- and moon-l ight , indeed probably the last poem he wrote is concerned with moonlight;("Evening Vo lun ta r ies , "X , composed 1846, published 1850). Wordsworth's sensitivity combines with a strong literary and religious tradi t ion, the tradition of Mi l ton and St . John's Gospe l , to make it natural to Wordsworth to express good by l ight, and evi l by darkness. For instance, Ruth's husband in his brief spell of virtue says " ' M y soul from darkness is re leased/ L ike the whole sky when to the East/ The morning doth return'" (?'Ruth," 178-80). S imi lar ly , mankind has " O n e sense for moral judgments, as one e y e / For the sun's l ight" (Prelude, VII I , 671-72) , and " i f he do but l ive within the l igh t / O f high endeavours, da i ly spreads abroad/ His being armed with strength that cannot f a i l " (Prelude IV, 169-71). Sight l ike light is an image of good; in the "Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff" l iberty and philosophy are spoken of as "the eyes of the human race" (Grosart, I, 21), whi le in The Convention of C in t ra , pol i t ical injustice is seen as "blindness" (Grosart, I, 132). 172. Now while these images are fitt ing and effective enough, elsewhere Wordsworth's light imagery is more potent, more essentially inwoven with his meaning. This imagery suggests the power and act iv i ty of the mind or the eye , and the mutuality of perception. In using such imagery, Wordsworth seems to fol low not so much the orthodox Christ ian tradition which tends to equate light with G o d or 1!Christ, and thus by extension with various forms of good, but the Neoplatonic tradi t ion, which indeed expressed the Good through l ight, but also exp l ic i t l y treated the intel lect as light and saw perception as interact ion. Before supporting and elaborating this statement as I intend to do in this chapter, it is necessary to show how Wordsworth's light imagery works. i . Imagery of Sight and L ight . Much of this imagery c lear ly suggests the act iv i ty of the mind or the eye , rather than its passivity, for man is seen in these images not merely as the receiver of natural light but as the radiant centre of intel lectual l ight. These images show that Wordsworth saw intel lectual act iv i ty as luminous: poetry, poets, art, the mind i tsel f , a l l i rradiate. The Prefatory Poem to the Poetical Works makes this clear with its br i l l iant assurance: If thou indeedderiv.etthy light from Heaven, Then, to the measure of that heaven-born l ight , Shine, Poet! in thy p l ace , and be content:-The stars pre-eminent in magnitude, And they that from the zenith dart their beams, (Vis ib le though they be to half the earth, Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness) 173. Are yet of no diviner o r ig in , No purer essence, than the one that burns, Like an untended watch- f i re , on the ridge O f some dark mountain; or than those which seem Humbly to hang, l ike twinkl ing winter lamps, Among the branches of the leafless trees; A l l are the undying offspring of one Sire: Then, to the measure of the light vouchsafed, Shine, Poet! in thy p lace , and be content. To Wordsworth as to the Greeks the god of poetry and music was also the god of l ight . In the l i t t le bal lad "The Power of Mus ic " the London street music ian, who is "An Orpheus! " and a figure of the poet or artist, vsheds light on the twenty or so poor people who listen to him: As the Moon brightens round her the clouds of the night, So he, where he stands, is a centre of l ight; It gleams on the face , there, of dusky-browed J a c k , And the pale-visaged Baker's, with basket on back. (13-16) In this tr iv ial inc ident , Wordsworth epitomizes the power of the artist. The apparent clumsiness of the first stanza, which earns it a place in The Stuffed O w l , del iberately signals the connection of this poor street artist with the divine and the classical (the Pantheon) and the world of Learning (the street takes its name from Oxford) , whi le at the same time suggesting a place wel l -known to be noisy and vulgar. The musician himself is physical ly b l ind , which further emphasizes his position as poet-figure but he is inte l lectual ly radiant. Art appears as luminous in some lines inserted in manuscript, after Prelude V , 108-09, in the passage describing the dream of the Arab and the two books. The book of prophetic verse 174. power To irradiate the spirit with a light Piercing and vital as the solar beams Whence joy and hope, and solace to mankind. (Prelude, p. 142) Wordsworth writes of his own early poem "Salisbury P la in " (later " G u i l t and Sorrow") that it "broke l ike light from far" upon the "young imagination" of Coler idge (Prelude X R I , 360 -65 ) . 1 The poet (or possibly just the human spirit) is connected with light in poems in which the poet himself is imaged by the sun. In the second Evening Voluntary, " O n a High Part of the Coast of Cumberland, Easter Sunday, Apr i l 7, the author's sixtythird b i r thday," the poet describes how The Sun, that seemed so mi ldly to ret i re, Flung back from distant climes a streaming f i re, Whose blaze is now subdued to tender gleams, Prelude of night's approach with soothing dreams. (1-4) The force of this as a figure for the aging poet is hidden until the end of the last stanza where he prays for grace "for the brief course that must for me remain" so that he is "for a season, f ree/ From finite cares, to rest absorbed in Thee" as the sun's light has an interval of "tender gleams/ Prelude of night's approach" before the final darkening of its l ight . The sunset is also seen as an image of his own death in one of his earliest poems, "Extract from the Conclusion of a poem composed in anticipation of leaving schoo l . " He writes that wherever and whenever he is dy ing, he wi l l remember his native regions: Thus, whi le the Sun sinks down to rest . Far in the regions of the west, Though to the vale no parting beam 175. Be g iven , not one memorial g leam, A l ingering light he fondly throws O n the dear hi l ls where first he rose. (9-14) 2 There are several versions of this image of the dying poet as the setting sun. The imagination appears as a source of light with power "To elevate the more-than-reasoning M i n d / And colour l i fe 's dark cloud with orient rays" ( "Weak is the wi l l of man" Miscel laneous Sonnets, Part I, xxxv) . The "Elegaic Stanzas" ("Peele Cast le") show this image more notably. When Wordsworth writes of "the g l e a m , / The light that never was, on sea or l a n d , / The consecration and the poet's dream" with which he would have transformed his picture of Peele Cas t reby a tranquil sea, he is surely writ ing of a kind of imagination, a kind which he now, since his "deep distress" at his beloved brother's death, sees as perhaps heartless, or at least as belonging to "the heart that l ives a l one / Housed in a dream at distance from the K i n d . " It seems that the gleam given by the inexperienced artist's eye did not bring true v is ion, for "such happiness" as this " is to be p i t ied , for 'tis surely b l i n d . " This poem moves in the same direction as the Immortality O d e , of course; both poems speak of the loss of joy and v is ion, and of the compensating sympathy with human suffering: the Immortality O d e , which is the earl ier poem, the first four stanzas being written in 1802 and the rest in 1804, sees the former state of joy and vision as a higher state, and is less quietist and s to ica l . In both poems, and especial ly the Immortality O d e , this lost joy, which wonderfully enhances natural beauty, is seen in terms of l ight. The use of light imagery in the Immortality Ode is extremely complex; part of its power lies in its ambiguity. Yet certainly it is relevant in part to intel lectual 176. or spiritual ac t iv i t y . The soul is "our l i fe 's s tar , " the "obstinate questionings of sense"are "a fountain light of a l l our day" and "a master light of al l our see ing . " The mind sees by its own l ight. The "celest ia l l ight" of the young chi ld 's vision is described in terms which suggest that it is an external light (by external I mean not phys ica l , but spiritual light from some source outside the soul , such as G o d or Paradise) from which the chi ld can and must move: The You th , who dai ly from the east Must t rave l , sti l l is Nature's Priest, And by the vision splendid Is on his way attended; At length the Man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of common day. (72-77) Yet surely the light is also seen as emanating from the soul itself; so that when this spiritual light fades, and the young man is left with only the " l ight of common d a y , " it is understood as a loss of spiritual power rather than a loss of heavenly 3 4 favour. Cleanth Brooks, in a good art ic le on the O d e , noting that the facing of celestial light results not, as one might expect, in darkness, but in "the light of common d a y , " sees this as bearing out his bel ief that the chi ld is equated with the sun or the moon in the early stanzas of the poem: "If the sun, at his glorious bir th, lights up a world with the glory and the freshness of a dream, a light persists even after he has begun to ascend the sky l ike the chi ld growing into manhood, yet the sun gradually becomes his own prisoner. Indeed it is very easy to read the whole stanza as based on a submerged metaphor of the sun's progress: the soul is l ike our l i fe 's star, the sun, which has had elsewhere its set t ing. " Brooks also believes that earl ier in the poem the chi ld 's soul is equated with the 177. source of l ight: The poet says the rainbow and the rose are beaut i fu l . We expect him to go on to say the same of the moon. But here with one of the nicest touches in the poem, he reverses the pattern to say, 'The moon doth with de l igh t / Look round her when the heavens are bare . ' The moon is treated as if she were the speaker himself in his chi ldhood, seeing the visionary gleam as she looks round her with joy. The poet cannot see the gleam but he implies that the moon can see i t , and suggests how she can: she sheds the gleam herself, she lights up and thus creates her wor ld . This seems to me a hint which Wordsworth is to develop later more exp l i c i t l y , that it is the c h i l d , looking round him with joy, who is at 5 once the source and the recipient of the v is ion. ThusSrooks suggests that in the Immortality Ode there is a hidden image of the chi ld as sun or moon. Elsewhere in Wordsworth's poetry the mind, or mental attributes, is seen as the sun. In "To the Clouds" the sun is written of as: Source inexhaustible of l i fe and joy And type of man's far-darting reason, therefore In old time worshipped as the god of verse, A blazing intel lectual dei ty . (80-83) Here the intel lect and the artist's vision are equated with the source of l ight . In The Excurs ion, the Solitary imagines a lone American Indian when, having gained the top O f some commanding eminence, which yet Intruder ne'er beheld, he thence surveys Regions of wood and wide savannah, vast Expanse of unappropriated earth, 178. With mind that sheds a light on what he sees, Free as the sun, and lonely as the sun, Pouring above his head its radiance down Upon a l iv ing and rejoicing wor ld! (Exc. I l l , 935-43) Here the object of vision is i l luminated both by the light from wi th in , the mind, and by the light from without, the sun. The two lights are seen as working together, in this way in one of the passages in The Prelude where Wordsworth is stressing the creative nature of his mind, denying that the poet's joy springs from mere passivity to sense impressions: But let this Be not forgotten, that I st i l l retained M y first creative sensibi l i ty; That by the regular action of the world M y soul was unsubdued. A plastic power Abode with me; a forming hand, at times Rebel l ious, acting in a devious mood; A local spirit of his own, at war With general tendency, but, for the most, Subservient strict ly to external things With which it communed. An auxi l iar light Came from my mind, which on the setting sun Bestowed new splendour; the melodious birds, The fluttering breezes, fountains that run o n , Murmuring so sweetly in themselves, obeyed A l ike dominion, and the midnight storm Grew darker in the presence of my eye: Hence my obeisance, my devotion hence, And hence my transport. (Prelude II, 358-76) A supreme example of light understood as the type of intel lect forms the conclusion of The Prelude. As shown in chapter three, both in this passage and in " A N igh t -P iece " the moon emerging from mist or cloud is seen as a figure of the sudden power of the imaginat ion. The poet climbs Snowdon through the 179. misty night intending to see the sun rise. But his vision is not of the rising sun (perhaps the full l ight of truth is never perceived by a human being); instead he emerges from the mist to see: The Moon hung naked in a firmament O f azure without c loud , and at my feet Rested a silent sea of hoary mist (X IV, 40-42) whi le through a rift in this ocean of mist Mounted the roar of waters, torrents, streams Innumerable, roaring with one v o i c e ! (59-60) This glorious vision is understood in reflection to be the type O f a majestic in te l lect , its acts And its possessions, what it has and craves, What in itself it i s , and would become. There I beheld the emblem of a mind That feeds upon in f in i ty , that broods Over the dark abyss, intent to hear Its voices issuing forth to silent light In one continuous stream; a mind sustained By recognitions of transcendent power, In sense conducting to ideal form, In soul of more than mortal pr iv i lege. (66-77) This great and complex episode is both real experience and image, a typical Wordsworthian combination, though sometimes the image is almost submerged, as it is in " A N i g h t - P i e c e . " Here we are told quite c lear ly the meaning of the exper ience. The image is that of the great soul , the artist or thinker brooding over , and thus warming into l i f e , thus creating from, the dark abyss of experience and ideas, a l l that the mind works o n . Further implications of this passage wi l l be discussed at the end of the chapter. 180. In these images, physical light and mental light are seen working together; one of the qualit ies of Wordsworth's poetry revealed by an examination of his images of the eye and of light is that perception thus is impl ic i t ly communicated as cooperation between subject and object , so that both are sources of light and can be equated. As we have seen, the mind and intel lect can be expressed by the image of the sun, and must be imagined as shining through the eyes, while on occasion the eye itself is seen as radiant: a female beggar is "Haughty, as if her eye had seen/ Its own light to a distance thrown" ("Beggars"). Equal ly, the sun can be seen as an eye: the Leechgatherer is found "beside a pool bare to the eye of Heaven . " Now this is a commonplace: it is used without any very great force of particular meaning by Wordsworth himself, and by his great predecessors: Shakespeare writes in Sonnet XVIII "Sometime too hot the eye of Heaven shines," whi le Spenser writes of Una "Her angel f a c e , / As the great eye of heaven shined br ight , " (FQ , I, i i i , 4) a l ine quoted by Wordsworth.^ However, the earl ier lines of this stanza from "Resolution and Independence" in which this phrase occurs, "Now whether it were by peculiar g r a c e , / A leading from above, a something g i v e n , " bring new life to the conventional image, so that "the eye of Heaven , " because of these suggestions of heavenly interference in human affairs, communicates the sense of a divine scrutiny. The implications of this imagery which suggests an exchange of roles between the eye and the sun are extended by the ambiguity of certain lines in the Immortality O d e . Ambiguity in Wordsworth's poetry is l i ke ly to be conscious and intent ional , as he was the most scrupulous of poets about precision and purity of language and expression, and accordingly is part icularly worth examination. In the lines (176-77) "What though the radiance which was once so br ight/ Be now forever taken from my s ight , " his essential meaning is clear enough, but it is notable that the radiance can be regarded as coming either from within or from without the mind: that i s , it may be taken from his sight either in the sense that his sight is bereft of the radiance with which it once used to look at nature, or that his sight is no longer able to behold this radiance shed upon nature from some other source. Both meanings are in the reader's mind; he is aware, perhaps unconsciously, of light as both internal and external . A similar ambiguity lies in the lines (197-99): The Clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o'er man's mortal i ty. The first meaning of this passage is , of course, that the eye is that of the poet, or man similarly experienced in human suffering, whose eye bestows a sober colouring both in the Newtonian sense that colour is not in the object , but in the eye beholding i t , and in the imaginative sense that the eye of the now experienced poet looks on the setting sun in its beauty as a type of man's mortal i ty. The underlying sense of the image is that the eye there mentioned is the sun, from which indeed the clouds do take their sober colouring in the sense that the sun's rays on them cause them to be seen as coloured, and which has indeed, in the immemorial imagination of man, kept watch o'er man's mortal i ty. These ambiguities reinforce the impression given generally by these images of light and of the eye: the eye sheds light and receives it; the mind both gives 182. an organising radiance to the object and absorbs the radiance of the object . This reciprocal action in perception is noted by Brooks in his comments on the last stanza of the Immortality O d e : "The poet says that the clouds do not give to but take from, the eye their sober colour ing. But in the last two lines of the stanza the flower does not take from, but gives to , the heart. We can have it either way. Indeed the poem implies that we must have it both ways. And we are dealing with more than opt ics" (100-101). Thus throughout the poem, at a submerged l e v e l , the pattern is there: the pattern is one of inter-change and cooperation. Perception is both intel lectual and phys ica l , and is a matter of rec iproci ty . Thus we see that for Wordsworth light expresses intel lect ; that Wordsworth thought of the mind as shedding light on the object perceived. The implications of this are twofold: f i rst ly, it implies that the mind's role in perception is act ive; and secondly, that perception is a matter of interaction between the subject and the object . These ideas are , of course, expressed quite exp l ic i t l y in the body of Wordsworth's poetry, as w i l l be shown; his light imagery, however, shows how these ideas work together; it shows their fusion in poetry. N o w , a similar fusion is present in the works of the Neoplatonists. They, too, equate, on some l e v e l , light with inte l lect ; they, too regard the mind as essentially ac t i ve , and for them, too, perception is reciprocal action between perceiver and perceived. Such ideas are certainly not exclusively Neoplatonic: they feature separately in other schools of philosophy, especial ly the concept of the act ive mind. Yet in Neoplatonism they work together, just as they do in 183. Wordsworth's light imagery. I have already suggested that there is a strong relationship with Neoplatonism in certain aspects of Wordsworth's thought: in his understanding of certain moments of perception as union between subject and object; in the notion of the senses as tyrannic; in the concept of the inward eye; and in the concept of Creation as process rather than completed ac t ion . This complex of ideas of light and intel lect suggests further that some understanding of the relevant Neoplatonic concepts may well deepen the understanding of much of Wordsworth's greatest poetry. It seems to me extremely l ike ly that contact with the Neoplatonic tradition was a considerable factor in the formation of the thought and imagery of Wordsworth after 1797, the time of his meeting with Co ler idge, and the beginning of his f lowering t ime, a factor which must, however, be understood as working with his own natural tastes, and earlier reading and th ink ing. The question of his contact with the ideas of Neoplatonic writers, who figures so considerably in Wordsworth's l ibrary, and so strongly inf luenced Coler idge during the years of his closest friendship with Wordsworth, is discussed in the first chapter of this thesis. i i . Light in Neoplatonic Writings In his rich and various use of light as a figure for the intel lect or the spir i tual , Wordsworth echoes the rich and various Neoplatonic tradit ion. Both in imagery and through direct statement, we see in most Platonic and Neoplatonic writers the same equation of light with in te l lec t . Plotinus expresses the essential independence of the Intellectual Principle in the imagery of l ight: 184. "It is certainly thus that the In te l lectual -Pr inc ip le , withdrawing to the inmost, seeing nothing, must have its vision—not of some other light in some other th ing, but of the light within i tself , unmingled, pure, suddenly gleaming before i t" (Ennead V , 5 , 7; p.40). Thomas Taylor , in a note to the Craty lus, writes that "the sun subsists in the most beautiful proportion to the good: for as the splendour proceeding from the good is the light of the intel lectual world; and that which emanates from the apparent sun is the light of the sensible wor ld . And both the sun and Apol lo are analogous to the good; but sensible light and intel lectual truth are analogous to superessential l ight" (Four Dialogues, pp. 53-54) . The same image is used in the introduction to the Parmenides; Taylor, writ ing of the good, the first cause, observes: "P la to , too, in the Republ ic, that we may be enabled to gain a glimpse from analogy of his transcendent nature, compares him to the sun. For as the sun by his light not only confers the power of being seen on visible objects, but is l ikewise the cause of their generation, nutriment and increase; so the good, through superessential l ight , imparts being and the power of being known to every thing which is the object of knowledge" (Four Dialogues, p. 262). As we see from this passage, the Good is l ike the sun's physical l ight, because it is superessential l ight. Now in such writ ings, analogy and identity are not differentiated as sternly as they are in most other philosophical writ ings. Elsewhere we see that for Taylor, physical light is part of the superessential l ight , that "L ight , of which he [the sun] is the fountain, is nothing more than the sincere energy of an intel lect perfectly pure, i l luminating in its proper habitation the middle region of the heavens; and from this exalted situation scattering its l ight, it f i l ls a l l the celestial orbs with powerful vigour, and il luminates the universe with divine and incorruptible l ight" (Four Dialogues, note on the 9 Craty lus, p. 56). Plotrihus.,. too, refers to light as "something incorporea l , " and as Berkeley observes in Sir is,wri t ing of the Neoplatonists: There have not been wanting those who, not content to suppose light the most pure and fine of a l l corporeal beings, have gone yet further, and bestowed upon it some attributes of a yet higher nature. Jul ianus, the Platonic philosopher, as ci ted by Fic inus, saith it was a doctrine in the theology of the Phoenicians, that there is diffused throughout the universe a pel luc id and shining nature, pure and impassive, the act of a pure in te l l igence. And Ficinus himself undertakes to prove, that light is incorporeal , by several a rguments .^ Siris itself is a strongly Platonic work, which can be regarded in many ways as a dissertation on light and f i re , as these seem to be some of the unifying ideas, once the subject of tar-water is forgotten. It is misleading to suggest that the Neoplatonic connotations of light should be precise, for such various writers naturally understood the concept somewhat differently: no exact conversions can be made. Nevertheless, it is true that in general light is understood by the Neoplatonists as intel lectual and spir i tual . The concept of light as the act of a pure in te l l igence, demonstrated above,may be compared with the varying concepts discussed by Berkeley in this passage: 186. As the Platonists hold intel lect to be lodged in soul , and soul in ether; so it passeth for a doctrine of Trismegistus, in the Pimander, that mind is clothed by soul , and soul by spir i t . Therefore as the animal spirit of man, being subtile and luminous, is the immediate tegument of the human soul , or that wherein and whereby she acts; even so the spirit of the wor ld , that act ive fiery ethereal substance of l ight , that permeates and animates the whole system, is supposed to clothe the sou l , which clothes the mind of the universe. The Magi l ikewise said of G o d , that he had light for his body and truth for his soul . And in the Cha lda ic oracles, a l l things are supposed to be governed by intel lectual f i re . And in the same oracles, the creative mind is said to be clothed with f i re. Thus also in the psalms, Thou art clothed with light as with a garment, (Siris, 178-179), i i i . The Act ive Mind The understanding of intel lect as light implies that the individual mind, as wel l as the universal in te l lect , is ac t i ve , in that the mind is seen not as darkness lightened from the outer wor ld , but as light i l luminating the outer wor ld . That this is true for Wordsworth we have seen in examining imagery which shows the transformation of external objects by this "auxi l iar l i gh t , " this "g leam, the light that never was, on sea or l a n d . " We know of Wordsworth's bel ief in the essential act iv i ty and supreme beauty of the mind more direct ly from numerous statements throughout his works, and especial ly The Prelude and other poems of the crucial 187 per iod, 1797-1807. For him, the mind of man can be " A thousand times more beautiful than the earth" a thing "of quality and fabric more d iv ine" (Prelude X I V , 448-54). We have seen in examining the development of his attitudes towards vision that the mental crisis which aff l icted him partly because of the despotism of the eye , eventually convinced him of the necessity of the mind's act iv i ty in perception. The powerful "spots of t ime" are those through which we come to understand "to what point and how/ The mind is lord and master-outward sense/ The obedient servant of her w i l l , " (XII, 221-23). This question of the act ive mind in Wordsworth's poetry has been the object of much attention; Havens (pp.323-24) indeed has a useful list of the chief references in Wordsworth's poems to the act ive powers of the mind. There is no need to repeat the various ample demonstrations. This concept does not whol ly explain Wordsworth's ideas of perception, as discussion of the external power in chapter three may suggest; I shall discuss the relationship of these ideas later, in writing of reciprocity in percept ion. Wordsworth's bel ief in the mind's act iv i ty is wel l established. Now Neoplatonism (in so far as it is one philosophy) is the philosophy of M i n d , as empiricism (in so far as it is one phflosdph ,y)is the philosophy of Sense. M i n d , in Neoplatonic works, is of ten, of course, discussed rather as the universal than the individual mind, though each individual mind is part of the universal Mind and reaches understanding of other things only through its participation in that M i n d . 1 The ultimate concern of such writers is l ike ly to be cosmological rather than psychological . Thus quotations from these works are easily misinterpreted out of context, and must be treated with care. Neoplatonic discussion of mind 188. does, however, involve the individual mind, and shows its superior role to sense in percept ion, as is easily demonstrable from those works in the tradition known to be easily avai lable to Wordsworth. Thomas Taylor typifies this in his contrast 12 between "the divine light of mind and the sordid gloom of sense. " Shaftesbury's discussion of thought and sense is part icularly relevant to the present argument. He writes that: "Thought we own pre-eminent, and confess the reallest of Beings the only Existence of which we are made sure of, by being conscious. A l l else may be only Dream and Shadow. A l l which even Sense suggests may be deceitfulV('.The Moral ists," Part 3 , Sect . 1: II, 369). The point of Shaftesbury's argument is that the mind confers value on experience, a view which Wordsworth certainly shared; the mind must not be a "mere pensioner/ O n outward forms" (Prelude V I , 737-38) , for without its act iv i ty sense is a " s p e l l , " 13 enthral Iment or slavery. The dict ion of those passages describing the act ive 14 mind, however, is one of nobi l i ty , d ign i ty , and grandeur. Shaftesbury writes in this ve in , connecting it with the mind's apprehension of Ideal Beauty; "For if we may trust to what our Reasoning has taught us; whatever in Nature is beautiful or charming, is only the faint Shadow of that First Beauty. So that every real L O V E depending on the M i n d , and being only the Contemplation of Beauty, either as it real ly is in i t -se l f , or as it appears imperfectly in the objects which strike the Sense; how can the rational Mind rest here, or be satisfy'd with the absurd Enjoyment which reachest the Sense a l o n e " ("The Mora l is ts , " Part 3 , Sect . 2; II, 395). He writes in a similar vein elsewhere: "That neither can 189. M A N by the same Sense or brutish Part, conceive or enjoy Beauty: but al l Beauty and Good he enjoys is in a nobler way, and by the help of what is noblest his M I N D and R E A S O N . . . For as the riotous M I N D , captive to Sense , can never enter in competi t ion, or contend for Beauty with the virtuous M I N D of Reason's Cul ture; neither can the objects which al lure the former, compare with those which attract and charm the latter" ("The Mora l i s t s , " Part 3 , Sect. 2: II, 424-25) . In the same way, the Cambridge Platonist, Ralph Cudworth is predictably insistent on the superiority of mind over sense, and its essential act iv i ty in perception. G i a n Ors i n i , in a comparison of Cudworth's thought with Kant 's , writes that "one of Cudworth's lasting merits is the firm assertion of the 'sel f-act ive character of thought" '(pp. 144-45). This is seen in Cudworth's discussion of the cause of motion, which he says in animal bodies is "not the matter itself organised, but the soul as either cogitative or plast ical ly se l f -ac t i ve , v i ta l ly united thereunto, and naturally rul ing over i t . But in the whole world it is either God himself . . . or else it is instrumental I y an inferior created spir i t , soul or l i fe of nature that i s , 'Plast ic Nature 1 ' " (True Intellectual System, Bk. I, c h . v; III, 668-9) . Much of Cudworth's invect ive is directed against Hobbes ("a modern atheistick writer") and his followers for their excessive rel iance on the evidence of the senses. Cudworth, in answer to their assertions, points out that the senses alone do not even enable us to understand their own nature or their own evidence, and goes on: 190. sense is nor knowledge or understanding, nor the criterion of truth as to sensible things themselves; it reaching not to the essence or absolute of them, but only taking notice of their outside, and perceiving its own passions from them rather than the things themselves: and that there is a higher faculty in the soul , or reason and understanding, which judges of sense; detects the fantasy and imposture of i t , discovers to us that there is nothing in the objects themselves l ike to those forementioned sensible ideas; and resolves a l l sensible things into in te l l ig ib le principles; the ideas whereof are not foreign and adventit ious, and meer passive impressions on the soul from without, but native and domestick to i t , or act ively exerted from the soul i tsel f . 1 1 (True Intellectual System, Bk. I, c h . v; II, 634-635) A l l our ab i l i ty to generalise and order our impressions comes from the mind, and those who bel ieve that "they have not the least cogitation of anything not subject to corporeal sense" bel ie themselves initheir own words, as "fancy and sense itself, upon this hypothesis could hardly scape from becoming non-entit ies too, forasmuch as neither fancy nor sense falls under sense, but only the objects of them; we neither seeing v is ion, nor feel ing tact ion, nor hearing audi t ion, much less, hearing sight, or feel ing taste or the l i ke " (True Intellectual System, Bk. I, c h . v; II, 636). Cudworth concludes that there is "one main difference betwixt understanding, or knowledge, and sense; that whereas the latter is phantastical and relat ive only; the former reacheth beyond phancy and appearance to the absoluteness of truth" (Bk, I, c h . v; II, 719-720). Berkeley expresses very similar views of the respective roles of mind and sense in Sir is. However, in his early years, in which he formulated the doctrines for which he is most famous, the years of the New Theory of Vis ion and the Principles of Human Knowledge, his understanding of the matter was different: he wrote then " M i n d is a congerie of Perceptions . . . Say you the Mind is not the Perceptions but that thing which perceives, I answer you are abused by the words that and thing, these are vague empty wordw without a meaning" (Philosophical Commentaries, 580 -81 , quoted by Warnock, p. 196). As Orsini (p.29) observes, later on "he developed another philosophy, which is closer to the Neoplatonic philosophy of the Cambridge thinkers whom Coler idge favoured." This philosophy was expounded in Sir is. Now obviously there are connections between the various stages of Berkeley's thought and the principle connection is that of mind and its act iv i ty : "There is nothing act ive in the universe but M i n d " (quoted without reference by Warnock, pp. 89-90) . Nevertheless, there is a great difference between the way in which this concept affected the early works, wh ich , as was seen in chapter three, were mainly concerned with sense experience as the language of G o d (the Universal M ind ) , and Sir is, which was also concerned with the act ive powers of the individual mind. This act ive power plays a vital role in the chain of understanding connecting eventual ly the lowest agent in percept ion, sense, to the highest, deity as the object of intel lectual knowledge: The perceptions of sense are gross: but even in the senses there is a di f ference. Though harmony and proportion are not objects of sense, yet the eye and ear are organs, which offer to the mind such materials 192. by means whereof she may apprehend both the one and the other. By experiments of sense we become acquainted with the lower facult ies of the soul , and from them, whether by a gradual evolution or ascent, we arrive at the highest. . . .In a l l this sca le , each lower faculty is a step which leads to one above i t . And the uppermost naturally lead to de i ty , which is rather the object of intel lectual knowledge than even of the discursive faculty not to mention the sensitive . . . The calamity therefore is neither strange, nor much to be complained of i f a low sensual reader.shdll,from more love of animal l i f e , find himself drawn o n , surprised, and betrayed into some curiosity concerning the in te l lec tua l . (Siris, 303: V , 140) Throughout Sir is,as Warnock (p.221)'«shows, Berkeley is at pains "to point out that most of these authorities [those numerous obscure writers, mostly of the Neoplatonic tradit ion, ci ted in Sir is] either sa id , or darkly hinted, that Mind or Intellect must be enthroned as the true act ive principle in al l phenomena ; " It would be a gross distortion to suggest that the only philosophical treatment of the active mind accessible to Wordsworth was that of the writings in the Neoplatonic tradi t ion. Kant is surely for most modern readers the most notable philosopher to propound this theory. Havens writes, misleadingly ignoring the Neoplatonists and Kant's own European predecessors, that it was Kant who "first made clear that in acquiring knowledge of the external world the mind is not passive, as had been thought, but act ive and creat ive, and that the primary creative act iv i ty in perception belongs to the imagination" (p.205). 193. In this matter Locke himself has been commonly misunderstood, as his 1' rejection of innate ideas has caused him to be thought of as a complete material ist. Locke , it must be remembered, after al l respected Cudworth deeply, and whi le his stress is on the passive role of the mind, he is by no means a complete materialist as regards perception: "Every act of sensation" he wrote, "when duly considered, gives us an equal view of both parts of nature—the corporeal and spir i tual . For, whilst I know, by seeing or hear ing, that there is some corporeal being without me— the object of that sensation, I do more certainly know that there is some spiritual being within me, that sees and hears. This I must be convinced, cannot be the action of bare, insensible matter; nor ever could be without an immaterial thinking being" (Essay, Bk. II, x x i i i : I, 406-407). Ernest Tuveson probably overreacts to this common misconception of Locke , yet there is truth in his assertion that while Locke does regard sensation as passive, the mind in his account compares and combines, and "possesses, too, the essential test for a l iv ing thing: it can refuse to consider." He goes on "thus did Locke bring the mind within the natural order while preserving its integri ty, v i ta l i t y , and self-awareness" (pp. 18-1 9) . Though the concept of the act ive mind is important to thinkers outside the Neoplatonic t radi t ion, it is within this t radi t ion, as I have sa id , that one finds this concept concurrent with the notion of light as in te l lect , and the idea that perception involves the reciprocal action of subject and object , as these concepts work together in Wordsworth's light imagery, and in his poetry in general . Perhaps the most important of these related ideas to Wordsworth's poetry is that of perception as reciproci ty . This chapter wi l l end with a discussion of this idea in its 194. various forms in Wordsworth's works, and an indication of its important role in Neoplatonic epistemology. i v . Reciprocity in Perception It is inadequate merely to assert that Wordsworth saw perception as reciprocal action between man and the universe. This is a complex idea and has different implications in different works, and different passages within the various works. The general trend has indeed been perceived by various critics.- F . W . Bateson wrote that "the eff icient cause, so far as the poetry had a single originating source, was the impell ing need Wordsworth felt to integrate the more subjective or inward-looking and the more object ive or outward-looking aspects of his personality" (p. 186). David Perkins also suggests that Wordsworth seems to move towards an understanding of truth as the union of the perceiving eye and the perceived object (p.94). S . G . Dunn also considers that certain passages such as The Prelude (1805) II, 245 f f . , are based on the assumption that "real i ty is the result of an interact ion," and therefore disagrees with those cri t ics who consider Wordsworth "a pure sensational ist." Seymour Lainoff says that between 1798 and 1802 imagination is characterist ical ly seen as collaboration between subject and o b j e c t . ^ Rader sees a casual remark about the necessity in philosophy of drawing from both Plato and Aristotle as suggesting "a view of the world which seems to me the heart and core of his thought—that the truth is not to be found in either inner vision or outward experience a lone, but in 'an ennobling interchange of action from within and from without '" (p. 42). Cr i t ics have pointed out the responsive nature of Wordsworth's 195. verbs. Hartman treats the subject of reciprocity in perception most suggestively though he is usually obscure and sometimes misleading. Yet none of Wordsworth's cr i t ics , not even Hartman, seems to stress adequately the important truth that for Wordsworth whi le reciprocity between perceiver and perceived is possible but not necessary to a l l acts of percept ion, it is the essential feature of the poet ic , or creat ive, act of perception. ^ The possibil ity of interaction between mind and nature, of marriage between them, as Wordsworth expresses i t , is c lear ly stated and celebrated at the beginning of the never completed philosophical poem, "The Rec luse, " which was published as the Prospectus to The Excursion; that the possibil ity is this a lone, rather than an epistemological necessity, is evident, for the sensual are sti l l in their "sleep of death": Paradise, and groves Elys ian, Fortunate F ie lds—l ike those of o ld Sought in the At lan t ic Main—why should they be A history only of departed things, O r a mere f ict ion of what never was? For the discerning intel lect of M a n , When wedded to this goodly universe In love and holy passion, shall find these A simple produce of the common day. — I, long before the blissful hour arrives, Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse O f this great consummation:- and , by words Which speak of nothing more than what we are, Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep O f Death, and win the vacant and the vain To noble raptures; whi le my voice proclaims How exquisitely the individual M ind (And the progressive powers perhaps no less O f the whole species) to the external World Is f i t ted:- and how exquis i te ly, too— Theme this but l i t t le heard of among men— 196. The external world Is fitted to the M ind ; And the creation (by no lower name Can it be called) which they with blended might Accompl ish . (47-71) There are two parties in the creation of a Paradise, "the discerning intel lect of M a n " or "the individual m ind , " and "this goodly universe," "the external W o r l d . " These are perfectly fitted to each other, and when united make a garden of delights. The act of perception which unites subject and object in love can become the common act of percept ion, when the passive are stirred to ac t iv i t y . It is c lear , though, that this blissful hour has not yet arr ived, and that at present such perception is rare. Wordsworth is not describing the ordinary act of perception. The 1800 Preface to the Lyr ical Ballads shows that the essential work and the essential nature of the poet is to communicate the truths expressed in this passage; "What then does the Poet? He considers man and the objects that surround him as acting and re-act ing upon each other, so as to produce an infinite complexity of pain and pleasure." The poet "considers man and nature as essential ly adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting proper ties of nature" (Grosart, II, 90). Hartman notices "the reciprocal generosity of nature and imagination" shown in this passage from The Recluse, and comments truly enough on this subject; "Yet for Wordsworth, as The Prelude makes c lear , the interaction of nature and mind remains a mystery, "The incumbent mystery of sense and sou l . 1 There is no mechanical "epistemological 1 f i t t ing of the one to the other . . . " (p.219). 197. Cer ta in ly , the fitt ing of mind to nature is not generally expressed as part of the necessary mechanism of the ordinary act of percept ion. It may be true that it is occasional ly possible to read certain passages referring to the interaction of subject and object as though it referred merely to the common act of percept ion. The famous lines in "Tintern Abbey" (102-07) may be understood in this way: Therefore am I sti l l A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of a l l that we behold From this green earth; of a l l the mighty world O f eye and ear,—both what they half create And what perceive. Yet here too it seems very l i ke ly that Wordsworth is writ ing of heightened experience rather than common exper ience. A similar phrase is used in a fragment of blank verse, possibly written as early as 1795: Yet once again do I behold the forms, O f these huge mountains, and yet once aga in , Standing beneath these elms, I hear thy voice:, Beloved Derwent, that pecul iar voice Heard in the stillness of the evening.air , Half-heard and ha l f -created. (PW, V , 340: Appendix B, I) This (fragment seems to have echoed in Wordsworth's mind when he was writing "Tintern Abbey" ; the first lines are certainly reminiscent of the completed poem ("and again I . . . " fol lowed by a l ine ending "once aga in" ) , and the last l ine is strikingly l ike that just quoted: here^it suggests that the voice of the Derwent is half created through the power of loving memory—that it is half heard because it is perceived to be present in the sti l l evening a i r , and half created because it is known to be present from past exper ience. Thus the reciprocity described in this act of perception is peculiar to Wordsworth's own experience: it is possible 198. that In "Tintern A b b e y , " the eye and ear half create their perceptions not because the mechanics of perception are understood to involve creation from the mind, but because certain acts of perception involve creation from a mind unique in its experience or powers. Certa in ly in a similar dichotomy between finding and creating in "Peter B e l l " (143-45), the creation is understood as being posit ive, and l ike artistic creation: What nobler marvels than the mind May in l i fe 's dai ly prospect f ind , May f ind , or there create? O f this passage, David Perkins (p. 91) observes that, for Wordsworth " in dai ly l i f e , the mind can both receive from sense and create whatever makes up the content of human consciousness." This dichotomy is often repeated, though with sl ightly different meanings. There are comparable lines in The Prelude: Hitherto I had stood In my own mind remote from social l i f e , (At least from what we commonly so name,) Like a lone shepherd on a promontory Who lacking occupation looks far forth Into the boundless sea, and rather makes Than finds what he beholds. ( I l l , 513-19) Occas iona l ly the implicat ion seems to be that the marriage partners, to adopt Wordsworth's image, are equal in their partnership, that both the " inte l lect of man" and "this goodly universe" are equally act ive in perception. When in The Prelude, the poet refuses to undervalue "Salisbury P la in " (later " G u i l t and Sorrow"), it is firstly because this poem "broke l ike l ight" on Coler idge's imagination, and secondly because he himself acknowledges the 199. strength and v i ta l i ty of his mind at this time: in l i fe 's everyday appearances I seemed about this time to gain clear sight O f a new world—a wor ld, too, that was fit To be transmitted and to other eyes Made v is ib le , as ruled by those fixed laws Whence spiritual dignity originates, Which do both give it being and maintain A ba lance, an ennobling interchange O f action from without and from within; The exce l lence , pure funct ion, and best power Both of the object seen, and eye that sees. (XIII, 368-78) Here the "d ign i t y , " the "ennobl ing" action ( and the implications of the dict ion are important) come from an interchange between equal agents. Similarly in the section of The Prelude describing Wordsworth's undergraduate journey through the A lps , he expresses the equality and kindred nature of the two partners in perception "my s o u l , " and "whate'er I saw, or heard, or fe l t . " His anxiety is to stress the mind's equali ty in such perception, and thus the true value of the percept ion. He does not assert the mind's superior role: Not rich one moment to be poor forever; Not prostrate, overborne, as if the mind Herself were nothing, a mere pensioner O n outward forms—did we in presence stand O f that magnificent region. O n the front O f this whole;5ong is written that my heart Must , in such Temple, needs have offered up A different worship. F ina l l y , whate'er I saw, or heard, or fe l t , was but a stream That flowed into a kindred stream; a ga le , Confederate with the current of the soul , To speed my voyage; every sound or sight, In its degree of power, administered To grandeur or to tenderness. (VI, 735-48) 200. Similarly in the "auxi l iar l ight" passage (II, 368-76) already quoted at length, we see that there are two independent powers at work, capable of cross purposes, but most blessed when they work in cooperation. The setting sun already has its splendour, otherwise the mind's "aux i l iar l ight" could not bestow new splendour; the midnight storm, already dark, in the heightened act of perception grows "darker in the presence of my e y e . " A "creat ive sensibi l i ty" is retained despite the possible weakening effects of habit "the regular action of the wo r l d . " But the inner "plast ic power," though capable of rebell ion and "wa r / With general tendency" was st i l l "for the most Subservient strict ly to external things With which it communed." Thus, at this stage (and Wordsworth is writ ing of his schooldays) it is possible for the external universe to be the dominant partner in the reciprocal act ion between external and internal . However, more often Wordsworth writes more forcibly and compell ingly of the mind's act ive role in percept ion. Though the importance of this concept tohhim has been indicated, the role of the act ive mind has not been properly discussed. The power of mind is shown to transform exper ience, to redeem i t , and make it fer t i le . The mind which exerts this power makes experience.! noble and digni f ied; the mind which neglects this power and is content with the passivity of the senses itself becomes serv i le . And the role of servant is more properly that of the senses: "the mind is lord and master—outward sense/ The obedient servant of her w i l l " (Prelude XI I , 222-23). As we have seen, Wordsworth writes of the "spots of Time" as communicating understanding of the proper relationship between mind the master and sense the servant. He goes on to tel l of one such moment in t ime, the scene of visionary dreariness when he saw the gibbet on the moor, and the girl carrying her pitcher, in the place he returned to later " in the blessed hour of early love" when Upon the naked pool and dreary crags, And on the melancholy beacon fel l A spirit of pleasure and youth's golden gleam; And think ye not with radiance more sublime For these remembrances, and for the power They left behind? So feeling comes in aid O f fee l ing , and diversity of strength Attends us, if but once we have been strong. O h ! mystery of man, from what a depth Proceed thy honours. I am lost, but see In simple childhood something of the base O n which thy greatness stands; but this I f ee l , That from thyself it comes, that thou must give Else never canst rece ive. (Prelude, XI I , 264-77) The d ia lect ic of the chi ld 's and the young man's experience,the interplay between feeling and feel ing is what the narrative tells of; but it does not bring Wordsworth to merely Hartlreyan conclusions about the mind's formation from association. Instead there is mystery; no explanat ion, but instead the feeling that mind's outward motion creates the greatness, "that thou must g i v e / Else never canst r ece i ve . " Thus the whole incident with.its commentary reinforces the bel ief that "the mind is lord and master," stated at the beginning. Even when the act ive mind is less emphasized, its importance is sti l l impl ic i t in the very suggestion that there are vital modes and dead modes of perception. The vital mode is every man's mode in chi ldhood, but most adults succumb to passive vision through the indifference of habit. The chi ld is An inmate of this act ive universe: For feeling has to him imparted power That through the growing facult ies of sense Doth l ike an agent of the one great M ind Crea te , creator and receiver both, Working but in a l l iance with the works Which it beholds. — Such, ver i l y , is the first Poetic spirit of our human l i f e , By uniform control of after years, In most, abated or suppressed; in some, Through every change of growth and of decay Preeminent t i l l death J 9 (Prelude II, 254-65) The same implications are perhaps seen more c lear ly in a manuscript passage about the abuse of sc ience. This passage shows how, if they are al lowed to interact and respond to each other, the senses and the intel lect strengthen each other continual ly and a l l the world of the senses becomes charged with our l i f e , and recharge it in return. However, when perception lacks reciproci ty , when mind or sense is unmated, the natural world is barren for us, and our mental act iv i t ies diminish us as they diminish the object of our attent ion. He writes of Science: its most noble end Its most illustrious province must be found In ministering to the excursive power O f intel lect and thought. So build we up The being that we are. For was it meant That we should pore, and dwindle as we pore, Forever dimly pore on things minute, On solitary objects, sti l l beheld In disconnection dead and spirit less, And sti l l d iv iding and dividing s t i l l , Break down al l grandeur, sti l l unsatisfied With our unnatural t o i l , whi le littleness May yet become more l i t t l e , waging thus An impious warfare with the very l i fe O f our own souls? O r was it ever meant That this majestic imagery, the clouds The ocean and the firmament of heaven 203. Should l ie a barren picture on the mind? Never for ends of vanity and pain And s ickly wretchedness were we endued Amid this world of feel ing and of l i fe With apprehension, reason, w i l l and thought, Af fect ions, organs, passions. Let us rise From this oblivious s leep, these fretful dreams O f feverish nothingness. Thus discipl ined A l l things shall l ive in us and we shall l ive In a l l things that surround us. This I deem Our tendency, and thus shall every day Enlarge our sphere of pleasure and of power, For thus the senses and the intel lect Shall each to each supply a mutual a i d , Invigorate and sharpen and refine 2Q Each other with a power that knows no bounds. To Wordsworth, the man who retains and fosters his powers of mind, so that for him the intel lect and the senses do "each to each supply a mutual a i d " is a true poet, though not necessarily a maker of verses, for Wordsworth acknowledges that "many are the Poets that are sown/By Nature; man endowed with highest gifts, The vision and the faculty d i v i n e ; / Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse. " (Exc. I, 77-80) . The hymn.idignifying the vi tal process of such minds forms the conclusion to the Prelude. This is an extremely rich but di f f icult passage; perhaps both its richness and its di f f icul ty are suggested by its being the partial subject of three separate discussions in this piece of work. Perhaps its greatest di f f icul ty arises from Wordsworth's claims of enormous vital powers for two forces, mind and nature. The claims are so great that they are not easily comprehended, and not easily reconc i led . The first claim is made for the mind. The moon shining above the abyss-l ike break in the mist is seen as "the emblem of a mind / That feeds upon inf ini ty that broods Over theldark abyss" (X IV, 70-72). The great force of the description of the moon above the sea of mist swells the claim 204. made for the mind's power; so, enormously, does the echo of Mi l ton (Paradise Lost, i , 21) in "broods over the dark abyss" with its implicat ion that the mind 21 is l ike the Holy Ghost , brooding over Chaos and hatching the Creat ion; and so does the stated nature of the mind's act ion: it feeds upon inf ini ty; it is a mind "sustained/ By recognitions of transcendent power , / In sense conducting to ideal f o rm , / In soul of more than mortal pr iv i lege" (XIV, 74-77); the redeemed soul may have such pr iv i lege. It has too irrsome' sense the function of moulding, jo in ing, abstracting outward things. We know this, for this is the mental function which "Nature shadowed there" on Snowdon. These powers are surely the mind's imaginative powers. S t i l l , it is Nature who shadows these powers, and she is spoken of in these lines as possessing a great independent strength, a "mutual dominat ion," exercised "upon the face of outward th ings," a power "which al l . acknowledge when thus moved, " a power which is the "express Resemblance of that glorious facu l ty / That higher minds bear with them as their o w n . " Nature's power is emphasized more strongly in the 1805 version: she "exh ib i ted" rather than shadowing forth (1.79), and later "thrusts forth upon the senses" rather than "exhib i t ing" to them (87-88), and instead of her power being the "express resemblance of that high mental power," it is its "Counterpart /And Brother!' (88-89). Manuscript W (1804) is even stronger: in a related passage it speaks of these appearances as "her [ Nature's] own naked work/ Selfwrought, unaided by the human mind" (Prelude, p.624: 49-50) . Thus in the later versions, less stress is placed on Nature's independent power, but it st i l l remains a formidable force. S t i l l , powerful though Nature is, the point of the passage, of the discussion, the image, and of the whole episode, is the power of "that glorious facu l ty / That higher minds bear with them as their o w n . " They are not dependent on Nature for they too are creative: They from their native selves can send abroad Kindred mutations; forithemselves create A l ike existence; and, whenever it dawns Created for them, catch i t , or are caught By its inevitable mastery, L ike angels stopped upon the wing by sound O f harmony from Heaven's remotest spheres. (93-99) Such minds through their own v i ta l i t y , l ive " in a world of L i f e . " Their relation to the senses is the true one: they are "not en th ra l led , / But by their quickening impulse made more prompt To hold fit converse with the spiritual wo r l d . " The vision of the moon above the dark abyss is communicated as showing Nature's power; but the image it suggests is that of the mind's power, and it is the power of the creative mind which is the subject of this episode. I strongly disagree with Geoffrey Hartman's account of the ascent of Snowdon episode (pp. 184-86). Hartman believes that "Wordsworth is of the mind's party without knowing i t " whi le I bel ieve that Wordsworth is of the mind's party and knows it very w e l l . I bel ieve that Hartman's case rests on a misunderstanding. He writes that "when the poet emerges from the mountain mist (Prelude X I V , 35) two things force themselves one after the other on his senses," the first being the moon, apparently "insulated from the lower sphere . . . " whi le "the second is the roar of waters rising from that sphere." Now his argument rests on'this "one after the other . " For "Na tu re , Wordsworth suggests, forced a shift in his attention from 206. one apparently supreme agent to another, from moon to abyss; a shift which makes him aware of an antiphony between them .The act ive principle cannot be l o c a l i z e d . " Hartman argues that in fact the shift in attention is not something forced by Nature, but a trick of the poet's own mind: "so strong is the usurpation of sight that it masks the continuous sound, and the re-entry of the latter into consciousness appears l ike a breakthrough. Though the v is ion, therefore, is about nature, it is also about the poet's perception of nature, since not heaven and earth but only the poetjs mind is turned . . . . Thus, Wordsworth's greatest visionary sight is based on the simplest kind of psychical error." The error seems to me to be Hartman's and not Wordsworth's, for there is in fact no "one after the other" in this passage. Although the moon is mentioned at the beginning and the sound of waters at the end of the descript ion, there is no suggestion of what Hartman cal ls a breakthrough, or that Wordsworth is aware first of the sight then of the sound; the description is a l l one. True, the sea of mist is at first described as si lent; it is s i lent, unl ike the true sea, and it remains silent— it is through a rift in this silent sea that the sound of waters rises. So there is no question either of a "mutation in nature" or a psychical error. Thus, as Hartman seems to have no basis for saying that Wordsworth is of the mind's party without knowing i t , " one might assume that Wordsworth is o:f nature's party. And indeed Hartman does assert of the Snowdon vision that "its import, daring if taken l i te ra l ly , is that there exists in imagination in nature analogous to that in man . " This statement is partly true, as I hope I have demonstrated. The import of the passage is that both man and nature have an extraordinary power; the stress is on man's power. 207. Hdrtman says (p.254) that "Wordsworth sees Imagination by its own l ight, and cal ls that light Na tu re ' s . " He is referring to the 1805 version of The Prelude XIII, 62-65: but in that breach Through which the homeless voice of waters rose, That dark deep thoroughfare, had Nature lodg'd The soul , the Imagination of the whole. It is true that Nature is seen as shaping the incident. But the whole episode does not stress nature's power, but the""world of l i f e " in which both mind and nature can be seen as great energies. It is because each partner is felt to be a glorious power that reciprocity in perception is such an important force in Wordsworth's poetry. Now Hartman's overemphasis on Wordsworth's treatment of the power of nature points out the contrast between Wordsworth's concept of reciprocity and Coler idge 's . It is signif icant to my argument that the two poets shared the view that perception implies reciproci ty , and important for a proper understanding of Wordsworth's poetry to realise the difference in position in the two poets over this matter. Hartman says of Wordsworth: "Nature is not a universe of death that lives only from or within our l i fe " (p.184). This could not be said of Co le r idge , whose famous lines from the fourth stanza of Deject ion, were surely in Hartman's mind when he made the above comment: O Lady! we receive but what we g i ve , And in our l i fe alone does Nature l i ve : Ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud! And would we aught behold, of higher worth, Than that inanimate cold world al lowed To the poor loveless, ever-anxious crowd, 208. A h ! from the soul itself must issue forth A l ight, a glory, a fair luminous cloud Enveloping the Earth— And from the soul itself must there be: sent A sweet and potent v o i c e , of its own bir th, O f a l l sweet sounds the l i fe and element! (47-58) David Pirie says of this, in his discussion of the original of "Deject ion" a verse letter to Sara Hutchinson, "Perception is neither simply act ive or simply passive, 22 but a union of subject and object from which Joy is bo rn . " This could be said of Wordsworth's poetry; yet Wordsworth is different in that he never makes us feel that "In our l i fe alone does Nature l i v e . " S . G . Dunn writes that "this would never do for Wordsworth," and Rader (p.28) comments that Wordsworth "never shared Coler idge's bel ief . . . that nature, when unredeemed by imaginat ion, is an 'inanimate cold world' for Wordsworth the outer world pulsates with l i fe and beauty . " Although the animism of some of his early poems fades 23 away, although his bel ief in the "one l i fe " wanes, sti l l the l i fe of Nature is often asserted and never denied. For Wordsworth, the external power remains a power, as was seen in Chapter three. This difference between the two poets is made clear in Owen Barfield's comparison of them (p.90). His account of Wordsworth is exaggerated, yet the distinction made between his position and Coler idge's is a true dist inction: "For Wordsworth . . . if was nature that was the predominating factor in the polarity between mind and nature. He looked for, and found, inspiration in nature considered, or certainly fe l t , as another being altogether rather than as counterpoint to his own mind. Coler idge also looked for, and sometimes found, inspiration in the same way. But his was a mind in which the 209. opposite factor predominated." However, in his prose Coler idge frequently suggests that there is some kind of l i fe in Nature corresponding to the soul in man. In " O n Poesy or A r t , " he writes: "If the artist copies the mere nature, the natura naturata, what idle r iva l ry ! If he proceeds only from a given form, which is supposed to answer to the notion of beauty, what an emptiness, what an unreality there always is in his productions . . . . Believe me, you must master the essence of the natura naturans, which presupposes a bond between nature in the higher sense and the soul of man" (BL, II, 257). He concludes that there is a similarity in essence between the perceiver and the object perceived, and writes, in the same essay, that " . . . of al l we see, hear, feel and touch the substance is and must be in ourselves; and therefore there is no alternative in reason between the dreary (and thank heaven! almost impossible) bel ief that everything around us is a phantom, or that the l i fe which is in us is in them l ikewise; and that to know is to resemble, when we speak of objects out of ourselves, even as within ourselves to learn is , according to Plato, only to recol lect" (BL, II, 269). Reciprocity in perception in the most narrowly epistemological sense is discussed by Coler idge at some length in Biographia L i terar ia , XII (I, 174): Now the sum of al l that is merely O B J E C T I V E we wi l l henceforth cal l N A T U R E , confining the term to its passive and material sense, as comprising a l l the phenomena by which its existence is made known to us. On the other hand, the sum of a l l that is SUBJECTIVE we may comprehend in the»nbmeiof the SELF or I N T E L L I G E N C E . Both 210. conceptions are in necessary antithesis. Intell igence is conceived of as exclusively representative, nature as exclusively represented; the one as conscious, the other as without consciousness. Now in al l acts of positive knowledge there is required a reciprocal concurrence of both, namely of the conscious being, and of that which in itself is unconscious. Our problem is to exphdin this concurrence, its possibi l i ty, and its necessity. During the act of knowledge itself, the objective and subjective are so instantly uni ted, that we cannot determine to which of the two the priority belongs. There as here no first and no second; both are coinstantaneous and one. In the seventh chapter of Biographia Li terar ia we learn more about how this instant unity is achieved: There are [in the process of thought] evidently two powers at work which relat ive to each other are act ive and passive; and this is not possible without an intermediate facul ty , which is at once both act ive and passive. (In philosophical language we must denominate this intermediate faculty in a l l its degrees and determination, the I M A G I N A T I O N . But in common language and especial ly on the subject of poetry, we appropriate the name to a superior degree of the facul ty , joined to a superior voluntary control over i t)" (I, 86). Thus we see in Coler idge in his own way, a related understanding to Wordsworth's of perception as interaction between subject and object . And in the stanza from "De jec t i on , " despite the insistence^hat " in our l i fe alone does 211. nature l i v e , " we find a very similar combination of light image, act ive mind, and perception as reciprocity to that which is the subject of this chapter: " A h ! from the soul itself must issue for th/ A l ight , a g lory, a fair luminous c l o u d / Enveloping the ear th . " Now between Wordsworth and Coleridge in their most act ive years as poets and friends there was a continual cross-fer t i l izat ion. When he wrote his letter to Sara Hutchinson, Coler idge had read the first stanzas of the as yet incomplete Immortality O d e , and its imagery no doubt affected him; but then no doubt Wordsworth had already been influenced by Coler idge's thoughts on these subjects so cruc ia l ly important to both poets; and Coler idge's thoughts on the subject were certainly and demonstrably influenced by the Neoplatonists and kindred thinkers, whose work interested him so deeply. Coler idge's awareness of the Neoplatonic treatment of this matter is seen wherever he writes of it; it is made clear in the quotation from Plotinus (Ennead I, v i , p.64) with which he ends chapter VI of Biographia Li terar ia: "For in order to direct the view aright it behoves that the beholder should have made himself congenerous and similar to the object beheld. Never could the eye have beheld the sun, had not its own essence been soliform, ( i . e . preconfigured to light by a similarity of essence with that of light) neither can a soul not beautiful attain to an intuition of beauty" (I, 80). The Neoplatonic treatment of this subject which generally describes perception as a mutual act in which l ike is in relation to l i k e , is based on Plato's treatment of the subject, and its development by Plotinus in the Enneads, the most important and influential body of Neoplatonic writ ings. Marjorie Hope Nicholson (pp.76-77) observes that "there are plenty of light theories in ancient thought but they are at bottom theories of perception rather. To Pythagoreans, sight was something that emanated from the eye , as hearing from the ear. To Atomists, sight and soul were emanated from efflux from the object . Plato combined the two. " Plato's account of the eyes in the Timaeus suggests their kinship with the substance of l ight: . . . they fabricated the luciferous eyes the first of a l l the corporeal organs, binding them in the face on the fol lowing account. O f that fire which does not burn, indeed, but which comprehends our proper diurnal l ight , the gods fabricated the orbs of the eyes. For the fire contained within our body, and which is the genuine brother of this divine f i re , they caused to flow through the eyes with smoothness and col lected abundance, condensed indeed in the whole, but especial ly in the middle of these lucid orbs; so that the more dense fire might remain concealed within the recesses of the eyes,i..arid the pure light subsists about the eff luxive river of the sight, then similar concurring and being mingled with similar, one domestic body is constituted according to the direct procession of the eyes; and this too in that part where the internally emitted light resists that which is externally adduced. But the whole becomes similarly passive through simi l i tude, when it either touched anything else or is itself touched by another, then the motion produced by this contact diffusing itself through the whole body of the eye, as far as to the soul , causes 213. thai - sensation which we denominate sight. But when this kindred fire separates into night, the conjunction being dissolved, sight loses its power, (trans. Thomas Taylor , Four Dialogues, p. 479) Plotinus 1 view of the eye is based on the same concept, that the eye does not merely passively absorb light from an external source, but itself contains and sheds l ight—for h im, too, it is " luc i fe rous. " He writes that "the eye is not whol ly dependent upon an outside and al ienvl ight; there is an earl ier light within i tself, a more br i l l iant , which it sees sometimes in a momentary f lash. At night in the darkness a gleam leaps from within the eye: or again we make no effort to see anything; the eyelids close; yet a light flashes before us; or we rub the eye and it sees the light it contains. This is sight without the ac t , but it is the truest seeing for it sees light whereas its other objects were the l i t , not the l ight" (Ennead,V, 5 , 7: p.409). Thomas Taylor asserts that the notion of the act ive nature of the eye's role in seeing has a long history. He stresses both the act ive nature of the eye and the interaction of subject and object in his introduction toihis translation of the Timaeus: With respect to sight it must be observed that Democritus, Heracl i tus, the Stoics, many of the Peripatetics and ancient geometricians together were of opinion that vision subsists through a lucid spirit emitted from the eyes: and this spir i t , according to Plato and his fol lowers, is an unburning v iv i f i c f i re , from which it or ig inal ly proceeds. But this fire the i l lumination of wh ich , as we have already observed, gives l i fe to our mortal part, is 214. abundantly col lected in the eye as in a fat diaphanous substance, whose moisture is most shiny and whose membranes are tender and transparent, but yet suff iciently firm for the purpose of preserving the inherent l ight. But a most serene ray shines through the more solid pupi l ; and this rays originates internally from one nerve, but is afterwards derived through two small nerves to the eyes . . . . This visual ray, however, cannot proceed externally and perceive objects at a distance unless it is con joined with external light . . . (Four Dialogues, p. 425). Thus the very visual ac t , for the Neoplatonists, is a conjunction of two l ights, the internal and the external . Taylor also suggests that the higher modes of perception involve not merely reciprocity but empathy to the extent of unity. Writ ing in a note to the Phaedo on Socrates' divine reason, he says that there are four kinds of knowledge, and that the fourth "no longer uses analyzations or compositions, definit ion or demonstrations, but by a simple and sel f -v is ive energy of in te l lec t , speculates things themselves, and by intuition and contact becomes one with the object of its perception; and this energy is the divine reason, . . . which far transcends the evidence of the most divine revelation since this last is at best but founded in op in ion, whi le the former surpasses even the indubitable certainty of sc ience , " (Four Dialogues, p. ^9^). Plotinus, too, understands perception as ult imately the union between subject and object . He states that " in the Intellectual Principle i tself , there is complete identity of Knower and Known, and this not by way of domici l iat ion as in the case of even the highest soul , but by Essence, by the fact 215. that, there, no distinction exists between Being and Knowing; we cannot stop at a pr inciple containing separate parts; there must always be a yet higher, a pr inciple above al l such diversity" (Ennead III, 8 , i: p.245). This identity is a measure of truth; the more accurate the perception, the closer wi l l be the unity: "In proportion to the truth with which the knowing faculty knows, it comes to ident i f icat ion with the object of its knowledge . . . The idea must not be left to l ie outside but must be made one identical thing with the Soul of the novice so that he finds it real ly his own" (Ennead 111, 8 , 6: p.244). Wordsworth wrote of the poetic act of perception as the product of interaction between subject and object , and in this he was close to the Neoplatonists, who bel ieved that the visual act itself and the intel lectual act in general was the cooperation of two energies. Yet as we have seen, the cooperation between these two energies is understood by the Neoplatonists as a merging of the two energies, because subject and object are essentially the same. : Plotinus wrote of the perceptive faculty that "discerning in certain objects the Ideal-Form, which has bound and controlled shapeless matter, . . . it gathers into unity what sti l l remains fragmentary, catches it up and carries it w i th in , no longer a thing of parts, and presents it to the Ideal-Pr inciple as something concordant and congenia l , a natural f r iend" (Ennead I, 6 , 3: p.58) . The discussion in chapter two of the development of Wordsworth's attitudes to the eye showed that he communicates in certain passages, both published and in manuscript, the actual experience of what the Neoplatonists bel ieved in theory to be the true mode of perception, when he writes of the loss of the sense of distinction between the subject and the object . 216. Yet in general Wordsworth did not see perception as a merging of perceiver and perceived. He saw a combination rather than a union of energies. His understanding of perception as involving two essentially kindred but distinct energies in mutual action is seen in his imagery of sight and l ight, and a more general understanding of reciprocal perception is seen throughout his poetry, and especial ly The Prelude. I think that an important key to the pattern of his thought lies in the closeness to the thought patterns of Neoplatonism. This is true of other aspects of his thought, such as the inward eye , the despotism of the senses, and so o n . For these reasons, I find it impossible, despite the evident importance of empiricism to Wordsworth's thought, as shown in chapter three, to agree with the position of cr i t ics such as Beach, who assert of Wordsworth that " in psychology he draws his inspirat ion, in his most representative per iod, from the school of English philosophy that derives from Locke, and that lays its stress on sensations as the basis of experience and so of the intel lectual and spiritual l i fe of man" ('p. 128). I do not suggest that Wordsworth and the Neoplatonists have an identical understanding of the various problems discussed. As I have indicated in the first chapter, Wordsworth was pecul iar ly unl ikely to adopt wholesale the ideas of any one school . S t i l l , the pattern is there in Wordsworth's poetry; it is there in Coler idge's writings; it is there in the Neoplatonic writ ings. This is a good enough cha in , with enough demonstrable practical links to suggest a real vi tal inf luence. The differences, which must not be ignored, arise because Wordsworth, having been aroused to consciousness of the formulation of these ideas by Coler idge and the Neoplatonists, and their relation to his own thoughts, adapted them to his own understanding of the problem. 217. Notes ^This is a late version, arrived at after much correct ion, as de Selincourt 's cr i t ica l apparatus shows (pp. 474-75) . 2 The idea behind this poem must have appealed strongly to Wordsworth, for there is a paraphrase of these lines in The Prelude (VIII, 462-75) and similar lines occur in M S S . U and V , and were intended to fol low II, 144. The early version of these lines comes in "The Va le of Esthwaite," 504-13 (PW I, 281). 3 Compare "Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendour and Beauty," (PW, IV, 110-13), composed in 1817, of wh ich , as Wordsworth says in a note, "Al lusions to the Ode entit led 'Intimations of Immortality' pervade the last S tanza . " Here the context ensures far less ambiguity, and the radiance seems one that comes through G o d , an external though a spiritual l ight, rather than the soul's own radiance. 4 "The Intimations of the O d e , " Kenyon Review, 8 (1946), 80-102. 5 The v i ta l i ty which this concept of the moon looking with pleasure on the brightness she emanates had for Wordsworth, is shown in the similar concept in a probably much later and certainly far different poem: "What heavenly smiles! O Lady m i n e , / Through my very heart they sh ine; / And if my brow gives back their l i g h t , / Do thou look gladly on the s ight ; / Reflected from the mountain's s ide / And from the headlong streams" (PW, II, 36). 6 | n the 1793 edit ion of Descriptive Sketches,: "Moves there a cloud o'er midday's flaming eye" (25); " loose-hanging rocks the Day's bless'd eye that h ide" (255); and in The White Doe of Rylstone, where Norton feels that he has become " A spot of shame to the sun's bright eye" (851). ^In a note to the original quarto edition of An Evening Wa lk , 333. g First among his excel lencies for Coler idge was "an austere purity of language both grammatically and log ica l ly ; in short, a perfect appropriateness of the words to the meaning" (BL, XXII : II, 115). 9 Raine and Harper, p. 149: from Taylor's paraphrase translation of Plotinus' Concerning the Beautiful (1787); i . e . Ennead I, V I . ^ S i r i s , para. 206: V , 101-02: The works of Julianus is one of the books which Coler idge asked John Thelwall tofcbuy for h im, in a letter of November 19, 1796: C L , I, 262. 1 1 See, for instance, Cudworth, True Intellectual System, I, c h . v: II, 737. See also below. 218. 12 The Myst ical Initiations (London, 1787): quoted by Frank B. Evans. 13 PW IV, 283 : Cr i t i ca l apparatus to the Immortality O d e , stanza i x , between 153-154~7n Manuscript L ; Prelude X I V , 106. 1 4 E . G . Prelude XIII, 368-78. 15 Maclean (p. 52) shows how Locke's has been indiscriminately designated as the ecole sensualiste. ^"Wordsworth 's f inal phase: Glimpses of Eterni ty," Studies in English Literature, 1 (1961), 63 -79 . ^Joseph ine M i l e s , Eras and Modes in English Poetry (Berkeley, 1964), p.133; Myr iddin Jones, "Wordsworth and Cowper: The Eye made Q u i e t , " Essays in Cr i t i c i sm, 21 (1971), 236-47. ~ 18 However, Francis Christensen in "Creat ive Sensibi l i ty in Wordsworth," J E G P , 45 (1946), 361t-68, shows that there are for Wordsworth, two kinds of perception, common and heightened. He writes: " . . . Wordsworth conceived the senses themselves as creat ive. O r , to be more exact , he conceived of the process of sensation as either passive and mechanica l , iip which case we have 'vulgar sense' or as act ive and creat ive, in which case sense may be 'subservient to moral purposes,/ Aux i l i a r to d i v i ne . ' In this case, this is 'creative sens ib i l i ty ' " . 1 9 T h e 1805 version of II, 255-58 (II, 267-73) reads: From nature largely he receives; nor so Is sat isfy 'd, but largely gives aga in , For feel ing has to him imparted strength, And powerful in al l sentiments of grief, O f exul tat ion, fear, and joy, his mind, Even as an agent of the one great mind, Creates, creator and receiver both. 2 0 P W , V , 402: Addendum to M S . B of "The Ruined Cot tage, " 54 -86 . See also PW, V , 138-39, app .c r i t . : lines corresponding to Exc. IV, 941-78. The point I am making is made more clear by reference to the unpublished version quoted, which also seems to be better poetry, on the whole. 21 This same Mi l ton ic echo, again with the image applied to the mind, is found in The Prelude, I, 139-45. 22 " A Letter to LAsraJ , " In Bicentenary Wordswonth Studies in Memory of John Alban F inch, e d . Jonathan Wordsworth (Ithaca, 1970), 294-339. 23 See Jonathan Wordsworth, The Music of Humanity, pp. 212-13. 219. Conclusion This study of the eye in Wordsworth's poetry in the perspective of the history of ideas shows, predictably enough, that Wordsworth's ideas of sight were influenced by both empiricist and idealist thought. His own poems show both the Platonic and the Aristotel ian strain which he bel ieved that a just system of philosophy requires. His habits of mind as regards philosophy were, as has been sa id , ec lec t i c : he takes up from a system of ideas those parts which were sympathetic to his own understanding, and uses them to formulate and to help express his own senseaof the nature of things. What he chose and what he discarded from philosophical works necessarily reveals his own preoccupations, and he wi l l accordingly express the same idea , or very similar ideas, in the terms of two systems of thought generally understood to be radica l ly opposed. The point of this thesis is not so much that Wordsworth's treatment of vision can be shown to be influenced both by Locke and by Shaftesbury and so on , as that he was prepared to use the different ideas of Locke and Shaftesbury on vision to communicate similar concepts, where possible. He drew different ideas together and made them his own. (Of course, to some extent a l l descriptions and rationalizations of the same phenomena must be similar.) These concepts, so important to him that they focussed a l l his explorations of ideas are the act ive mind, act ive nature, and reciprocal action between the two in perception. A study of the eye in his poetry makes the same concerns c lear . These concepts have been the topic of repeated discussion throughout this thesis, either direct ly or imp l ic i t l y . 220. The importance of the act ive mind to Wordsworth is seen in his insistence that the act of perception should not involve the physical eye alone in contact with the object , but also the intel lect and the imagination. He insists, for instance, that he did not view the Italian Lakes in passive subjection to their beauty*, as if the mind Herself were nothing, a mere pensioner O n outward forms. (Prelude,,VI, 736-38) The imagined sight has been shown as sometimes being preferred to the bodily sight, as in the Yarrow poems, because of its strength and poignancy. The eye can be seen as a despot if it operates merely passively so that beauty is sought as a sensual del ight . The "obstinate questionings of sense" in the Immortality Ode are reinvigorating because they are a reassurance of the mind's independent energy. It has also been seen that the nature of sight and light imagery show that the in te l lec t , and especial ly the creative in te l lec t , is seen as radiant: there is an Apol lonian cluster of ideas of l ight , music and poetry, and intel lectual ac t iv i t y . The mind casts light l ike the sun; the imagination is the moon shining over or through an abyss. Now this central concept of Wordsworth's evidently owed much to Neoplatonism. A l l the thinkers in this vein with whom Wordsworth is l ike ly to have had some kind of contact, Plotinus, Cudworth, Shaftesbury, the later Berkeley, Thomas Taylor, a l l stress the superior role in perception of intel lect over sense, and deplore a purely sensual mode of percept ion. They al l see intel lect as the real act ive force throughout the universe. To Plotinus, Berkeley and Taylor, this intel lectual force was seen in terms of l ight , at times almost equated with physical l ight. Yet important though the Neoplatonic vein undoubtedly is in Wordsworth's thought concerning the act ive mind, his absorbing interest in it can hardly be regarded as being inspired by an interest infNeoplatonic thought. It is evident that this merely helped give form to his own independent ideas; and it is also evident that the empiricists also contributed form to these independent ideas about the act ive mind, though to a lesser extent. This may seem strange, as empiricism is generally thought of as the school of intel lectual passivity in sensation. Yet some aspects of empiricism stress the potent role of the mind in perception: i f one adapts Locke's views of primary and secondary characteristics then the eye can be looked on as colouring itssown wor ld. As I noted, Wordsworth knew, admired, and indeed echoed a passage of Young's in which the mind is shown as a l l powerful in this way. Man can Take in at once the landscape of the world A t a small inlet which a grain might c lose, And half create the wondrous world they see. Our senses, as our reason, are d iv ine; But for the magic organ's powerful charm, Earth were a rude uncoloured chaos s t i l l . (Night Thoughts VI) It is notable that what appealed to Wordsworth in this passage is the sense of man's eye and hence man's mind as creat ive. I think that he is concerned with this basical ly empiricist view of perception in the fol lowing fragment from the "Al foxden Notebook"; ' he. -s. °s -:a on 222. There is creation in the eye , Nor less in a l l the other senses; powers They are that colour; model , and combine The things perceived with such an absolute Essential energy that we may say That those most godl ike faculties of ours At one and the same moment are the mind And the mind's minister. (PW, V , 343: Appendix B, IV, vi) Wordsworth felt free to use doctrines, wh ich , in the context of the philosophies from which they are taken, would be inconsistent: the intel lect as ac t i ve , and the senses, through their mechanical ac t iv i ty , as creat ive. He can do this because the al l- important underlying idea of intel lectual creativi ty can find expression through both of these forms, and because, too, his attitude to the senses was ambiguous: he both recognized their power to develop the imagination, and their power to confine the imaginat ion. In the matter of Ac t i ve Nature, too, it has been shown how Wordsworth used ideas from several traditions of thought in an attempt to express his bel ief in a voluntary power external to that of the mind, that i s , nature's power. To some extent, Wordsworth's bel ief in act ive nature can be regarded as empir icist, as would be expected in a man of his generation: Like Locke, Wordsworth observes that the eye once open has no choice of what it shall see from a certain aspect. Wordsworth celebrates this, as it means that the eye can bring into the mind what is not w i l led or sought by the mind, enlarging thus the sympathies and the imaginat ion. The chi ld is seen as learning to love natural beauty through its early associations with his games and occupations, until it becomes loved for its own sake, and in its turn the love of its beauty brings about the love for the men 223. who dwell in such beauty, and thus eventual ly the love for a l l mankind. This has an obvious relationship with the doctrines of association put forward by Hart ley. However, part of the empiricist concept of the role of the object in perception is rejected by Wordsworth, who evidently is unable to see natural objects as total ly inanimate, and writes of them as exerting voluntari ly a (generally) beneficent power over the mind of man. The various forms taken by this bel ief were examined in a comparison of the various versions of the exhortatory and theoretical passages of The Prelude, Books I and II, in manuscripts J J and V and in the 1805 and 1850 texts. The earl ier versions express this power very much in the terms of Greek and Latin animism. In his feeling that there is a spirit in nature which is related to the spirit of man Wordsworth comes close to the notion of the anima mundi of the Timaeus and the Aene id , and also to the related ideas of Neoplatonism. Such a view also has close affinit ies with Newton's hypothetical ether. And the external act ive force sometimes takes the form of grace, whether natural or metaphysical. So Wordsworth communicates his ideas of act ive nature through the means of various c lass ica l , Chr is t ian, ideal ist , and empiricist concepts. Ideal ly, for Wordsworth, an act ive mind combines with an act ive object and perception is a matter of reciproci ty . This is stated exp l ic i t ly in that part of "The Recluse" which became the Prospectus to The Excursion. It is c lear , too, in the discussion of mind and nature which follows the cl imbing of Snowdon episode in The Prelude, and indeed is frequently stated. The "quiet eye" of "Tintern Abbey" and " A Poet's Epitaph" is one which both absorbs the impressions 224. given by nature and behold them transformed by in te l lect . Throughout Wordsworth's works there are a series of dichotomies, some of which have been discussed above, which make it plain that for Wordsworth there are two forces working in perception: he writes of an ennobling interchange O f action from without and from within; The exce l lence , pure funct ion, and best power Both of the object seen and eye that sees, (XIII, 375-78) and that this I feel That from thyself it comes, that thou must give Else never canst rece ive . (XII, 275-77) The roles of " f ind ing" or "pe rce i v i ng , " and of "creat ing" were discussed above. It is notable that in making this dichotomy in "Tintern Abbey" the mighty world O f eye and ear,—both what they half create, And what perceive, (105-07) Wordsworth is drawing on the passage of Young, quoted above, and thus using what implications of reciprocity there are in the empiricist t radi t ion, namely that the mind perceives, in that it takes in the primary qualit ies of the objects, and creates, in that it bestows the secondary qualit ies on the object. Yet to Wordsworth, reciprocity in perception is something more than this rather inert exchange, which after a l l is how the most ordinary sensory perception of "the vacant and the va in " (Prospectus to E x c , 61) might be described. Creat ive perception is the offspring of 225. the discerning Intellect of Man When wedded to this goodly universe In love and holy passion. (52-54) This idea of reciprocity is , as has been suggested, more l ike the Neoplatonic idea of perception: the Platonic and Neoplatonic notion of sight is of the coalescence of two l ights, the internal , the light of the eye , and the external , the light of the sun. The Neoplatonic notion is that the true intel lectual act is aun ion between an essentially similar perceiver and perceived. Normal ly , Wordsworth steadily rejects this ultimate implication of Neoplatonism: for h im, there are two independent act ive forces in perception. Y e t , as was noted, on occasion he experienced perception in which there was no conscious separation of subject and object , and the usual media of perception, the senses or the mind, are utterly forgotten. The conscious expression of such an experience may well owe something to Neoplatonic thought. These three matters have naturally run through this thesis, three inter-related strands. Besides these matters, yet inevi tably related to them to some extent, other questions have emerged. The sense of loss, which was discussed in relation to "Tintern A b b e y , " the Immortality O d e , and "Peele C a s t l e , " i s , I think a mark of the lesson inevitably learnt throughout l i fe about the need for interchange between subject and object . In a l l three poems, a movement is recorded from the necessary subjectivity of youth (which is seen very differently in the three poems) to a growing awareness of the need for attention to the external , the painful world of adult exper ience, "the s t i l l , sad music of humanity," "Tthe soothing thoughts that s p r i n g / 226. Out of human suf fer ing," ; it recognizes the need for "frequent sights of what is to be borne." What is lost is spontaneous and heedless joy in beauty, and what is gained is a knowledge of the necessarily painful nature of external real i ty . But this is hardly a question of reciprocity in perception, as such. The matter of the Inward Eye is more closely related to this question, for this phrase seems to express a mental re-creat ion of an apparently spontaneous revelation of nature's whi le similar expressions, such as "the intel lectual e y e , " are used of the bodi ly eye whose vision is transformed through intel lectual energy. I bel ieve that Wordsworth, though dependent in some aspects of his thought on British empir icism, was closer in many ways to Neoplatonism. This is of secondary importance to his own exper ience, however. Undoubtedly he used these ideas of v is ion , but undoubtedly they were transformed in his own mind, and his poetry is essentially the expression of an independent ind iv idua l , and not of any school . 227. List of Works Ci ted A rno ld , Matthew. "Wi l l iam Wordsworth." Essays in Cr i t i c i sm. Second Series, London, 1888. Barf ie ld, O w e n . What Coler idge Thought. London, 1972. 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