Citation
Archibald Alison and the spiritual aesthetics of William Wordsworth

Material Information

Title:
Archibald Alison and the spiritual aesthetics of William Wordsworth
Creator:
Savage, Marsha Kent, 1952-
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Adults ( jstor )
Aesthetics ( jstor )
Beauty ( jstor )
Childhood ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
Morality ( jstor )
Nature ( jstor )
Poetry ( jstor )
Preludes ( jstor )
Sublimity ( jstor )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Marsha Kent Savage. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
23382843 ( ALEPH )
869820180 ( OCLC )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text









ARCHIBALD ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH





BY

MARSHA KENT SAVAGE

























A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

1980





















L
r












7














yby
"M
w ^

i"^
3








I;
S2
v


s
tS



rj
3
a



S

t,
c
<
o
o
Coyiht18

ab

aasaKntSvg

































To my father, Tom Kent Savage, and to the memory
of my mother, Mary Harder Savage












ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I wish to express my appreciation to Professors John

Perlette, A.B. Smith, and James Twitchell for reading this

dissertation and making suggestions for its improvement.

For his advice and assistance throughout this project, I wish

to give very special thanks to Professor Melvyn New. Finally,

I am indebted to Professor Richard Brantley, who not only

offered his critical skills and knowledge of Wordsworth, but

also demonstrated unending patience and provided continuing

support and encouragement.































iv














TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. . . . . . . . .. iv

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . vi

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . 1
Notes . . . . . . . . . . 14

CHAPTER I THE NATURAL EDUCATION OF THE CHILD. . 18
Notes. . . . . . . . . . 56

CHAPTER II WORDSWORTH'S ETHICAL AND IMAGINATIVE
TREATMENT OF "THE DOMINION OF MAN" . 61
Notes . . . . . . . . . 101

CHAPTER III ALISON AND THE HUMAN FOCUS OF
WORDSWORTH'S POETRY CONCERNING
MATURITY . . . . . . .. 105
Notes . . . . .. . . . . 142

CHAPTER IV ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF "TINTERN ABBEY" . . . . . 145
Notes . . . . . . . . . .. . 180

CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . 184
Notes . ... .. . . . . . . . 188

REFERENCES . . . . . . . . ... .. . 189

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . .. . . . . .. 196



















v












Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


ARCHIBALD ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

By

Marsha Kent Savage

June 1980

Chairman: Richard E. Brantley
Major Department: English


Although many critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's

aesthetic diction, and his imaginative response to nature,

indicate a familiarity with studies of aesthetics in the

eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such scholars

have not fully explored the insight into Wordsworth's poetry

afforded by Archibald Alison's Essays on the Nature and

Principles of Taste. Such an omission is surprising when

one considers the importance of Essays on Taste as an

aesthetic treatise and the fact that several critics regard

Alison as a significant part of the philosophical background

influencing the first generation of Romantic poets. The

purpose of this study is to show that Alison's essays pro-

vide not only a useful gloss upon Wordsworth's aesthetic

terminology, but also a means of more fully understanding

the poet's spiritual vocabulary. Alison was an Anglican

clergyman, as well as an aesthetician, and his collected


vi







sermons, Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions, elaborate

aesthetic as well as spiritual concepts presented in the

essays. In an effort to focus more precisely on Alison's

value as background for understanding Wordsworth's poetry,

I have employed the term "spiritual aesthetics": both

writers regard the aesthetic experience as ultimately reli-

gious and maintain that the imaginative response culminates

in moral insight.

The thematic concerns in the first three chapters of

this study--the natural education of the child, the opposi-

tion between the city and the country, and the ethical

standards appropriate to maturity--all relate to a funda-

mental principle underlying Wordsworth's and Alison's con-

cept of spiritual aesthetics: the natural world affords

aesthetic delight and at the same time provides man with a

spiritual education. Both familiar and unfamiliar Words-

worthian poems share thematic, and in many cases verbal,

affinities with Alison's essays and sermons.

Chapter I argues that Wordsworth, like Alison, con-

centrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a

setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments

such as piety arise from contact with the natural world,

describes the divine protection afforded the child, and

sees the child's earthly activity within the framework of

an ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an

image of preexistence. Chapter II focuses on the negative

aesthetic and spiritual consequences of the process of

urbanization: both writers maintain that the city exerts


vii







a deadening effect on the poetic imagination and contributes

to moral decline. The third chapter examines certain

specific ideas the two writers share concerning maturity.

Alison's prose parallels the poet's growing regard for man-

kind, his recognition of man's mortality, and his resultant

benevolence and charity.

"Tintern Abbey," because of its importance in Words-

worth's poetic development, and because it reflects the

spiritual value of the aesthetic response so fully, is

treated in a separate chapter.





































viii












INTRODUCTION


Many critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's aesthetic

diction and his concept of the transforming power of the

imagination, which modifies and shapes sensations received

from the external world, reflect a familiarity with studies

of aesthetics in the eighteenth and early nineteenth cen-

turies. No critic, however, has fully explored the insight

into Wordsworth's poetry afforded by Archibald Alison's

Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste. I propose

to show that Alison's Essays provide not only a useful

analogy to the Wordsworthian relationship of the. mind and the

external world but also a means of clarifying the spiritual

as well as the aesthetic terminology Wordsworth employs.

Although some writers on aesthetics have noted that Alison's

treatise provides an important transition from the eighteenth

to the nineteenth century, and some twentieth-century critics

of Wordsworth's philosophy make brief allusions to Alison,

none stresses Alison's successful (and natural) merger of

the spiritual and the aesthetic, and none turns to Alison's

collected sermons (Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions)

for elaboration of the spiritual concepts presented in the

essays. I propose to show that it is this added spiritual

dimension of Alison's aesthetics that makes his works such

a valuable analogue for a study of Wordsworth's poetry.




1





2



The critical attention Alison has received, suggesting

the importance of Essays on Taste as a standard textbook of

aesthetics in the early nineteenth century, would appear to

justify, and call for, a study of Wordsworth's poetry in

terms of Alisonian concepts and diction. However, one is

surprised to discover that no writer on Wordsworth's

philosophical background devotes more than a page or two to

Alison. Alison's biography, ignored by critics, helps to

establish a chronological framework for the association of

Wordsworth and Alison. It can be established not only that

Alison represents an influential strain of thought with which

Wordsworth was likely familiar but also that the two men were

contemporaries and acquainted. Finally, Wordsworth's con-

nection with Anglicanism constitutes a neglected tie with

Alison, a tie especially important because they share a con-

cern with the spiritual dimension of the aesthetic process.

After reviewing the critical attention Alison has received

and alluding to pertinent biographical details placing

Wordsworth and Alison in the same cultural milieu, I shall

point to the importance of the neglected spiritual (ethical)

dimension of Alison's theory for an understanding of Words-

worth's poetry.

Critics who include Alison in their discussions of

aesthetic trends describe him as a theorist whose ideas

were especially influential at the beginning of the nine-

teenth century. Walter Jackson Bate and Ernest Lee Tuveson,

critics specifically concerned with the interrelationships




3



of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century thought, point to a

study of Alison's essays as a means of more fully under-

standing and appreciating the poetry of the nineteenth

century (not specifically Wordsworth's poetry). Similarly,

important studies of aesthetic theory by Samuel H. Monk and

Walter J. Hipple point to Alison's essays as a valuable cul-

mination of eighteenth-century critical theory.

Bate's study, From Classic to Romantic, is especially

significant because he makes the connection between taste

and imagination. The necessity of accepting "taste" (a

distinctly eighteenth-century term) as virtually synonymous

with "imagination" (a Romantic concept) is indicated in

Bate's description of Alison's essays: "devoted exclusively

to the question of taste," the essays "attempt an analysis

of man's entire mental and emotional working, as it is

directed to art and the subjects of art," attributing special

importance to the imagination. On this basis, Bate main-

tains that Alison's aesthetic theory is especially helpful

in establishing a foundation for many of the "familiar

tenets of English romantic poets and critics." In fact,

he notes that Essays on Taste reflects as much Romantic

thought as strict associationism:

It is characteristic that the Scottish associa-
tionist, Archibald Alison, in his popular Essays
on Taste (1790), should have devoted the first
half of his book to discussing "The Nature of the
Emotions of Sublimity and Beauty" and to analyzing
"The Exercise of the Imagination," and only after-
wards have turned to "The Sublimity and Beauty of
the Material World."2




4



Tuveson, also noting the role of the imagination in

Alison's essays, emphasizes the concept of poetic language.

Tuveson deplores the lack of critical attention Alison has

received, describing his work as a kind of "textbook of

aesthetics for persons who followed the lead of Locke,

Hartley, and Priestley,"3 and comments on its value for a

study of nineteenth-century poetry: "Alison helps us to

understand and appreciate much of the best poetry (not to

speak of the painting) of the nineteenth and twentieth

centuries far more than does Coleridge."4 He finds Alison's

"theory of symbolism" and his justification of symbolic

language significant. Beginning with an allusion to associa-

tion as the "binding element" in Alison's theories,5 Tuveson

suggests Alison's role in the beginnings of poetic symbolism:

Alison restored to poets a symbolic language. . .
The new symbols have no objective, agreed upon
significance. They arise from the inner life
of impressions and moods; they speak to the
imagination alone, for in the last analysis
they have nothing to do with facts and logical
reasoning.

This "subjective" nature of symbols does not prevent the

poet from communicating with others:

That symbols are subjective does not make them
irresponsibly personal, with the poet speaking
a language intelligible only to himself. Alison
showed that a large common ground of emotional
associations exists--he assumed among people of
similar cultures. Experiences in childhood and
beyond correspond to some extent; the exact
associations vary with each individual, but a
community of final effects can be assumed.6

In The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories in XVIII-

Century England, 1674-1800, Monk emphasizes Essays on Taste





5



as a "prelude to romantic art."7 Like Tuveson, he regards

Alison as, in many respects, the culmination of eighteenth-

century associationist and aesthetic theories and, conse-

quently, an "easy transition from the eighteenth to the

nineteenth century." Concluding that Alison "isolates from

the chaos of eighteenth-century emotion the aesthetic

experience," Monk finds that his "lucid style," the "easily

grasped tenets of his theory," and the "palpably convenient"

psychology of his system rendered the spread of his ideas

inevitable. He includes Alison as part of the philosophical

background influencing the first generation of Romantic

poets:

. ideas and objects which the eighteenth
century had often used clumsily and occasionally
happily, were brought sharply to the fore in the
closing.years of the eighteenth century, and were
recognized elements of the republic of letters
when the romantic generation came tol reat them
anew, according to their own method.

Whereas Tuveson regards Alison as important in clarifying

the nature of poetic symbolism, Monk regards Alison's

theories as a possible commentary on the form of Romantic

poetry: Alison's assertion that the object of aesthetic

interest serves merely as a stimulus to the imagination

suggests a kind of Romantic art "based not on outward form

so much as on a steady flow of emotions and ideas that grow

out of each other."ll

Hipple, like Monk, points to the importance of Essays

on Taste as an aesthetic treatise and suggests its importance

for a study of Romantic poetry. In The Beautiful, the Sub-

lime, and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British.




6


Aesthetic Theory, Hipple describes Essays as a book "which was

to revolutionize aesthetic speculation in Britain, and which

exhibited an originality, complexity, and logical coherence un-

matched in British aesthetics." Hipple even suggests the need

for exploring Alison's influence on the Romantic poets: "The

importance of Alison's work to the theory and practice of

the romantic period has never been assessed. .. ."12

Complementing standard studies of philosophical trends

(those by Bate, Tuveson, Monk, Hipple) are two articles out-

lining Alison's importance. W.P. Albrecht ("Archibald Alison

and the Sublime Pleasures of Tragedy") finds Alison "the

most consistent of eighteenth-century writers on the sublime

in translating the sublime, and the beautiful as well, into

psychological terms. . ."13 Martin Kallich, in "The

Meaning of Archibald Alison's Essays on Taste," argues that

Alison's treatise is a "minor classic": he finds its

"associationist critical theory .. far more thoroughly

employed and certainly far more sweeping in scope than that

in any other treatise on taste or criticism throughout the

eighteenth century."14 Both Albrecht and Kallich allude

briefly to Alison's importance in terms of Romantic theory:

each concludes that Alison represents a strain of influence

in the air at the time of Wordsworth.

P.W.K. Stone, investigating theories of poetic compo-

sition in the late Neo-Classical and early Romantic periods,

finds that Alison--along with "a group of writers who base

their theories on an aesthetics of Taste"--does not "abandon




7



Neo-Classical empiricism in favour of a Romantic subjectivity";

nevertheless, Stone concedes that Alison is "among the latest

and most 'advanced' of the eighteenth-century aestheticians,

and of them all the one who comes nearest to deserving the
,,15
title of 'pre-Romantic.' . Alison, Stone maintains,

is best viewed as "indirectly preparing the ground for

Romanticism": writers such as Alison "canvassed notions

which the Romantics were later to exploit--but the Romantics

gave these ideas a very different significance, and were

only able to do so because they had entirely abandoned tra-

ditional views."16 Stone points to the conclusion of Essays

on Taste as essentially "pre-Romantic": "A passage towards

the end of his book . which proclaims this faith in the

moral value of aesthetic reactions to Nature, very strikingly

anticipates some of Wordsworth's pronouncements in the Pre-

face to Lyrical Ballads and in the earlier philosophical

poems.17 Thus, even Stone, who finds the term "pre-Romantic"

of little value in literary criticism, acknowledges that

the moral or spiritual dimension of Alison's aesthetics

connects his theories with some of Wordsworth's own critical

and poetic statements.

Despite the number of studies of critical theory com-

menting on Alison's importance and suggesting that he might

be of value in understanding the poetry of the nineteenth

century, writers on Wordsworth's philosophical background

have largely ignored Alison. Newton P. Stallknecht's

assertion that Wordsworth resorted to philosophy to explain




8



his "own strange communion with nature" describes to some

extent twentieth-century attitudes towards the poet's

dependence on philosophy.8 Nevertheless, critics concerned

with specific sources of Wordsworth's philosophical beliefs

allude only briefly to Alison in their discussions.

Arthur Beatty, concerned primarily with Hartley's

influence on Wordsworth, describes Alison's Essays as an

application of "the principles of association to the field

of aesthetics."19 Although he acknowledges that the "Pre-

face to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads" reflects

Alison's discussion of the association of ideas, he dis-

misses Alison as a source of Wordsworth's thought because

Hartley originated the concept of associationism: .

the principle was developed by Hartley, with implications
20
that are peculiar to him."20 Similarly, commenting on

Alison's thesis that uniformity and variety are essential

qualities of art, Beatty dismisses Alison in favor of

Hartley on rather subjective grounds:

Hartley's exposition of the principle is the
same as Alison's in its general outline; but
he gives a special coloring to it, so that it
is rather clear that Wordsworth probably had
it in mind when explaining the principle of
his own poetry.1

Stallknecht, who argues primarily for the influence of

Boehme and Spinoza, makes brief allusions to Alison in his

chapter entitled "Hartley Transcendentalized by Coleridge."

Stallknecht cites the concept of the imagination as a

function of "consciousness" dependent on sensation and

association as a principle "Wordsworth may very well have





9



borrowed" from "an acquaintance more or less intimate, with

the writing of Hartley and Alison."22 He justifies his em-

phasis on Boehme rather than on Alison by noting that Words-

worth is a mystic while Alison is an eighteenth-century

associationist.23

Leonard Trawick and Willard Sperry allude directly to

Alisonian ideas in Wordsworth's work. Trawick asserts that

the second edition of Essays on Taste has a "much more

Wordsworthian conclusion" than the first, strongly implying

that at least a similarity of ideas exists between the two
24
writers.4 Sperry maintains that Wordsworth's prefaces pro-

vide evidence that he had "read, marked, learned" his

Alison, basing his statement on "the similarity of their

arguments," and finds that "at certain points the identities

of a technical vocabulary prove the point."25 Because of

the significant connection between Wordsworth's poetry and

his literary criticism, it is likely that Wordsworth's

poetry as well as his criticism reflects Alison's ideas.26

The secondary sources on the subject of Wordsworth

and Alison, then, indicate some significant points for con-

sideration in this study. The biographical evidence similarly

shows Alison's value as an analogue for a study of Words-

worth's poetry. Such evidence implies that Wordsworth was

acquainted with the ideas in Essays on Taste; furthermore

Alison associated with many important literary figures in

Scotland and England and paid a visit to the Wordsworth

home at Rydal Mount. I am not attempting to prove that





10


Wordsworth read Alison and was directly influenced by his

ideas but rather to suggest that Alison's value as an analogue

is enhanced by the evidence that the two writers were

acquainted and shared certain literary concerns.

The first edition of Essays was published in 1790 while

Alison resided in England, and Wordsworth may well have been

familiar with Alison's ideas soon after this time. Critics

such as Tuveson, Albrecht, and Kallich maintain that the

great influence of Alison's essays dates from its second

(1811) edition and Francis Jeffrey's admiring exposition of

the theories in The Edinburgh Review. Jeffrey's discussion

is a detailed summary of Alison's theory of aesthetics, which

undoubtedly made such theories familiar even to those who

had not read Alison. There is much evidence for Wordsworth's

familiarity with The Edinburgh Review: the periodical pub-

lished not only Jeffrey's praise of Alison but also his

scathing attacks on Wordsworth's poetry.27 Since by 1811

Alison's reputation was well established, Wordsworth cer-

tainly knew of him by this time. Alison's essays enjoyed

continued popularity: he frequently revised them until

they reached a sixth edition in 1825.28

Alison's relationship with many important figures of

letters can readily be documented. Alison, as his son's

autobiography notes, became acquainted with Thomas Reid and

Adam Smith at Glasgow College,29 and his wife (Dorothea

Gregory) was raised by Mrs. Montagu "in the midst of a

brilliant and intellectual circle" that included Burke,







30
Reynolds, Fox, and Goldsmith. Alison's son notes that his

parents' first parsonage (Sudbury in Northamptonshire) was

visited by "many distinguished persons who had formed an
31
intimacy with [his] mother in London."31 Similarly, he

maintains that his father's eight-year tenure in Kenley

before leaving England for Scotland reflected literary as

well as clerical concerns:

He was adored by his parishioners, highly re-
spected by the neighboring country gentlemen,
and visited occasionally by the first literary
characters in the country. His life consisted
of that mixture of literary study with active
beneficence and easy independence, whic 2is the
most favoured state of human existence.

After his move to Scotland, Alison showed continued interest

in English literary concerns. Alison's name appears among

the list of subscribers to Coleridge's periodical, The

Friend, published in a ten-month period in 1809 and 1810.33

Because the periodical included both prose and verse by

Wordsworth, Alison was likely to be familiar with the poet's

work. Furthermore, Coleridge knew Alison and alluded to him

briefly in his "Essays on the Fine Arts."34

In addition to indirect proof placing Wordsworth and

Alison in the same cultural milieu, a letter written by

Sara Hutchinson to Mary Wordsworth (September 11, 1820)

documents Wordsworth's knowledge of Alison. At this time,

Wordsworth, Dorothy, and Mary were on a continental tour,

and Sara Hutchinson was writing from Rydal Mount, the

Wordsworth home, to her sister Mary in Paris.35 Hutchinson

relates that she returned from Rydal Hall, home of the




12



Flemings, to Rydal Mount and found calling cards from "Revd

Archd Allison" [sic] and "Revd Dr. Batfield." She assumes

that both Mary and William, whom she also addresses in the

letter, need no explanation of who Alison is. Batfield, on

the other hand, must be identified as "a friend of T.M.'s

[Thomas Monkhouse, her favorite cousin] who has been at

Grasmere some days. . ." Furthermore, her allusion to

Alison and Batfield causes her to reflect: "Lots of People

come upon the Mount who say they know Mr. W. & should have

called if he had been at home. ."36 This reflection

seems based upon her assumption that Alison had said he

knew Wordsworth, and certainly his visit would indicate

an interest in, and a knowledge of, the poet's works.

Wordsworth and Alison share Anglican beliefs as well

as literary concerns. Wordsworth's connection with Angli-

canism undoubtedly constitutes a valuable tie with Alison;

both men, in any case, emphasize the spiritual dimension of

the aesthetic response in ways that seem especially con-

sistent with the quality of their Anglican faith.

Although Alison was born in Scotland, from the time he

took his orders in the Anglican Church in 1784, until 1800

when he returned to Edinburgh, he resided in England as a

clergyman. Alison's sermons were "much admired during his
le4 37
lifetime," and Wordsworth's "devotion to the Church of

England"38 could well have aligned him with the spiritual

dimension of the aesthetic process as Alison presents it in

his sermons. Despite the diversity of critical opinion





13



concerning the precise nature of Wordsworth's religious be-

liefs, Moorman's biographical study suggests that Anglican

beliefs constitute an element of continuity throughout Words-

worth's poetic career.39 It is, therefore, logical (and

necessary) to investigate Alison's sermons as well as his

aesthetic treatise to understand the spiritual value of the

aesthetic response.

The following chapters explore the insight into Words-

worth's poetry afforded by a knowledge of Alison and examine

selected poems in terms of specific Alisonian concepts and

diction. To explore all of Wordsworth's poetry in terms of

Alison is beyond the scope of this study. I treat both

familiar and unfamiliar poems which share thematic, and in

many cases verbal, affinities, with Alison's essays. The

development is generally thematic: the first three chapters

focus on aspects of Alison's spiritual aesthetics--the

natural education of the child, the moral dangers of the

city, and ethical standards appropriate to maturity.

"Tintern Abbey," because of its importance in Wordsworth's

poetic development and because it reflects the spiritual

value of the aesthetic response so fully, is treated in a

separate chapter.





14



Notes


Walter Jackson Bate, From Classic to Romantic: Pre-
mises of Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (1946; rpt.
New York: Harper and Row, 1961), pp. 113-14.

Bate, p. 102.

Ernest Lee Tuveson, The Imagination as a Means of
Grace: Locke and the Aesthetics of Romanticism (Berkeley:
Univ. of California Press, 1960), p. 210.

4Tuveson, p. 186.

Tuveson, p. 188.


Tuveson, p. 190.

Samuel H. Monk, The Sublime: A Study of Critical
Theories in XVIII-Century England, 1674-1800 (1935; rpt.
Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1960), p. 155.

8Monk, p. 150.

9Monk, p. 154.

0Monk, p. 152.

1Monk, p. 149.

12Walter John Hipple, The Beautiful, the Sublime, and
the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic
Theory (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1957),
pp. 158-59.

W.P. Albrecht, "Archibald Alison and the Sublime
Pleasures of Tragedy," in Romantic and Victorian: Studies
in Memory of William H. Marshall, ed. W. Paul Elledge and
Richard L. Hoffman (Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson
Univ. Press, 1971), p. 233.

14
1Martin Kallich, "The Meaning of Archibald Alison's
Essays on Taste," Philological Quarterly, 27 (October 1948),
314.





15



P.W.K. Stone, The Art of Poetry, 1750-1820: Theories
of Poetic Composition and Style in the Late Neo-Classic and
Early Romantic Periods (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1967), p. 93. In the group of writers concerned with "an
aesthetics of Taste," Stone includes Hugh Blair, Alexander
Gerard, James Beattie, Lord Kames, Joseph Priestley, and
Sir Joshua Reynolds (p. 174).

1Stone, p. 96.

17Stone, pp. 175-76.

18
8Newton P. Stallknecht, Wordsworth and Philosophy:
Suggestions Concerning the Source of the Poet's Doctrines
and the Nature of His Mystical Experience (New York: n.p.,
1929), p. 1. Two studies which describe the relationship
between the mind and external nature in Wordsworth's poetry
are Colin C. Clarke's Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the
Poetry of Wordsworth (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962) and
Alan Grob's The Philosophic Mind: A Study of Wordsworth's
Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805 (Columbus: Ohio State Univ.
Press, 1973). Exploring the Wordsworthian relationship be-
tween the internal and the external by exploiting the delib-
erate ambiguity of key terms such as "image," "shape," and
"form," Clarke concludes that most of the poetry of the
"great decade" (1897-1806) treats the "ambiguity of percep-
tion" (p. 53) and that the poet's discovery of his main
theme, "the place of mind in nature," coincides with his
use of aesthetic terminology "with a greatly increased range
of suggestion" (p. 26). Grob's study presents ideas similar
to those of Clarke. Although he does not focus on aesthetic
diction to the extent that Clarke does, he finds that to
define the relationship between "the world and the self"
the poet employs a vocabulary that is "uncompromisingly
sensationalistic" (p. 34). Like Clarke, Grob finds the
interaction between the mind and nature a major theme in
Wordsworth's poetry (especially that written between 1797
and 1800) (p. 13).

19
9Arthur Beatty, William Wordsworth: His Doctrine and
Art in Their Historical Relations, 3rd ed. (Madison: Univ.
of Wisconsin Press, 1960), p. 49.

2Beatty, pp. 49-51.

1Beatty, p. 45.

22Newton P. Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought:
Studies in Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature, 2nd
ed. (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1958), p. 34.





16



23
2Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought, p. 251.

24
24Leonard M. Trawick, ed., Backgrounds of Romanticism:
English Philosophical Prose of the Eighteenth Century
(Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1967), p. xxiii.

25
2Willard L. Sperry, Wordsworth's Anti-Climax, Harvard
Studies in English, 13 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press,
1935), p. 131.

W.J.B. Owen, editor of Wordsworth's Literary Criticism
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974), comments on this
relationship: "Wordsworth's literary criticism springs from
his creative writings: it is almost invariably a defence of
his own poetry" (p. 1).

27
2Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth: A Biography, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65), II, 100-01, 261.

28
2Leslie Stephen, "Archibald Alison," in Dictionary of
National Biography, ed. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, 22
vols. (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1937), I, 287.

29
2Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: n n Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 4.

3Alison, I, 6.

31Alison I, 8.

32
3Alison, I, 9.

3Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Friend, ed. Barbara E.
Rooke, Vol. IV of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, Bollingen Series, 75, 2 vols. (London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1969), II, 411.

4Kallich, p. 314.

35
3Sara Hutchinson, The Letters of Sara Hutchinson from
1800 to 1835, ed. Kathleen Coburn (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1954), p. 198.

3Hutchinson, p. 201.

3Stephen, I, 287.





17



3Moorman, II, 478.

39
39Moorman discusses Wordsworth's connection with
Anglicanism in detail (II, 473-87). While much of her dis-
cussion treats the poet's belief concerning "the beneficent
influence of the Anglican Church on society" (II, 473), she
notes that Wordsworth continued to view the Church of Eng-
land "as a rock of refuge in the raging sea of change" (II,
478) and campaigned to obtain better educated Anglican clergy-
men for the parishes in the Lake District (II, 483). Richard
E. Brantley (Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism" [New Haven:
Yale Univ. Press, 1975]), like Moorman, argues for the in-
fluence of Anglicanism rather than a secular theology, but
he maintains that Evangelical Anglicanism was the primary
force affecting the poet. The third volume of Hoxie Neale
Fairchild's Religious Trends in English Poetry (New York:
Columbia Univ. Press, 1949) describes the unorthodox nature
of Wordsworth's religion, and James G. Benziger's Images of
Eternity: Studies in the Poetry of Religious Vision from
Wordsworth to T.S. Eliot (Carbondale: Southern Illinois
Univ. Press, 1962) shows how the poet found in nature a
substitute for traditional religious belief.













CHAPTER I

THE NATURAL EDUCATION OF THE CHILD


During the eighteenth century children became a subject

of more concern than they had been in previous centuries, and,

by the beginning of the nineteenth century, philosophers

such as Locke and writers such as Rousseau were influencing

theories of child development among the Romantic poets.

Scholars, including Basil Willey, Colin Clarke, and Alan

Grob, have argued that Wordsworth made the figure of the

child an essential part of his poetic doctrine, and that

the Wordsworthian child finds in the natural world an impor-

tant determinant of his future character; but of course such

scholars have come to varying conclusions as to the exact

nature of the child's function in Wordsworth's aesthetics,
2
and as to how nature shapes a particular character. Early

twentieth-century scholars,such as Irving Babbitt and F.L.

Lucas, and more recent critics, such as Jacques Barzun,

J.H. van den Berg, and Owen Barfield, have stressed Rousseau's

influence as an important source of Wordsworth's idealized

and highly favorable view of childhood, but such scholars

have differed as to whether Rousseau's influence was a

salutary one, and they do not sufficiently recognize that

Wordsworth's view of childhood is considerably less senti-

mental and considerably more complex than an exclusive con-

centration on Rousseau's influence tends to indicate.


18





19



These various explanations for Wordsworth's interest in

the child, when taken together, come at the whole truth more

successfully than would any narrow approach based on the

assumption that the poet was greatly concerned to remain

always consistent with some single codified philosophy or

exclusionary theory of child development. Alison, however,

is closer than Rousseau and Locke to Wordsworth's place and

time; he was aware of almost a century's response to Locke's

view of nature as the child's prime educator; and his view

of childhood includes the unsentimental and unpsychologized

(in short the un-Rousseauistic) view of childhood that is

also to be found throughout Wordsworth's poetry. Alison's

Essays on Taste and his collected sermons, moreover, present

the child in several contexts, and when these writings are

seen as a valuable analogue to Wordsworth's poetry, they

yield some especially manageable, suggestive, and hitherto

neglected examples of the many ideas of childhood that were

easily available to the poet. A concentration on Alison in

the study of this particular subject of childhood may seem

too narrowly based, but because of the variety in his views,

such a concentration can lead to several lines of inquiry

and therefore to the entertainment of multiple and hitherto

unconsidered hypotheses concerning the historical base of

Wordsworth's central interest in this single period of human

life.

I shall argue, for example, that Wordsworth, like Alison,

treats the child as an object of aesthetic delight,




20



concentrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a

setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments

such as piety arise from contact with the natural world,

describes the divine protection afforded the child, and sees

the child's earthly activity within the framework of an

ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an image

of preexistence. Alison is an especially interesting

analogue to Wordsworth insofar as the minister/aesthetician,

like Wordsworth in his capacity as both poet and deep

religious thinker, somehow manages to see the child as an

object of aesthetic interest at the same time that he shows

concern for the child's spiritual welfare. If there is a

common theme among the diverse views of childhood that I

think Wordsworth and Alison share, it is their perhaps not

fully articulated but nevertheless strongly implicit paradox

that beauty is truth and truth beauty, or that the spiritual

and the aesthetic, in these two writers, coexist and even

coalesce to some extent. An awareness of this strange co-

existence can contribute to the practical criticism of

Wordsworth's works--or at least a sample of them.

Because the theme of childhood is found in much of

Wordsworth's poetry, it is necessary to limit this study

to those selections that best illustrate the poet's concern

with the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of the child's

development. One could choose for discussion "Tintern

Abbey," "Michael," almost any of the "Poems Referring to the

Period of Childhood," or parts of The Excursion because such





21



works contain numerous references to the child; however,

"Tintern Abbey" and "Michael" are treated at length in other

chapters, and the scattered allusions to childhood in The

Excursion are subordinated to the predominant theme of

intellectual and philosophical maturity. Rather than treat

all of the "Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood," I

have chosen to treat only the following, which seem especially

close to the spirit of Alison: "Foresight," "The Westmore-

land Girl," "The Idle Shepherd-Boys," "Anecdote for Fathers,"

"The Pet-Lamb," "To H. C.," "Characteristics of a Child

Three Years Old," and "My Heart Leaps Up." Two other short

poems, "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower" and "It Is

a Beauteous Evening," are included in this discussion because

they illustrate clearly the child's relationship with nature.

I have chosen also to treat the first two books of The

Prelude, which describe in detail the child's growth amid a

setting of natural forms, and to include Wordsworth's por-

trait of the city child in Book VII, because it suggests

the type of divine protection that even children denied con-

tact with nature enjoy. Finally, this discussion includes

"Ode: Intimations of Immortality," a poem glorifying the

child's ability to gain knowledge intuitively and reflecting

an Alisonian concern with the origin--and inevitable fading--

of the child's powers. An examination of these poems within

the framework of Alison's philosophy should help to clarify

these topics of discussion: the child as an object of

aesthetic delight, his association with natural objects





22



and the piety emerging from such contacts (the process of

spiritual development), and finally the concept of pre-

existence, the "celestial home" the child leaves to inhabit

the earth.

Before tracing the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of

Wordsworth's theme of child development in the light of

Alisonian terminology, it may be helpful not only to indicate

further the incompleteness of our current understanding of

Wordsworth's interest in childhood as a subject of poetry,

but also to establish some pertinent biographical evidence

from the lives of both Wordsworth and Alison.

A. Charles Babenroth, in his dated but recently re-

printed standard study, provides an extensive treatment of

Wordsworth's poetry of childhood. Describing Wordsworth
4
as the "poet of childhood," Babenroth notes the number of

occurrences of the word "child" and its variants in the

Wordsworth Concordance and finds that these allusions to

childhood suggest its central position in the poet's

philosophy. He finds that the poet uses the word "child"

over four hundred times; "babe" and "baby," over one hundred

times; "infant," over one hundred and twenty-five times;

"girl," fifty times; and "boy," over two hundred and fifty

times.

The fact that Wordsworth uses nouns denoting childhood

and infancy approximately one thousand times in his poetry

appears especially significant when one compares the poet's

extensive use of such words with his use of other common





23



nouns. The word "grass," for example, appears only seventy-

five times in this nature poet's poetry, and even a more

richly connotative word such as "sky" and its plural form

appear only two hundred and seventy-five times. The word

"adult" does not appear in the Concordance (despite the

fact that the French-Latin loanword was fully naturalized

by the middle of the seventeenth century), and the word

"woman" and its plural appear only ninety-one times. The

word "man," which (together with its plural form) occurs

approximately one thousand times, appears to be the poet's

favorite word for designating an adult; however, this number

is misleading because Wordsworth uses the word not only

to denote an adult male but also to refer to any human being,

a group including children as well as adults of both sexes.

In addition to using linguistic analysis to establish

the importance of the child in Wordsworth's poetry, and

examining such allusions to discern the poet's interest in

the individual child, Babenroth also discusses Wordsworth's

humanitarian interest in the child. He describes Words-

worth as an advocate of the natural rights of children, one

who condemned child labor abuses and who was concerned with

"practical problems of education."' Babenroth's concern

with such issues, however, causes him to ignore the poet's

interest in aesthetics:

With childhood, he associated all that is
beautiful and ennobling in life. In child-
hood man lives closest to nature, and it was
his firm belief that England could be saved
only if Englishmen would live simply in
communion with nature. His interest in nature




24



and children was not that of an esthete; he
was a humanitarian who inherited the ethical
interests of the benevolists from Thomson to
Southey.8

Similarly, Hoxie Fairchild's discussion of Wordsworth's
"naturalism" focuses primarily on ethical concerns:

. other things being equal, the excellence of human

beings is in proportion to the number and richness of their

contacts with nature." As a corollary to this statement,

Fairchild bases Wordsworth's glorification of the child on

the "richness" of the child's associations with the natural

world--his "fresh and lively perceptions."9 Although both

Babenroth's and Fairchild's studies are dated, the fact that

they have recently been reprinted indicates that their mis-

conceptions are probably still widely held. Their extended

treatments of the subject of childhood indicate its impor-

tance to an understanding of Wordsworth, but neither enter-

tains the possibility that the poet's interest in the child

could have an aesthetic as well as an ethical basis nor

explains precisely how the child is enriched through his

contacts with nature.

Not only do several of his poems allude to children,

but as early as 1809 Wordsworth began to plan an arrangement

for the 1815 edition of his miscellaneous poems whereby he

would devote the entire first division to "Poems Referring

to Childhood." James Scoggins, explaining the various

changes in Wordsworth's organizational plan, notes that

the "arrangement of his miscellaneous poems" has "guaranteed

relevance";10 consequently, it is possible to see Wordsworth's




25



arrangement as indicating, for example, his emphasis on the

feelings that arise in the mind of the adult when he con-

templates childhood.1 The arrangement, in any case,

certainly points to the thematic centrality of childhood

and thus demands critical attention.

Biographical evidence also points to the importance

of childhood for Wordsworth. Witness, for example, his

attempt to raise Basil Montagu, Jr., as a "child of nature."

He not only expressed the poetic ideal of the child's

natural education but also felt qualified to test his theory

on a child "living rather miserably" with his father, an

unhappy widower who "apparently reverted to wild habits and

intemperance." Montagu described his association with

Wordsworth as a "fortunate event" and recognized the poet's

concern for Basil, Jr.: "In the wreck of my happiness he

saw the probable ruin of my infant."l2 By the middle of

the summer of 1795, a plan had been formulated arranging

for the child to be raised by the Wordsworths.13

Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy thus began their

experiment in teaching Basil to grow up as a "child of

nature." Having noted in 1795 that Basil was "yet by no

means a spoiled child notwithstanding the disadvantages
14
under which he has laboured," Dorothy later explains the

Wordsworths' "system respecting Basil":

We teach him nothing at present but what he
learns from the evidence of his senses. He
has an insatiable curiosity which we are
always careful to satisfy to the best of
our ability. It is directed to everything





26



he sees, the sky, the fields, trees, shrubs,
corn. . Our grand study has been to make
him happy in which we have not been altogether
disappointed; he is certainly the most contented
child I ever saw; the least disposed to be
fretful.15

Despite the initial success of the Wordsworths' plan, Basil's

extensive contacts with the natural world failed to have the

permanently benef.icial effects on his character and happiness

the natural education was designed to effect. His moral

development failed to keep pace with the good health he en-

joyed; in 1796 Wordsworth wrote that "Basil is quite well,

quant au physique, mais pour le moral il-y-a bien a craindre.

Among other things he lies like a little devil."6 A final

portrait of Basil in the winter of 1813 reveals that, never

cured of his childhood tendency to lie, he began to abuse

the Wordsworths, stating they had "treated him with cruelty"

when he lived with them. Until his death in 1830 Basil,

having a "diseased mind," lived in a state of "illness and

unhappiness."l7 Although Wordsworth's experiment with Basil

indicates his concern with the education of children, it

also suggests that his ideal of the natural education of the

child is not necessarily successful when applied to the

practical concerns of child rearing. Perhaps this relatively

early episode in Wordsworth's biography led him to explore

in his poetry the relation between natural education and

practical morality.

Biographical evidence concerning Alison, combined with

the evidence found in his essays and sermons, suggests a

similar conviction that the type of education the child





27



receives determines his future character and happiness, and

in Alison's case the connection between morality and natural

education is strong and clear. Alison's son describes his

father's devotion to nature and explains that all of the

children "grew up with the same habits, and indelibly

received the same impressions":

A devoted worshipper of Nature, my father was
firmly impressed with the conviction, so con-
spicuous in his writings, that the best feelings
of the heart were to be drawn from her influences
and the purest enjoyments from her contemplation.18

In accordance with his belief that devotion to nature af-

fords spiritual benefits as well as the "purest enjoyments,"

Alison took steps to insure that his children would enjoy

these benefits:

Each child had its little garden, which was
assiduously cultivated by its own hands;
S. and the reward of good conduct was to
accompany our father on walks "out of bounds"
to the copse woods, heaths, or brakes in the
vicinity, to bring in the prettiest specimens
of wild flowers for our little parterres.19

Alison's son reports that as a young adult he is able to

assimilate the messages of his father's sermons with the

natural education he had received as a child, noting that

his father "loved to trace the analogies between natural

and revealed religion, and to work out the finger of God

alike in the greatest changes of the moral as in the

minutest objects of the physical world. . ." He concludes

that his natural education and his father's sermons "moulded

our principles and views of life."20





28



Alison's writings reflect the importance of properly

educating the child much as his training of his own children

does. Essays on Taste, concerned with the associations

natural objects evoke, contains numerous allusions to the

child's contact with natural stimuli. Moreover, the second

of the two essays concludes with a passage emphasizing the

importance of providing the young with a natural education:

It is on this account that it is of so much con-
sequence in the education of the Young, to en-
courage their instinctive taste for the Beauty
and Sublimity of Nature. While it opens to the
years of infancy or youth a source of pure, and
of permanent enjoyment, it has consequences on
the character and happiness of future life, which
they are unable to foresee. . It is to lay
the foundation of an early and of a manly piety
. to make them look upon the universe which
they inhabit, not as the abode only of human
cares, or human joys, but as the temple of the
Living God, in which praise is due, and where
service is to be performed. (II, 6, ii, 446-47)

The significance of Alison's essays, as indicated by his em-

phatic placement of the passage on childhood, resides not

only in the aesthetic concept of discovering the beauty

and sublimity of the natural world but also in the spiritual

applications of his aesthetic principles: the conclusion,

like the essays themselves, moves from the child's education

in the natural world to his acceptance of the natural world

as God's "temple."

Alison's sermons reflect a similar concern with child-

hood. The fact that Alison's collected sermons are separate

entities and are not arranged thematically makes it diffi-

cult to trace a merger of the aesthetic and spiritual aspects

of the child's natural education; however, ideas similar to





29



those found in his essays appear throughout his sermons.

Thirty of his forty-five collected sermons include allu-

sions to a child or to his education, and many of the

sermons not concerned with childhood, such as "On the

Thanksgiving for the Victory at Trafalgar" and "On the

Jubilee, Appointed for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the

King's Accession," are topical; Alison's childhood theme

was clearly a central one. The fact that the second of

the two volumes is dedicated to "the Young of the Congre-

gation of the Cowgate Chapel, Edinburgh," with "Every Wish

for Their Present, and Every Prayer for Their Final

Happiness," further indicates his emphasis on the child's
22
education.

Thus, Wordsworth and Alison share an interest in the

child, a concern reflected both in their personal lives and

in the number of writings devoted to such a theme. In

Alison's essays one finds a Wordsworthian concern for the

child both as an object of aesthetic delight and as an

example of religious devotion and piety. In fact, the

aesthetic delight the child provides merges with an

appreciation of his spiritual qualities.

For both Wordsworth and Alison the delight one

experiences in viewing the child parallels the delight one

experiences in viewing other objects in nature. In fact,

for both writers the child is closely associated with

natural objects, specifically those characterizing spring.

For example, Alison relates the delicate forms of young





30



plants and animals to man's infancy and youth:

In the Vegetable Kingdom, the infancy or youth
of plants is, in general, distinguished by
winding Forms. The infancy and youth of
animals is, in the same manner, distinguished
by winding or serpentine Forms; their mature
and perfect age, by Forms more direct and
angular. In consequence of this connection,
Forms of the first kind become in such cases
expressive to us of Infancy, and Tenderness,
and Delicacy. . (Essays, II, 4, i, 331-32)

Furthermore, Alison describes winding forms as the "most

beautiful" (Essays, II, 4, i, 339), noting that such forms

also suggest "ease," freedom from "force" or "constraint"

(Essays, II, 4, i, 334).

Alison finds the budding flower an especially appro-

priate metaphor for the child. Citing the rosebud as an

exception to his statement that winding forms are the

most beautiful, Alison notes that the beauty and delicacy

of the flower reside not in its winding form but in the

associations it evokes:

How much more beautiful is the Rose Tree when
its buds begin to blow, than afterwards when
its flowers are full and in their greatest
perfection! yet in this first situation, its
Form has much less winding surface, and is
much more composed of straight lines and of
angles, than afterwards, when the weight of
the flower weighs down the feeble branches,
and describes the easiest and most varied
curves. The circumstance of its youth, a
circumstance in all cases so affecting; the
delicacy of its blossom, so well expressed by
the care which nature has taken in surrounding
the opening bud with leaves, prevail so much
upon our Imagination, that we behold the Form
itself with more delight in this situation,
than afterwards, when it assumes the more
general Form of delicacy. (Essays, II, 4, i,
360-61)





31



In addition to establishing the similarity of one's aesthetic

response to the "circumstance of youth" in flowers and to

other manifestations of youth by describing how all such

forms "affect" or excite one's emotions, Alison also suggests

the role of nature as youth's guardian and protector.

Aesthetic concerns merge with the spiritual as the protected

bud evokes the association of the divine protection afforded

the child. Even when Alison refers to the "bloom of youth"

(Essays, II, 6, ii, 237) in his comments on the beauty and

sublimity of color, he clarifies the metaphor of the flower

to indicate that the beauty of youth's color depends on its

"pleasing" or "interesting" associations, not on any quality

inherent in the color itself (Essays, II, 6, ii, 236).

The animal kingdom presents similar symbols of youth.

For both Alison and Wordsworth the lamb is especially appro-

priate as a symbol of innocence: "The plaintive and in-

teresting bleat of the Lamb ceases to be beautiful whenever

it ceases to be the sign of infancy, and the call for that

tenderness which the infancy of all animals so naturally

demands" (Essays, II, 2, i, 231). Thus, the lamb's beauty

derives from its associations with infancy and spring.

Alison finds a "love of innocence" one of the moral

"impressions" one should associate with spring, "the

youth of the year":

It reminds us of our own infancy, when the mind
was pure, and the heart was happy. It reminds
us of that original innocence in which man was
created, and for the loss of which no attainments
of mortality can make any compensation. ("On
Spring," I, 36)





32



Even the forms and motions of childhood are beautiful

to the observer. Alison refers to the "Beauty of the

attitudes or gestures of infancy, of the careless play of

limbs, and the elastic vigour of motion, which distinguish

that happy age" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 371). He further notes

that we "expect mirth and joy in Infancy" (Essays, II, 6, ii,

291) and that the "bright or brilliant Eye" of the child,

signifying "Happiness, Vivacity, and Gaiety" can evoke the

emotion of beauty (Essays, II, 6, ii, 223).

Many of Wordsworth's "Poems Referring to the Period of

Childhood" describe the child in terms understandable in

the light of an Alisonian emphasis on both the child as an

aesthetic object and the child's association with the natural

world. The adult beholds children with delight because their

motions and gestures indicate their lack of restraint and

their freedom from external control. Most of the poems in

this group place the child in the natural world and allude

to specific qualities Alison outlines in his description of

childhood.

Wordsworth identifies the child with young plants and

animals of the natural world much as Alison does. For

example, "Foresight" presents children picking flowers, and

"The Westmoreland Girl" is presented as an "opening flower"
23
(1. 80).23 The image of the lamb occurs repeatedly in this

group of poems. "The Idle Shepherd-Boys" and "The Westmore-

land Girl" concern the rescue of a lamb, lambs are at play

when the poet questions young Edward in "Anecdote for




33



Fathers," and "The Pet-Lamb" features a child's conversation

with a lamb. Wordsworth also uses the metaphor of the child

as a lamb to express his fears for Hartley Coleridge's future

("To H. C."). The poet consoles himself by suggesting that

Hartley will be spared the loss of innocence and joy that

normally attends adult life:

Nature will either end thee quite;
Or, lengthening out thy season of delight,
Preserve for thee, by individual right,
A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks.
(11. 21-24)

Although Wordsworth may be merely expressing the hope that

Hartley will be able to maintain the essence of innocence

and joy throughout adult life, his emphasis on the child's

inability to "sustain unkindly shocks" (1. 28) suggests

that he is able-to view Hartley as subject only to mortality,

not to the loss of innocence that would characterize adult

life.

Various characteristics of the child emphasized in

Alison's aesthetic theory appear in Wordsworth's shorter

poems of childhood. The children of Wordsworth's poems

manifest joy, their motions and gestures characterized by

freedom from restraint. In outlining the "Characteristics

of a Child Three Years Old," Wordsworth finds that adults

"take delight in its activity" (1. 10); he also emphasizes

the child's happiness:

this happy Creature of herself
Is all-sufficient; solitude to her
Is blithe society. . (11. 11-13)




34



Furthermore, Wordsworth notes that her "Innocence" affords

a kind of "dignity" to the child's "laughing eyes" and ran-

dom motions:

Loving she is, and tractable, though wild;
And Innocence hath privilege in her
To dignify arch looks and laughing eyes;
And feats of cunning. . (11. 1-4)

In Alison's aesthetic terms the adult beholds the child with

delight because the "attitudes or gestures of infancy"

(Essays, II, 6, ii, 371) and the "bright or brilliant Eye"

of the child satisfy both the adult's expectation of "joy

and mirth" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 291) and his aesthetic sense

of beauty.

Similar attributes of childhood noted by Alison are

reflected in Wordsworth's observation of Hartley Coleridge

("To H. C."). The poet views the "happy child" as a

"blessed vision" (1. 11) and emphasizes his "breeze-like

motion" (1. 4) and his "exquisitely wild" state (1. 12).

The use of the word "exquisitely" reinforces the.idea that

the child is viewed as an object of aesthetic interest.

According to the OED, an "exquisite" object is "of such

consummate excellence, beauty, or perfection, as to excite

intense delight or admiration." This definition reflects

both of Alison's aesthetic terms "beauty" and "delight"

and suggests that Wordsworth's interest in the child is

aesthetic as well as ethical.

For both Wordsworth and Alison aesthetic interests

yield to a concern for the child's spiritual development.

Bo.th writers view the child as afforded a type of divine




35



protection but acknowledge that he needs some type of edu-

cation to lead him from the love of the beauty of the natural

world to the love of man and the love of God. Both insist

that religious devotion is natural for the child, and both

outline the benefits of youthful piety.

The ideal of the natural education, as outlined by

Alison, is central to Wordsworth's philosophy. Alison

describes the ideal education for the child, an ideal few

enjoy in reality:

There are few who have been taught in infancy
to raise their minds to the contemplation of
His works; who love to kindle their adoration
at the altar of Nature, or to lose themselves
in astonishment amid the immensity of the
universe; and who thus "seeing Him with their
eyes," learn to associate the truths of religion
with all the most valued emotions of their
hearts. ("On Spring," I, 24)

In childhood a "natural impulse" "leads us to meditation

and praise" ("On Spring," I, 25-26). The failure to provide

children associations with the natural world tends "to

chill the native sensibility of [their] minds to devotion;

and to render religion rather the gloomy companion of the

church and the closet, than the animating friend of [their]

ordinary hours" ("On Spring," I, 24).

Although both Wordsworth and Alison prefer to view the

child in a natural setting, they acknowledge that even the

child denied contact with nature is afforded a type of

divine protection. In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth

presents a child in the city who is surrounded by a crowd

of "spectators," "dissolute men / And shameless women"




36


24
(VII, 360-61). Despite his surroundings, the child is the

product of nature rather than the product of his "alien"

environment: "He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose / Just

three parts blown--a cottage-child . ." (VII, 352-53).

Physically removed from natural forms, he is at the same

time afforded nature's protection:

Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer
Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked
By special privilege of Nature's love,
Should in his childhood be detained for ever!
(VII, 373-76)

Alison's sermon "On Evil Communication" helps to explain

why childhood is such an enviable state and why Wordsworth

wishes the city child could be forever "detained" in child-

hood. The child is provided with a "guardian" to protect

him from the "dangers of passion and inexperience" ("On

Evil Communication," I, 241) and is guided by the "hand of

nature" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). Alison further

explains that "an unseen arm" conducts children "through

the dawn of their infant journey" ("On Summer," I, 194).

Another advantage of childhood is the unimpaired innocence

the child enjoys: "In almost every case the young begin

well. They come out of the hand of nature pure and un-

corrupted" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). As Words-

worth indicates, however, the unimpaired innocence that

permits the child of Book VII of The Prelude to associate

with corrupted adults "Like one of those who walked with

hair unsinged / Amid the fiery furnace" (VII, 369-70) will

not always afford him such protection:





37



. [he] may now have lived till he could look
With envy on thy [the Maid of Buttermere's]
nameless babe that sleeps,
Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed.
(VII, 379-81)

If the child grows to adulthood and is afforded no protec-

tion from the corruption surrounding him, he may be envious

of the infant who "sleeps in earth / . fearless as a

lamb" (VII, 324-25).

If the concept of a natural education Wordsworth and

Alison express is interpreted literally, the ideal child

would be the one provided the most contacts with the natural

world. Fairchild sees the Lucy lyric "Three Years She Grew

in Sun and Shower" as the expression of such an ideal:

His sense of nature's benign influence makes him
imagine a child wholly under the tutelage of
nature. He would have been the first to admit
that actual children need education, provided it
is of a sort to develop rather than warp the
natural virtues.25

As Fairchild warns, the poem is not to be considered a

"pedagogical treatise";26 perhaps it is best considered a

lyric expression of Wordsworth's belief that goodness and

virtue can result from continued association with nature.

Lucy's association with natural forms is a total expression

of her identity: she and nature are merged. Only in the

1802 version of the poem does Wordsworth use the word

"teacher" to describe the relationship of nature to Lucy:

"Her teacher I myself will be . ." (1. 7). In the

standard version of the poem, the relationship between

Lucy and nature is more abstract: "Myself will to my

darling be / Both law and impulse . ." (11. 7-8). Lucy





38



acquires "grace," a quality Alison associates with spiritual

development, merely by association with natural forms:

The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; for her the willow bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the Storm
Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form
By silent sympathy. (11. 19-24)

As a logical consequence of their merged identity, nature

lays claim to Lucy and leaves the persona of the poem with

only her memory.

There is evidence in both Wordsworth and Alison to

suggest that Lucy's education is only an ideal. Alison

notes that if "the young were left only to nature and them-

selves, it is reasonable to think that they might pass this

important period of life without danger" ("On Evil Communi-

cation," I, 241-42); however, he observes that in reality

the external forces of "evil communication" begin to "assail"

the young ("On Evil Communication," I, 242). For this

reason Alison insists that the child's natural education

must be supplemented by religious training:

. the religious affections which are to form
the great distinction of maturity, must be
awakened and exercised in youth; and they
signify to us, that, to guide the youthful mind
to the early love of God, is the great end to
which all labours, and cares, and illustrations
of education, ought to be steadily and uniformly
directed. ("On Religious Education," II, 27)

In "The Westmoreland Girl" Wordsworth insists on this

kind of religious training. The child's natural education

is described in terms that suggest its inadequacy: "Left

among her native mountains / With wild Nature to run wild"





39



(11. 27-28). Alison's insistence that religion must be

blended with "every common business of their lives" if

man is to reach "the highest state of perfection of which

mortality is capable" ("On the Love of Excellence," II,

206) is paralleled in Wordsworth's discovery that the child

should be subject to some form of control or restraint:

Easily a pious training
And a steadfast outward power
Would supplant the weeds, and cherish,
In their steed, each opening flower.
(11. 77-80)

Wordsworth modifies the metaphor of the child as a flower,

a metaphor often used by Alison, to reflect his concern

that the natural be supplemented by an additional external

source of discipline. Richard E. Brantley defines this

external source of discipline, or "necessary chastisement,"

in terms of Wesleyan Methodism: "Wesley quotes from William

Law (with whom Wordsworth was familiar) in order to indicate

the beneficial results of strong corrective measures: firm

paternal control, wrote Law, will teach the child a spirit
27
of 'humility . .and devotion.'"27 Alison's ideas con-

cerning chi-drearing are similar, but his emphasis is on

education and guidance rather than on control or discipline.

The concept of piety alluded to in the training of the

Westmoreland Girl emerges as an essential element of the

child's education. Alison notes that piety is manifested

in every aspect of the life of Christ, especially in "the

early dedication of his mind to religious thought, and in

the great and exalted views which he then attained of the





40



wisdom and goodness of God" ("On the Example of Our Savior's

Piety," II, 94). Alison further describes Christ's natural

education and his "early and secret devotion" as the "great

foundation of that character which distinguished his future

days": "Amid the obscurity and solitude of Nazareth, we can

see him employed in silent communion with God. We can follow

the progress of his youthful devotion, as it rose amid the

scenery of nature . ." ("On the Example of Our Savior's

Piety," II, 95-96)

In his sermon "On the Youth of Solomon" Alison again

turns to the theme of youthful piety, explaining its

significance for the child who is receiving a natural edu-

cation:

[Piety is] suited, in the first place, we think,
to the opening of human life,--to that interesting
season, when nature in all its beauty first opens
on the view, and when the wisdom and goodness
of the Almighty fall on the heart, unmingled
and unimpaired. ("On the Youth of Solomon," I,
46-47)

Alison finds that "piety which springs only from the heart,

--the devotion which nature, and not reasoning inspires"

affords "the best and noblest school in which the mind may

be trained to whatever is great and good in human nature"

("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 48). Alison's use of the

word "school" helps to reinforce the idea that the "piety"

inspired by contact with natural forms is an essential part

of the child's education, an integral part of the formation

of his future character. He concludes that for the child

receiving such an education "Nature herself would then be-

come the friend of piety" ("On Spring," I, 35).





41


Alison's emphasis on piety and its significance for

the child's spiritual development relates to Wordsworth's

use of the phrase "natural piety" in his rainbow lyric

("My Heart Leaps Up"). Wordsworth's phrase "natural piety"

may be intended not so much to imply the displacement of

religious devotion and exercise into naturalistic and secular

contexts, as to affirm (as Alison does) that nature as

teacher works so harmoniously with the purpose and content

of religious instruction that, in effect, the two kinds of

education work together as one. Alison's insistence on the

superiority of youthful piety to all other attainments of

life and his comments on its effect on future happiness

afford added insight into Wordsworth's conclusion:

The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(11. 7-9)

Wordsworth's statement that the "Child is father of the Man"

may be an allusion to the theory of association, the process

by which the sensations of childhood are the basis for the

adult's moral character; "natural piety" is then viewed as

the child's most valuable contribution to the adult. Other

critics have offered related interpretations for Wordsworth's

phrase. Florence Marsh finds that "natural piety" has to

do with "human nature" more than with "external nature,"28

while Colin Clarke equates "natural piety" with the poet's

faith that "Nature never did betray / The heart that loved

her" ("Tintern Abbey," 11. 122-23).29 Both of these ideas

are reflected in Alison's concept of youthful piety. Alison's




42



piety is concerned with "human nature" in that it forms future

character, and with trust in "external nature" in that piety

evolves from association with natural forms.

Alison's comments on youthful piety also help to clarify

the child's apparent reverence for nature in "It Is a

Beauteous Evening." The use of religious imagery in the

poem not only establishes the theme of the "sanctity of
If 30
childhood," as Carl Woodring suggests, but also relates

directly to Alison's comments on youthful piety. Alison

finds that in youth "religion comes to thee in all its

charms" as the "God of Nature reveals himself to thy soul"

("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 66). Thus, the child of the

sonnet is indirectly receiving religious instruction at the

same time she observes the sunset and the sea:

If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
(11. 10-14)

Several of the ideas reflected in Alison's statements

concerning youthful piety are also to be found in the child's

implicit religious experience. The fact that she is not

"solemn" can be explained by Alison's statement that piety

"comes in that happy season, when life is new, and hope

unbroken. . It comes not, then, to terrify, or to

alarm, but to afford every high and pleasing prospect in

which the heart can indulge" ("On the Youth of Solomon,"

I, 51). The absence of "solemn thought" does not indicate

the child's nature is "less divine" than the adult's; in





43



fact, Alison strongly implies that happiness, because it is

an appropriate response in worship, is a good indicator of

the godlike potential of childhood. Alison also suggests

the unconscious nature of the child's worship. In the

natural world the child's religious devotion arises almost

spontaneously: he cannot look upon nature, the "mighty

machine of Eternal Wisdom," without "the most elevated

sentiments of devotion . ." ("On the Religious and Moral

Ends of Knowledge," I, 162). Finally, because religion is

both joyful and natural for the child, it is a permanent

state rather than an occasional experience: "At such a

period, religion is not a service of necessity, but of joy.

It is not an occasional, but a permanent subject of medi-

tation . ." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 52). Only on

occasion does the adult experience the religious sentiments

that the child constantly enjoys.

While Wordsworth's shorter poems, especially the lyrics,

present a static impression of childhood, The Prelude pre-

sents the process of the child's spiritual development. In

his sermon "On Religious Education" Alison outlines a process

closely parallel to that which Wordsworth describes in the

first two books of The Prelude. Alison, like Wordsworth,

sees the mind's development beginning in infancy and

describes the powers that "awaken in the infant mind":

The earliest powers that awaken in the infant
mind, are those of Affection;--the love of
parents,--of kinsmen,--of benefactors; and
gradually the love of whatever is good or
great in the characters or in the history of
their species. ("On Religious Education," II, 23)




44



Alison uses the term "affection" to describe not only the

"loving attachment" the child feels toward others but also

the "influence" of qualities, such as virtue, the child

encounters in his environment.

Wordsworth similarly traces the development of the mind

to the awakening powers of affection--specifically the

infant's affection for his mother:

For him, in one dear Presence, there exists
A virtue which irradiates and exalts
Objects through widest intercourse of sense.
No outcast he, bewildered and depressed:
Along his infant veins are interfused
The gravitation and the filial bond
Of nature that connect him with the world.
(II, 238-44)

The power of affection, manifested first in the child's

love for his mother, is transferred by the process of

association to the objects in the mother's environment.

The virtue the mother represents permeates objects in the

external world, and the child therefore feels affection for

such objects. Richard J. Onorato, who presents a psycho-

analytical discussion of Wordsworth's persona in The Prelude,

reaches a similar conclusion about the mother's role in

extending the child's affections to objects in the natural

world: "the ambience of the mother's love . suffuse[s]

the natural objects of the world for the infant with light,

love, and wonder."31 The child's affection for natural

objects thus depends on his perceiving such objects as

infused with human virtue; the mother-infant relationship

Wordsworth describes is the beginning of the process.





45



Wordsworth continues to use the term "affections" to

describe the child's evolving relationship with natural

objects:

. all their forms
And changeful colours by invisible links
Were fastened to the affections.
(I, 610-12)

The fact that Wordsworth uses the terms "forms" and "colours,"

terms relating to external forms, in connection with

"affections," a power or faculty of the human mind, indi-

cates that he, like Alison, is exploring the relationship

between the mind and the external world. Clarke and Onorato

reach similar conclusions about the human quality that

apparently permeates external forms. Clarke notes that the

poet frequently turns to associationist theory and diction

to "explain the apparent existence of feelings out there in
32
nature."32 Onorato cites Wordsworth's assertion that nature

"Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair, / And made me

love them . ." (I, 546-47) as further evidence that the

poet "figuratively preserves in the beauteous forms of
13
nature a very human association."'

In addition to describing a basically associationist

process of learning to ascribe human qualities to external

objects, both Alison and Wordsworth maintain that nature

can on occasion affect the mind of the child more directly

than the principle of association would permit. Alison

finds that knowledge of God "springs" in the "mind" of the

child "to withdraw the veil which covers the splendours of

the Eternal Mind . ." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 51).




46



The concept that religious insight "springs" to mind, or

comes forth suddenly, suggests perhaps nature's direct

teaching described in The Prelude:

S. even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield;--the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things. . (I, 585-88)

As knowledge of God "springs" directly in the mind of the

child who observes the external world, the child of The

Prelude similarly learns directly from nature: the words

"gleams" and "flashing" reinforce the concept of a sudden,

illuminating experience. Although Alison is referring to

a religious experience and Wordsworth is describing less

precise truths revealed by nature, both point to a type of

learning that depends not on association or sensory per-

ception but on moments of sudden, almost unmediated

insight.

Finally, educated both by the process of association

and by the direct teaching of nature, children begin to

develop a conscience:

They feel themselves the members of a mighty
system, in which they are called to cooperate;
and they recognize above them some Almighty
Power, upon whom they feel themselves dependent,
and to whom, the rising voice of conscience tells
them, they are accountable. ("On Religious
Education," II, 25)

Wordsworth shows a similar concern with the development

of conscience in the child. However, he suggests that the

beginning of conscience in the child depends not on

recognition of accountability to an "Almighty Power" but

on nature's "severer interventions" (I, 355). After





47



stealing the bird from another's snare, the child of The

Prelude experiences what Alison terms the "rising voice of

conscience":

. and when the deed was done
I heard among the solitary hills,
Low breathings coming after me, and sounds
Of undistinguishable motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod.
(I, 321-25)

The "low breathings" and the "sounds / Of undistinguishable

motion" the child hears suggest that conscience emerges

first as a palpable external force that frightens the child.

Ultimately, the child of The Prelude comes to rely on

conscience not as an external and palpable force but as an

internal standard of discipline. Associating with "enduring

things-- / With life and nature" (I, 409-10), he is disci-

plined to recognize man's potential for greatness:

. purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
(I, 410-14)

The fact that Wordsworth uses the words "purifying" and

"sanctifying" to describe the process by which one comes

to recognize human dignity suggests that he views it as an

essential part of the child's religious education. Alison

similarly associates the development of conscience with the

child's recognition of his role in the divine system and

with his love for human virtue C"On Religious Education,"

II, 23, 25).





48



While both Wordsworth and Alison emphasize the natural

education the child should receive and outline certain facets

of the process of spiritual growth, Wordsworth in "Ode:

Intimations of Immortality" and Alison in certain sermons

imply that the child's earthly existence is inferior to

another existence he has known. Wordsworth's decision to

place the poem at the end of the "Poems Referring to the

Period of Old Age" indicates the poem's concern with the

entirety of man's existence, not simply with childhood.34

Sharing Lionel Trilling's view that the poem is a commentary

on "growing up,"35 Marsh finds that Wordsworth uses the

image of the child in the poem to suggest his spiritual

origins as well as to describe his growth: "Thus, while

dealing with normal growth and development, Wordsworth holds

the child image steadily before us and with the word

glories C'Forget the glories he hath known') continues to

suggest spiritual reality." 6 An evaluation of the poem

in light of Alison's ideas concerning childhood not only

points to the themes of "growing up" and "spiritual

reality," but also places the child's earthly activities

within the framework of his leaving his celestial home to

inhabit the earth.

Both Wordsworth and Alison tend to glorify the state

of childhood because of the child's recent arrival from his

celestial home and to examine the consequences of pre-

existence on the child's earthly activities. In his

defense of the poem, dictated to Isabella Fenwick in 1843,37




49



Wordsworth indicates his concern with the "dreamlike

vividness and splendour" of the child's perceptions rather

than with conclusive proof of a "prior state of existence":

To that dream-like vividness and splendour which
invest objects of sight in childhood, every one, I
believe, if he would look back, could bear testi-
mony, . but having in the Poem regarded it as
presumptive evidence of a prior state of existence,
I think it right to protest against a conclusion,
which has given pain to some good and pious persons,
that I meant to inculcate such a belief. It is far
too shadowy a notion to be recommended to faith,
as more than an element in our instincts of
immortality.38

Because the poet is concerned primarily with the freshness

of the child's perceptions and with his instinctive sense

of immortality, he adopts the image of a prior state of

existence, the child's spiritual home, to provide a reason-

able explanation for the "celestial light" (1. 4) that

surrounds objects of sight in childhood. Although Words-

worth, afraid of offending "good and pious persons" with

his concept of preexistence, maintains that he is not recom-

mending the idea as religious doctrine, Alison in his ser-

mon "On the Youth of Solomon" uses a similar image to

describe childhood and the celestial origin of the child's

soul:

. the first and purest state of the human mind,
when the soul comes fresh from the hands of its
Creator, and when no habits of life have contracted
the reach of its powers. . when nature seems
everywhere to rejoice around. . (I, 51)

Alison, like Wordsworth, seems to emphasize the effects of

the child's state of preexistence rather than the state

itself: he emphasizes the purity and joy of childhood,





50



as well as its unbounded "powers," alluding only generally

to the soul's arrival from the "hands of its Creator."

Alison's explanation of the exalted state of childhood

helps to clarify some of Wordsworth's imagery in the first

five stanzas of the poem. The concept of "happy nature"

suggested by Alison ("when nature seems everywhere to

rejoice around") predominates in the third and fourth

stanzas. Nature and the child join in festivities in which

the adult cannot easily participate:

I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday;--
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy
Shepherd-boy! (11. 27-35)

In attributing a human potential for joy to the animals and

objects in nature, both Alison and Wordsworth employ a

process akin to personification--ascribing qualities of

the mind to external objects. Moreover, Wordsworth's

description of the child's rejoicing in nature emphasizes

his empathy for the natural world as well as his heightened

perceptions. Alison's description of the child's "powers,"

which have not been "contracted" by the "habits of life,"

perhaps helps to explain the "freshness" of the child's

perceptions that Wordsworth emphasizes in the first stanza:

all objects seem "Apparelled in celestial light, / The

glory and the freshness of a dream" (11. 4-5).





51



Even as the adult begins to experience the child's joy,

he finds that natural objects remind him of "something that

is gone" (1. 53). The question of where the "visionary

gleam" (1. 56) has gone is answered by a description of the

"glory" that surrounds the child recently delivered from his

celestial home and the "forgetting" that accompanies birth

and earthly existence:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home. . .
(11. 58-65)

Both Wordsworth and Alison view physical birth in terms of

its negative spiritual consequences. While Alison merely

alludes to the purity of the child's mind before his contact

with the world, Wordsworth uses the terms "sleep" and

"forgetting" to suggest that the child's birth represents

in fact a kind of spiritual death, erasing the child's

memory of his other existence. To modify somewhat the

negative tone of the first lines of the stanza and to ex-

plain how the child still possesses powers the adult does

not, Wordsworth explains that the child trails "clouds of

glory," that he retains vestiges of his former existence.

To signal the fading of the childo's "glory" and his

recollections of preexistence as he grows up and acquires

earthly habits, both Wordsworth and Alison use images of

restraint and confinement. Alison uses the verb "contracted"




52



to describe the tendency of the "habits of life" to limit

the "reach of its [childhood's] powers" ("On the Youth of

Solomon," I, 51). Furthermore, Alison implies that the

"narrow space" of earthly activity is inferior to the

"infinity of the past and of the future" ("On the Power of

Christian Faith," II, 447). Both "contracted" and "narrow"

suggest confinement; Wordsworth uses images of imprisonment

to express a similar idea: "Shades of the prison-house

begin to close / Upon the growing Boy" (11. 67-68). He

also refers to the child as earth's "Inmate," a "Foster-

child" who feels somewhat alien in his new environment (1.

83). As Alison finds that the "habits of life" restrict

the child's powers, Wordsworth maintains that the "weight"

of "custom" effects similar results:

Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
(11. 127-29)

As Alison notes, "the soul comes fresh from the hands of

its Creator"; Wordsworth's image of the child's soul en-

cumbered by "earthly freight" and laboring under the "weight"

of "custom" suggests the way the child's powers are stifled

as he grows up. Following custom and imitating the adult,

the child moves further from the truth he could once dis-

cover intuitively and becomes oppressed by the "inevitable

yoke" of adulthood (1. 125).

Another image both Wordsworth and Alison associate

with the child's fading glory is the "celestial light" (1.

4). As the child reaches adulthood, ". . the Man





53



perceives it die away, / And fade into the light of common

day" (11. 76-77). Woodring cites "Plotinus' emphasis on the

metaphors of divine light and material darkness" as a pre-

decessor to Wordsworth's imagery,39 and Alison similarly

describes the world as a "dark" place where "he who is born

of God, and who is again to return to God" must reside ("On

the Power of Christian Faith," II, 455). Both Alison and

Wordsworth are concerned with the loss of the divine light

as the child grows into an adult, and Wordsworth's "light

of common day" would clearly seem dark to one who remembers

"celestial light."

Despite the loss experienced as the child grows older,

both writers note that some recompense is offered to the

adult. Alison's description of the recompense is similar

to that the adult of the "Ode" acknowledges: "Even amid

all the ruins of our fallen nature, there are remembrances

of its original glory . ." ("On the Love of Excellence,"

II, 210). Alison's description not only parallels the

"glory" of childhood presented in the "Ode" but also sug-

gests, by the use of the word "ruins," the "embers" of the

ninth stanza of the poem:

O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
C11. 130-33)

Thus, one recompense afforded the adult is his ability to

remember his transient moments of "original glory."




54



The acceptance of adult responsibilities affords another

type of recompense: in a state of spiritual maturity one

acquires a "human heart" and a concern for human suffering

and mortality. Alison finds "beneficence employed, and

patience exerted, and resolution displayed, and resignation

shewn" ("On the Power of Christian Faith," II, 455) as man

reaches adulthood. The adult of the "Ode" shows resigna-

tion in realizing that ". . nothing can bring back the

hour / Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower"

(11. 178-79). More importantly, he develops a "philosophic

mind" (1. 187), suggesting a "practical wisdom" that recon-

ciles him to adult duty. The beneficent adult shows concern

for human suffering and mortality:

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
(11. 201-04)

Replacing the "celestial light" that clothed natural objects

in childhood is the "sober colouring" (1. 198) of the adult's

sense of mortality, which makes even the smallest object in

nature meaningful. The poem in which Wordsworth celebrates

the child and his ability to know truth intuitively closes

with a tribute to the adult's sensitivity and ability to

respond to human beings as well as to natural objects.

Although the figure of the child is certainly central

to the philosophies of both Wordsworth and Alison, each

suggests that one must relinquish the delights of childhood

to accept adult responsibilities. As Alison's Essays on





55



Taste and collected sermons provide a useful means of

focusing on Wordsworth's theme of child development in its

twin aspects of the spiritual and the aesthetic, his works

afford similar insight into the standards of character and

conduct Wordsworth deems appropriate for adults. The im-

portance of childhood and youth, Alison notes, resides

partly in the training it provides for the responsibilities

of adult life:

It is in the private meditations of youthful
years,--the secret opinions which the young
then form, . that their future character
in life, and even their fate in eternity, is
determined; and that from the shade of secret
thought, they all come forward upon the stage
of active life, either to be the blessings or
the curse of the society to which they belong.
("On the Love of Excellence," II, 208)

The natural education of the child thus provides the founda-

tion for the adult's system of ethics. The following chapter

reinforces the importance of association with natural forms

during this period of character formation by examining the

negative aesthetic and spiritual consequences of contact

with artificial urban stimuli.





56



Notes


A. Charles Babenroth maintains that "the beginnings of
many modern conceptions in poetry as well as in politics,
theology, education, and social welfare" may be traced to
the end of the eighteenth century. He finds this "especially
true with respect to interest in childhood" and cites Locke's
Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Shaftesbury's
Characteristics, and Rousseau's Emile as works particularly
influential in shaping nineteenth-century thought (English
Childhood: Wordsworth's Treatment of Childhood in the Light
of English Poetry from Prior to Crabbe [1922; rpt. New York:
Octagon Books, 1973], p. 1). The importance of Shaftesbury's
Characteristics, C.A. Moore argues, is manifested not only
in the "constant poetising of benevolence and charity" but
also in "extensive practical charity" ("Shaftesbury and the
Ethical Poets in England, 1700-60," PMLA, 31 [March 1916],
317); moreover, much of this philant"ropic activity involved
measures to help children. Historian G.M. Trevelyan describes
some of the humanitarian activities of the period which
benefited children: the "foundation of hospitals," the
"improvement of medical service and infant welfare," and
the establishment of Charity and Sunday Schools (English
Social History: A Survey of Six Centuries: Chaucer to Queen
Victoria [London: Longmans Green, 1942], p. 363). As
literature tends to reflect societal concerns, it is not
surprising that the child emerges as a significant literary
theme during the last decades of the eighteenth century and
that Romantic poets such as Wordsworth make the figure of
the child an important poetic symbol. For discussionsof
the emergence of the child in English literature, see Robert
Pattison's The Child Figure in English Literature (Athens:
Univ. of Georgia Press, 1978), David Grylls's Guardians and
Angels: Parents and Children in Nineteenth-Century Litera-
ture (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), and Peter Coveney's
The Image of Childhood: The Individual and Society: A
Study of the Theme in English Literature (rev. ed. [Baltimore:
Penguin Books, 1967]).

2Basil Willey (The Seventeenth Century Background:
Studies in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and
Religion [1934; rpt. London: Chatto and Windus, 1949J) con-
trasts Wordsworth's view of the child's "decline" into adult-
hood with Descartes' position (p. 91) and finds many of the
poet's beliefs about man and nature grounded in the "Locke
tradition" (p. 308). Alan Grob (The Philosophic Mind: A
Study of Wordsworth's Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805 [Columbus:
Ohio State Univ. Press, 1973]) maintains that by 1802 Words-
worth views the child's "passions" as "an ultimate source of
spiritual and, perhaps, even moral authority for the conduct
of the whole of life" (p. 9), while Colin C. Clarke ("Nature's
Education of Man: Some Remarks on the Philosophy of





57



Wordsworth," Philosophy, 23 [October 1948], 302-16)
provides a more specific commentary on nature's spiritual
instruction.

Both Irving Babbitt (Rousseau and Romanticism [1919;
rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947]) and F.L. Lucas (The
Decline and Fall of the Romantic Ideal [New York: MacmTllan,
1936]) stress the emotional and irrational aspects of
Romanticism. Babbitt finds that Wordsworth ascribes to the
child powers he cannot possibly possess and that he invests
too much trust in spontaneity and nature (p. 248); similarly,
Lucas views the poet's "idealization of childhood" as "part
of the Romantic dreamer's flight from the harsh, drab world
of adult life" (p. 110). Some recent scholars have viewed
Rousseau more sympathetically. Attacking Babbitt's view of
Rousseau as a mere "visionary dreamer," Jacques Barzun
(Classic, Romantic, and Modern [New York: Doubleday, 1961])
maintains that Rousseau "has affected in one way or another
all those who have come after him . ." (p. 19), and Owen
Barfield (Romanticism Comes of Age, 1st American ed. (Middle-
town, Conn.: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1966]) contrasts
Rousseau's view of man's "natural goodness" with Calvin's
concept of man's "total depravity" (pp. 205-06). J.H. van
den Berg, however, points to the negative effects of Rousseau's
influence. In viewing the child as a child rather than as
an adult, van den Berg argues, Rousseau destroyed the mutual
understanding between children and adults that existed be-
fore the late eighteenth century (The Changing Nature of
Man: Introduction to a Historical Psychology, trans. H.F.
Croes [New York: W.W. Norton, 1961], p. 23).

Babenroth, p. 299.

Babenroth, p. 383. Babenroth's totals include
different forms of the words.

"Ode: Intimations of Immortality" affords an illus-
tration of this distinction. In the phrase "Nor Man nor
Boy" (1. 159), the poet uses the word "Man" to denote an
adult and the word "Boy" to designate a child; in the
phrase "her Foster-child, her Inmate Man" (1. 183), Words-
worth uses the word "Man" as an appositive renaming the
word "child."

Babenroth, pp. 301-02.

8
Babenroth, p. 344.

Hoxie Neale Fairchild, The Noble Savage: A Study in
Romantic Naturalism (1928; rpt. New York: Russell and
Russell, 1961), p. 175.




58



10James Scoggins, Imagination and Fancy: Complementary
Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth (Lincoln: Univ. of
Nebraska Press, 1966), p. 7.

11
Scoggins, p. 45.

12
1Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth: A Biography, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65), I, 261.

1Moorman, I, 266.

14"Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 2 September
1795, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The
Early Years 1787-1805, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Chester
L. Shaver, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 150.

1"Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 19 March 1797,
The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early
Years 1787-1805, p. 180.

1Moorman, I, 289. "Basil is quite well in constitution;
however, regarding his moral principles, there is much to be
anxious for."

17Moorman, II, 237-38.

18
1Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: An Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 10.

19Sir Archibald Alison, I, 11.

20Sir Archibald Alison, I, 43-44.


21
2Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthe-
tically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and
Principles of Taste, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archi-
bald Constable, 1812). The essay number appears first,
followed by the chapter number, the volume number, and the
page citation.

22
2Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated parenthe-
tically in the text, are to Sermons, Chiefly on Particular
Occasions, 2 vols. CEdinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1815).





59



23
2Citations from Wordsworth's poems other than The
Prelude, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to
The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest De
Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952-59).

24
2Citations from the 1850 edition of The Prelude, indi-
cated parenthetically in the text, are to The Prelude; or,
Growth of a Poet's Mind, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev.
Helen Darbishire, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959).

25Fairchild, p. 188.

2Fairchild, p. 188.


27
2Richard E. Brantley, Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism"
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1975), p. 47.

2Florence G. Marsh, "Wordsworth's Ode: Obstinate
Questionings," Studies in Romanticism, 5 TSummer 1966), 225.

29
2Clarke, "Nature's Education of Man," p. 312.

30
Carl R. Woodring, Wordsworth, Riverside Studies in
Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 165.

3Richard J. Onorato, The Character of the Poet: Words-
worth in The Prelude (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press,
1971), p. 113.

32
3Colin C. Clarke, Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the
Poetry of Wordsworth (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962),
p. 64.

33Onorato, p. 113.

34
4Scoggins notes these changes in arrangement (pp. 39,
138).

35
Lionel Trilling, "The Immortality Ode," in The Liberal
Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society
(New York: Viking Press, 1950), p. 131.

3Marsh, p. 223.

3Moorman, II, 21.





60



38
3This statement concerning the "Ode" is quoted in the
notes to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest
De Selincourt, IV, 463-64.

39Woodring, p. 91.
Woodring, p. 91.













CHAPTER II

WORDSWORTH'S ETHICAL AND IMAGINATIVE TREATMENT OF
"THE DOMINION OF MAN"


Both Wordsworth and Alison deplore the consequences of

commercialism and industrialism--specifically the accumula-

tion of men in cities. Both contrast the beauties of the

natural world with populous and commercial cities that afford

no basis for associative sentiments of sublimity and beauty.

Although Wordsworth and Alison were not the only early

nineteenth-century writers to treat this theme, Alison's

Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste and his collected

sermons afford especially valuable insight into the nature

of the city in Wordsworth's poetry. By using Alison's

essays and sermons as an analogue, one discovers that

Wordsworth is interested not merely in condemning urban noise,

smoke, and spectacle, but also in showing the aesthetic and

spiritual consequences of the process of urbanization: the

city exerts a deadening effect on the poetic imagination

and contributes to moral decline. Alison's Essays also

afford insight into the type of escape offered to the

imaginative city dweller: he can either escape imaginatively

to natural forms which have held his affections or he can

perceive in urban forms a type of natural order and harmony.

My investigation of Wordsworth's treatment of the ethical

and imaginative facets of urban life consists of four parts.


61





62



The first (and shortest) section includes background infor-

mation: it places the discussion within the tradition of

contrasting the city and the country and presents briefly

the views of Wordsworth and Alison on this topic, suggesting

that Alison is especially valuable as an analogue for a

study of Wordsworth. In this section Joseph Warren Beach's

comments are used because they effectively summarize Words-

worth's views on the subject; moreover, the specific poems

presenting Wordsworth's views concerning nature and natural

virtue are treated in other chapters. The remainder of the

chapter, involving a close comparison of the ideas in Words-

worth's poetry and those in Alison's Essays and sermons,

begins with a discussion of the stimuli with which the city

dweller is confronted, followed by a discussion of the

aesthetic and spiritual consequences of urban life, and con-

cludes with a discussion of the proper response to urban

residence.

Throughout my discussion of Wordsworth's treatment of

the city, I emphasize Alison's concept of the "dominion of

Man." The stimuli I discuss--sights, sounds, and motions--

relate to human activity, and I give special attention to

the absence of grace in the crowd's behavior, grace being

the concept by which Alison relates human motion or gesture

to an internal standard of self-discipline. Commercialism,

industrialization, paintings, theatrical productions, and

courtroom and pulpit oratory are specific examples of human

activities discussed in this section. This part concludes





63



with a discussion of Bartholomew Fair, the epitome of all

the negative stimuli encountered in the city. In addition

to Book VII of The Prelude, the main topic of discussion,

I make brief allusions to other parts of The Prelude, The

Excursion, and "To the Lady Fleming"; and I include discus-

sions of "The Reverie of Poor Susan" and "The World Is Too

Much With Us." The analysis of the consequences of urban

living includes discussions of the Bartholomew Fair passage

in The Prelude, "The World Is Too Much With Us," and "Peter

Bell," concluding with a detailed examination of "Michael,"

the poem which best exemplifies the moral decline fostered

by city life. Finally, in discussing the proper response

to urban life, I examine "The Reverie of Poor Susan,"

"Composed Upon Westminster Bridge," and Book VII of The

Prelude, which illustrate the types of retreat afforded the

imaginative person.

Before investigating Wordsworth's treatment of the city,

it would be helpful to summarize briefly the opposition

between the natural world and artificial urban forms, a

contrast important both to Wordsworth and to Alison. Many

critics of English literature have noted this contrast;

Raymond Williams, offering perhaps the most comprehensive

treatment, surveys all English literature in terms of this

theme. Consequently, both Wordsworth and Alison are

necessarily viewed as writers who treat certain facets of

the tradition in a similar manner, rather than as the only

early nineteenth-century writers to concern themselves with





64



the opposition between the country and the city. However,

Alison's work remains of special value in analyzing Words-

worth's views concerning the city: while writers such as

Williams concern themselves with the multiplicity of

associations the country and the city have acquired, Alison

shows a Wordsworthian concern with specific aesthetic and

spiritual consequences of urban residence.

Both Alison and Wordsworth find it useful to explain

artificial urban life in terms of the natural. Wordsworth's

attitude toward the city emerges from the poet's preference

for the natural rather than the artificial, as Beach has

noted:

The country is nature more obviously than the town
because it is the world as it came unspoiled from
the hands of the Great Artificer; whereas in town
the aspect of things is defaced by the works of
man, so often perverse and degraded. . nature
generally suggests the opposition between God's
world and man's.2

Beach's description of Wordsworth's philosophy is closely

paralleled by Alison's description in his sermon "On the

Moral Dangers of the Society of Great Cities":

In all ages, the scenes of nature have been the
seat of devotion. It is there, "where day unto
day uttereth speech, and night unto night teacheth
knowledge concerning God." . the silent, but
incessant movements of that mighty system, which
speak the incessant providence of the Mind that
guides it. . It is a different scene with
which we are presented when we visit the habita-
tions of men. . From the dominion of nature,
we enter at once the dominion of Man. No sound
reaches our ear but those of his activity;--no
prospect opens upon our eye, but those of his
power or his pride. . [We] begin to imagine
that we are living only in a world of human art.
CII, 253-55)3





65



Thus, for both Wordsworth and Alison the country is preferred

to the city because the natural forms afford more basis for

religious devotion.

Both writers emphasize the virtue emerging from associa-

tion with natural forms rather than the vice resulting from

association with urban forms. Alison in Essays on Taste

reflects this concern with rural virtue rather than urban

vice; moreover, the ethical concerns he raises emerge from

the concept of virtue founded on one's relationship with the

natural world. Wordsworth's poetry reveals a similar con-

cern with characters whose virtue is attached to nature;

Beach describes Wordsworth's preference for such persons as

heroes of his poems:

It is clear that Wordsworth discovers more of
nature among peasants than among townsmen.
Their passions, he finds, are more simple, less
confused, and more profound--better subject
for poetry, and giving more promise of an ideal
social condition in the future. Their social
feelings have not been tainted with commercialism;
their families not broken up by the industrial
revolution.

Both Wordsworth and Alison believed that possession of land

in rural areas afforded protection from the evils of society.

In a letter written to Charles James Fox in 1801, Words-

worth explains that "Michael" and "The Brothers" were in-

spired by the rural virtue or "domestic affections" of the

"small independent proprietors of land" who "live in a

country not crowded with population. . ."5 Alison's

practice illustrates this belief: he granted leases of

land from the "considerable tract" awarded him as a clergy-

man, finding that "in the allotment system, which tended to





66



enlist the active propensities on the side of virtue, was

to be found the most effective antidote to the evils which

were, even in that rural district, beginning to afflict

society."

These ethical and religious considerations merge with

aesthetic concerns for both writers in their view of nature's

opposition to the city; the loss of imagination and moral

decline are virtually inseparable processes. Alison describes

the loss of the ability to respond to natural beauty:

. . they who have been doomed, by their professions, to

pass their earlier years in populous and commercial cities

. . soon lose that sensibility which is the most natural

of all,--the sensibility to the beauties of the country .

(Essays, I, 2, i, 90).7 Similarly, in the "Preface to the

Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads" Wordsworth alludes to the

city's deadening effect on the imagination:

For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times,
are now acting with a combined force to blunt the
discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting
it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a
state of almost savage torpor. The most effective
of these causes are the great national events
which are daily taking place, and the increasing
accumulation of men in cities, where the unifor-
mity of their occupations produces a craving for
extraordinary incident, which the rapid communi-
cation of intelligence hourly gratifies. (III, 389)

Although both Wordsworth and Alison describe the loss

of imagination and the moral decline which result from the

city dweller's alienation from natural forms and the virtue

afforded by association with these forms, a difference in

emphasis exists. Alison the theologian is inclined to give,





67



at least in his sermons, as much emphasis to moral decline

as to active virtue. Wordsworth, however, generally eschews

the potential sensationalism associated with the corrupting

influence of city life to emphasize rural virtue. Because

Wordsworth does not always explain fully how urban life

contributes to moral decline, Alison is an especially

valuable analogue to his implicit as well as explicit

attitudes toward virtue and vice.

Because the aesthetics of both writers are grounded

in empiricism, the best means of exploring the corrupting

influence of urban life is to consider the sights, sounds,

and motions the city presents. Alison's second of the two

Essays on Taste suggests that by examining these, one can

determine whether an object in the material world is

capable of exciting emotions of sublimity and beauty.

While natural forms provide the basis for experiencing

beauty and sublimity and evidence of divine workmanship,

the city dweller is bombarded with both visual and auditory

evidence that he is in what Alison terms the "dominion of

Man" ("Cities," II, 254). The human arts the city offers

--commercialism, industrialism, paintings, theatrical pro-

ductions, and especially the spectacle, noise, and motion

of the crowd--constitute an ironic replacement for the

"spectacle" ("Cities," II, 254) of nature's operations.10

The multitude of persons encountered, a constant re-

minder that the city is the "dominion of Man," reflects

Alison's concern with sight, sound, and motion: the crowd





68



is not only a spectacle but also produces excessive noise

and exemplifies motion. Alison uses the adjective "populous"

in association with cities in Essays on Taste (I, 2, i, 90)

and in his city sermon notes one's tendency to be "lost" in

the "multitude" when he enters into "the society of populous

cities" (II, 260). Alison finds that city dwellers are not

concerned with others: "No eye follows him [the city

dweller] with interest or affection . ." ("Cities," II,

260). Alison finds the city paradoxically both crowded and

lonely.

Numerous allusions to the crowded city are found in

Wordsworth's poetry. Frequently, Wordsworth modifies the

noun "city" with a derogatory adjective describing its size

and number of inhabitants. Although Wordsworth only twice

uses the phrase "crowded city" in his poetry, the word

"crowd" appears four times in Book VII of The Prelude (11.

221, 627, 684, 697), which describes his London residence.11

Wordsworth's "multitudes" and "masses," frequently associated

with cities, are often modified by adjectives describing the

crowd's conduct; for example, he refers to "That huge

fermenting mass of human-kind" in London (Prelude, VII, 621).

Many of the allusions to the size of cities also seem to be

indirect allusions to the number of persons in the city;

the use of "vast domain" to describe London CPrelude, VII,

765), for example, suggests a populous city, and the diction

is similar to that in Alison's phrase "dominion of Man."

Wordsworth, like Alison, describes the city as a place both




69



lonely and crowded. Even as a young boy, Wordsworth finds

himself perplexed by this phenomenon:

Above all, one thought
Baffled my understanding: how men lived
Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.
(Prelude, VII, 115-18)

Although merely baffling to Wordsworth as a child, this

lack of concern for others is for Alison a precursor to

moral decline: "Removed from the observations of others,

he [the city dweller] is too apt to think himself removed

from his own; to yield to temptations when they are known

only to himself" ("Cities," II, 260).

The behavior of the multitude in Wordsworth's cities

is characterized by two of Alison's aesthetic elements

--sound and motion. As silence is associated with tran-

quillity in Essays on Taste (II, 1, i, 184), noise must

necessarily have an opposite effect. To maintain that in

the city "No sound reaches our ear but those of [man's]

activity" ("Cities," II, 254) is to suggest city noise as

an ironic counterpart to the "tranquillity of nature"

("Cities," II, 254). Wordsworth similarly emphasizes noise

in his description of city life. His casual allusion to

"city noise" in "To the Lady Fleming" (1. 52) becomes

harsher in The Excursion when he refers to the "obstreperous

city" CIV, 369). In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth re-

sorts to even harsher terms: the noise is described as a

"deafening din" C1. 155), a "roar" (1. 168), an "uproar"

C1. 273), and a "hubbub" (1. 211).





70



The noise of the city is inseparably linked to its

motion. Alison alludes to the "agitations" of urban society

("Cities," II, 256) and the "bustle of cities" ("Cities,"

II, 255). In The Excursion Wordsworth associates "bustle,

care, and noise" with city life (VII, 665) and alludes to

the "bustling crowd" (VIII, 245). The phrase "turbulence

of murmuring cities vast" (The Excursion, III, 104) also

reflects the combination of sound and motion. The excessive

motion as well as noise which characterizes the city is

criticized in Wordsworth's apostrophe to London:

Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain
Of a too busy world! Before me flow,
Thou endless stream of men and moving things!

the quick dance
Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening
din. . (Prelude, VII, 149-55)

The London apostrophe indicates how auditory and visual

stimuli, not inherently noxious, acquire such a quality when

excessive. Wordsworth uses strong adjectives and intensi-

fiers ("endless stream," "deafening din," and "too busy

world"; my italics) to reinforce the concept of excess in

this description of London.

The behavior of the crowd is characterized not only by

excessive motion and unpleasant noise but also by the absence

of grace. For the two writers "grace" suggests a merging

of aesthetic and spiritual attributes. In expanding his

second essay in the 1811 edition, Alison adds a section

entitled "Of the Sublimity and Beauty of Attitude and

Gesture" followed by the section "Of Grace." For Alison




71


"grace" is an aesthetic attribute in that it refers to

observable facets of the human form--posture (attitude) and

motion (gesture); these "attitudes" or "gestures" associated

with human behavior acquire spiritual overtones in that

human conduct reflects an internal quality of self-discipline

or the absence of such a quality. Alison's description of

ungraceful conduct closely parallels the behavior of Woras-

worth's "fermenting mass" (Prelude, VII, 621): Alison notes

that no attitudes or gestures reflecting passions or emotions

which are "violent, or intemperate, or significant of want

of self-command" are considered graceful (Essays, II, 5, ii,

388). Urban residence actually seems to promote the type of

ungraceful conduct Alison outlines in his Essays and Words-

worth observes in London.

Because the adjective "sublime" is generally associated

with one's response to natural beauty in Alison and in

Wordsworth, Wordsworth's use of the verb "sublimed" in the

apostrophe to London at first appears to contradict Alison's

concept of the ungraceful conduct fostered by cities:

Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes--
With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe--
On strangers, of all ages. .. (VII, 152-54)

However, Alison's Essays explains how Wordsworth can

experience a "sublime" emotion when viewing the rabble

without an additional "sentiment of respect" (II, 5, ii,

382) for the persons involved:





72



The gestures of rage, in the same manner, of
force, of anguish, of terror, may affect us
with very sublime emotions of fear, of
astonishment, of awful interest, but they
may be unaccompanied with any emotion of
respect for the individual who displays
them. (II, 5, ii, 381-82; my italics)

The mob's conduct suggests violence and intemperance; in

Alison's terms it cannot therefore be regarded as graceful.

However, intemperate gestures of "rage," "force," "anguish,"

or "terror," which do not reflect an internal quality of

self-command, can evoke the "sublime" emotions of "astonish-

ment" or "awful interest." Wordsworth's apostrophe thus re-

flects an "awful interest" in the behavior of the mob with-

out the admiration or "emotion of respect" that graceful

conduct would evoke.

Much of Wordsworth's description of London residence

is, in fact, concerned with intemperate behavior and grace-

less conduct. Examples of what Alison would term graceless

persons are a "common produce" (VII, 588), their graceless-

ness reflected in "Folly, vice, / Extravagance in gesture,

mien, and dress" (VII, 578-79). The few examples of

graceful conduct--the legendary Maid of Buttermere's

"modest mien / And carriage, marked by unexampled grace"

(VII, 307-08) or the father with the sickly infant (VII,

602-18)--"set off by foil, / Appeared more touching" (VII,

601-02).

In addition to the mob's conduct as evidence of human

art, man's workmanship is also reflected in industrialization

and commercialism. In Essays on Taste Alison alludes to





73



man-made objects which disfigure potentially sublime natural

settings (I, 2, i, 121), and Wordsworth shares his condemna-

tion of industrialized society which despoils natural beauty.

Alison finds smoke-filled air, the byproduct of the human

art of industrialization, especially destructive of natural

beauty: "[We] see amid the thick atmosphere which surrounds

us, no other agency than that of mortal wisdom" ("Cities,"

II, 254). Wordsworth's poetry reflects a similar concern

with city smoke. In The Excursion he refers to "the dense

air, which town or city breeds" (IV, 22). In London the

father must bring his child into an open square "to breathe

the fresher air" (Prelude, VII, 610). Similarly, in Book I

of The Prelude, Wordsworth casts "A backward glance upon the

curling cloud / Of city smoke, by distance ruralised" (11.

88-89).

Industrialization and human arts constitute oppressive

forces from which the sensitive person needs relief. As

Alison observes, when the city dweller begins to imagine

that he is "living only in a world of human art," all

"former impressions" of natural virtue "subside" from his

mind ("Cities," II, 255). Alison outlines the destruction

of "natural taste" effected by industrialization and

commercialism:

The finest natural taste is seldom found able
to withstand that narrowness and insensibility
of mind, which is perhaps necessarily acquired
by the minute and uninteresting details of the
mechanical arts; and they who have been doomed,
by their professions, to pass their earlier
years in populous and commercial cities, and in
the narrow and selfish pursuits which prevail





74



there, soon lose that sensibility which is the
most natural of all,--the sensibility to the
beauties of the country. . (Essays, I, 2,
i, 89-90)

For both Wordsworth and Alison "natural taste" is developed

when one's instinctive love for the beauty and sublimity of

the natural world is encouraged, and is nurtured by continual

association with natural forms. The city is marked not only

by the absence of natural forms but also by the presence of

the "uninteresting details of the mechanical arts," which

tend to suppress imaginative thinking. Although the con-

cept of human arts as oppressive forces underlies a large

part of Book VII of The Prelude, The Excursion provides a

more direct statement of this idea: the Solitary declares

that one must find a "lodge" away from "the stately towers,

/ Reared by the industrious hand of human art" (III, 101-02).

Wordsworth is perhaps not only describing the oppressive

forces of human arts as "diligent" or "hard-working" but

also using the adjective "industrious" to function as a
,,12
synonym for "industrial," a usage which enables him to

refer both to human arts in general and to a specific human

art, industrialism.

"The Reverie of Poor Susan," reflecting Alison's

concept of being imprisoned in the city, presents a

character who is engaged in oppressive "mechanical arts"

and commercial pursuits. The setting of the poem is Wood

Street (1. 1) in the mercantile district of London, and

the "narrow and selfish pursuits" and the "uninteresting

details of the mechanical arts" at which Susan is employed




75



combine to give her a feeling of "doom." In the fifth

stanza of the poem, printed only in 1800, Susan is described

as a "Poor Outcast" from the rural tranquillity of her father's

home: "a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's, / The

one only dwelling on earth that she loves" (11. 11-12). The

caged thrush suggests the artificial urban life to which

Susan is subjected. Alison explains that because there is

something unnatural or "artificial" about the caged bird

"we are generally unhappy, instead of being delighted with

the song of a bird in the cage" (Essays, II, 2, i, 233).

The plight of the caged thrush is symbolic of Susan's fate:

she is imprisoned in the city of London.

The most concise expression of Wordsworth's sentiments

concerning commercialism is his sonnet "The World Is Too

Much With Us." The traditional interpretation of the sonnet,

held by Douglas Bush among others, is that the "world"

represents the "ugly materialism of our commercial and

industrial civilization."3 The persona in the sonnet

deplores the fact that commercial pursuits render persons

insensitive to natural beauty:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours. . .
(11. 1-3)

"Getting and spending" parallel Alison's "narrow and selfish

pursuits" that characterize commercial society.

The final manifestations of human art in the city are

the various forms of theatrics Wordsworth watches and the

paintings he views. Although neither Wordsworth nor Alison




76



is generally critical of painting or performing arts, the

art forms encountered in London are associated with the

deceptive artificiality which characterizes the city. The

paintings present a semblance of reality to the viewer:

. sights that ape
The absolute presence of reality,
Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land,
And what earth is, and what she has to shew.
(Prelude, VII, 232-35)

However, such paintings are for Wordsworth "imitations,

fondly made in plain / Confession of man's weakness and

his loves" (VII, 238-39). Alison finds the painter inferior

to the poet because he is limited to the sense of sight

(Essays, I, 2, i, 131). Wordsworth finds this visual

quality distorted in London as the paintings become part

of the "spectacles" (VII, 230) characterizing city life.

The theater similarly constitutes an artificial medium,

characterized by the paradoxical quality of "measured

passions" (Prelude, VII, 405). Both Alison and Wordsworth

use the term "passion" to describe a state of intense

feeling, and Alison's definition (Essays, II, 6, ii, 389)

suggests that the "intensity of passion" cannot be assessed,

patterned, or "measured." Alison finds that "artificial

passions" pervade city life ("Cities," II, 256), and Words-

worth describes a similar quality in his discussion of

Drury Lane.

Furthermore, Alison's comments on grace suggest another

characteristic of the theater. Alison notes that the

theater would appear to offer one "the exhibition of Grace"





77



(Essays, II, 6, ii, 390); however, the "extravagance of

comic, or the violence of tragic passion" is incompatible

with graceful gestures (Essays, II, 6, ii, 391). Although

Wordsworth enjoys the theater in London, when one evaluates

these theatrical productions in light of Alison's comments,

they reveal the same lack of grace that characterizes the

conduct of most of those Wordsworth encounters in London.4

Like the paintings and theatrical productions Wordsworth

views in London, the courtroom and pulpit oratory manifests

a quality of deceptive artificiality; the artificial forms

with which city dwellers are confronted actually deceive

their senses. Alison, concerned with this deception in the

city, finds that "ministers" of sin appear not "under their

real and characteristic forms, but under the masks of spirit,

of fashion, and of liberality; under semblances well con-

structed to deceive, and still better constructed to betray"

("Cities," II, 257). In his description of the theatrics

of the courtroom and the pulpit, Wordsworth echoes the theme

of deception that marks Alison's description of city life:

Each fondly reared on its own pedestal,
Looked out for admiration. . .

Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense--
Of these, and of the living shapes they wear,
There is no end. (Prelude, VII, 577-83)

In Alison's terms, the "lies" the city offers the senses

have the potential to become the deceptive "ministers" of

sin.

The epitome of human art and consequently the "true

epitome / Of what the mighty City is herself" (Prelude, VII,




78



722-23), Bartholomew Fair encompasses all the aspects of human

art which both Wordsworth and Alison associate with city

life--commercialism, industrialism, noise, mob disorder, the

artificial, and the spectacular. The fair's basic functions

are commercial (the barter and selling of goods) and spec-

tacular (the exhibits designed to entertain the spectators).

Employing Alison's aesthetic terms, "colour, motion, shape,

sight, sound" (VII, 688), Wordsworth describes the spectacle

of Bartholomew Fair as a "shock" (VII, 685) to his aesthetic

sensibilities. In fact, the fair represents the culmination

of the human art which has surrounded him during his resi-

dence in London:

What a shock
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din,
Barbarian and infernal,--a phantasma,
Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound!
(VII, 685-88)

Wordsworth finds the spectacular exhibits at the fair the

most "perverted" form of human art:

All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,
All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of man, his dullness, madness, and their feats
All jumbled up together, to compose
A Parliament of Monsters.
(VII, 714-18)

The allusion to Prometheus reinforces the idea that man

feels he is being creative, that Bartholomew Fair is his

"art." However, Promethean fire is stolen from divine

sources, and Wordsworth's use of terms such as "perverted,"

"freaks," "dullness," "madness," and "Monsters" suggests

that Bartholomew Fair is a grotesque parody of divine

workmanship.





79



The final image of the fair alludes both to the number

of persons at the fair and to the mill as a symbol of in-

dustrialism:

Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,
Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,
Men, Women, three-years Children, Babes in arms.
(VII, 718-21)

The masses of people at the fair resemble the products of a

machine or a factory, "melted and reduced / To one

identity . ." (VII, 726-29). The passage suggests Blake's

Satanic mills in "Night the Eighth" of The Four Zoas,

symbolic of the single-fold vision of the state of Ulro.

The Satanic mills are associated with repressive patterns

of thought, or negative creations, as well as with the

industrial situation in England.16 Both of these concerns

are reflected in Wordsworth's use of the mill to represent

Bartholomew Fair: both the bleakness of the industrial

world and the products of negative creativity characterize

Wordsworth's portrait of London.

Wordsworth and Alison share a concern with the con-

sequences of residence in the city. When the "scenes of

human activity" obscure "the traces of divine workmanship,"

the consequences are both aesthetic and spiritual:

There is no man, I believe, who has not
occasionally felt somewhat at least of this
influence;--who, in removing from the scenes
of nature, into the business and bustle of
cities, has not experienced a kind of dis-
turbance of his usual train of thought;--
and who, (if he has not had the wisdom to
resist them,) has not felt himself gradually
losing the firmest impressions of his earlier





80



days, and insensibly acquiring those lower
dispositions of the world, which he once had
the wisdom to lament, and to despise.
("Cities," II, 255)

Since Wordsworth and Alison believe that one develops vir-

tue from association with natural forms, then the loss of

one's earlier "impressions" may lead to moral decline.

The loss of imaginative power in the presence of urban

forms is illustrated in Book VII of The Prelude. Bartholomew

Fair, the "epitome" of urban life (VII, 722), has this de-

structive potential;

A work completed to our hands, that lays,
If any spectacle on earth can do,
The whole creative powers of man asleep!--
For once, the Muse's help will we implore,
And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings,
Above the press and danger of the crowd,
Upon some showman's platform.
(VII, 679-85)

In both Wordsworth's and Alison's philosophy of creation,

a state of passive responsiveness is indicated by images

of corporeal sleeping; the "exercise of imagination," by

images of mental awakening (Essays, II, 6, ii, 434).

Bartholomew Fair presents an inversion of this imagery.

While the physical body is kept awake by the spectacles

at the fair, man's "creative powers" are laid asleep (VII,

679-81).

In an infrequent invocation to the Muse, Wordsworth

asks deliverance from "the press and danger of the crowd"

(VII, 684). The term "danger" is central to Alison's sermon

on the city; in fact, over half the sermon is devoted to

"a consideration of the dangers which surround those 'who





81



dwell in the cities of the plain' . ." (II, 253). Alison

defines one danger as the loss of "former impressions"

("Cities," II, 255) from contact with urban life. "Impres-

sions" for Alison are generally associated with the relation-

ship between external stimuli and the mind (Essays, I, i, 10);

consequently, the loss of impressions is ultimately associated

with the loss of imaginative power. Alison's Essays also

reflect a concern with this danger: imaginative persons find

it necessary to escape the "noise and tumult of vulgar joy"

to "yield with security to those illusions of Imagination,

and indulge again their visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165).

As Abbie Findlay Potts indicates in her discussion of Words-

worth's Poet in The Prelude and Bunyan's Christian in Pil-

grim's Progress, a theme common to both works is that of

"flight from the city."l17 Bunyan's Vanity Fair, representing

the corruption of moral and spiritual values in the city,

obviously serves as a model for Wordsworth's Bartholomew

Fair, representing the loss of imaginative power and the

resulting moral decline suffered by city dwellers. As Potts

points out, "The analogies between London and its Bartholomew

Fair and the Town called Vanity with its Fair 'of ancient

standing' are so obvious that they need few illustrations."18

"The World Is Too Much With Us" is as much a commentary

on the deadening effect of the city on the imagination as a

criticism of commercialism. Karl Kroeber's interpretation

of the sonnet argues for the identification of "Getting and

spending" with the loss of visionary powers, not merely

with monetary exchange.19 When the sonnet is evaluated,





82



however, in light of the Wordsworthian and Alisonian view

of the city, it appears unnecessary to force this identifi-

cation (monetary exchange as symbol for loss of visionary

powers); rather, we can see the loss of such powers as a

consequence of commercial pursuits:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
(11. 1-4)

Wordsworth uses the word "powers" in its Alisonian sense to

denote "qualities of Mind which are capable of producing

emotion" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 417). Alison includes "in-

vention" and "fancy" as "powers" of the mind (Essays, II,

6, ii, 417); consequently, to "lay waste" one's powers by

"Getting and spending" is to deaden one's imaginative

capacity.

Loss of imaginative capacity is also associated with

insensitivity to natural beauty. This is another of Words-

worth's concerns in "The World Is Too Much With Us." Alison

includes "passive" qualities of mind, "feelings and affec-

tions" such as "love" and "hope," as an integral part of

the imaginative response (Essays, II, 6, ii, 417-18). When

Wordsworth's persona notes that "We have given our hearts

away," he may be referring to man's loss of an "affection"

or "love" for nature. This interpretation is reinforced

by the persona's comment following the octave's poetic

personification of the sea and the winds: "For this, for

everything, we are out of tune; / It moves us not" (11. 8-9).





83



For Alison, the excitement of some affection necessarily

precedes the experiencing of complex emotions (Essays, I, 2,

i, 81). in the sonnet the persona is not "moved" to

experience complex emotions of beauty or sublimity upon

viewing natural forms because the affections have not been

excited.

The sonnet also makes the Alisonian connection between

loss of imagination and the inability to personify natural

forms. Alison finds that the mind relates to the external

world by the imaginative process of personification, ascribing

"qualities of Mind" to external objects (Essays, II, i, 184-

85). Modern man's imaginative failure, in Alison's terms,

is a failure to personify. Kroeber reaches a similar

conclusion: "Modern man lacks the power to humanize nature,

to impose upon it, to put into it, anthropomorphic beings

such as Triton and Proteus."20

Even in "Peter Bell," a poem not directly concerned

with the city, Wordsworth associates insensitivity to natural

beauty with urban life. Although Carl Woodring accurately

describes Peter as a "rather absurd villain,"21 he shares

with Wordsworth's more respectable persona in "The World Is

Too Much With Us" a city-fostered inability to relate to

natural beauty. Although Peter has spent much time with

nature, the natural forms excite no affection or feeling:

Though Nature could not touch his heart
By lovely forms, and silent weather,
And tender sounds, yet you might see
At once that Peter Bell and she
Had often been together.
(11. 286-90)





84



He is not "touched" by natural forms, and in the same

Alisonian sense the persona of the sonnet is not "moved" to

experience emotion. The urban vice underlying Peter's

insensitivity to nature distorts his ability to modify or

shape sensations received from the external world:

To all the unshaped half-human thoughts
Which solitary Nature feeds
'Mid summer storms or winter's ice,
Had Peter joined whatever vice
The cruel city breeds.
(11. 296-300)

In Alison's terms Peter's imaginative failure is his de-

structive personification of natural forms. Alison finds

that poetic personification consists of "bestowing on the

inanimate objects of [the poet's] scenery the characters

and affections of mind" (Essays, II, 2, i, 132). Rather

than viewing the natural forms as expressions of "higher

qualities" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 424), Peter modifies them in

accordance with his city-bred vice.

Although Peter's villainy is given a rather absurd
22
narrative treatment,22 the defection of Luke to the city

in "Michael" presents the pathos of the situation without

resorting to sentimentalism.23 Alan Grob finds the poem

characterized by a lack of sensationalism as well.24 The

absence of sentimentalism and sensationalism characterizes

Wordsworth's description of Luke's decline:

Meanwhile Luke began
To slacken in his duty; and, at length,
He in the dissolute city gave himself
To evil courses: ignominy and shame
Fell on him, so that he was driven at last
To seek a hiding-place beyond the seas.
(11. 442-47)





85



Examining Luke's behavior in Alison's terms affords added

insight into the passage. Basically, Luke's defection re-

sults from his mentally alienating himself from rural virtue

at the time he is physically alienated in the city from

natural forms.

Luke has received instruction in natural virtue from

his father Michael, the hero of the poem. Wordsworth's

ideal man is one whose virtue is attached to nature, and

the characterization of Michael depends almost entirely on

his relationship with his surroundings:

Those fields, those hills . had laid
Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
(11. 74-77)

Although Michael is not a poet, the use of the terms

"affections," "feeling," "love," and "pleasure," all of

which are central in Alison's language, suggests that he

is responsive to natural forms. Moreover, Wordsworth's

assertion that Michael's love for natural forms is virtually

inseparable from the pleasures he experiences in life in-

dicates that he has coupled the aesthetic appreciation of

natural forms with an ethical code of natural virtue.

With the birth of his son, Michael's natural virtue

becomes enfolded in his love for Luke. The imagery in the

poem supports such an interpretation: Luke, carrying in

his cheeks "Two steady roses" (1. 179), seems to epitomize

nature. After the birth of his son, elements of the natural

world "the Shepherd loved before / Were dearer now" (11.




86



199-200). Geoffrey Hartman draws a similar conclusion,

finding that "parental affection and love for the land are
25
fused in Michael's heart."2

Alison's sermons provide an accurate description of what

happens to Luke in the city. Alison finds the city "dangerous

to morality, as it provides the means of temptation" ("Cities,"

II, 256). Luke, prior to this time, has known only what

Alison terms "the innocence of rural life" ("Cities," II,

256). Moreover, cities are dangerous because they contain

"both Examples and Authority in vice" ("Cities," II, 258).

Although nature checks the "first beginnings of sin," the

"society of great cities tends but too powerfully to counter-

act this salutary restraint":

It is there that every class and description of
guilt finds its companions and defenders;--that
the ambitious assemble, the sordid combine, the
profligate associate.--It is there that fashion
misleads, in the higher conditions of life, and
example seduces in the lower;--that the con-
sciousness of individual guilt is lost amid the
guilt of the multitude who share it;--and that
sophistry prepares its arguments to harden the
yet repenting heart against the return of its
first and best impressions. ("Cities," II, 258-59)

Two aspects of this description are applicable to Luke's

experience in the city. The loss of "consciousness of

individual guilt" is attributed by Alison to the "obscurity

which is produced to the individual, when he mingles in the

multitude of society" ("Cities," II, 260). Alison finds

that in the "solitude of rural life, every man is an object

of observation" ("Cities," II, 260). On the contrary, lost

in the "multitude" of the great cities, he is removed from





87



the observation of others: "No eye follows him with interest

or affection;--no well-known countenance marks, in every

hour, by its expression, the joy or the sorrow his conduct

may occasion" ("Cities," II, 260). In the rural setting in

which Luke was raised, Michael has certainly viewed his son's

conduct with "interest" and "affection." Michael's discipline

is similar to Alison's description of expressing satisfaction

or dissatisfaction with the conduct of another: when Michael

is displeased with Luke's behavior, his response is to

. exercise his heart with looks
Of fond correction and reproof bestowed
Upon the Child. . (11. 172-74)

Away from his father's discipline and example of rural virtue,

Luke loses his "consciousness of individual guilt" ("Cities,"

II, 259); this loss, in turn, effects "dishonour" and

"wretchedness" ("Cities," II, 261). The loss of feelings

of guilt renders Luke susceptible to what Alison terms the

city's "evil communication."

Alison considers "evil communication" one of the city's

most dangerous offerings; in fact, two of his sermons are

concerned with this aspect of city life. "Upon the Impor-

tance of Religious Example" introduces the theme of the loss

of innocence and "that evil communication of which populous

towns have unfortunately ever been so profuse" (II, 283), a

theme which is more fully explored in the sermon entitled

"On Evil Communication." Michael seems to recognize this

danger but feels Luke will be able to resist temptation if

"evil men" become his companions (11. 405-06). However,





88



once Luke enters city life, the forces of evil communication

become too powerful for him to resist. Alison describes the

process:

If, accordingly, the young were left only to
nature and themselves, it is reasonable to
think they might pass this important period
of life without danger. . But unhappily
for them, and unhappily for the world, it is
at this time, that "evil communications" begin
to assail them; that they are deceived by the
promises of vice and folly. . ("Evil
Communication," I, 241-42)

The forces of evil communication "assail" the youths of

Alison's sermon; Luke is also "assailed" by external forces.

The result of such deception is "ignominy and shame" (1.

445). Alison is especially concerned with evil communica-

tion afforded by those who permit "the most valuable years

of life to pass away in idleness and prodigality" ("Evil

Communication," I, 249). Idleness and prodigality appear

to be Luke's sins as he abandons the industry and economy

that has characterized his parents' lives; he begins to

"slacken in his duty" (1. 443) and gives himself to "evil

courses" (1. 445).

Wordsworth and Alison share the metaphor of youth as a

blossom which can be destroyed by external forces. Words-

worth's use of the image of "Two steady roses" (1. 179) in

Luke's cheeks is consistent with Alison's comments on the

"delicacy" of youth ("Evil Communication," I, 242). For

Alison such an appraisal is both aesthetic and ethical:

the aesthetic response inspired by any delicate form is

compatible with Alison's description of youth who "come out





89



of the hand of nature pure and uncorrupted" ("Evil Communi-

cation," I, 240). Luke, in the city, is confronted with

evil communication, the "malignant power" of city vice that

destroys his natural virtue ("Evil Communication," I, 238).

Moreover, the flower metaphor indicates the tragedy of

Luke's corruption both for Michael and for those who hear

the story:,

How painful . is it, (even to the unconnected
spectators), . to see the spring of life un-
timely blasted by some malignant power which
withers all the blossoms of virtue, and closes
all the expectations we have formed of their
opening being. ("Evil Communication," I, 238)

Michael's pain at his shattered expectations, masked to some

extent by his stoic and spiritual partnership with the land,

is reflected in his attitude concerning the sheepfold,

which represents both his love for nature and his love for

Luke:

S. 'tis believed by all
That many and many a day he thither went,
And never lifted up a single stone.
(11. 464-66)

Michael's fate indicates a Wordsworthian and Alisonian

attitude toward the evil personified in the city: even

one strengthened by communion with nature is afforded no

protection from evil; natural virtue merely enables one to

face the evil of others without exhaustion.

Both Wordsworth and Alison deal with the proper re-

sponse of one who is forced to reside in the city. Alison's

advice in the sermons is predictably didactic: withdraw

from society for "regular hours" of "thought and meditation"





90



("Cities," II, 263), communicate with God and invoke divine

assistance ("Cities," II, 265), and congregate "with the

faithful of your people 'in the temple of God'" ("Cities,"

II, 266). However, when this advice is coupled with Alison's

statements in Essays on Taste, some similarity with Words-

worth's beliefs becomes apparent: the concept of retreat

appears in Essays on Taste (and in Wordsworth's poetry) as

a retreat "from the noise and tumult of vulgar joy" to

"indulge" one's "visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165). Alison's

clarification of the concept of communion with God suggests

that it is an imaginative, as well as a religious, exercise

and that it includes a mood of reflection as well as the

specific act of prayer:

. it is then that, escaping from the eye of
the world which fascinates us, we feel ourselves
in the presence of Him "who inhabiteth eternity,"
and, removed from the voice of earthly passion,
that we listen to the voice of "Him who comes
to seek, and suffers to save us." It is in such
exercises that the religious mind finds all its
rewards!--that under the influence of the ever
near and assisting spirit, it throws off the
stains and impurities which it had acquired;
--that it returns to the purity of all its
original impressions; that higher sentiments
awaken, and holier desires are felt. . .
("Cities," II, 265-66)

Even Alison's admonition to go to church is clarified as a

type of spiritual retreat: "For one solemn hour, the world

is thrown behind them. The delusions of society cease, and

the pulse of passion is still" ("Cities," II, 267). Thus,

much of Alison's advice may be described as an admonition

to retreat from the city's most noxious stimuli--Wordsworth's





91



"fermenting mass" (Prelude, VII, 621) or Alison's society of

evil communication.

The concept of retreat from noxious urban stimuli

appears in "The Reverie of Poor Susan" as her waking dream.

In Alisonian terms Susan is indulging her "visionary bliss":

She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.
(11. 5-8)

Susan's experience clearly conforms to Alison's description

of "the young and the romantic" who find their imaginative

life more pleasurable than their real life (Essays, I, 2,

i, 165). Alison finds that "without any particular object

of meditation" pleasant scenes "rise as by enchantment be-

fore the mind" (Essays, I, 2, i, 164). Even if the thrush

is considered an object of mediation, Susan's experience is

still the basic Alisonian process of the imagination's

effecting images in our mind "very different from those

which the objects themselves can present to the eye" (Essays,

I, 1, i, 5). Wordsworth's use of the phrase "note of en-

chantment" (1. 5) to describe the bird's song seems to echo

Alison's terminology and suggests that Susan's imaginative

experience has a magical quality that transcends strict

empiricism.

Two of the qualities Alison ascribes to the imaginative

experience are reflected in Susan's reverie. Such illusions

are comforting (one may "yield with security") but transitory:

She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:





92



The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes!
(11. 13-16)

The type of reverie Susan experiences affords only momentary

comfort in the midst of urban life. Although the fifth

stanza of the poem, appearing only in the 1800 edition, has

Susan returning to the home of her father, the final version

of the poem leaves Susan imprisoned in London.

Wordsworth in Book VII of The Prelude and the persona

in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" also retreat from

urban society for thought and meditation. The persona of

"Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" stands above the city

while its inhabitants are still sleeping and observes "the

very houses seem asleep; / And all that mighty heart is

lying still!" (11. 13-14). The poet in Book VII of The

Prelude similarly enjoys the city when it is devoid of man's

enterprises. In London at night, Wordsworth finds forms

which can, in Alison's terms, "awaken" his "genius" (Essays,

I, 6, ii, 433):

. scenes different there are,
Full-formed, that take, with small internal help,
Possession of the faculties,--the peace
That comes with night; the deep solemnity
Of nature's intermediate hours of rest,
When the great tide of human life stands still;
The business of the day to come, unborn,
Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave;
The blended calmness of the heavens and earth,
Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds
Unfrequent as in deserts. . (VII, 652-62)

The operation of the mind in this passage suggests Alison's

description of the process of association; the scene causes

the poet to be "conscious of a train of thought being




Full Text
98
the persona to impose an imaginative order on the confusion
and chaos of London:
The changeful language of their countenances
Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts,
However multitudinous, to move
With order and relation. (VII, 758-61)
According to Alison's theory, the harmony the forms exhibit
connects them both with the poet's "affections" and with
his "memory." Alison finds that the scenes selected "by
Poets for description or allusion, are all such as have
some determinate Expression or Association" (Essays, II, 4,
ii, 13-14) and that poets "perceive or demand a relation
among the different parts to this peculiar Character"
(Essays, II, 4, ii, 14). Moreover, it is natural forms
that display "the utmost harmony and felicity of Composi
tion" (Essays, II, 4, ii, 14). If, for Alison, the imagina
tion is afforded the "key of the scene" (Essays, II, 4, ii,
11), we "conclude, that the Composition is good, and yield
ourselves willingly to its influence" (Essays, II, 4, ii,
12). The poet "yields" to the "influence" of the remembered
beauty of the natural forms, a process which imposes a kind
of harmony and order on the mental confusion and imaginative
slumbering which has characterized his life in London.
The conclusion to Book VII of The Prelude unites the
concept of harmony with Alison's idea of the "spirit" per
vading the natural world (Essays, II, 6, ii, 438). By re
taining his earlier impressions, Wordsworth is able to find
the "Spirit of Nature" "diffused" throughout "London's vast
domain" (VII, 765);


182
7
Alison makes no formal attempt to define the term
"passion"; however, he consistently uses the term to denote
intensity of emotion. In the final chapter of Essays on
Taste ("Of the Beauty of the Human Countenance and Form"),
the term appears frequently, as Alison describes the
effect of various passions on man's appearance.
g
Carl R. Woodring, Wordsworth, Riverside Studies in
Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 60.
9
Caroline F.E. Spurgeon, Mysticism and English Litera
ture (1913; rpt. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1970),
p. 64.
0C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 3rd ed. (New
York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1972), pp. 332-33. Evelyn Underhill
(Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Mans
Spiritual Consciousness, 13th ed. [London: Methuen, 1940])
helps to clarify the term further by outlining the three
"types of experience" characterizing the mystical state:
(1) "a joyous apprehension of the Absolute" or "the Presence
of God"; (2) "a dual apprehension of reality," a heightened
perception of natural objects, which often convinces the
mystic that he knows "the secret of the world"; and (3) an
increase in the "energy of the intuitional or transcendental
self," resulting in phenomena such as "visions" or "auditions"
(pp. 240-41). Among the critics who describe mystical
elements in "Tintern Abbey" are William Ralph Inge (Studies
of English Mystics: St. Margaret's Lectures, 1905) Essay
Index Reprint Series [1906; rpt. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for
Libraries Press, 1969]), A. Allen Brockington (Mysticism
and Poetry on a Basis of Experience [1934; rpt. Port Wash
ington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1970]), and Caroline Spurgeon.
Inge, who devotes a chapter to "The Mysticism of Wordsworth"
(pp. 173-206), describes the poet's attitude toward nature
in "Tintern Abbey" as essentially mystical: in the poem
there is a "revelation of the unseen through natural objects,
whereby he was granted the power to see into the life of
things'" (p. 185). In his chapter entitled "The Mystical
Outlook" (pp. 175-208), Brockington describes the poet's
"Vision" in "Tintern Abbey": "in Nature he saw something
that was not seen by others, even though the actual forms
and hues were there to be seen by everyone. . ." However,
Brockington maintains, the poem reflects the poet's uncer
tainty about the permanence or the recurrence of such in
tuitions (p. 193). Spurgeon includes Wordsworth along with
Henry Vaughan and Richard Jefferies in her discussion of
"Nature Mystics" (pp. 57-71) In fact, Spurgeon describes
mysticism as "the most salient feature of Wordsworth's
poetry" (p. 59) and cites the "serene and blessed mood"
passage in "Tintern Abbey" (11. 41-49) as "one of the finest"
analyses by any mystical writer of that "kind of


114
Even then the common haunts of the green earth,
And ordinary interests of man,
Which they embosom, all without regard
As both may seem, are fastening on the heart
Insensiblv, each with the other's help.
(11. 116-20)
Wordsworth also makes it clear that his concern for
human beings does not displace his love for nature:
. . 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 told
Was Man in my affections and regards
Subordinate to her. . (11. 346-51)
Human concerns are secondary to his love for nature at this
time; furthermore, Wordsworth's love for mankind develops
partly because his first human contacts involve those per
sons, such as shepherds, whose virtue is closely allied to
natural forms:
For me, when my affections first were led
From kindred, friends, and playmates, to partake
Love for the human creature's absolute self,
That noticeable kindliness of heart
Sprang out of fountains, there abounding most
Where sovereign Nature dictated the tasks
And occupations which her beauty adorned,
And Shepherds were the men that pleased me
first. . (11. 121-28)
The poet's evolving love for mankind is thus aided by his
early love for natural forms: he learns to love shepherds
because he views them against the background of nature.
Alison's comments on life's "low and neglected scenes,"
suggesting the dignity of the simple, humble person ("On the
Love of Excellence," II, 214-15), and his comments on the
way in which the "labour of nature" inspires a similar "love
of industry" in man ("On Spring," I, 38) point to a virtue


177
There is not one of these features of scenery
which is not fitted to awaken us to moral emo
tion; to lead us, when once the key of our
imagination is struck, to trains of fascinating
and of endless imagery; and in the indulgence of
them to make our bosoms either glow with con
ceptions of moral excellence, or melt in the
dreams of moral good. (II, 6, ii, 437; my
italics)
(In The Recluse Wordsworth describes imaginative activity in
a strikingly similar manner; "Fair trains of imagery before
me rise" [I, 756; my italics].)'*''*" The exercise of imagina
tion prerequisite for Wordsworth's "serene and blessed mood"
in "Tintern Abbey" has a parallel in Alison's assertion that
to perceive the emotions of beauty and sublimity one must
exercise his imagination more fully. Moreover, in both
Alison's and Wordsworth's terminology, sublimity is dependent
on associative connections, connections in turn dependent
on imaginative trains of thought.
Alison's "unseen spirit" constitutes an analogue for
the "presence" or "spirit" that Wordsworth senses in the
natural world:
. . And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thought; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. . .
(11. 93-102; my italics)
The "sense sublime" is associated with the "joy / Of elevated
thoughts," a connection that emphasizes the role of the mind
in the perception of beauty and sublimity. Although Alison's


INTRODUCTION
Many critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's aesthetic
diction and his concept of the transforming power of the
imagination, which modifies and shapes sensations received
from the external world, reflect a familiarity with studies
of aesthetics in the eighteenth and early nineteenth cen
turies. Mo critic, however, has fully explored the insight
into Wordsworth's poetry afforded by Archibald Alison's
Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste. I propose
to show that Alison's Essays provide not only a useful
analogy to the Wordsworthian relationship of the- mind and the
external world but also a means of clarifying the spiritual
as well as the aesthetic terminology Wordsworth employs.
Although some writers on aesthetics have noted that Alison's
treatise provides an important transition from the eighteenth
to the nineteenth century, and some twentieth-century critics
of Wordsworths philosophy make brief allusions to Alison,
none stresses Alison's successful (and natural) merger of
the spiritual and the aesthetic, and none turns to Alison's
collected sermons (Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions)
for elaboration of the spiritual concepts presented in the
essays, I propose to show that it is this added spiritual
dimension of Alison's aesthetics that makes his works such
a valuable analogue for a study of Wordsworth's poetry.
1


17
O O
Moorman, II, 478.
39
Moorman discusses Wordsworths connection with
Anglicanism in detail (II, 473-87). While much of her dis
cussion treats the poet's belief concerning "the beneficent
influence of the Anglican Church on society" (II, 473), she
notes that Wordsworth continued to view the Church of Eng
land "as a rock of refuge in the raging sea of change" (II,
478) and campaigned to obtain better educated Anglican clergy
men for the parishes in the Lake District (II, 483). Richard
E. Brantley (Wordsworth1s "Natural Methodism" [New Haven:
Yale Univ. Press, 1975]), like Moorman, argues for the in
fluence of Anglicanism rather than a secular theology, but
he maintains that Evangelical Anglicanism was the primary
force affecting the poet. The third volume of Hoxie Neale
Fairchild's Religious Trends in English Poetry (New York:
Columbia Univ"[ Press, 1949) describes the unorthodox nature
of Wordsworth's religion, and James G. Benziger's Images of
Eternity: Studies in the Poetry of Religious Vision from
Wordsworth to T.S. Eliot (Carbondale: Southern Illinois
Univ. Press, 1962) shows how the poet found in nature a
substitute for traditional religious belief.


88
once Luke enters city life, the forces of evil communication
become too powerful for him to resist. Alison describes the
process:
If, accordingly, the young were left only to
nature and themselves, it is reasonable to
think they might pass this important period
of life without danger. . But unhappily
for them, and unhappily for the world, it is
at this time, that "evil communications" begin
to assail them; that they are deceived by the
promises of vice and folly. . ("Evil
Communication," I, 241-42)
The forces of evil communication "assail" the youths of
Alison's sermon; Luke is also "assailed" by external forces.
The result of such deception is "ignominy and shame" (1.
445). Alison is especially concerned with evil communica
tion afforded by those who permit "the most valuable years
of life to pass away in idleness and prodigality" ("Evil
Communication," I, 249). Idleness and prodigality appear
to be Luke's sins as he abandons the industry and economy
that has characterized his parents' lives; he begins to
"slacken in his duty" (1. 443) and gives himself to "evil
courses" (1. 445).
Wordsworth and Alison share the metaphor of youth as a
blossom which can be destroyed by external forces. Words
worth's use of the image of "Two steady roses" (1. 179) in
Luke's cheeks is consistent with Alison's comments on the
"delicacy" of youth ("Evil Communication," I, 242). For
Alison such an appraisal is both aesthetic and ethical:
the aesthetic response inspired by any delicate form is
compatible with Alison's description of youth who "come out


28
Alison's writings reflect the importance of properly
educating the child much as his training of his own children
does. Essays on Taste, concerned with the associations
natural objects evoke, contains numerous allusions to the
child's contact with natural stimuli. Moreover, the second
of the two essays concludes with a passage emphasizing the
importance of providing the young with a natural education:
It is on this account that it is of so much con
sequence in the education of the Young, to en
courage their instinctive taste for the Beauty
and Sublimity of Nature. While it opens to the
years of infancy or youth a source of pure, and
of permanent enjoyment, it has consequences on
the character and happiness of future life, which
they are unable to foresee. ... It is to lay
the foundation of an early and of a manly piety
. . to make them look upon the universe which
they inhabit, not as the abode only of human
cares, or human joys, but as the temple of the
Living God, in which praise is due, and where 21
service is to be performed. (II, 6, ii, 446-47)
The significance of Alisons essays, as indicated by his em
phatic placement of the passage on childhood, resides not
only in the aesthetic concept of discovering the beauty
and sublimity of the natural world but also in the spiritual
applications of his aesthetic principles: the conclusion,
like the essays themselves, moves from the child's education
in the natural world to his acceptance of the natural world
as God's "temple."
Alison's sermons reflect a similar concern with child
hood. The fact that Alison's collected sermons are separate
entities and are not arranged thematically makes it diffi
cult to trace a merger of the aesthetic and spiritual aspects
of the child's natural education; however, ideas similar to


21
works contain numerous references to the child; however,
"Tintern Abbey" and "Michael" are treated at length in other
chapters, and the scattered allusions to childhood in The
Excursion are subordinated to the predominant theme of
intellectual and philosophical maturity. Rather than treat
all of the "Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood," I
have chosen to treat only the following, which seem especially
close to the spirit of Alison: "Foresight," "The Westmore
land Girl," "The Idle Shepherd-Boys," "Anecdote for Fathers,"
"The Pet-Lamb," "To H. C.," "Characteristics of a Child
Three Years Old," and "My Heart Leaps Up." Two other short
poems, "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower" and "It Is
a Beauteous Evening," are included in this discussion because
they illustrate clearly the child's relationship with nature.
I have chosen also to treat the first two books of The
Prelude, which describe in detail the child's growth amid a
setting of natural forms, and to include Wordsworth's por
trait of the city child in Book VII, because it suggests
the type of divine protection that even children denied con
tact with nature enjoy. Finally, this discussion includes
"Ode; Intimations of Immortality," a poem glorifying the
child's ability to gain knowledge intuitively and reflecting
an Alisonian concern with the originand inevitable fading
of the child's powers. An examination of these poems within
the framework of Alison's philosophy should help to clarify
these topics of discussion: the child as an object of
aesthetic delight, his association with natural objects


137
emphasizes. As Havens maintains, it is "admiration for man,
not love for man, that is the topic" of the latter books of
25
the poem. Having treated love for mankind and sympathetic
identification with mankind in other poems, Wordsworth be
comes more philosophically detached and fully acknowledges
his role as teacher-prophet: his purpose is to inspire in
others a similar admiration for human grandeur.
The conclusion of The Prelude is essentially an
optimistic assessment of man's ability to fulfill his
potential first described in Book VIII:
. . though born
Of dust, and kindred to the worm; a Being,
Both in perception and discernment, first
In every capability of rapture,
Through the divine effect of power and love;
As more than anything we know, instinct
With godhead, and, by reason and by will,
Acknowledging dependency sublime.
Cll. 487-94)
Wordsworth's description reflects the humanist theme of
man as "angelic brute," existing in what Pope terms "this
2 6
isthmus of a middle state." "Born of dust," he is sub
ject to all the limitations of mortality; at the same time,
however, his powers of perception afford him a potential
dignity no other creature enjoys. Wordsworth's acknowledg
ment of man's frailty in Book VIII of The Prelude is sub
ordinated both grammatically and thematically to the
description of human potential. Alison similarly maintains
that man's capacity for "perception" separates him from
other creatures: "Of the innumerable eyes that open upon
nature, none but those of man see its author and its end"


16
23
Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought, p. 251.
24
Leonard M. Trawick, ed., Backgrounds of Romanticism;
English Philosophical Prose of the Eighteenth Century
(Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1967) p. xxiii.
?5 .
Willard L. Sperry, Wordsworth's Anti-Climax, Harvard
Studies in English, 13 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press,
1935) p. 131.
2 6
W.J.B. Owen, editor of Wordsworth's Literary Criticism
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 19 74) comments on this
relationship: "Wordsworth's literary criticism springs from
his creative writings: it is almost invariably a defence of
his own poetry" (p. 1).
27
Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth: A Biography, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65) TT7 100-01, 261.
2 8
Leslie Stephen, "Archibald Alison," in Dictionary of
National Biography, ed. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, 22
vols. (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1937), I, 287.
29
Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: An Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 4.
30 .. ,
Alison, I, 6.
^^Alison, I, 8.
3?
Alison, I, 9.
33
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Friend, ed. Barbara E.
Rooke, Vol. IV of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, Bollingen Series, 75, 2 vols. (London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1969), II, 411.
^Kallich, p. 314.
^5
Sara Hutchinson, The Letters of Sara Hutchinson from
1800 to 1835, ed. Kathleen Coburn (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1954), p. 198.
3 g
Hutchinson, p. 201.
"^Stephen, I, 287.


174
not "chastened and subdued/' the poet adds the adjective
phrase "of holier love" to qualify the nature of the zeal.
The OED notes that the word "zeal" may be used in a "weakened
sense, with a qualifying adjective."
Although Alison is never mystical to the extent that
Wordsworth is, there are suggestions in Essays on Taste of
the mysticism that has been said to pervade passages of
"Tintern Abbey." Basically, mysticism is "the theory that
a knov/ledge of God or immediate reality is attainable through
the use of some human faculty that transcends intellect and
does not use ordinary human perceptions or logical processes.
This definition indicates that mysticism necessarily tran
scends strict empiricism and sensationalism. More specifi
cally, mysticism may refer to the process in which man
achieves a union with God "through a series of steps or
stages.Alison never refers to any type of union
(momentary identity) of man and nature; nevertheless, his
conception of the "mighty key" by which man interprets
natural signs (II, 6, ii, 447) and the "unseen spirit"
dwelling in nature (II, 6, ii, 438) suggests a type of
experience that transcends empiricism.
Alison describes the "mighty key" by which man inter
prets natural signs:
. . amid the magnificent System of material
Signs in which they [mankind] reside, to give
them the mighty key which can interpret them
and to make them look upon the universe which
they inhabit, not as the abode only of human
cares, or human joys, but as the temple of the
Living God, in which praise is due, and service
is to be performed. (II, 6, ii, 447)


9
borrowed" from "an acquaintance more or less intimate, with
. 22
the writing of Hartley and Alison." He justifies his em
phasis on Boehme rather than on Alison by noting that Words
worth is a mystic while Alison is an eighteenth-century
23
associationist.
Leonard Trawick and Willard Sperry allude directly to
Alisonian ideas in Wordsworth's work. Trawick asserts that
the second edition of Essays on Taste has a "much more
Wordsworthian conclusion" than the first, strongly implying
that at least a similarity of ideas exists between the two
24
writers. Sperry maintains that Wordsworth's prefaces pro
vide evidence that he had "read, marked, learned" his
Alison, basing his statement on "the similarity of their
arguments," and finds that "at certain points the identities
25
of a technical vocabulary prove the point." Because of
the significant connection between Wordsworth's poetry and
his literary criticism, it is likely that Wordsworth's
2 6
poetry as well as his criticism reflects Alison's ideas.
The secondary sources on the subject of Wordsworth
and Alison, then, indicate some significant points for con
sideration in this study. The biographical evidence similarly
shows Alison's value as an analogue for a study of Words
worth's poetry. Such evidence implies that Wordsworth was
acquainted with the ideas in Essays on Taste; furthermore
Alison associated with many important literary figures in
Scotland and England and paid a visit to the Wordsworth
home at Rydal Mount. I am not attempting to prove that


57
Wordsworth," Philosophy, 23 [October 1948], 302-16).
provides a more specific commentary on nature's spiritual
instruction.
3
Both Irving Babbitt (Rousseau and Romanticism [1919;
rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947]) and F.L. Lucas (The
Decline and Fall of the Romantic Ideal [New York: Macmillan,
1936]) stress the emotional and irrational aspects of
Romanticism. Babbitt finds that Wordsworth ascribes to the
child powers he cannot possibly possess and that he invests
too much trust in spontaneity and nature (p. 248); similarly,
Lucas views the poet's "idealization of childhood" as "part
of the Romantic dreamer's flight from the harsh, drab world
of adult life" (p. 110). Some recent scholars have viewed
Rousseau more sympathetically. Attacking Babbitt's view of
Rousseau as a mere "visionary dreamer," Jacques Barzun
(Classic, Romantic, and Modern [New York: Doubleday, 1961])
maintains that Rousseau "has affected in one way or another
all those who have come after him . ." (p. 19), and Owen
Barfield (Romanticism Comes of Age, 1st American ed. [Middle-
town, ConnTl Wesleyan Univ. Press, .1966] ) contrasts
Rousseau's view of man's "natural goodness" with Calvin's
concept of man's "total depravity" (pp. 205-06). J.H. van
den Berg, however, points to the negative effects of Rousseau's
influence. In viewing the child as a child rather than as
an adult, van den Berg argues, Rousseau destroyed the mutual
understanding between children and adults that existed be
fore the late eighteenth century (The Changing Nature of
Man: Introduction to a Historical Psychology-) trans. hTf .
Croes [New York: w7w. Norton, 1961] p7 23) 7
4
Babenroth, p. 299.
^Babenroth, p. 383. Babenroth's totals include
different forms of the words.
g
"Ode: Intimations of Immortality" affords an illus
tration of this distinction. In the phrase "Nor Man nor
Boy" Cl. 159), the poet uses the word "Man" to denote an
adult and the word "Boy" to designate a child; in the
phrase "her Foster-child, her Inmate Man" (1. 183), Words
worth uses the word "Man" as an appositive renaming the
word "child."
7
Babenroth, pp. 301-02.
g
Babenroth, p. 344.
9
Hoxie Neale Fairchild, The Noble Savage: A Study in
Romantic Naturalism (1928; rpt. New York: Russell and
Russell, 1961), p. 175.


191
Crane, R.S. "Suggestions Toward a Genealogy of the 'Man of
Feeling.'" In The Idea of the Humanities, and Other
Essays Critical and Historical. 2 vols. Chicago:
Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967, i, 188-213.
Fairchild, Hoxie Neale. The Noble Savage: A Study in
Romantic Naturalism. 1928; rpt. New York: Russell
and Russell, 1961.
Religious Trends in English Poetry. Vol. III.
New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1949.
Fleisher, David. William Godwin: A Study in Liberalism.
London: Allen and Unwin, 1951.
Fussell, Paul. The Rhetorical World of Augustan Humanism:
Ethics and Imagery from Swift to Burke. Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1965.
Gill, Richard. Happy Rural Seat: The English Country House
and the Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale Univ.
Press, 1972.
Greene, Donald. "Latitudinarianism and Sensibility: The
Genealogy of the 'Man of Feeling' Reconsidered."
Modern Philology, 75 (November 1977), 159-83.
Grob, Alan. The Philosophic Mind: A Study of Wordsworth's
Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805. Columbus: Ohio State
Univ. Press, 1973.
"Wordsworth and Godwin: A Reassessment."
Studies in Romanticism, 6 (Winter 1967) 98-119.
Grylls, David. Guardians and Angels: Parents and Children
in Nineteenth-Century Literature. London: Faber and
Faber, 1978.
Hartley, David. Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty,
and His Expectations. Ed. Theodore L. Huguelet. 2
vols. in 1. 1749; rpt. Gainesville, Fla.: Scholars'
Facsimiles and Reprints, 1966.
Hartman, Geoffrey H. Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814. New
Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1964.
Havens, Raymond Dexter. The Mind of a Poet. 2 vols.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 19417
Hippie, Walter John. The Beautiful, the Sublime, and the
Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic
TheoryT "Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press,
1957/


159
appears to be the dominant mood of the poem, symbolically
represented by the "quiet of the sky" (1. 8). Alison
describes the sound of the "murmuring" stream as symbolic
of beauty (II, 2, i, 213), and the sound of the cataract as
sublime (II, 2, i, 193). Wordsworth establishes both of
these connections in the poem. The first sound he describes
is that of the "waters, rolling from their mountain springs
/ With a soft inland murmur" (11. 3-4). However, his
remembered sensations of sounds include also the "sounding
cataract" (1. 76). For both Wordsworth and Alison, a sound
that suggests calm and quiet (the "murmuring" stream) indi
cates beauty; a sublime sound (the cataract) reflects both
beauty and terror, a sense of awe in the presence of energy
and force. As with the forms of the natural world, the
beauty and terror reflected in the sounds of nature enhance
Wordsworth's perception of sublimity.
Alison's comments on the symbolic associations of motion
also relate to the sublimity and beauty of the Wye scene.
According to Alison, "all beautiful or sublime motion is
expressed in language by verbs in the active voice" (II, 5,
ii, 208). In "Tintern Abbey" the waters are "rolling" from
their sources (1. 3), and the "sense sublime" (1. 95) per
vading nature "impels / All thinking things" (11. 100-01)
and "rolls through all things" (1. 102). Even at his most
mystical, Wordsworth's grammatical structure reflects the
associative connection of ideas (as indicated by the con
junction "and") as well as Alison's statement concerning


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
ARCHIBALD ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
By
Marsha Kent Savage
June 1980
Chairman: Richard E. Brantley
Major Department: English
Although many critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's
aesthetic diction, and his imaginative response to nature,
indicate a familiarity with studies of aesthetics in the
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such scholars
have not fully explored the insight into Wordsworth's poetry
afforded by Archibald Alison's Essavs on the Nature and
Principles of Taste. Such an emission is surprising when
one considers the importance of Essays on Taste as an
aesthetic treatise and the fact that several critics regard
Alison as a significant part of the philosophical background
influencing the first generation of Romantic poets. The
purpose of this study is to show that Alisons essays pro
vide not only a useful gloss upon Wordsworth's aesthetic
terminology, but also a means of more fully understanding
the poets spiritual vocabulary. Alison was an Anglican
clergyman, as well as an aesthetician, and his collected
vr


52
to describe the tendency of the "habits of life" to limit
the "reach of its [childhood's] powers" ("On the Youth of
Solomon," I, 51). Furthermore, Alison implies that the
"narrow space" of earthly activity is inferior to the
"infinity of the past and of the future" ("On the Power of
Christian Faith," II, 447). Both "contracted" and "narrow"
suggest confinement; Wordsworth uses images of imprisonment
to express a similar idea: "Shades of the prison-house
begin to close / Upon the growing Boy" (11. 67-6 8) He
also refers to the child as earth's "Inmate," a "Foster-
child" who feels somewhat alien in his new environment (1.
83). As Alison finds that the "habits of life" restrict
the child's powers, Wordsworth maintains that the "weight"
of "custom" effects similar results:
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
(11. 127-29)
As Alison notes, "the soul comes fresh from the hands of
its Creator"; Wordsworth's image of the child's soul en
cumbered by "earthly freight" and laboring under the "weight"
of "custom" suggests the way the child's powers are stifled
as he grows up. Following custom and imitating the adult,
the child moves further from the truth he could once dis
cover intuitively and becomes oppressed by the "inevitable
yoke" of adulthood (1. 125).
Another image both Wordsworth and Alison associate
with the child's fading glory is the "celestial light" (1.
4). As the child reaches adulthood, "... the Man


4
Tuveson, also noting the role of the imagination in
Alison's essays, emphasizes the concept of poetic language.
Tuveson deplores the lack of critical attention Alison has
received, describing his work as a kind of "textbook of
aesthetics for persons who followed the lead of Locke,
3
Hartley, and Priestley," and comments on its value for a
study of nineteenth-century poetry: "Alison helps us to
understand and appreciate much of the best poetry (not to
speak of the painting) of the nineteenth and twentieth
4
centuries far more than does Coleridge." He finds Alison's
"theory of symbolism" and his justification of symbolic
language significant. Beginning with an allusion to associa
tion as the "binding element" in Alison's theories,5 Tuveson
suggests Alison's.role in the beginnings of poetic symbolism
Alison restored to poets a symbolic language. . .
The new symbols have no objective, agreed upon
significance. They arise from the inner life
of impressions and moods; they speak to the
imagination alone, for in the last analysis
they have nothing to do with facts and logical
reasoning.
This "subjective" nature of symbols does not prevent the
poet from communicating with others:
That symbols are subjective does not make them
irresponsibly personal, with the poet speaking
a language intelligible only to himself. Alison
showed that a large common ground of emotional
associations existshe assumed among people of
similar cultures. Experiences in childhood and
beyond correspond to some extent; the exact
associations vary with each individual, but a
community of final effects can be assumed.
In The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories in XVIII-
Century England, 1674-1800, Monk emphasizes Essays on Taste


127
concern for mankind, and a "philosophic mind" (1. 187),
reconciling him to adult responsibilities. The recognition
of man's mortality that Alison stresses is explicitly
described in the concluding stanza of the poem: the adult
finds his perceptions of natural objects "Do take a sober
colouring from an eye / That hath kept watch o'er man's
mortality . (11. 198-99). His newly acquired sense
of mortality imbues all forms of life with significance:
"To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts
that do often lie too deep for tears" (11. 203-04). The
poet's response to human mortality also suggests Alison's
concept of "soothing" melancholy ("On Autumn," I, 327): he
finds "soothing thoughts that spring / Out of human suf
fering" (11. 184-85). Like Alison's "circumstances of
melancholy" which "guide us most securely to put our trust
in him" ("On Autumn," I, 332) and which confirm the
"immortal spirit" of God, who yearly brings new life to
nature ("On Autumn," I, 333-34), the poets adult wisdom
leads to "the faith that looks through death" (1. 185).
Alison finds that "even-tide," the time of day associated
with maturity and with meditation, brings "sentiments and
affections more valuable than all the splendours of the day"
("On Autumn," I, 323-24). Wordsworth describes maturity
in similar terms:
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind. . .
(11. 178-81)


112
they help to clarify certain aspects of the poet's philosophy
that at first appear contradictory. For example, in Book
VIII of The Prelude Wordsworth describes both the frailty
and the grandeur of man:
How little they, they and their doings, seem,
And all that they can further or obstruct!
Through utter weakness pitiably dear,
As tender infants are: and yet how great! ^
For all things serve them. . (11. 59-63)x
Wordsworth's description suggests the Augustan concept of
humanism. Humanism, as Paul Fussell defines the term,
points to a similar "paradox" in human nature: despite
human "limitations," man is "the only creature capable of
16
dignity." Alison's theories provide a framework in which
the poet's concern with these paradoxical qualities may be
better understood. Wordsworth's humanitarianismhis love
for mankind and his emphasis on qualities such as benevolence
and charityarises from an essentially humanistic conception
of man's nature. After reviewing the poet's retrospective
account of how his love for nature led to a love for mankind,
specifically his love for those simple persons whose virtue
is closely allied to nature, and describing the benevolence
and charity such love inspires, I shall examine the basically
humanistic conclusion to The Prelude, which maintains that the
dignity of mankind resides in the divinity of the human mind.
The conclusion to Alison's Essays on Taste, reflecting
humanitarian concerns, describes a process analogous to that
which Wordsworth relates in Book VIII of The Prelude.
Nature's education leads one to identify with humanity, and
this identification effects benevolence and sympathy:


164
In maturity Wordsworth finds that he has lost the
capacity to enjoy nature as he did during childhood and
adolescence but that his "Abundant recompense" (1. 88) for
"such loss" (1. 87) is his ability to exercise his imagina
tion and, consequently, to use Alisons terms, experience
complex emotions such as beauty and sublimity (I, 2, i, 161).
Not all critics of Wordsworth support such an assertion.
Carl Woodring, for example, argues that Wordsworth presents
not stages of development but merely levels of experience:
one is able to respond on any level at any stage of his
8
life. There is evidence in both Alison and Wordsworth to
suggest that Woodring's statement is misleading. Both
Alison and Wordsworth maintain that the ability to recon
struct imaginatively pleasant scenes is a faculty one
possesses only in a state of spiritual maturity.
Alison notes that "without any particular object of
meditation" pleasant scenes can "rise as by enchantment
before the mind" (I, 2, i, 164), and Wordsworth has acquired
this ability to reconstruct imaginatively pleasant scenes,
such as that along the Wye, and to derive from such exercise
healing emotions similar to those he experiences when
actually viewing the scene. This ability is twice alluded
to in "Tintern Abbey." The remembered beauty of the Wye
evokes emotions of pleasure corresponding to the pleasures
he receives on visiting the scene:


120
Dangers of Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With Active
Virtue," II, 234). He also notes that the need to work "has
confirmed, if not created, many virtues among the poor" ("On
the Seasons of Scarcity," I, 106). Alison further exalts
the humble life by acknowledging the importance of performing
"family duties" ("On Stability of Character," II, 354) and
by describing favorably "the calm occupations of sequestered
industry" ("On Summer," I, 201).
Michael's industry is certainly emphasized in the poem.
The shepherd not only performs his "occupations out of doors"
(1. 96) in tending his sheep but also attends to various
other domestic duties. "Living a life of eager industry"
(1. 122), Michael and his wife become "a proverb in the vale"
(1. 94), working so late into the night that their cottage
with its burning lamp becomes a "public symbol" (1. 130) of
their domestic virtues:
This light was famous in its neighbourhood,
And was a public symbol of the life
That thrifty Pair had lived. . .
And from this constant light, so regular,
And so far seen, the House itself, by all
Who dwelt within the limits of the vale,
Both old and young, was named the Evening Star.
(11. 129-39)
Although Carl Woodring is correct in placing this model of
. 2 0
industry within the framework of the "Protestant ethic,"
Alison's comments on industry provide a more precise expla
nation of why this quality is so valued: as an integral
part of "stability of character," he maintains, it is the
"surest promise of Honour" ("On Stability of Character,"


37
. . [he] may now have lived till he could look
With envy on thy [the Maid of Buttermeres]
nameless babe that sleeps,
Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed.
(VII, 379-81)
If the child grows to adulthood and is afforded no protec
tion from the corruption surrounding him, he may be envious
of the infant who "sleeps in earth / . fearless as a
lamb" (VII, 324-25).
If the concept of a natural education Wordsworth and
Alison express is interpreted literally, the ideal child
would be the one provided the most contacts with the natural
world. Fairchild sees the Lucy lyric "Three Years She Grew
in Sun and Shower" as the expression of such an ideal:
His sense of nature's benign influence makes him
imagine a child wholly under the tutelage of
nature. He would have been the first to admit
that actual children need education, provided it
is of a sort to develop rather than warp the
natural virtues.25
As Fairchild warns, the poem is not to be considered a
26
"pedagogical treatise"; perhaps it is best considered a
lyric expression of Wordsworth's belief that goodness and
virtue can result from continued association with nature.
Lucy1s association with natural forms is a total expression
of her identity: she and nature are merged. Only in the
1802 version of the poem does Wordsworth use the word
"teacher" to describe the relationship of nature to Lucy:
"Her teacher I myself will be ." (1. 7). In the
standard version of the poem, the relationship between
Lucy and nature is more abstract: "Myself will to my
darling be / Both law and impulse ..." (11. 7-8). Lucy


59
23 .
Citations from Wordsworth's poems other than The
Prelude, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to
The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest De
Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952-59).
24
Citations from the 1850 edition of The Prelude, indi
cated parenthetically in the text, are to The Prelude; or,
Growth of a Poet's Mind, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev.
Helen Darbishire, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959).
2^Fairchild, p. 188.
2 6
Fairchild, p. 188.
2^Richard E.
(New Haven: Yale
Brantley, Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism
Univ. Presi-^ 1975) p~. 47.
2 8
Florence G. Marsh, "Wordsworth's Ode: Obstinate
Questionings," Studies in Romanticism, 5 (Summer 1966), 225.
29
^Clarke,
"Nature's Education of Man," p. 312.
2^Carl R. Woodring, Wordsworth, Riverside Studies in
Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 165.
31
Richard J. Onorato, The Character of the Poet: Words
worth in The Prelude (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press,
1971), p. 113.
32
Colin C. Clarke, Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the
Poetry of Wordsworth (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962),
p. 64.
220norato, p. 113.
34
138) .
Scoggins notes these changes in arrangement (pp. 39,
35_
Lionel Trilling, "The Immortality Ode," m The Liberal
Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society
(New York: Viking Press, 1950), p. 131.
^Marsh, p. 223.
3 7
'Moorman, II, 21.


49
Wordsworth indicates his concern with the "dreamlike
vividness and splendour" of the child's perceptions rather
than with conclusive proof of a "prior state of existence":
To that dream-like vividness and splendour which
invest objects of sight in childhood, every one, I
believe, if he would look back, could bear testi
mony, . but having in the Poem regarded it as
presumptive evidence of a prior state of existence,
I think it right to protest against a conclusion,
which has given pain to some good and pious persons,
that I meant to inculcate such a belief. It is far
too shadowy a notion to be recommended to faith,
as more than an element in our instincts of
immortality.38
Because the poet is concerned primarily with the freshness
of the child's perceptions and with his instinctive sense
of immortality, he adopts the image of a prior state of
existence, the child's spiritual home, to provide a reason
able explanation for the "celestial light" (1. 4) that
surrounds objects of sight in childhood. Although Words
worth, afraid of offending "good and pious persons" with
his concept of preexistence, maintains that he is not recom
mending the idea as religious doctrine, Alison in his ser
mon "On the Youth of Solomon" uses a similar image to
describe childhood and the celestial origin of the child's
soul:
. . the first and purest state of the human mind,
when the soul comes fresh from the hands of its
Creator, and when no habits of life have contracted
the reach of its powers.... when nature seems
everywhere to rejoice around. ... (I, 51)
Alison, like Wordsworth, seems to emphasize the effects of
the child's state of preexistence rather than the state
itself: he emphasizes the purity and joy of childhood,


140
in mankind unchanging qualities--"desirable and good"that
transcend individual man's mortality.
Wordsworth's conclusion to The Prelude suggests that
man's unchanging quality is the divinity of the human mind.
Alison finds that virtue is determined by "the Mind which
acts, not the situation in which it acts . ." ("On the
Love of Excellence," II, 213) and describes a divine source
of this virtue ("On the Encouragement Which the Gospel Affords
to Active Duty," I, 125). Wordsworth's final remarks pro
vide an even more exalted description of the human mind.
The poet has already subordinated his affection for nature
to his love for mankind? in the conclusion to The Prelude
he suggests that his admiration for mankind should lead
others to a similar recognition of the supremacy of the
mind:
Instruct them how the mind of man becomes
A thousand times more beautiful than the earth
On which he dwells, above this frame of things
(Which 'mid all revolutions in the hopes
And fears of men, doth still remain unchanged)
In beauty exalted, as it is itself
Of quality and fabric more divine.
(XIV, 443-54)
"The mind and the imagination," humanists maintain, "are
the quintessential human qualities," and the mind's
creations afford more delight than the "world of physical
nature."'^ In maturity the poet recognizes that the beauty
of "the mind of man" far exceeds that of the natural world:
while, as Alison also maintains, natural forms are only
evidence of divine handiwork, man partakes directly of
such divinity by his dual role as creature and creator.


67
at least in his sermons, as much emphasis to moral decline
as to active virtue. Wordsworth, however, generally eschews
the potential sensationalism associated with the corrupting
influence of city life to emphasize rural virtue. Because
Wordsworth does not always explain fully how urban life
contributes to moral decline, Alison is an especially
valuable analogue to his implicit as well as explicit
attitudes toward virtue and vice.
Because the aesthetics of both writers are grounded
in empiricism, the best means of exploring the corrupting
influence of urban life is to consider the sights, sounds,
and motions the city presents. Alison's second of the two
Essays on Taste suggests that by examining these, one can
determine whether an object in the material world is
9
capable of exciting emotions of sublimity and beauty.
While natural forms provide the basis for experiencing
beauty and sublimity and evidence of divine workmanship,
the city dweller is bombarded with both visual and auditory
evidence that he is in what Alison terms the "dominion of
Man" ("Cities," II, 254). The human arts the city offers
--commercialism, industrialism, paintings, theatrical pro
ductions, and especially the spectacle, noise, and motion
of the crowdconstitute an ironic replacement for the
"spectacle" ("Cities," II, 254) of nature's operations.^0
The multitude of persons encountered, a constant re
minder that the city is the "dominion of Man," reflects
Alison's concern with sight, sound, and motion: the crowd


50
as well as its unbounded "powers," alluding only generally
to the soul's arrival from the "hands of its Creator."
Alison's explanation of the exalted state of childhood
helps to clarify some of Wordsworth's imagery in the first
five stanzas of the poem. The concept of "happy nature"
suggested by Alison ("when nature seems everywhere to
rejoice around") predominates in the third and fourth
stanzas. Nature and the child join in festivities in which
the adult cannot easily participate:
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday;
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy
Shepherd-boy! (11. 27-35)
In attributing a human potential for joy to the animals and
objects in nature, both Alison and Wordsworth employ a
process akin to personificationascribing qualities of
the mind to external objects. Moreover, Wordsworths
description of the child's rejoicing in nature emphasizes
his empathy for the natural world as well as his heightened
perceptions. Alison's description of the childs "powers,"
which have not been "contracted" by the "habits of life,"
perhaps helps to explain the "freshness" of the child's
perceptions that Wordsworth emphasizes in the first stanza:
all objects seem "Apparelled in celestial light, / The
glory and the freshness of a dream" (11. 4-5).


73
man-made objects which disfigure potentially sublime natural
settings (I, 2, i, 121), and Wordsworth shares his condemna
tion of industrialized society which despoils natural beauty.
Alison finds smoke-filled air, the byproduct of the human
art of industrialization, especially destructive of natural
beauty: "[We] see amid the thick atmosphere which surrounds
us, no other agency than that of mortal wisdom" ("Cities,"
II, 254). Wordsworth's poetry reflects a similar concern
with city smoke. In The Excursion he refers to "the dense
air, which town or city breeds" (IV, 22). In London the
father must bring his child into an open square "to breathe
the fresher air" (Prelude, VII, 610). Similarly, in Book I
of The Prelude, Wordsworth casts "A backward glance upon the
curling cloud / Of city smoke, by distance ruralised" (11.
88-89).
Industrialization and human arts constitute oppressive
forces from which the sensitive person needs relief. As
Alison observes, when the city dweller begins to imagine
that he is "living only in a world of human art," all
"former impressions" of natural virtue "subside" from his
mind ("Cities," II, 255). Alison outlines the destruction
of "natural taste" effected by industrialization and
commercialism:
The finest natural taste is seldom found able
to withstand that narrowness and insensibility
of mind, which is perhaps necessarily acquired
by the minute and uninteresting details of the
mechanical arts; and they who have been doomed,
by their professions, to pass their earlier
years in populous and commercial cities, and in
the narrow and selfish pursuits which prevail


69
lonely and crowded. Even as a young boy, Wordsworth finds
himself perplexed by this phenomenon:
Above all, one thought
Baffled my understanding: how men lived
Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.
(Prelude, VII, 115-18)
Although merely baffling to Wordsworth as a child, this
lack of concern for others is for Alison a precursor to
moral decline: "Removed from the observations of others,
he [the city dweller] is too apt to think himself removed
from his own; to yield to temptations when they are known
only to himself" ("Cities," II, 260).
The behavior of the multitude in Wordsworth's cities
is characterized by two of Alison's aesthetic elements
sound and motion. As silence is associated with tran
quillity in Essays on Taste (II, 1, i, 184), noise must
necessarily have an opposite effect. To maintain that in
the city "No sound reaches our ear but those of [man's]
activity" ("Cities," II, 254) is to suggest city noise as
an ironic counterpart to the "tranquillity of nature"
("Cities," II, 254). Wordsworth similarly emphasizes noise
in his description of city life. His casual allusion to
"city noise" in "To the Lady Fleming" (1. 52) becomes
harsher in The Excursion when he refers to the "obstreperous
city" (IV, 369). In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth re
sorts to even harsher terms: the noise is described as a
"deafening din" (1. 155), a "roar" (1. 168), an "uproar"
(1. 273), and a "hubbub" (1. 211).


161
progress from infancy to manhood, how much do our sentiments
of beauty change with our years!" (I, 2, i, 86). Wordsworth
presents the same idea, defining his stages of moral develop
ment in terms of response to natural beauty. He notes that
progression from the first stage of development, characterized
by purely animalistic responses to the natural world, to the
second stage, characterized by sensuous apprehension of
pleasure, is prerequisite for progression to his present
stage of development in which he has acquired the capacity
for imaginative association. A study of Alison's concept
of a natural education, one based on sensations received
from the natural world, suggests an analogue for Wordsworth's
stages of moral development.
Wordsworth's description of his childhood reflects the
assertion, as expounded by Alison, that "simple pleasures
arise merely from sensation Cl, 2, i, 159). The poet alludes
to the "coarser pleasures" of his boyhood days Cl. 73) much
as Alison uses the term "pleasure" to describe simple emo
tions :
. . the term Delight is very generally used to
express the peculiar pleasure which attends the
Emotions of Taste, in contradistinction to the
general term Pleasure, which is appropriated to
Simple Emotion. We are pleased, we say, with the
gratification of any appetite or affection. . .
(I, 2, i, 170)
Alison's description of infancy as characterized by "care
less play of limbs" and "elastic vigour of motion" (II, 6,
ii, 371) is parallel to Wordsworth's phrase "glad animal
movements" Cl. 74). Both Wordsworth and Alison note that


TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
ABSTRACT
INTRODUCTION
Notes
CHAPTER I THE NATURAL EDUCATION OF THE CHILD. . .
Notes
CHAPTER II WORDSWORTH'S ETHICAL AND IMAGINATIVE
TREATMENT OF "THE DOMINION OF MAN" . .
Notes
CHAPTER III ALISON AND THE HUMAN FOCUS OF
WORDSWORTHS POETRY CONCERNING
MATURITY
Notes .
CHAPTER IV ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF "TINTERN ABBEY"
Notes
CONCLUSION
Motes .
REFERENCES
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Page
iv
vi
1
14
13
56
101
105
142
145
180
184
188
189
196
v


58
James Scoggins, Imagination and Fancy: Complementary-
Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth (Lincoln: Univ. of
Nebraska Press, 1966), p7 77
"^Scoggins, p. 45.
12
Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth: A Biography, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65), I, 261.
13
Moorman, I, 266.
14
'Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 2 September
1795, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The
Early Years 1787-1805, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Chester
L. Shaver, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 150.
15
"Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 19 March 1797,
The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early
Years 1787-1805, p. 180.
^Moorman, I, 289. "Basil is quite well in constitution;
however, regarding his moral principles, there is much to be
anxious for."
^^Moorman, II, 237-38.
18
Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: An Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 10.
19
Sir Archibald Alison, I, 11.
20
Sir Archibald Alison, I, 43-44.
21 .
Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthe
tically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and
Principles of Taste, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archi
bald Constable, 1812). The essay number appears first,
followed by the chapter number, the volume number, and the
page citation.
?2 .
Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated parenthe
tically in the text, are to Sermons, Chiefly on Particular
Occasions, 2 vols. (.Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1815).


173
Dorothy, still in the second stage of development, is
unable to experience grace. Alison's assertion that "the
wild playfulness of early youth" does "not amount to grace"
(II, 5, ii, 391) is reflected in Wordsworth's use of the
adjective "wild" to describe his sister. Twice Dorothy's
"wild eyes" are mentioned as suggesting the poet's former
response to nature. Wordsworth, addressing his sister,
observes that her "wild eyes" reflect his "former pleasures"
(11. 118-19). Similarly, Wordsworth notes that her "wild
eyes" reflect "gleams / Of past existence" (11. 148-49),
another allusion to his former relationship with nature.
Finally, the poet notes that in future years Dorothy's
"wild ecstasies" will be "matured" into a "sober pleasure"
(11. 137-39). The use of the phrase "sober pleasure"
suggests the "chastened and subdued emotion" of the state
of grace.
Alison's concept of devotion as an attitude frequently
associated with grace is also reflected in "Tintern Abbey."
Wordsworth's relationship with nature in a state of
spiritual maturity suggests a type of religious devotion:
. . I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service; rather say
With warmer loveoh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. . (11. 151-55)
The diction here ("worshipper," "service," "zeal," and
"holier love") describes Wordsworth's present attitude of
devotion to nature. Although the word "zeal" may suggest
"intense ardour" or "fervent devotion," emotion which is


96
Juxtaposed to the madness and confusion of Bartholomew
Fair is the description of the manner in which the persona
imaginatively perceives the forms:
But though the picture weary out the eye,
By nature an unmanageable sight,
It is not wholly so to him who looks
In steadiness, who hath among least things
An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole.
(VII, 731-36)
The persona is able to impose a type of Alisonian harmony
on the "unmanageable sight" confronting him in London.
Alison offers a tribute to imaginative powers that clarifies
the persona's ability to experience harmony in London:
Our minds, instead of being governed by the
character of external objects, are enabled to
bestow upon them a character which does net
belong to them; ... to connect feelings of
a nobler or a more interesting kind, than any
that the mere influences of matter can ever
convey. (Essays, II, 6, ii, 428)
The "under-sense of greatest" to which Wordsworth refers
relates the terminology of sensationalism ("sense") to the
ethical concept of the "exercises" in which "the religious
mind finds all its rewards" ("Cities," II, 266). The
exercise in which the poet participates is both imaginative
and ethical: the "mind" returns to the "purity of all its
original impressions," and "higher sentiments awaken, and
holier desires are felt" ("Cities," II, 266). The use of
the verb "awaken" in Alison's description reinforces the
idea that religious exercise is related to the exercise
of the imacrination.


121
II, 342). Furthermore, as the title of Alison's sermon "Of
the Dangers of Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With
Active Virtue" indicates, industry affords honor because it
suggests the traditional Anglican theory of good works, a
doctrine opposed both to the antinomian heresy, with its
ideas of the elect, and to attacks on the Shaftesburian
tradition, which maintains that men should be inherently
disposed to virtue, not led to good deeds by the rewards
offered by religion.
The character of Luke in the poem serves as a foil to
the industry of Michael. Alison, who has three sermons
"On the Parable of the Prodigal Son" (II, 356-421), considers
conduct such as Luke'spermitting "the most valuable years
of life to pass away in idleness and prodigality" ("On Evil
Communication," I, 249)--a direct negation of the virtue of
industry. Alison describes more precisely how abandoning
industry leads to further degeneration of character:
The habit of exertion once broken, would soon
cease to exist. The ambition of higher excel
lence, once banished from the heart, it would
be open to passions of which it had little
suspicion. . Every day as it passed, wTould
take something from the vigour of character,
or the purity of taste. . ("On the Love of
Excellence," II, 218)
Michael's stability of character, rather than Luke's
instability, is Wordsworth's major concern in the poem, and
Michael's response to his son's defection establishes more
clearly the stoicism and resolution in his character.
Luke's demise is chronicled in six lines (11. 442-47): he
begins "To slacken in his duty (1. 443), breaking the


44
Alison uses the term "affection" to describe not only the
"loving attachment" the child feels toward others but also
the "influence" of qualities, such as virtue, the child
encounters in his environment.
Wordsworth similarly traces the development of the mind
to the awakening powers of affection--specifically the

infant's affection for his mother:
For him, in one dear Presence, there exists
A virtue which irradiates and exalts
Objects through widest intercourse of sense.
No outcast he, bewildered and depressed:
Along his infant veins are interfused
The gravitation and the filial bond
Of nature that connect him with the world.
(II, 238-44)
The power of affection, manifested first in the child's
love for his mother, is transferred by the process of
association to the objects in the mother's environment.
The virtue the mother represents permeates objects in the
external world, and the child therefore feels affection for
such objects. Richard J, Onorato, who presents a psycho
analytical discussion of Wordsworth's persona in The Prelude,
reaches a similar conclusion about the mother's role in
extending the child's affections to objects in the natural
world: "the ambience of the mother's love . suffuse[s]
the natural objects of the world for the infant with light,
31
love, and wonder." The child's affection for natural
objects thus depends on his perceiving such objects as
infused with human virtue; the mother-infant relationship
Wordsworth describes is the beginning of the process.


39
(11. 27-28). Alison's insistence that religion must be
blended with "every common business of their lives" if
man is to reach "the highest state of perfection of which
mortality is capable" ("On the Love of Excellence," II,
206) is paralleled in Wordsworths discovery that the child
should be subject to some form of control or restraint:
Easily a pious training
And a steadfast outward power
Would supplant the weeds, and cherish,
In their steed, each opening flower.
(11. 77-80)
Wordsworth modifies the metaphor of the child as a flower,
a metaphor often used by Alison, to reflect his concern
that the natural be supplemented by an additional external
source of discipline. Richard E. Brantley defines this
external source of discipline, or "necessary chastisement,"
in terms of Wesleyan Methodism: "Wesley quotes from William
Law (with whom Wordsworth was familiar) in order to indicate
the beneficial results of strong corrective measures: firm
paternal control, wrote Law, will teach the child a spirit
27
of 'humility . and devotion.'" Alison's ideas con
cerning child rearing are similar, but his emphasis is on
education and guidance rather than on control or discipline.
The concept of piety alluded to in the training of the
Westmoreland Girl emerges as an essential element of the
child's education. Alison notes that piety is manifested
in every aspect of the life of Christ, especially in "the
early dedication of his mind to religious thought, and in
the great and exalted views which he then attained of the


143
12
Bloom, p. 137.
T O
"'Richard E. Brantley, Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism"
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press") 1975) pp. 81-82.
14
Alan Grob, "Wordsworth and Godwin: A Reassessment,"
Studies in Romanticism, 6 (Winter 1967), 102-03. My study
does not treat the question of Godwin's influence on Words
worth's poetry because Alison and, in my opinion, Words
worth often show themselves quite capable of treating the
topic of concern for mankind without resorting to social or
economic theories. Moreover, the subject of Godwin has been
treated at length by other Wordsworth scholars. In addition
to Grob's recent article, representing the moderate view
that the poet found some elements of Godwin's doctrine
attractive while rejecting others, Thomas J. Rountree's
This Mighty Sum of Things: Wordsworth's Theme of Benevolent
Necessity (University: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1965), argues
for Godwin's continuing influence on Wordsworth. Mary
Moorman's standard biography describes the poet's personal
acquaintance with Godwin, relying on entries in Godwin's
diaries for documentation. Two older studiesDavid
Fleisher's William Godwin: A Study in Liberalism (London:
Allen and Unwin, 1951) and David Hector Monro's Godwin's
Moral Philosophy: An Interpretation of William Godwin
(London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1953)provide valuable
analyses of Godwin's thought.
15
Citations from the 1850 edition of The Prelude, in
dicated parenthetically in the text, are to The Prelude;
or, Growth of a Poet's Mind, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev.
Helen Darbishire, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959).
1
Paul Fussell, The Rhetorical World of Augustan
Humanism: Ethics and Imagery From Swift to Burke (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1965), p. 133. Fusselldiscussing humanism
in Swift, Pope, Johnson, Reynolds, Gibbon, and Burkeout
lines the basic qualities of Augustan humanism: an aware
ness of man's capacity for dignity is countered by several
negative assumptions about man's "flawed and corrupt nature"
(p. 8). Although Wordsworth acknowledges this paradox
inherent in human nature, in the conclusion to The Prelude
he emphasizes man's potential for greatness rather than his
limitations.
17
Citations from Alisons essays, indicated parentheti
cally in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and Principles
of Taste, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable,
TZTTT


2
The critical attention Alison has received, suggesting
the importance of Essays on Taste as a standard textbook of
aesthetics in the early nineteenth century, would appear to
justify, and call for, a study of Wordsworth's poetry in
terms of Alisonian concepts and diction. However, one is
surprised to discover that no writer on Wordsworth's
philosophical background devotes more than a page or two to
Alison. Alison's biography, ignored by critics, helps to
establish a chronological framework for the association of
Wordsworth and Alison. It can be established not only that
Alison represents an influential strain of thought with which
Wordsworth was likely familiar but also that the two men were
contemporaries and acquainted. Finally, Wordsworth's con
nection with Anglicanism constitutes a neglected tie with
Alison, a tie especially important because they share a con
cern with the spiritual dimension of the aesthetic process.
After reviewing the critical attention Alison has received
and alluding to pertinent biographical details placing
Wordsworth and Alison in the same cultural milieu, I shall
point to the importance of the neglected spiritual (ethical)
dimension of Alison's theory for an understanding of Words
worth's poetry.
Critics who include Alison in their discussions of
aesthetic trends describe him as a theorist whose ideas
were especially influential at the beginning of the nine
teenth century. Walter Jackson Bate and Ernest Lee Tuveson,
critics specifically concerned with the interrelationships


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Marsha Kent Savage was born January 12, 1952, in Union
City, Tennessee. She attended Austin Peay State University
in Clarksville, Tennessee, from which she received a Bachelor
of Arts degree in English in June 1973 and a Master of Arts
degree in English in August 1974. Since then she has pursued
her studies for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Eng
lish at the University of Florida.
196


43
fact, Alison strongly implies that happiness, because it is
an appropriate response in worship, is a good indicator of
the godlike potential of childhood. Alison also suggests
the unconscious nature of the child's worship. In the
natural world the child's religious devotion arises almost
spontaneously: he cannot look upon nature, the "mighty
machine of Eternal Wisdom," without "the most elevated
sentiments of devotion . ." ("On the Religious and Moral
Ends of Knowledge," I, 162). Finally, because religion is
both joyful and natural for the child, it is a permanent
state rather than an occasional experience: "At such a
period, religion is not a service of necessity, but of joy.
It is not an occasional, but a permanent subject of medi
tation ..." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 52). Only on
occasion does the adult experience the religious sentiments
that the child constantly enjoys.
While Wordsworth's shorter poems, especially the lyrics,
present a static impression of childhood, The Prelude pre
sents the process of the child's spiritual development. In
his sermon "On Religious Education" Alison outlines a process
closely parallel to that which Wordsworth describes in the
first two books of The Prelude. Alison, like Wordsworth,
sees the mind's development beginning in infancy and
describes the powers that "awaken in the infant mind":
The earliest powers that awaken in the infant
mind, are those of Affection;the love of
parents,of kinsmen,--of benefactors; and
gradually the love of whatever is good or
great in the characters or in the history of
their species. ("On Religious Education," II, 23)


195
Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. London:
Oxford Univ. Press, 1973.
Wlecke, Albert 0. Wordsworth and the Sublime. Perspectives
in Criticism, 23. Berkeley: Univ. of California
Press, 1973.
Woodring, Carl R. "The New Sublimity in 'Tintern Abbey.'"
In The Evidence of the Imagination: Studies of Inter
actions Between Life and Art in English Romantic
Literature. Ed. Donald H. Reiman, Michael C. Jaye,
and Betty T. Bennett. New York: New York Univ. Press,
1978, pp. 86-100.
"Peter Bell and 'The Pious': A New Letter."
Philological Quarterly, 30 (October 1951), 430-34.
Wordsworth. Riverside Studies in Literature.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.
Wordsworth, William. The Poetical Works of William Words
worth. Ed. Ernest De Selincourt. 2nd ed. 5 vols.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952-59. Vols. Ill and IV
ed. by Ernest De Selincourt and Helen Darbishire.
The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind. Ed.
Ernest De Selincourt. Rev. Helen Darbishire. 2nd ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959.
, and Dorothy. The Letters of William and Dorothy
Wordsworth: The Early Years 1787-1805. Ed. Ernest
De Selincourt. Rev. Chester L. Shaver. 2nd ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.


152
Wordsworth looks on nature and hears "The still, sad music
of humanity" (1. 91).
Alison also explains the "tempers of mind" (II, 2, i,
216) most conducive to the exercise of imagination. Since
"whatever is great or beautiful in the scenery of external
nature, is almost constantly before us" (I, 1, i, 9), one
might assume that the person who has developed associative-
imaginative capacities must respond imaginatively on every
occasion when he is confronted with these stimuli. Alison
notes that this is not the case: "the objects of taste
make the strongest impression" when one is "vacant and
unemployed" (I, 1, i, 10-11). At the beginning of "Tintern
Abbey" the poet indicates that he is passively responsive
to external stimuli by announcing that he will
. . repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground. . .
til. 9-11)
Wordsworth's pose at the beginning of the poem suggests that
he is "unemployed," the state that Alison finds most con
ducive to the exercise of imagination. Whether or not
Wordsworth will experience emotions of sublimity or beauty
is not determined by his attitude or repose; the beginning
of "Tintern Abbey" merely suggests the potential for the
"exercise of imagination."
For both Wordsworth and Alison the image of sleeping
suggests a state of passive responsiveness, and the image
of awakening or coming to life suggests the "exercise of
imagination." Alison implies that "genius,
a term he uses


ACKNOWLE D GMENT S
I wish to express my appreciation to Professors John
Perlette, A.E. Smith, and James Twitchell for reading this
dissertation and making suggestions for its improvement.
For his advice and assistance throughout this project, I wish
to give very special thanks to Professor Melvyn New. Finally,
I am indebted to Professor Richard Brantley, who not only
offered his critical skills and knowledge of Wordsworth, but
also demonstrated unending patience and provided continuing
support and encouragement.


138
("On Winter, As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 443).
Furthermore, like Wordsworth, Alison implies that human
capabilities impose certain obligations. He maintains
that "there is something very solemn in this mighty privi
lege" of viewing the "author" of nature ("On Winter, As the
Season of Religious Thought," I, 443) and finds that "in
the perfection of the human system . the mind is awake
to the consciousness of all the capacities it possesses,
and the lofty obligations they impose" (Essays on Taste, II,
6, ii, 392). Wordsworth and Alison, like the Augustan
humanists, describe "man's uniqueness" primarily to point
27
to his "unique moral obligations." The conclusion of
The Prelude explains how man fulfills his obligations: the
poet learns to look to humanity for both present virtue and
hopes of future good.
Alison's comments on "the love of excellence" and "the
infinity of progressive perfection" help to explain Words
worth's attitude toward human potential. Maintaining that
the mind must be "trained to whatever is good or great in
human nature" ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 48), Alison
finds this "love of excellence" similarly leads man to con
sider the "mightier ends for which he is created, and nobler
designs which he ought to pursue" ("On the Love of Excellence,
II, 210). The discrepancy humanists perceive "between man
2 8
as he is and man as he has it in his power to become"
underlies Alison's description of man's obligations. Prog
ress toward perfection, Alison explains, is not only a
possibility but also an adult obligation:


100
merely a pastoralist, whose love for the natural and dis
pleasure with the artificial causes him to seek God's
world rather than man's. Instead, Wordsworth's views
concerning the city as expressed in his poetry, and as
clarified to us by the aesthetics of Alison, encompass both
the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions. When Wordsworth's
poetic treatment of the city is evaluated in light of
Alison's theories, it becomes apparent that rather than
offering an unqualified condemnation of urban life, he is
objecting to specific stimuli which neither excite the
imagination nor give rise to moral improvement. Conse
quently, it is possible to remain in the city but to
counter its tendency to deaden one's imagination and to
lead to moral decline by imaginatively perceiving urban
forms as part of a harmony similar to that which permeates
the natural world. Wordsworth never abandons his concept
of natural virtue, but to attempt to explain his views of
the city only in terms of the opposition between natural
virtue and urban vice represents an oversimplification of
his ideas. Alison's Essays on Taste and his collected ser
mons make one aware of the complexities inherent in Words
worth's treatment of the city at the same time that they
constitute an invaluable means of clarifying and explaining
these complexities.


74
there, soon lose that sensibility which is the
most natural of all,--the sensibility to the
beauties of the country. . (Essays, I, 2,
i, 89-90)
For both Wordsworth and Alison "natural taste" is developed
when one's instinctive love for the beauty and sublimity of
the natural world is encouraged, and is nurtured by continual
association with natural forms. The city is marked not only
by the absence of natural forms but also by the presence of
the "uninteresting details of the mechanical arts," which
tend to suppress imaginative thinking. Although the con
cept of human arts as oppressive forces underlies a large
part of Book VII of The Prelude, The Excursion provides a
more direct statement of this idea: the Solitary declares
that one must find a "lodge" away from "the stately towers,
/ Reared by the industrious hand of human art" (III, 101-02).
Wordsworth is perhaps not only describing the oppressive
forces of human arts as "diligent" or "hard-working" but
also using the adjective "industrious" to function as a
12
synonym for "industrial," a usage which enables him to
refer both to human arts in general and to a specific human
art, industrialism.
"The Reverie of Poor Susan," reflecting Alison's
concept of being imprisoned in the city, presents a
character who is engaged in oppressive "mechanical arts"
and commercial pursuits. The setting of the poem is Wood
Street (1. 1) in the mercantile district of London, and
the "narrow and selfish pursuits" and the "uninteresting
details of the mechanical arts" at which Susan is employed


144
18
George Steiner, The Death of Tragedy (New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 1961), p. 3. Steiner's definition is chosen because
it provides a general explanation of the tragic figure in the
western tradition rather than a specific classical or
Aristotelian theory which cannot be applied to genres other
than drama.
19
Citations from Wordsworth's poems other than The
Prelude, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to
The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest De
Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952-59).
20
Carl R. Woodring, Wordsworth, Riverside Studies in
Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 69.
Woodring also comments on the significance of the cottage's
name.
^Beatty, p. 147.
22
Bloom, p. 186.
23
Notes to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth,
I, 345.
24
Notes to Selected Poems and Prefaces by William
Wordsworth, ed. Jack' Stillinger, Riverside Editions (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 500.
25
Havens,
II,
585.
2^Fussell,
pp.
110
27
Fussell,
P-

00
CM
2Fussell,
P*
134 .
29
yFussell,
P
4.
^Fussell,
pp.
5,


107
closely allied with nature, his exaltation of the humble
person, and his description of the virtues associated with
simple life; (2) Wordsworth's recognition of man's mortality,
his sympathy for human frailty, and the charity and benevo
lence such understanding inspires; and, finally (3), an
appreciation of man's potential for greatness and the obli
gations such potential imposes.
Donald Greene's reassessment of R.S. Crane's "Sugges
tions Toward a Genealogy of the 'Man of Feeling'"^ helps to
clarify much of the literature of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. Although Greene's primary thesis is
that Crane is incorrect, in attributing some of these doc
trines to latitudinarian Anglicans and that some of these
ideas certainly appeared before 1660, his discussion is
especially helpful because his careful analysis of Crane's
ideas provides important insight into the theological tem
perament of the age in which Wordsworth and Alison wrote.
Greene's discussion of the concept of "universal benevolence"
and "anti-stoicism" suggests the two writers' concern with
active virtue, benevolence, and charity, as well as their
4
sympathy for all mankind. Furthermore, his comments on
antincmianism and Pelagianism help clarify both writers'
position on the importance of charitable acts. Anglicanism,
as Greene explains, "firmly repudiates antinomianism," the
heresy "that those who have attained justification by faith
have no further need to concern themselves with 'good
works'"; disowning antinomianism, however, does not imply


135
Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds,
The mild necessity of use compels
To acts of love; and habit does the work
Of reason; yet prepares that after-joy
Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,
By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued,
Doth find herself insensibly disposed
To virtue and true goodness.
(11. 98-105)
By force of "habit" the villagers are charitable toward the
beggar. This action evokes pleasure and, in turn, inspires
the benefactors almost "insensibly" to "virtue and true
goodness."
In addition to his function of eliciting kindness in
others, the beggar also serves as a "silent monitor" to
remind the villagers of. past deeds of charityto "impress"
such thoughts "on their minds" (11. 123-24). In the beggar
the people "Behold a record which together binds / Past
deeds and offices of charity" (11. 89-90). Alison's com
ments help to explain why such a reminder is necessary.
Alison maintains that the habits of life tend to dull one's
sensitivity to others and that something must restore the
mind to its "proper tone": some "occasion arrives which
kindles a nobler amibition, and, in the discharge of some
signal duty, calls forth all the latent powers of the under
standing, and all the generosity of the heart" ("On
Instability of Character," II, 327-28). The villagers of
the poem find their sensitivity to others dulled by the
"half-wisdom half-experience gives" (1. 93). The old
beggar, moving them to charity and to duty, "keeps alive /
The kindly mood in hearts . ." (11. 91-92); they are


130
The world, and human life, appeared a scene
Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh,
Inly disturbed, to think that others felt
What he must never feel. . (11. 37-44)
Wordsworth emphasizes the effect of the "labours of benevo
lence" rather than the actions themselves: actions of
benevolence, inspired by a love for mankind, result in a
more exalted view of the "world" and of "human life" (1.
41). Alison's concept of the relationship between the
internal and the external (qualities of mind and attributes
of external objects) is suggested here; furthermore, Words
worth's use of the word "kindred" to establish this rela
tionship is significant. "Kindred" not only implies the
similarity between loftiness of thought and one's vision
of the world and of mankind but also reinforces the human
focus of the passage by implying perhaps the word's now
obsolete sense of "human kindred" or "the human race." The
"loveliness" (1. 42) of the world depends on the concern for
humanity benevolent persons feel: the Yew-Tree man dies,
having never experienced this concern.
"A Narrow Girdle of Rough Stones," presenting the
poet's own failure to exhibit charity, involves charity not
in its limited sense of almsgiving and providing materially
for the needs of others but in its extended sense of loving
all humanity and manifesting this love by kind deeds. In
the poet's case, the lesson of Point Rash-Judgment is that
benevolence should extend to judging the actions of others.
The poet and his companions mistakenly assume the peasant
they encounter is "Improvident and reckless" (1. 50), wasting


46
The concept that religious insight "springs" to mind, or
comes forth suddenly, suggests perhaps nature's direct
teaching described in The Prelude:
. . even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield;the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things. . (I, 585-88)
!
As knowledge of God "springs" directly in the mind of the
child who observes the external world, the child of The
Prelude similarly learns directly from nature: the words
"gleams" and "flashing" reinforce the concept of a sudden,
illuminating experience. Although Alison is referring to
a religious experience and Wordsworth is describing less
precise truths revealed by nature, both point to a type of
learning that depends not on association or sensory per
ception but on moments of sudden, almost unmediated
insight.
Finally, educated both by the process of association
and by the direct teaching of nature, children begin to .
develop a conscience:
They feel themselves the members of a mighty
system, in which they are called to cooperate;
and they recognize above them some Almighty
Power, upon whom they feel themselves dependent,
and to whom, the rising voice of conscience tells
them, they are accountable. ("On Religious
Education," II, 25)
Wordsworth shows a similar concern with the development
of conscience in the child. However, he suggests that the
beginning of conscience in the child depends not on
recognition of accountability to an "Almighty Power" but
on nature's "severer interventions" (I, 355). After


104
21
Carl R. Woodring, "Peter Bell and 'The Pious: A New
Letter," Philological Quarterly, 30 (October 1951), 433.
22
Woodring refers to the narrative method as "playful"
(p. 433).
23
Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, the editors
of Understanding Poetry (New York: H. Holt, 1938) describe
the poem in a similar manner, noting that it achieves an
effect of "slow-moving forcefulness" (pp. 84-85).
24
Alan Grob, The Philosophic Mind: A Study of Words
worth's Poetry and~Thought, 1797-1805 (Columbus: Ohio State
Univ. Press, 973), p7 177.
25
Geoffrey H. Hartman, Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press^ 1964) p. 263.
^Grob, p. 105.


176
Alison's concept of the "mighty key" is reflected in
the poet's description of the "aspect more sublime" Cl. 37)
of the "serene and blessed mood" (1. 41) of lines 37-49.
Wordsworth's exercise of imagination leads to a transcendence
in which he perceives the essence of material objects:
. . that blessed mood
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened: that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, 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 living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
(11. 37-49)
Although Wordsworth does not use the word "key," his dic
tion suggests an insight into mysteries which defy a
strictly empirical explanation. Wordsworth's description
of this process of transcendence reflects Alison's assertion
that affections lead to more complex emotions, such as
beauty and sublimity (I, 2, i, 81), as well as Alison's
definition of harmony. For Alison, "harmony," one's per
ception of the interrelationships of parts, is prerequisite
for one's apprehension of the essence of the whole and for
the experiencing of any complex emotion (II, 4, ii, 10).
Wordsworth similarly includes "harmony" (1. 48) as an
integral part of the process by which he perceives the
essence of material forms.
Wordsworth thus resembles Alison in attributing to the
imagination spiritual transcendence. Alison notes:


179
"Tintern Abbey" reflect the essentials of Alison's philosophy.
Essays on Taste elucidates difficult passages of "Tintern
Abbey" and affords insight into specific passages of the
poem, while providing a framework within which Wordsworth's
experience can be more fully understood.


sermons, Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions, elaborate
aesthetic as well as spiritual concepts presented in the
essays. In an effort to focus more precisely on Alison's
value as background for understanding Wordsworth's poetry,
I have employed the term "spiritual aesthetics": both
writers regard the aesthetic experience as ultimately reli
gious and maintain that the imaginative response culminates
in moral insight.
The thematic concerns in the first three chapters of
this studythe natural education of the child, the opposi
tion between the city and the country, and the ethical
standards appropriate to maturityail relate to a funda
mental principle underlying Wordsworth's and Alison's con
cept of spiritual aesthetics: the natural world affords
aesthetic delight and at the same time provides man with a
spiritual education. Both familiar and unfamiliar Words
worthian poems share thematic, and in many cases verbal,
affinities with Alison's essays and sermons.
Chapter I argues that Wordsworth, like Alison, con
centrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a
setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments
such as piety arise from contact with the natural world,
describes the divine protection afforded the child, and
sees the child's earthly activity within the framework of
an ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an
image of preexistence. Chapter II focuses on the negative
aesthetic and spiritual consequences of the process of
urbanization; both writers maintain that the city exerts
vii


8
his "own strange communion with nature" describes to some
extent twentieth-century attitudes towards the poets
18
dependence on philosophy. Nevertheless, critics concerned
with specific sources of Wordsworth's philosophical beliefs
allude only briefly to Alison in their discussions.
Arthur Beatty, concerned primarily with Hartley's
influence on Wordsworth, describes Alison's Essays as an
application of "the principles of association to the field
19
of aesthetics." Although he acknowledges that the "Pre
face to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads" reflects
Alison's discussion of the association of ideas, he dis
misses Alison as a source of Wordsworth's thought because
Hartley originated the concept of associationism: "...
the principle was developed by Hartley, with implications
20
that are peculiar to him." Similarly, commenting on
Alison's thesis that uniformity and variety are essential
qualities of art, Beatty dismisses Alison in favor of
Hartley on rather subjective grounds:
Hartley's exposition of the principle is the
same as Alison's in its general outline; but
he gives a special coloring to it, so that it
is rather clear that Wordsworth probably had
it in mind when explaining the principle of
his own poetry. x
Stallknecht, who argues primarily for the influence of
Boehme and Spinoza, makes brief allusions to Alison in his
chapter entitled "Hartley Transcendentalized by Coleridge."
Stallknecht cites the concept of the imagination as a
function of "consciousness" dependent on sensation and
association as a principle "Wordsworth may very well have


172
Although Wordsworth does not use the word "grace" in
the poem, he does reflect Alison's ideas concerning grace,
when in a state of spiritual maturity he looks on nature
and hears "The still, sad music of humanity" (1. 91).
Although Wordsworth's concept of music is suggestive of
Alison's assertion that music reflects "Passion or Affection"
(II, 2, i, 261), the passions and affections of mankind
reflected in the music are less significant than their effect
on Wordsworth: the music, not "harsh nor grating," is of
"ample power / To chasten and subdue" (11. 92-93; my italics).
In Alison's terms, the fact that Wordsworth is "chastened
and subdued" indicates that his attitude is graceful. More
over, such emotion indicates that the poet possesses a
"lofty standard of character and conduct." Caroline F.E.
Spurgeon also points to Wordsworth's insistence that one
must be "purified, disciplined, seif-controlled" to experience
9
the "joys of the spirit," a description suggesting a con
trast between the joy of spiritual maturity and the "rap
tures of joy" characterizing adolescence, the second stage
of development described in "Tintern Abbey." Wordsworth,
like Alison, notes that grace is not found "amid the
raptures of joy." In spiritual maturity, the state in
which he can experience grace, the poet finds that the "joys"
and "raptures" of the second stage of development have
passed:
. . That time is past.
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. . (11. 83-85)


92
The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes!
(11. 13-16)
The type of reverie Susan experiences affords only momentary
comfort in the midst of urban life. Although the fifth
stanza of the poem, appearing only in the 1800 edition, has
Susan returning to the home of her father, the final version
of the poem leaves Susan imprisoned in London.
Wordsworth in Book VII of The Prelude and the persona
in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" also retreat from
urban society for thought and meditation. The persona of
"Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" stands above the city
while its inhabitants are still sleeping and observes "the
very houses seem asleep; / And all that mighty heart is
lying still!" (11. 13-14). The poet in Book VII of The
Prelude similarly enjoys the city when it is devoid of man's
enterprises. In London at night, Wordsworth finds forms
which can, in Alison's terms, "awaken" his "genius" (Essays,
I, 6, ii, 433) :
. . scenes different there are,
Full-formed, that take, with small internal help,
Possession of the faculties,the peace
That comes with night; the deep solemnity
Of nature's intermediate hours of rest,
When the great tide of human life stands still;
The business of the day to come, unborn,
Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave;
The blended calmness of the heavens and earth,
Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds
Unfrequent as in deserts. . (VII, 652-62)
The operation of the mind in this passage suggests Alison's
description of the process of association; the scene causes
the poet to be "conscious of a train of thought being


180
Notes
Citations from "Tintern Abbey," indicated parentheti
cally in the text, are to The Poetical Works of William
Wordsworth, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Ox
ford: Clarendon Press, 1952-59), II, 259-63.
2 .
Citations from Alison, indicated parenthetically in the
text, are to Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste,
3rd ed., 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1812).
3
David Hartley, Observations on Man, His Frame, His
Duty, and His Expectations, ed. Theodore L. Huguelet, ~2~vols.
in 1 (1749; rpt. Gainesville, Fla.: Scholars' Facsimiles and
Reprints, 1966), I, Proposition 10.
4
Alison notes his indebtedness to "Dr. Reid's doctrine"
that matter "derives its Beauty from the Expression of Mind"
(II, 6, ii, 417). Thomas Reid, of the eighteenth-century
Scottish "Common-Sense School" of philosophy, combines
"sentiment and common sense" with a "conservative use of
empirical associationism" (Walter Jackson Bate, From Classic
to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth-Century England
[1946; rpt. New York: Harper and Row, 1961], pp. 101-02).
''Hartley cites green as the color "most agreeable to
the organ of sight" because of its "central position in the
spectrum of primary colours" (Observations on Man, I,
Proposition 94).
^Marjorie Hope Nicolson (Mountain Gloom and Mountain
Glory: The Development of the~Aesthetics of the Infinite
[I thaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1959] p"[ 388) notes that
Wordsworth's "most characteristic sublime" includes both
"beauty and terror." As Nicolson suggests, this is one of
the oldest ideas in aesthetics; consequently, it appears in
the writings of many of Alison's predecessors. Edmund
Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas
of the Sublime and the Beautiful first published in 1757,
is an especially useful analogue for Wordsworth's aesthetic
terminology: Burke's definitions of the "sublime" and the
"beautiful" appear to underlie the categories the poet
establishes in "Tintern Abbey." W.J.B. Owen ("The Sublime
and the Beautiful in The Prelude," The Wordsworth Circle,
4 [Spring 1973], 67-86) argues convincingly for the Burkean
quality of the sublime/beautiful doublets in The Prelude.
In a later study ("Wordsworth's Aesthetics of Landscape,"
The Wordsworth Circle, 7 [Spring 1976] 70-32) Owen extends
his comments to the poet's prose works, specifically the


itxoj rtisnSni/ ic vm fuinma luvuan "enva cation Xu Dunoq
CT
i?
L
T
X,
so
3
Copyright 1980
by
Marsha Kent Savage


45
Wordsworth continues to use the term "affections" to
describe the child's evolving relationship with natural
objects:
. . all their forms
And changeful colours by invisible links
Were fastened to the affections.
(I, 610-12)
The fact that Wordsworth uses the terms "forms" and "colours,"
terms relating to external forms, in connection with
"affections," a power or faculty of the human mind, indi
cates that he, like Alison, is exploring the relationship
between the mind and the external world. Clarke and Onorato
reach similar conclusions about the human quality that
apparently permeates external forms. Clarke notes that the
poet frequently turns to associationist theory and diction
to "explain the apparent existence of feelings out there in
32
nature." Onorato cites Wordsworth's assertion that nature
"Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair, / And made me
love them . ." (I, 546-47) as further evidence that the
poet "figuratively preserves in the beauteous forms of
33
nature a very human association."''
In addition to describing a basically associationist
process of learning to ascribe human qualities to external
objects, both Alison and Wordsworth maintain that nature
can on occasion affect the mind of the child more directly
than the principle of association would permit. Alison
finds that knowledge of God "springs" in the "mind" of the
child "to withdraw the veil which covers the splendours of
the Eternal Mind ." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 51).


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
O /? ^
. / C,'
Richard E. Brantley, Chairman
Associate Professor of English
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
k
/! i
7
Melvyn New
Professor of
nglish
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree^lof Doctor of Philosophy.
lbe^rt B. Smith
Professor of Romance Languages
and Literatures
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
/I
' /
rs
SL
John M. Perlette
Associate Professor of English


29
those found in his essays appear throughout his sermons.
Thirty of his forty-five collected sermons include allu
sions to a child or to his education, and many of the
sermons not concerned with childhood, such as "On the
Thanksgiving for the Victory at Trafalgar" and "On the
Jubilee, Appointed for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the
King's Accession," are topical; Alison's childhood theme
was clearly a central one. The fact that the second of
the two volumes is dedicated to "the Young of the Congre
gation of the Cowgate Chapel, Edinburgh," with "Every Wish
for Their Present, and Every Prayer for Their Final
Happiness," further indicates his emphasis on the child's
22
education.
Thus, Wordsworth and Alison share an interest in the
child, a concern reflected both in their personal lives and
in the number of writings devoted to such a theme. In
Alison's essays one finds a Wordsworthian concern for the
child both as an object of aesthetic delight and as an
example of religious devotion and piety. In fact, the
aesthetic delight the child provides merges with an
appreciation of his spiritual qualities.
For both Wordsworth and Alison the delight one
experiences in viewing the child parallels the delight one
experiences in viewing other objects in nature. In fact,
for both writers the child is closely associated with
natural objects, specifically those characterizing spring.
For example, Alison relates the delicate forms of young


150
of such pleasures to the remembered beauty of the Wye:
. . I have owed to them [natural forms]
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration. . .
(11. 26-30)
Wordsworth's use of the word "sweet" not only indicates the
pleasant nature of such sensations but also establishes an
imagistic connection between an abstract quality of an ob
ject and the sensations it produces. The use of the words
"blood," "heart," and "mind" clearly establishes the internal
nature of the sensations to which Wordsworth refers.
Both Alison and Wordsworth use the term "mind" to
designate the repository of sensations and associated ideas.
Alison indicates that it is in the mind that "characters
and affections" are bestowed on the "inanimate objects"
impressed on the senses (I, 2, i, 132). Wordsworth's ad
monition to Dorothy to make her mind "a mansion for all
lovely forms" and her memory "a dwelling-place / For all
sweet sounds and harmonies" (11. 140-42) reflects a similar
idea. Wordsworth employs the image of the "mansion" or
"dwelling-place" not only to suggest the idea of a reposi
tory but also to emphasize, in a way consistent with Alison,
the pleasant nature of the sensations and the associated
ideas that can be effected by a scene such as the Wye.
David Hartley's doctrine of the association of ideas
is reflected in Alison and Wordsworth; however, both differ
from Hartley in making the mind's operation more than the
mechanistic process of random association of ideas.


53
perceives it die away, / And fade into the light of common
day (11. 76-77). Woodring cites "Plotinus' emphasis on the
metaphors of divine light and material darkness" as a pre-
39
decessor to Wordsworth's imagery, and Alison similarly
describes the world as a "dark" place where "he who is born
of God, and who is again to return to God" must reside ("On
the Power of Christian Faith," II, 455). Both Alison and
Wordsworth are concerned with the loss of the divine light
as the child grows into an adult, and Wordsworth's "light
of common day" would clearly seem dark to one who remembers
"celestial light."
Despite the loss experienced as the child grows older,
both writers note that some recompense is offered to the
adult. Alison's description of the recompense is similar
to that the adult of the "Ode" acknowledges: "Even amid
all the ruins of our fallen nature, there are remembrances
of its original glory ..." ("On the Love of Excellence,"
II, 210). Alison's description not only parallels the
"glory" of childhood presented in the "Ode" but also sug
gests, by the use of the word "ruins," the "embers" of the
ninth stanza of the poem:
0 joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
(11. 130-33)
Thus, one recompense afforded the adult is his ability to
remember his transient moments of "original glory."


82
however, in light of the Wordsworthian and Alisonian view
of the city, it appears unnecessary to force this identifi
cation (monetary exchange as symbol for loss of visionary
powers); rather, we can see the loss of such powers as a
consequence of commercial pursuits:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon I
(11. 1-4)
Wordsworth uses the word "powers" in its Alisonian sense to
denote "qualities of Mind which are capable of producing
emotion" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 417). Alison includes "in
vention" and "fancy" as "powers" of the mind (Essays, II,
6, ii, 417); consequently, to "lay waste" one's powers by
"Getting and spending" is to deaden one's imaginative
capacity.
Loss of imaginative capacity is also associated with
insensitivity to natural beauty. This is another of Words
worth's concerns in "The World Is Too Much With Us." Alison
includes "passive" qualities of mind, "feelings and affec
tions" such as "love" and "hope," as an integral part of
the imaginative response (.Essays, II, 6, ii, 417-18). When
Wordsworth's persona notes that "We have given our hearts
away," he may be referring to man's loss of an "affection"
or "love" for nature. This interpretation is reinforced
by the persona's comment following the octave's poetic
personification of the sea and the winds: "For this, for
everything, we are out of tune; / It moves us not" (11. 8-9).


129
In light of Alison's comments concerning maturity, such a
response to nature is both reasonable and appropriate.
"Lines Left Upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree" deals primarily
with a proud man's failure to be humanized. His pride is,
in fact, the source of his character flaw. Though "disguised
in its own majesty" (1. 51), his pride is "littleness" (1.
52) and results in his failure to identify with other human
beings. As Alison also acknowledges, the true wisdom of
maturity should lead to love for mankind: "... true
knowledge leads to love" (1. 60). Furthermore, the Yew-Tree
man has never accepted his own humanity:
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself,
In lowliness of heart. (11. 61-64)
The Yew-Tree man's meditations are more "morbid" (1. 31)
than soothing, and he fails to make the necessary identifi
cation with mankind. The process of becoming humanized
requires acknowledging both the lowly and the exalted
elements of human nature; the man's false pride, rather
than "True dignity" (1. 61), makes it impossible for him
to accomplish this.
In juxtaposition to the man's own failure to exhibit
charity is his vision of the benevolence of others. The
man is, on occasion, sufficiently "subdued" by nature to
recognize in others the benevolence he will never feel:
Nor, that time,
When nature had subdued him to herself,
Would he forget those Beings to whose minds
Warm from the labours of benevolence


101
Notes
Williams' study, The Country and the City (London: Ox
ford Univ. Press, 1973), employs a sociological or Marxist
approach: he views landscape and country-house literature
as "mystifications" of the existing social order, mystifica
tions which transform literary descriptions of rural life
into expressions of "social compliment" for writers such as
Jonson, Thomson, Goldsmith, and Crabbe (p. 33). In Happy
Rural Seat: The English Country House and the Literary
Imagination (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1972), Richard
Gill analyzes the significance of the country house in the
works of modern authors such as Henry James and suggests in
an appendix ("The Poetry of Property") the importance of
this theme in earlier fiction. The classical motif of the
beatus vir appears both in Maynard Mack's The Garden and the
City: Retirement and Politics in the Later Poetry of Pope,
17 31-17'4'3 (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1969) and in
Maren-Sof ie Rj2fetvig' s The Happy Man: Studies in the Metamor
phoses of a Classical Ideal (2nd ed., Oslo Studies in English,
T] 2 vols. [Oslo: Norwegian Universities Press, 1962-71]).
Mack, arguing for the poet's Twickenham garden as an image
of retirement, finds that Pope frequently "speaks in the
guise of the Twickenham garden-philosopher who understands
and respects nature" (p. 85). R^stvig's two-volume study is
a more comprehensive treatment of the beatus vir: he shows
how epicureanism is modified by Augustan standards of
morality and suggests that the figure of the beatus vir is
ultimately destroyed in the poetry of James Thomson. Ralph
Cohen's The Unfolding of The Seasons (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins Univi Press, I9T0) argues for Thomson's poem as
indicative of a new attitude toward nature: in Thomson's
landscape poetry, both man and nature are subject to dis
order and transience.
2
Joseph Warren Beach, The Concept of Nature in
Nineteenth-Century English Poetry (1936; rpt. New York:
Russell and Russell, 1966)', p. 37.
3 .
Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated paren
thetically in the text, are to Sermons, Chiefly on Particu-
lar Occasions, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable,
1315) .
4
Beach, p. 37.
5
"William Wordsworth to Charles James Fox," 14 January
1801, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The
Early Years 1787-1805, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev.
Chester L. Shaver, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967),
p. 314.


116
"friendly to human character" {"On Instability of Character,"
II, 321). In Essays on Taste Alison notes that grace suggests
"something dignified or exalted in the mind of the person"
who manifests such a quality and maintains that the expres
sion of grace evokes "some sentiment of respect, or admira
tion" in others (II, 6, ii, 381-82). Moreover, Alison main
tains that a humble life, such as that of a shepherd, leads
almost inevitably to "stability of character":
The necessities of nature . are ever friendly
to human character, and almost unavoidably produce
some degree of steadiness of purpose, and energy
of pursuit. They, whose labour is every day to
provide for the day that is passing, have an
object from which they are not permitted to
deviate, which summons their powers into continual
activity, and which insensibly gives to their
general character the same features of steadiness
and of energy. ("On Instability of Character,"
II, 320-21)
Alison describes the virtue of such a person as consistent
with the "principles of Christian character" ("On Instabil
ity of Character," II, 320).
The shepherds of Wordsworths youth are virtuous in
being "Intent on little but substantial needs" (1. 162);
moreover, their "Christian character" leads the poet to
view them in religious terms. He refers to their "sanctity
of Nature" (1. 295) and describes how even visually he
associates them with worship:
Or him have I descried in distant sky,
A solitary object and sublime,
Above ail height! like an aerial cross
Stationed alone upon a spiry rock
Of the Chartreuse, for worship.
(11. 271-75)


131
his time fishing when he could be gainfully employed as a
laborer in harvest season. Approaching more closely, they
discover that the man, wasted by illness, is far "Too weak
to labour in the harvest field" (1. 63) and that he is
"using his best skill to gain / A pittance from the dead
unfeeling lake" (11. 64-65) Forced to confront the physical
decay of the peasant, with its suggestions of human mortality,
the poet is, to use Alison's term, "subdued," moved from
"selfishness" to a concern for all mankind ("On Autumn," I,
329-30). After "serious musing" and "self-reproach" (1. 70)
the poet and his companions discover "What need there is to
be reserved in speech, / And temper all our thoughts with
charity" (11. 72-73) .
In the character of Oswald in The Borderers Wordsworth
creates a villain who not only fails to exhibit charity and
benevolence but also mocks these qualities in others. In
his prefatory essay the poet describes Oswald as "a young
man of great intellectual powers yet without any solid
23
principles of genuine benevolence." Oswald thus represents
two major character flaws Alison describes: the first is
the "abuse of learning and talents" ("On Evil Communication,"
I, 250), and the second (and more serious) is his denial of
his humanity. Oswald neither identifies with other human
beings nor exhibits the corresponding virtues of benevolence
and sympathy.
Wordsworth's presentation of Oswald's character flaws
is explicit. Oswald abuses his intellectual powers in that


12
Flemings, to Rydal Mount and found calling cards from "Revd
Archd Allison" [sic] and "Revd Dr. Batfield." She assumes
that both Mary and William, whom she also addresses in the
letter, need no explanation of who Alison is. Batfield, on
the other hand, must be identified as "a friend of T.M.'s
[Thomas Monkhcuse, her favorite cousin] who has been at
Grasmere some days. . Furthermore, her allusion to
Alison and Batfield causes her to reflect: "Lots of People
come upon the Mount who say they know Mr. W. & should have
3 6
called if he had been at home. ..." This reflection
seems based upon her assumption that Alison had said he
knew Wordsworth, and certainly his visit would indicate
an interest in, and a knowledge of, the poet's works.
Wordsworth and Alison share Anglican beliefs as well
as literary concerns. Wordsworth's connection with Angli
canism undoubtedly constitutes a valuable tie with Alison;
both men, in any case, emphasize the spiritual dimension of
the aesthetic response in ways that seem especially con
sistent with the quality of their Anglican faith.
Although Alison was born in Scotland, from the time he
took his orders in the Anglican Church in 1784, until 1800
when he returned to Edinburgh, he resided in England as a
clergyman. Alison's sermons were "much admired during his
3 7
lifetime," and Wordsworth's "devotion to the Church of
3 8
England"- could well have aligned him with the spiritual
dimension of the aesthetic process as Alison presents it in
his sermons. Despite the diversity of critical opinion


147
world has a parallel in Alison's "unseen spirit" (II, 6, ii,
438) unifying man and nature. Alison's treatise, as a back
ground to "Tintern Abbey," helps ground the poem in associa-
tionist theory while at the same time suggesting that the
associationist experience underlying the poem relates to,
and is by no means inconsistent with, Wordsworth's experience
of a spiritual "presence."
Although the objects of Wordsworth's aesthetic interest
have no inherent qualities of sublimity or beauty, the
external world of "Tintern Abbey" is obviously the stimulus
for the poet's imaginative-associative response. In the
first place, Alison indicates that a rural or pastoral scene,
such as that on the banks of the Wye, affords more basis for
associative sentiments of "tenderness and innocence" than
do "populous and commercial cities" (I, 2, i, 90). The
poet twice mentions mental contemplation of the Wye as a
means of escaping the corruption of the city: he alludes to
the "tranquil restoration" (1. 30) effected by the remembered
beauty of the Wye as a means of escaping the "lonely rooms"
and the "din / Of towns and cities" (11. 25-26); similarly,
he turns "in spirit" (1. 55) to the Wye "in darkness and
amid the many shapes / Of joyless daylight" (11. 51-52).
Although Wordsworth does not allude directly to the city
in the second passage, his images recall the description of
loneliness he has mentioned earlier in association with
city life. The poet's description of "the fretful stir /
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world" (11. 52-53)


163
Wordsworth uses Alison's term "feeling" as well as the term
"love" to explain the nature of his "appetite" for the
natural "forms and colours" of the Wye setting. The fact
that Wordsworth's "pleasure" depends on nothing "unborrowed
from the eye" suggests that he is employing only the sense
of sight, the sense which Alison notes is most frequently
used in discovering sublimity and beauty; however, none of
the material objects in the external world are associated
with complex ideas or emotions. The "remoter charm, / By
thought supplied" refers to a process of intellectualization
of simple ideas of sensation, a process that does not occur
until the third stage of development.
Dorothy reflects Alison's concept of the simple pleas
ures of the second stage of development as well as the
attributes that Wordsworth ascribes to himself five years
before:
. . in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eves. . .
(11. 116-19)
The "language" of Wordsworth's "former heart" expresses
only feeling or sensation. Significantly, Dorothy's eyes,
suggestive of the sense which Alison feels will prove most
important in the future discovery of the beauty and sub
limity of natural forms, reflect only "pleasures" at this
time. At this stage it is impossible to experience "delight,"
an emotion dependent on associations.


63
with a discussion of Bartholomew Fair, the epitome of all
the negative stimuli encountered in the city. In addition
to Book VII of The Prelude, the main topic of discussion,
I make brief allusions to other parts of The Prelude, The
Excursion, and "To the Lady Fleming"; and I include discus
sions of "The Reverie of Poor Susan" and "The World Is Too
Much With Us." The analysis of the consequences of urban
living includes discussions of the Bartholomew Fair passage
in The Prelude, "The World Is Too Much With Us," and "Peter
Bell," concluding with a detailed examination of "Michael,"
the poem which best exemplifies the moral decline fostered
by city life. Finally, in discussing the proper response
to urban life, I examine "The Reverie of Poor Susan,"
"Composed Upon Westminster Bridge," and Book VII of The
Prelude, which illustrate the types of retreat afforded the
imaginative person.
Before investigating Wordsworth's treatment of the city,
it would be helpful to summarize briefly the opposition
between the natural world and artificial urban forms, a
contrast important both to Wordsworth and to Alison. Many
critics of English literature have noted this contrast;
Raymond Williams, offering perhaps the most comprehensive
treatment, surveys all English literature in terms of this
theme."'" Consequently, both Wordsworth and Alison are
necessarily viewed as writers who treat certain facets of
the tradition in a similar manner, rather than as the only
early nineteenth-century writers to concern themselves with


154
Wordsworth is thus both "feeling" and "expressing" a kind of
beauty that transcends mere perception of natural forms.
The terms "feeling" and "affection" are used by Alison
and Wordsworth to indicate passive qualities of mind that
are an integral part of the imaginative response. Alison
maintains that although the word "feeling" is sometimes used
ambiguously to refer "both to our external and internal
senses," it is "uniformly used to express Sensation" (II, 1,
i, 177), sensation which can give rise to imaginative trains
of thought. Alison, defining "affection" as a passive
quality of mind "capable of producing emotion" (II, 6, ii,
417), maintains that the excitement of some affection
necessarily precedes the experiencing of any complex emotion:
Whenever the Emotions of Sublimity or Beauty are
felt, I believe it will be found, that some
affection is uniformly excited by the presence
of the object, before the more complex Emotion
of Beauty is felt; and that if no such affection
is excited, no Emotion of Beauty or Sublimity
is produced. (I, 2, i, 81)
Wordsworth reflects Alison's concept of "feeling" and
"affection" in "Tintern Abbey." He suggests that natural
forms exist first for him as a "feeling" before they acquire
associative links: "Their colours and their forms, were
then to me / An appetite; a feeling and a love . ." (11.
79-80). The "feeling" Wordsworth describes has the potential
to effect imaginative trains of thought; the affections con
stitute an integral part of the process. Wordsworth main
tains that the "affections" "lead" him (1. 42), an action
in which he is passive, to an imaginative union with the


103
13
Douglas Bush, Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in
English Poetry (Cambridge: Harvard College, 1937), p. 58.
14
W.P. Albrecht ("Archibald Alison and the Sublime
Pleasures of Tragedy," in Romantic and Victorian: Studies
in Memory of William H. Marshall, ed. W. Paul Elledge and
Richard L. Hoffman [Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson
Univ. Press, 1971]) notes that Alison sometimes fails to
"make very liberal judgments" in his drama criticism. For
example, he finds "Shakespeare's taste inferior to his genius"
(p. 243) and maintains that the English stage is inferior to
the French because drama such as Shakespeare's lacks grace:
"the bold delineations of character which distinguish the
drama which Shakespeare has formed, can be represented only
by the display of an energy and extremity of passion which
is incompatible with the temperance of graceful gesture"
(Essays, II, 5, ii, 403).
15
Henry Morley, Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair (London:
Chapman and Hall, 1859), p. vii. By Wordsworth's time,
Morley notes, the fair was more a "Pleasure Fair" than a
"place of Trade," the majority of the participants being
attracted by the "freaks" (VII, 715) and the "Prodigies"
(VII, 693) Wordsworth describes in The Prelude.
16
The Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V.
Erdman (1965; rpt. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970):
The Mills of Satan and Beelzeboul stand round the
roots of Urizens tree
For this lake is forrnd from tears & sighs & death
sweat of the Victims
Of Urizens laws. to irrigate the roots of the tree
of Mystery. (11. 26-28)
17
Abbie Findlay Potts, Wordsworth's Prelude: A Study
of Its Literary Form (1953; rot. New York: Octagon Books,
1966), pp. 219-20.
18
Potts, p. 237. Also common to both works is the
theme of deception and lies in the city and the absence
of truth. "Truth" is the only item Christian and Faithful
wish to purchase in Vanity Fair, and the "freward multitude"
hearing Burke speak hates "truth" (VII, 531-32).
19
Karl Kroeber, "A Newr Reading of 'The World Is Too
Much With Us,'" Studies in Romanticism, 2 (August 1962), 184.
20
Kroeber, p. 186.


47
stealing the bird from another's snare, the child of The
Prelude experiences what Alison terms the "rising voice of
conscience":
. . and when the deed was done
I heard among the solitary hills,
Low breathings coming after me, and sounds
Of undistinguishable motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod.
(I, 321-25)
The "low breathings" and the "sounds / Of undistinguishable
motion" the child hears suggest that conscience emerges
first as a palpable external force that frightens the child.
Ultimately, the child of The Prelude comes to rely on
conscience not as an external and palpable force but as an
internal standard of discipline. Associating with "enduring
things / With life and nature" (I, 409-10), he is disci
plined to recognize man's potential for greatness:
. . purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
(I, 410-14)
The fact that Wordsworth uses the words "purifying" and
"sanctifying" to describe the process by which one comes
to recognize human dignity suggests that he views it as an
essential part of the child's religious education. Alison
similarly associates the development of conscience with the
child's recognition of his role in the divine system and
with his love for human virtue (."On Religious Education,"
II, 23, 25) .


65
Thus, for both Wordsworth and Alison the country is preferred
to the city because the natural forms afford more basis for
religious devotion.
Both writers emphasize the virtue emerging from associa
tion with natural forms rather than the vice resulting from
association with urban forms. Alison in Essays on Taste
reflects this concern with rural virtue rather than urban
vice; moreover, the ethical concerns he raises emerge from
the concept of virtue founded on one's relationship with the
natural world. Wordsworth's poetry reveals a similar con
cern with characters whose virtue is attached to nature;
Beach describes Wordsworth's preference for such persons as
heroes of his poems:
It is clear that Wordsworth discovers more of
nature among peasants than among townsmen.
Their passions, he finds, are more simple, less
confused, and more profoundbetter subject
for poetry, and giving more promise of an ideal
social condition in the future. Their social
feelings have not been tainted with commercialism;
their families not broken up by the industrial
revolution.4
Both Wordsworth and Alison believed that possession of land
in rural areas afforded protection from the evils of society.
In a letter written to Charles James Fox in 1801, Words
worth explains that "Michael" and "The Brothers" were in
spired by the rural virtue or "domestic affections" of the
"small independent proprietors of land" who "live in a
country not crowded with population. . ."3 Alison's
practice illustrates this belief: he granted leases of
land from the "considerable tract" awarded him as a clergy
man, finding that "in the allotment system, which tended to


178
"unseen spirit" serves to link man and nature, Wordsworth's
"presence" suggests a mystical unity between man and nature.
Ultimately, "thinking things," or men capable of creative
activity, are impelled by the same force that pervades ex
ternal nature. In addition to expressing a sense of unity
between man and nature, Wordsworth's description also
identifies a divine rather than a human source of creative
power.
In exploring the relationship between the mind and the
external world in "Tintern Abbey," Wordsworth employs an
aesthetic vocabulary for which specific historical analogues
may be established. Although Wordsworth's vocabulary re
flects a familiarity with much of the writing in the field
of aesthetics at the end of the eighteenth century, Alison's
Essays on Taste affords especially valuable insight into the
poet's terminology and concepts. Alison, like Wordsworth,
bases the poetic experience in sensationalistic theory. At
the same time both transcend the simple action of perception
to establish natural forms as symbols of spiritual qualities.
Although Alison and Wordsworth note that a tribute to the
imagination should include a hymn of praise to the Creator,
both emphasize the creative potential of the poetic imagina
tion. The poet's ability to bestow life on inanimate ob
jects affords him a god-like stature. For Wordsworth, the
poetic imagination not only modifies and shapes sensations
received from the external world but also elevates man from
creature to creator. Both the vocabulary and substance of


165
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
. . feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure. . (11. 25-31)
As a tribute to the power of his imagination, Wordsworth
emphasizes what Alison terms the "glow" of the creations of
the "fancy" (I, 2, i, 165) by describing the effect it has
on himits ability to evoke "sensations sweet" and "feelings
too / Of unremembered pleasure." His other faculties are
obscured and the noise of the city is forgotten as he loses
himself in the contemplation of beauty. Similarly, the poet
can forget that he is "in darkness and amid the many shapes
/ Of joyless daylight" (.11. 51-52) to return imaginatively
to the Wye. Addressing the natural forms, he comments:
"How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee" (1. 55).
Both Wordsworth and Alison note that a person's
imaginative life may be more valuable, as well as more
pleasurable, than his real life. According to Alison,
imaginative persons
. . from the noise and tumult of vulgar joy,
often hasten to retire to solitude and silence,
where they may yield with security to those
illusions of Imagination, and indulge again
their visionary bliss. Cl, 2, i, 165)
Wordsworth regards his present visit to the Wye not only as
evoking his "present pleasure" but also as providing the
substance for future "visionary bliss":
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. . (11. 62-65)


35
protection but acknowledge that he needs some type of edu
cation to lead him from the love of the beauty of the natural
world to the love of man and the love of God. Both insist
that religious devotion is natural for the child, and both
outline the benefits of youthful piety.
The ideal of the natural education, as outlined by
Alison, is central to Wordsworth's philosophy. Alison
describes the ideal education for the child, an ideal few
enjoy in reality:
There are few who have been taught in infancy
to raise their minds to the contemplation of
His works; who love to kindle their adoration
at the altar of Nature, or to lose themselves
in astonishment amid the immensity of the
universe; and who thus "seeing Him with their
eyes," learn to associate the truths of religion
with all the most valued emotions of their
hearts. ("On Spring," I, 24)
In childhood a "natural impulse" "leads us to meditation
and praise" ("On Spring," I, 25-26). The failure to provide
children associations with the natural world tends "to
chill the native sensibility of [their] minds to devotion;
and to render religion rather the gloomy companion of the
church and the closet, than the animating friend of [their]
ordinary hours" ("On Spring," I, 24).
Although both Wordsworth and Alison prefer to view the
child in a natural setting, they acknowledge that even the
child denied contact with nature is afforded a type of
divine protection. In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth
presents a child in the city who is surrounded by a crowd
of "spectators," "dissolute men / And shameless women"


40
wisdom and goodness of God" ("On the Example of Our Savior's
Piety," II, 94). Alison further describes Christ's natural
education and his "early and secret devotion" as the "great
foundation of that character which distinguished his future
days": "Amid the obscurity and solitude of Nazareth, we can
see him employed in silent communion with God. We can follow
the progress of his youthful devotion, as it rose amid the
scenery of nature ..." ("On the Example of Our Savior's
Piety," II, 95-96).
In his sermon "On the Youth of Solomon" Alison again
turns to the theme of youthful piety, explaining its
significance for the child who is receiving a natural edu
cation:
[Piety is] suited, in the first place, we think,
to the opening of human life,to that interesting
season, when nature in all its beauty first opens
on the view, and when the wisdom and goodness
of the Almighty fall on the heart, unmingled
and unimpaired. ("On the Youth of Solomon," I,
46-47)
Alison finds that "piety which springs only from the heart,
the devotion which nature, and not reasoning inspires"
affords "the best and noblest school in which the mind may
be trained to whatever is great and good in human nature"
("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 48). Alison's use of the
word "school" helps to reinforce the idea that the "piety"
inspired by contact with natural forms is an essential part
of the child's education, an integral part of the formation
of his future character. He concludes that for the child
receiving such an education "Nature herself would then be
come the friend of piety" ("On Spring," I, 35).


118
the mind to narrow views, and sordid occupations" ("On the
Youth of Solomon," I, 49).
In addition to the shepherds of Book VIII as models of
human virtue, the participants at the "rustic fair" (1. 11)
of the book's beginning suggest certain qualities which
Alison associates with human dignity. Alison explains how
such "scenes of relaxation" tend "to preserve the dignity of
human character":
Whenever amusement is sought, it is in the society
of our brethren; and whenever it is found, it is
in our sympathy with the happiness of those around
us. It bespeaks the disposition of benevolence,
and it creates it. ("On Winter, As the Season of
Social Amusement," I, 415)
Alison further notes that persons engaged in such activities
present "to the thoughtful eye, one of the most pleasing
appearances of their original character" ("On Winter, As
the Season of Social Amusement," I, 415-16). Wordsworth
not only uses words such as "gaiety" and "cheerfulness"
(1. 53) to describe the general atmosphere of happiness
that prevails but also chooses the term "delightful" (1. 18)
to describe his own aesthetic response to the event. Juxta
posed to the "spectacle" (1. 680) of London's Bartholomew
Fair in Book VII, the "rustic fair" at the beginning of
Book VIII presents a pleasing vision of "rural peace" (1.
73). The book of The Prelude that chronicles the poet's
growing regard for human nature thus begins with a scene
illustrating the more admirable qualities of man's
character.


194
Wordsworth and Philosophy: Suggestions Con
cerning the Source of the Poet's Doctrines and the
Nature of His Mystical Excerience. New York: n.p.,
1929.
Steiner, George. The Death of Tragedy. New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 1961.
Stephen, Leslie. "Archibald Alison." Dictionary of National
Biography. Ed. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 22 vols.
London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1937.
Stillinger, Jack, ed. Selected Poems and Prefaces by William
Wordsworth. Riverside Editions. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1965.
Stone, P.W.K. The Art of Poetry, 1750-1820: Theories of
Poetic Composition and Style in the Late Neo-Classic
and Early Romantic Periods. London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1967.
Trawick, Leonard M., ed. Backgrounds of Romanticism: Eng
lish Philosophical. Prose of the Eighteenth Century.
Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1967.
Trevelyan, G.M. English Social History: A Survey of Six
Centuries: Chaucer to Queen Victoria. London:
Longmans, Green, 1942.
Trilling, Lionel. "The Immortality Ode." In The Liberal
Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society. New
York: Viking Press, 1950 pp 129-59.
Tuveson, Ernest Lee. The Imagination as a Means of Grace:
Locke and the Aesthetics of Romanticism. Berkeley:
Univ, of California Press, 1960.
"The Importance of Shaftesbury." ELH: A
Journal of English Literary History, 20 (December
1953) 267-99.
Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and
Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness. 13th
ed. London: Methden, 1940.
INellek, Ren. "The New Criticism: Pro and Contra."
Critical Inquiry, 4 (Summer 1978), 611-24.
Willey, Basil. The Seventeenth Century Background: Studies
in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and
Religion. 1934; rpt. London: Chatto and Windus, 194 9.


168
his moral character. The natural forms
. . have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. . (11. 32-35)
The importance of the "influence" of the natural forms is
emphasized, although the poet acknowledges that he was at
the time unaware of the importance of such actions.
Finally, Wordsworth turns to the type of protection the
joy of spiritual maturity can afford:
. . 'tis her [Nature's] privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us. . (11. 123-32)
The fact that he is being led "From joy to joy" indicates
that nature conducts the discipline. Moreover, the concept
of progressing from "joy to joy" acquires additional meaning
when evaluated in terms of Alison's stages of spiritual
development. The word "joy" suggests both the simple
pleasure of childhood and the joy of spiritual maturity.
Alison's terminology is reflected in the poet's use of the
verb "impress" in a structure parallel to that in which he
uses the verb "inform." In the language of sensationalism,
the term "impress" is used to indicate the relationship
between the mind and the external world. When the verb
"inform" is used transitively with the noun "mind" as its
object, the OED indicates, it has a special meaning: "to


77
(Essays, II, 6, ii, 390); however, the "extravagance of
comic, or the violence of tragic passion" is incompatible
with graceful gestures (Essays, II, 6, ii, 391). Although
Wordsworth enjoys the theater in London, when one evaluates
these theatrical productions in light of Alison's comments,
they reveal the same lack of grace that characterizes the
14
conduct of most of those Wordsworth encounters in London.
Like the paintings and theatrical productions Wordsworth
views in London, the courtroom and pulpit oratory manifests
a quality of deceptive artificiality; the artificial forms
with which city dwellers are confronted actually deceive
their senses. Alison, concerned with this deception in the
city, finds that "ministers" of sin appear not "under their
real and characteristic forms, but under the masks of spirit,
of fashion, and of liberality; under semblances well con
structed to deceive, and still better constructed to betray"
("Cities," II, 257). In his description of the theatrics
of the courtroom and the pulpit, Wordsworth echoes the theme
of deception that marks Alison's description of city life:
Each fondly reared on its own pedestal,
Looked out for admiration. . .
Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense
Of these, and of the living shapes they wear,
There is no end. (Prelude, VII, 577-83)
In Alison's terms, the "lies" the city offers the senses
have the potential to become the deceptive "ministers" of
sin.
The epitome of human art and consequently the "true
epitome / Of what the mighty City is herself" (Prelude, VII,


51
Even as the adult begins to experience the child's joy,
he finds that natural objects remind him of "something that
is gone" (1. 53). The question of where the "visionary
gleam" (1. 56) has gone is answered by a description of the
"glory" that surrounds the child recently delivered from his
celestial home and the "forgetting" that accompanies birth
and earthly existence:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home. . .
(11. 58-65)
Both Wordsworth and Alison view physical birth in terms of
its negative spiritual consequences. While Alison merely
alludes to the purity of the child's mind before his contact
with the world, Wordsworth uses the terms "sleep" and
"forgetting" to suggest that the child's birth represents
in fact a kind of spiritual death, erasing the child's
memory of his other existence. To modify somewhat the
negative tone of the first lines of the stanza and to ex
plain how the child still possesses powers the adult does
not, Wordsworth explains that the child trails "clouds of
glory," that he retains vestiges of his former existence.
To signal the fading of the child-'s "glory" and his
recollections of preexistence as he grows up and acquires
earthly habits, both Wordsworth and Alison use images of
restraint and confinement. Alison uses the verb "contracted"


76
is generally critical of painting or performing arts, the
art forms encountered in London are associated with the
deceptive artificiality which characterizes the city. The
paintings present a semblance of reality to the viewer:
. . sights that ape
The absolute presence of reality,
Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land,
And what earth is, and what she has to shew.
(Prelude, VII, 232-35)
However, such paintings are for Wordsworth "imitations,
fondly made in plain / Confession of man's weakness and
his loves" (VII, 238-39). Alison finds the painter inferior
to the poet because he is limited to the sense of sight
(Essays, I, 2, i, 131). Wordsworth finds this visual
quality distorted in London as the paintings become part
of the "spectacles" (VII, 230) characterizing city life.
The theater similarly constitutes an artificial medium,
characterized by the paradoxical quality of "measured
passions" (Prelude, VII, 405). Both Alison and Wordsworth
use the term "passion" to describe a state of intense
feeling, and Alison's definition (Essays, II, 6, ii, 389)
suggests that the "intensity of passion" cannot be assessed,
patterned, or "measured." Alison finds that "artificial
passions" pervade city life ("Cities," II, 256), and Words
worth describes a similar quality in his discussion of
Drury Lane.
Furthermore, Alison's comments on grace suggest another
characteristic of the theater. Alison notes that the
theater would appear to offer one "the exhibition of Grace"


139
Remember, still more, what you owe to Him who
called you into being; who has infused into
your minds so many noble capacities for virtue,
for wisdom, and for happiness; and who has set
before you the infinity of progressive perfec
tion, to waken them into life and activity.
("On the Encouragement Which the Gospel Affords
to Active Duty," I, 125)
The poet similarly finds his "sense of excellence"
enhanced (XIII, 58) in turning to man and to human virtue.
Wordsworth's confidence that nothing "could overthrow my
trust / In what we may become" (VIII, 649-50) is confirmed
as he looks to humanity for both present virtue and future
hopes:
. . I sought
For present good in life's familiar face,
And built thereon my hopes of good to come.
(XIII, 61-63)
The poet's optimism seems justified, as his earlier concern
for human mortality is replaced by a sense of human
"permanence":
. . to seek
In man, and in the frame of social life,
Whate'er there is desirable and good
Of kindred permanence, unchanged in form
And function, or, through strict vicissitude
Of life and death, revolving.
(XIII, 34-39)
Wordsworth's reference to "kindred permanence" reflects the
humanist assumption that man's nature is "permanent and
uniform, quite unchanged by time or place." Although some
conservative writers maintain that a recognition of this
quality leads to serious "doubts about the probability of
29
any moral or qualitative 'progress,'" Wordsworth views
such "permanence" much more optimistically; the poet finds


80
days, and insensibly acquiring those lower
dispositions of the world, which he once had
the wisdom to lament, and to despise.
("Cities," II, 255)
Since Wordsworth and Alison believe that one develops vir
tue from association with natural forms, then the loss of
one's earlier "impressions" may lead to moral decline.
The loss of imaginative power in the presence of urban
forms is illustrated in Book VII of The Prelude. Bartholomew
Fair, the "epitome" of urban life (VII, 722), has this de
structive potential;
A work completed to our hands, that lays,
If any spectacle on earth can do,
The whole creative powers of man asleep!
For once, the Muse's help will we implore,
And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings,
Above the press and danger of the crowd,
Ucon some showman's platform.
(VII, 679-85)
In both Wordsworth's and Alison's philosophy of creation,
a state of passive responsiveness is indicated by images
of corporeal sleeping; the "exercise of imagination," by
images of mental awakening (Essays, II, 6, ii, 434).
Bartholomew Fair presents an inversion of this imagery.
While the physical body is kept awake by the spectacles
at the fair, man's "creative powers" are laid asleep (VII,
679-81).
In an infrequent invocation to the Muse, Wordsworth
asks deliverance from "the press and danger of the crowd"
(VII, 684). The term "danger" is central to Alison's sermon
on the city; in fact, over half the sermon is devoted to
"a consideration of the dangers which surround those 'who


33
Fathers," and "The Pet-Lamb" features a child's conversation
with a lamb. Wordsworth also uses the metaphor of the child
as a lamb to express his fears for Hartley Coleridge's future
("To H. C."). The poet consoles himself by suggesting that
Hartley will be spared the loss of innocence and joy that
normally attends adult life:
Nature will either end thee quite;
Or, lengthening out thy season of delight,
Preserve for thee, by individual right,
A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks.
(11. 21-24)
Although Wordsworth may be merely expressing the hope that
Hartley will be able to maintain the essence of innocence
and joy throughout adult life, his emphasis on the child's
inability to "sustain unkindly shocks" (1. 28) suggests
that he is able to view Hartley as subject only to mortality,
not to the loss of innocence that would characterize adult
life.
Various characteristics of the child emphasized in
Alison's aesthetic theory appear in Wordsworth's shorter
poems of childhood. The children of Wordsw7orth's poems
manifest joy, their motions and gestures characterized by
freedom from restraint. In outlining the "Characteristics
of a Child Three Years Old," Wordsworth finds that adults
"take delight in its activity" (1. 10); he also emphasizes
the child's happiness:
. . this happy Creature of herself
Is all-sufficient; solitude to her
Is blithe society. . (11. 11-13)


62
The first (and shortest) section includes background infor
mation: it places the discussion within the tradition of
contrasting the city and the country and presents briefly
the views of Wordsworth and Alison on this topic, suggesting
that Alison is especially valuable as an analogue for a
study of Wordsworth. In this section Joseph Warren Beach's
comments are used because they effectively summarize Words
worth's views on the subject; moreover, the specific poems
presenting Wordsworth's views concerning nature and natural
virtue are treated in other chapters. The remainder of the
chapter, involving a close comparison of the ideas in Words
worth's poetry and those in Alison's Essays and sermons,
begins with a discussion of the stimuli with which the city
dweller is confronted, followed by a discussion of the
aesthetic and spiritual consequences of urban life, and con
cludes with a discussion of the proper response to urban
residence.
Throughout my discussion of Wordsworth's treatment of
the city, I emphasize Alison's concept of the "dominion of
Man." The stimuli I discusssights, sounds, and motions
relate to human activity, and I give special attention to
the absence of grace in the crowd's behavior, grace being
the concept by which Alison relates human motion or gesture
to an internal standard of self-discipline. Commercialism,
industrialization, paintings, theatrical productions, and
courtroom and pulpit oratory are specific examples of human
activities discussed in this section. This part concludes


5
as a "prelude to romantic art."^ Like Tuveson, he regards
Alison as, in many respects, the culmination of eighteenth-
century associationist and aesthetic theories and, conse
quently, an "easy transition from the eighteenth to the
g
nineteenth century." Concluding that Alison "isolates from
the chaos of eighteenth-century emotion the aesthetic
e>
experience," Monk finds that his "lucid style," the "easily
grasped tenets of his theory," and the "palpably convenient"
psychology of his system rendered the spread of his ideas
9
inevitable. He includes Alison as part of the philosophical
background influencing the first generation of Romantic
poets:
. r ideas and objects which the eighteenth
century had often used clumsily and occasionally
happily, were brought sharply to the fore in the
closing.years of the eighteenth century, and were
recognized elements of the republic of letters
when the romantic generation came to treat them
anew, according to their own method. u
Whereas Tuveson regards Alison as important in clarifying
the nature of poetic symbolism, Monk regards Alison's
theories as a possible commentary on the form of Romantic
poetry: Alison's assertion that the object of aesthetic
interest serves merely as a stimulus to the imagination
suggests a kind of Romantic art "based not on outward form
so much as on a steady flow of emotions and ideas that grow
11
out of each other."
Hippie, like Monk, points to the importance of Essays
on Taste as an aesthetic treatise and suggests its importance
for a study of Romantic poetry. In The Beautiful, the Sub
lime, and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British.


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
James B. Twitchell
Associate Professor of English
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was accepted
as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
June 1980
Dean, Graduate School


123
The same power which first called you into being,
and spread the blossoms of your spring, is now in
his great system, conducting you to the termination
of your days, and resolving your material frame into
the dust from which it sprung. ("On Winter, As the
Season of Religious Thought," I, 438)
Within Alison's framework, even the leech-gatherer's
infirmities afford him a kind of dignity as they represent
his journey toward immortality: Alison maintains that "the
infirmities of age shall put on 'immortality'" ("On Winter,
As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 439). The "resolu
tion" of the title suggests not only the leech-gatherer's
firmness of mind but also the approaching dissolution of
his body, its "resolution" into its original form.
Finally, the persona of the poem also makes a "resolu
tion" : he reaches a decision about the conduct of his own
life based on the leech-gatherer's example. From the joyous
mood of the first three stanzas of the poem, the poet plunges
into "dejection" (1. 25), with depressing thoughts of future
"Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty" (1. 35).
Alison does not celebrate such gloom as a worthy emotion
("On Autumn," I, 322); in fact, he maintains that it must
be corrected. In the "merciful providence of God," some
event frequently arises which "restores the mind to its
proper tone . ("On Instability of Character," II, 327-
28). Furthermore, he notes, we are led, "as if by some
mysterious charm, from the bosom of melancholy to the
highest hopes and consolations of our being" ("On Autumn,"
I, 335). The mysterious, almost supernatural, aspect of
the leech-gatherer is emphasized in the poem:


134
Wordsworth only briefly describes the beggars passive
virtue. The aged man has lived "in the eye of Nature" (1.
196), suggesting by his conduct "The good which the benignant
law of Heaven / Has hung about him" (11. 167-68). The
qualities of "submissive piety" and "humble patience" are
also reflected in Wordsworths description of the man in
"Animal Tranquillity and Decay":
Long patience hath such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect that the young behold
With envy, what the Old Man hardly feels.
(11. 10-14)
Wordsworths focus is the charity and benevolence the
beggar evokes in the villagers. This emphasis has caused
Jack Stillinger to describe the man as "a kind of pedestrian
24 .
objective correlative," his primary function being to
elicit a certain emotional response from others. Words
worth notes that the beggar's purpose is to "prompt the
unlettered villagers / To tender offices and pensive
thoughts" (11. 169-70), a description suggesting Alison's
comments on meditation and kind deeds.
Wordsworth's description of the villagers' charitable
conduct suggests Alison's association of benevolence with
virtue. Alison describes the rewards for the exercise of
the "noblest charity": "To be thus employed is itself
happiness" ("On Summer," I, 215). Furthermore, he maintains
that one is led almost unconsciously to additional "exercise
of active virtue" ("On Summer," I, 207) because it is
pleasurable. Wordsworth's description is similar:


102
6
Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: An Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W^ Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 12.
7 .
Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthe
tically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and
Principles of Taste, 3rd ed.-) 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald
Constable, 1812).
g
Citations from Wordsworth's prefaces and poems other
than The Prelude, indicated parenthetically in the text,
are to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest
De Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952-59).
9
In the second essay, "Of the Sublimity and Beauty of
the Material World," Alison's chapter divisions reflect his
concern with the empirical basis of aesthetics: "On the
Sublimity and Beauty of Sound," "On the Sublimity and Beauty
of the Objects of Sight," and "On the Sublimity and Beauty
of Motion" are among his topics of discussion.
"LBoth Wordsworth and Alison exploit the various con
notations of the word "spectacle." Both use the term in
its basic denotative sense"a thing seen or capable of
being seen"a definition which relates to the terminology
of empiricism. Alison uses the term "spectacle" to describe
the "marvel or admiration" with which one regards the
natural world. In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth
"marvels" at the "spectacle" (1. 643) of the blind beggar;
however, more typically in his portrait of London he evokes
the negative connotations of the word: the display of rare
birds and beasts (VII, 230), the blasphemous woman (VII,
394), and Bartholomew Fair (VII, 680) are "spectacles" in
that they are objects of "curiosity or contempt."
"^Citations from The Prelude, indicated parenthetically
in the text, are to The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's
Mind, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Helen Darbishire, 2nd
ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959). Although all of the
poems discussed in detail in this chapter are from the
decade 1798-1807, the 1850 edition of The Prelude is used
because of what I take to be its stylistic improvements.
Most of the passages discussed show no significant "changes
of idea" (De Selincourt's term, p. lxiii) in the later
edition.
12
The OED notes that the word "industrious" is used
occasionally in the nineteenth century as synonymous with
"industrial."


72
The gestures of rage, in the same manner, of
force, of anguish, of terror, may affect us
with very sublime emotions of fear, of
astonishment, of awful interest, but they
may be unaccompanied with any emotion of
respect for the individual who displays
them. (II, 5, ii, 381-82; my italics)
The mob's conduct suggests violence and intemperance; in
Alison's terms it cannot therefore be regarded as graceful.
However, intemperate gestures of "rage," "force," "anguish,"
or "terror," which do not reflect an internal quality of
self-command, can evoke the "sublime" emotions of "astonish
ment" or "awful interest." Wordsworth's apostrophe thus re
flects an "awful interest" in the behavior of the mob with
out the admiration or "emotion of respect" that graceful
conduct would evoke.
Much of Wordsworth's description of London residence
is, in fact, concerned with intemperate behavior and grace
less conduct. Examples of what Alison would term graceless
persons are a "common produce" (VII, 588) their graceless
ness reflected in "Folly, vice, / Extravagance in gesture,
mien, and dress" (VII, 578-79). The few examples of
graceful conductthe legendary Maid of Buttermere's
"modest mien / And carriage, marked by unexampled grace"
(VII, 307-08) or the father with the sickly infant (VII,
602-18)"set off by foil, / Appeared more touching" (VII,
601-02).
In addition to the mobs conduct as evidence of human
art, mans workmanship is also reflected in industrialization
and commercialism. In Essays on Taste Alison alludes to


115
arising almost spontaneously from working amid natural forms.
One who labors against the background of nature's industry
is, in effect, "awakened ... to new zeal in the service
of God" ("On Spring," I, 39). Alison maintains that such
industry is the foundation of virtue: "the moral honours
of our being can only be won by the stedfast magnanimity
of pious duty" ("On Winter, As the Season of Social Amuse
ment," I, 422). Furthermore, humble and simple persons
represent "the most dignified submission to the hand of
chastening Heaven," the "most magnanimous adherence to truth
and honesty" ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 215).
When Wordsworths love for the simple shepherd class is
evaluated in light of Alison's comments, it becomes apparent
that he learns to love such persons for their virtue rather
than only because of their association with nature. The
shepherds Wordsworth admires are not the mythical shepherds
of "old time" (1. 173); they are nature's "fellow-workers"
(."On Spring," I, 39), in Alison's sense of the term:
. . the sun and sky,
The elements, and seasons as they change,
Do find a worthy fellow-labourer there
Man free, man working for himself, with choice
Of time, and place, and object; by his wants,
His comforts, native occupations, cares,
Cheerfully led to individual ends
Or social, and still followed by a train
Unwooed, unthought-of evensimplicity,
And beauty, and inevitable grace.
(11. 101-10)
Wordsworth's finding beauty and "inevitable grace" in the
simplicity of the shepherd's life suggests both Alison's
definition of grace and his comments on humble life as


141
Wordsworth's use of the term "beauty" suggests an aesthetic
appreciation of human dignity, while his use of the term
"divine" suggests the spiritual overtones of his comments.
The recognition of the beauty and divinity of the human mind
is the lesson of The Prelude as well as the culmination of
the poet's own natural education.
Most of Wordsworth's poetry concerning maturity reveals
a focus on mankind, and the conclusion to The Prelude sug
gests a humanistic basis for this attitude. In maturity
the poet tends to subordinate his love for nature and to
exalt the human; Alison's comments on maturity help to
justify this process as.a logical and a spiritually appro
priate culmination of natures education. The adult must
identify with other human beingsboth empathizing with
human frailty and praising human grandeur. He must define
virtue in terms of human attributes and behavior and find
in such virtue a standard for the conduct of his own life.
Only when he has been humanized can man attain what Alison
terms the "sublimest prospects of mortality" (."On the
Religious and Moral Ends of Knowledge," I, 167), the highest
moral accomplishment human beings can achieve.


192
Holland, Patrick. "Wordsworth and the Sublime: Some Further
Considerations." The Wordsworth Circle, 5 (Winter 1974),
17-22.
Holman, C. Hugh. A Handbook to Literature. 3rd ed. New
York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1972.
Hutchinson, Sara. The Letters of Sara Hutchinson from 1800
to 1835. Ed. Kathleen Coburn. London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1954.
Inge, William Ralph. Studies of English Mystics: St.
Margaret's Lectures, 1905~ Essay Index Reprint Series.
1906; rpt. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press,
1969,
Kallich, Martin. "The Meaning of Archibald Alison's Essays
on Taste." Philological Quarterly, 27 (October 1948),
314-24.
Kroeber, Karl. "A New Reading of 'The World Is Too Much
With Us.'" Studies in Romanticism, 2 (August 1962),
183-88.
Lucas, F.L. The Decline and Fall of the Romantic Ideal.
New York: Macmillan, 1936.
Mack, Maynard. The Garden and the City: Retirement and
Politics in the Later Poetry of Pope, 1731-1743.
Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1969.
Marsh, Florence G. "Woodworth's Ode: Obstinate Questionings."
Studies in Romanticism, 5 (Summer 1966), 219-30.
Monk, Samuel H. The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories
in XVIII-Century England, 1674-1800: 1935; rpt. Ann
Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, I"960.
Monro, David Hector. Godwin's Moral' Philosophy: An Inter
pretation of William Godwin"! London: Oxford Univ.
Press, 1953.
Moore, C.A. "Shaftesbury and the Ethical Poets in England,
1700-60." PMLA, 31 (March 1916), 264-325.
Moorman, Mary. William Wordsworth: A Biography. 2 vols.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65.
Morley, Henry. Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair. London: Chap
man and Hall-) 1859.
Nicolson, Marjorie Hope. Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory:
The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite.
Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1959.


94
In "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" the concept of
harmony is reflected in the persona's recognition that the
urban forms can share the "majesty" (1. 3) and tranquillity
of the natural world. The way the persona of the sonnet
relates to the urban forms reflects Alison's concept of the
relationship of the internal and the external: "Ne'er saw
I, never felt, a calm so deep!" (1. 11). The use of the
verb "saw" indicates perception; the verb "felt" is used
by both Alison and Wordsworth to express sensation, an
internal response to external stimuli (Essays, II, 1, i,
177). The persona notes that the urban forms, mantled by
nature, effect the complex emotion of beauty:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning. . (11. 1-5)
The persona's response to the city is similar to Alison's
description of the response of the sensitive person to
natural forms:
. . I believe there is no man of genuine taste,
xvho has not often felt, in the lone majesty of
nature, some unseen spirit to dwell, which, in
his happier hours, touched as if with magic
hand, all the springs of moral sensibility. . .
(Essays, II, 6, ii, 438)
The city forms appear under the guise of the natural, and
the persona is able to experience emotions similar to those
experienced on actually viewing natural forms.
Furthermore, the most noxious evidences of man's
activities in the citysmoke and noiseare gone, and the
naturalthe sun and the riveris emphasized. The air is


81
dwell in the cities of the plain' . (II, 253). Alison
defines one danger as the loss of "former impressions"
("Cities," II, 255) from contact with urban life. "Impres
sions" for Alison are generally associated with the relation
ship between external stimuli and the mind (Essays, I, i, 10);
consequently, the loss of impressions is ultimately associated
with the loss of imaginative power. Alison's Essays also
reflect a concern with this danger: imaginative persons find
it necessary to escape the "noise and tumult of vulgar joy"
to "yield with security to those illusions of Imagination,
and indulge again their visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165).
As Abbie Findlay Potts indicates in her discussion of Words
worth's Poet in The Prelude and Bunyan's Christian in Pil
grim's Progress, a theme common to both works is that of
17
"flight from the city." Bunyan's Vanity Fair, representing
the corruption of moral and spiritual values in the city,
obviously serves as a model for Wordsworth's Bartholomew
Fair, representing the loss of imaginative power and the
resulting moral decline suffered by city dwellers. As Potts
points out, "The analogies between London and its Bartholomew
Fair and the Town called Vanity with its Fair 'of ancient
18
standing' are so obvious that they need few illustrations."
"The World Is Too Much With Us" is as much a commentary
on the deadening effect of the city on the imagination as a
criticism of commercialism. Karl Kroeber's interpretation
of the sonnet argues for the identification of "Getting and
spending" with the loss of visionary powers, not merely
19
with monetary exchange. When the sonnet is evaluated,


64
the opposition between the country and the city. However,
Alison's work remains of special value in analyzing Words
worth's views concerning the city: while writers such as
Williams concern themselves with the multiplicity of
associations the country and the city have acquired, Alison
shows a Wordsworthian concern with specific aesthetic and
spiritual consequences of urban residence.
Both Alison and Wordsworth find it useful to explain
artificial urban life in terms of the natural. Wordsworth's
attitude toward the city emerges from the poet's preference
for the natural rather than the artificial, as Beach has
noted:
The country is nature more obviously than the town
because it is the world as it came unspoiled from
the hands of the Great Artificer; whereas in town
the aspect of things is defaced by the works of
man, so often perverse and degraded. . nature
generally suggests the opposition between God's
world and man's.3
Beach's description of Wordsworth's philosophy is closely
paralleled by Alison's description in his sermon "On the
Moral Dangers of the Society of Great Cities":
In all ages, the scenes of nature have been the
seat of devotion. It is there, "where day unto
day uttereth speech, and night unto night teacheth
knowledge concerning God." . the silent, but
incessant movements of that mighty system, which
speak the incessant providence of the Mind that
guides it. ... It is a different scene with
which we are presented when we visit the habita
tions of men. . From the dominion of nature,
we enter at once the dominion of Man. No sound
reaches our ear but those of his activity;no
prospect opens upon our eye, but those of his
power or his pride. . [We] begin to imagine
that we are living only in a world of human art.
(II, 253-55)3


CHAPTER III
ALISON AND THE HUMAN FOCUS OF WORDSWORTH'S
POETRY CONCERNING MATURITY
Although both Wordsworth and Alison view the child as
an object of aesthetic interest, their concern with his
natural education suggests progression toward the goal of
spiritual maturity. In fact, part of the importance of
childhood and youth resides in the preparation it provides
for adult life. Without minimizing the significance of
childhood or detracting from the child's glory, both writers
indicate that in maturity human powers are completely de
veloped and adults define themselves, according to Alison,
as either "the blessings or the curse of the society to
which they belong" {"On the Love of Excellence," II, 208).^
Both Wordsworth and Alison find that maturity brings an
increased interest in mankind: the adult not only identi
fies with other human beings (and more importantly with
human virtue) but also recognizes that this sense of human
dignity is, as Alison notes, "obviously intended as a
principle of Conduct,--as a source not only of enjoyment,
but of activity,as a constant spur, not only to make us
think, but to make us act with dignity" ("Of the Dangers of
Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With Active Virtue,"
II, 231).
Both scholars concerned with Wordsworth and writers
who describe the theological temperament of the late
105


36
24
(VII, 360-61). Despite his surroundings, the child is the
product of nature rather than the product of his "alien"
environment: "He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose / Just
three parts blowna cottage-child . ." (VII, 352-53).
Physically removed from natural forms, he is at the same
time afforded nature's protection:
Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer
Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked
By special privilege of Nature's love,
Should in his childhood be detained for ever I
(VII, 373-76)
Alison's sermon "On Evil Communication" helps to explain
why childhood is such an enviable state and why Wordsworth
wishes the city child could be forever "detained" in child
hood. The child is provided with a "guardian" to protect
him from the "dangers of passion and inexperience" ("On
Evil Communication," I, 241) and is guided by the "hand of
nature" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). Alison further
explains that "an unseen arm" conducts children "through
the dawn of their infant journey" ("On Summer," I, 194).
Another advantage of childhood is the unimpaired innocence
the child enjoys: "In almost every case the young begin
well. They come out of the hand of nature pure and un
corrupted" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). As Words
worth indicates, however, the unimpaired innocence that
permits the child of Book VII of The Prelude to associate
with corrupted adults "Like one of those who walked with
hair unsinged / Amid the fiery furnace" (VII, 369-70) will
not always afford him such protection:


193
Onorato, Richard J. The Character of the Poet: Wordsworth
in The Prelude. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1971.
Owen, W.J.B. "The Sublime and the Beautiful in The Prelude."
The Wordsworth Circle, 4 (Spring 1973), 67-86.
"Wordsworth's Aesthetics of Landscape." The
Wordsworth Circle, 7 (Spring 1976), 70-82.
ed. Wordsworth's Literary Criticism. London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974.
The Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. James A.H. Murray et al.
12 vols. 1933; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
Pattison, Robert. The Child Figure in English Literature.
Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1978.
Potts, Abbie Findlay. Wordsworth's Prelude: A Study of Its
Literary Form. 1953; rpt. New York: Octaqon Books,
19(56:
R#stvig, Maren-Sofie. The Happy Man: Studies in the Meta
morphoses of a Classical Ideal. 2nd ed. Oslo Studies
in English, 2,1. 2 vols. Oslo: Norwegian Universities
Press, 1962-71.
Rountree, Thomas J. This Mighty Sum of Things: Wordsworth's
Theme of Benevolent Necessity. University: Univ. of
Alabama Press, 1965.
Schmitt, Richard. "Phenomenology." In The Encyclopedia of
Philosophy. Ed. Paul Edwards. 6 vols. New York:
Macmillan, 1967, VI, 135-51.
Scoggins, James. Imagination and Fancy: Complementary
Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth. Lincoln: Univ. of
Nebraska Press, 1966.
Shaftesbury, Anthony Earl of. Characteristics of Men,
Manners, Opinions, Times. Ed. John M. Robertson. 2
vols. 1900; rpt. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith,
1963.
Sperry, Willard L. Wordsworth's Anti-Climax. Harvard
Studies in English, 13. Cambridge: Harvard Univ.
Press, 1935.
Spurgeon, Caroline F.E. Mysticism and English Literature.
1913; rpt. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press,
1970.
Stallknecht, Newton P. Strange Seas of Thought: Studies
in Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature. 2nd ed.
Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1958.


106
eighteenth century emphasize the concern for humanity central
to much of Wordsworth's poetry concerning maturity; Alison
provides an especially valuable background for examining
this interest in mankind because his ideas furnish a frame
work in which we may evaluate the poet's views without sug
gesting that Wordsworth subscribed to any single codified
theory or moral doctrine. Scholars not directly concerned
with Wordsworth have described the growing interest in
benevolence and sympathetic identification with other human
beings as a dominant impulse of the age immediately preceding
2
the Romantic period. The ideas which Wordsworth and Alison
expressed were thus partly the product of the age in which
they wrote; nevertheless, Alison remains a valuable analogue
for the study of Wordsworth because of certain specific
ideas the two writers share concerning maturity. Most
critics of Wordsworth have noted his evolving interest in
mankind in his description of his own maturity; however, an
examination of the poets concern for humanity in light of
Alison's ideas affords a better understanding of how the
young adult identifies with mankind and how such identifica
tion becomes the foundation of his ethics and defines the
standards of character and conduct appropriate for adult
life. After reviewing some of the relevant criticism, I
shall discuss the following aspects of maturity, using
Alison to clarify Wordsworth's ideas: (1.) the poet's
growing regard for mankind as described in Book VIII of
The Prelude--his love for simple persons whose virtue is


91
"fermenting mass" (Prelude, VII, 621) or Alison's society of
evil communication.
The concept of retreat from noxious urban stimuli
appears in "The Reverie of Poor Susan" as her waking dream.
In Alisonian terms Susan is indulging her "visionary bliss":
She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.
(11. 5-8)
Susan's experience clearly conforms to Alison's description
of "the young and the romantic" who find their imaginative
life more pleasurable than their real life (Essays, I, 2,
i, 165). Alison finds that "without any particular object
of meditation" pleasant scenes "rise as by enchantment be
fore the mind" (Essays, I, 2, i, 164). Even if the thrush
is considered an object of mediation, Susan's experience is
still the basic Alisonian process of the imagination's
effecting images in our mind "very different from those
which the objects themselves can present to the eye" (Essays,
I, 1, i, 5). Wordsworth's use of the phrase "note of en
chantment" (1. 5) to describe the bird's song seems to echo
Alison's terminology and suggests that Susan's imaginative
experience has a magical quality that transcends strict
empiricism.
Two of the qualities Alison ascribes to the imaginative
experience are reflected in Susan's reverie. Such illusions
are comforting (one may "yield with security") but transitory
She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:


95
"smokeless" (1. 8), and "Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and
temples" (1.6), edifices erected by human art, are "silent"
(1.5). Grob suggests the importance of the sun and the
river in the sonnet: for Wordsworth to acknowledge that
urban forms offer any potential for harmony and tranquillity
is "probably owing to the presence, in this urban prospect,
of his two major agents of natural harmony," the sun and
2 6
the river." As an additional indication of the harmony
of the scene, heaven and earth seem to converge: urban
forms "Open unto the fields, and to the sky" (1. 7). This
merger, suggesting Alison's "alliance . between heaven
and earth" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 443), represents the persona's
discovery that even urban forms can become symbolic of
divine workmanship.
While the persona in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge"
has only to perceive the harmony in urban forms mantled by
nature, the persona in The Prelude is forced to impose
imaginatively a type of natural order on urban forms. The
stimuli with which Wordsworth is confronted are basically
oppressive, with potential to deaden the imagination:
. . trivial objects, melted and reduced
To one identity, by differences
That have no law, no meaning, and no end
Oppression, under which even the highest minds
Must labour, whence the strongest are not free.
(VII, 726-30)
While natural forms serve as a stimulus for the exercise of
imagination, the mind must work against the influence of
urban objects.


175
The "mighty key" is available only to those who have achieved
a state of spiritual maturity. Although Alison does not
allude to grace directly in his discussion of the "mighty
key," it appears to be closely associated with the state of
grace. Alison associates a state of grace with the mind's
consciousness of its capacities: "... the mind is awake
to the consciousness of all the capacities it possesses"
(II, 6, ii, 392), capacities that by implication go beyond
the merely empirical or sensationalistic faculties of the
brain. The "mighty key" may be a state of mind realized
only in a state of grace.
Alison's "unseen spirit" serving to link man and nature
also suggests the mysticism of "Tintern Abbey." Alison
states:
. . I believe there is no man of genuine taste,
who has not often felt, in the lone majesty of
nature, some unseen spirit to dwell, which, in
his happier hours, touched as if with magic hand,
all the springs of his moral sensibility, and
rekindled in his heart those original conceptions
of the moral or intellectual excellence of his
nature, which it is the melancholy tendency of
the vulgar pursuits of life to diminish, if not
altogether to destroy. (II, 6, ii, 438)
The use of the words "unseen spirit" and "magic hand"
implies that the experience described here transcends pure
sensationalism and strict empiricism. Moreover, the "unseen
spirit," like the "mighty key," is perceived only by those
who have achieved a state of spiritual maturity. One must
already have attained "moral sensibility": the "unseen
spirit" dwelling in nature has the capacity only to rekindle
this sensibility when it has been weakened by contact with
the "vulgar pursuits of life."


167
beauty and sublimity of the natural world lead to the
recognition of such as the "workmanship of the Author of
nature" (II, 6, ii, 442) helps explain Wordsworth's rather
abrupt transition from glorification of his own imaginative
powers to contemplation of moral sentiments (11. 106-11) as
a natural associative process:
. . well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being. (11. 107-11)
Beginning with the realization that his creations consist
partially of his perceptions (11. 106-07) Wordsworth turns
to the natural world as it is perceived. Nature and the
sensations he receives from the external world determine
his moral existence.
The natural world becomes the scene of moral discipline
for Alison and Wordsworth. Alison notes:
. . in the hours when we are most unconscious
of it, an influence is perpetually operating,
by which our moral feelings are awakened, and
our moral sensibility exercised. . And in
the hours of the most innocent delight, while
we are conscious of nothing but the pleasures
we enjoy, the beneficence of Him that made us,
is employed in conducting a secret discipline,
by which our moral improvement is consulted. . .
(II, 6, ii, 440-41)
At the time he was being influenced by natural forms during
the first and second stages of moral development, he was
conscious only of the pleasures received from external
forms. The discipline is "secret" because only in a state
of spiritual maturity does Wordsworth realize that the
process of association has influenced the development of


To my father, Tom Kent Savage, and to the memory
of my mother, Mary Harder Savage


186
In addition to providing this background to the poet's
recurring themes, Alison also helps to counter some of the
critical assumptions about Wordsworth's imaginative and
poetic decline. Peter Coveney summarizes a prevalent
critical position in pointing to an "imaginative lowering"
in Wordsworth's poetry "when he turns from the feeling of
his experiences in Nature to the statement of philosophic
2
generalities" and retreats to Anglican conformity. Although
poems should not be regarded as philosophical treatises,
Wordsworth's similarities with Alison indicate that the poet
is implicitly, if not explicitly, expressing a doctrine of
spiritual aesthetics throughout his career. From the early
closet drama, The Borderers, to the 1850 edition of The
Prelude, the poet presents ideas readily illuminated by
Alisons Essays and sermons. To insist, as Coveney and
others have done, that Wordsworth becomes a "better man"
and a "worse poet" in embracing Anglican beliefs is mis-
3
leading. No, that is putting it too passively. To say
this is little short of preposterous. The poet's early and
continuing emphasis on the spiritual value of the aesthetic
response, like that of the clergyman Alison, does not suffer
from being consistent with the principles of Anglican faith.
An emphasis on Alison may seem too narrowly based when
one considers all of the historical sources or traditions
that undoubtedly helped to shape Wordsworth's doctrine and
poetry. Such an emphasis may seem to negate the importance
of the poetry itself by introducing extrinsic subjects for


19
These various explanations for Wordsworth's interest in
the child, when taken together, come at the whole truth more
successfully than would any narrow approach based on the
assumption that the poet was greatly concerned to remain
always consistent with some single codified philosophy or
exclusionary theory of child development. Alison, however,
is closer than Rousseau and Locke to Wordsworth's place and
time; he was aware of almost a century's response to Locke's
view of nature as the child's prime educator; and his view
of childhood includes the unsentimental and unpsychologized
(in short the un-Rousseauistic) view of childhood that is
also to be found throughout Wordsworth's poetry. Alison's
Essays on Taste and his collected sermons, moreover, present
the child in several contexts, and when these writings are
seen as a valuable analogue to Wordsworth's poetry, they
yield some especially manageable, suggestive, and hitherto
neglected examples of the many ideas of childhood that were
easily available to the poet. A concentration on Alison in
the study of this particular subject of childhood may seem
too narrowly based, but because of the variety in his views,
such a concentration can lead to several lines of inquiry
and therefore to the entertainment of multiple and hitherto
unconsidered hypotheses concerning the historical base of
Wordsworth's central interest in this single period of human
life.
I shall argue, for example, that Wordsworth, like Alison,
treats the child as an object of aesthetic delight,


117
The description of the shepherd silhouetted against the sky
like a cross amid a setting of natural forms is followed by
a description of the effect such a vision has on the poet's
views of human nature:
Thus was man
Ennobled outwardly before my sight,
And thus my heart was early introduced
To an unconscious love and reverence
Of human nature; hence the human form
To me became an index of delight,
Of grace and honour, cower and worthiness.
(11. 275-81)
This description of his love for mankind, as represented by
the shepherd, combines both the spiritual and the aesthetic
terminology of Alison. The term "delight" is generally
associated with one's aesthetic response to something
pleasing, while terms such as "honour" and "grace" refer
to spiritual qualities.
Similarly, Wordsworth's early association with such
men has spiritual as well as aesthetic consequences. Viewing
man "thus purified, / Removed, and to a distance that was
fit" (11. 304-05) not only affords pleasure but also provides
protection from the "vulgar passions" of the world:
And thus
Was founded a sure safeguard and defence
Against the weight of meanness, selfish cares,
Coarse manners, vulgar passions, that beat in
On all sides from the ordinary world
In which we traffic. (11. 317-22)
Alison similarly views the world as a potential source of
corruption and notes that if one is not introduced early in
life to examples of piety and virtue "the habits of worldly
pursuit have, ere this period [maturity] occurs, contracted


99
The Spirit of Nature was upon me there;
The soul of Beauty and enduring Life
Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused,
Through meagre lines and colours, and the press
Of self-destroying, transitory things,
Composure, and ennobling Harmony. (VII, 766-71)
The "Spirit of Nature" the poet senses in London has a
parallel in Alison's "unseen spirit" permeating external
nature and serves as an antidote to the potentially de
structive aspects of urban life. Alison's "unseen spirit"
touches, "as if with magic hand, all the springs of moral
sensibility," rekindling "those original conceptions of
the moral or intellectual excellence of his nature, which
it is the melancholy tendency of the vulgar pursuits of
life to diminish, if not altogether to destroy" (Essays,
II, 6, ii, 438). Life in London is characterized by
"vulgar pursuits"worldly ambitions and ungraceful conduct.
However, the poet is able to transform "meagre lines and
colours" imaginatively, to view them as possessing "ennobling
Harmony." Alison finds that "organic enjoyment" is not
"the only object of our formation": the "nobler conclusion"
for which man is destined is to be led by nature "to the
throne of the Deity" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 441-42). In
Alison's terms "ennobling Harmony" refers not only to an
aesthetic appreciation of form but also to an ethical
appreciation of the end for which man was created.
The presence of the "Spirit of Nature" in London
described in the conclusion to Book VII of The Prelude
suggests that the poet's attitude toward the city is not
as simple as it may first appear to be. Wordsworth is not


70
The noise of the city is inseparably linked to its
motion. Alison alludes to the "agitations" of urban society
("Cities," II, 256) and the "bustle of cities" ("Cities,"
II, 255). In The Excursion Wordsworth associates "bustle,
care, and noise" with city life (VII, 665) and alludes to
the "bustling crowd" (VIII, 245). The phrase "turbulence
of murmuring cities vast" (The Excursion, III, 104) also
reflects the combination of sound and motion. The excessive
motion as well as noise which characterizes the city is
criticized in Wordsworth's apostrophe to London:
Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain
Of a too busy world! Before me flow,
Thou endless stream of men and moving things!
. . the quick dance
Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening
din. . (Prelude, VII, 149-55)
The London apostrophe indicates how auditory and visual
stimuli, not inherently noxious, acquire such a quality when
excessive. Wordsworth uses strong adjectives and intensi
fies ("endless stream," "deafening din," and "too busy-
world"; my italics) to reinforce the concept of excess in
this description of London.
The behavior of the crowd is characterized not only by
excessive motion and unpleasant noise but also by the absence
of grace. For the two writers "grace" suggests a merging
of aesthetic and spiritual attributes. In expanding his
second essay in the 1811 edition, Alison adds a section
entitled "Of the Sublimity and Beauty of Attitude and
Gesture" followed by the section "Of Grace.
For Alison


CHAPTER IV
ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS OF
"TINTERN ABBEY"
An investigation of Wordsworth's poetry in terms of
Alison's Essays on the: Nature and Principles of Taste ex
plains the subjective aspect of his poetrythe relationship
of the mind to the external world: his aesthetic response
has an empirical basis in associative theory. At the same
time, Alison, like Wordsworth, ascribes to the poetic ex
perience certain elements that defy a strictly empirical
explanation. The creative potential of the poetic imagina
tion transcends mechanical association of ideas and enables
the poet to bestow life on inanimate objects through a
capacity for symbolism akin to personification. Alison's
ideas are especially applicable to the experience described
in "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey."
Alison's aesthetic theories help to explain the reminiscence
and retrospect of "Tintern Abbey" as both a description of
the process of association and a tribute to imaginative
creativity.
Both of the essential aspects of Alison's theoryasso-
ciationism and imaginationare reflected in "Tintern Abbey."
The empirical basis for the imaginative activity in the poem
is the objects of Wordsworth's aesthetic interest: although
not inherently beautiful or sublime, the natural objects
145


136
rescued from potential "selfishness" (1. 95) by this ever
present reminder of the need to be charitable.
The benevolence and charity described in "The Old
Cumberland Beggar" arise from the villagers' sympathetic
identification with another person, a process which both
Wordsworth and Alison maintain is essential for the mature
adult. The villagers of the poem find mere "abstinence
from evil deeds" (1. 144) does not "satisfy the human soul"
(1. 146). The persona acknowledges that "man is dear to
man" (1. 147) and finds that kindness to others results from
the recognition "That we have all of us one human heart"
Cl. 153). The "first mild touch of sympathy and thought"
Cl. 114) one receives in childhood from contact "with a
world / Where want and sorrow were" (11. 115-16) is the
foundation for the adults sympathetic identification with
others. The beggar is important not only because he mani
fests human weakness and requires sympathy but also because
he is afforded the grandeur all human beings share: "The
heaven-regarding eye and front sublime / Which man is born
to . ." (11. 81-82). In acknowledging the beggar's
humanity, Wordsworth has exalted the humble, simple person
and, at the same time, suggested the fundamental dignity
of all mankind.
Wordsworth's comments on human dignity in "The Old
Cumberland Beggar" suggest the tone of the concluding books
of The Prelude. By the time the poet finds his "theme"--"the
very heart of man" (XIII, 240-41)it is this dignity he


10
Wordsworth read Alison and was directly influenced by his
ideas but rather to suggest that Alison's value as an analogue
is enhanced by the evidence that the two writers were
acquainted and shared certain literary concerns.
The first edition of Essays was published in 1790 while
Alison resided in England, and Wordsworth may well have been
familiar with Alison's ideas soon after this time. Critics
such as Tuveson, Albrecht, and Kallich maintain that the
great influence of Alison's essays dates from its second
(1811) edition and Francis Jeffrey's admiring exposition of
the theories in The Edinburgh Review. Jeffrey's discussion
is a detailed summary of Alison's theory of aesthetics, which
undoubtedly made such theories familiar even to those who
had not read Alison. There is much evidence for Wordsworth's
familiarity with The Edinburgh Review: the periodical pub
lished not only Jeffrey's praise of Alison but also his
27
scathing attacks on Wordsworth's poetry. Since by 1811
Alison's reputation was well established, Wordsworth cer
tainly knew of him by this time. Alison's essays enjoyed
continued popularity: he frequently revised them until
2 8
they reached a sixth edition in 1825.
Alison's relationship with many important figures of
letters can readily be documented. Alison, as his son's
autobiography notes, became acquainted with Thomas Reid and
29
xAdam Smith at Glasgow College, and his wife (Dorothea
Gregory) was raised by Mrs. Montagu "in the midst of a
brilliant and intellectual circle" that included Burke,


60
3 8
This statement concerning the "Ode is quoted in the
notes to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest
De Selincourt, IV, 463-64.
Woodring, p.
91.


188
Notes
Rene Wellek quotes Brooks in refuting the accusation
that New Criticism is "unhistorical" ("The New Criticism:
Pro and Contra," Critical Inquiry, 4 [Summer 1978], 615).
2
Peter Coveney, The Image of Childhood: The Individual
and Society: A Study of the Theme in English Literature,
rev. ed. (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967), pT 76.
3
Coveney indicates that he shares this view about the
negative influence of Anglicanism with Basil Willey (p. 81).


110
Arthur Beatty cites both Wordsworth's poetry and prose
as evidence of his concern for mankind. Examining three
poems concerning maturity ("Elegiac Stanzas on Peele Castle,"
"Tintern Abbey," and "Ode: Intimations of Immortality"),
Beatty concludes: "All alike identify complete attainment
and unity with complete identification of the individual
with his kind." He finds that the poet's criticism similarly
emphasizes human attributes:
. . in the Advertisement to the Lyrical Ballads
in 1798, he threw over all aesthetic theories and
based the merits of his poetry on the sole merit
of a "natural delineation of human passions, human
characters, and human incidents," a position which
he never abandoned, but held tenaciously in all the
succeeding prefaces.
This focus on mankind, Beatty notes, separates Wordsworth
from the Rousseauists and suggests affinities with the
g
philosophies of Bacon and Locke. Like Clarke, Beatty
discusses the adult's relationship to nature and the edu
cation it has provided:
Thus, the function of Nature is to furnish us with
the materials of a true knowledge, and the educa
tion of man is to adjust his relations to her so
that she becomes the helper, and not the usurper,
of a power and place which she should not possess.
Other scholars also describe the theme of love for
mankind in Wordsworth's poetry. Harold Bloom maintains
that until Book VIII of The Prelude Wordsworth is "affected
only by external nature, but with a gradually intensifying
sense of others held just in abeyance." ^"L Although he
maintains that Wordsworth's "mature love for nature leads
to love for other men," Bloom finds the poet's attitude


170
with, goodness and virtue, and which, when once
understood, is able both to sooth misfortune,
and to reclaim from folly. . and, amid
the hours of curiosity and delight, to awaken
those latent feelings of benevolence and of
sympathy, from which all the moral or intellec
tual greatness of man finally arises. (II, 6, ii,
446-47)
At this time Dorothy regards the natural world only as the
source of enjoyment. Wordsworth, not Dorothy herself, knows
that nature will prove her friend to reclaim her from the
folly of the world: "Nature never did betray / The heart
that loved her . ." (11. 122-23). Whereas Dorothy is
aware only of the pleasures of the natural world, Wordsworth
recognizes the natural forms as the source of "moral or
intellectual greatness": "all that we behold / Is full of
blessings" (11. 133-34). Wordsworth is urging Dorothy to
make the associative connections that will link the beauty
and sublimity of natural forms to the concepts of goodness
and virtue which both Alison and he find are suggested by
such forms.
Alison's comments concerning "some of the most common
judgments we form with regard to the characters of men"
(I, 2, i, 110) afford insight into Wordsworth's ability to
predict that Dorothy will react to natural beauty much as
he himself does. Alison states:
. . when we are well acquainted with any person,
and know intimately the particular turn or sensi
bility of his mind, although we should never have
happened to know his sentiments of Sublimity or
Beauty, we yet venture very boldly to pronounce
whether any particular class of objects will affect
him with such sentiments or not. . and if we
are well acquainted with the person, our judgment
is seldom wrong. (I, 2, i, 111-12)


122
"habit of exertion," and gives himself "To evil courses"
(1. 445). Michael, on the other hand, continues to commune
with nature:
Among the rocks
He went, and still looked up to sun and cloud,
And listened to the wind. . (11. 455-57)
Although the image of the shepherd at the end of the poem
laboring alone at the sheepfold or unable to work because
of griefmoves others to "pity" (1. 463), his stoicism and
resolution in the face of evil make him heroic in Alison's
sense of "stability of character."
The leech-gatherer of "Resolution and Independence"
presents a similar model of "stability of character." Like
Michael's, his virtue arises from his constant attention to
duty. Alison maintains that "... no discipline can ever
lead to honour and to virtue, but that which inspires
resolution, and habituates to self-command" ("On Instability
of Character," II, 331), and the leech-gatherer's "Employ
ment hazardous and wearisome" (1. 101) promotes these
qualities:
From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance;
And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.
(11. 103-05)
What surprises the poet most about the man's resolution
and self-command is the fact that "so firm a mind" is found
in such a "decrepit" body (1. 138). W7ordsworth' s description
of the man "bent double, feet and head / Coming together in
life's pilgrimage" (11. 66-67) points to the kind of physical
resolution Alison includes in his description of old age:


26
he sees, the sky, the fields, trees, shrubs,
corn. . Our grand study has been to make
him happy in which we have not been altogether
disappointed; he is certainly the most contented
child I ever saw; the least disposed to be
fretful.
Despite the initial success of the Wordsworths' plan, Basil's
extensive contacts with the natural world failed to have the
permanently beneficial effects on his character and happiness
the natural education was designed to effect. His moral
development failed to keep pace with the good health he en
joyed; in 1796 Wordsworth wrote that "Basil is quite well,
quant au physique, mais pour le moral il-y-a bien a craindre.
16
Among other things he lies like a little devil." A final
portrait of Basil in the winter of 1813 reveals that, never
cured of his childhood tendency to lie, he began to abuse
the Wordsworths, stating they had "treated him with cruelty"
when he lived with them. Until his death in 1830 Basil,
having a "diseased mind," lived in a state of "illness and
17
unhappiness." Although Wordsworth's experiment wxth Basil
indicates his concern with the education of children, it
also suggests that his ideal of the natural education of the
child is not necessarily successful when applied to the
practical concerns of child rearing. Perhaps this relatively
early episode in Wordsworth's biography led him to explore
in his poetry the relation between natural education and
practical morality.
Biographical evidence concerning Alison, combined with
the evidence found in his essays and sermons, suggests a
similar conviction that the type of education the child


160
sublime motion. This passage also suggests Alison's theory
that motion without apparent cause expresses power (II, 5,
ii, 207): "thinking things" are impelled by the same force
that pervades external nature. Rapid motion, Alison notes,
is generally associated with sublimity; slower motion, with
beauty (II, 5, ii, 209). Wordsworth's rapid motion, the
cataract, and slower motion, the "rolling" waters, again
reflect a duality of sensations apparently intended to en
hance one's perception of sublimity. The duality of stimuli,
those with qualities which suggest beauty and those with
qualities which suggest sublimity, are present in the Wye
setting; however, it is the symbolic-associative powers of
Wordsworth's imagination, working within and with an
historical formula, that transform the sensations received
from the external world into a scene of beauty and sub
limity.
Alison ascribes the superiority of the poet to the
painter not only to his ability to bestow on the "inanimate
objects of his scenery the characters and affections of
mind" (I, 2, i, 132) but also to his ability to blend past,
present, and future (I, 2, i, 134). Furthermore, Alison's
assertion that associations recall "so many images of past
happiness" (I, 1, i, 23) and that we recollect such images
with "delight" (I, 1, i, 24) suggests that the poet's
present delight in the Wye setting is dependent not only
on retrospect and reminiscence but on his recalling "images
of past happiness" by association. Alison notes: "In our



PAGE 1

ARCHIBALD ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH BY MARSHA KENT SAVAGE A DI33ERT7\TION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDyA 1980

PAGE 2

[r ;?( 3 3 ; :> r 5 a w iS <; 5 /5 >: a a a >-. c o c 3 O a Copyright 1980 by Marsha Kent Savage

PAGE 3

To my father, Tom Kent Savage, and to the memory of my mother, Mary Harder Savage

PAGE 4

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to express my appreciation to Professors John Perlette, A.B. Smith, and James Twitchell for reading this dissertation and making suggestions for its improvement. For his advice and assistance throughout this project, I wish to give very special thanks to Professor Melvyn New. Finally, I am indebted to Professor Richard Brantley, who not only offered his critical skills and knowledge of Wordsworth, but also demonstrated unending patience and provided continuing support and encouragement. ,1V

PAGE 5

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv ABSTRACT vi INTRODUCTION ....,..., 1 Notes 14 CHAPTER I THE NATURAL EDUCATION OF THE CHILD. ... 13 Notes 5 6 CHAPTER II WORDSWORTH'S ETHICAL AND IMAGINATIVE TREATMENT OF "THE DOMINION OF I4AN" ... 61 Notes 101 CHAPTER III ALISON AND THE HUMAN FOCUS OF WORDSWORTH'S POETRY CONCERNING MATURITY 105 Notes 142 CHAPTER IV ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS OF "TINTERN ABBEY" 145 Notes 180 CONCLUSION 184 Notes 188 REFERENCES 18 9 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 196

PAGE 6

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy ARCHIBALD ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 3y Marsha Kent Savage June 1980 Chairman: Richard E. Brantley Major Department: English Although iriany critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's aesthetic diction, and his imaginative response to nature, indicate a familiarity with studies of aesthetics in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such scholars have not fully explored the insight into Wordsworth's poetry afforded by Archibald Alison's Essavs on the Nature and Prin c iples of Ta ste. Such an emission is surprising when one considers the. importance of Es says on Ta ste as an aesthetic treatise and the fact that several critics regard Alison as a significant part of the phiiosophxcal background influencing the first generation of Romantic poets. The purpose of this study is to show that Alison's essays provide not only a useful gloss upon Wordsworth's aesthetic tenr.inolcgy but also a m.eans of more fully understanding the poet's spiritual vocabulary. Alison V7as an Anglican clergvTiian;, as well as an aesthetician, and his collected VI

PAGE 7

sermons, Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions elaborate aesthetic as well as spiritual concepts presented in the essays. In an effort to focus more precisely on Alison's value as background for understanding Wordsworth's poetry, I have employed the term "spiritual aesthetics": both writers regard the aesthetic experience as ultimately religious and maintain that the imaginative response culminates in moral insight. The thematic concerns in the first three chapters of this study — the natural education of the child, the opposition between the city and the country, and the ethical standards appropriate to maturity — all relate to a fundamental principle underlying Wordsworth's and Alison's concept of spiritual aesthetics: the natural world affords aesthetic delight and at the same time provides man with a spiritual education. Both fam.iliar and unfamiliar Wordsworthian poems share thematic, and in many cases verbal, affinities with Alison's essays and sermons. Chapter I argues that Wordsworth, like Alison, concentrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments such as piety arise from contact with the natural world, describes the divine protection afforded the child, and sees the child's earthly activity within the framework of an ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an image of preexistence Chapter II focuses on the negative aesthetic and spiritual consequences of the process of urbanization; both writers maintain that the city exerts vxi

PAGE 8

a deadening effect on the poetic imagination and contributes to moral decline. The third chapter examines certain specific ideas the two writers share concerning maturity. Alison's prose parallels the poet's growing regard for mankind, his recognition of man's mortality, and his resultant benevolence and charity. "Tintern Abbey," because of its importance in Wordsworth's poetic development, and because it reflects the spiritual value of the aesthetic response so fully, is treated in a separate chapter. Vlll

PAGE 9

INTRODUCTION Many critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's aesthetic diction and his concept of the transforming power of the imagination, which modifies and shapes sensations received from the external world, reflect a familiarity with studies of aesthetics in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. No critic, however, has fully explored the insight into Wordsworth's poetry afforded by Archibald Alison's Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste I propose to show that Alison's Essays provide not only a useful analogy to the Wordsworthian relationship of themind and the external world but also a means of clarifying the spiritual as well as the aesthetic terminology Wordsworth employs. Although some writers on aesthetics have noted that Alison's treatise provides an important transition from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, and some twentieth-century critics of Wordsworth's philosophy make brief allusions to Alison, none stresses Alison's successful (and natural) merger of the spiritual and the aesthetic, and none turns to Alison's collected sermons ( Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions ) for elaboration of the spiritual concepts presented in the essays, I propose to show that it is this added spiritual dimension of Alison's aesthetics that makes his works such a valuable analogue for a study of Wordsworth's poetry.

PAGE 10

The critical attention Alison has received, suggesting the importance of Essays on Taste as a standard textbook of aesthetics in the early nineteenth century, would appear to justify, and call for, a study of Wordsworth's poetry in terms of Alisonian concepts and diction. However, one is surprised to discover that no writer on Wordsworth's philosophical background devotes more than a page or two to Alison. Alison's biography, ignored by critics, helps to establish a chronological fram.ework for the association of Wordsworth and Alison. It can be established not only that Alison represents an influential strain of thought with which Wordsworth was likely familiar but also that the two men were contemporaries and acquainted. Finally, Wordsworth's connection with Anglicanism constitutes a neglected tie with Alison, a tie especially important because they share a concern with the spiritual dimension of the aesthetic process. After reviewing the critical attention Alison has received and alluding to pertinent biographical details placing Wordsworth and Alison in the same cultural milieu, I shall point to the importance of the neglected spiritual (ethical) dimension of Alison's theory for an understanding of Wordsworth's poetry. Critics who include Alison in their discussions of aesthetic trends describe him as a theorist v/hose ideas were especially influential at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Walter Jackson Bate and Ernest Lee Tuveson, critics specifically concerned with the interrelationships

PAGE 11

of eighteenthand nineteenth-century thought, point to a study of Alison's essays as a means of more fully understanding and appreciating the poetry of the nineteenth century (not specifically Wordsworth's poetry). Similarly, important studies of aesthetic theory by Samuel H. Monk and Walter J. Hippie point to Alison's essays as a valuable culmination of eighteenth-century critical theory. Bate's study. From Classic to Romantic is especially significant because he makes the connection between taste and imagination. The necessity of accepting "taste" (a distinctly eighteenth-century term) as virtually synonymous with "imagination" (a Romantic concept) is indicated in Bate's description of Alison's essays: "devoted exclusively to the question of taste," the essays "attempt an analysis of man's entire mental and emotional working, as it is directed to art and the subjects of art," attributing special importance to the imagination. On this basis. Bate maintains that Alison's aesthetic theory is especially helpful in establishing a foundation for many of the "familiar tenets of English romantic poets and critics." In fact, he notes that Essays on Taste reflects as much Romantic thought as strict associationism: It is characteristic that the Scottish associationist, Archibald Alison, in his popular Essays on Taste (1790) should have devoted the first half of his book to discussing "The Nature of the Emotions of Sublimity and Beauty" and to analyzing "The Exercise of the Imagination," and only afterwards have turned to "The Sublimity and Beauty of the Material World. "2

PAGE 12

Tuveson, also noting the role of the imagination in Alison's essays, emphasizes the concept of poetic language. Tuveson deplores the lack of critical attention Alison has received, describing his work as a kind of "textbook of aesthetics for persons who followed the lead of Locke, 3 Hartley, and Priestley," and comments on its value for a study of nineteenth-century poetry: "Alison helps us to understand and appreciate much of the best poetry {not to speak of the painting) of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries far more than does Coleridge." He finds Alison's "theory of symbolism" and his justification of symbolic language significant. Beginning with an allusion to association as the "binding element" in Alison's theories,^ Tuveson suggests Alison' s role in the beginnings of poetic symbolism: Alison restored to poets a symbolic language. The new symbols have no objective, agreed upon significance. They arise from the inner life of impressions and moods; they speak to the imagination alone, for in the last analysis they have nothing to do with facts and logical reasoning. This "subjective" nature of symbols does not prevent the poet from communicating with others: That symbols are subjective does not make them irresponsibly personal, with the poet speaking a language intelligible only to himself. Alison showed that a large common ground of emotional associations exists — he assumed among people of similar cultures. Experiences in childhood and beyond correspond to some extent; the exact associations vary with each individual, but a community of final effects can be assumed. ^ In The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories in XVIIICentury England, 1674-1800 Monk emphasizes Essays on Taste

PAGE 13

as a "prelude to romantic art." Like Tuveson, he regards Alison as, in many respects, the culmination of eighteenthcentury associationist and aesthetic theories and, consequently, an "easy transition from the eighteenth to the p nineteenth century." Concluding that Alison "isolates from the chaos of eighteenth-century emotion the aesthetic experience," Monk finds that his "lucid style," the "easily grasped tenets of his theory," and the "palpably convenient" psychology of his system rendered the spread of his ideas 9 xnevi table. He includes Alison as part of the philosophical background influencing the first generation of Romantic poets : ideas and objects which the eighteenth century had often used clumsily and occasionally happily, were brought sharply to the fore in the closing years of the eighteenth century, and were recognized elements of the republic of letters when the romantic generation came to treat them anew, according to their own method. Whereas Tuveson regards Alison as important in clarifying the nature of poetic symbolism. Monk regards Alison's theories as a possible commentary on the foxin of Romantic poetry: Alison's assertion that the object of aesthetic interest serves merely as a stimulus to the imagination suggests a kind of Romantic art "based not on outward form so much as on a steady flow of emotions and ideas that grow out of each other." Hippie, like Monk, points to the importance of Essays on Taste as an aesthetic treatise and suggests its importance for a study of Romantic poetry. In The Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Picturesque in E ighteenth-Century British.,

PAGE 14

Aesthetic Theory Hippie describes Essays as a book "which was to revolutionize aesthetic speculation in Britain, and which exhibited an originality, complexity, and logical coherence unmatched in British aesthetics." Hippie even suggests the need for exploring Alison's influence on the Romantic poets: "The importance of Alison's work to the theory and practice of the romantic period has never been assessed. ..." Complementing standard studies of philosophical trends (those by Bate, Tuveson, Monk, Hippie) are two articles outlining Alison's importance. W.P. Albrecht ("Archibald Alison and the Sublime Pleasures of Tragedy") finds Alison "the most consistent of eighteenth-century writers on the sublime in translating the sublime, and the beautiful as well, into psychological terms. .""'•^ Martin Kallich, in "The Meaning of Archibald Alison's Essays on Taste argues that Alison's treatise is a "minor classic": he finds its "associationist critical theory far more thoroughly employed and certainly far more sweeping in scope than that in any other treatise on taste or criticism throughout the eighteenth century."^ Both Albrecht and Kallich allude briefly to Alison's importance in terms of Romantic theory: each concludes that Alison represents a strain of influence in the air at the time of Wordsworth. P.W.K. Stone, investigating theories of poetic composition in the late Neo-Classical and early Romantic periods, finds that Alison^ — along with "a group of writers who base their theories on an aesthetics of Taste" — does not "abandon

PAGE 15

Neo-classical empiricism in favour of a Romantic subjectivity"; nevertheless. Stone concedes that Alison is "among the latest and most 'advanced' of the eighteenth-century aestheticians and of them all the one who comes nearest to deserving the title of 'pre-Romantic. ."^^ Alison, Stone maintains, is best viewed as "indirectly preparing the ground for Romanticism": writers such as Alison "canvassed notions which the Romantics were later to exploit — but the Romantics gave these ideas a very different significance, and were only able to do so because they had entirely abandoned traIfi ditional views." Stone points to the conclusion of Essays on Taste as essentially "pre-Rom.antic" : "A passage towards the end of his book which proclaims this faith in the moral value of aesthetic reactions to Nature, very strikingly anticipates some of Wordsworth's pronouncements in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads and in the earlier philosophical 17 poems." Thus, even Stone, who finds the term "pre-Romantic" of little value in literary criticism, acknowledges that the moral or spiritual dimension of Alison's aesthetics connects his theories with some of Wordsworth's own critical and poetic statements. Despite the number of studies of critical theory commenting on Alison's importance and suggesting that he might be of value in understanding the poetry of the nineteenth century, writers on Wordsworth's philosophical background have largely ignored Alison. Newton P. Stallknecht s assertion that Wordsworth resorted to philosophy to explain

PAGE 16

his "own strange communion with nature" describes to some extent twentieth-century attitudes towards the poet's 18 dependence on philosophy. Nevertheless, critics concerned with specific sources of Wordsworth's philosophical beliefs allude only briefly to Alison in their discussions. Arthur Beatty, concerned primarily with Hartley's influence on Wordsworth, describes Alison's Essays as an applicatioii of "the principles of association to the field 19 of aesthetics." Although he acknowledges that the "Preface to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads reflects Alison's discussion of the association of ideas, he dismisses Alison as a source of Wordsworth's thought because Hartley originated the concept of associationism: "... the principle was developed by Hartley, with implications 20 that are peculiar to him." Similarly, commenting on Alison's thesis that uniformity and variety are essential qualities of art, Beatty dismisses Alison in favor of Hartley on rather subjective grounds: Hartley's exposition of the principle is the same as Alison's in its general outline; but he gives a special coloring to it, so that it is rather clear that Wordsworth probably had it in mind when explaining the principle of his own poetry, ^-^ Stallknecht, who argues primarily for the influence of Boehme and Spinoza, makes brief allusions to Alison in his chapter entitled "Hartley Transcendentalized by Coleridge." Stallknecht cites the concept of the imagination as a function of "consciousness" dependent on sensation and association as a principle "Wordsworth may very well have

PAGE 17

borrowed" from "an acquaintance more or less intimate, with the writing of Hartley and Alison." He justifies his emphasis on Boehme rather than on Alison by noting that Wordsworth is a mystic while Alison is an eighteenth-century 23 associationist. Leonard Trawick and Willard Sperry allude directly to Alisonian ideas in Wordsworth's work. Trawick asserts that the second edition of Essays on Taste has a "much more Wordsworthian conclusion" than the first, strongly implying that at least a similarity of ideas exists between the two 24 writers. Sperry maintains that Wordsworth's prefaces provide evidence that he had "read, marked, learned" his Alison, basing his statement on "the similarity of their arguments," and finds that "at certain points the identities 25 of a technical vocabulary prove the point." Because of the significant connection between Wordsworth's poetry and his literary criticism, it is likely that Wordsworth's 26 poetry as well as his criticism reflects Alison's ideas. The secondary sources on the subject of Wordsworth and Alison, then, indicate some significant points for consideration in this study. The biographical evidence similarly shows Alison's value as an analogue for a study of Wordsworth's poetry. Such evidence implies that Wordsworth was acquainted with the ideas in Essays on Taste ; furthermore Alison associated with many important literary figures in Scotland and England and paid a visit to the Wordsworth home at Rydal Mount. I am not attempting to prove that

PAGE 18

10 Wordsworth read Alison and was directly influenced by his ideas but rather to suggest that Alison's value as an analogue is enhanced by the evidence that the two writers were acquainted and shared certain literary concerns. The first edition of Essays was published in 1790 while Alison resided in England, and Wordsworth may well have been familiar with Alison's ideas soon after this time. Critics such as Tuveson, Albrecht, and Kallich maintain that the great influence of Alison's essays dates from its second (1811) edition and Francis Jeffrey's admiring exposition of the theories in The Edinburgh Review Jeffrey's discussion is a detailed summary of Alison's theory of aesthetics, which undoubtedly made such theories familiar even to those who had not read Alison. There is much evidence for Wordsworth's familiarity with The Edinburgh Review : the periodical published not only Jeffrey's praise of Alison but also his scatnmg attacks on Wordsworth's poetry. Since by 1811 Alison's reputation was well established, Wordsworth certainly knew of him by this time. Alison's essays enjoyed continued popularity: he frequently revised them until they reached a sixth edition in 1825.^^ Alison's relationship with many important figures of letters can readily be documented. Alison, as his son's autobiography notes, became acquainted with Thomas Reid and 29 Adam Smith at Glasgow College, and his wife (Dorothea Gregory) was raised by Mrs. Montagu "in the midst of a brilliant and intellectual circle" that included Burke,

PAGE 19

11 Reynolds, Fox, and Goldsmith. Alison's son notes that his parents' first parsonage (Sudbury in Northamptonshire) was visited by "many distinguished persons who had formed an 31 intimacy with [his] mother in London." Similarly, he maintains that his father's eight-year tenure in Kenley before leaving England for Scotland reflected literary as well as clerical concerns: He was adored by his parishioners, highly respected by the neighboring country gentlemen, and visited occasionally by the first literary characters in the country. His life consisted of that mixture of literary study with active beneficence and easy independence, which is the most favoured state of human existence. After his move to Scotland, Alison showed continued interest in English literary concerns. Alison's name appears among the list of subscribers to Coleridge's periodical. The 33 Friend published in a ten-month period in 18 09 and 1810. Because the periodical included both prose and verse by Wordsworth, Alison was likely to be familiar with the poet's work. Furthermore, Coleridge knew Alison and alluded to him 34 briefly in his "Essays on the Fine Arts." In addition to indirect proof placing Wordsworth and Alison in the same cultural milieu, a letter written by Sara Hutchinson to Mary Wordsworth (September 11, 1820) documents Wordsworth's knowledge of Alison. At this time, Wordsworth, Dorothy, and Mary were on a continental tour, and Sara Hutchinson was writing from Rydal Mount, the 35 Wordsworth home, to her sister Mary in Paris. Hutchinson relates that she returned from Rydal Hall, home of the

PAGE 20

12 Flemings, to Rydal Mount and found calling cards from "Revd Archd Allison" [sic] and "Revd Dr. Batfield." She assumes that both Mary and William, whom she also addresses in the letter, need no explanation of who Alison is. Batfield, on the other hand, must be identified as "a friend of T.M. 's [Thomas Monkhouse, her favorite cousin] who has been at Grasmere some days. ..." Furthermore, her allusion to Alison and Batfield causes her to reflect: "Lots of People come upon the Mount who say they know Mr. W. & should have called if he had been at home. ."^^ This reflection seems based upon her assumption that Alison had said he knew Wordsworth, and certainly his visit would indicate an interest in, and a knowledge of, the poet's works. Wordsworth and Alison share Anglican beliefs as well as literary concerns. Wordsworth's connection with Anglicanism, undoubtedly constitutes a valuable tie with Alison; both men, in any case, emphasize the spiritual dimiension of the aesthetic response in ways that seem especially consistent with the quality of their Anglican faith. Although Alison was born in Scotland, from the time he took his orders in the Anglican Church in 1784, until 1800 when he returned to Edinburgh, he resided in England as a clergyman. Alison's sermons were "much admired during his lifetime," and Wordsworth's "devotion to the Church of England" "^ could well have aligned him with the spiritual dimension of the aesthetic process as Alison presents it in his sermons. Despite the diversity of critical opinion

PAGE 21

13 concerning the precise nature of Wordsworth's religious beliefs, Moorman's biographical study suggests that Anglican beliefs constitute an element of continuity throughout Wordsworth' s poetic career. ^^ It is, therefore, logical (and necessary) to investigate Alison's sermons as well as his aesthetic treatise to understand the spiritual value of the aesthetic response. The following chapters explore the insight into Wordsworth's poetry afforded by a knowledge of Alison and examine selected poems in terms of specific Alisonian concepts and diction. To explore all of Wordsworth's poetry in terms of Alison is beyond the scope of this study. I treat both familiar and unfamiliar poems which share thematic, and in many cases verbal, affinities, with Alison's essays. The development is generally thematic: the first three chapters focus on aspects of Alison's spiritual aesthetics — the natural education of the child, the moral dangers of the city, and ethical standards appropriate to maturity. "Tintern Abbey," because of its importance in Wordsworth's poetic development and because it reflects the spiritual value of the aesthetic response so fully, is treated in a separate chapter.

PAGE 22

14 Notes Walter Jackson Bate, From Classic to Romantic; Premises of Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (1946; rpt. New York: Harper and Row, 1961), pp. 113-14. 2 Bate, p. 102. 3 Ernest Lee Tuveson, The Imagination as a Means of Grace; Locke and the Aesthetics of Romanticism (Berkeley; Univ. of California Press, 1960), p. 210. 4 Tuveson, p. 186. 5 Tuveson, p. 188. Tuveson, p. 190. 7 Samuel H. Monk, The Sublime; A Study of Critical Theories in XVIII-Century England, 1674-1800 (1935; rpt. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1960) p. 155. ^Monk, p. 15 0. 9 Monk, p. 154. 10 Monk, p. 152. "''Monk, p. 149. 12 Walter John Hippie, The Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic Theory (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1957), pp. 158-59. W.P, Albrecht, "Archibald Alison and the Sublime Pleasures of Tragedy," in Romantic and Victorian: Studies in Memory of William H. Marshall ed. W. Paul Elledqe and Richard L. Hoffman (Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 1971), p. 233. 14 Martin Kallich, "The Meaning of Archibald Alison's Essays on Taste Philological Quarterly, 27 (October 1948), jit:

PAGE 23

15 15 P.W.K. Stone, The Art of Poetry, 1750-1820; Theories of Poetic Composition and Style in the Late Neo-Classic and Early Romantic Periods (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967), p. 93. In the group of writers concerned with "an aesthetics of Taste," Stone includes Hugh Blair, Alexander Gerard, James Beattie, Lord Kames, Joseph Priestley, and Sir Joshua Reynolds (p. 174). Stone, p. 96. Stone, pp. 175-75. 1 g Newton P. Stallknecht, Wordsworth and Philosophy; Suggestions Concerning the Source of the Poet's Doctrines and the Nature of His Mystical Experience (New York; n.p. 1929) p. 1. Two studies which describe the relationship between the mind and external nature in Wordsworth' s poetry are Colin C. Clarke's Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the Poetry of Wordsworth (New York; Barnes and Noble, 19 62) and Alan Grob's The Philosophic Mind: A Study of Wordsworth's Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805 (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1973) Exploring the Wordsworthian relationship between the internal and the external by exploiting the deliberate ambiguity of key terms such as "image," "shape," and "form," Clarke concludes that most of the poetry of the "great decade" (1897-1806) treats the "ambiguity of perception" (p. 53) and that the poet's discovery of his main theme, "the place of mind in nature," coincides with his use of aesthetic terminology "with a greatly increased range of suggestion" (p. 26). Grob's study presents ideas similar to those of Clarke. Although he does not focus on aesthetic diction to the extent that Clarke does, he finds that to define the relationship between "the world and the self" the poet employs a vocabulary that is "uncompromisingly sensationalistic" (p. 34) Like Clarke, Grob finds the interaction between the mind and nature a major theme in Wordsworth's poetry (especially that written between 1797 and 1800) (p. 13) 19 Arthur Beatty, William Wordsworth: His Doctrine and Art in Their Historical Relations 3rd ed. (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, i960) p. 49 20 Beatty, pp. 4 9-51. 21 Beatty, p. 4b, 22 Newton P. Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought: Studies in Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature 2nd ed. (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1958), p. 34.

PAGE 24

16 23 Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought p. 251. 24 Leonard M. Trawick, ed.. Backgrounds of Romanticism; English Philosophical Prose of the Eighteenth Century (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1967), p. xxiii. 25 Willard L. Sparry, Wordsworth's Anti-Climax Harvard Studies in English, 13 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935) p. 131. 2S W.J.B. Owen, editor of Wordsworth's Literary Criticism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 19 74) comments on this relationship: "Wordsworth's literary criticism springs from his creative writings: it is almost" invariably a defence of his own poetry" (p, 1) 27 Mary Moorman, Wxlliam Wordsworth; A Biography 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65), II, 100-01, 261. 28 Leslie Stephen, "Archibald Alison," in Dictionary of National Biography ed. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, 22 vols. (London: Oxford Univ. Press"", 1937), I, 287. 29 Sir Archibald Alison, bart. Some Account of My Life and Writings; An Autobiography ed. Lady Jane R. Alison, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 4. Alison, I, 6. 31 Alison, I, 8. 32 Alison, I, 9. 33 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Friend ed. Barbara E. Rooke, Vol. IV of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Bollingen Series, 75, 2 vols. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969), II, 411. Kallich, p. 314. ^5 Sara Hutchinson, The Letters of Sara Hutchinson from 1800 to 1835 ed. Kathleen Coburn (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954), p. 198. 36 Hutcninson, p. 201. 37 Stephen, I, 287.

PAGE 25

17 Moorman, II, 478. 39 Moorman discusses Wordsworth's connection with Anglicanism in detail (II, 473-87) While much of her discussion treats the poet's belief concerning "the beneficent influence of the Anglican Church on society" (II, 473) she notes that Wordsworth continued to view the Church of England "as a rock of refuge in the raging sea of change" (II, 478) and campaigned to obtain better educated Anglican clergymen for the parishes in the Lake District (II, 483). Richard E. Brantley ( Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism" [New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1975] ) like Moorman, argues for the influence of Anglicanism rather than a secular theology, but he maintains that Evangelical Anglicanism was the primary force affecting the poet. The third volume of Hoxie Neale Fairchild's Religious Trends in English Poetry (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1949) describes the unorthodox nature of Wordsworth's religion, and James G. Benziger's Images of Eternity; Studies in the Poetry of Religious Vision from Wordsworth to T.S. Eliot (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, lYFT) shows how the poet found in nature a substitute for traditional religious belief.

PAGE 26

CHAPTER I THE NATURAL EDUCATION OF THE CHILD During the eighteenth century children became a subject of more concern than they had been in previous centuries, and, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, philosophers such as Locke and writers such as Rousseau were influencing theories of child development among the Romantic poets."" Scholars, including Basil Willey, Colin Clarke, and Alan Grob, have argued that Wordsworth made the figure of the child an essential part of his poetic doctrine, and that the Wordsworthian child finds in the natural world an important determinant of his future character; but of course such scholars have come to varying conclusions as to the exact nature of the child's function in Wordsworth's aesthetics, 2 and as to how nature shapes a particular character. Early twentieth-century scholars, such as Irving Babbitt and F.L. Lucas, and more recent critics, such as Jacques Barzun, J.H. van den Berg, and Owen Barfield, have stressed Rousseau's influence as an important source of Wordsworth's idealized and highly favorable view of childhood, but such scholars have differed as to whether Rousseau's influence was a salutary one, and they do not sufficiently recognize that Wordsworth's view of childhood is considerably less sentimental and considerably more complex than an exclusive con3 centration on Rousseau's influence tends to indicate. 18

PAGE 27

19 These various explanations for Wordsworth's interest in the child, when taken together, come at the whole truth more successfully than would any narrow approach based on the assumption that the poet was greatly concerned to remain always consistent with some single codified philosophy or exclusionary theory of child development. Alison, however, is closer than Rousseau and Locke to Wordsworth's place and time; he was aware of almost a century's response to Locke's view of nature as the child's prime educator; and his view of childhood includes the unsentimental and unpsychologized (in short the un-Rousseauistic) view of childhood that is also to be found throughout Wordsworth's poetry. Alison's Essays on Taste and his collected sermons, moreover, present the child in several contexts, and when these writings are seen as a valuable analogue to Wordsworth's poetry, they yield some especially manageable, suggestive, and hitherto neglected examples of the many ideas of childhood that were easily available to the poet. A concentration on Alison in the study of this particular subject of childhood may seem too narrowly based, but because of the variety in his views, such a concentration can lead to several lines of inquiry and therefore to the entertainment of multiple and hitherto unconsidered hypotheses concerning the historical base of Wordsworth's central interest in this single period of human life. I shall argue, for example, that Wordsworth, like Alison, treats the child as an object of aesthetic delight.

PAGE 28

20 concentrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments such as piety arise from contact with the natural world, describes the divine protection afforded the child, and sees the child's earthly activity within the framework of an ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an image of preexistence. Alison is an especially interesting analogue to Wordsworth insofar as the minister/aesthetician, like Wordsworth in his capacity as both poet and deep religious thinker, somehow manages to see the child as an object of aesthetic interest at the same time that he shows concern for the child's spiritual welfare. If there is a common theme among the diverse views of childhood that I think Wordsworth and Alison share, it is their perhaps not fully articulated but nevertheless strongly implicit paradox that beauty is truth and truth beauty, or that the spiritual and the aesthetic, in these two writers, coexist and even coalesce to some extent. An awareness of this strange coexistence can contribute to the practical criticism of Wordsworth's works — or at least a sample of them. Because the theme of childhood is found in much of Wordsworth's poetry, it is necessary to limit this study to those selections that best illustrate the poet's concern with the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of the child's development. One could choose for discussion "Tintern Abbey," "Michael," almost any of the "Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood," or parts of The Excursion because such

PAGE 29

21 works contain numerous references to the child; however, "Tintern Abbey" and "Michael" are treated at length in other chapters, and the scattered allusions to childhood in The Excursion are subordinated to the predominant theme of intellectual and philosophical maturity. Rather than treat all of the "Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood," I have chosen to treat only the following, which seem especially close to the spirit of Alison: "Foresight," "The Westmoreland Girl," "The Idle Shepherd-Boys," "Anecdote for Fathers," "The Pet-Lamb," "To H. C," "Characteristics of a Child Three Years Old," and "My Heart Leaps Up." Two other short poems, "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower" and "It Is a Beauteous Evening," are included in this discussion because they illustrate clearly the child's relationship with nature. I have chosen also to treat the first two books of The Prelude which describe in detail the child's growth amid a setting of natural forms, and to include Wordsworth's portrait of the city child in Book VII, because it suggests the type of divine protection that even children denied contact with nature enjoy. Finally, this discussion includes "Ode; Intimations of Immortality," a poem glorifying the child's ability to gain knowledge intuitively and reflecting an Alisonian concern with the origin — and inevitable fading — of the child's powers. An examination of these poem.s within the framework of Alison's philosophy should help to clarify these topics of discussion: the child as an object of aesthetic delight, his association with natural objects

PAGE 30

22 and the piety emerging from such contacts (the process of spiritual development) and finally the concept of preexistence, the "celestial home" the child leaves to inhabit the earth. Before tracing the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of Wordsworth's theme of child development in the light of Alisonian terminology, it may be helpful not only to indicate further the incompleteness of our current understanding of Wordsworth's interest in childhood as a subject of poetry, but also to establish some pertinent biographical evidence from the lives of both Wordsworth and Alison. A. Charles Babenroth, in his dated but recently reprinted standard study, provides an extensive treatment of Wordsworth's poetry of childhood. Describing Wordsworth as the "poet of childhood,"^ Babenroth notes the number of occurrences of the word "child" and its variants in the Wordsworth Concordance and finds that these allusions to childhood suggest its central position in the poet's philosophy. He finds that the poet uses the word "child" over four hundred times; "babe" and "baby," over one hundred times; "infant," over one hundred and twenty-five times; "girl," fifty times; and "boy," over two hundred and fifty times. The fact that Wordsworth uses nouns denoting childhood and infancy approximately one thousand times in his poetry appears especially significant when one compares the poet's extensive use of such words with his use of other common

PAGE 31

23 nouns. The word "grass," for example, appears only seventyfive times in this nature poet's poetry, and even a more richly connotative word such as "sky" and its plural form appear only two hundred and seventy-five times. The word "adult" does not appear in the Concordance (despite the fact that the French-Latin loanword was fully naturalized by the middle of the seventeenth century) and the word "woman" and its plural appear only ninety-one times. The word "man," which (together with its plural form) occurs approximately one thousand times, appears to be the poet's favorite word for designating an adult; however, this number is misleading because Wordsworth uses the word not only to denote an adult male but also to refer to any human being, a group including children as well as adults of both sexes. In addition to using linguistic analysis to establish the importance of the child in Wordsworth's poetry, and examining such allusions to discern the poet's interest in the individual child, Babenroth also discusses Wordsworth's humanitarian interest in the child. He describes Wordsworth as an advocate of the natural rights of children, one who condemned child labor abuses and who was concerned with 7 "practical problems of education." Babenroth' s concern with such issues, however, causes him to ignore the poet's interest in aesthetics: With childhood, he associated all that is beautiful and ennobling in life. In childhood man lives closest to nature, and it was his firm belief that England could be saved only if Englishmen would live simply in communion with nature. His interest in nature

PAGE 32

24 and children was not that of an esthete; he was a humanitarian who inherited the ethical interests of the benevolists from Thomson to Southey. Similarly, Hoxie Fairchild's discussion of Wordsworth's "naturalism" focuses primarily on ethical concerns: "... other things being equal, the excellence of human beings is in proportion to the number and richness of their contacts with nature." As a corollary to this statement, Fairchild bases Wordsworth's glorification of the child on the "richness" of the child's associations with the natural world — his "fresh and lively perceptions." Although both Babenroth's and Fairchild's studies are dated, the fact that they have recently been reprinted indicates that their misconceptions are probably still widely held. Their extended treatments of the subject of childhood indicate its importance to an understanding of Wordsworth, but neither entertains the possibility that the poet's interest in the child could have an aesthetic as well as an ethical basis nor explains precisely how the child is enriched through his contacts with nature. Not only do several of his poems allude to children, but as early as 1809 Wordsworth began to plan an arrangement for the 1815 edition of his miscellaneous poems whereby he would devote the entire first division to "Poems Referring to Childhood." James Scoggins, explaining the various changes in Wordsworth's organizational plan, notes that the "arrangement of his miscellaneous poems" has "guaranteed relevance"; consequently, it is possible to see Wordsworth's

PAGE 33

25 arrangement as indicating, for example, his emphasis on the feelings that arise in the mind of the adult when he contemplates childhood. The arrangement, in any case, certainly points to the thematic centrality of childhood and thus demands critical attention. Biographical evidence also points to the importance of childhood for Wordsworth. Witness, for example, his attempt to raise Basil Montagu, Jr., as a "child of nature." He not only expressed the poetic ideal of the child's natural education but also felt qualified to test his theory on a child "living rather miserably" with his father, an unhappy widower who "apparently reverted to wild habits and intexaperance Montagu described his association with Wordsworth as a "fortunate event" and recognized the poet's concern for Basil, Jr.: "In the wreck of my happiness he 12 saw the probable rum of my infant." By the middle of the summer of 1795, a plan had been formulated arranging 13 for the child to be raised by the Wordsworths. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy thus began their experiment in teaching Basil to grow up as a "child of nature." Having noted in 1795 that Basil was "yet by no means a spoiled child notwithstanding the disadvantages 14 under which he has laboured," Dorothy later explains the Wordsworths' "system respecting Basil"; We teach him nothing at present but what he learns from the evidence of his senses. He has an insatiable curiosity which we are always careful to satisfy to the best of our ability. It is directed to everything

PAGE 34

26 he sees, the sky, the fields, trees, shrubs, corn, Our grand study has been to make him happy in which we have not been altogether disappointed; he is certainly the most contented child I ever saw; the least disposed to be fretful. 15 Despite the initial success of the Wordsworths' plan, Basil's extensive contacts with the natural world failed to have the permanently beneficial effects on his character and happiness the natural education was designed to effect. His moral development failed to keep pace with the good health he enjoyed; in 1796 Wordsworth wrote that "Basil is quite well, quant au physique, mais pour le moral il-y-a bien a craindre 1 fi Among other things he lies like a little devil." A final portrait of Basil in the winter of 1813 reveals that, never cured of his childhood tendency to lie, he began to abuse the Wordsworths, stating they had "treated him with cruelty" when he lived with them. Until his death in 1830 Basil, having a "diseased mind," lived in a state of "illness and 17 unhappmess. '• Although Wordsworth's experiment with Basil indicates his concern with the education of children, it also suggests that his ideal of the natural education of the child is not necessarily successful when applied to the practical concerns of child rearing. Perhaps this relatively early episode in Wordsworth's biography led him to explore in his poetry the relation between natural education and practical morality. Biographical evidence concerning Alison, combined with the evidence found in his essays and sermons, suggests a similar conviction that the type of education the child

PAGE 35

27 receives determines his future character and happiness, and in Alison's case the connection between morality and natural education is strong and clear. Alison's son describes his father's devotion to nature and explains that all of the children "grew up with the same habits, and indelibly received the same impressions": A devoted worshipper of Nature, my father was firmly impressed with the conviction, so conspicuous in his writings, that the best feelings of the heart were to be drawn from her influences, and the purest enjoyments from her contemplation. 1^ In accordance with his belief that devotion to nature affords spiritual benefits as well as the "purest enjoyments," Alison took steps to insure that his children would enjoy these benefits: Each child had its little garden, which was assiduously cultivated by its own hands; and the reward of good conduct was to accompany our father on walks "out of bounds" to the copse woods, heaths, or brakes in the vicinity, to bring in the prettiest specimens of wild flowers for our little parterres. ^^ Alison's son reports that as a young adult he is able to assimilate the messages of his father's sermons with the natural education he had received as a child, noting that his father "loved to trace the analogies between natural and revealed religion, and to work out the finger of God alike in the greatest changes of the moral as in the minutest objects of the physical world. ..." He concludes that his natural education and his father's sermons "moulded 20 our principles and views of life."

PAGE 36

28 Alison's writings reflect the importance of properly educating the child much as his training of his own children does. Essays on Taste concerned with the associations natural objects evoke, contains niomerous allusions to the child's contact with natural stimuli. Moreover, the second of the two essays concludes with a passage emphasizing the importance of providing the young with a natural education: It is on this account that it is of so much consequence in the education of the Young, to encourage their instinctive taste for the Beauty and Sublimity of Nature, While it opens to the years of infancy or youth a source of pure, and of permanent enjoyment, it has consequences on the character and happiness of future life, which they are unable to foresee. ... It is to lay the foundation of an early and of a manly piety to make them look upon the universe which they inhabit, not as the abode only of human cares, or human joys, but as the temple of the Living God, in which praise is due, and where -, service is to be performed, (II, 6, ii, 446-47) The significance of Alison's essays, as indicated by his emphatic placement of the passage on childhood, resides not only in the aesthetic concept of discovering the beauty and sublimity of the natural world but also in the spiritual applications of his aesthetic principles: the conclusion, like the essays themselves, moves from the child's education in the natural world to his acceptance of the natural world as God's "temple." Alison's sermons reflect a similar concern with childhood. The fact that Alison's collected sermons are separate entities and are not arranged thematically makes it difficult to trace a merger of the aesthetic and spiritual aspects of the child's natural education; however, ideas similar to

PAGE 37

29 those found in his essays appear throughout his sermons. Thirty of his forty-five collected sermons include allusions to a child or to his education, and many of the sermons not concerned with childhood, such as "On the Thanksgiving for the Victory at Trafalgar" and "On the Jubilee, Appointed for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the King's Accession," are topical; Alison's childhood theme was clearly a central one. The fact that the second of the two volumes is dedicated to "the Young of the Congregation of the Cowgate Chapel, Edinburgh," with "Every Wish for Their Present, and Every Prayer for Their Final Happiness," further indicates his emphasis on the child's 22 education. Thus, Wordsworth and Alison share an interest in the child, a concern reflected both in their personal lives and in the number of writings devoted to such a theme. In Alison's essays one finds a Wordsworthian concern for the child both as an object of aesthetic delight and as an example of religious devotion and piety. In fact, the aesthetic delight the child provides merges with an appreciation of his spiritual qualities. For both Wordsworth and Alison the delight one experiences in viewing the child parallels the delight one experiences in viewing other objects in nature. In fact, for both writers the child is closely associated with natural objects, specifically those characterizing spring. For example, Alison relates the delicate forms of young

PAGE 38

30 plants and animals to man's infancy and youth: In the Vegetable Kingdom, the infancy or youth of plants is, in general, distinguished by winding Forms. The infancy and youth of animals is, in the same manner, distinguished by winding or serpentine Forms; their mature and perfect age, by Forms more direct and angular. In consequence of this connection. Forms of the first kind become in such cases expressive to us of Infancy, and Tenderness, and Delicacy. ( Essays II, 4, i, 331-32) Furthermore, Alison describes winding forms as the "most beautiful" ( Essays II, 4, i, 339), noting that such forms also suggest "ease," freedom from "force" or "constraint" ( Essays II, 4, i, 334). Alison finds the budding flower an especially appropriate metaphor for the child. Citing the rosebud as an exception to his statement that winding forms are the most beautiful, Alison notes that the beauty and delicacy of the flower reside not in its winding form but in the associations it evokes: How much more beautiful is the Rose Tree when its buds begin to blow, than afterwards when its flowers are full and in their greatest perfection! yet in this first situation, its Form has much less winding surface, and is much more composed of straight lines and of angles, than afterwards, when the weight of the flower weighs down the feeble branches, and describes the easiest and most varied curves. The circumstance of its youth, a circumstance in all cases so affecting; the delicacy of its blossom, so well expressed by the care which nature has taken in surrounding the opening bud with leaves, prevail so much upon our Imagination, that we behold the Form itself with more delight in this situation, than after^-zards, when it assumes the more general Form of delicacy. ( Essay s, 11, 4, i, 360-61)

PAGE 39

31 In addition to establishing the similarity of one's aesthetic response to the "circumstance of youth" in flowers and to other manifestations of youth by describing how all such forms "affect" or excite one's emotions, Alison also suggests the role of nature as youth's guardian and protector. Aesthetic concerns merge with the spiritual as the protected bud evokes the association of the divine protection afforded the child. Even when Alison refers to the "bloom of youth" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 237) in his comments on the beauty and sublimity of color, he clarifies the metaphor of the flower to indicate that the beauty of youth's color depends on its "pleasing" or "interesting" associations, not on any quality inherent in the color itself ( Essays II, 6, ii, 236). The animal kingdom presents similar symbols of youth. For both Alison and Wordsworth the lamb is especially appropriate as a symbol of innocence: "The plaintive and interesting bleat of the Lamb ceases to be beautiful whenever it ceases to be the sign of infancy, and the call for that tenderness which the infancy of all animals so naturally demands" ( Essays II, 2, i, 231). Thus, the lamb's beauty derives from its associations with infancy and spring. Alison finds a "love of innocence one of the moral "impressions" one should associate with spring, "the youth of the year" : It reminds us of our own infancy, when the mind was pure, and the heart was happy. It reminds us of that original innocence in which man was created, and for the loss of which no attainments of morlality can make any compensation. ("On Spring," I, 36)

PAGE 40

32 Even the forms and motions of childhood are beautiful to the observer. Alison refers to the "Beauty of the attitudes or gestures of infancy, of the careless play of limbs, and the elastic vigour of motion, which distinguish that happy age" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 371). He further notes that we "expect mirth and joy in Infancy" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 291) and that the "bright or brilliant Eye" of the child, signifying "Happiness, Vivacity, and Gaiety" can evoke the emotion of beauty ( Essays II, 6, ii, 223). Many of Wordsworth's "Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood" describe the child in terms understandable in the light of an Alisonian emphasis on both the child as an aesthetic object and the child's association with the natural world. The adult beholds children with delight because their motions and gestures indicate their lack of restraint and their freedom from external control. Most of the poems in this group place the child in the natural world and allude to specific qualities Alison outlines in his description of childhood. Wordsworth identifies the child with young plants and animals of the natural world much as Alison does. For example, "Foresight" presents children picking flowers, and "The Westmoreland Girl" is presented as an "opening flower" 23 CI. 80). The image of the lamb occurs repeatedly in this group of poems. "The Idle Shepherd-Boys" and "The Westmoreland Girl" concern the rescue of a lamb, lambs are at play when the poet questions young Edward in "Anecdote for

PAGE 41

33 Fathers," and "The Pet-Lamb" features a child's conversation with a lamb. Wordsworth also uses the metaphor of the child as a lamb to express his fears for Hartley Coleridge's future ("To H. C"). The poet consoles himself by suggesting that Hartley will be spared the loss of innocence and joy that normally attends adult life; Nature will either end thee quite; Or, lengthening out thy season of delight, Preserve for thee, by individual right, A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks, (11. 21-24) Although Wordsworth may be merely expressing the hope that Hartley will be able to maintain the essence of innocence and joy throughout adult life, his emphasis on the child's inability to "sustain unkindly shocks" (1. 28) suggests that he is able to view Hartley as subject only to mortality, 'not to the loss of innocence that would characterize adult life. Various characteristics of the child emphasized in Alison's aesthetic theory appear in Wordsworth's shorter poems of childhood. The children of Wordsworth's poems manifest joy, their motions and gestures characterized by freedom from restraint. In outlining the "Characteristics of a Child Three Years Old," Wordsworth finds that adults "take delight in its activity" (1. 10) ; he also emphasizes the child's happiness: this happy Creature of herself Is all-sufficient; solitude to her Is blithe society. (11. 11-13)

PAGE 42

34 Furthermore, Wordsworth notes that her "Innocence" affords a kind of "dignity" to the child's "laughing eyes" and random motions: Loving she is, and tractable, though wild; And Innocence hath privilege in her To dignify arch looks and laughing eyes; And feats of cunning. (11. 1-4) In Alison's aesthetic terms the adult beholds the child with delight because the "attitudes or gestures of infancy" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 371) and the "bright or brilliant Eye" of the child satisfy both the adult's expectation of "joy and mirth" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 291) and his aesthetic sense of beauty. Similar attributes of childhood noted by Alison are reflected in Wordsworth's observation of Hartley Coleridge ("To H. C"). The poet views the "happy child" as a "blessed vision" (1. 11) and emphasizes his "breeze-like motion" (1. 4) and his "exquisitely wild" state (1. 12) The use of the word "exquisitely" reinforces the, idea that the child is viewed as an object of aesthetic interest. According to the OED an "exquisite" object is "of such consummate excellence, beauty, or perfection, as to excite intense delight or admiration." This definition reflects both of Alison's aesthetic tejrms "beauty" and "delight" and 'suggests that Wordsworth's interest in the child is aesthetic as well as ethical. For both Wordsworth and Alison aesthetic interests yield to a concern for the child's spiritual development. Both V7riters view the child as afforded a type of divine

PAGE 43

35 protection but acknowledge that he needs some type of education to lead him from the love of the beauty of the natural world to the love of man and the love of God. Both insist that religious devotion is natural for the child, and both outline the benefits of youthful piety. The ideal of the natural education, as outlined by Alison, is central to Wordsworth's philosophy. Alison describes the ideal education for the child, an ideal few enjoy in reality: There are few who have been taught in infancy to raise their minds to the contemplation of His works; who love to kindle their adoration at the altar of Nature, or to lose themselves in astonishment amid the immensity of the universe; and who thus "seeing Him with their eyes," learn to associate the truths of religion with all the most valued emotions of their hearts. ("On Spring," I, 24) In childhood a "natural impulse" "leads us to meditation and praise" ("On Spring," I, 25-26). The failure to provide children associations with the natural world tends "to chill the native sensibility of [their] minds to devotion; and to render religion rather the gloomy companion of the church and the closet, than the animating friend of [their] ordinary hours" ("On Spring," I, 24). Although both Wordsworth and Alison prefer to view the child in a natural setting, they acknowledge that even the child denied contact with nature is afforded a type of divine protection. In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth presents a child in the city who is surrounded by a crov/d of "spectators," "dissolute men / And shameless women"

PAGE 44

36 24 (VII, 360-61), Despite his surroundings, the child is the product of nature rather than the product of his "alien" environment: "He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose / Just three parts blown — a cottage-child ." (VII, 352-53). Physically removed from natural forms, he is at the same time afforded nature's protection: Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked By special privilege of Nature's love. Should in his childhood be detained for everl (VII, 373-76) Alison's sermon "On Evil Communication" helps to explain why childhood is such an enviable state and why Wordsworth wishes the city child could be forever "detained" in childhood. The child is provided with a "guardian" to protect him from the "dangers of passion and inexperience" ("On Evil Communication," I, 241) and is guided by the "hand of nature" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). Alison further explains that "an unseen arm" conducts children "through the dawn of their infant journey" ("On Summer," I, 194). Another advantage of childhood is the unimpaired innocence the child enjoys: "In almost every case the young begin well. They come out of the hand of nature pure and uncorrupted" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). As Wordsworth indicates, however, the unimpaired innocence that permits the child of Book VII of The Prelude to associate with corrupted adults "Like one of those who v/alked with hair unsinged / Amid the fiery furnace" (VII, 369-70) will not always afford him such protection:

PAGE 45

37 [he] may now have lived till he could look With envy on thy [the Maid of Buttermere' s] nameless babe that sleeps. Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed. (VII, 379-81) If the child grows to adulthood and is afforded no protection from the corruption surrounding him, he may be envious of the infant who "sleeps in earth / fearless as a lamb" (VII, 324-25) If the concept of a natural education Wordsworth and Alison express is interpreted literally, the ideal child would be the one provided the most contacts with the natural world. Fairchild sees the Lucy lyric "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower" as the expression of such an ideal; His sense of nature's benign influence makes him imagine a child wholly under the tutelage of nature. He would have been the first to admit that actual children need education, provided it is of a sort to develop rather than warp the natural virtues. 25 As Fairchild warns, the poem is not to be considered a 26 "pedagogical treatise"; perhaps it is best considered a lyric expression of Wordsworth's belief that goodness and virtue can result from continued association with nature. Lucy' s association with natural forms is a total expression of her identity: she and nature are merged. Only in the 1802 version of the poem does Wordsworth use the word "teacher" to describe the relationship of nature to Lucy: "Her teacher I myself will be ." (1. 7) In the standard version of the poem, the relationship between Lucy and nature is more abstract: "Myself will to my darling be / Both law and impulse ," (11. 7-8). Lucy

PAGE 46

38 acquires "grace," a quality Alison associates with spiritual development, merely by association with natural forms: The floating clouds their state shall lend To her; for her the willow bend; Nor shall she fail to see Even in the motions of the Storm Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form By silent sympathy. (11. 19-24) As a logical consequence of their merged identity, nature lays claim to Lucy and leaves the persona of the poem with only her memory. There is evidence in both Wordsworth and Alison to suggest that Lucy's education is only an ideal. Alison notes that if "the young were left only to nature and themselves, it is reasonable to think that they might pass this important period of life without danger" ("On Evil Communication," 1, 241-42); however, he observes that in reality the external forces of "evil communication" begin to "assail" the young ("On Evil Communication," I, 242). For this reason Alison insists that the child's natural education must be supplemented by religious training: • the religious affections which are to form the great distinction of maturity, must be awakened and exercised in youth; and they signify to us, that, to guide the youthful mind to the early love of God, is the great end to which all labours, and cares, and illustrations of education, ought to be steadily and uniformly directed, ("On Religious Education," II, 27) In "The Westmoreland Girl" Wordsworth insists on this kind of religious training. The child's natural education is described in terms that suggest its inadequacy: "Left among her native mountains / With wild Nature to run wild"

PAGE 47

39 (11. 27-28). Alison's insistence that religion must be blended with "every common business of their lives" if man is to reach "the highest state of perfection of which mortality is capable" ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 206) is paralleled in Wordsworth's discovery that the child should be subject to some form of control or restraint: Easily a pious training And a steadfast outward power Would supplant the weeds, and cherish, In their steed, each opening flower. (11. 77-80) Wordsworth modifies the metaphor of the child as a flower, a metaphor often used by Alison, to reflect his concern that the natural be supplemented by an additional external source of discipline, Richard E. Brantley defines this external source of discipline, or "necessary chastisement," in terms of Wesleyan Methodism: "Wesley quotes from William Law (with whom Wordsworth was familiar) in order to indicate the beneficial results of strong corrective measures: firm paternal control, wrote Law, will teach the child a spirit 27 of 'humility and devotion.'" Alison's ideas concerning ch'l'Xd rearing are similar, but his emphasis is on education and guidance rather than on control or discipline. The concept of piety alluded to in the training of the Westmoreland Girl emerges as an essential element of the child's education. Alison notes that piety is manifested in every aspect of the life of Christ, especially in "the early dedication of his mind to religious thought, and in the great and exalted views which he then attained of the

PAGE 48

40 wisdom and goodness of God" ("On the Example of Our Savior's Piety," II, 94). Alison further describes Christ's natural education and his "early and secret devotion" as the "great foundation of that character which distinguished his future days": "Amid the obscurity and solitude of Nazareth, we can see him employed in silent communion with God. We can follow the progress of his youthful devotion, as it rose amid the scenery of nature ..." ("On the Example of Our Savior's Piety," II, 95-96) In his sermon "On the Youth of Solomon" Alison again turns to the theme of youthful piety, explaining its significance for the child who is receiving a natural education: [Piety is] suited, in the first place, we think, to the opening of human life, — to that interesting season, when nature in all its beauty first opens on the view, and when the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty fall on the heart, unmingled and unimpaired. ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 46-47) Alison finds that "piety which springs only from the heart, — the devotion which nature, and not reasoning inspires" affords "the best and noblest school in which the mind may be trained to whatever is great and good in human nature" C"On the Youth of Solomon," I, 48). Alison's use of the word "school" helps to reinforce the idea that the "piety" inspired by contact with natural forms is an essential part of the child's education, an integral part of the formation of his future character. He concludes that for the child receiving such an education "Nature herself would then become the friend of piety" ("On Spring," I, 35).

PAGE 49

41 Alison's emphasis on piety and its significance for the child's spiritual development relates to Wordsworth's use of the phrase "natural piety" in his rainbow lyric ("My Heart Leaps Up"). Wordsworth's phrase "natural piety" may be intended not so much to imply the displacement of religious devotion and exercise into naturalistic and secular contexts, as to affirm (as Alison does) that nature as teacher works so harmoniously with the purpose and content of religious instruction that, in effect, the two kinds of education work together as one. Alison's insistence on the superiority of youthful piety to all other attainments of life and his comments on its effect on future happiness afford added insight into Wordsworth's conclusion: The Child is father of the Man; And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety. (11. 7-9) Wordsworth's statement that the "Child is father of the Man" may be an allusion to the theory of association, the process by which the sensations of childhood are the basis for the adult's moral character; "natural piety" is then viewed as the child's most valuable contribution to the adult. Other critics have offered related interpretations for Wordsworth's phrase. Florence Marsh finds that "natural piety" has to do with "human nature" more than with "external nature, "^^ while Colin Clarke equates "natural piety" with the poet's faith that "Nature never did betray / The heart that loved her" ("Tintern Abbey," 11. 122-23).^^ Both of these ideas are reflected in Alison's concept of youthful piety. Alison's

PAGE 50

42 piety is concerned with "human nature" in that it forms future character, and with trust in "external nature" in that piety evolves from association with natural forms. Alison's comments on youthful piety also help to clarify the child's apparent reverence for nature in "It Is a Beauteous Evening." The use of religious imagery in the poem not only establishes the theme of the "sanctity of childhood," as Carl Woodring suggests, but also relates directly to Alison's comments on youthful piety. Alison finds that in youth "religion comes to thee in all its charms" as the "God of Nature reveals himself to thy soul" ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 56). Thus, the child of the sonnet is indirectly receiving religious instruction at the same time she observes the sunset and the sea: If thou appear untouched by solemn thought. Thy nature is not therefore less divine: Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year; And worshipp' st at the Temple's inner shrine, God being with thee when we know it not. (11. 10-14) Several of the ideas reflected in Alison's statements concerning youthful piety are also to be found in the child's implicit religious experience. The fact that she is not "solemn" can be explained by Alison's statement that piety "comes in that happy season, when life is new, and hope unbroken. ... it comes not, then, to terrify, or to alarm, but to afford every high and pleasing prospect in which the heart can indulge" C'On the Youth of Solomon," I, 51) The absence of "solemn thought" does not indicate the child's nature is "less divine" than the adult's; in

PAGE 51

43 fact, Alison strongly implies that happiness, because it is an appropriate response in worship, is a good indicator of the godlike potential of childhood. Alison also suggests the unconscious nature of the child's worship. In the natural world the child's religious devotion arises almost spontaneously: he cannot look upon nature, the "mighty machine of Eternal Wisdom," without "the most elevated sentiments of devotion ." ("On the Religious and Moral Ends of Knowledge," I, 152). Finally, because religion is both joyful and natural for the child, it is a permanent state rather than an occasional experience: "At such a period, religion is not a service of necessity, but of joy. It is not an occasional, but a permanent subject of meditation ..." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 52). Only on occasion does the adult experience the religious sentiments that the child constantly enjoys. While Wordsworth's shorter poems, especially the lyrics, present a static impression of childhood, The Prelude presents the process of the child's spiritual development. In his sermon "On Religious Education" Alison outlines a process closely parallel to that which Wordsworth describes in the first two books of The Prelude Alison, like Wordsworth, sees the mind's development beginning in infancy and describes the powers that "awaken in the infant mind": The earliest powers that awaken in the infant mind, are those of Affection; — the love of parents, — of kinsmen, --of benefactors; and gradually the love of whatever is good or great in the characters or in the history of their species. ("On Religious Education," II, 23)

PAGE 52

44 Alison uses the term "affection" to describe not only the "loving attachment" the child feels toward others but also the "influence" of qualities, such as virtue, the child encounters in his environment. Wordsworth similarly traces the development of the mind to the awakening powers of affection — specifically the infant's affection for his mother: For him, in one dear Presence, there exists A virtue which irradiates and exalts Objects through widest intercourse of sense. No outcast he, bewildered and depressed: Along his infant veins are interfused The gravitation and the filial bond Of nature that connect him with the world. (II, 238-44) The power of affection, manifested first in the child's love for his mother, is transferred by the process of association to the objects in the mother's environment. The virtue the mother represents permeates objects in the external world, and the child therefore feels affection for such objects. Richard J. Onorato, who presents a psychoanalytical discussion of Wordsworth's persona in The Prelude, reaches a similar conclusion about the mother's role in extending the child's affections to objects in the natural world: "the ambience of the mother's love suffuse [s] the natural objects of the world for the infant with light, 31 love, and wonder." The child's affection for natural objects thus depends on his perceiving such objects as infused with human virtue; the mother-infant relationship Wordsworth describes is the beginning of the process.

PAGE 53

45 Wordsworth continues to use the term "affections" to describe the child's evolving relationship with natural objects: all their forms And changeful colours by invisible links Were fastened to the affections. (I, 610-12) The fact that Wordsworth uses the terms "forms" and "colours," terms relating to external forms, in connection with "affections," a power or faculty of the human mind, indicates that he, like Alison, is exploring the relationship between the mind and the external world. Clarke and Onorato reach similar conclusions about the human quality that apparently permeates external forms. Clarke notes that the poet frequently turns to associationist theory and diction to "explain the apparent existence of feelings out there in 32 nature." Onorato cites Wordsworth's assertion that nature Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair, / And made me love them ," (I, 546-47) as further evidence that the poet "figuratively preserves in the beauteous forms of •33 nature a very human association." In addition to describing a basically associationist process of learning to ascribe human qualities to external objects, both Alison and Wordsworth maintain that nature can on occasion affect the mind of the child more directly than the principle of association would permit. Alison finds that knowledge of God "springs" in the "mind" of the [ child "to withdraw the veil which covers the splendours of the Eternal Mind ." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 51).

PAGE 54

46 The concept that religious insight "springs" to mind, or comes forth suddenly, suggests perhaps nature's direct teaching described in The Prelude ; even then I felt Gleams like the flashing of a shield; — the earth And common face of Nature spake to me Rememberable things. (I, 585-88) As knowledge of God "springs" directly in the mind of the child who observes the external world, the child of The Prelude similarly learns directly from nature: the words "gleams" and "flashing" reinforce the concept of a sudden, illuminating experience. Although Alison is referring to a religious experience and Wordsworth is describing less precise truths revealed by nature, both point to a type of learning that depends not on association or sensory perception but on moments of sudden, almost unmediated insight. Finally, educated both by the process of association and by the direct teaching of nature, children begin to develop a conscience: They feel themselves the members of a mighty system, in which they are called to cooperate; and they recognize above them some Almighty Power, upon whom they feel themselves dependent, and to whom, the rising voice of conscience tells them, they are accountable. ("On Religious Education," II, 25) Wordsworth shows a similar concern with the development of conscience in the child. However, he suggests that the beginning of conscience in the child depends not on recognition of accountability to an "Almighty Power" but on nature's "severer interventions" (I, 355). After

PAGE 55

47 stealing the bird from another's snare, the child of The Prelude experiences what Alison terras the "rising voice of conscience" : and when the deed was done I heard among the solitary hills, Low breathings coming after me, and sounds Of undistinguishable motion, steps Almost as silent as the turf they trod. (I, 321-25) The "low breathings" and the "sounds / Of undistinguishable motion" the child hears suggest that conscience emerges first as a palpable external force that frightens the child. Ultimately, the child of The Prelude comes to rely on conscience not as an external and palpable force but as an internal standard of discipline. Associating with "enduring things— / With life and nature" (I, 409-10), he is disciplined to recognize man's potential for greatness: purifying thus The elements of feeling and of thought. And sanctifying, by such discipline, Both pain and fear, until we recognise A grandeur in the beatings of the heart. (I, 410-14) The fact that Wordsworth uses the words "purifying" and "sanctifying" to describe the process by which one comes to recognize human dignity suggests that he views it as an essential part of the child's religious education. Alison similarly associates the development of conscience with the child's recognition of his role in the divine system and with his love for human virtue C"On Religious Education," II, 23, 25)

PAGE 56

48 While both Wordsworth and Alison emphasize the natural education the child should receive and outline certain facets of the process of spiritual growth, Wordsworth in "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" and Alison in certain sermons imply that the child's earthly existence is inferior to another existence he has known. Wordsworth's decision to place the poem at the end of the "Poems Referring to the Period of Old Age" indicates the poem's concern with the entirety of man's existence, not simply with childhood. ^"^ Sharing Lionel Trilling's view that the poem is a commentary 35 on "growing up," Marsh finds that Wordsworth uses the image of the child in the poem to suggest his spiritual origins as well as to describe his grov/th: "Thus, while dealing with normal growth and development, Wordsworth holds the child image steadily before us and with the word glories ('Forget the glories he hath known') continues to 3 fi suggest spiritual reality." An evaluation of the poem in light of Alison's ideas concerning childhood not only points to the themes of "growing up" and "spiritual reality," but also places the child's earthly activities within the framework of his leaving his celestial hom.e to inhabit the earth. Both Wordsworth and Alison tend to glorify the state of childhood because of the child's recent arrival from his celestial home and to examine the consequences of preexistence on the child's earthly activities. In his defense of the poem, dictated to Isabella Fenwick in 1843, "^"^

PAGE 57

49 Wordsworth indicates his concern with the "dreamlike vividness and splendour" of the child's perceptions rather than with conclusive proof of a "prior state of existence" : To that dream-like vividness and splendour which invest objects of sight in childhood, every one, I believe, if he would look back, could bear testimony, but having in the Poem regarded it as presumptive evidence of a prior state of existence, I think it right to protest against a conclusion, which has given pain to some good and pious persons, that I meant to inculcate such a belief. It is far too shadowy a notion to be recommended to faith, as more than an element in our instincts of immortality. 38 Because the poet is concerned primarily with the freshness of the child's perceptions and with his instinctive sense of immortality, he adopts the image of a prior state of existence, the child's spiritual home, to provide a reasonable explanation for the "celestial light" (1. 4) that surrounds objects of sight in childhood. Although Wordsworth, afraid of offending "good and pious persons" with his concept of preexistence, maintains that he is not recom.mending the idea as religious doctrine, Alison in his sermon "On the Youth of Solomon" uses a similar image to describe childhood and the celestial origin of the child's soul: the first and purest state of the human mind, when the soul comes fresh from the hands of its Creator, and when no habits of life have contracted the reach of its powers. when nature seems everywhere to rejoice around. ... (I, 51) Alison, like Wordsworth, seems to emphasize the effects of the child's state of preexistence rather than the state itself: he emphasizes the purity and joy of childhood.

PAGE 58

50 as well as its unbounded "powers," alluding only generally to the soul's arrival from the "hands of its Creator." Alison's explanation of the exalted state of childhood helps to clarify some of Wordsworth's imagery in the first five stanzas of the poem. The concept of "happy nature" suggested by Alison ("when nature seems everywhere to rejoice around") predominates in the third and fourth stanzas. Nature and the child join in festivities in which the adult cannot easily participate: I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng, The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep. And all the earth is gay; Land and sea Give themselves up to jollity. And with the heart of May Doth every Beast keep holiday; — Thou Child of Joy, Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy! (11. 27-35) In attributing a human potential for joy to the animals and objects in nature, both Alison and Wordsworth employ a process akin to personification — ascribing qualities of the mind to external objects. Moreover, Wordsworth's description of the child's rejoicing in nature emphasizes his empathy for the natural world as well as his heightened perceptions. Alison's description of the child's "powers," which have not been "contracted" by the "habits of life," perhaps helps to explain the "freshness" of the child's perceptions that Wordsworth emphasizes in the first stanza: all objects seem "Apparelled in celestial light, / The glory and the freshness of a dream" (11. 4-5).

PAGE 59

51 Even as the adult begins to experience the child's joy, he finds that natural objects remind him of "something that is gone" (1. 53) The question of where the "visionary gleam" (1. 56) has gone is answered by a description of the "glory" that surrounds the child recently delivered from his celestial home and the "forgetting" that accom.panies birth and earthly existence: Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And Cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness. And not in utter nakedness. But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home. (11. 58-65) Both Wordsworth and Alison view physical birth in terms of its negative spiritual consequences. While Alison merely alludes to the purity of the child's mind before his contact with the world, Wordsworth uses the terms "sleep" and "forgetting" to suggest that the child's birth represents in fact a kind of spiritual death, erasing the child's memory of his other existence. To modify somewhat the negative tone of the first lines of the stanza and to explain how the child still possesses powers the adult does not, Wordsworth explains that the child trails "clouds of glory," that he retains vestiges of his former existence. To signal the fading of the child-' s "glory" and his recollections of preexistence as he grows up and acquires earthly habits, both Wordsworth and Alison use images of restraint and confinement. Alison uses the verb "contracted"

PAGE 60

52 to describe the tendency of the "habits of life" to limit the "reach of its [childhood's] powers" ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 51). Furthermore, Alison implies that the "narrow space" of earthly activity is inferior to the "infinity of the past and of the future" ("On the Power of Christian Faith," II, 447). Both "contracted" and "narrow" suggest confinement; Wordsworth uses images of imprisonment to express a similar idea: "Shades of the prison-house begin to close / Upon the growing Boy" (11. 67-68). He also refers to the child as earth's "Inmate," a "Fosterchild" who feels somewhat alien in his new environment (1. 83) As Alison finds that the "habits of life" restrict the child's powers, Wordsworth maintains that the "weight" of "custom" effects similar results: Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight, And custom lie upon thee with a weight. Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life! (11. 127-29) As Alison notes, "the soul comes fresh from the hands of its Creator"; Wordsworth's im.age of the child's soul enciimbered by "earthly freight" and laboring under the "weight' of "custom" suggests the way the child's powers are stifled as he grows up. Following custom and imitating the adult, the child moves further from the truth he could once discover intuitively and becom.es oppressed by the "inevitable yoke" of adulthood (1. 125) Another image both Wordsworth and Alison associate with the child's fading glory is the "celestial light" (1. 4). As the child reaches adulthood, "... the Man

PAGE 61

53 perceives it die away, / And fade into the light of common day" (11. 16-11). Woodring cites "Plotinus' emphasis on the metaphors of divine light and material darkness" as a pre39 decessor to Wordsworth's imagery, and Alison similarly describes the world as a "dark" place where "he who is born of God, and who is again to return to God" must reside ("On the Power of Christian Faith," II, 455). Both Alison and Wordsworth are concerned with the loss of the divine light as the child grows into an adult, and Wordsworth's "light of common day" would clearly seem dark to one who remembers "celestial light." Despite the loss experienced as the child grows older, both writers note that some recompense is offered to the adult. Alison's description of the recompense is similar to that the adult of the "Ode" acknowledges: "Even amid all the ruins of our fallen nature, there are remembrances of its original glory ..." ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 210). Alison's description not only parallels the "glory" of childhood presented in the "Ode" but also s;iggests, by the use of the word "ruins," the "embers" of the ninth stanza of the poem: joy! that in our embers Is something that doth live. That nature yet remembers What was so f uaitive Cll. 130-33) Thus, one recompense afforded the adult is his ability to remember his transient moments of "original glory."

PAGE 62

54 The acceptance of adult responsibilities affords another type of recompense : in a state of spiritual maturity one acquires a "human heart" and a concern for human suffering and mortality. Alison finds "beneficence employed, and patience exerted, and resolution displayed, and resignation shewn" ("On the Power of Christian Faith," II, 455) as man reaches adulthood. The adult of the "Ode" shows resignation in realizing that "... nothing can bring back the hour / Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower" (11. 178-79) More importantly, he develops a "philosophic mind" (1. 187) suggesting a "practical wisdom" that reconciles him to adult duty. The beneficent adult shows concern for human suffering and mortality: Thanks to the human heart by which we live. Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears. To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. (11. 201-04) Replacing the "celestial light" that clothed natural objects in childhood is the "sober colouring" (1. 198) of the adult's sense of mortality, which makes even the smallest object in nature meaningful. The poem in V7hich Wordsworth celebrates the child and his ability to know truth intuitively closes with a tribute to the adult's sensitivity and ability to respond to human beings as well as to natural objects. Although the figure of the child is certainly central to the philosophies of both Wordsworth and Alison, each suggests that one must relinquish the delights of childhood to accept adult responsibilities. As Alison's Essays on

PAGE 63

55 Taste and collected sermons provide a useful means of focusing on Wordsworth's theme of child development in its twin aspects of the spiritual and the aesthetic, his works afford similar insight into the standards of character and conduct Wordsworth deems appropriate for adults The importance of childhood and youth, Alison notes, resides partly in the training it provides for the responsibilities of adult life: It is in the private meditations of youthful years,--the secret opinions which the young then form, that their future character in life, and even their fate in eternity, is determined; and that from the shade of secret thought, they all come forward upon the stage of active life, either to be the blessings or the curse of the society to which they belong. C'On the Love of Excellence," II, 20S) The natural education of the child thus provides the foundation for the adult's system of ethics. The following chapter reinforces the importance of association with natural forms during this period of character formation by examining the negative aesthetic and spiritual consequences of contact with artificial urban stimuli.

PAGE 64

56 Notes A. Charles Babenroth maintains that "the beginnings of many modern conceptions in poetry as well as in politics, theology, education, and social welfare" may be traced to the end of the eighteenth century. He finds this "especially true with respect to interest in childhood" and cites"" Locke s Some Thoughts Concerning Education Shaftesbury's Characteristics and Rousseau's Emile as works particularly influential m shaping nineteenth-century thought ( English Childhood; Wordsworth's Treatment of Childhood in the Light of English Poetry from Prior to Crabbe [1922; rpt. New York; Octagon Books, 1973], p. 1). The importance of Shaftesbury's Characteristics C.A, Moore argues, is manifested not only" m the "constant poetising of benevolence and charity" but also in "extensive practical charity" ("Shaftesbury and the Ethical Poets in England, 1700-60," PMLA, 31 [March 1916], 317) ; moreover, much of this philanthropic activity involved measures to help children. Historian G.M. Trevelyan describes some of the humanitarian activities of the period which benefited children: the "foundation of hospitals," the "improvement of medical service and infant welfare," and the establishment of Charity and Sunday Schools ( English Social History; A Survey of Six Centuries; Chaucer "^to Queen Victoria [London"! Longmans Green, 1942J p. 363) Ai literature tends to reflect societal concerns, it is not surprising that the child emerges as a significant literary theme during the last decades of the eighteenth century and that Romantic poets such as Wordsworth make the figure of the child an important poetic symbol. For discussionsof the emergence of the child in English literature, see Robert Pattison's The Child Figure in English Literature (Athens; Univ. of Georgia Press, 1978), David Grylls's Guardians and Angels; Parents and Children in Nineteenth-Century Literature (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), and Peter Covenev's The image of Childhood: The Individual and Society: A ^ Study of the Theme in English Liter ature (rev, ed. [BaTtimore : Penguin Books, 1967] ) 2 Basil Willey (The Se venteenth Century Background; Studies in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and Religion [1934; rpt. London; Chatto and Windus, 1949J ) contrasts Wordsworth's view of the child's "decline" into adulthood with Descartes' position (p. 91) and finds many of the poet's beliefs about man and nature grounded in the "Locke tradition" (p, 3 08) Alan Grob ( The Philosophic Mind; A Study of Wordsworth's Poetry and Thought, 1797-1305 [Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1973]) maintains that by 18 2 Wordsworth views the child's "passions" as "an ultimate source of spiritual and, perhaps, even moral authority for the conduct of the whole of life" (p. 9), while Colin C. Clarke ("Nature's Education of Man: Some Remarks on the Philosophy of

PAGE 65

57 Wordsworth," Philosophy 23 [October 1948], 302-16). provides a more specific commentary on nature's spiritual instruction. 3 Both Irving Babbitt ( Rousseau and Romanticism [1919; rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947J) and F.L. Lucas ( The Decline and Fall of the Romantic Ideal [New York: MacmTITan, 1936] ) stress the emotional and irrational aspects of Romanticism. Babbitt finds that Wordsworth ascribes to the child powers he cannot possibly possess and that he invests too much trust in spontaneity and nature (p. 248); similarly, Lucas views the poet's "idealization of childhood" as "part of the Romantic dreamer's flight from the harsh, drab world of adult life" (p. 110) Some recent scholars have viewed Rousseau more sympathetically. Attacking Babbitt's view of Rousseau as a mere "visionary dreamer," Jacques Barzun ( Classic, Romantic, and Modern [New York: Doubleday, 1961]) maintains that Rousseau "has affected in one way or another all those who have come after him ." (p. 19), and Owen Barfield ( Romanticism Comes of Age 1st American ed. [Middletown, ConnTl Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1966] ) contrasts Rousseau's view of man's "natural goodness" with Calvin's concept of man's "total depravity" ^ (pp 205-06). J.H. van den Berg, however, points to the negative effects of Rousseau's influence. In viewing the child as a child rather than as an adult, van den Berg argues, Rousseau destroyed the mutual understanding between children and adults that existed before the late eighteenth century ( The Changing Nature of Man; Introduction to a Historical Psychology trans. H.F. Croes [New York: W.W. Norton, 1961J p. 23). 4 Babenroth, p. 29 9. 5 Babenroth, p. 383. Babenroth' s totals include different forms of the words. 6 "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" affords an illustration of this distinction. In the phrase "Nor Man nor Boy" (1. 159) the poet uses the word "Man" to denote an adult and the word "Boy" to designate a child; in the phrase "her Foster-child, her Inmate Man" (1. 183) Wordsworth uses the word "Man" as an appositive renaming the word "child." 7 Babenroth, pp. 301-02. Q Babenroth, p. 34 4. 9 Hoxie Neale Fairchild, The Noble Savage: A Study in Rom^antic Naturalism (1928; rut. New York: Russell and Russell, 1961) p. 175.

PAGE 66

58 James Scoggins, Imagination and Fancy: Complementary Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth (Lincoln; Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1966), p. 7. Scoggins, p. 45. 12 Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth; A Biography 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65), I, 261. 13 Moorman, I, 266. 14 "Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 2 September 1795, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth; The Early Years 1787-1805 ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Chester L. Shaver, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 150. 15 "Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 19 March 1797, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early Years 1787-1805 p. 180. 16 Moorman, I, 289. "Basil is quite well in constitution; however, regarding his moral principles, there is much to be anxious for." 17 Moorman, II, 237-38. 18 Sir Archibald Alison, bart. Some Account of My Life and Writings; An Autobiography ed. Lady Jane R. Alison, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883) I, 10. 19 Sir Archibald Alison, I, 11. 20 Sir Archibald Alison, I, 43-44. 21 Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste 3rd ed., 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1812) The essay number appears first, followed by the chapter number, the volume number, and the page citation. 22 Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions 2 vols. CEdinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1815)

PAGE 67

59 23 Citations from Wordsworth's poems other than The Prelude indicated parenthetically in the text, are to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth ed. Ernest De Selincourt, 2nd ed. 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952-59) 24 Citations from the 1850 edition of The Prelude indicated parenthetically in the text, are to The Prelude; or. Growth of a Poet's Mind ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Helen Darbishire, 2nd ed, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959) ^^Fairchild, p. 188. 26 Fairchild, p. 188. 27 Richard E. Brantley, Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism" (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1975) p. 47. 28 Florence G. Marsh, "Wordsworth's Ode: Obstinate Questionings," Studies in Romanticism 5 (Summer 1966), 225. 29 Clarke, "Nature's Education of Man," p. 312. Carl R. V7oodring, Wordsworth Riverside Studies in Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 165. 31 Richard J. Onorato, The Character of the Poet: Wordsworth In The Prelude (Princeton: Princeton Univ, Press, 1971) p. 113. 32 Colin C. Clarke, Romantic Paradox; An Essay on the Poetry of Wordsworth (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962), p. 64 33 Onorato, p. 113. 34 Scoggms notes these changes in arrangement (pp. 39, 138) 35liionel Trilling, "The Immortality Ode," in The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (New York: Viking Press, 195 0) p. 131. "^^Marsh, p. 223. 3 "^ 'Moorman, II, 21.

PAGE 68

60 3 8 This statement concerning the "Ode" is quoted in the notes to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth ed. Ernest De Selincourt, IV, 463-64. 39 Woodring, p, 91.

PAGE 69

CHAPTER II WORDSWORTH'S ETHICAL AND IMAGINATIVE TREATMENT OF "THE DOMINION OF MAN" Both V7ordsworth and Alison deplore the consequences of commercialism and industrialism--specif ically the accumulation of men in cities. Both contrast the beauties of the natural world with populous and commercial cities that afford no basis for associative sentiments of sublimity and beauty. Although Wordsworth and Alison were not the only early nineteenth-century writers to treat this theme, Alison's Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste and his collected sermons afford especially valuable insight into the nature of the city in Wordsworth's poetry. By using Alison's essays and sermons as an analogue, one discovers that Wordsworth is interested not merely in condemning urban noise, smoke, and spectacle, but also in showing the aesthetic and spiritual consequences of the process of urbanization: the city exerts a deadening effect on the poetic imagination and contributes to moral decline. Alison's Essays also afford insight into the type of escape offered to the imaginative city dweller: he can either escape imaginatively to natural forms which have held his affections or he can perceive in urban forros a type of natural order and harmony. My investigation of Wordsworth's treatment of the ethical and imaginative facets of urban life consists of four parts. 61

PAGE 70

62 The first (and shortest) section includes background information: it places the discussion within the tradition of contrasting the city and the country and presents briefly the views of Wordsworth and Alison on this topic, suggesting that Alison is especially valuable as an analogue for a study of Wordsworth. In this section Joseph Warren Beach's coinments are used because they effectively siimmarize Wordsworth's views on the subject; moreover, the specific poems presenting Wordsworth's views concerning nature and natural virtue are treated in other chapters. The remainder of the chapter, involving a close comparison of the ideas in Wordsworth's poetry and those in Alison's Essays and sermons, begins with a discussion of the stimuli with which the city dweller is confronted, followed by a discussion of the aesthetic and spiritual consequences of urban life, and concludes with a discussion of the proper response to urban residence Throughout my discussion of Wordsworth's treatment of the city, I emphasize Alison's concept of the "dominion of Man." The stimuli I discuss — sights, sounds, and motions — relate to human activity, and I give special attention to the absence of grace in the crowd's behavior, grace being the concept by which Alison relates human motion or gesture to an internal standard of self-discipline. Commercialism, industrialization, paintings, theatrical productions, and courtroom and pulpit oratory are specific examples of human activities discussed in this section. This part concludes

PAGE 71

63 with a discussion of Bartholomew Fair, the epitome of all the negative stimuli encountered in the city. In addition to Book VII of The Prelude the main topic of discussion, I make brief allusions to other parts of The Prelude The Excursion and "To the Lady Fleming"; and I include discussions of "The Reverie of Poor Susan" and "The World Is Too Much With Us." The analysis of the consequences of urban living includes discussions of the Bartholomew Fair passage in The Prelude "The World Is Too Much With Us," and "Peter Bell," concluding with a detailed examination of "Michael," the poem which best exemplifies the moral decline fostered by city life. Finally, in discussing the proper response to urban life, I examine "The Reverie of Poor Susan," "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge," and Book VII of The Prelude which illustrate the types of retreat afforded the imaginative person. Before investigating Wordsworth's treatment of the city, it would be helpful to summarize briefly the opposition between the natural world and artificial urban forms, a contrast important both to Wordsworth and to Alison. Many critics of English literature have noted this contrast; Raymond Williams, offering perhaps the most comprehensive treatment, surveys all English literature in terms of this theme. Consequently, both Wordsworth and Alison are necessarily viewed as writers who treat certain facets of the tradition in a similar manner, rather than as the only early nineteenth-century writers to concern themselves with

PAGE 72

64 the opposition between the country and the city. However, Alison's work remains of special value in analyzing Wordsworth's views concerning the city: while writers such as Williams concern themselves with the multiplicity of associations the country and the city have acquired, Alison shows a Wordsworthian concern with specific aesthetic and spiritual consequences of urban residence. Both Alison and Wordsworth find it useful to explain artificial urban life in terms of the natural. Wordsworth's attitude toward the city emerges from the poet's preference for the natural rather than the artificial, as Beach has noted: The country is nature more obviously than the town because it is the world as it came unspoiled from the hands of the Great Artificer; whereas in town the aspect of things is defaced by the works of man, so often perverse and degraded. nature generally suggests the opposition between God's world and man's. 2 Beach's description of Wordsworth's philosophy is closely paralleled by Alison's description in his se2nnon "On the Moral Dangers of the Society of Great Cities" : In all ages, the scenes of nature have been the seat of devotion. It is there, "where day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night teacheth knowledge concerning God." the silent, but incessant movements of that mighty system, which speak the incessant providence of the Mind that guides it. It is a different scene with which we are presented when we visit the habitations of men. From the dominion of nature, we enter at once the dominion of Man. No sound reaches our ear but those of his activity; — no prospect opens upon our eye, but those of his power or his pride, [We] begin to imagine that we are living only in a world of human art. (II, 253-55)^

PAGE 73

65 Thus, for both Wordsworth and Alison the country is preferred to the city because the natural forms afford more basis for religious devotion. Both writers emphasize the virtue emerging from association with natural forms rather than the vice resulting from association with urban forms. Alison in Essays on Taste reflects this concern with rural virtue rather than urban vice; moreover, the ethical concerns he raises emerge from the concept of virtue founded on one's relationship with the natural world. Wordsworth's poetry reveals a similar concern with characters whose virtue is attached to nature; Beach describes Wordsworth's preference for such persons as heroes of his poems: It is clear that Wordsworth discovers more of nature among peasants than among townsmen. Their passions, he finds, are more simple, less confused, and more profound — better subject for poetry, and giving more promise of an ideal social condition in the future. Their social feelings have not been tainted with commercialism; their families not broken up by the industrial revolution, ^ Both Wordsworth and Alison believed that possession of land in rural areas afforded protection from the evils of society. In a letter written to Charles Jam.es Fox in 1801, Wordsworth explains that "Michael" and "The Brothers" were inspired by the rural virtue or "domestic affections" of the "small independent proprietors of land" who "live in a country not crowded with population. ."^ Alison's practice illustrates this belief: he granted leases of land from the "considerable tract" awarded him as a clergyman, finding that "in the allotment system, which tended to

PAGE 74

66 enlist the active propensities on the side of virtue, was to be found the most effective antidote to the evils which were, even in that rural district, beginning to afflict society. These ethical and religious considerations merge with aesthetic concerns for both writers in their view of nature's opposition to the city; the loss of imagination and moral decline are virtually inseparable processes. Alison describes the loss of the ability to respond to natural beauty: "... they who have been doomed, by their professions, to pass their earlier years in populous and commercial cities soon lose that sensibility which is the most natural of all, — the sensibility to the beauties of the country ." ( Essays I, 2, i, 90). Similarly, in the "Preface to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth alludes to the city's deadening effect on the imagination: For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. The most effective of these causes are the great national events which are daily taking place, and the increasing accumulation of men in cities, where the uniformity of their occupations produces a craving for extraordinary incident, which the rapid comjnunication of intelligence hourly gratifies. (Ill, 389) Although both Wordsworth and Alison describe the loss of imagination and the moral decline which result from the city dweller's alienation from natural forms and the virtue afforded by association with these forms, a difference in emphasis exists. Alison the theologian is inclined to give.

PAGE 75

67 at least in his sermons, as much emphasis to moral decline as to active virtue. Wordsworth, however, generally eschews the potential sensationalism associated with the corrupting influence of city life to emphasize rural virtue. Because Wordsworth does not always explain fully how urban life contributes to moral decline, Alison is an especially valuable analogue to his implicit as well as explicit attitudes toward virtue and vice. Because the aesthetics of both writers are grounded in empiricism, the best means of exploring the corrupting influence of urban life is to consider the sights, sounds, and motions the city presents. Alison's second of the two Essays on Taste suggests that by examining these, one can determine whether an object in the material world is 9 capable of exciting emotions of sublimity and beauty. While natural forms provide the basis for experiencing beauty and sublimity and evidence of divine workmanship, the city dweller is bombarded with both visual and auditory evidence that he is in what Alison terms the "dominion of Man" C'Cities," II, 254). The human arts the city offers --commercialism, industrialism, paintings, theatrical productions, and especially the spectacle, noise, and motion of the crowd — constitute an ironic replacement for the "spectacle" ("Cities," II, 254) of nature's operations, ^^^ The multitude of persons encountered, a constant reminder that the city is the "dominion of Man," reflects Alison's concern with sight, sound, and motion: the crowd

PAGE 76

68 is not only a spectacle but also produces excessive noise and exemplifies motion. Alison uses the adjective "populous" in association with cities in Essays on Taste (I, 2, i, 90) and in his city sermon notes one's tendency to be "lost" in the "multitude" when he enters into "the society of populous cities" (II, 260). Alison finds that city dwellers are not concerned with others: "No eye follows him [the city dweller] with interest or affection ..." ("Cities," II, 260) Alison finds the city paradoxically both crowded and lonely. Numerous allusions to the crowded city are found in Wordsworth's poetry. Frequently, Wordsworth modifies the noun "city" with a derogatory adjective describing its size and number of inhabitants. Although Wordsworth only twice uses the phrase "crowded city" in his poetry, the word "crowd" appears four times in Book VII of The Prelude (11. 221, 627, 684, 697), which describes his London residence. Wordsworth's "multitudes" and "masses," frequently associated with cities, are often modified by adjectives describing the crowd's conduct; for example, he refers to "That huge fermenting mass of human-kind" in London ( Prelude VII, 621), Many of the allusions to the size of cities also seem to be indirect allusions to the number of persons in the city; the use of "vast domain" to describe London ( Prelude VII, 765) for example, suggests a populous city, and the diction is similar to that in Alison's phrase "dominion of Man." Wordsworth, like Alison, describes the city as a place both

PAGE 77

69 lonely and crowded. Even as a young boy, Wordsworth finds himself perplexed by this phenomenon: Above all, one thought Baffled my understanding: how men lived Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still Strangers, not knowing each the other's name. ( Prelude VIT, 115-18) Although merely baffling to Wordsworth as a child, this lack of concern for others is for Alison a precursor to moral decline: "Removed from the observations of others, he [the city dweller] is too apt to think himself removed from his own; to yield to temptations when they are known only to himself" ("Cities," II, 260), The behavior of the multitude in Wordsworth's cities is characterized by two of Alison's aesthetic elements — sound and motion. As silence is associated with tranquillity in Essays on Taste (II, 1, i, 184), noise must necessarily have an opposite effect. To maintain that in the city "No sound reaches our ear but those of [man's] activity" ("Cities," II, 254) is to suggest city noise as an ironic counterpart to the "tranquillity of nature" ("Cities," II, 254). Wordsworth similarly emphasizes noise in his description of city life. His casual allusion to "city noise" in "To the Lady Fleming" (1, 52) becomes harsher in The Excursion when he refers to the "obstreperous city" CIV, 369) In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth resorts to even harsher terms: the noise is described as a "deafening din" CI. 155), a "roar" (1. 168), an "uproar" CI. 273), and a "hubbub" (1. 211),

PAGE 78

70 The noise of the city is inseparably linked to its motion. Alison alludes to the "agitations" of urban society ("Cities," II, 256) and the "bustle of cities" ("Cities," II, 255) In The Excursion Wordsworth associates "bustle, care, and noise" with city life CVII, 6 65) and alludes to the "bustling crowd" (VIII, 245). The phrase "turbulence of murmuring cities vast" ( The Excursion III, 104) also reflects the combination of sound and motion. The excessive motion as well as noise which characterizes the city is criticized in Wordsworth's apostrophe to London: Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain Of a too busy world! Before me flow. Thou endless stream of men and moving things! the quick dance Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening din. ( Prelude VII, 149-55) The London apostrophe indicates how auditory and visual stimuli, not inherently noxious, acquire such a quality when excessive. Wordsworth uses strong adjectives and intensifiers (" endless stream," "deafening din," and "too busy world"; my italics) to reinforce the concept of excess in this description of London. The behavior of the crowd is characterized not only by excessive motion and unpleasant noise but also by the absence of grace. For the two writers "grace" suggests a merging of aesthetic and spiritual attributes. In expanding his second essay in the 1811 edition, Alison adds a section entitled "Of the Sublimity and Beauty of Attitude and Gesture" followed by the section "Of Grace." For Alison

PAGE 79

71 "grace" is an aesthetic attribute in that it refers to observable facets of the human form — posture (attitude) and motion (gesture) ; these "attitudes" or "gestures" associated with human behavior acquire spiritual overtones in that human conduct reflects an internal quality of self-discipline or the absence of such a quality. Alison's description of ungraceful conduct closely parallels the behavior of Wordsworth's "fermenting mass" ( Prelude VII, 621): Alison notes that no attitudes or gestures reflecting passions or emotions which are "violent, or intemperate, or significant of want of self-command" are considered graceful ( Essays II, 5, ii, 338) Urban residence actually seems to promote the type of ungraceful conduct Alison outlines in his Essays and Wordsworth observes in London. Because the adjective "sublime" is generally associated with one's response to natural beauty in Alison and in Wordsworth, Wordsworth's use of the verb "sublimed" in the apostrophe to London at first appears to contradict Alison's concept of the ungraceful conduct fostered by cities: Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes — With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe — On strangers, of all ages. (VII, 152-54) However, Alison's Essays explains how Wordsworth can experience a "sublime" emotion when viewing the rabble without an additional "sentiment of respect" (II, 5, ii, 382) for the persons involved:

PAGE 80

72 The gestures of rage, in the same manner, of force, of anguish, of terror, may affect us with very sublime emotions of fear, of astonishment, of awful interest, but they may be unaccompanied with any emotion of respect for the individual who displays them. {II, 5, ii, 381-82; my italics)" The mob's conduct suggests violence and intemperance; in Alison's terms it cannot therefore be regarded as graceful. However, intemperate gestures of "rage," "force," "anguish," or "terror," which do not reflect an internal quality of self-command, can evoke the "sublime" emotions of "astonishment" or "awful interest." Wordsworth's apostrophe thus reflects an "awful interest" in the behavior of the mob without the admiration or "emotion of respect" that graceful conduct would evoke. Much of Wordsworth's description of London residence is, in fact, concerned with intemperate behavior and graceless conduct. Examples of what Alison would term graceless persons are a "common produce" (VII, 588) their gracelessness reflected in "Folly, vice, / Extravagance in gesture, mien, and dress" (VII, 578-79). The few examples of graceful conduct — the legendary Maid of Buttermere's "modest mien / And carriage, marked by unexampled grace" (yil, 307-08) or the father with the sickly infant (VII, 602-18) — "set off by foil, / Appeared more touching" (VII, 601-02) In addition to the mob's conduct as evidence of human art, man's workmanship is also reflected in industrialization and commercialism. In Essays on Taste Alison alludes to

PAGE 81

73 man-made objects which disfigure potentially sublime natural settings (I, 2, i, 121), and Wordsworth shares his condemnation of industrialized society which despoils natural beauty. Alison finds smoke-filled air, the byproduct of the human art of industrialization, especially destructive of natural beauty: [We] see amid the thick atmosphere which surrounds us, no other agency than that of mortal wisdom" ("Cities," IT, 254). Wordsworth's poetry reflects a similar concern with city smoke. In The Excursion he refers to "the dense air, which town or city breeds" (IV, 22) In London the father must bring his child into an open square "to breathe the fresher air" ( Prelude VII, 610) Similarly, in Book I of The Prelude Wordsworth casts "A backward glance upon the curling cloud / Of city smoke, by distance ruralised" (11. 88-89) Industrialization and human arts constitute oppressive forces from which the sensitive person needs relief. As Alison observes, when the city dweller begins to imagine that he is "living only in a world of human art," all "former impressions" of natural virtue "subside" from his mind (."Cities," II, 255). Alison outlines the destruction of "natural taste" effected by industrialization and commercialism: The finest natural taste is seldom found able to withstand that narrowness and insensibility of mind, which is perhaps necessarily acquired by the minute and uninteresting details of the mechanical arts; and they who have been doomed, by their professions, to pass their earlier years in populous and commercial cities, and in the narrow and selfish pursuits which prevail

PAGE 82

74 there, soon lose that sensibility which is the most natural of all, — the sensibility to the beauties of the country. ( Essays I, 2, i, 89-90) For both Wordsworth and Alison "natural taste" is developed when one's instinctive love for the beauty and sublimity of the natural world is encouraged, and is nurtured by continual association with natural forms. The city is marked not only by the absence of natural forms but also by the presence of the "uninteresting details of the mechanical arts," which tend to suppress imaginative thinking. Although the concept of human arts as oppressive forces underlies a large part of Book VII of The Prelude The Excursion provides a more direct statement of this idea: the Solitary declares that one must find a "lodge" away from "the stately towers, / Reared by the industrious hand of human art" (III, 101-02) Wordsworth is perhaps not only describing the oppressive forces of human arts as "diligent" or "hard-working" but also using the adjective "industrious" to function as a 12 synonym for "industrial," a usage which enables him to refer both to human arts in general and to a specific human art, industrialism. "The Reverie of Poor Susan," reflecting Alison's concept of being imprisoned in the city, presents a character who is engaged in oppressive "mechanical arts" and commercial pursuits. The setting of the poem is Wood Street (1. 1) in the mercantile district of London, and the "narrow and selfish pursuits" and the "uninteresting details of the mechanical arts" at which Susan is employed

PAGE 83

75 combine to give her a feeling of "doom." In the fifth stanza of the poem, printed only in 1800, Susan is described as a "Poor Outcast" from the rural tranquillity of her father's home: "a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's, / The one only dwelling on earth that she loves" (11. 11-12). The caged thrush suggests the artificial urban life to which Susan is subjected. Alison explains that because there is something unnatural or "artificial" about the caged bird "we are generally unhappy, instead of being delighted with the song of a bird in the cage" ( Essays II, 2, i, 233). The plight of the caged thrush is symbolic of Susan's fate: she is imprisoned in the city of London. The most concise expression of Wordsworth's sentiments concerning commercialism is his sonnet "The World Is Too Much With Us." The traditional interpretation of the sonnet, held by Douglas Bush among others, is that the "world" represents the "ugly materialism of our coiranercial and 13 industrial civilization." The persona m the sonnet deplores the fact that commercial pursuits render persons insensitive to natural beauty: The world is too much with us; late and soon. Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours. (11. 1-3) "Getting and spending" parallel Alison's "narrow and selfish pursuits" that characterize commercial society. The final manifestations of human art in the city are the various forms of theatrics Wordsworth watches and the paintings he views. Although neither Wordsworth nor Alison

PAGE 84

76 is generally critical of painting or performing arts, the art forms encountered in London are associated with the deceptive artificiality which characterizes the city. The paintings present a semblance of reality to the viewer: sights that ape The absolute presence of reality, Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land, And what earth is, and what she has to shew. ( Prelude VII, 232-35) However, such paintings are for Wordsworth "imitations, fondly made in plain / Confession of man's weakness and his loves" (VII, 238-39) Alison finds the painter inferior to the poet because he is limited to the sense of sight ( Essays I, 2, i, 131). Wordsworth finds this visual quality distorted in London as the paintings become part of the "spectacles" CVII, 230) characterizing city life. The theater similarly constitutes an artificial medium, characterized by the paradoxical quality of "measured passions" ( Prelude VII, 405) Both Alison and Wordsworth use the term "passion" to describe a state of intense feeling, and Alison's definition ( Essay s, II, 6, ii, 389) suggests that the "intensity of passion" cannot be assessed, patterned, or "measured." Alison finds that "artificial passions" pervade city life ("Cities," II, 256), and Wordsworth describes a similar quality in his discussion of Drury Lane Furthermore, Alison's comments on grace suggest another characteristic of the theater. Alison notes that the theater would appear to offer one "the exhibition of Grace"

PAGE 85

77 ( Essays II, 6, ii, 390); however, the "extravagance of comic, or the violence of tragic passion" is incompatible with graceful gestures ( Essays II, 6, ii, 391). Although Wordsworth enjoys the theater in London, when one evaluates these theatrical productions in light of Alison's comments, they reveal the same lack of grace that characterizes the 14 conduct of most of those Wordsworth encounters m London. Like the paintings and theatrical productions Wordsworth views in London, the courtroom and pulpit oratory m.anifests a quality of deceptive artificiality; the artificial forms with which city dwellers are confronted actually deceive their senses. Alison, concerned with this deception in the city, finds that "ministers" of sin appear not "under their real and characteristic forms, but under the masks of spirit, of fashion, and of liberality; under semblances well constructed to deceive, and still better constructed to betray" ("Cities," II, 257). In his description of the theatrics of the courtroom and the pulpit, Wordsworth echoes the theme of deception that marks Alison's description of city life: Each fondly reared on its own pedestal. Looked out for admiration. Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense — Of these, and of the living shapes they wear. There is no end. ( Prelude VII, 577-83) In Alison's terms, the "lies" the city offers the senses have the potential to become the deceptive "ministers" of sin. The epitome of human art and consequently the "true epitome / Of what the mighty City is herself" ( Prelude VII,

PAGE 86

78 722-23) Bartholomew Fair encompasses all the aspects of hiiraan art which both Wordsworth and Alison associate with city life — commercialism, industrialism, noise, mob disorder, the artificial, and the spectacular. The fair's basic functions are commercial (the barter and selling of goods) and spec15 tacular (the exhibits designed to entertain the spectators) Employing Alison's aesthetic terms, "colour, motion, shape, sight, sound" (VII, 688), Wordsworth describes the spectacle of Bartholomew Fair as a "shock" (VII, 685) to his aesthetic sensibilities. In fact, the fair represents the culmination of the human art which has surrounded him during his residence in London: What a shock For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din. Barbarian and infernal, — a phantasma, Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound! (VII, 685-88) Wordsworth finds the spectacular exhibits at the fair the most "perverted" form of human art: All out-o' -the-way far-fetched, perverted things. All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts Of man, his dullness, madness, and their feats All jumbled up together, to compose A Parliament, of Monsters. (VII, 714-18) The allusion to Prometheus reinforces the idea that man feels he is being creative, that Bartholomew Fair is his "art." However, Promethean fire is stolen from divine sources, and Wordsworth's use of terms such as "perverted," "freaks," "dullness," "madness," and "Monsters" suggests that Bartholomew Fair is a grotesque parody of divine workmanship

PAGE 87

79 The final image of the fair alludes both to the number of persons at the fair and to the mill as a symbol of industrialism: Tents and Booths Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill. Are vomiting, receiving on all sides. Men, Women, three-years Children, Babes in arms. (VII, 718-21) The masses of people at the fair resemble the products of a machine or a factory, "melted and reduced / To one identity ." (VII, 726-29). The passage suggests Blake's Satanic mills in "Night the Eighth" of The Four Zoas symbolic of the single-fold vision of the state of Ulro. The Satanic mills are associated with repressive patterns of thought, or negative creations, as well as with the 1 ft industrial situation in England. Both of these concerns are reflected in Wordsworth's use of the mill to represent Bartholomew Fair: both the bleakness of the industrial world and the products of negative creativity characterize Wordsworth's portrait of London. Wordsworth and Alison share a concern with the consequences of residence in the city. When the "scenes of human activity" obscure "the traces of divine workmanship," the consequences are both aesthetic and spiritual: There is no man, I believe, who has not occasionally felt somewhat at least of this influence; — who, in removing from the scenes of nature, into the business and bustle of cities, has not experienced a kind of disturbance of his usual train of thought; — and who, (if he has not had the wisdom to resist them,) has not felt himself gradually losing the firmest impressions of his earlier

PAGE 88

80 days, and insensibly acquiring those lower dispositions of the world, which he once had the wisdom to lament, and to despise. ("Cities," II, 255) Since Wordsworth and Alison believe that one develops virtue from association with natural forms, then the loss of one's earlier "impressions" may lead to moral decline. The loss of imaginative power in the presence of urban forms is illustrated in Book VII of The Prelude Bartholomew Fair, the "epitome" of urban life (VII, 722), has this destructive potential; A work completed to our hands, that lays. If any spectacle on earth can do. The whole creative powers of man asleep! — For once, the Muse's help will we implore. And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings. Above the press and danger of the crowd, Uuon some showman's platform. (VII, 679-85) In both Wordsworth's and Alison's philosophy of creation, a state of passive responsiveness is indicated by images of corporeal sleeping; the "exercise of imagination," by images of mental awakening ( Essays II, 6, ii, 434). Bartholomew Fair presents an inversion of this imagery. While the physical body is kept awake by the spectacles at the fair, m.an's "creative powers" are laid asleep (VII, 679-81) In an infrequent invocation to the Muse, Wordsworth asks deliverance from "the press and danger of the crowd" (VII, 684), The term "danger" is central to Alison's sermon on the city; in fact, over half the sermon is devoted to "a consideration of the dangers which surround those 'who

PAGE 89

81 dwell in the cities of the plain' ." (II, 253). Alison defines one danger as the loss of "former impressions" ("Cities," II, 255) from contact with urban life. "Impressions" for Alison are generally associated with the relationship between external stimuli and the mind ( Essays I, i, 10); consequently, the loss of impressions is ultimately associated with the loss of imaginative power. Alison's Essays also reflect a concern with this danger: imaginative persons find it necessary to escape the "noise and tumult of vulgar joy" to "yield with security to those illusions of Imagination, and indulge again their visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165). As Abbie Findlay Potts indicates in her discussion of Wordsworth's Poet in The Prelude and Bunyan's Christian in Pilgrim' s Progress a theme common to both works is that of 17 "flight from the city." Bunyan's Vanity Fair, representing the corruption of moral and spiritual values in the city, obviously serves as a model for Wordsworth's Bartholomew Fair, representing the loss of imaginative power and the resulting moral decline suffered by city dwellers. As Potts points out, "The analogies between London and its Bartholomew Fair and the Town called Vanity with its Fair 'of ancient 18 standing' are so obvious that they need few illustrations." "The World Is Too Much With Us" is as much a commentary on the deadening effect of the city on the imagination as a criticism of commercialism. Karl Kroeber's interpretation of the sonnet argues for the identification of "Getting and spending" with the loss of visionary powers, not merely 19 with monetary exchange. When the sonnet is evaluated,

PAGE 90

however, in light of the Wordsworthian and Alisonian view of the city, it appears unnecessary to force this identification (monetary exchange as symbol for loss of visionary powers) ; rather, we can see the loss of such powers as a consequence of commercial pursuits: The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! (11. 1-4) Wordsworth uses the word "powers" in its Alisonian sense to denote "qualities of Mind which are capable of producing emotion" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 417). Alison includes "invention" and "fancy" as "powers" of the mind ( Essays II, 6, ii, 417); consequently, to "lay waste" one's powers by "Getting and spending" is to deaden one's imaginative capacity. Loss of imaginative capacity is also associated with insensitivity to natural beauty. This is another of Wordsworth's concerns in "The World Is Too Much With Us." Alison includes "passive" qualities of mind, "feelings and affections" such as "love" and "hope," as an integral part of the imaginative response CEssays, II, 6, ii, 417-18). When Wordsworth's persona notes that "We have given our hearts away," he may be referring to man's loss of an "affection" or "love" for nature. This interpretation is reinforced by the persona 's comment following the octave's poetic personification of the sea and the winds: "For this, for everything, we are out of tune; / It moves us not" (11. 8-9)

PAGE 91

83 For Alison, the excitement of some affection necessarily precedes the experiencing of complex emotions ( Essays I, 2, i, 81) In the sonnet the persona is not "moved" to experience complex emotions of beauty or sublimity upon viewing natural forms because the affections have not been excited. The sonnet also makes the Alisonian connection between loss of imagination and the inability to personify natural forms. Alison finds that the mind relates to the external world by the imaginative process of personification, ascribing "qualities of Mind" to external objects ( Essays II, i, 18485). Modern man's imaginative failure, in Alison's terms, is a failure to personify. Kroeber reaches a similar conclusion: "Modern man lacks the power to humanize nature, to impose upon it, to put into it, anthropomorphic beings such as Triton and Proteus. "^^ Even in "Peter Bell," a poem not directly concerned with the city, Wordsworth associates insensitivity to natural beauty with urban life. Although Carl Woodring accurately describes Peter as a "rather absurd villain,"^"'" he shares with Wordsworth's more respectable persona in "The World Is Too Much With Us" a city-fostered inability to relate to natural beauty. Although Peter has spent much time with nature, the natural forms excite no affection or feeling: Though Nature could not touch his heart By lovely forms, and silent weather. And tender sounds, yet you might see At once that Peter Bell and she Had often been together. (11. 286-90)

PAGE 92

84 He is not "touched" by natural forms, and in the same Alisonian sense the persona of the sonnet is not "moved" to experience emotion. The urban vice underlying Peter's insensitivity to nature distorts his ability to modify or shape sensations received from the external world: To all the unshaped half-human thoughts Which solitary Nature feeds 'Mid summer storms or winter's ice. Had Peter joined whatever vice The cruel city breeds. (11. 296-300) In Alison's terms Peter's imaginative failure is his destructive personification of natural forms. Alison finds that poetic personification consists of "bestowing on the inanimate objects of [the poet's] scenery the characters and affections of mind" ( Essays II, 2, i, 132) Rather than viewing the natural forms as expressions of "higher qualities" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 424), Peter modifies them in accordance with his city-bred vice. Although Peter's villainy is given a rather absurd 22 narrative treatmient, the defection of Luke to the city in "Michael" presents the pathos of the situation without resorting to sentimentalism. "^ Alan Grob finds the poem characterized by a lack of sensationalism as well. The absence of sentim.entalism and sensationalism characterizes Wordsworth's description of Luke's decline: Meanwhile Luke began To slacken in his duty; and, at length. He in the dissolute city gave himself To evil courses : ignominy and shame Fell on him, so that he was driven at last To seek a hidina-place beyond the seas. Cll. 442-47)

PAGE 93

85 Examining Luke's behavior in Alison's terms affords added insight into the passage. Basically, Luke's defection results from his mentally alienating himself from rural virtue at the time he is physically alienated in the city from natural forms Luke has received instruction in natural virtue from his father Michael, the hero of the poem. Wordsworth's ideal man is one whose virtue is attached to nature, and the characterization of Michael depends almost entirely on his relationship v/ith his surroundings: Those fields, those hills had laid Strong hold on his affections, were to him A pleasurable feeling of blind love. The pleasure which there is in life itself. (11. 74-77) Although Michael is not a poet, the use of the terms "affections," "feeling," "love," and "pleasure," all of which are central in Alison's language, suggests that he is responsive to natural forms. Moreover, Wordsworth's assertion that Michael's love for natural forms is virtually inseparable from the pleasures he experiences in life indicates that he has coupled the aesthetic appreciation of natural forms with an ethical code of natural virtue. With the birth of his son, Michael's natural virtue becomes enfolded in his love for Luke. The imagery in the poem supports such an interpretation: Luke, carrying in his cheeks "Two steady roses" (1. 179), seems to epitomize nature. After the birth of his son, elements of the natural world "the Shepherd loved before / Were dearer now" (11.

PAGE 94

86 199-200) Geoffrey Hartman draws a similar conclusion, finding that "parental affection and love for the land are 25 fused in Michael's heart." Alison's sermons provide an accurate description of what happens to Luke in the city. Alison finds the city "dangerous to morality, as it provides the means of temptation" ("Cities," II, 256). Luke, prior to this time, has known only what Alison terms "the innocence of rural life" ("Cities," II, 256) Moreover, cities are dangerous because they contain "both Examples and Authority in vice" ("Cities," II, 258). Although nature checks the "first beginnings of sin," the "society of great cities tends but too powerfully to counteract this salutary restraint" : It is there that every class and description of guilt finds its companions and defenders; — that the ambitious assemble, the sordid combine, the profligate associate. — It is there that fashion misleads, in the higher conditions of life, and example seduces in the lower; — that the consciousness of individual guilt is lost amid the guilt of the multitude who share it; — and that sophistry prepares its arguments to harden the yet repenting heart against the return of its first and best impressions. ("Cities," II, 258-59) Two aspects of this description are applicable to Luke's experience in the city. The loss of "consciousness of individual guilt" is attributed by Alison to the "obscurity which is produced to the individual, when he mingles in the multitude of society" ("Cities," II, 260). Alison finds that in the "solitude of rural life, every man is an object of observation" ("Cities," II, 260). On the contrary, lost in the "multitude" of the great cities, he is removed from

PAGE 95

87 the observation of others: "No eye follows him with interest or affection; — no well-known countenance marks, in every hour, by its expression, the joy or the sorrow his conduct may occasion" ("Cities," II, 260), In the rural setting in which Luke was raised, Michael has certainly viewed his son's conduct with "interest" and "affection." Michael's discipline is similar to Alison's description of expressing satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the conduct of another: when Michael is displeased with Luke's behavior, his response is to exercise his heart with looks Of fond correction and reproof bestowed Upon the Child. (11. 172-74) Away from his father's discipline and example of rural virtue, Luke loses his "consciousness of individual guilt" ("Cities," II, 259); this loss, in turn, effects "dishonour" and "wretchedness" ("Cities," II, 261). The loss of feelings of guilt renders Luke susceptible to what Alison terms the city's "evil communication." Alison considers "evil communication" one of the city's most dangerous offerings; in fact, two of his sermons are concerned with this aspect of city life. "Upon the Importance of Religious Example" introduces the theme of the loss of innocence and "that evil communication of which populous towns have unfortunately ever been so profuse" (II, 283), a theme which is more fully explored in the sermon entitled "On Evil Communication." Michael seems to recognize this danger but feels Luke will be able to resist temptation if "evil men" become his companions (11. 405-06) However,

PAGE 96

88 once Luke enters city life, the forces of evil communication become too powerful for him to resist. Alison describes the process: If, accordingly, the young were left only to nature and themselves, it is reasonable to think they might pass this important period of life without danger, But unhappily for them, and unhappily for the world, it is at this time, that "evil communications" begin to assail them; that they are deceived by the promises of vice and folly. ("Evil Communication," I, 241-42) The forces of evil communication "assail" the youths of Alison's sermon; Luke is also "assailed" by external forces. The result of such deception is "ignominy and shame" (1. 445) Alison is especially concerned with evil communication afforded by those who permit "the most valuable years of life to pass away in idleness and prodigality" ("Evil Communication," I, 249). Idleness and prodigality appear to be Luke's sins as he abandons the industry and economy that has characterized his parents' lives; he begins to "slacken in his duty" (1. 443) and gives himself to "evil courses" (1. 445) Wordsworth and Alison share the metaphor of youth as a blossom which can be destroyed by external forces. Wordsworth's use of the image of "Two steady roses" (1, 179) in Luke's cheeks is consistent with Alison's comments on the "delicacy" of youth ("Evil Communication," I, 242). For Alison such an appraisal is both aesthetic and ethical: the aesthetic response inspired by any delicate form is compatible with Alison's description of youth who "come out

PAGE 97

89 of the hand of nature pure and uncorrupted" ("Evil Coiranunication," I, 240). Luke, in the city, is confronted with evil communication, the "malignant power" of city vice that destroys his natural virtue {"Evil Communication," I, 238). Moreover, the flower metaphor indicates the tragedy of Luke's corruption both for Michael and for those who hear the story:. How painful is it, (even to the unconnected spectators) ... to see the spring of life untimely blasted by some malignant power which withers all the blossoms of virtue, and closes all the expectations we have formed of their opening being. ("Evil Communication," I, 238) Michael's pain at his shattered expectations, masked to some extent by his stoic and spiritual partnership with the land, is reflected in his attitude concerning the sheepfold, which represents both his love for nature and his love for Luke : 'tis believed by all That many and many a day he thither went, And never lifted up a single stone. (11. 464-66) Michael's fate indicates a Wordsworthian and Alisonian attitude toward the evil personified in the city: even one strengthened by communion with nature is afforded no protection from evil; natural virtue merely enables one to face the evil of others without exhaustion. Both Wordsworth and Alison deal with the proper response of one who is forced to reside in the city. Alison's advice in the sermons is predictably didactic: withdraw from society for "regular hours" of "thought and meditation"

PAGE 98

90 ("Cities," II, 263), communicate with God and invoke divine assistance ("Cities," II, 265), and congregate "with the faithful of your people 'in the temple of God'" ("Cities," II, 266). However, when this advice is coupled with Alison's statements in Essays on Taste some similarity with Wordsworth' s beliefs becomes apparent: the concept of retreat appears in Essays on Taste (and in Wordsworth's poetry) as a retreat "from the noise and tumult of vulgar joy" to "indulge" one's "visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165). Alison's clarification of the concept of communion with God suggests that it is an imaginative, as well as a religious, exercise and that it includes a mood of reflection as well as the specific act of prayer: it is then that, escaping from the eye of the world which fascinates us, we feel ourselves in the presence of Him "who inhabiteth eternity," and, removed from the voice of earthly passion, that we listen to the voice of "Him who comes to seek, and suffers to save us." It is in such exercises that the religious mind finds all its rewards! — that under the influence of the ever near and assisting spirit, it throws off the stains and impurities v/hich it had acquired; — that it returns to the purity of all its original impressions; that higher sentiments awaken, and holier desires are felt. ("Cities," II, 265-66) Even Alison's admonition to go to church is clarified as a type of spiritual retreat: "For one solemn hour, the world is thrown behind them. The delusions of society cease, and the pulse of passion is still" ("Cities," II, 267). Thus, much of Alison's advice may be described as an admonition to retreat from the city's most noxious stimuli--Wordsworth' s

PAGE 99

91 "fermenting mass" ( Prelude VII, 621) or Alison's society of evil communication. The concept of retreat from noxious urban stimuli appears in "The Reverie of Poor Susan" as her waking dream. In Alisonian terms Susan is indulging her "visionary bliss" : She sees A mountain ascending, a vision of trees; Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide. And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside. (11. 5-8) Susan's experience clearly conforms to Alison's description of "the young and the romantic" who find their imaginative life more pleasurable than their real life ( Essays I, 2, i, 165) Alison finds that "without any particular object of meditation" pleasant scenes "rise as by enchantment before the mind" ( Essays I, 2, i, 164). Even if the thrush is considered an object of mediation, Susan's experience is still the basic Alisonian process of the imagination's effecting images in our mind "very different from those which the objects themselves can present to the eye" ( Essays I, 1, i, 5). Wordsworth's use of the phrase "note of enchantment" (1. 5) to describe the bird's song seems to echo Alison's terminology and suggests that Susan's imaginative experience has a magical quality that transcends strict empiricism. Two of the qualities Alison ascribes to the imaginative experience are reflected in Susan's reverie. Such illusions are comforting (one may "yield with security") but transitory: She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade, The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:

PAGE 100

92 The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise. And the colours have all passed away from her eyes! (11. 13-16) The type of reverie Susan experiences affords only momentary comfort in the midst of urban life. Although the fifth stanza of the poem, appearing only in the 1800 edition, has Susan returning to the home of her father, the final version of the poem leaves Susan imprisoned in London. Wordsworth in Book VII of The Prelude and the persona in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" also retreat from urban society for thought and meditation. The persona of "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" stands above the city while its inhabitants are still sleeping and observes "the very houses seem asleep; / And all that mighty heart is lying still!" (11. 13-14). The poet in Book VII of The Prelude similarly enjoys the city when it is devoid of man's enterprises. In London at night, Wordsworth finds forms which can, in Alison's terms, "awaken" his "genius" ( Essays I, 6, ii, 433) : scenes different there are. Full-formed, that take, with small internal help. Possession of the faculties, — the peace That comes with night; the deep solemnity Of nature's intermediate hours of rest. When the great tide of human life stands still; The business of the day to come, unborn. Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave; The blended calmness of the heavens and earth. Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds Unfrequent as in deserts. (VII, 652-62) The operation of the mind in this passage suggests Alison's description of the process of association; the scene causes the poet to be "conscious of a train of thought being

PAGE 101

93 immediately awakened in his imagination, analogous to the character or expression of the original object" ( Essays I, 1, i, 4-5) The scene in London at night also reflects Alison's assertion that tranquillity is the associated emotion of the sensation of silence ( Essays II, 1, i, 184). Alison finds an "alliance between heaven and earth" suggested by natural forms ( Essays II, 6, ii, 443), and Wordsworth finds in "Moonlight and stars" the "blended calmness of the heavens and earth" (VII, 660-01), Alison's description of communion with God as escape from "earthly passion" ("Cities," II, 265) approximates Wordsworth's experience. The type of escape Wordsworth experiences in London at night is a retreat from objects of human art to a setting in which he is surrounded by divine workmanship. Finally, the imaginative person trapped in the city has still another means of escape afforded him: he can perceive a type of natural order in urban forms. The process — occurring both in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" and in The Prelude — is clarified by an understanding of Alison's concept of harmony. For Alison, "harmony," one's perception of the interrelationship of parts, is prerequisite for the apprehension of the essence of the whole and for the experiencing of any complex emotion ( Essays II, 4, ii, 10) Both the persona of the sonnet and the poet of The Prelude discover that urban forms manifest a type of harmony similar to that which pervades the natural world.

PAGE 102

94 In "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" the concept of harmony is reflected in the persona 's recognition that the urban forms can share the "majesty" (1. 3) and tranquillity of the natural world. The way the persona of the sonnet relates to the urban forms reflects Alison's concept of the relationship of the internal and the external: "Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!" (1. 11). The use of the verb "saw" indicates perception; the verb "felt" is used by both Alison and Wordsworth to express sensation, an internal response to external stimuli ( Essays II, 1, i, 177) The persona notes that the urban forms, mantled by nature, effect the complex emotion of beauty: Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning. (11. 1-5) The persona 's response to the city is similar to Alison's description of the response of the sensitive person to natural forms: ... I believe there is no man of genuine taste, who has not often felt, in the lone majesty of nature, some unseen spirit to dv;ell, which, in his happier hours, touched as if with magic hand, all the springs of moral sensibility. ( Essays II, 6, ii, 438) The city forms appear under the guise of the natural, and the persona is able to experience emotions similar to those experienced on actually viewing natural forms. Furthermore, the most noxious evidences of man's activities in the city — smoke and noise — are gone, and the natural — the sun and the river — is emphasized. The air is

PAGE 103

95 "smokeless" (1. 8), and "Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples" (1.6), edifices erected by human art, are "silent" (1.5). Grob suggests the importance of the sun and the river in the sonnet: for Wordsworth to acknowledge that urban forms offer any potential for harmony and tranquillity is "probably owing to the presence, in this urban prospect, of his two major agents of natural harmony," the sun and the river. As an additional indication of the harmony of the scene, heaven and earth seem to converge: urban forms "Open unto the fields, and to the sky" (1. 7) This merger, suggesting Alison's "alliance between heaven and earth" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 443), represents the persona 's discovery that even urban forms can become symbolic of divine workmanship. While the persona in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" has only to perceive the harmony in urban forms mantled by nature, the persona in The Prelude is forced to impose imaginatively a type of natural order on urban forms. The stimuli with which Wordsworth is confronted are basically oppressive, with potential to deaden the im.agination: trivial objects, melted and reduced To one identity, by differences That have no law, no meaning, and no end — Oppression, under which even the highest minds Must labour, whence the strongest are not free. (VII, 726-30) While natural forms serve as a stimulus for the exercise of imagination, the mind must work against the influence of urban objects.

PAGE 104

96 Juxtaposed to the madness and confusion of Bartholomew Fair is the description of the manner in which the persona imaginatively perceives the forms: But though the picture weary out the eye, By nature an unmanageable sight. It is not wholly so to him who looks In steadiness, who hath among least things An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts As parts, but with a feeling of the whole. (VII, 731-36) The persona is able to impose a type of Alisonian harmony on the "unmanageable sight" confronting him in London. Alison offers a tribute to imaginative powers that clarifies the persona 's ability to experience harmony in London: Our minds, instead of being governed by the character of external objects, are enabled to bestow upon them a character which does not belong to them; ... to connect feelings of a nobler or a more interesting kind, than any that the mere influences of matter can ever convey. ( Essays II, 6, ii, 428) The "under-sense of greatest" to which Wordsworth refers relates the terminology of sensationalism ("sense") to the ethical concept of the "exercises" in which "the religious mind finds all its rewards" ("Cities," II, 266). The exercise in which the poet participates is both imaginative and ethical: the "mind" returns to the "purity of all its original impressions," and "higher sentiments av;aken, and holier desires are felt" ("Cities," II, 266). The use of the verb "awaken" in Alison's description reinforces the idea that religious exercise is related to the exercise of the imaaination.

PAGE 105

97 The poet's imaginative return to the "purity of all [the mind's] original impressions" ("Cities," II, 265) is followed by a passage which alludes indirectly to Alison's concept of the mind as the repository of sensations and associated ideas ( Essays I, i, 132) : Attention springs. And comprehensiveness and memory flow. From early converse with the works of God Among all regions; chiefly where appear Most obviously simplicitv and power. (VII, 740-44) The term "memory" also suggests Alison's discussion of individual associations "connected with our own private affections or remembrances" which result from "our own memory and affections" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 422). Wordsworth's catalogue of remembered sensations is consistent with Alison's concept of "majesty" (VII, 756) and "power" (VII, 7 44) as "ideas of Emotion" effected by natural forms ( Essays I, 2, i, 75). Alison's theory that motion without apparent cause expresses power ( Essays II, 5, ii, 207) is reflected in Wordsworth's description of the sea's m.otion: And, as the sea propels from zone to zone. Its currents; magn-ifies its shoals of life Beyond all compass; spread s, and. sends aloft Armies of clouds. ~. \ {VII, 750-53; my italics) This description, coupled with Wordsworth's comment on the sea's "beauty" (VII, 749), suggests Alison's concept that "verbs in the active voice" are used to describe beautiful motion ( Essays II, 5, ii, 208). Like the emotions associated with the sea, the remembered beauty of the "ancient hills" (VII, 757) helps

PAGE 106

98 the persona to impose an imaginative order on the confusion and chaos of London: The changeful language of their countenances Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts, However multitudinous, to move With order and relation. (VII, 758-61) According to Alison's theory, the harmony the forms exhibit connects them both with the poet's "affections" and with his "memory." Alison finds that the scenes selected "by Poets for description or allusion, are all such as have some determinate Expression or Association" ( Essays II, 4, ii, 13-14) and that poets "perceive or demand a relation among the different parts to this peculiar Character" ( Essays II, 4, ii 14). Moreover, it is natural forms that display "the utmost harmony and felicity of Composition" ( Essays II, 4, ii, 14). If, for Alison, the imagination is afforded the "key of the scene" ( Essays II, 4, ii, 11) we "conclude, that the Composition is good, and yield ourselves willingly to its influence" ( Essays II, 4, ii, 12) The poet "yields" to the "influence" of the remembered beauty of the natural forms, a process which imposes a kind of harmony and order on the mental confusion and imaginative slumbering which has characterized his life in London. The conclusion to Book VII of The Prelude unites the concept of harmony with Alison's idea of the "spirit" pervading the natural world ( Essays II, 6, ii, 438). By retaining his earlier impressions, Wordsworth is able to find the "Spirit of Nature" "diffused" throughout "London's vast domain" (VII, 765) :

PAGE 107

99 The Spirit of Nature was upon me there; The soul of Beauty and enduring Life Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused. Through meagre lines and colours, and the press Of self-destroying, transitory things, Composure, and ennobling Harmony. (VII, 768-71) The "Spirit of Nature" the poet senses in London has a parallel in Alison's "unseen spirit" permeating external nature and serves as an antidote to the potentially destructive aspects of urban life. Alison's "unseen spirit" touches, "as if with magic hand, all the springs of moral sensibility," rekindling "those original conceptions of the moral or intellectual excellence of his nature, which it is the melancholy tendency of the vulgar pursuits of life to diminish, if not altogether to destroy" ( Essays II, 6, ii, 438). Life in London is characterized by "vulgar pursuits "--worldly ambitions and ungraceful conduct. However, the poet is able to transform "meagre lines and colours" imaginatively, to view them as possessing "ennobling Harmony." Alison finds that "organic enjoyment" is not "the only object of our formation": the "nobler conclusion" for which man is destined is to be led by nature "to the throne of the Deity" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 441-42). In Alison's terms "ennobling Harmony" refers not only to an aesthetic appreciation of form but also to an ethical appreciation of the end for which man was created. The presence of the "Spirit of Nature" in London described in the conclusion to Book VII of The Prelude suggests that the poet's attitude toward the city is not as simple as it may first appear to be. Wordsworth is not

PAGE 108

100 merely a pastoralist, whose love for the natural and displeasure with the artificial causes him to seek God's world rather than man's. Instead, Wordsworth's views concerning the city as expressed in his poetry, and as clarified to us by the aesthetics of Alison, encompass both the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions. When Wordsworth's poetic treatment of the city is evaluated in light of Alison's theories, it becomes apparent that rather than offering an unqualified condemnation of urban life, he is objecting to specific stimuli which neither excite the imagination nor give rise to moral improvement. Consequently, it is possible to remain in the city but to counter its tendency to deaden one s imagination and to lead to moral decline by imaginatively perceiving urban forms as part of a harmony similar to that which permeates the natural world. Wordsworth never abandons his concept of natural virtue, but to attem.pt to explain his views of the city only in terms of the opposition between natural virtue and urban vice represents an oversimplification of his ideas. Alison's Essays on Taste and his collected sermons make one aware of the complexities inherent in Wordsworth' s treatment of the city at the same time that they constitute an invaluable means of clarifying and explaining these complexities.

PAGE 109

101 Notes Williams' study, The Country and the City (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), employs a sociological or Marxist approach: he views landscape and country-house literature as "mystifications" of the existing social order, mystifications which transform literary descriptions of rural life into expressions of "social compliment" for writers such as Jonson, Thomson, Goldsmith, and Crabbe (p. 33). In Happy Rural Seat: The English Country House and the Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1972) Richard Gill analyzes the significance of the country house in the works of modern authors such as Henry James and suggests in an appendix ("The Poetry of Property") the importance of this theme in earlier fiction. The classical motif of the beatus vir appears both in Maynard Mack s The Garden and the City; Retirement and Politics in the Later Poetry of Pope, 1731-1743 (Toronto; Univ. of Toronto Press, 1969) and in Maren-Sofie Rjgfetvig's The Happy Man; Studies in the Metamorphoses of a Classical Ideal (2nd ed. Oslo Studies in English. 2, 7, 2 vols. [Oslo: Norwegian Universities Press, 1962-71]). Mack, arguing for the poet's Twickenham garden as an image of retirement, finds that Pope frequently "speaks in the guise of the Twickenham garden-philosopher who understands and respects nature" (p. 85). R^stvig's two-volume studv is a more comprehensive treatment of the beatus vir: he shows how epicureanism is modified by Augustan standards of morality and suggests that the figure of the beatus vir is ultimately destroyed in the poetry of James Thomson. Ralph Cohen's The Unfolding o f The Seasons (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 19T0) argues for Thomson's poem as indicative of a nev; attitude toward nature: in Thomson's landscape poetry, both man and nature are subject to disorder and transience, 2 Joseph Warren Beach, The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth-Century English Poetry (19 36; rpt. New York: Russell and Russell, 1966), p. 37. 3 Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions 2 vols. (Edinburghl Archibald Constable, 1815) 4 f Beach, p. 37. 5 "William Wordsworth to Charles James Fox," 14 January |, 1801, The Letters of 'William and Dorothy V7ordsworth: The I Early Years 1787-1805 ed. Ernest De Selincourt. rev. Chester L. Shaver, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), ; p. 314. ;

PAGE 110

102 Sir Archibald Alison, bart. Some Account of My Life and Writings: An Autobiography ed. Lady Jane R. Alison, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 12. 7 Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste 3rd ed. 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1812) o citations from Wordsworth's prefaces and poems other than The Prelude indicated parenthetically in the text, ^^e to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth ed. Ernest De Selincourt, 2nd ed. 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952-59) 9 In the second essay, "Of the Sublimity and Beauty of the Material World," Alison's chapter divisions reflect his concern with the empirical basis of aesthetics: "On the Sublimity and Beauty of Sound," "On the Sublimity and Beauty of the Objects of Sight," and "On the Sublimity and Beauty of Motion" are among his topics of discussion. Both Wordsworth and Alison exploit the various connotations of the word "spectacle." Both use the term in its basic denotative sense — "a thing seen or capable of being seen" — a definition which relates to the terminologv of empiricism. Alison uses the term "spectacle" to describe the "marvel or admiration" with which one regards the natural world. In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth "marvels" at the "spectacle" (1. 643) of the blind beggar; however, more typically in his portrait of London he evokes the negative connotations of the word: the disolay of rare birds and beasts (VII, 230), the blasphemous woman (VII, 394), and Bartholomew Fair (VII, 680) are "spectacles" in that they are objects of "curiosity or contempt." Citations from The Prelude indicated parenthetically in the text, are to The Prelude; or. Growth of a Poet's Mind, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Helen Darbishire, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959) Although all of the poems discussed in detail in this chapter are from the decade 1798-1807, the 1850 edition of The Prelude is used because of what I take to be its stylistic improvements. Most of the passages discussed show no significant "changes of idea" (De Selincourt 's term, p. Ixiii) in the later edition. 12^^ The OED notes that the word "industrious" is used occasionally in the nineteenth century as synonymous with "industrial.

PAGE 111

103 13 Douglas Bush, Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry (Cambridge: Harvard College, 1937) p. 58. 14 W.P. Albrecht ("Archibald Alison and the Sublime Pleasures of Tragedy," in Romantic and Victorian; Studies in Memory of William H. Marshall ed. W, Paul Elledge and Richard L. Hoffman [Rutherford, N. J. : Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 1971]) notes that Alison sometimes fails to "make very liberal judgments" in his drama criticism. For example, he finds "Shakespeare's taste inferior to his genius' (p. 243) and maintains that the English stage is inferior to the French because drama such as Shakespeare's lacks grace: "the bold delineations of character which distinguish the drama which Shakespeare has formed, can be represented only by the display of an energy and extremity of passion which is incompatible with the temperance of graceful gesture" ( Essays II, 5, ii, 403). 15 Henry Morley, Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair (London: Chapman and Hall, 1859) p. vii. By Wordsworth' s time, Morley notes, the fair was more a "Pleasure Fair" than a "place of Trade," the majority of the participants being attracted by the "freaks" (VII, 715) and the "Prodigies" (VII, 693) Wordsworth describes in The Prelude The Poetry and Prose of William Blake ed. David V. Erdman (1965; rpt. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970): The Mills of Satan and Beelzeboul stand round the roots of Urizens tree For this lake is formd from tears & sighs & death sweat of the Victims Of Urizens laws. to irrigate the roots of the tree of Mystery. (11. 26-28) 17 Abbie Fmdlay Potts, Wordsworth' s Prelude : A Study of Its Literary Form (1953; rut. New York: Octagon Books'", 1966) pp. 219-20. 18 Potts, p. 237. Also common to both works is the theme of deception and lies in the city and the absence of truth. "Truth" is the only item Christian and Faithful wish to purchase in Vanity Fair, and the "f reward multitude" hearing Burke speak hates "truth" (VII, 531-32) 19 Karl Kroeber, "A New Reading of "The World Is Too Much With Us,'" Studies in Romanticism 2 (August 1962), 184 20 Kroeber,, p. 186.

PAGE 112

104 21 Carl R. Woodring, "Peter Bell and 'The Pious' : A New Letter," Philological Quarterly 30 (October 1951), 433. 22 Woodring refers to the narrative method as "playful" (p. 433) 23 Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, the editors of Understanding Poetry (New York: H. Holt, 1938) describe the poem in a similar manner, noting that it achieves an effect of "slow-moving forcefulness" (pp. 84-85) 24 Alan Grob, The Philosophic Mind; A Study of Wordsworth's Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805 (Columbus; Ohio State Univ. Press, 1973), p. 177. 25^ Georfrey H. Hartman, Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1964) p. 263. ^^Grob, p. 105.

PAGE 113

CHAPTER III ALISON AND THE HUMAN FOCUS OF WORDSWORTH'S POETRY CONCERNING MATURITY Although both Wordsworth and Alison view the child as an object of aesthetic interest, their concern with his natural education suggests progression toward the goal of spiritual maturity. In fact, part of the importance of childhood and youth resides in the preparation it provides for adult life. Without minimizing the significance of childhood or detracting from the child's glory, both writers indicate that in maturity human powers are completely developed and adults define themselves, according to Alison, as either "the blessings or the curse of the society to which they belong" ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 208). '^ Both Wordsworth and Alison find that maturity brings an increased interest in mankind: the adult not only identifies with other human beings (and more importantly with human virtue) but also recognizes that this sense of human dignity is, as Alison notes, "obviously intended as a principle of Conduct, — as a source not only of enjoyment, but of activity, — as a constant spur, not only to make us think, but to make us act with dignity" ("Of the Dangers of Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With Active Virtue," II, 231) Both scholars concerned with Wordsworth and writers who describe the theological temperament of the late 105

PAGE 114

106 eighteenth century emphasize the concern for humanity central to much of Wordsworth's poetry concerning maturity; Alison provides an especially valuable background for examining this interest in mankind because his ideas furnish a framework in which we may evaluate the poet's views without suggesting that Wordsworth subscribed to any single codified theory or moral doctrine. Scholars not directly concerned with Wordsworth have described the growing interest in benevolence and sympathetic identification with other human beings as a dominant impulse of the age immediately preceding 2 the Romantic period. The ideas which Wordsworth and Alison expressed were thus partly the product of the age in which they wrote; nevertheless, Alison remains a valuable analogue for the study of Wordsworth because of certain specific ideas the two writers share concerning maturity. Most critics of Wordsworth have noted his evolving interest in mankind in his description of his own maturity; however, an examination of the poet's concern for humanity in light of Alison's ideas affords a better understanding of how the young adult identifies with mankind and how such identification becomes the foundation of his ethics and defines the standards of character and conduct appropriate for adult life. After reviewing some of the relevant criticism, I shall discuss the following aspects of maturity, using Alison to clarify Wordsworth's ideas: (1.) the poet's growing regard for mankind as described in Book VIII of The Prelude --his love for simple persons whose virtue is

PAGE 115

107 closely allied with nature, his exaltation of the humble person, and his description of the virtues associated with simple life; (2) Wordsworth's recognition of man's mortality, his sympathy for human frailty, and the charity and benevolence such understanding inspires; and, finally (3), an appreciation of man's potential for greatness and the obligations such potential imposes. Donald Greene's reassessment of R.S. Crane's "Suggestions Toward a Genealogy of the 'Man of Feeling'" helps to clarify much of the literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although Greene's primary thesis is that Crane is incorrect. in attributing some of these doctrines to latitudinarian Anglicans and that some of these ideas certainly appeared before 1660, his discussion is especially helpful because his careful analysis of Crane's ideas provides important insight into the theological temperament of the age in which Wordsworth and Alison wrote. Greene's discussion of the concept of "universal benevolence" and "anti-stoicism" suggests the two writers' concern with active virtue, benevolence, and charity, as well as their 4 sympathy for all mankind. Furthermore, his comments on antinomianism and Pelagianism help clarify both writers' position on the importance of charitable acts. Anglicanism, as Greene explains, "firmly repudiates antinomianism," the heresy "that those who have attained justification by faith have no further need to concern themselves with 'good works'"; disovming antinomianism, however, does not imply

PAGE 116

108 that Anglican theologians accepted Pelagianism, "the doctrine that unaided man has the power to perforin works which simply in themselves have such merit" that they "can effect an individual's salvation." Both Wordsworth and Alison maintain that religious doctrine should be blended with the "common business" of life ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 206) Alison, in fact, implies that charitable deeds are a means by which "faith may be exercised" ("On the Consolation Which the Gospel Affords Under the Natural Evils of Life," I, 375), a position suggesting that good deeds complement, not supersede, "justification by faith." Raymond Dexter Havens, who studies Wordsworth's philosophy in The Prelude and Colin C. Clarke and Arthur Beatty, who describe the poet's concept of natural education, note the adult's increasing interest in mankind. Moreover, even scholars with different critical approaches, who arrive at varying conclusions about the role this interest in humanity plays in Wordsworth's philosophy, acknowledge the mature person's concern for other human beings. Although Beatty' s description of Wordsworth's concern for humanity is the m.ost explicit and relates perhaps most closely to Alison's philosophy, critics in the latter group, such as Harold Bloom, Richard E. Brantley, and Alan Grob, are important in that their comments also point to the thematic importance of mankind in Wordsworth's poetry. Raymond Dexter Havens' dated but still useful study of The Prelude suggests the human focus of the latter books of

PAGE 117

109 the poem, specifically Book VIII. Despite the "loosely knit, discursive, repetitious style" of Book VIII, Havens finds "nearly all passages connected, if somewhat remotely, with the main theme" — "Love of Nature Leading to Love of Mankind." Furthermore, he notes that the book reevaluates the first twenty-one years of the poet's life in light of his growing interest in mankind and describes its significance in terms of the overall structure of The Prelude ; "Such a study comes very properly at this place just before an account of the visit to France, which was not only the most important event in his life but the one that did the most to develop his interest in mankind." Colin C. Clarke's description of nature's "moral education" examines the relationship between such training and adult virtue. Nature's education, Clarke maintains, effects "a love of man — not the love of one class of men only, but of all men." He finds this love of mankind the foundation of the poet's "moral strength" and the "climax of his education through nature." In Wordsworth's maturity ". man assumes a new dignity and he himself assumes a 7 new serenity." Clarke's remarks are especially significant in that he views Wordsworth's concern for mankind as a determinant of his attitude and conduct in adulthood: the "new serenity" suggests the "philosophic mind" of "Ode: Intimations of Immortality," reconciling the poet to adult responsibilities

PAGE 118

110 Arthur Beatty cites both Wordsworth's poetry and prose as evidence of his concern for mankind. Examining three poems concerning maturity ("Elegiac Stanzas on Peele Castle," "Tintern Abbey," and "Ode: Intimations of Immortality"), Beatty concludes: "All alike identify complete attainment and unity with complete identification of the individual with his kind," He finds that the poet's criticism similarly emphasizes human attributes: in the Advertisement to the Lyrical Ballads in 1798, he threw over all aesthetic theories and based the merits of his poetry on the sole merit of a "natural delineation of human passions, human characters, and hioman incidents," a position which he never abandoned, but held tenaciously in all the succeeding prefaces. This focus on mankind, Beatty notes, separates Wordsworth from the Rousseauists and suggests affinities with the philosophies of Bacon and Locke. Like Clarke, Beatty discusses the adult's relationship to nature and the education it has provided: Thus, the function of Nature is to furnish us with the materials of a true knowledge, and the education of man is to adjust his relations to her so that she becomes the helper, and not the usurper, of a power and place which she should not possess. Other scholars also describe the theme of love for mankind in Wordsworth's poetry. Harold Bloom maintains that until Book VIII of The Prelude Wordsworth is "affected only by external nature, but with a gradually intensifying sense of others held just in abeyance." Although he maintains that Wordsworth's "mature love for nature leads to love for other men," Bloom finds the poet's attitude

PAGE 119

Ill toward maturity somewhat ambivalent: man's "mature love for nature" includes recognizing nature as "external" to 12 himself, a process effecting both "freedom" and "grief." Richard E. Brantley's analysis of Wordsworth's "spiritual idiom," specifically his distinction between Extraordinary and Ordinary spiritual experiences, points to an important difference between childhood and maturity: the "Extraordinary emotions" of the poet's youth "are soon replaced by a growing regard for his fellow man; and the 'grace' ( The Prelude [1805 ed.], VIII, 488) of mature spiritual experience seems Ordinary in the precise and honorific meaning of the term." Finally, in examining the relationship between Wordsworth and William Godwin, Alan Grob asserts that it is the human focus of the theory of rational benevolence, "together with its emphasis upon the importance of individual moral achievement," that Wordsworth found attractive. Grob concludes that Wordsworth is not "a disciple of Godwin," but rather that his primary concern is the process of human development: His principal interest is, of course, in delineating the details of the process itself and pointing to the im.portant contributory roles played by nature and man's early sympathies and passions in bridging the gulf between childhood egoism and a mature and disinterested concern for the welfare of others.-'-'^ The fact that these three critics, each employing a different approach, arrive at essentially the same conclusion about the adult's concern for others indicates the importance of the theme in Wordsworth's poetry. Despite the volume of criticism treating Wordsworth's interest in mankind, Alison's theories are important in that

PAGE 120

112 they help to clarify certain aspects of the poet's philosophy that at first appear contradictory. For example, in Book VIII of The Prelude Wordsworth describes both the frailty and the grandeur of man: How little they, they and their doings, seem. And all that they can further or obstruct! Through utter weakness pitiably dear. As tender infants are: and yet how great 1 For all things serve them. (11. 59-63) Wordsworth's description suggests the Augustan concept of humanism. Humanism, as Paul Fussell defines the term, points to a similar "paradox" in human nature: despite human "limitations," man is "the only creature capable of 1 /r dignity." Alison's theories provide a framework in which the poet's concern with these paradoxical qualities may be better understood. Wordsworth's humanitarianism — his love '' for mankind and his emphasis on qualities such as benevolence j t, and charity — arises from an essentially humanistic conception \ of man's nature. After reviewing the poet's retrospective t account of how his love for nature led to a love for mankind, [ specifically his love for those simple persons whose virtue is closely allied to nature,, and describing the benevolence i and charity such love inspires, I shall examine the basically humanistic conclusion to The Prelude which maintains that the dignity of mankind resides in the divinity of the human mind. The conclusion to Alison's Essays on Taste reflecting humanitarian concerns, describes a process analogous to that which Wordsworth relates in Book VIII of The Prelude Nature's education leads one to identify with humanity, and this identification effects benevolence and sympathy:

PAGE 121

113 It [the purpose of a natural education] is to identify them with the happiness of that nature to which they belong; to give them an interest in every species of being which surrounds them; .... to awaken those latent feelings of benevolence and of syrapathy, from which all the moral or intellectual greatness of man finally arises. (II, 6, ii, 447)17 Similarly, in his sermon "On Spring," Alison notes that one of the lessons the season should teach us is "the love of nature and of humanity." Since spring symbolizes the "benevolence of God," nature should effect a similar love for mankind: Is it possible we can contemplate this scene, without feeling our own benevolence exalted? without being reminded anew of the ties which relate us to all the family of God; and without blending with the love of Him "who alone is good," the love of every thing that he hath made? (I, 37-38) Book VIII of The Prelude describes a process similar to that Alison has outlined. As Wordsworth reaches maturity, he turns more and more to human concerns, a process that occurs "instinctively," without conscious effort. A "ready pupil" of fancy (.1, 424) the poet turns "Instinctively to human passions, then / Least understood" (11. 425-26) As the fanciful and sentimentalized account of the woodman "Withering by slow degrees, 'mid gentle airs" (1. 446) suggests, the boy has by no means reached the state of exalted benevolence Alison describes; nevertheless, fancy's "slender cords" help "to guide the unconscious Boy / For the Man's sake ." (11, 455-56). Nature's role in the process is underscored when Wordsworth describes how natural forms and human concerns merge without his conscious effort:

PAGE 122

114 Even then the common haunts of the green earth, And ordinary interests of man, Which they embosom, all without regard As both may seem, are fastening on the heart Insensiblv, each with the other's help. (11. 116-20) Wordsworth also makes it clear that his concern for human beings does not displace his love for nature: 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 told — Was Man in my affections and regards Subordinate to her. (11. 346-51) Human concerns are secondary to his love for nature at this time; furthermore, Wordsworth's love for mankind develops partly because his first human contacts involve those persons, such as shepherds, whose virtue is closely allied to natural forms : For me, when my affections first were led From kindred, friends, and playmates, to partake Love for the human creature's absolute self. That noticeable kindliness of heart Sprang out of fountains, there abounding most Where sovereign Nature dictated the tasks And occupations which her beauty adorned. And Shepherds were the men that pleased me first. (11. 121-28) The poet's evolving love for mankind is thus aided by his early love for natural forms; he learns to love shepherds because he views them against the background of nature. Alison's coimnents on life's "low and neglected scenes," suggesting the dignity of the simple, humble person ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 214-15), and his comments on the way in which the "labour of nature" inspires a similar "love of industry" in man ("On Spring," I, 38) point to a virtue

PAGE 123

115 arising almost spontaneously from working amid natural forms. One who labors against the background of nature's industry is, in effect, "awakened ... to new zeal in the service of God" ("On Spring," I, 39). Alison maintains that such industry is the foundation of virtue: "the moral honours of our being can only be won by the stedfast magnanimity of pious duty" ("On Winter, As the Season of Social Amusement," I, 422). Furthermore, humble and simple persons represent "the most dignified submission to the hand of chastening Heaven," the "most magnanimous adherence to truth and honesty" ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 215). When Wordsworth's love for the simple shepherd class is evaluated in light of Alison's comments, it becomes apparent that he learns to love such persons for their virtue rather than only because of their association with nature. The shepherds Wordsworth admires are not the mythical shepherds of "old time" (1. 173); they are nature's "fellow-workers" (."On Spring," I, 39), in Alison's sense of the term: the sun and sky. The elements, and seasons as they change. Do find a worthy fellow-labourer there — Man free, man working for himself, with choice Of time, and place, and object; by his wants. His comforts, native occupations, cares, Cheerfully led to individual ends Or social, and still followed by a train Unwooed, unthought-of even — simplicity, And beauty, and inevitable grace. (11. 101-10) Wordsworth's finding beauty and "inevitable grace" in the simplicity of the shepherd's life suggests both Alison's definition of arace and his comments on humble life as

PAGE 124

116 "friendly to human character" {"On Instability of Character," II, 321) In Essays on Taste Alison notes that grace suggests "something dignified or exalted in the mind of the person" who manifests such a quality and maintains that the expression of grace evokes "some sentiment of respect, or admiration" in others (II, 6, ii, 381-82), Moreover, Alison maintains that a humble life, such as that of a shepherd, leads almost inevitably to "stability of character": The necessities of nature are ever friendly to human character, and almost unavoidably produce some degree of steadiness of purpose, and energy of pursuit. They, whose labour is every day to provide for the day that is passing, have an object from which they are not permitted to deviate, which summons their powers into continual activity, and which insensibly gives to their general character the same features of steadiness and of energy, ("On Instability of Character," II, 320-21) Alison describes the virtue of such a person as consistent with the "principles of Christian character" ("On Instability of Character," II, 320). The shepherds of Wordsworth s youth are virtuous in being "Intent on little but substantial needs" (1. 162); moreover, their "Christian character" leads the poet to view them in religious terms. He refers to their "sanctity of Nature" (1. 295) and describes how even visually he associates them with worship: Or him have I descried in distant sky, A solitary object and sublime. Above all height! like an aerial cross Stationed alone upon a spiry rock Of the Chartreuse, for worship. (11„ 271-75)

PAGE 125

117 The description of the shepherd silhouetted against the sky like a cross amid a setting of natural forms is followed by a description of the effect such a vision has on the poet's views of human nature: Thus was man Ennobled outwardly before my sight. And thus my heart was early introduced To an unconscious love and reverence Of human nature; hence the human form To me became an index of delight. Of grace and honour, pov/er and worthiness. (11. 275-81) This description of his love for mankind, as represented by the shepherd, combines both the spiritual and the aesthetic terminology of Alison. The term "delight" is generally associated with one's aesthetic response to something pleasing, while terms such as "honour" and "grace" refer to spiritual qualities. Similarly, Wordsworth's early association with such men has spiritual as well as aesthetic consequences. Viewing man "thus purified, / Removed, and to a distance that was fit" Cll. 304-05) not only affords pleasure but also provides protection from the "vulgar passions" of the world: And thus Was founded a sure safeguard and defence Against the weight of meanness, selfish cares, Coarse manners, vulgar passions, that beat in On all sides from the ordinary world In which we traffic. (11. 317-22) Alison similarly views the world as a potential source of corruption and notes that if one is not introduced early in life to examples of piety and virtue "the habits of worldly pursuit have, ere this period [m.aturity] occurs, contracted

PAGE 126

118 the mind to narrow views, and sordid occupations" ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 4 9). In addition to the shepherds of Book VIII as models of human virtue, the participants at the "rustic fair" (1. 11) of the book's beginning suggest certain qualities which Alison associates with human dignity. Alison explains how such "scenes of relaxation" tend "to preserve the dignity of human character": Whenever amusement is sought, it is in the society of our brethren; and whenever it is found, it is in our sympathy with the happiness of those around us. It bespeaks the disposition of benevolence, and it creates it. ("On Winter, As the Season of Social Amusement," I, 415) Alison further notes that persons engaged in such activities present "to the thoughtful eye, one of the most pleasing appearances of their original character" ("On Winter, As the Season of Social Amusement," I, 415-16). Wordsworth not only uses words such as "gaiety" and "cheerfulness" (1. 53) to describe the general atmosphere of happiness that prevails but also chooses the term "delightful" (1. 18) to describe his own aesthetic response to the event. Juxtaposed to the "spectacle" (1. 6 80) of London's Bartholomew Fair in Book VII, the "rustic fair" at the beginning of Book VIII presents a pleasing vision of "rural peace" (1. 73). The book of The Prelude that chronicles the poet's growing regard for human nature thus begins with a scene illustrating the more admirable qualities of man's character.

PAGE 127

119 The examples of human dignity presented in Book VIII are somewhat abstract and idealized and are used more to illustrate the poet's growing to love mankind than to suggest real persons. In other poems — especially "Michael" and "Resolution and Independence" — Wordsworth presents the dignity of the simple person in more concrete terms. Like the shepherds of Book VIII of The Prelude the characters in these poems are strengthened by communion with nature; however, Michael and the leech-gatherer are tragic figures in that they represent "personal suffering and heroism. ""^^ Michael's virtue arises from his association with natural forms; in fact, Wordsworth' s characerization of the shepherd depends almost entirely on his relationship with his surroundings. Alison's description of the "union of devotional sentiment with sensibility to the expressions of natural scenery" ( Essays on Taste II, 6, ii, 443) helps to explain how the natural forms that lay "Strong hold on his affections" (1, 75) lead Michael to religious thought. He views himself as God's fellow-worker and the recipient of nature's benevolence: "I have been toiling more than seventy years. And in the open sunshine of God's love Have we all lived. ..." (11. 228-30) This industry, both the source and conf irm.ation of Michael's virtue, is better understood in light of Alison's comments concerning virtue and industry. Alison describes the virtue simple persons possess: ". .an imperious law binds them to duty, to labour, and to happiness" ("Of the

PAGE 128

120 Dangers of Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With Active Virtue," II, 234). He also notes that the need to work "has confirmed, if not created, many virtues among the poor" ("On the Seasons of Scarcity," i, 106). Alison further exalts the humble life by acknowledging the importance of performing "family duties" ("On Stability of Character," II, 354) and by describing favorably "the calm occupations of sequestered industry" ("On Summer," I, 201). Michael's industry is certainly emphasized in the poem. The shepherd not only performs his "occupations out of doors" (1. 96) in tending his sheep but also attends to various other domestic duties. "Living a life of eager industry" (1. 122) Michael and his wife become "a proverb in the vale" (1. 94), working so late into the night that their cottage with its burning lamp becomes a "public symbol" (1, 130) of their domestic virtues: This light was famous in its neighbourhood, And was a public symbol of the life That thrifty Pair had lived. ... And from this constant light, so regular, And so far seen, the House itself, by all Who dwelt within the limits of the vale. Both old and young, was named the Evening Star. (11. 129-39) Although Carl Woodring is correct in placing this model of industry within the framework of the "Protestant ethic, "^ Alison's comments on industry provide a more precise explanation of v/hy this quality is so valued: as an integral part of "stability of character," he maintains, it is the "surest promise of Honour" ("On Stability of Character,"

PAGE 129

121 II, 342). Furthermore, as the title of Alison's sermon "Of the Dangers of Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With Active Virtue" indicates, industry affords honor because it suggests the traditional Anglican theory of good works, a doctrine opposed both to the antinomian heresy, with its ideas of the elect, and to attacks on the Shaf tesburian tradition, which maintains that men should be inherently disposed to virtue, not led to good deeds by the rewards offered by religion. The character of Luke in the poem serves as a foil to the industry of Michael. Alison, who has three sermons "On the Parable of the Prodigal Son" (II, 356-421) considers conduct such as Luke's — permitting "the most valuable years of life to pass away in idleness and prodigality" ("On Evil Communication," I, 24 9) — a direct negation of the virtue of industry. Alison describes more precisely how abandoning industry leads to further degeneration of character: The habit of exertion once broken, would soon cease to exist. The ambition of higher excellence, once banished from the heart, it would be open to passions of which it had little suspicion. Every day as it passed, would take something from the vigour of character, or the purity of taste. ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 218) Michael's stability of character, rather than Luke's instability, is Wordsworth's major concern in the poem, and Michael's response to his son's defection establishes more clearly the stoicism and resolution in his character. Luke's demise is chronicled in six lines (11. 442-47): he begins "To slacken in his duty" (1. 443), breaking the

PAGE 130

122 "habit of exertion," and gives himself "To evil courses" (1. 445) Michael, on the other hand, continues to commune with nature: Among the rocks He went, and still looked up to sun and cloud. And listened to the wind, (11. 455-57) Although the image of the shepherd at the end of the poem — laboring alone at the sheepfold or unable to work because of grief — moves others to "pity" (1. 463), his stoicism and resolution in the face of evil make him heroic in Alison's sense of "stability of character." The leech-gatherer of "Resolution and Independence" presents a similar model of "stability of character." Like Michael's, his virtue arises from his constant attention to duty. Alison maintains that ". .no discipline can ever lead to honour and to virtue, but that which inspires resolution, and habituates to self-command" ("On Instability of Character," II, 331), and the leech-gatherer's "Employment hazardous and wearisome" (1. 101) promotes these qualities: From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor; Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance; And in this way he gained an honest maintenance. (11. 103-05) What surprises the poet most about the man's resolution and self-command is the fact that "so firm a mind" is found in such a "decrepit" body (1. 138). Wordsworth's description of the man "bent double, feet and head / Coming together in life's pilgrimage" (11. 66-67) points to the kind of physical resolution Alison includes in his description of old age:

PAGE 131

123 The same power which first called you into being, and spread the blossoms of your spring, is now in his great system, conducting you to the termination of your days, and resolving your material frame into the dust from which it sprung, ("On Winter, As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 438) Within Alison's framework, even the leech-gatherer's infirmities afford him a kind of dignity as they represent his journey toward immortality: Alison maintains that "the infirmities of age shall put on 'immortality'" ("On Winter, As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 439). The "resolution" of the title suggests not only the leech-gatherer's firmness of mind but also the approaching dissolution of his body, its "resolution" into its original form. [ [ Finally, the persona of the poem also makes a "resolu' tion" : he reaches a decision about the conduct of his own life based on the leech-gatherer's example. From the joyous mood of the first three stanzas of the poem, the poet plunges into "dejection" (1. 25), with depressing thoughts of future "Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty" (1. 35). Alison does not celebrate such gloom as a worthy emotion ("On Autumn," I, 322); in fact, he maintains that it must be corrected. In the "merciful providence of God," some event frequently arises which "restores the mind to its proper tone ("On Instability of Character," II, 32728). Furthermore, he notes, we are led, "as if by some mysterious charm, from the bosom of melancholy to the highest hopes and consolations of our being" ("On Autumn," I, 335). The mysterious, almost supernatural, aspect of the leech-gatherer is emphasized in the poem:

PAGE 132

124 And the whole body of the Man did seem Like one whom I had met with in a dream; Or like a man from some far region sent. To give me human strength, by apt admonishment. (11. 109-12) The leech-gatherer is a dream-like character who seems sent to the poet for the specific purpose of rescuing him from despondency. The despondency from which the poet is rescued is basically solipsistic: he fears for himself "Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills" (1. 115), despairing to think he will join Chatterton (1. 43) and Burns (11. 45-46) "in their misery dead" CI. 116). The leech-gatherer rescues him from this selfishness. Alison describes the process : although the train of our thoughts may have begun with the selfishness of our own concerns, we feel that, by the ministry of some mysterious power, they end in awakening our concern for every being that lives. ("On Autumn I 330) While the persona 's questions at the beginning of the poem are part of the "stranger's privilege" (1. 82) of idle conversation, by the poem's conclusion he eagerly questions the old man (1. 118) and is haunted by the image of him "Wandering about alone and silently" (1, 131), Such a change in attitude indicates that the poet has been humanized, that he identifies sympathetically with another human being. The poet's response to the leech-gatherer in "Resolution and Independence" illustrates both his identification v/ith the model of virtue he provides and his concern for the man's v/elfare; this pattern of empathizing with others

PAGE 133

125 is an integral part of Wordsworth's humanitarianism. In "Ode: Intimations of Immortality," "Elegiac Stanzas on Peele Castle," and "Tintern Abbey" the poet is saddened by his recognition of man's mortality. But, as Alison maintains, this "commiseration" for all mankind inspires the virtues of benevolence and charity ("On Autumn," I, 331-32). Wordsworth's concern with such qualities is reflected in several poems: "Lines Left Upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree" provides a brief description of the actions of benevolent persons, as well as a description of the proud Yew-Tree man, who is never humanized; "A Narrow Girdle of Rough Stones" describes the poet's own failure to exhibit charity; and Oswald of The Borderers mocks the qualities of compassion and charity. Finally, in "The Old Cumberland Beggar," Wordsworth creates a character who serves not primarily as a model of virtue but as a stimulus for the charity of others: the beggar evokes charity and benevolence and, at the same time, reminds people of the kind deeds they have done in the past. Alison's comments help to establish the relationship between appreciating the frailty of other human beings and virtues such as humility and charity. In maturity man is moved to "solemn" and "serious thought," and, in turn, his heart "is not thus finely touched, but to fine issues" concerning humanity ("On Autumn," I, 326-27). Alison further describes the melancholy such "meditations" ("On Autumn," I, 328-2^) inspire:

PAGE 134

126 It is not an individual remonstrance; — it is not the harsh language of human wisdom, which too often insults, while it instructs us. and the lesson they teach us is, not that we alone decay, but that such also is the fate of all the generations of man. ("On Autiimn," I, 329-30) Such meditations "would teach us humility, — and with it they would teach us charity, they would teach us commiseration for the whole family of man" ("On Autumn," I, 331-32). In both "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" and "Peele Castle" the poet is momentarily distressed by the recognition of human frailty, what Beatty terms the "wisdom of 21 maturity." In "Peele Castle" Wordsworth finds "A deep distress hath humanised my Soul" (1. 36) and bids farewell to his former happiness that existed apart from human feeling: Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone. Housed in a dream, at distance from the Kind! Such happiness, wherever it be known. Is to be pitied; for 'tis surely blind. Cll. 53-56) Although critics such as Bloom emphasize the poet's wavering 22 "confidence" in nature, Alison's comments on maturity suggest the necessity of becoming humanized, even at the expense of the "blind" happiness innocence enjoys. Wordsworth's use of the word "Kind" (1. 54) implies that he has lived apart from both mankind and qualities such as kindness, benevolence, and sympathy. The process of becoming humanized effects kindness, as well as other adult virtues such as "fortitude" and "patient cheer" CI. 57). Similarly, in "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" the poet acquires a "human heart" CI. 201) indicating his

PAGE 135

127 concern for mankind, and a "philosophic mind" (1. 187) reconciling him to adult responsibilities. The recognition of man's mortality that Alison stresses is explicitly described in the concluding stanza of the poem: the adult finds his perceptions of natural objects "Do take a sober colouring from an eye / That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality ." (11. 198-99). His newly acquired sense of mortality imbues all forms of life with significance: "To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears" (11. 203-04). The poet's response to human mortality also suggests Alison's concept of "soothing" melancholy ("On Autumn," I, 327): he finds "soothing thoughts that spring / Out of human suffering" (11. 184-85). Like Alison's "circumstances of melancholy" which "guide us most securely to put our trust in him" ("On Autumn," I, 332) and which confirm the "immortal spirit" of God, who yearly brings new life to nature ("On Autumn," I, 333-34), the poet's adult wisdom leads to "the faith that looks through death" (1. 185). Alison finds that "even-tide," the tim.e of day associated with maturity and with meditation, brings "sentiments and affections more valuable than all the splendours of the day" ("On Autumn," I, 323-24). Wordsworth describes maturity in similar terms: Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind. (11. 178-81)

PAGE 136

128 Both Wordsworth and Alison thus point to a specifically adult source of consolation and strength. In "Tintern Abbey" the poet finds his adult concern for humanity "Abundant recompense" (1. 88) for his loss of the "dizzy raptures" (1. 85) nature afforded him in adolescence. Wordsworth's description of the change in his relationship with nature closely parallels Alison's description of the humanizing process of meditation. In maturity, the poet views nature as permeated with the human: For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still, sad music of humanity. Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue. (11. 88-93) Wordsworth, like Alison, suggests that the meditative experience is essentially calming, Alison describes it as a "melancholy so soothing, so gentle in its approach, and so prophetic in its influence ..." ("On Autumn," I, 327) and maintains that it is neither "an individual remonstrance" nor "the harsh language of human wisdom, which too often insults, while it instructs us ... ("On Autumn," I, 32930) Similarly, the "still, sad music of humanity" Wordsworth hears in nature is neither "harsh nor grating" (11. 91-92) Finally, Alison and Wordsworth agree on the effect of such moments of meditation. Alison notes: "We rise from our meditations with hearts softened and subdued" ("On Autumn," I, 328-29). Wordsworth acknowledges a similar effect: his viewing nature from the adult perspective of human concerns tends "To chasten and subdue" him (1. 193)

PAGE 137

129 In light of Alison's comments concerning maturity, such a response to nature is both reasonable and appropriate. "Lines Left Upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree" deals primarily with a proud man's failure to be humanized. His pride is, in fact, the source of his character flaw. Though "disguised in its own majesty" (1. 51), his pride is "littleness" (1. 52) and results in his failure to identify with other human beings. As Alison also acknowledges, the true wisdom of maturity should lead to love for mankind: "... true knowledge leads to love" (1. 60). Furthermore, the Yew-Tree m.an has never accepted his own h\am.anity: True dignity abides with him alone Who, in the silent hour of inward thought. Can still suspect, and still revere himself. In lowliness of heart. (11. 61-64) The Yew-Tree man's meditations are more "morbid" (1. 31) than soothing, and he fails to make the necessary identification with mankind. The process of becoming humanized requires acknowledging both the lowly and the exalted elements of human nature; the man's false pride, rather than "True dignity" CI. 61) makes it impossible for him to accomplish this. In juxtaposition to the man's own failure to exhibit charity is his vision of the benevolence of others. The man is, on occasion, sufficiently "subdued" by nature to recognize in others the benevolence he will never feel: Nor, that time. When nature had subdued him to herself. Would he forget those Beings to whose minds Warm from the labours of benevolence

PAGE 138

130 The world, and human life, appeared a scene Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh. Inly disturbed, to think that others felt What he must never feel. (11. 37-44) Wordsworth emphasizes the effect of the "labours of benevolence" rather than the actions themselves: actions of benevolence, inspired by a love for mankind, result in a more exalted view of the "world" and of "human life" (1. 41). Alison's concept of the relationship between the internal and the external (qualities of mind and attributes of external objects) is suggested here; furthermore, Wordsworth's use of the word "kindred" to establish this relationship is significant. "Kindred" not only implies the similarity between loftiness of thought and one's vision of the world and of mankind but also reinforces the human focus of the passage by implying perhaps the word's now obsolete sense of "human kindred" or "the human race." The "loveliness" (1. 42) of the world depends on the concern for humanity benevolent persons feel: the Yew-Tree man dies, having never experienced this concern. "A Narrow Girdle of Rough Stones," presenting the poet's own failure to exhibit charity, involves charity not in its limited sense of almsgiving and providing materially for the needs of others but in its extended sense of loving all humanity and manifesting this love by kind deeds. In the poet's case, the lesson of Point Rash-Judgment is that benevolence should extend to judging the actions of others. The poet and his companions mistakenly assume the peasant they encounter is "Improvident and reckless" (1. 50), wasting

PAGE 139

131 his time fishing when he could be gainfully employed as a laborer in harvest season. Approaching more closely, they discover that the man, wasted by illness, is far "Too weak to labour in the harvest field" (1. 63) and that he is "using his best skill to gain / A pittance from the dead unfeeling lake" (11. 64-65) Forced to confront the physical decay of the peasant, with its suggestions of human mortality, the poet is, to use Alison's term, "subdued," moved from "selfishness" to a concern for all mankind ("On Autumn," I, 329-30). After "serious musing" and "self-reproach" (1. 70) the poet and his companions discover "What need there is to be reserved in speech, / And temper all our thoughts with charity" (11. 72-73) In the character of Oswald in The Borderers Wordsworth creates a villain who not only fails to exhibit charity and benevolence but also mocks these qualities in others. In his prefatory essay the poet describes Oswald as "a young man of great intellectual powers yet without any solid 23 prxnciples of genuine benevolence." Oswald thus represents two major character flaws Alison describes: the first is the "abuse of learning and talents" ("On Evil Communication," I, 250) and the second (and more serious) is his denial of his humanity. Oswald neither identifies with other human beings nor exhibits the corresponding virtues of benevolence and sympathy. Wordsworth's presentation of Oswald's character flaws is explicit. Oswald abuses his intellectual powers in that

PAGE 140

132 he uses them to serve what Alison terms "constitutional hiimour" ("On Instability of Character," II, 318) rather than to serve any higher principles of benevolence. In addressing Marmaduke, Oswald describes the "only law" to which he must account: You have obeyed the only law that sense Submits to recognize; the immediate law, From the clear light of circumstances, flashed Upon an independent Intellect, (Act III, 1493-96) With his superior intellect and his "Restless" mind (.Act III, 1451), Oswald is far more like an isolated Byronic hero than the typical Wordsworthian character. Unable to identify with other human beings, persons such as Oswald "find amid their fellow-men / No heart that loves them, none that they can love ." (Act III, 1452-53). Never humanized, he substitutes pride for virtues such as compassion and pity: Compassion! — pity! — pride can do without them; And what if you should never know them more! — He is a puny soul who, feeling pain. Finds ease because another feels it too. If e'er I open out this heart of mine It shall be for a nobler end — to teach And not to purchase puling sympathy, (Act III, 1553-59) Oswald thus both denies such virtues in his own conduct and mocks them in others. Describing compassion and sympathy as "puling," the products of a "puny soul," he maintains he has never found solace in identifying with others. Like the Yew-Tree man, he isolates himself because of his pride; Oswald, however, never acknowledges the value of the benevolence and charity others experience

PAGE 141

133 While characters such as Michael and the leech-gatherer suggest Alison's description of the "graces of adversity" ("On Winter, As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 441), and other Wordsworth poems establish the importance of benevolence and charity, the central figure of "The Old Cumberland Beggar" is both a passively virtuous person and a stimulus evoking kindness in others. Alison compares such a person to the blind man of the Scriptures: in his conduct ... we discern all the marks of resignation and genuine devotion. He complains not; — he importunes not; — he sits h\imbly by the wayside to receive the charity of the passengers, without demanding it. It is the character, of all others, which the Gospel loves, and which it loves to form; the character of humble patience and submissive piety; — the character of silent and unostentatious goodness; — the character of that simple but sublime devotion which carries with it the promise of being yet exalted. ("On the Consolation Which the Gospel Affords Under the Natural Evils of Life," I, 373-74) Alison describes the effect such a person has on the "moral conduct of men" ("On Seasons of Scarcity," I, 106) — how the "humility of his sublime submission" makes him "of more usefulness to mankind, than all who ever yet filled the thrones, or awakened the admiration of a lower world" ("On the Consolation Which the Gospel Affords Under the Natural Evils of Life," I, 382). Others are "raised by the wants around them, from the cheerless pursuit of selfish pleasure, to the genial experience of benevolence," acquiring "the habits of attention, of humanity, and of charity ..." C"On Seasons of Scarcity," I, 109-10).

PAGE 142

134 Wordsworth only briefly describes the beggar's passive virtue. The aged man has lived "in the eye of Nature" (1. 196) suggesting by his conduct "The good which the benignant law of Heaven / Has hung about him" (11. 167-68). The qualities of "submissive piety" and "humble patience" are also reflected in Wordsworth's description of the man in "Animal Tranquillity and Decay" : Long patience hath such mild composure given. That patience now doth seem a thing of which He hath no need. He is by nature led To peace so perfect that the young behold With envy, what the Old Man hardly feels. (11. 10-14) Wordsworth's focus is the charity and benevolence the beggar evokes in the villagers. This emphasis has caused Jack Stillinger to describe the man as "a kind of pedestrian 24 objective correlative," his primary function being to elicit a certain emotional response from others. Wordsworth notes that the beggar's purpose is to "prompt the unlettered villagers / To tender offices and pensive thoughts" (11. 169-70), a description suggesting Alison's comments on meditation and kind deeds Wordsworth's description of the villagers' charitable conduct suggests Alison's association of benevolence with virtue. Alison describes the rewards for the exercise of the "noblest charity" : "To be thus employed is itself happiness" C"On Summer," I, 215). Furthermore, he maintains that one is led almost unconsciously to additional "exercise of active virtue" ("On Summer," I, 207) because it is pleasurable. Wordsworth's description is similar:

PAGE 143

135 Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds. The mild necessity of use compels To acts of love; and habit does the work Of reason; yet prepares that after-joy Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul. By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued, Doth find herself insensibly disposed To virtue and true goodness. (11. 98-105) By force of "habit" the villagers are charitable toward the beggar. This action evokes pleasure and, in turn, inspires the benefactors almost "insensibly" to "virtue and true goodness In addition to his function of eliciting kindness in others, the beggar also serves as a "silent monitor" to remind the villagers of_ past deeds of charity — to "impress" such thoughts "on their minds" (11. 123-24) In the beggar the people "Behold a record which together binds / Past deeds and offices of charity" (11. 89-90). Alison's comments help to explain why such a reminder is necessary. Alison maintains that the habits of life tend to dull one's sensitivity to others and that something must restore the mind to its "proper tone": some "occasion arrives which kindles a nobler amibition, and, in the discharge of some signal duty, calls forth all the latent powers of the understanding, and all the generosity of the heart" ("On Instability of Character," II, 327-28). The villagers of the poem find their sensitivity to others dulled by the "half-wisdom half-experience gives" (1. 93). The old beggar, moving them to charity and to duty, "keeps alive / The kindly mood in hearts ..." (11. 91-92); they are

PAGE 144

136 rescued from potential "selfishness" (1, 95) by this everpresent reminder of the need to be charitable. The benevolence and charity described in "The Old Cumberland Beggar" arise from the villagers' sympathetic identification with another person, a process which both Wordsworth and Alison maintain is essential for the mature adult. The villagers of the poem find mere "abstinence from evil deeds" (1. 144) does not "satisfy the human soul" (1. 146) The persona acknowledges that "man is dear to man" (1. 147) and finds that kindness to others results from the recognition "That we have all of us one human heart" (1. 153) The "first mild touch of sympathy and thought" (1. 114) one receives in childhood from contact "with a world / Where want and sorrow were" (11. 115-16) is the foundation for the adult's sympathetic identification with others. The beggar is important not only because he manifests hxoman weakness and requires sympathy but also because he is afforded the grandeur all human beings share: "The heaven-regarding eye and front sublime / Which man is born to ." (11. 81-82). In acknowledging the beggar's humanity, Wordsworth has exalted the humble, simple person and, at the same time, suggested the fundamental dignity of all mankind. Wordsworth's comments on human dignity in "The Old Cumberland Beggar" suggest the tone of the concluding books of The Prelude By the time the poet finds his "theme" — "the very heart of man" (XIII, 240-41) — it is this dignity he

PAGE 145

137 emphasizes. As Havens maintains, it is "admiration for man, not love for man, that is the topic" of the latter books of 25 the poem. Having treated love for mankind and sympathetic identification with mankind in other poems, Wordsworth becomes more philosophically detached and fully acknowledges his role as teacher-prophet: his purpose is to inspire in others a similar admiration for human grandeur. The conclusion of The Prelude is essentially an optimistic assessment of man's ability to fulfill his potential first described in Book VIII: though born Of dust, and kindred to the worm; a Being, Both in perception and discernment, first In every capability of rapture, Through the divine effect of power and love; As more than anything we know, instinct With godhead, and, by reason and by will. Acknowledging dependency sublime. (.11. 487-94) Wordsworth's description reflects the humanist theme of man as "angelic brute," existing in what Pope terms "this 2 fi isthmus of a middle state." "Born of dust," he is subject to all the lim.itations of mortality; at the same time, however, his powers of perception afford him a potential dignity no other creature enjoys. Wordsworth's acknowledgment of man's frailty in Book VIII of The Prelude is subordinated both grammatically and thematically to the description of human potential. Alison similarly maintains that man's capacity for "perception" separates him from other creatures: "Of the innumerable eyes that open upon nature, none but those of man see its author and its end"

PAGE 146

138 ("On Winter, As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 443). Furthermore, like Wordsworth, Alison implies that human capabilities impose certain obligations. He maintains that "there is something very solemn in this mighty privilege" of viewing the "author" of nature ("On Winter, As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 44 3) and finds that "in the perfection of the human system the mind is awake to the consciousness of all the capacities it possesses, and the lofty obligations they impose" ( Essays on Taste II, 6, ii, 392), Wordsworth and Alison, like the Augustan humanists, describe "man's uniqueness" primarily to point 27 to his "unique moral obligations." The conclusion of The Prelude explains how man fulfills his obligations: the poet learns to look to humanity for both present virtue and hopes of future good. Alison's comments on "the love of excellence" and "the infinity of progressive perfection" help to explain Wordsworth's attitude toward human potential. Maintaining that the mind must be "trained to whatever is good or great in human nature" ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 48), Alison finds this "love of excellence" similarly leads man to consider the "mightier ends for which he is created, and nobler designs which he ought to pursue" ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 210) The discrepancy humanists perceive "between man 28 as he is and man as he has it in his power to become" underlies Alison's description of man's obligations. Progress toward perfection, Alison explains, is not only a possibility but also an adult obligation:

PAGE 147

139 Remember, still more, what you owe to Him who called you into being; who has infused into your minds so many noble capacities for virtue, for wisdom, and for happiness; and who has set before you the infinity of progressive perfection, to waken them into life and activity. ("On the Encouragement Which the Gospel Affords to Active Duty," I, 125) The poet similarly finds his "sense of excellence" enhanced (XIII, 58) in turning to man and to human virtue. Wordsworth's confidence that nothing "could overthrow my trust / In what we may become" (VIII, 649-50) is confirmed as he looks to humanity for both present virtue and future hopes : I sought For present good in life's familiar face. And built thereon my hopes of good to come. CXIII, 61-63) The poet's optimism seems justified, as his earlier concern for human mortality is replaced by a sense of human "permanence" : to seek In man, and in the frame of social life, Whate'er there is desirable and good Of kindred permanence unchanged in form And function, or, through strict vicissitude Of life and death, revolving. CXIII, 34-39) Wordsworth's reference to "kindred permanence" reflects the humanist assumption that man's nature is "permanent and uniform, quite unchanged by time or place." Although some conservative writers maintain that a recognition of this quality leads to serious "doubts about the probability of 29 any moral or qualitative 'progress,'" Wordsworth views such "permanence" much more optimistically: the poet finds

PAGE 148

140 in mankind unchanging qualities — "desirable and good" — that transcend individual man's mortality. Wordsworth's conclusion to The Prelude suggests that man's unchanging quality is the divinity of the human mind. Alison finds that virtue is determined by "the Mind which acts, not the situation in which it acts ." ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 213) and describes a divine source of this virtue ("On the Encouragement Which the Gospel Affords to Active Duty," I, 125). Wordsworth's final remarks provide an even more exalted description of the hxoman mind. The poet has already subordinated his affection for nature to his love for mankind; in the conclusion to The Prelude he suggests that his admiration for mankind should lead others to a similar recognition of the supremacy of the mind: Instruct them how the mind of man becomes A thousand times more beautiful than the earth On which he dwells, above this frame of things (Which 'mid all revolutions in the hopes And fears of men, doth still remain unchanged) In beauty exalted, as it is itself Of quality and fabric more divine. (XIV, 448-54) "The mind and the imagination," humanists maintain, "are the quintessential human qualities," and the mind's creations afford more delight than the "world of physical 30 nature." In maturity the poet recognizes that the beauty of "the mind of man" far exceeds that of the natural world: while, as Alison also maintains, natural forms are only evidence of divine handiwork, man partakes directly of such divinity bv his dual role as creature and creator.

PAGE 149

141 Wordsworth's use of the term "beauty" suggests an aesthetic appreciation of human dignity, while his use of the term "divine" suggests the spiritual overtones of his comments. The recognition of the beauty and divinity of the human mind is the lesson of The Prelude as well as the culmination of the poet's own natural education. Most of Wordsworth's poetry concerning maturity reveals a focus on mankind, and the conclusion to The Prelude suggests a humanistic basis for this attitude. In maturity the poet tends to subordinate his love for nature and to exalt the human; Alison's comments on maturity help to justify this process as. a logical and a spiritually appropriate culmination of nature's education. The adult must identify with other human beings — both empathizing with human frailty and praising human grandeur. He must define virtue in terms of human attributes and behavior and find in such virtue a standard for the conduct of his own life. Only when he has been humanized can man attain what Alison terms the "sublim.est prospects of mortality" (."On the Religious and Moral Ends of Knowledge," I, 167), the highest moral accomplishment human beings can achieve.

PAGE 150

142 Notes Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to Sermons Chiefly on Particular Occasions 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1815). 2 Shaftesbury's influence is the major force shaping this "new sensibility" of benevolence and charity. Ernest Tuveson argues that "we can assume nearly every educated man of the eighteenth century had some acquaintance with the Characteristics Tuveson concedes, however, that Shaftesbury's "astonishing influence" stems not so much from the originality of his ideas as from his assimilation of many diverse elements into "a complete and artistically consistent whole" ("The Importance of Shaftesbury," ELH: A Journal of English Literary History 20 [December 1953] 267-68) To some extent then Shaftesbury represents the culmination and clarification of various ethical principles controlling eighteenth-century thought. Crane's article was first published in 1934 and is reprinted in The Idea of the Humanities, and Other Essays Critical and Historical 2 vols. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967) I, 188-213. 4 Donald Greene, "Latitudinarianism and Sensibility: The Genealogy of the "Man of Feeling' Reconsidered," Modern Philology 75 (November 1977), 161-64. 5 Greene, p. 165. Raymond Dexter Havens, The Mind of a Poet 2 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 1941) II 452, 7 Colin C. Clarke, "Nature's Education of Man: Some Remarks on the Philosophy of Wordsworth," Philosophy 23 (October 1948), 315-15. g Arthur Beatty, William Wordsworth; His Doctrine and Art in Their Historical Relations 3rd ed. (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1960) pp. 1747-4 8 9 Beatty, p. 146. ^^Beatty, p. 149. Harold Bloom, The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry rev. and enl. ed. (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1971), p. 149.

PAGE 151

143 12 Bloom, p. 137. 13, 'Richard E, Brantley, Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism" (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1975) pp. 81-82. Alan Grob, "Wordsworth and Godwin: A Reassessment," Studies in Romanticism 6 (Winter 1967), 102-03. My study does not treat the question of Godwin's influence on Wordsworth's poetry because Alison and, in my opinion, Wordsworth often show themselves quite capable of treating the topic of concern for mankind without resorting to social or economic theories. Moreover, the subject of Godwin has been treated at length by other Wordsworth scholars. In addition to Grob's recent article, representing the moderate view that the poet found some elem.ents of Godwin' s doctrine attractive while rejecting others, Thomas J. Rountree s This M ighty Sum of Things; Wordsworth's Theme of Benevolent NecessTty (University: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1965) argues for Godwin's continuing influence on Wordsworth. Mary Moorman's standard biography describes the poet's personal acquaintance with Godwin, relying on entries in Godwin's diaries for documentation. Two older studies — David Fleisher s William Godwin; A Study in Liberalism (London : Allen and Unwin, 1951) and David Hector Monro's Godwin's Moral Philosophy; An Interpretation of William Godwin (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1953) — provide valuable analyses of Godwin's thought. "'•^Citations from the 1850 edition of The Prelude indicated parenthetically in the text, are to The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Helen Darbishire, 2nd ed. TOxford: Clarendon Press, 1959). "^^Paul Fussell, The Rhetorical World of Augustan Humanism; Ethics and Imagery From Swift to Burke (Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1965) p. 133. Fussell — discussing humanism in Swift, Pope, Johnson, Reynolds, Gibbon, and Burke — outlines the basic qualities of Augustan h-umanism: an awareness of man's capacity for dignity is countered by several negative assumptions about man's "flawed and corrupt nature" (p. 8) Although Wordsworth acknowledges this paradox inherent in human nature, in the conclusion to The Prelude he emphasizes man's potential for greatness rather than his limitations. '"'^Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to Essays on' the Nature and Principles of Taste, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (Edinburgh; Archibald Constable, ViU)

PAGE 152

144 18 George Steiner, The Death of Tragedy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961) p. 3. Steiner 's definition is chosen because it provides a general explanation of the tragic figure in the western tradition rather than a specific classical or Aristotelian theory which cannot be applied to genres other than drama. 19 Citations from Wordsworth's poems other than The Prelude indicated parenthetically in the text, are to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth ed. Ernest De Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952-59) 20 Carl R. Woodring, Wordsworth Riverside Studies in Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 69. Woodring also comments on the significance of the cottage's name. ^^Beatty, p. 147. 22 Bloom, p. 186. 23 Notes to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth I, 345. 24 Notes to Selected Poems and Prefaces by William Wordsworth ed. Jack Stillinger, Riverside Editions (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 500. 25 Havens, II, 585, ^Fussell, pp. 110, 112. 97 Fussell, p. 28. 28 Fussell, p. 134. 29 Fussell, p. 4. Fussell, pp. 5, 8.

PAGE 153

CHAPTER IV ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS OF "T INTERN ABBEY" An investigation of Wordsworth's poetry in terms of Alison's Essays on the' Nature and Principles of Taste explains the subjective aspect of his poetry — the relationship of the mind to the external world: his aesthetic response has an empirical basis in associative theory. At the same time, Alison, like Wordsworth, ascribes to the poetic experience certain elements that defy a strictly empirical explanation. The creative potential of the poetic imagination transcends mechanical association of ideas and enables the poet to bestow life on inanimate objects through a capacity for symbolism akin to personification. Alison's ideas are especially applicable to the experience described in "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey." Alison's aesthetic theories help to explain the reminiscence and retrospect of "Tintern Abbey" as both a description of the process of association and a tribute to imaginative creativity. Both of the essential aspects of Alison's theory — associationism and imagination — are reflected in "Tintern Abbey." The empirical basis for the imaginative activity in the poem is the objects of Wordsworth's aesthetic interest: although not inherently beautiful or sublime, the natural objects 145

PAGE 154

146 Wordsworth confronts on the banks of the Wye in 1798 are forms such as the ones Alison describes as potentially sublime. To comment on the way the mind relates to the external world, it will be necessary to explore the terminology of empiricism ("sensation," "impression," "mind," and "memory"), which is the foundation for the association of ideas as reflected in "Tintern Abbey." The role of the imagination and the nature of poetic symbolizing, as presented by Alison, closely parallel the process by which Wordsworth ascribes qualities of beauty and sublimity to external objects. Alison's concept of the duality of sensations — those evoking beauty and those evoking sublimity — is reflected in the specific sights and sounds the poet confronts on the banks of the Wye. Furthermore, Alison's treatise helps explicate the poem as an account of an education in the school of nature, an education which provides the basis for Wordsworth's moral sentiments. Alison makes it obvious that sensuous pleasure is not the primary purpose for which man was created: his treatise suggests the way that "nature and the language of the senses" (1. 108), far from producing sensuous effects alone, become the "soul" of the poet's "moral being" (11. 110-11):^ if [our nature] is enabled to look to the Author of Being himself, and to feel its proud relation to Him; then nature, in all its aspects around us, ought only to be felt as signs of his providence, and as conducting us, by the universal language of these signs, to the throne of the Diety. (II, 6, ii, 442)2 Even Wordsworth's "presence" (1 94) pervading the natural

PAGE 155

147 world has a parallel in Alison's "unseen spirit" (II, 6, ii, 438) unifying man and nature. Alison's treatise, as a background to "Tintern Abbey," helps ground the poem in associationist theory while at the same time suggesting that the associationist experience underlying the poem relates to, and is by no means inconsistent with, Wordsworth's experience of a spiritual "presence." Although the objects of Wordsworth's aesthetic interest have no inherent qualities of sublimity or beauty, the external world of "Tintern Abbey" is obviously the stimulus for the poet's imaginative-associative response. In the first place, Alison indicates that a rural or pastoral scene, such as that on the banks of the Wye, affords more basis for associative sentiments of "tenderness and innocence" than do "populous and commercial cities" (I, 2, i, 90). The poet twice mentions mental contemplation of the Wye as a means of escaping the corruption of the city: he alludes to the "tranquil restoration" (1. 30) effected by the remembered beauty of the Wye as a means of escaping the "lonely rooms" and the "din / Of towns and cities" (1125-26) ; similarly, he turns "in spirit" (1. 55) to the Wye "in darkness and amid the many shapes / Of joyless daylight" (11. 51-52), Although Wordsworth does not allude directly to the city in the second passage, his images recall the description of loneliness he has mentioned earlier in association with city life.. The poet's description of "the fretful stir / Unprofitable, and the fever of the world" (11. 52-53)

PAGE 156

148 suggests also the adjectives "populous" and "commercial" that Alison has used in his descriptions of cities. Wordsworth's description thus reflects Alison's concept of the city as both crowded and lonely. Alison's comments on the "signs of cultivation" that disfigure potentially sublime settings are applicable to "Tintern Abbey." Alison notes that the "sublimest situations" (those most potentially sublime) are often "disfigured by objects that we feel unworthy of them," citing "signs of cultivation" and the "regularity of inclosures" as two man-made intrusions upon the natural scene (I, 2, i, 121). Wordsworth's description of signs of cultivation in "Tintern Abbey" is modified by the natural coloring he gives to the intrusion of the artificial. The "hedge-rows" CI. 15), which should suggest the "regularity of inclosures," are described as "hardly hedge-rows" (1. 15) and retain their natural quality as "little lines / Of sportive wood run wild" (11. 15-16) The emphasis on the color green also indicates that man's cultivation has not destroyed the rustic beauty of the setting: the "pastoral farms" in "Tintern Abbey" are "Green to the very door" (11. 16-17) The setting Wordsworth confronts on the banks of the Wye in 1798 thus reflects some of the qualities Alison ascribes to a potentially sublime situation. Both Wordsworth and Alison assert that sensation is the basis for one's perception of beauty and sublimity. Alison's concept of the terms "sensation," "impression,"

PAGE 157

149 and "mind" is reflected in V7ordsworth' s description of the way the mind relates to the external world. Alison generally uses the term "impression" to indicate an immediate response "which the objects that are before us can produce" (I, 1, i, 10) and "sensation" to indicate an internal counterpart to impression. Alison makes no formal attempt to define the term "sensation"; however, he notes that "agreeable Sensations" are internal reactions to qualities such as "the smell of a rose, the colour of scarlet, the taste of a pineapple, when spoken of merely as qualities, and abstracted from the objects in which they are found" (II, 1, i, 177). Wordsworth uses the terms "impression" and "sensation" in a manner similar to Alison's. The poet uses the verb "impress" to indicate the relationship between one's immediate response to external stimuli and the mind: Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, That on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion. (11. 4-7) In Alison's aesthetic terminology, the act of gazing upon the cliffs constitutes "perception" (II, 1, i, 176), or the observation of those "qualities of matter known to us only by means of our external senses" ClI, 1, i, 176) Wordsworth's immediate response to the external stimuli Cthe cliffs) is "thoughts of more deep seclusion" (1. 7), a connection being established between the external and the internal. Alison's description of the "pleasure of agreeable Sensation" (I, 1, i, xvi) is echoed in the poet's ascription

PAGE 158

150 of such pleasures to the remembered beauty of the Wye: I have owed to them [natural forms] In hours of weariness, sensations sweet. Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration. (11. 26-30) Wordsworth's use of the word "sweet" not only indicates the pleasant nature of such sensations but also establishes an imagistic connection between an abstract quality of an object and the sensations it produces. The use of the v/ords "blood," "heart," and "mind" clearly establishes the internal nature of the sensations to which Wordsworth refers. Both Alison and Wordsworth use the term "mind" to designate the repository of sensations and associated ideas. Alison indicates that it is in the mind that "characters and affections" are bestowed on the "inanimate objects" impressed on the senses (.1 2, i, 132). Wordsworth's admonition to Dorothy to make her mind "a mansion for all lovely forms" and her memory "a dwelling-place / For all sweet sounds and harmonies" (11. 140-42) reflects a similar idea. Wordsworth employs the image of the "mansion" or "dwelling-place" not only to suggest the idea of a repository but also to emphasize, in a way consistent with Alison, the pleasant nature of the sensations and the associated ideas that can be effected by a scene such as the Wye. David Hartley's doctrine of the association of ideas is reflected in Alison and Wordsworth; however, both differ from Hartley in making the mind's operation more than the mechanistic process of random association of ideas.

PAGE 159

151 Hartley's description of the process of association reflects its mechanistic quality: Any sensations A, B, C, & c, by being associated with one another a sufficient number of times, get such a power over the corresponding ideas of sensation a, b, c, & c, that any one of the sensations A, when impressed alone, shall be able to excite in the mind b, c, & c, the ideas of the rest. Alison's description of the process in which external stimuli evoke corresponding mental associations is similar to Hartley's doctrine although it is stated with less mathematical precision: "When any object, either of sublimity or beauty, is presented to the mind, I believe every man is conscious of a train of thought being immiediately awakened in his imagination, analogous to the character or expression of the original object" (I, 1, i, 4-5). When Wordsworth suggests that the "steep and lofty cliffs" (1. 5) impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky, (11. 6-8) he has imaginatively made a connection between the cliffs and the sky. The suggestions of the quietness and serenity of the sky are certainly analogous to the scene before him. Alison similarly refers to an "alliance between heaven and earth" suggested by natural forms (II, 6, ii, 443). Sounding very much like a Romantic in his insistence that the imagination can effect images in our mind "very different from those which the objects themselves can present to the eye" (I, 1,. i, 5), Alison makes provisions for even more complex associative processes, such as that in which

PAGE 160

152 Wordsworth looks on nature and hears "The still, sad music of humanity" (1. 91) Alison also explains the "tempers of mind" (II, 2, i, 216) most conducive to the exercise of imagination. Since "whatever is great or beautiful in the scenery of external nature, is almost constantly before us" (I, 1, i, 9), one might assume that the person who has developed associativeimaginative capacities must respond imaginatively on every occasion when he is confronted with these stimuli. Alison notes that this is not the case: "the objects of taste make the strongest impression" when one is "vacant and unemployed" (I, 1, i, 10-11) At the beginning of "Tintern Abbey" the poet indicates that he is passively responsive to external stimuli by announcing that he will repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground. (11. 9-11) Wordsworth's pose at the beginning of the poem suggests that he is "unemployed," the state that Alison finds most conducive to the exercise of imagination. Whether or not Wordsworth will experience emotions of sublimity or beauty is not determined by his attitude or repose; the beginning of "Tintern Abbey" merely suggests the potential for the "exercise of im.agination. For both Wordsworth and Alison the image of sleeping suggests a state of passive responsiveness, and the image of awakening or coming to life suggests the "exercise of imagination." Alison implies that "genius," a term he uses

PAGE 161

153 as closely allied with the imagination CII, 6, ii, 433), is "awakened" when the person passively views the external setting: The forms and the scenery of m.aterial nature are around them [artistic persons] not to govern, but to awaken their genius; to invite them to investigate the sources of their Beauty; and from this investigation to exalt their conceptions to the imagination of forms, and of compositions of form, more pure and more perfect, than any that nature herself ever presents to them. It is in this pursuit that that Ideal Beauty is at last perceived, which it is the loftiest ambition of the artist to feel and to express. (II, 6, ii, 434) Alison uses the metaphor of awakening to designate the highest form of poetic activity — the pursuit of ideal beauty. Wordsworth employs a similar metaphor in his description of an almost mystical union with the universe: — that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on, — Until, 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 living soul. (11. 41-46) In this passage Wordsworth reflects both the concept of sleeping, here carried to the extent that it suggests corporeal death, and the idea of awakening, presented here as the process of coming to life. The concept of being led suggests the passive beginning of the pursuit of ideal beauty; the result is an "imagination of forms" "more perfect" than those nature presents to the artist: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy. We see into the life of things. (11. 47-49)

PAGE 162

154 Wordsworth is thus both "feeling" and "expressing" a kind of beauty that transcends mere perception of natural forms. The terms "feeling" and "affection" are used by Alison and Wordsworth to indicate passive qualities of mind that are an integral part of the imaginative response. Alison maintains that although the word "feeling" is sometimes used ambiguously to refer "both to our external and internal senses," it is "uniformly used to express Sensation" (II, 1, i, 177) sensation which can give rise to imaginative trains of thought. Alison, defining "affection" as a passive quality of mind "capable of producing emotion" (II, 6, ii, 417) maintains that the excitement of some affection necessarily precedes the experiencing of any complex emotion: Whenever the Emotions of Sublimity or Beauty are felt, I believe it will be found, that some affection is uniformly excited by the presence of the object, before the more complex Emotion of Beauty is felt; and that if no such affection is excited, no Emotion of Beauty or Sublimity is produced. (I, 2, i, 81) Wordsworth reflects Alison's concept of "feeling" and "affection" in "Tintern Abbey." He suggests that natural forms exist first for him as a "feeling" before they acquire associative links: "Their colours and their forms, were then to me / An appetite; a feeling and a love ..." (11. 79-80) The "feeling" Wordsworth describes has the potential to effect imaginative trains of thought; the affections constitute an integral part of the process. Wordsworth mainI I tains that the "affections" "lead" him (1. 42) an action I I in which he is passive, to an imaginative union with the

PAGE 163

155 universe. The affections are thus "excited" before the complex emotion of sublimity, indicated by the "aspect more sublime" (1. 137) is experienced. Finally, with a better understanding of the "temper of mind" most conducive to the imaginative response, one can better understand the specific imaginative process by which the mind relates to the external world and in which qualities of mind are ascribed to material objects. According to Alison, the process of ascribing qualities of mind to external objects, a process illustrated in "Tintern Abbey," constitutes a type of "personification which is founded upon such associations" CII,,1, i, 184). Alison even suggests that figurative language among poets is inherently representative of extensive associations (II, 1, i, 185). Alison explains how material objects, not inherently capable of producing emotion, may give rise to such an effect: But although the qualities of matter are in themselves incapable of producing emotion, or the exercise of any affection, yet it is obvious that they m.ay produce this effect, from their association with other qualities; and as being either the signs or expression of such qualities as are fitted by the constitution of our nature to produce Emotion. (II, 1, i, 178) Although Alison, following Edmund Burke and other writers on aesthetics, classifies aesthetic effects or emotions under the headings of "beautiful" or "sublime," he is more concerned v/ith specific responses to natural stimuli. He illustrates this principle by a rather detailed cataloguing of stimuli and the specific emotions they effect, a catalogue exemplifying the process of poetic symbolism.

PAGE 164

156 Many of the symbolic correspondences between the natural objects of the Wye setting and the corresponding emotions they evoke are specifically noted in Alison's catalogue. Both Wordsworth and Alison classify material qualities on the basis of the senses most frequently used in the discovery of sublimity and beauty — hearing and sight. Alison defines "sounds" as "the objects of the first" [sense]; "colours, forms, and motion" as "the objects of the second" (II, 2, i, 191) Wordsworth similarly classifies the sensations he receives from the Wye setting as "colours and forms" (1. 79) and sounds and motions (11. 2-4, 76). Neither the colors nor the forms of "Tintern Abbey" are inherently beautiful; an understanding of Alison's process of symbolic association helps explain how the forms become "beauteous forms" and how the color of the pastoral landscape acquires similar associative connections. Alison reinforces his concept that qualities of material objects are not inherently beautiful by applying it specifically to colors: "It is farther observable, that no Colours, in fact, are beautiful, but such as are expressive to us of pleasing or interesting Qualities" (II, 3, i, 301) Almost as a corollary to his assertion, Alison notes: ". .no new colour is ever beautiful, until we have acquired some pleasing association with it" (II, 3, i, 303). Specifically alluding to "rural scenery," Alison notes that "no Colours, but the natural, could possibly be beautiful, in the imitation of such scenes; because no other colours could be

PAGE 165

157 expressive to us of those qualities which are the sources of our Emotion from such objects in Nature" (II, 3, i, 309). Alison's discussion of the color green affords insight into Wordsworth's association of the pleasure of observing the natural world with the color green. Although Alison does not go to the length that Hartley does in providing a physiological explanation for man's delight in external 5 nature, Alison does emphasize the color as evoking a variety of associations arising from impressions of spring: In the effect which is produced upon our minds, by the different appearances of Natural scenery, it is easy to trace this progress of resembling thought, and to observe, how faithfully the conceptions which arise in our imaginations, correspond to the impressions which the characters of these seasons produce. What, for instance, is the impression we feel from the scenery of spring? The soft and gentle green with which the earth is spread, the feeble texture of the plants and flowers all conspire to infuse into our minds somewhat of that fearful tenderness with which infancy is usually beheld. (I, 1, i, 15-16) Wordsworth's pleasure in observing the natural world is enhanced by the colors it presents. In emphasizing green as the color of pastoral landscape, Wordsworth evokes some of the symbolic associations of the color: nature, new life, softness, and gentleness. In "Tintern Abbey" the "plots of cottage-ground" and "orchard-tufts" are "clad in one green hue" (11. 11, 13). Wordsworth's repetition of the word "green" (11. 17, 105, 158) suggests the importance of the associations the color has acquired. Green has acquired pleasing associations for the poet as a result of his repeated experience with the color. The fact that he has had

PAGE 166

158 past experiences similar to those he now describes is indicated by the repetition of the words "again" (1. 9) and "Once again" (11. 4, 14). Alison's comments on form afford similar insight into the "Tintern Abbey" experience. As an example of the associations shapes or forms have acquired, Alison cites rock structures, such as cliffs and precipices, as increasing one's perception of sublimity: "Nothing is more Sublime than the Form of Rocks, which seem to be coeval with Creation, and which all the convulsions of Nature have not been able to destroy" (II, 4, i, 322). Alison's assertion that "Magnitude in Height, is expressive to us of Elevation, and Magnanimity" (II, 4, i, 325) and that "Magnitude in depth is expressive to us of Danger or Terror, and from our constant experience, of images of Horror" (II, 4, i, 326) helps explain how magnanimity and terror enhance the sublimity of the natural forms of "Tintern Abbey." Alison concludes that "magnitude" is "sublime" because of its associations (II, 4, i, 327) Because of the associations these forms have acquired for him, "the tall rock" (1. 77) suggesting magnitude, and the "steep and lofty cliffs" (1. 5) suggesting both magnitude and horror (by virtue of the depth which they overlook) evoke the emotion of sublimity in Wordsworth. The sounds of the Wye setting manifest a similar duality between beauty and terror. Alison defines tranquillity as the associated emotion, or symbolic correspondent, for the sensation of silence (II, 1, i, 184) Tranquillity

PAGE 167

159 appears to be the dominant mood of the poem, symbolically represented by the "quiet of the sky" (1. 8) Alison describes the sound of the "murmuring" stream as symbolic of beauty (II, 2, i, 213), and the sound of the cataract as sublime (II, 2, i, 193) Wordsworth establishes both of these connections in the poem. The first sound he describes is that of the "waters, rolling from their mountain springs / With a soft inland murmur" (11. 3-4) However, his remembered sensations of sounds include also the "sounding cataract" (.1. 76) For both Wordsworth and Alison, a sound that suggests calm and quiet (the "murmuring" stream) indicates beauty; a sublime sound (the cataract) reflects both beauty and terror, a sense of awe in the presence of energy and force. As with the forms of the natural world, the beauty and terror reflected in the sounds of nature enhance Wordsworth's perception of sublimity. Alison's comments on the symbolic associations of motion also relate to the sublimity and beauty of the Wye scene. According to Alison, "all beautiful or sublime motion is expressed in language by verbs in the active voice" (II, 5, ii, 208) In "Tintern Abbey" the waters are "rolling" from their sources (1. 3) and the "sense sublime" (1. 95) peri vading nature "impels / All thinking things" (11. 100-01) and "rolls through all things" (1. 102) Even at his m.ost [ mystical, Wordsworth's graram.atical structure reflects the t associative connection of ideas (as indicated by the conjunction "and") as well as Alison's statement concerning

PAGE 168

160 sublime motion. This passage also suggests Alison's theory that motion without apparent cause expresses power CII, 5, ii, 207) : "thinking things" are impelled by the same force that pervades external nature. Rapid motion, Alison notes, is generally associated with sublimity; slower motion, with beauty (II, 5, ii, 209). Wordsworth's rapid motion, the cataract, and slower motion, the "rolling" waters, again reflect a duality of sensations apparently intended to enhance one's perception of sublimity. The duality of stimuli, those with qualities which suggest beauty and those with qualities which suggest sublimity, are present in the Wye setting; however, it is the symbolic-associative powers of Wordsworth's imagination, working within and with an historical formula, that transform the sensations received from the external world into a scene of beauty and sublimity. Alison ascribes the superiority of the poet to the painter not only to his ability to bestow on the "inanimate objects of his scenery the characters and affections of mind" Cl, 2, i, 132) but also to his ability to blend past, present, and future (I, 2, i, 134). Furthermore, Alison's assertion that associations recall "so many images of past happiness" (I, 1, i, 23) and that we recollect such images with "delight" (I, 1, i, 24) suggests that the poet's present delight in the Wye setting is dependent not only on retrospect and reminiscence but on his recalling "images of past happiness" by association. Alison notes: "In our

PAGE 169

161 progress from infancy to manhood, how much do our sentiments of beauty change with our years!" (I, 2, i, 86), Wordsworth presents the same idea, defining his stages of moral development in terms of response to natural beauty. He notes that progression from the first stage of development, characterized by purely animalistic responses to the natural world, to the second stage, characterized by sensuous apprehension of pleasure, is prerequisite for progression to his present stage of development in which he has acquired the capacity for imaginative association. A study of Alison's concept of a natural education, one based on sensations received from the natural world, suggests an analogue for Wordsworth's stages of moral development. Wordsworth's description of his childhood reflects the assertion, as expounded by Alison, that "simple pleasures" arise merely from sensation Cl, 2, i, 159). The poet alludes to the "coarser pleasures" of his boyhood days (.1. 73) much as Alison uses the term "pleasure" to describe simple emotions : the term Delight is very generally used to express the peculiar pleasure which attends the Emotions of Taste, in contradistinction to the general term Pleasure, which is appropriated to Simple Emotion. We are pleased we say, with the gratification of any appetite or affection. (I, 2, i, 170) Alison's description of infancy as characterized by "careless play of limJDs" and "elastic vigour of motion" (II, 6, ii, 371) is parallel to Wordsworth's phrase "glad animal movements" Cl. 74) Both Wordsworth and Alison note that

PAGE 170

162 in infancy and early childhood one's responses to the natural world are simple rather than complex or associative. The responses one makes at this level are dependent only on sensation. In Alison's terminology, Wordsworth experiences pleasure because of the sensations he receives from the natural world, but he does not associate the natural stimuli with complex emotions and, consequently, cannot yet experience "delight." The second stage of Wordsworth's developm.ent is that of adolescent sensuous rapture evoked by the natural world. At this stage he identifies the impressions or immediate responses to external stimuli as the source of his pleasant sensations, the internal counterparts to impressions, but as in the first stage of development, the sensations have no associative connections. The poet finds that natural forms haunt him "like a passion" (1. 77) during this stage. Alison, like Wordsworth, uses the term "passion" in a Kartlean sense to indicate a state of intense feeling, 7 either pleasurable or painful. The natural forms that recur to Wordsworth's mind thus evoke intense feelings, but feelings in the Alisonian sense of sensation rather than complex emotions. Alison's description of "simple pleasure" as having "no dependence on any thing for its perfection, but the sound state of the sense by which it is received" (I, 2, i, 159) helps explain the poet's contentment with merely sensuous apprehension of pleasure at this stage: Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love. That had no need of a remoter charm. By thought supplied, nor any interest Unborrowed from the eye. (11. 78-83)

PAGE 171

163 Wordsworth uses Alison's term "feeling" as well as the term "love" to explain the nature of his "appetite" for the natural "forms and colours" of the Wye setting. The fact that Wordsworth's "pleasure" depends on nothing "unborrowed from the eye" suggests that he is employing only the sense of sight, the sense which Alison notes is most frequently used in discovering sublimity and beauty; however, none of the material objects in the external world are associated with complex ideas or em.otions. The "remoter charm, / By thought supplied" refers to a process of intellectualization of simple ideas of sensation, a process that does not occur until the third stage of development. Dorothy reflects Alison's concept of the simple pleasures of the second stage of development as well as the attributes that Wordsworth ascribes to himself five years before: in thy voice I catch The language of my former heart, and read My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eves. (11. 116-19) The "language" of Wordsworth's "former heart" expresses only feeling or sensation. Significantly, Dorothy's eyes, suggestive of the sense which Alison feels will prove most important in the future discovery of the beauty and sublimity of natural forms, reflect only "pleasures" at this time. At this stage it is impossible to experience "delight," an emotion dependent on associations.

PAGE 172

164 In maturity Wordsworth finds that he has lost the capacity to enjoy nature as he did during childhood and adolescence but that his "Abundant recompense" (1. 88) for "such loss" (1. 87) is his ability to exercise his imagination and, consequently, to use Alison's terms, experience complex emotions such as beauty and sublimity (I, 2, i, 151), Not all critics of Wordsworth support such an assertion. Carl Woodring, for example, argues that Wordsworth presents not stages of development but merely levels of experience: one is able to respond on any level at any stage of his Q life. There is evidence in both Alison and Wordsworth to suggest that Woodring' s statement is misleading. Both Alison and Wordsworth maintain that the ability to reconstruct imaginatively pleasant scenes is a faculty one possesses only in a state of spiritual maturity. Alison notes that "without any particular object of meditation" pleasant scenes can "rise as by enchantment before the mind" (I, 2, i, 154), and Wordsworth has acquired this ability to reconstruct imaginatively pleasant scenes, such as that along the Wye, and to derive from such exercise healing emotions similar to those he experiences when actually viewing the scene. This ability is twice alluded to in "Tintern Abbey." The remembered beauty of the Wye evokes emotions of pleasure corresponding to the pleasures he receives on visiting the scene:

PAGE 173

165 But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, feelings too Of unremembered pleasure. (11. 25-31) As a tribute to the power of his imagination, Wordsworth emphasizes what Alison terms the "glow" of the creations of the "fancy" (I, 2, i, 165) by describing the effect it has on him — its ability to evoke "sensations sweet" and "feelings too / Of unremembered pleasure." His other faculties are obscured and the noise of the city is forgotten as he loses himself in the contemplation of beauty. Similarly, the poet can forget that he is "in darkness and amid the many shapes / Of joyless daylight" (.11. 51-52) to return imaginatively to the Wye. Addressing the natural forms, he comments: "How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee" (1. 55) Both Wordsworth and Alison note that a person's imaginative life may be more valuable, as well as more pleasurable, than his real life. According to Alison, imaginative persons from the noise and tumult of vulgar joy, often hasten to retire to solitude and silence, where they mtay yield with security to those illusions of Imagination, and indulge again their visionary bliss. (.1, 2, i, 165) Wordsworth regards his present visit to the Wye not only as evoking his "present pleasure" but also as providing the substance for future "visionary bliss": While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years. (11. 62-65)

PAGE 174

156 The importance of Wordsworth's visionary life is indicated by the choice of the words "life" and "food": his existence is dependent upon this aspect of his life. The experience obviously places great emphasis on the communicative power of the person who has developed the ability to exercise his imagination. As Alison notes, "by bestowing on the inanimate objects of his scenery the characters and affections of mind, he can produce at once an expression which every capacity may understand, and every heart may feel" (I, 2, i, 132). Wordsworth's poetic description of the Wye consists both of what he creates and what he perceives (11. 106-07) Alison, however, insists that the process of poetic animation is ultimately a tribute to divine rather than human power: "the poet, while he gives life and animation to every thing around him, is not displaying his own invention, but only obeying one of the most powerful laws which regulate the imagination of man" CII, 6, ii, 421), Alison thus ascribes the power of man's imagination to the "beneficence of the Divine artist" (II, 6, ii, 418) Wordsworth too acknowledges that the exercise of his own imagination manifests not human power but the wisdom of the Creator who provided man with such powers. Wordsworth's discussion of his "Abundant recompense" (1. 88) his ability to exercise his imagination, causes him to reflect that the same "presence" (1. 94) pervading external nature is present "in the mind of man" (1. 99). Alison's assertion that the

PAGE 175

167 beauty and sublimity of the natural world lead to the recognition of such as the "workmanship of the Author of nature" (II, 6, ii, 442) helps explain Wordsworth's rather abrupt transition from glorification of his own imaginative powers to contemplation of moral sentiments (11. 106-11) as a natural associative process: well pleased to recognise In nature and the language of the sense The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse. The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being. (11. 107-11) Beginning with the realization that his creations consist partially of his perceptions (11. 106-07), Wordsworth turns to the natural world as it is perceived. Nature and the sensations he receives from the external world determine his moral existence. The natural world becomes the scene of moral discipline for Alison and Wordsworth. Alison notes: in the hours when we are most unconscious of it, an influence is perpetually operating, by which our moral feelings are awakened, and our moral sensibility exercised, And in the hours of the most innocent delight, while we are conscious of nothing but the pleasures we enjoy, the beneficence of Him that made us, is employed in conducting a secret discipline, by which our moral improvement is consulted. CII, 6, ii, 440-41) At the time he was being influenced by natural forms during the first and second stages of moral development, he was conscious only of the pleasures received from external forms. The discipline is "secret" because only in a state of spiritual maturity does Wordsworth realize that the process of association has influenced the development of

PAGE 176

168 his moral character. The natural forms have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love. (11. 32-35) The importance of the "influence" of the natural forms is emphasized, although the poet acknowledges that he was at the time unaware of the importance of such actions. Finally, Wordsworth turns to the type of protection the joy of spiritual maturity can afford: 'tis her [Nature's] privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues. Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men. Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life. Shall e'er prevail against us. (11. 123-32) The fact that he is being led "From joy to joy" indicates that nature conducts the discipline. Moreover, the concept of progressing from "joy to joy" acquires additional meaning when evaluated in terms of Alison's stages of spiritual development. The word "joy" suggests both the simple pleasure of childhood and the joy of spiritual maturity. Alison's terminology is reflected in the poet's use of the verb "impress" in a structure parallel to that in which he uses the verb "inform." In the language of sensationalism, the term "impress" is used to indicate the relationship between the mind and the external world. When the verb "inform" is used transitively with the noun "mind" as its object, the OED indicates, it has a special meaning: "to

PAGE 177

169 form, mould, or train" the mind or character, "to discipline" by imparting knowledge. In "Tintern Abbey" quietness, associated with tranquillity, and "beauty," a complex emotional response, are impressed by the natural forms; the verb "inform" adds overtones of spiritual instruction. The description of the "dreary intercourse of daily life" suggests Alison's description of the "noise and tumult of vulgar joy" from which the imaginative person needs protection. Alison's concept of a natural education also provides a reason for the inclusion of Dorothy in the poem. Alison's assertion that "all the noblest convictions, and confidences of religion, may be acquired in the simple school of Nature, and amid the scenes which perpetually surround us" {II, 6, ii, 443) applies not only to the education that Wordsworth has received but also to the education that Dorothy is still receiving. When the poet personifies nature in terms connoting protection and spiritual instruction — "the nurse, / The guide, the guardian of ray heart" (.11. 109-10) — he turns immediately to Dorothy, an indication that he is perhaps discussing her education as well as his own. Alison's comments on the education of youth are applicable to Dorothy: it is of so much consequence in the education of the Young, to encourage their instinctive taste for the Beauty and Sublimity of Nature. While it opens to the years of infancy or youth a source of pure, and of permanent enjoyment, it has consequences on the character and happiness of future life, which they are unable to foresee. It is to provide them, amid all the agitations and trials of society, with one gentle and unreproaching friend, whose voice is ever in alliance

PAGE 178

170 with goodness and virtue, and which, when once understood, is able both to sooth misfortune, and to reclaim from folly. and, amid the hours of curiosity and delight, to awaken those latent feelings of benevolence and of sympathy, from which all the moral or intellectual greatness of man finally arises. (II, 6, ii, 446-47) At this time Dorothy regards the natural world only as the source of enjoyment. Wordsworth, not Dorothy herself, knows that nature will prove her friend to reclaim her from the folly of the world: "Nature never did betray / The heart that loved her ..." (11. 122-23). Whereas Dorothy is aware only of the pleasures of the natural world, Wordsworth recognizes the natural forms as the source of "moral or intellectual greatness" : "all that we behold / Is full of blessings" (11. 133-34) Wordsworth is urging Dorothy to make the associative connections that will link the beauty and sublimity of natural forms to the concepts of goodness and virtue which both Alison and he find are suggested by such forms. Alison's comments concerning "some of the most common judgments we form with regard to the characters of men" (I, 2, i, 110) afford insight into Wordsworth's ability to predict that Dorothy will react to natural beauty much as h himself does. Alison states; when we are well acquainted with any person, and know intimately the particular turn or sensibility of his mind, although we should never have happened to know his sentiments of Sublimity or Beauty, we yet venture very boldly to pronounce whether any particular class of objects will affect him with such sentiments or not. and if we are well acquainted with the person, our judgment is seldom wrong, (I, 2, i, 111-12)

PAGE 179

17; Wordsworth's assessment of Dorothy's future ability to experience sentiments of Beauty and Sublimity is based on his intimate acquaintance with the "sensibility" of her mind. Although Alison is referring to persons who have already expressed sentiments of beauty and sublimity (Dorothy is not yet at this stage of development) the principle is applicable to the situation in "Tintern Abbey" ; Wordsworth is justified in assuming that Dorothy's contact with the natural world will lead to moral virtue. An indication of the type of spiritual maturity to which Wordsworth is conducted by the "language of the sense" (1. 108) in "Tintern Abbey" is explained by Alison's concept of grace. Alison observes: wherever the attitude or gesture expressive of any emotion or passion, is at the same time expressive of Self -Command, (of that selfpossession which includes in our belief, both the presence of a lofty standard of character and conduct, and of the habitual government of itself by this high principle) the attitude or gesture is perceived and felt as graceful. (II, 6, ii, 386-87) Alison associates "chastened and subdued emotion" with a graceful attitude: it is not in their periods of violence or extremity, amid the transports of hope, or the raptures of joy, or the agonies of penitence, that grace is to be found; the attitudes v/hich are graceful are always those on the other hand which represent chastened and subdued emotion. (II, 6, li, 398; my italics) Alison cites "devotion" as an attitude frequently associated with grace: "There are no affections so susceptible perhaps of graceful attitude or gesture as those which belong to devotion ." (II, 6, ii, 397).

PAGE 180

172 Although Wordsworth does not use the word "grace" in the poem, he does reflect Alison's ideas concerning grace, when in a state of spiritual maturity he looks on nature and hears "The still, sad music of humanity" (1. 91). Although Wordsworth's concept of music is suggestive of Alison's assertion that music reflects "Passion or Affection" CII, 2, i, 261) the passions and affections of mankind reflected in the music are less significant than their effect on Wordsworth: the music, not "harsh nor grating," is of "ample power / To chasten and subdue (11. 92-93; my italics) In Alison's terms, the fact that Wordsworth is "chastened and subdued" indicates that his attitude is graceful. Moreover, such emotion indicates that the poet possesses a "lofty standard of character and conduct." Caroline F.E. Spurgeon also points to Wordsworth's insistence that one must be "purified, disciplined, self -controlled" to experience 9 the "joys of the spirit," a description suggesting a contrast between the joy of spiritual maturity and the "raptures of joy" characterizing adolescence, the second stage of development described in."Tintern Abbey." Wordsworth, like Alison, notes that grace is not found "amid the raptures of joy." In spiritual m.aturity, the state in which he can experience grace, the poet finds that the "joys" and "raptures" of the second stage of development have passed: That time is past. And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures. (11. 83-85)

PAGE 181

173 Dorothy, still in the second stage of development, is unable to experience grace. Alison's assertion that "the wild playfulness of early youth" does "not amount to grace" (II, 5, ii, 391) is reflected in Wordsworth's use of the adjective "wild" to describe his sister. Twice Dorothy's "wild eyes" are mentioned as suggesting the poet's former response to nature. Wordsworth, addressing his sister, observes that her "wild eyes" reflect his "former pleasures" (11. 118-19) Similarly, Wordsworth notes that her "wild eyes" reflect "gleams / Of past existence" (11. 148-49) another allusion to his former relationship with nature. Finally, the poet notes that in future years Dorothy's "wild ecstasies" will be "matured" into a "sober pleasure" (11. 137-39) The use of the phrase "sober pleasure" suggests the "chastened and subdued emotion" of the state of grace Alison's concept of devotion as an attitude frequently associated with grace is also reflected in "Tintern Abbey." Wordsworth's relationship with nature in a state of spiritual maturity suggests a type of religious devotion: I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came Unwearied in that service; rather say With warmer love — ohi with far deeper zeal Of holier love. (11. 151-55) The diction here ("worshipper," "service," "zeal," and "holier love") describes Wordsworth's present attitude of devotion to nature. Although the word "zeal" may suggest "intense ardour" or "fervent devotion," emotion which is

PAGE 182

174 not "chastened and subdued," the poet adds the adjective phrase "of holier love" to qualify the nature of the zeal. The OED notes that the word "zeal" may be used in a "weakened sense, with a qualifying adjective." Although Alison is never mystical to the extent that Wordsworth is, there are suggestions in Essays on Taste of the mysticism that has been said to pervade passages of "Tintern Abbey." Basically, mysticism is "the theory that a knowledge of God or immediate reality is attainable through the use of some human faculty that transcends intellect and does not use ordinary human perceptions or logical processes." This definition indicates that mysticism necessarily transcends strict empiricism and sensationalism. More specifically, mysticism may refer to the process in which man achieves a union with God "through a series of steps or stages." Alison never refers to any type of union (momentary identity) of man and nature; nevertheless, his conception of the "mighty key" by which man interprets natural signs (II, 5, ii, 447) and the "unseen spirit" dwelling in nature (II, 6, ii, 43 8) suggests a type of experience that transcends empiricism. Alison describes the "mighty key" by which man interprets natural signs: amid the magnificent System of material Signs in which they [mankind] reside, to give them the mighty key which can interpret them — and to make them look upon the universe which they inhabit, not as the abode only of human cares, or human joys, but as the temple of the Living God, in which praise is due, and service is to be performed, (II, 6, ii, 447)

PAGE 183

175 The "mighty key" is available only to those who have achieved a state of spiritual maturity. Although Alison does not allude to grace directly in his discussion of the "mighty key," it appears to be closely associated with the state of grace. Alison associates a state of grace with the mind's consciousness of its capacities: "... the mind is awake to the consciousness of all the capacities it possesses" CII, 6, ii, 392), capacities that by implication go beyond the merely empirical or sensationalistic faculties of the brain. The "mighty key" may be a state of mind realized only in a state of grace. Alison's "unseen spirit" serving to link man and nature also suggests the mysticism of "Tintern Abbey." Alison states: I believe there is no man of genuine taste, who has not often felt, in the lone majesty of nature, some unseen spirit to dwell, which, in his happier hours, touched as if with magic hand, all the springs of his moral sensibility, and rekindled in his heart those original conceptions of the moral or intellectual excellence of his nature, which it is the melancholy tendency of the vulgar pursuits of life to diminish, if not altogether to destroy. (II, 6, ii, 438) The use of the words "unseen spirit" and "magic hand" implies that the experience described here transcends pure sensationalism and strict empiricism. Moreover, the "unseen spirit," like the "mighty key," is perceived only by those who have achieved a state of spiritual maturity. One must already have attained "moral sensibility": the "unseen spirit" dwelling in nature has the capacity only to rekindle this sensibility when it has been weakened by contact with the "vulgar pursuits of life."

PAGE 184

176 Alison's concept of the "mighty key" is reflected in the poet's description of the "aspect more sublime" (1. 37) of the "serene and blessed mood" (1. 41) of lines 37-49. Wordsworth's exercise of imagination leads to a transcendence in which he perceives the essence of material objects: that blessed mood In which the burthen of the mystery. In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened: — that serene and blessed mood. In which the affections gently lead us on,-Until, 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 living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things. (11. 37-49) Although Wordsworth does not use the word "key," his diction suggests an insight into mysteries which defy a strictly empirical explanation. Wordsworth's description of this process of transcendence reflects Alison's assertion that affections lead to more complex emotions, such as beauty and sublimity (I, 2, i, 81), as well as Alison's definition of harmony. For Alison, "harmony," one's perception of the interrelationships of parts, is prerequisite for one's apprehension of the essence of the whole and for the experiencing of any complex emotion (II, 4, ii, 10). Wordsworth similarly includes "harmony" (1, 48) as an integral part of the process by which he perceives the essence of material forms. Wordsworth thus resembles Alison in attributing to the imagination spiritual transcendence, Alison notes:

PAGE 185

177 There is not one of these features of scenery which is not fitted to awaken us to moral emotion; to lead us, when once the key of our imagination is struck, to trains of fascinating and of endless imagery ; and in the indulgence of them to make our bosoms either glow with conceptions of moral excellence, or melt in the dreams of moral good. (II, 6, ii, 437; my italics) (In The Recluse Wordsworth describes imaginative activity in a strikingly similar manner; "Fair trains of imagery before me rise" [I, 756; my italics].) The exercise of imagination prerequisite for Wordsworth's "serene and blessed mood" in "Tintern Abbey" has a parallel in Alison's assertion that to perceive the emotions of beauty and sublimity one must exercise his imagination more fully. Moreover, in both Alison's and Wordsworth's terminology, sublimity is dependent on associative connections, connections in turn dependent on imaginative trains of thought. Alison's "unseen spirit" constitutes an analogue for the "presence" or "spirit" that Wordsworth senses in the natural world: And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thought; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns. And the round ocean and the living air. And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought. And rolls through all things. Cll. 93-102; my italics) The "sense sublime" is associated with the "joy / Of elevated thoughts," a connection that emphasizes the role of the mind in the perception of beauty and sublimity. Although Alison's

PAGE 186

178 "unseen spirit" serves to link man and nature, Wordsworth's "presence" suggests a mystical unity between man and nature. Ultimately, "thinking things," or men capable of creative activity, are impelled by the same force that pervades external nature. In addition to expressing a sense of unity between man and nature, Wordsworth's description also identifies a divine rather than a human source of creative power. In exploring the relationship between the mind and the external world in "Tintern Abbey," Wordsworth employs an aesthetic vocabulary for which specific historical analogues may be established. Although Wordsworth's vocabulary reflects a familiarity with much of the writing in the field of aesthetics at the end of the eighteenth century, Alison's Essays on Taste affords especially valuable insight into the poet's terminology and concepts. Alison, like Wordsworth, bases the poetic experience in sensationalistic theory. At the same time both transcend the simple action of perception to establish natural forms as symbols of spiritual qualities, Although Alison and Wordsworth note that a tribute to the imagination should include a hymn of praise to the Creator, both emphasize the creative potential of the poetic imagination. The poet's ability to bestow life on inanimate objects affords him a god-like stature. For Wordsworth, the poetic imagination not only modifies and shapes sensations received from the external world but also elevates man from creature to creator. Both the vocabulary and substance of

PAGE 187

179 "Tintern Abbey" reflect the essentials of Alison's philosophy, Essays on Taste elucidates difficult passages of "Tintern Abbey" and affords insight into specific passages of the poem, while providing a framework within which Wordsworth's experience can be more fully understood.

PAGE 188

180 Notes Citations from "Tintern Abbey," indicated parenthetically in the text, are to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth ed. Ernest De Selmcourt, 2nd ed. 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952-59) II, 259-63. 2 Citations from Alison, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste 3rd ed. 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1812). 3 David Hartley, Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations ed. Theodore L. Huguelet, 2' vols, in 1 (1749; rpt. Gainesville, Fla. : Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1966), I, Proposition 10. 4 Alison notes his indebtedness to "Dr. Reid's doctrine" that matter "derives its Beauty from the Expression of Mind" ClI, 6, ii, 417). Thomas Reid, of the eighteenth-century Scottish "Common-Sense School" of philosophy, combines "sentiment and common sense" with a "conservative use of empirical associationism" (Walter Jackson Bate, From Classic to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth-Century England L1946; rpt. New York: Harper and Row, 1961] pp. 101-02) "'Hartley cites green as the color "most agreeable to the organ of sight" because of its "central position in the spectrum of primary colours" ( Observations on Man I, Proposition 94) Marjorie Hope Nicolson ( Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite [Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1959], p. 388) notes that Wordsworth's "most characteristic sublime" includes both "beauty and terror." As Nicolson suggests, this is one of the oldest ideas in aesthetics; consequently, it appears in the writings of many of Alison's predecessors. Edmund Burke s P hilosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful first published in 1757, is an especially useful analogue for Wordsworth's aesthetic terminology: Burke's definitions of the "sublime" and the "beautiful" appear to underlie the categories the poet establishes in "Tintern Abbey." W.J.B. Owen ("The Sublime and the Beautiful in The Prelude ," The Wordsworth Circle 4 [Spring 1973] 57-85) argues convincingly for the Burkean quality of the sublime/beautiful doublets in The Prelude In a later study ("Wordsworth's Aesthetics of Landscape," The Wordsv7orth Circle 7 [Spring 1976] 70-32) Owen extends his comm.ents to the poet's prose works, specifically the

PAGE 189

181 Guide to the Lakes Owen describes Burke's "sublime" as essentially "energetic," his "beautiful" as "placid" {"Wordsworth's Aesthetics of Landscape," p. 74). "Sublime" objects, Owen notes, are generally "large, imposing, rugged"; "beautiful" objects, "small, delicate, smooth." An analysis of Burke's "psycho-physiological" discussion of these "two kinds of aesthetic appeal" leads Owen to conclude: "for Burke, the sublime is connected with pain, danger, and fear, and it is delightful when the observer is aware of these feelings without being actually, at any rate over-closely involved with them. The beautiful is connected with pleasure, and its appropriate feeling is love ("The Sublime and the Beautiful in The Prelude ," pp. 67-68) Other scholars focus on the Wordsworthian sublime rather than on the pairing of the sublime and the beautiful, Albert 0. Wlecke, who includes a chapter on "Tintern Abbey" in his Wordsworth and the Sublime (Perspectives in Criticism, 23 [Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1973]), develops a "phenomenology of thesublime" (p. 10). Phenomenology, as Richard Schmitt indicates in his discussion of the subject in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy C5 vols. [New York: Macmillan, 1967]), is a "nonempirical science" (VI, 136); consequently, Wordsworth and the Sublime focuses on "psychic" rather than "physical" phenomena (p. 5) Wlecke defines the "sense sublime" of "Tintern Abbey" as a "very special form of selfconsciousness" and uses the phenomenologists term "intentionality" to describe the way in which this attribute "tends to become indistinguishable from its intended object" (pp. 7-8). Wlecke's discussion is limited by this focus, and he discusses only those eighteenth-century theorists who describe the sublime in "metaphors implying a dramatic spatialization of the mind," Burke being excluded because he "exploits no such metaphors" (p. 48) Patrick Holland ("Wordsworth and the Sublime: Some Further Considerations," The Wordsworth Circle 5 [Winter, 1974], 17-22) finds Wlecke's use of the term "sublime" too "arbitrary." Basing his objection on Wordsworth's own contribution as theorist in his fragm.entary essay "The Sublime and the Beautiful," Holland concludes: "It would be risky for a critic to use as a 'useful fiction' those categories which Wordsworth himself regarded as 'grand constitutional laws' ." (p. 17). Carl R. Woodring ("The New Sublimity in 'Tintern Abbey,'" in The Evidence of the Imagination; Studies of Interactions Between Life and Art in English Romantic Literature ed. Donald H. Reiman, et al. [New York: New York Univ. Press, 1978J pp. 86-100) describes a change in the poet's attitude toward the sublime in "Tintern Abbey." The sublime is not merely "the immediate sense of terror, awe, or pleasure" that landscape evokes: it is "realized by a strength of humanity and divinity within" (p. 97) (I discuss this human quality in "Tintern Abbey" in Chapter III.)

PAGE 190

182 7 Alison makes no formal attempt to define the term "passion"; however, he consistently uses the term to denote intensity of emotion. In the final chapter of Essays on Taste ("Of the Beauty of the Human Countenance and Form" ) the term appears frequently, as Alison describes the effect of various passions on man's appearance. g Carl R. Woodring, Wordsworth Riverside Studies in Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 60. 9 Caroline F.E. Spurgeon, Mysticism and English Literature (1913; rpt. Port Washington, N.Y. ; Kennikat Press, 1970), p. 64. C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature 3rd ed. (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1972) pp. 332-33. Evelyn Underhill ( Mysticism; A Study in the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness 13th ed. [London: Methuen, 1940] ) helps to clarify the term further by outlining the three "types of experience" characterizing the mystical state: (1) "a joyous apprehension of the Absolute" or "the Presence of God"; (2) "a dual apprehension of reality," a heightened perception of natural objects, which often convinces the mystic that he knows "the secret of the world"; and (3) an increase in the "energy of the intuitional or transcendental self," resulting in phenomena such as "visions" or "auditions" (pp. 240-41) Among the critics who describe mystical elements in "Tintern Abbey" are William Ralph Inge ( Studies of English M ystics: St. Margaret's Lectures, 1905 ) Essay Index Reprint Series [1906; rpt. Freeport, N.Y. : Books for Libraries Press, 1969]), A. Allen Brockington ( Mysticism and Poetry on a Basis of Experience [19 34; rpt. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1970]), and Caroline Spurgeon. Inge, who devotes a chapter to "The Mysticism of Wordsworth" (pp. 173-206), describes the poet's attitude toward nature in "Tintern Abbey" as essentially m.ystical: in the poem there is a "revelation of the unseen through natural objects, v;hereby he was granted the power to see into the life of things'" (p. 185). In his chapter entitled "The Mystical Outlook" (pp. 175-208), Brockington describes the poet's "Vision" in "Tintern Abbey": "in Nature he saw something that was not seen by others even though the actual forms and hues were there to be seen by everyone. ..." However, Brockington maintains, the poem reflects the poet's uncertainty about the permanence or the recurrence of such intuitions (p. 193) Spurgeon includes Wordsworth along with Henry Vaughan and Richard Jefferies in her discussion of "Nature Mystics" (.pp. 57-71) In fact, Spurgeon describes mysticism as "the most salient feature of Wordsworth's poetry" (p, 59) and cites the "serene and blessed mood" passage in "Tintern Abbey" (11. 41-49) as "one of the finest" analyses by any mystical writer of that "kind of

PAGE 191

183 illumination, whereby in a lightning flash we see that the world is quite different from what it ordinarily appears to be ." {pp. 61-62) The Poetical Works^ of William Wordsworth ed. Ernest De Selincourt, V, 3. For the 1814 edition of The Excursion Wordsworth uses lines 754-860 from Book, I of The Recluse "as a kind of Prospectus of the design and scope of the whole Poem" ( Poetical Works V, 2), which was to' be entitled The Recluse, or, Views on Man, Nature, and Society and was designed to record the observations of the poet living in retirement.

PAGE 192

CONCLUSION My exploration of the way in which Archibald Alison's Essays on Taste and collected sermons afford an added dimension to the understanding of Wordsworth's poetry is based on the critical assumption that a literary work manifests a relationship to, and should not be isolated from, the context of history or tradition from which it evolved. My study also reflects what has sometimes been regarded as a New Critical principle: "The critic," Cleanth Brooks argues, "obviously must know what the words of the poem mean. ..." Many of Wordsworth's terms do not have today the precise meanings he intended, and many difficult passages of his poetry are fully understood only when one evaluates his poetic diction in terms of its historical context. Essays on Taste is regarded by many as a textbook culminating aesthetic theories of the eighteenth century — hence its value as a background for Wordsworth's poetry. Wordsworth, whether or not he was directly influenced by Alison's theories, generally describes natural experience by using aesthetic and spiritual vocabulary that is especially clear, and especially near at hand, in Alison's writings. "Spiritual aesthetics," though paradoxical, is an apt label for Wordsworth's theory and practice. Although aesthetics is generally regarded as a morally neutral branch of philosophy, Alison's aesthetic theory has a spiritual 184

PAGE 193

185 dimension: he regards the aesthetic experience as ultimately religious, maintaining that the imaginative response culminates in moral insight. Emphasizing the imagination's ability to modify and transform sensations received from the external world, both Wordsworth and Alison maintain that the natural world affords aesthetic delight and at the same time provides man with a spiritual education, a scene of moral discipline. Alison concludes his Essays with a passage emphatically reinforcing the spiritual element of his aesthetic principles, and Wordsworth's poetry everywhere reveals a similar emphasis. The thematic concerns I discuss in this study — the natural education of the child, the opposition between the city and the country, and the ethical standards appropriate to maturity — all relate to nature's moral instruction. The child finds in the natural world an important determinant of his future character; consequently, Wordsworth's ideal adult is one whose virtue is closely attached to nature and who finds continued strength in communion with natural forms. The city serves as a foil, underscoring by contrast the importance of nature's education: artificial urban forms neither excite the imagination nor give rise to moral improvement. "Tintern Abbey" reflects all of these thematic concerns, and in the blending of the poet's retrospective account of his own development, and his present reaction to the scene before him, Wordsworth fully affirms the spiritual value of the aesthetic response.

PAGE 194

186 In addition to providing this background to the poet's recurring themes, Alison also helps to counter some of the critical assumptions about Wordsworth's imaginative and poetic decline. Peter Coveney summarizes a prevalent critical position in pointing to an "imaginative lowering" in Wordsworth's poetry "when he turns from the feeling of his experiences in Nature to the statement of philosophic 2 generalities" and retreats to Anglican conformity. Although poems should not be regarded as philosophical treatises, Wordsworth's similarities with Alison indicate that the poet is implicitly, if not explicitly, expressing a doctrine of spiritual aesthetics throughout his career. From the early closet drama, The Borderers to the 1850 edition of The Prelude the poet presents ideas readily illuminated by Alison's Essays and sermons. To insist, as Coveney and others have done, that Wordsworth becomes a "better man" and a "worse poet" in embracing Anglican beliefs is mis3 leadxng. No, that is putting it too passively. To say this is little short of preposterous. The poet's early and continuing emphasis on the spiritual value of the aesthetic response, like that of the clergyman Alison, does not suffer from being consistent with the principles of Anglican faith. An emphasis on Alison may seem too narrowly based when one considers all of the historical sources or traditions that undoubtedly helped to shape Wordsworth's doctrine and poetry. Such an emphasis may seem to negate the importance of the poetry itself by introducing extrinsic subjects for

PAGE 195

187 consideration. However, the importance of Essays on Taste as an aesthetic treatise, as well as for its many thematic and verbal affinities with Wordsworth's poetry, justifies such a focus on grounds of form as well as content. Such an approach generates new, and more historically apt, readings of Wordsworth's poetry. A concentration on Alison is heuristic, serving to reach a primary goal of literary criticism: discovering a, meaning of the text itself.

PAGE 196

188 Notes Rene Wellek quotes Brooks in refuting the accusation that New Criticism is "unhistorical" ("The New Criticism: Pro and Contra," Critical Inquiry 4 [Summer 1978], 615). 2 Peter Coveney, The Image of Childhood; The Individual and Society; A Study of the Theme in English Literature rev. ed. (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967) p~, 76 3 Coveney indicates that he shares this view about the negative influence of Anglicanism with Basil Willey (p. 81)

PAGE 197

REFERENCES Albrecht, W.P. "Archibald Alison and the Sublime Pleasures of Tragedy," In Romantic and Victorian; Studies in Memory of William H. Marshall Ed. W, Paul Elledge and Richard L. Hoffman. Rutherford, N.J. : Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 1971. Alison, Archibald. Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste 3rd ed. 2 vols. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1812. Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions 2 vols. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1815 Alison, Sir Archibald, bart. Some Account of My Life and Writings: An Autobiography Ed. Lady Jane R. Alison. 2 vols. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883. Babbitt, Irving. Rousseau and Romanticism 1919; rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947. Babenroth, A. Charles. English Childhood: Wordsworth's Treatment of Childhood in the Light of English Poetry from Prior to Crabbe 1922; rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1973. Barfield, Owen. Romanticism Comes of Age 1st American ed. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1966. Barzun, Jacques. Classic, Romantic, and Modern New York: Doubleday, 1961, Bate, Walter Jackson. From Classic to Romantic; Premises of Taste in Eighteinth-Century England 194 6; rpt. New York: Harper and Row 1961. Beach, Joseph Warren. The Concept of Nature in NineteenthCentury English Poetry 1936; rpt. New York: Russell and Russell, 1966. Beatty, Arthur. William Wordsworth: His Doctrine and Art in Their Historical Relations 3rd ed. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1960. Benziger, James G. Images of Eternity: Studies in the Poetry of Religious Vision from Wordsworth to T.S. El iot Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, T9T27 189

PAGE 198

190 Berg, J.H. van den. The Changing Nature of Man; Introduction to a Historical Psychology Trans. H.F. Croes. New York: W.W. Norton, 1961. Blake, William. The Poetry and Prose of William Blake Ed. David V. Erdman. 1965; rpt. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970. Bloom, Harold. The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Roro.antic Poetry Rev. and enl. ed. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1971. Brantley, Richard E. Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism ." New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1975. Brockington, A. Allen. Mysticism and Poetry on a Basis of Experience 1934; rpt. Port Washington, N.Y. : Kennikat Press, 1970. Brooks, Cleanth, and Robert Penn Warren, eds Understanding Poetry New York: H. Holt, 1938. Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come Ed. James Blanton Wharey. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928. Burke Edmund A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of~the Sublime and Beautiful Ed. J.T. Boulton. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1958. Bush, Douglas. Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry Cambridge: Harvard College, 1937. Clarke, Colin C. "Nature's Education of Man: Some Remarks on the Philosophy of Wordsv/orth. Philosophy 23 (October 1948), 302-16. Romantic Paradox; An Essay on the Poetry of Wordsworth New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962. Cohen, Ralph. The Unfolding of The Seasons. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1970. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. The Friend Ed. Barbara E. Rooke. Vol. IV of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Bollingen Series, 75. 2 vols. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969. Cooper, Lane, ed. A Concordance to the Poems of William Wordsworth New York: Russell and Russell, 1965. Coveney, Peter. The Image of Childhood; The Individual and Society: A Study of the Theme in English Literature Rev, ed. Baltimore; Penguin Books, 1967.

PAGE 199

191 Crane, R.S. "Suggestions Toward a Genealogy of the 'Man of Feeling.'" In The Idea of the Humanities, and Other Essays Critical and Historical 2 vols. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967, I, 188-213. Fairchild, Hoxie Neale. The Noble Savage; A Study in Romantic Naturalism 1928; rpt. New York: Russell and Russell, 1961. Religious Trends in English Poetry Vol. III. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 194 9. Fleisher, David. William Godwin: A Study in Liberalism London: Allen and Unwin, 1951. Fussell, Paul. The Rhetorical World of Augustan Humanism: Ethics and Imagery from Swift to Burke. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965. Gill, Richard. Happy Rural Seat; The English Country House and the Literary Imagination New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1972. Greene, Donald. "Latitudinarianism and Sensibility: The Genealogy of the 'Man of Feeling' Reconsidered." Modern Philology 75 (November 1977), 159-83. Grob, AlanThe Philosophic Mind: A Study of Wordsworth's Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805 Columbus; Ohio State Univ. Press, 1973. "Wordsworth and Godwin: A Reassessment." Studies in Romanticism 6 (Winter 1967), 98-119. Grylls, David. Guardians and Angels: Parents and Children in Nineteenth-Century Literature London; Faber and Faber, 1978, Hartley, David. Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations Ed. Theodore L. Huguelet. 2 vols, in 1. 1749; rpt. Gainesville, Fla. : Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1966. Hartman, Geoffrey H. Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814 New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1964. Havens, Raymond Dexter. The Mind of a Poet 2 vols. Baltimore; Johns Hopkins Press, 1941. Hippie, Walter John. The Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic Theory" Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press 1957,^

PAGE 200

192 Holland, Patrick. "Wordsworth and the Sublime: Some Further Considerations." The Wordsworth Circle 5 (Winter 1974), 17-22. Holman, C. Hugh. A Handbook to Literature 3rd ed. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1972. Hutchinson, Sara. The Letters of Sara Hutchinson from 1800 to 1835 Ed. Kathleen Coburn. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954. Inge, William Ralph. Studies of English Mystics; St. Margaret's Lectures, 1905 Essay Index Reprint Series 1906; rpt. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1969, Kallich, Martin. "The Meaning of Archibald Alison's Essays on Taste ." Philological Quarterly 27 (October 1948), 314-24. Kroeber, Karl. "A New Reading of "The World Is Too Much With Us.'" Studies in Romanticism 2 (August 1962), 183-88. \ Lucas, F.L. The Decline and Fall of the Romantic Ideal New York: Macmillan, 1936. Mack, Maynard. The Garden and the City: Retirement and Politics in the Later Poetry of Pope, 1731-1743 Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1969. Marsh, Florence G. "Vfoodworth' s Ode : Obstinate Questionings.' Studies in Romanticism 5 (Summer 1966), 219-30. Monk, Samuel H. The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories in XVI 1 1 -Century England, 1674-1800" : 1935; rpt. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, r9'60. Monro, David Hector. Godwin's Moral Philosophy; An Interpretation of William GodwiTT London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1953. Moore, C.A. "Shaftesbury and the Ethical Poets in England, 1700-60." PMLA 31 (March 1916), 264-325. Moorman, Mary. William Wordsworth; A Biography 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65. Morley, Henry. Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair London: Chapman and Hall, 1859. Nicolson, Marjorie Hope. Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1959,

PAGE 201

193 Onorato, Richard J. The Character of the Poet: Wordsworth in The Prelude. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, l^Tl. Owen, W.J.B. "The Sublime and the Beautiful in The Prelude ." The Wordsworth Circle 4 (Spring 1973) 67-86. "Wordsworth's Aesthetics of Landscape." The Wordsworth Circle, 7 (Spring 1976), 70-82, ., ed. Wordsworth's Literary Criticism London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974. The Oxford English Dictionary Ed. James A.H. Murray et al. 12 vols. 1933; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970. Pattison, Robert. The Child Figure in English Literature Athens : Univ of Georgia Press, 1978. Potts, Abbie Findlay. Wordsworth's Prelude : A Study of Its Literary Form 195 3; rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1966. Pjgfstvig, Maren-Sofie. The Happy Man: Studies in the Metamorphoses of a Classical Ideal 2nd ed. Oslo Studies in English, 2,1. 2 vols. Oslo: Norwegian Universities Press, 1962-71. Rountree, Thomas J. This Mighty Sum of Things; Wordsworth's Theme of Benevolent Necessity University: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1965. Schmitt, Richard. "Phenomenology." In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy Ed. Paul Edwards. 6 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1967, VI, 135-51. Scoggins James. Imagination and Fancy: Complementary Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth Lincoln: Univ of Nebraska Press, 1966. Shaftesbury, Anthony Earl of. Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times Ed. John M. Robertson. 2 vols. 1900; rpt. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1963. Sperry, Willard L. Wordsworth's Anti-Climax Harvard Studies in English, 13. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935. Spurgeon, Caroline F.E. Mysticism and English Literature 1913; rpt. Port Washington, N.Y. : Kennikat Press, 1970. Stallknecht, Newton P. Strange Seas of Thought: Studies in Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature T 2nd ed. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1958.

PAGE 202

194 Wordsworth and Philosophy; Suggestions Concerning the Source of the Poet's Doctrines and the Nature of His Mystical Experience New York: n.p. 1929. Steiner, George. The Death of Tragedy New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961. Stephen, Leslie. "Archibald Alison." Dictionary of National Biography Ed. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 22 vols. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1937. Stillinger, Jack, ed. Selected Poems and Prefaces by William Wordsworth Riverside Editions. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. Stone, P.W.K. The Art of Poetry, 1750-1820; Theories of Poetic Composition and Style in the Late Neo-Classic and Early Romantic Periods London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967. Trawick, Leonard M. ed. Backgrounds of Romanticism: English Philosophical. Prose of the Eighteenth Century Bloom.ington; Indiana Univ. Press, 1967 Trevelyan, G.M. English Social History; A Survey of Six Centuries; Chaucer to Queen Victoria London; Longmans Green, 1942. Trilling, Lionel. "The Immortality Ode." In The Liberal imagination: Essays on Literature and Society New York: Viking Press, 1950, pp. 129-59. Tuveson, Ernest Lee. The Imaaination as a Means of Grace: Locke and the Aesthetics of Romanticism Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1960. "The Importance of Shaftesbury." ELH : A Journal of English Literary History 20 (December 1953) 267-99. Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism; A Study in the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness 13th ed. London; Methuen, 194 0. Wellek, Rene. "The New Criticism; Pro and Contra." Critical Inquiry 4 (Summer 1978), 611-24. Willey, Basil. The Seventeenth Century Background: Studies in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and Religion 19 34; rpt. London: Chatto and Wmdus -.194 9

PAGE 203

195 Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973. Wlecke, Albert 0. Wordsworth and the Sublime Perspectives in Criticism, 23. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1973. Woodring, Carl R. "The New Sublimity in 'Tintern Abbey.'" In The Evidence of the Imagination: Studies of Interactions Between Life and Art in English Romantic Literature Ed. Donald H. Reiman, Michael C. Jaye and Betty T. Bennett. New York: New York Univ. Press, 1978, pp. 86-100, "Peter Bell and 'The Pious': A New Letter." Philological Quarterly, 30 (October 1951) 430-34. Wordsworth Riverside Studies in Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965, Wordsworth, William. The Poetical Works of William WordsWorth Ed. Ernest De Selincourt. 2nd ed. 5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, Press 1952-59. Vols. Ill and IV ed. by Ernest De Selincourt and Helen Darbishire. The Prelude; or. Growth of a Poet's Mind Ed. Ernest De Selincourt. Rev. Helen Darbishire. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. --' and Dorothy. The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early Years 1787-1805 Ed. Ernest De Selincourt. Rev. Chester L. Shaver. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.

PAGE 204

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Marsha Kent Savage was born January 12, 1952, in Union City, Tennessee. She attended Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, from which she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in June 197 3 and a Master of Arts degree in English in August 1974. Since then she has pursued her studies for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English at the University of Florida, 196

PAGE 205

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. J A < Richard E. Brantley, Chairman Associate Professor of English I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. y/u-i^'--^'^ // '"1-^ /' iC^Cii Melvyn New Professor of English I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree! of Doctor of Philosophy. Albert B. Smith Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. /? / / / y I ^ .; John M. Perlette Associate Professor of English

PAGE 206

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. James B. Twitchell Associate Professor of English This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. June 198 Dean, Graduate School


79
The final image of the fair alludes both to the number
of persons at the fair and to the mill as a symbol of in
dustrialism:
Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,
Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,
Men, Women, three-years Children, Babes in arms.
(VII, 718-21)
The masses of people at the fair resemble the products of a
machine or a factory, "melted and reduced / To one
identity . (VII, 726-29). The passage suggests Blake's
Satanic mills in "Night the Eighth" of The Four Zoas,
symbolic of the single-fold vision of the state of Ulro.
The Satanic mills are associated with repressive patterns
of thought, or negative creations, as well as with the
16
industrial situation in England. Both of these concerns
are reflected in Wordsworth's use of the mill to represent
Bartholomew Fair: both the bleakness of the industrial
world and the products of negative creativity characterize
Wordsworth's portrait of London.
Wordsworth and Alison share a concern with the con
sequences of residence in the city. When the "scenes of
human activity" obscure "the traces of divine workmanship,"
the consequences are both aesthetic and spiritual:
There is no man, I believe, who has not
occasionally felt somewhat at least of this
influence;who, in removing from the scenes
of nature, into the business and bustle of
cities, has not experienced a kind of dis
turbance of his usual train of thought;
and who, (if he has not had the wisdom to
resist them,) has not felt himself gradually
losing the firmest impressions of his earlier


169
form, mould, or train" the mind or character, "to discipline
by imparting knowledge. In "Tintern Abbey" quietness,
associated with tranquillity, and "beauty," a complex emo
tional response, are impressed by the natural forms; the
verb "inform" adds overtones of spiritual instruction. The
description of the "dreary intercourse of daily life" sug
gests Alison's description of the "noise and tumult of
vulgar joy" from which the imaginative person needs pro
tection .
Alison's concept of a natural education also provides
a reason for the inclusion of Dorothy in the poem. Alison's
assertion that "all the noblest convictions, and confidences
of religion, may be acquired in the simple school of Nature,
and amid the scenes which perpetually surround us" (II, 6,
ii, 443) applies not only to the education that Wordsworth
has received but also to the education that Dorothy is still
receiving. When the poet personifies nature in terms
connoting protection and spiritual instruction"the nurse,
/ The guide, the guardian of my heart (11. 109-10)he
turns immediately to Dorothy, an indication that he is per
haps discussing her education as well as his own. Alison's
comments on the education of youth are applicable to Dorothy
. . it is of so much consequence in the educa
tion of the Young, to encourage their instinctive
taste for the Beauty and Sublimity of Nature.
While it opens to the years of infancy or youth
a source of pure, and of permanent enjoyment, it
has consequences on the character and happiness
of future life, which they are unable to foresee.
It is to provide them, amid all the agitations
and trials of society, with one gentle and un
reproaching friend, whose voice is ever in alliance


149
and "mind" is reflected in Wordsworth's description of the
way the mind relates to the external world- Alison generally
uses the term "impression" to indicate an immediate response
"which the objects that are before us can produce" (I, 1, i,
10) and "sensation" to indicate an internal counterpart to
impression. Alison makes no formal attempt to define the
term "sensation"; however, he notes that "agreeable Sensa
tions" are internal reactions to qualities such as "the
smell of a rose, the colour of scarlet, the taste of a pine
apple, when spoken of merely as qualities, and abstracted
from the objects in which they are found" (II, 1, i, 177).
Wordsworth uses the terms "impression" and "sensation"
in a manner similar to Alison's. The poet uses the verb
"impress" to indicate the relationship between one's
immediate response to external stimuli and the mind:
Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion. . .
(11. 4-7)
In Alison's aesthetic terminology, the act of gazing upon
the cliffs constitutes "perception" (II, 1, i, 176), or the
observation of those "qualities of matter . known to us
only by means of our external senses" (II, 1, i, 176).
Wordsworth's immediate response to the external stimuli
(the cliffs) is "thoughts of more deep seclusion" (1. 7), a
connection being established between the external and the
internal. Alison's description of the "pleasure of agreeable
Sensation" (I, 1, i, xvi) is echoed in the poet's ascription


20
concentrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a
setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments
such as piety arise from contact with the natural world,
describes the divine protection afforded the child, and sees
the child's earthly activity within the framework of an
ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an image
of preexistence. Alison is an especially interesting
analogue to Wordsworth insofar as the minister/aesthetician,
like Wordsworth in his capacity as both poet and deep
religious thinker, somehow manages to see the child as an
object of aesthetic interest at the same time that he shows
concern for the child's spiritual welfare. If there is a
common theme among the diverse views of childhood that I
think Wordsworth and Alison share, it is their perhaps not
fully articulated but nevertheless strongly implicit paradox
that beauty is truth and truth beauty, or that the spiritual
and the aesthetic, in these two writers, coexist and even
coalesce to some extent. An awareness of this strange co
existence can contribute to the practical criticism of
Wordsworth's worksor at least a sample of them.
Because the theme of childhood is found in much of
Wordsworth's poetry, it is necessary to limit this study
to those selections that best illustrate the poet's concern
with the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of the child's
development. One could choose for discussion "Tintern
Abbey," "Michael," almost any of the "Poems Referring to the
Period of Childhood," or parts of The Excursion because such


56
Notes
A. Charles Babenroth maintains that "the beginnings of
many modern conceptions in poetry as well as in politics,
theology, education, and social welfare" may be traced to
the end of the eighteenth century. He finds this "especially
true with respect to interest in childhood" and cites Locke's
Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Shaftesbury's
Characteristics, and Rousseau's Emile as works particularly
influential m shaping nineteenth-century thought (English
Childhood: Wordsworth's Treatment of Childhood in the Light
of English Poetry from Prior to Crabbe [1922; rpt. New York:
Octagon Books, 1973], p. 1). The importance of Shaftesbury's
Characteristics, C.A. Moore argues, is manifested not only
m the "constant poetising of benevolence and charity" but
also in "extensive practical charity" ("Shaftesbury and the
Ethical Poets in England, 1700-60," PMLA, 31 [March 1916],
317); moreover, much of this philanthropic activity involved
measures to help children. Historian G.M. Trevelyan describes
some of the humanitarian activities of the period which
benefited children: the "foundation of hospitals," the
"improvement of medical service and infant welfare," and
the establishment of Charity and Sunday Schools (English
Social History: A Survey of Six Centuries: Chaucer to Queen
Victoria [London: Longmans Green~ 194 2] pi 363)". As
literature tends to reflect societal concerns, it is not
surprising that the child emerges as a significant literary
theme during the last decades of the eighteenth century and
that Romantic poets such as Wordsworth make the figure of
the child an important poetic symbol. For discussionsof
the emergence of the child in English literature, see Robert
Pattison's The Child Figure in English Literature (Athens:
Univ. of Georgia Press, 1978), David Grylls's Guardians and
Angels: Parents and Children in Nineteenth-Century Litera
ture (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), and Peter Coveney's
The Image of Childhood: The Individual and Society: A
Study of the Theme in English Literature (rev. ed. [Baltimore:
Penguin Books, 1967]).
2
Basil Willey (The Seventeenth Century Background:
Studies in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and
Religion [1934; rpt. London: Chatto and WIndus, 1949]) con
trasts Wordsworth's view of the child's "decline" into adult
hood with Descartes' position (p. 91) and finds many of the
poet's beliefs about man and nature grounded in the "Locke
tradition" (p. 308). Alan Grob (The Philosophic Mind; A
Study of Wordsworth's Poetry and Thought, 1797-1305 [Columbus:
Ohio State Univ. Press, 1973] ) maintains"~that by 1802 Words
worth views the child's "passions" as "an ultimate source of
spiritual and, perhaps, even moral authority for the conduct
of the whole of life" (p. 9), while Colin C. Clarke ("Nature's
Education of Man: Some Remarks on the Philosophy of


23
nouns. The word "grass," for example, appears only seventy-
five times in this nature poet's poetry, and even a more
richly connotative word such as "sky" and its plural form
appear only two hundred and seventy-five times. The word
"adult" does not appear in the Concordance (despite the
fact that the French-Latin loanword was fully naturalized
by the middle of the seventeenth century), and the word
"woman" and its plural appear only ninety-one times. The
word "man," which (together with its plural form) occurs
approximately one thousand times, appears to be the poet's
favorite word for designating an adult; however, this number
is misleading because Wordsworth uses the word not only
to denote an adult male but also to refer to any human being,
g
a group including children as well as adults of both sexes.
In addition to using linguistic analysis to establish
the importance of the child in Wordsworth's poetry, and
examining such allusions to discern the poet's interest in
the individual child, Babenroth also discusses Wordsworth's
humanitarian interest in the child. He describes Words
worth as an advocate of the natural rights of children, one
who condemned child labor abuses and who was concerned with
7
"practical problems of education." Babenroth's concern
with such issues, however, causes him to ignore the poet's
interest in aesthetics:
With childhood, he associated all that is
beautiful and ennobling in life. In child
hood man lives closest to nature, and it was
his firm belief that England could be saved
only if Englishmen would live simply in
communion with nature. His interest in nature


124
And the whole body of the Man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.
(11. 109-12)
The leech-gatherer is a dream-like character who seems sent
to the poet for the specific purpose of rescuing him from
despondency.
The despondency from which the poet is rescued is
basically solipsistic: he fears for himself "Cold, pain,
and labour, and all fleshly ills" (1. 115), despairing to
think he will join Chatterton (1. 43) and Burns (11. 45-46)
"in their misery dead" (1. 116). The leech-gatherer
rescues him from this selfishness. Alison describes the
process:
. . although the train of our thoughts may
have begun with the selfishness of our own
concerns, we feel that, by the ministry of
some mysterious power, they end in awakening
our concern for every being that lives. ("On
Autumn," I 330)
While the persona's questions at the beginning of the poem
are part of the "stranger's privilege" (1. 82) of idle
conversation, by the poem's conclusion he eagerly questions
the old man (1. 118) and is haunted by the image of him
"Wandering about alone and silently" (1. 131). Such a
change in attitude indicates that the poet has been humanized,
that he identifies sympathetically with another human being.
The poet's response to the leech-gatherer in "Resolu
tion and Independence" illustrates both his identification
with the model of virtue he provides and his concern for
the man's welfare; this pattern of empathizing with others


24
and children was not that of an esthete; he
was a humanitarian who inherited the ethical
interests of the benevolists from Thomson to
Southey.
Similarly, Hoxie Fairchild's discussion of Wordsworth's
"naturalism" focuses primarily on ethical concerns:
. other things being equal, the excellence of human
beings is in proportion to the number and richness of their
contacts with nature." As a corollary to this statement,
Fairchild bases Wordsworth's glorification of the child on
the "richness" of the child's associations with the natural
9
worldhis "fresh and lively perceptions." Although both
Babenroth's and Fairchild's studies are dated, the fact that
they have recently been reprinted indicates that their mis
conceptions are probably still widely held. Their extended
treatments of the subject of childhood indicate its impor
tance to an understanding of Wordsworth, but neither enter
tains the possibility that the poet's interest in the child
could have an aesthetic as well as an ethical basis nor
explains precisely how the child is enriched through his
contacts with nature.
Not only do several of his poems allude to children,
but as early as 1809 Wordsworth began to plan an arrangement
for the 1815 edition of his miscellaneous poems whereby he
would devote the entire first division to "Poems Referring
to Childhood." James Scoggins, explaining the various
changes in Wordsworth's organizational plan, notes that
the "arrangement of his miscellaneous poems" has "guaranteed
relevance"consequently, it is possible to see Wordsworth's


83
For Alison, the excitement of some affection necessarily
precedes the experiencing of complex emotions (Essays, I, 2,
i, 81). In the sonnet the persona is not "moved" to
experience complex emotions of beauty or sublimity upon
viewing natural forms because the affections have not been
excited.
o
The sonnet also makes the Alisonian connection between
loss of imagination and the inability to personify natural
forms. Alison finds that the mind relates to the external
world by the imaginative process of personification, ascribing
"qualities of Mind" to external objects (Essays, II, i, 184-
85). Modern man's imaginative failure, in Alison's terms,
is a failure to personify. Kroeber reaches a similar
conclusion: "Modern man lacks the power to humanize nature,
to impose upon it, to put into it, anthropomorphic beings
20
such as Triton and Proteus."
Even in "Peter Bell," a poem not directly concerned
with the city, Wordsworth associates insensitivity to natural
beauty with urban life. Although Carl Woodring accurately
21
describes Peter as a "rather absurd villain," he shares
with Wordsworth's more respectable persona in "The World Is
Too Much With Us" a city-fostered inability to relate to
natural beauty. Although Peter has spent much time with
nature, the natural forms excite no affection or feeling:
Though Nature could not touch his heart
By lovely forms, and silent weather,
And tender sounds, yet you might see
At once that Peter Bell and she
Had often been together.
(11. 286-90)


90
("Cities," II, 263), communicate with God and invoke divine
assistance ("Cities," II, 265), and congregate "with the
faithful of your people 'in the temple of God'" ("Cities,"
II, 266). However, when this advice is coupled with Alison's
statements in Essays on Taste, some similarity with Words
worth's beliefs becomes apparent: the concept of retreat
appears in Essays on Taste (and in Wordsworth's poetry) as
a retreat "from the noise and tumult of vulgar joy" to
"indulge" one's "visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165). Alison's
clarification of the concept of communion with God suggests
that it is an imaginative, as well as a religious, exercise
and that it includes a mood of reflection as well as the
specific act of prayer:
. . it is then that, escaping from the eye of
the world which fascinates us, we feel ourselves
in the presence of Him "who inhabiteth eternity,"
and, removed from the voice of earthly passion,
that we listen to the voice of "Him who comes
to seek, and suffers to save us." It is in such
exercises that the religious mind finds all its
rewards!that under the influence of the ever
near and assisting spirit, it throws off the
stains and impurities which it had acquired;
that it returns to the purity of all its
original impressions; that higher sentiments
awaken, and holier desires are felt. . .
("Cities," II, 265-66)
Even Alisons admonition to go to church is clarified as a
type of spiritual retreat: "For one solemn hour, the world
is thrown behind them. The delusions of society cease, and
the pulse of passion is still" ("Cities," II, 267). Thus,
much of Alison's advice may be described as an admonition
to retreat from the city's most noxious stimuli--Wordsworth1s


15
P.W.K. Stone, The Art of Poetry, 1750-1820; Theories
of Poetic Composition and Style in the Late Neo-Classic and
Early Romantic Periods (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1967), p. 93. In the group of writers concerned with "an
aesthetics of Taste," Stone includes Hugh Blair, Alexander
Gerard, James Beattie, Lord Karnes, Joseph Priestley, and
Sir Joshua Reynolds (p. 174).
^Stone, p. 96.
17
Stone, pp. 175-76.
18
Newton P. Stallknecht, Wordsworth and Philosophy:
Suggestions Concerning the Source of the Poet's Doctrines
and the Nature of His Mystical Experience (New York: n.p.,
1929) p. 1~. Two studies which describe the relationship
between the mind and external nature in Wordsworth's poetry
are Colin C. Clarke's Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the
Poetry of Wordsworth (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962) and
Alan Grob's The Philosophic Mind: A Study of Wordsworth's
Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805 (Columbus: Ohio State Univ.
Press, 1973). Exploring theWordsworthian relationship be
tween the internal and the external by exploiting the delib
erate ambiguity of key terms such as "image," "shape," and
"form," Clarke concludes that most of the poetry of the
"great decade" (1897-1806) treats the "ambiguity of percep
tion" (p. 53) and that the poet's discovery of his main
theme, "the place of mind in nature," coincides with his
use of aesthetic terminology "with a greatly increased range
of suggestion" (p. 26). Grob's study presents ideas similar
to those of Clarke. Although he does not focus on aesthetic
diction to the extent that Clarke does, he finds that to
define the relationship between "the world and the self"
the poet employs a vocabulary that is "uncompromisingly
sensationalistic" (p. 34). Like Clarke, Grob finds the
interaction between the mind and nature a major theme in
Wordsworth's poetry (especially that written between 1797
and 1800) (p. 13).
19
Arthur Beatty, William Wordsworth: His Doctrine and
Art in Their Historical Relations, 3rd ed. (Madison: Univ.
of Wisconsin Press, 1960) pT 49.
^Beatty, pp. 49-51.
ZxBeatty, p. 45.
22
Newton P. Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought:
Studies in Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature, 2nd
ed. (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1958), p. 34.


38
acquires "grace," a quality Alison associates with spiritual
development, merely by association with natural forms:
The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; for her the willow bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the Storm
Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form
By silent sympathy. (11. 19-24)
As a logical consequence of their merged identity, nature
lays claim to Lucy and leaves the persona of the poem with
only her memory.
There is evidence in both Wordsworth and Alison to
suggest that Lucy's education is only an ideal. Alison
notes that if "the young were left only to nature and them
selves, it is reasonable to think that they might pass this
important period of life without danger" ("On Evil Communi
cation," I, 241-42); however, he observes that in reality
the external forces of "evil communication" begin to "assail"
the young ("On Evil Communication," I, 242). For this
reason Alison insists that the child's natural education
must be supplemented by religious training:
. . the religious affections which are to form
the great distinction of maturity, must be
awakened and exercised in youth; and they
signify to us, that, to guide the youthful mind
to the early love of God, is the great end to
which all labours, and cares, and illustrations
of education, ought to be steadily and uniformly
directed. ("On Religious Education," II, 27)
In "The Westmoreland Girl" Wordsworth insists on this
kind of religious training. The child's natural education
is described in terms that suggest its inadequacy: "Left
among her native mountains / With wild Nature to run wild"


34
Furthermore, Wordsworth notes that her "Innocence" affords
a kind of "dignity" to the child's "laughing eyes" and ran
dom motions:
Loving she is, and tractable, though wild;
And Innocence hath privilege in her
To dignify arch looks and laughing eyes;
And feats of cunning. . (11. 1-4)
In Alison's aesthetic terms the adult beholds the child with
delight because the "attitudes or gestures of infancy"
(Essays, II, 6, ii, 371) and the "bright or brilliant Eye"
of the child satisfy both the adult's expectation of "joy
and mirth" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 291) and his aesthetic sense
of beauty.
Similar attributes of childhood noted by Alison are
reflected in Wordsworth's observation of Hartley Coleridge
("To H. C."). The poet views the "happy child" as a
"blessed vision" (1. 11) and emphasizes his "breeze-like
motion" (1. 4) and his "exquisitely wild" state (1. 12).
The use of the word "exquisitely" reinforces the idea that
the child is viewed as an object of aesthetic interest.
According to the OED, an "exquisite" object is "of such
consummate excellence, beauty, or perfection, as to excite
intense delight or admiration." This definition reflects
both of Alison's aesthetic terms "beauty" and "delight"
and suggests that Wordsworth's interest in the child is
aesthetic as well as ethical.
For both Wordsworth and Alison aesthetic interests
yield to a concern for the child's spiritual development.
Bo.th writers view the child as afforded a type of divine


41
Alison's emphasis on piety and its significance for
the childs spiritual development relates to Wordsworth's
use of the phrase "natural piety" in his rainbow lyric
("My Heart Leaps Up"). Wordsworth's phrase "natural piety"
may be intended not so much to imply the displacement of
religious devotion and exercise into naturalistic and secular
contexts, as to affirm (as Alison does) that nature as
teacher works so harmoniously with the purpose and content
of religious instruction that, in effect, the two kinds of
education work together as one. Alison's insistence on the
superiority of youthful piety to all other attainments of
life and his comments on its effect on future happiness
afford added insight into Wordsworth's conclusion:
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(11. 7-9)
Wordsworth's statement that the "Child is father of the Man"
may be an allusion to the theory of association, the process
by which the sensations of childhood are the basis for the
adult's moral character; "natural piety" is then viewed as
the child's most valuable contribution to the adult. Other
critics have offered related interpretations for Wordsworths
phrase. Florence Marsh finds that "natural piety" has to
2 8
do with "human nature" more than with "external nature,"
while Colin Clarke equates "natural piety" with the poet's
faith that "Nature never did betray / The heart that loved
29
her" (."Tintern Abbey," 11. 122-23). Both of these ideas
are reflected in Alison's concept of youthful piety. Alison's


148
suggests also the adjectives "populous" and "commercial"
that Alison has used in his descriptions of cities. Words
worth's description thus reflects Alison's concept of the
city as both crowded and lonely.
Alison's comments on the "signs of cultivation" that
disfigure potentially sublime settings are applicable to
"Tintern Abbey." Alison notes that the "sublimest situa
tions" (those most potentially sublime) are often "dis
figured by objects that we feel unworthy of them," citing
"signs of cultivation" and the "regularity of inclosures"
as two man-made intrusions upon the natural scene (I, 2, i,
121). Wordsworth's description of signs of cultivation
in "Tintern Abbey" is modified by the natural coloring he
gives to the intrusion of the artificial. The "hedge-rows"
(1. 15), which should suggest the "regularity of inclosures,
are described as "hardly hedge-rows" (1. 15) and retain
their natural quality as "little lines / Of sportive wood
run wild" (11. 15-16). The emphasis on the color green
also indicates that man's cultivation has not destroyed the
rustic beauty of the setting: the "pastoral farms" in
"Tintern Abbey" are "Green to the very door" (11. 16-17).
The setting Wordsworth confronts on the banks of the Wye
in 1798 thus reflects some of the qualities Alison ascribes
to a potentially sublime situation.
Both Wordsworth and Alison assert that sensation is
the basis for one's perception of beauty and sublimity.
Alison's concept of the terms "sensation," "impression,"


89
of the hand of nature pure and uncorrupted" ("Evil Communi
cation," I, 240). Luke, in the city, is confronted with
evil communication, the "malignant power" of city vice that
destroys his natural virtue ("Evil Communication," I, 238).
Moreover, the flower metaphor indicates the tragedy of
Luke's corruption both for Michael and for those who hear
the story
How painful . is it, (even to the unconnected
spectators), ... to see the spring of life un
timely blasted by some malignant power which
withers all the blossoms of virtue, and closes
all the expectations we have formed of their
opening being. ("Evil Communication," I, 238)
Michael's pain at his shattered expectations, masked to some
extent by his stoic and spiritual partnership with the land,
is reflected in his attitude concerning the sheepfold,
which represents both his love for nature and his love for
Luke:
. . 'tis believed by all
That many and many a day he thither went,
And never lifted up a single stone.
(11. 464-66)
Michael's fate indicates a Wordsworthian and Alisonian
attitude toward the evil personified in the city: even
one strengthened by communion with nature is afforded no
protection from evil; natural virtue merely enables one to
face the evil of others without exhaustion.
Both Wordsworth and Alison deal with the proper re
sponse of one who is forced to reside in the city. Alison's
advice in the sermons is predictably didactic: withdraw
from society for "regular hours" of "thought and meditation"


25
arrangement as indicating, for example, his emphasis on the
feelings that arise in the mind of the adult when he con
templates childhood. The arrangement, in any case,
certainly points to the thematic centrality of childhood
and thus demands critical attention.
Biographical evidence also points to the importance
of childhood for Wordsworth. Witness, for example, his
attempt to raise Basil Montagu, Jr., as a "child of nature."
He not only expressed the poetic ideal of the child's
natural education but also felt qualified to test his theory
on a child "living rather miserably" with his father, an
unhappy widower who "apparently reverted to wild habits and
intemperance." Montagu described his association with
Wordsworth as a "fortunate event" and recognized the poet's
concern for Basil, Jr.: "In the wreck of my happiness he
i 2
saw the probable ruin of my infant." By the middle of
the summer of 1795, a plan had been formulated arranging
13
for the child to be raised by the Wordsworths.
Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy thus began their
experiment in teaching Basil to grow up as a "child of
nature." Having noted in 1795 that Basil was "yet by no
means a spoiled child notwithstanding the disadvantages
14
under which he has laboured," Dorothy later explains the
Wordsworths' "system respecting Basil":
We teach him nothing at present but what he
learns from the evidence of his senses. He
has an insatiable curiosity which we are
always careful to satisfy to the best of
our ability. It is directed to everything


183
illumination, whereby in a lightning flash we see that the
world is quite different from what it ordinarily appears
to be . ." (pp. 61-62).
The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest
De Selincourt, 3~I For the 1814 edition of The Excursion,
Wordsworth uses lines 754-860 from Book I of The Recluse "as
a kind of Prospectus of the design and scope of the whole
Poem" (Poetical Works, V, 2), which was to be entitled The
Recluse, or, Views on Man, Nature, and Society, and was
designed to record the observations of the poet living in
retirement.


151
Hartley's description of the process of association reflects
its mechanistic quality:
Any sensations A, B, C, & c., by being associated
with one another a sufficient number of times,
get such a power over the corresponding ideas of
sensation a, b, c, & c., that any one of the
sensations A, when impressed alone, shall be able
to excite in the mind b, c, & c., the ideas of the
D
rest.J
Alison's description of the process in which external stimuli
evoke corresponding mental associations is similar to Hart
ley's doctrine although it is stated with less mathematical
precision: "When any object, either of sublimity or beauty,
is presented to the mind, I believe every man is conscious
of a train of thought being immediately awakened in his
imagination, analogous to the character or expression of
the original object" (I, 1, i, 4-5). When Wordsworth sug
gests that the "steep and lofty cliffs" (1. 5)
. . impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky,
(11. 6-8)
he has imaginatively made a connection between the cliffs
and the sky. The suggestions of the quietness and serenity
of the sky are certainly analogous to the scene before him.
Alison similarly refers to an "alliance . between heaven
and earth" suggested by natural forms (II, 6, ii, 443).
Sounding very much like a Romantic in his insistence that
the imagination can effect images in our mind "very different
from those which the objects themselves can present to the
eye" (I, 1, i, 5), Alison makes provisions for even more
complex associative processes, such as that in which


13
concerning the precise nature of Wordsworth's religious be
liefs, Moorman's biographical study suggests that Anglican
beliefs constitute an element of continuity throughout Words-
39
worth's poetic career. It is, therefore, logical (and
necessary) to investigate Alison's sermons as well as his
aesthetic treatise to understand the spiritual value of the
aesthetic response.
The following chapters explore the insight into Words
worth's poetry afforded by a knowledge of Alison and examine
selected poems in terms of specific Alisonian concepts and
diction. To explore all of Wordsworth's poetry in terms of
Alison is beyond the scope of this study. I treat both
familiar and unfamiliar poems which share thematic, and in
many cases verbal, affinities, with Alison's essays. The
development is generally thematic: the first three chapters
focus on aspects of Alison's spiritual aestheticsthe
natural education of the child, the moral dangers of the
city, and ethical standards appropriate to maturity.
"Tintern Abbey," because of its importance in Wordsworth's
poetic development and because it reflects the spiritual
value of the aesthetic response so fully, is treated in a
separate chapter.


42
piety is concerned with "human nature" in that it forms future
character, and with trust in "external nature" in that piety
evolves from association with natural forms.
Alison's comments on youthful piety also help to clarify
the child's apparent reverence for nature in "It Is a
Beauteous Evening." The use of religious imagery in the
poem not only establishes the theme of the "sanctity of
childhood," as Carl Woodring suggests,^ but also relates
directly to Alison's comments on youthful piety. Alison
finds that in youth "religion comes to thee in all its
charms" as the "God of Nature reveals himself to thy soul"
("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 66). Thus, the child of the
sonnet is indirectly receiving religious instruction at the
same time she observes the sunset and the sea:
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
(11. 10-14)
Several of the ideas reflected in Alison's statements
concerning youthful piety are also to be found in the child's
implicit religious experience. The fact that she is not
"solemn" can be explained by Alison's statement that piety
"comes in that happy season, when life is new, and hope
unbroken. ... It comes not, then, to terrify, or to
alarm, but to afford every high and pleasing prospect in
which the heart can indulge" ("On the Youth of Solomon,"
I, 51). The absence of "solemn thought" does not indicate
the child's nature is "less divine" than the adult's; in


158
past experiences similar to those he now describes is in
dicated by the repetition of the words "again" (1. 9) and
"Once again" (11. 4, 14).
Alison's comments on form afford similar insight into
the "Tintern Abbey" experience. As an example of the
associations shapes or forms have acquired, Alison cites
rock structures, such as cliffs and precipices, as increasing
one's perception of sublimity: "Nothing is more Sublime
than the Form of Rocks, which seem to be coeval with Creation,
and which all the convulsions of Nature have not been able
to destroy" (II, 4, i, 322). Alison's assertion that "Magni
tude in Height, is expressive to us of Elevation, and
Magnanimity" (II, 4, i, 325) and that "Magnitude in depth
is expressive to us of Danger or Terror, and from our con
stant experience, of images of Horror" (II, 4, i, 326) helps
explain how magnanimity and terror enhance the sublimity of
the natural forms of "Tintern Abbey." Alison concludes that
"magnitude" is "sublime" because of its associations (II, 4,
i, 327). Because of the associations these forms have
acquired for him, "the tall rock" (1. 77), suggesting
magnitude, and the "steep and lofty cliffs" (1. 5), suggesting
both magnitude and horror (by virtue of the depth which they
g
overlook), evoke the emotion of sublimity in Wordsworth.
The sounds of the Wye setting manifest a similar
duality between beauty and terror. Alison defines tran
quillity as the associated emotion, or symbolic correspondent,
for the sensation of silence (II, 1, i, 184). Tranquillity


190
Berg, J.H. van den. The Changing Nature of Man: Introduction
to a Historical Psychology" Trans. H.F. Croes. New
York: W.W. Norton, 1961.
Blake, William. The Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Ed.
David V. Erdman. 1965; rpt. Garden City, N.Y.:
Doubleday, 1970.
Bloom, Harold. The Visionary Company: A Reading of English
Romantic Poetry. Rev. and enl. ed. Ithaca: Cornell
Univ. Press, 1971.
Brantley, Richard E. Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism." New
Haven: Yale Univ"! Press, 1975.
Brockington, A. Allen. Mysticism and Poetry on a Basis of
Experience. 1934; rpt. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat
Press, 1970.
Brooks, Cleanth, and Robert Penn Warren, eds. Understanding
Poetry. New York: H. Holt, 1938.
Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to
That Which Is to Come. Ed. James Blanton Wharey.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 192 8.
Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of
Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Ed. J.T.
Boulton. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 195 8.
Bush, Douglas. Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in
English Poetry. Cambridge: Harvard College, 1937.
Clarke, Colin C. "Nature's Education of Man: Some Remarks
on the Philosophy of Wordsworth." Philosophy, 23
(October 1948), 302-16.
Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the Poetry of
Wordsworth. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962.
Cohen, Ralph. The Unfolding of The Seasons. Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1570.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. The Friend. Ed. Barbara E. Rooke.
Vol. IV of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Bollingen Series, 75. 2 vols. London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1969.
Cooper, Lane, ed. A Concordance to the Poems of William
Wordsworth. New York: Russell and Russell, 1965.
Coveney, Peter. The Image of Childhood: The Individual and
Society: A Study of the Theme in English Literature.
Rev. ed. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.


85
Examining Luke's behavior in Alison's terms affords added
insight into the passage. Basically, Luke's defection re
sults from his mentally alienating himself from rural virtue
at the time he is physically alienated in the city from
natural forms.
Luke has received instruction in natural virtue from
his father Michael, the hero of the poem. Wordsworth's
ideal man is one whose virtue is attached to nature, and
the characterization of Michael depends almost entirely on
his relationship with his surroundings:
Those fields, those hills . had laid
Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
(11. 74-77)
Although Michael is not a poet, the use of the terms
"affections," "feeling," "love," and "pleasure," all of
which are central in Alison's language, suggests that he
is responsive to natural forms. Moreover, Wordsworth's
assertion that Michael's love for natural forms is virtually
inseparable from the pleasures he experiences in life in
dicates that he has coupled the aesthetic appreciation of
natural forms with an ethical code of natural virtue.
With the birth of his son, Michael's natural virtue
becomes enfolded in his love for Luke. The imagery in the
poem supports such an interpretation: Luke, carrying in
his cheeks "Two steady roses" (1. 179), seems to epitomize
nature. After the birth of his son, elements of the natural
world "the Shepherd loved before / Were dearer now" (11.


93
immediately awakened in his imagination, analogous to the
character or expression of the original object" (Essays, I,
1, i, 4-5). The scene in London at night also reflects
Alison's assertion that tranquillity is the associated
emotion of the sensation of silence (Essays, II, 1, i, 184).
Alison finds an "alliance . between heaven and earth"
suggested by natural forms (Essays, II, 6, ii, 443), and
Wordsworth finds in "Moonlight and stars" the "blended
calmness of the heavens and earth" (VII, 660-01). Alison's
description of communion with God as escape from "earthly
passion" ("Cities," II, 265) approximates Wordsworth's
experience. The type of escape Wordsworth experiences in
London at night is a retreat from objects of human art to
a setting in which he is surrounded by divine workmanship.
Finally, the imaginative person trapped in the city has
still another means of escape afforded him: he can perceive
a type of natural order in urban forms. The processoccur
ring both in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" and in The
Preludeis clarified by an understanding of Alison's con
cept of harmony. For Alison, "harmony," one's perception of
the interrelationship of parts, is prerequisite for the
apprehension of the essence of the whole and for the ex
periencing of any complex emotion (Essays, II, 4, ii, 10).
Both the persona of the sonnet and the poet of The Prelude
discover that urban forms manifest a type of harmony similar
to that which pervades the natural world.


157
expressive to us of those qualities which are the sources of
our Emotion from such objects in Nature" (IX, 3, i, 309).
Alison's discussion of the color green affords insight
into Wordsworth's association of the pleasure of observing
the natural world with the color green. Although Alison
does not go to the length that Hartley does in providing a
physiological explanation for mans delight in external
5
nature, Alison does emphasize the color as evoking a variety
of associations arising from impressions of spring:
In the effect which is produced upon our minds, by
the different appearances of Natural scenery, it is
easy to trace this progress of resembling thought,
and to observe, how faithfully the conceptions
which arise in our imaginations, correspond to the
impressions which the characters of these seasons
produce. What, for instance, is the impression
we feel from the scenery of spring? The soft and
gentle green with which the earth is spread, the
feeble texture of the plants and flowers . all
conspire to infuse into our minds somewhat of that
fearful tenderness with which infancy is usually
beheld. (I, 1, i, 15-16)
Wordsworths pleasure in observing the natural world is
enhanced by the colors it presents. In emphasizing green
as the color of pastoral landscape, Wordsworth evokes some
of the symbolic associations of the color: nature, new
life, softness, and gentleness. In "Tintern Abbey" the
"plots of cottage-ground" and "orchard-tufts" are "clad in
one green hue" (11. 11, 13). Wordsworth's repetition of the
word "green" (11. 17, 105, 158) suggests the importance of
the associations the color has acquired. Green has acquired
pleasing associations for the poet as a result of his re
peated experience with the color. The fact that he has had


66
enlist the active propensities on the side of virtue, was
to be found the most effective antidote to the evils which
were, even in that rural district, beginning to afflict
^ 6
society.
These ethical and religious considerations merge with
aesthetic concerns for both writers in their view of natures
opposition to the city; the loss of imagination and moral
decline are virtually inseparable processes. Alison describes
the loss of the ability to respond to natural beauty:
". . they who have been doomed, by their professions, to
pass their earlier years in populous and commercial cities
. . soon lose that sensibility which is the most natural
of all,the sensibility to the beauties of the country . ."
7
(Essays, I, 2, i, 90). Similarly, in the "Preface to the
Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads" Wordsworth alludes to the
city's deadening effect on the imagination:
For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times,
are now acting with a combined force to blunt the
discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting
it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a
state of almost savage torpor. The most effective
of these causes are the great national events
which are daily taking place, and the increasing
accumulation of men in cities, where the unifor
mity of their occupations produces a craving for
extraordinary incident, which the rapid communi- g
cation of intelligence hourly gratifies. (Ill, 389)
Although both Wordsworth and Alison describe the loss
of imagination and the moral decline which result from the
city dweller's alienation from natural forms and the virtue
afforded by association with these forms, a difference in
emphasis exists. Alison the theologian is inclined to give,


Ill
toward maturity somewhat ambivalent: man's "mature love
for nature" includes recognizing nature as "external" to
12
himself, a process effecting both "freedom" and "grief."
Richard E. Brantley's analysis of Wordsworth's "spiritual
idiom," specifically his distinction between Extraordinary
and Ordinary spiritual experiences, points to an important
difference between childhood and maturity: the "Extraordinary
emotions" of the poet's youth "are soon replaced by a growing
regard for his fellow man; and the 'grace' (The Prelude [1805
ed.], VIII, 488) of mature spiritual experience seems
. 13
Ordinary m the precise and honorific meaning of the term."
Finally, in examining the relationship between Wordsworth
and William Godwin, Alan Grob asserts that it is the human
focus of the theory of rational benevolence, "together with
its emphasis upon the importance of individual moral achieve
ment," that Wordsworth found attractive. Grob concludes
that Wordsworth is not "a disciple of Godwin," but rather
that his primary concern is the process of human development:
His principal interest is, of course, in delineating
the details of the process itself and pointing to
the important contributory roles played by nature
and man's early sympathies and passions in bridging
the gulf between childhood egoism and a mature and
disinterested concern for the welfare of others. 4
The fact that these three critics, each employing a different
approach, arrive at essentially the same conclusion about
the adult's concern for others indicates the importance of
the theme in Wordsworth's poetry.
Despite the volume of criticism treating Wordsworth's
interest in mankind, Alison's theories are important in that


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EBXIMKBTP_CMFU09 INGEST_TIME 2014-12-05T22:39:34Z PACKAGE AA00026476_00001
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES


ARCHIBALD ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
BY
MARSHA KENT SAVAGE
DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

itxoj rtisnSni/ ic vm fuinma luvuan "enva cation Xu Dunoq
CT
i?
L
T
X,
so
3
Copyright 1980
by
Marsha Kent Savage

To my father, Tom Kent Savage, and to the memory
of my mother, Mary Harder Savage

ACKNOWLE D GMENT S
I wish to express my appreciation to Professors John
Perlette, A.E. Smith, and James Twitchell for reading this
dissertation and making suggestions for its improvement.
For his advice and assistance throughout this project, I wish
to give very special thanks to Professor Melvyn New. Finally,
I am indebted to Professor Richard Brantley, who not only
offered his critical skills and knowledge of Wordsworth, but
also demonstrated unending patience and provided continuing
support and encouragement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
ABSTRACT
INTRODUCTION
Notes
CHAPTER I THE NATURAL EDUCATION OF THE CHILD. . .
Notes
CHAPTER II WORDSWORTH'S ETHICAL AND IMAGINATIVE
TREATMENT OF "THE DOMINION OF MAN" . .
Notes
CHAPTER III ALISON AND THE HUMAN FOCUS OF
WORDSWORTHS POETRY CONCERNING
MATURITY
Notes .
CHAPTER IV ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF "TINTERN ABBEY"
Notes
CONCLUSION
Motes .
REFERENCES
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Page
iv
vi
1
14
13
56
101
105
142
145
180
184
188
189
196
v

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
ARCHIBALD ALISON AND THE SPIRITUAL AESTHETICS
OF WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
By
Marsha Kent Savage
June 1980
Chairman: Richard E. Brantley
Major Department: English
Although many critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's
aesthetic diction, and his imaginative response to nature,
indicate a familiarity with studies of aesthetics in the
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such scholars
have not fully explored the insight into Wordsworth's poetry
afforded by Archibald Alison's Essavs on the Nature and
Principles of Taste. Such an emission is surprising when
one considers the importance of Essays on Taste as an
aesthetic treatise and the fact that several critics regard
Alison as a significant part of the philosophical background
influencing the first generation of Romantic poets. The
purpose of this study is to show that Alisons essays pro
vide not only a useful gloss upon Wordsworth's aesthetic
terminology, but also a means of more fully understanding
the poets spiritual vocabulary. Alison was an Anglican
clergyman, as well as an aesthetician, and his collected
vr

sermons, Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions, elaborate
aesthetic as well as spiritual concepts presented in the
essays. In an effort to focus more precisely on Alison's
value as background for understanding Wordsworth's poetry,
I have employed the term "spiritual aesthetics": both
writers regard the aesthetic experience as ultimately reli
gious and maintain that the imaginative response culminates
in moral insight.
The thematic concerns in the first three chapters of
this studythe natural education of the child, the opposi
tion between the city and the country, and the ethical
standards appropriate to maturityail relate to a funda
mental principle underlying Wordsworth's and Alison's con
cept of spiritual aesthetics: the natural world affords
aesthetic delight and at the same time provides man with a
spiritual education. Both familiar and unfamiliar Words
worthian poems share thematic, and in many cases verbal,
affinities with Alison's essays and sermons.
Chapter I argues that Wordsworth, like Alison, con
centrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a
setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments
such as piety arise from contact with the natural world,
describes the divine protection afforded the child, and
sees the child's earthly activity within the framework of
an ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an
image of preexistence. Chapter II focuses on the negative
aesthetic and spiritual consequences of the process of
urbanization; both writers maintain that the city exerts
vii

a deadening effect on the poetic imagination and contributes
to moral decline. The third chapter examines certain
specific ideas the two writers share concerning maturity.
Alisons prose parallels the poet's growing regard for man
kind, his recognition of man's mortality, and his resultant
benevolence and charity.
"Tintern Abbey," because of its importance in Words
worth's poetic development, and because it reflects the
spiritual value of the aesthetic response so fully, is
treated in a separate chapter.
vin

INTRODUCTION
Many critics acknowledge that Wordsworth's aesthetic
diction and his concept of the transforming power of the
imagination, which modifies and shapes sensations received
from the external world, reflect a familiarity with studies
of aesthetics in the eighteenth and early nineteenth cen
turies. Mo critic, however, has fully explored the insight
into Wordsworth's poetry afforded by Archibald Alison's
Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste. I propose
to show that Alison's Essays provide not only a useful
analogy to the Wordsworthian relationship of the- mind and the
external world but also a means of clarifying the spiritual
as well as the aesthetic terminology Wordsworth employs.
Although some writers on aesthetics have noted that Alison's
treatise provides an important transition from the eighteenth
to the nineteenth century, and some twentieth-century critics
of Wordsworths philosophy make brief allusions to Alison,
none stresses Alison's successful (and natural) merger of
the spiritual and the aesthetic, and none turns to Alison's
collected sermons (Sermons, Chiefly on Particular Occasions)
for elaboration of the spiritual concepts presented in the
essays, I propose to show that it is this added spiritual
dimension of Alison's aesthetics that makes his works such
a valuable analogue for a study of Wordsworth's poetry.
1

2
The critical attention Alison has received, suggesting
the importance of Essays on Taste as a standard textbook of
aesthetics in the early nineteenth century, would appear to
justify, and call for, a study of Wordsworth's poetry in
terms of Alisonian concepts and diction. However, one is
surprised to discover that no writer on Wordsworth's
philosophical background devotes more than a page or two to
Alison. Alison's biography, ignored by critics, helps to
establish a chronological framework for the association of
Wordsworth and Alison. It can be established not only that
Alison represents an influential strain of thought with which
Wordsworth was likely familiar but also that the two men were
contemporaries and acquainted. Finally, Wordsworth's con
nection with Anglicanism constitutes a neglected tie with
Alison, a tie especially important because they share a con
cern with the spiritual dimension of the aesthetic process.
After reviewing the critical attention Alison has received
and alluding to pertinent biographical details placing
Wordsworth and Alison in the same cultural milieu, I shall
point to the importance of the neglected spiritual (ethical)
dimension of Alison's theory for an understanding of Words
worth's poetry.
Critics who include Alison in their discussions of
aesthetic trends describe him as a theorist whose ideas
were especially influential at the beginning of the nine
teenth century. Walter Jackson Bate and Ernest Lee Tuveson,
critics specifically concerned with the interrelationships

3
of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century thought, point to a
study of Alison's essays as a means of more fully under
standing and appreciating the poetry of the nineteenth
century (not specifically Wordsworth's poetry). Similarly,
important studies of aesthetic theory by Samuel H. Monk and
Walter J. Hippie point to Alison's essays as a valuable cul
mination of eighteenth-century critical theory.
Bate's study, From Classic to Romantic, is especially
significant because he makes the connection between taste
and imagination. The necessity of accepting "taste" (a
distinctly eighteenth-century term) as virtually synonymous
with "imagination" (a Romantic concept) is indicated in
Bate's description of Alison's essays: "devoted exclusively
to the question of taste," the essays "attempt an analysis
of man's entire mental and emotional working, as it is
directed to art and the subjects of art," attributing special
importance to the imagination.1 On this basis, Bate main
tains that Alison's aesthetic theory is especially helpful
in establishing a foundation for many of the "familiar
tenets of English romantic poets and critics." .In fact,
he notes that Essays on Taste reflects as much Romantic
thought as strict associationism:
It is characteristic that the Scottish associa-
tionist, Archibald Alison, in his popular Essays
on Taste (1790), should have devoted the first
half of his book to discussing "The Nature of the
Emotions of Sublimity and Beauty" and to analyzing
"The Exercise of the Imagination," and only after
wards have turned to "The Sublimity and Beauty of
the Material World."2

4
Tuveson, also noting the role of the imagination in
Alison's essays, emphasizes the concept of poetic language.
Tuveson deplores the lack of critical attention Alison has
received, describing his work as a kind of "textbook of
aesthetics for persons who followed the lead of Locke,
3
Hartley, and Priestley," and comments on its value for a
study of nineteenth-century poetry: "Alison helps us to
understand and appreciate much of the best poetry (not to
speak of the painting) of the nineteenth and twentieth
4
centuries far more than does Coleridge." He finds Alison's
"theory of symbolism" and his justification of symbolic
language significant. Beginning with an allusion to associa
tion as the "binding element" in Alison's theories,5 Tuveson
suggests Alison's.role in the beginnings of poetic symbolism
Alison restored to poets a symbolic language. . .
The new symbols have no objective, agreed upon
significance. They arise from the inner life
of impressions and moods; they speak to the
imagination alone, for in the last analysis
they have nothing to do with facts and logical
reasoning.
This "subjective" nature of symbols does not prevent the
poet from communicating with others:
That symbols are subjective does not make them
irresponsibly personal, with the poet speaking
a language intelligible only to himself. Alison
showed that a large common ground of emotional
associations existshe assumed among people of
similar cultures. Experiences in childhood and
beyond correspond to some extent; the exact
associations vary with each individual, but a
community of final effects can be assumed.
In The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories in XVIII-
Century England, 1674-1800, Monk emphasizes Essays on Taste

5
as a "prelude to romantic art."^ Like Tuveson, he regards
Alison as, in many respects, the culmination of eighteenth-
century associationist and aesthetic theories and, conse
quently, an "easy transition from the eighteenth to the
g
nineteenth century." Concluding that Alison "isolates from
the chaos of eighteenth-century emotion the aesthetic
e>
experience," Monk finds that his "lucid style," the "easily
grasped tenets of his theory," and the "palpably convenient"
psychology of his system rendered the spread of his ideas
9
inevitable. He includes Alison as part of the philosophical
background influencing the first generation of Romantic
poets:
. r ideas and objects which the eighteenth
century had often used clumsily and occasionally
happily, were brought sharply to the fore in the
closing.years of the eighteenth century, and were
recognized elements of the republic of letters
when the romantic generation came to treat them
anew, according to their own method. u
Whereas Tuveson regards Alison as important in clarifying
the nature of poetic symbolism, Monk regards Alison's
theories as a possible commentary on the form of Romantic
poetry: Alison's assertion that the object of aesthetic
interest serves merely as a stimulus to the imagination
suggests a kind of Romantic art "based not on outward form
so much as on a steady flow of emotions and ideas that grow
11
out of each other."
Hippie, like Monk, points to the importance of Essays
on Taste as an aesthetic treatise and suggests its importance
for a study of Romantic poetry. In The Beautiful, the Sub
lime, and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British.

6
Aesthetic Theory, Hippie describes Essays as a book "which was
to revolutionize aesthetic speculation in Britain, and which
exhibited an originality, complexity, and logical coherence un
matched in British aesthetics." Hippie even suggests the need
for exploring Alison's influence on the Romantic poets: "The
importance of Alison's work to the theory and practice of
. 12
the romantic period has never been assessed. ..."
Complementing standard studies of philosophical trends
(those by Bate, Tuveson, Monk, Hippie) are two articles out
lining Alison's importance. W.P. Albrecht ("Archibald Alison
and the Sublime Pleasures of Tragedy") finds Alison "the
most consistent of eighteenth-century writers on the sublime
in translating the sublime, and the beautiful as well, into
psychological terms. . .Martin Kallich, in "The
Meaning of Archibald Alison's Essays on Taste," argues that
Alisons treatise is a "minor classic": he finds its
"associationist critical theory . far more thoroughly
employed and certainly far more sweeping in scope than that
in any other treatise on taste or criticism throughout the
. 14
eighteenth century." Both Albrecht and Kallich allude
briefly to Alison's importance in terms of Romantic theory:
each concludes that Alison represents a strain of influence
in the air at the time of Wordsworth.
P.W.K. Stone, investigating theories of poetic compo
sition in the late Neo-Classical and early Romantic periods,
finds that Alison-along with "a group of writers who base
their theories on an aesthetics of Taste"does not "abandon

7
Neo-Classical empiricism in favour of a Romantic subjectivity";
nevertheless, Stone concedes that Alison is "among the latest
and most 'advanced' of the eighteenth-century aestheticians,
and of them all the one who comes nearest to deserving the
15
title of 'pre-Romantic.' ..." Alison, Stone maintains,
is best viewed as "indirectly preparing the ground for
Romanticism": writers such as Alison "canvassed notions
which the Romantics were later to exploitbut the Romantics
gave these ideas a very different significance, and were
only able to do so because they had entirely abandoned tra
ditional views." ^ Stone points to the conclusion of Essays
on Taste as essentially "pre-Romantic": "A passage towards
the end of his book . which proclaims this faith in the
moral value of aesthetic reactions to Nature, very strikingly
anticipates some of Wordsworth's pronouncements in the Pre
face to Lyrical Ballads and in the earlier philosophical
17
poems." Thus, even Stone, who finds the term "pre-Romantic"
of little value in literary criticism, acknowledges that
the moral or spiritual dimension of Alisons aesthetics
connects his theories with some of Wordsworth's own critical
and poetic statements.
Despite the number of studies of critical theory com
menting on Alison's importance and suggesting that he might
be of value in understanding the poetry of the nineteenth
century, writers on Wordsworth's philosophical background
have largely ignored Alison. Newton P. Stallknecht's
assertion that Wordsworth resorted to philosophy to explain

8
his "own strange communion with nature" describes to some
extent twentieth-century attitudes towards the poets
18
dependence on philosophy. Nevertheless, critics concerned
with specific sources of Wordsworth's philosophical beliefs
allude only briefly to Alison in their discussions.
Arthur Beatty, concerned primarily with Hartley's
influence on Wordsworth, describes Alison's Essays as an
application of "the principles of association to the field
19
of aesthetics." Although he acknowledges that the "Pre
face to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads" reflects
Alison's discussion of the association of ideas, he dis
misses Alison as a source of Wordsworth's thought because
Hartley originated the concept of associationism: "...
the principle was developed by Hartley, with implications
20
that are peculiar to him." Similarly, commenting on
Alison's thesis that uniformity and variety are essential
qualities of art, Beatty dismisses Alison in favor of
Hartley on rather subjective grounds:
Hartley's exposition of the principle is the
same as Alison's in its general outline; but
he gives a special coloring to it, so that it
is rather clear that Wordsworth probably had
it in mind when explaining the principle of
his own poetry. x
Stallknecht, who argues primarily for the influence of
Boehme and Spinoza, makes brief allusions to Alison in his
chapter entitled "Hartley Transcendentalized by Coleridge."
Stallknecht cites the concept of the imagination as a
function of "consciousness" dependent on sensation and
association as a principle "Wordsworth may very well have

9
borrowed" from "an acquaintance more or less intimate, with
. 22
the writing of Hartley and Alison." He justifies his em
phasis on Boehme rather than on Alison by noting that Words
worth is a mystic while Alison is an eighteenth-century
23
associationist.
Leonard Trawick and Willard Sperry allude directly to
Alisonian ideas in Wordsworth's work. Trawick asserts that
the second edition of Essays on Taste has a "much more
Wordsworthian conclusion" than the first, strongly implying
that at least a similarity of ideas exists between the two
24
writers. Sperry maintains that Wordsworth's prefaces pro
vide evidence that he had "read, marked, learned" his
Alison, basing his statement on "the similarity of their
arguments," and finds that "at certain points the identities
25
of a technical vocabulary prove the point." Because of
the significant connection between Wordsworth's poetry and
his literary criticism, it is likely that Wordsworth's
2 6
poetry as well as his criticism reflects Alison's ideas.
The secondary sources on the subject of Wordsworth
and Alison, then, indicate some significant points for con
sideration in this study. The biographical evidence similarly
shows Alison's value as an analogue for a study of Words
worth's poetry. Such evidence implies that Wordsworth was
acquainted with the ideas in Essays on Taste; furthermore
Alison associated with many important literary figures in
Scotland and England and paid a visit to the Wordsworth
home at Rydal Mount. I am not attempting to prove that

10
Wordsworth read Alison and was directly influenced by his
ideas but rather to suggest that Alison's value as an analogue
is enhanced by the evidence that the two writers were
acquainted and shared certain literary concerns.
The first edition of Essays was published in 1790 while
Alison resided in England, and Wordsworth may well have been
familiar with Alison's ideas soon after this time. Critics
such as Tuveson, Albrecht, and Kallich maintain that the
great influence of Alison's essays dates from its second
(1811) edition and Francis Jeffrey's admiring exposition of
the theories in The Edinburgh Review. Jeffrey's discussion
is a detailed summary of Alison's theory of aesthetics, which
undoubtedly made such theories familiar even to those who
had not read Alison. There is much evidence for Wordsworth's
familiarity with The Edinburgh Review: the periodical pub
lished not only Jeffrey's praise of Alison but also his
27
scathing attacks on Wordsworth's poetry. Since by 1811
Alison's reputation was well established, Wordsworth cer
tainly knew of him by this time. Alison's essays enjoyed
continued popularity: he frequently revised them until
2 8
they reached a sixth edition in 1825.
Alison's relationship with many important figures of
letters can readily be documented. Alison, as his son's
autobiography notes, became acquainted with Thomas Reid and
29
xAdam Smith at Glasgow College, and his wife (Dorothea
Gregory) was raised by Mrs. Montagu "in the midst of a
brilliant and intellectual circle" that included Burke,

11
Reynolds, Fox, and Goldsmith.^ Alison's son notes that his
parents first parsonage (Sudbury in Northamptonshire) was
visited by "many distinguished persons who had formed an
31
intimacy with [his] mother in London." Similarly, he
maintains that his father's eight-year tenure in Kenley
before leaving England for Scotland reflected literary as
well as clerical concerns:
He was adored by his parishioners, highly re
spected by the neighboring country gentlemen,
and visited occasionally by the first literary
characters in the country. His life consisted
of that mixture of literary study with active
beneficence and easy independence, which is the
most favoured state of human existence. ^
After his move to Scotland, Alison showed continued interest
in English literary concerns. Alison's name appears among
the list of subscribers to Coleridge's periodical, The
33
Friend, published in a ten-month period in 1809 and 1810.
Because the periodical included both prose and verse by
Wordsworth, Alison was likely to be familiar with the poet's
work. Furthermore, Coleridge knew Alison and alluded to him
34
briefly in his "Essays on the Fine Arts."
In addition to indirect proof placing Wordsworth and
Alison in the same cultural milieu, a letter written by
Sara Hutchinson to Mary Wordsworth (September 11, 1820)
documents Wordsworth's knowledge of Alison. At this time,
Wordsworth, Dorothy, and Mary were on a continental tour,
and Sara Hutchinson was writing from Rydal Mount, the
35
Wordsworth home, to her sister Mary in Paris. Hutchinson
relates that she returned from Rydal Hall, home of the

12
Flemings, to Rydal Mount and found calling cards from "Revd
Archd Allison" [sic] and "Revd Dr. Batfield." She assumes
that both Mary and William, whom she also addresses in the
letter, need no explanation of who Alison is. Batfield, on
the other hand, must be identified as "a friend of T.M.'s
[Thomas Monkhcuse, her favorite cousin] who has been at
Grasmere some days. . Furthermore, her allusion to
Alison and Batfield causes her to reflect: "Lots of People
come upon the Mount who say they know Mr. W. & should have
3 6
called if he had been at home. ..." This reflection
seems based upon her assumption that Alison had said he
knew Wordsworth, and certainly his visit would indicate
an interest in, and a knowledge of, the poet's works.
Wordsworth and Alison share Anglican beliefs as well
as literary concerns. Wordsworth's connection with Angli
canism undoubtedly constitutes a valuable tie with Alison;
both men, in any case, emphasize the spiritual dimension of
the aesthetic response in ways that seem especially con
sistent with the quality of their Anglican faith.
Although Alison was born in Scotland, from the time he
took his orders in the Anglican Church in 1784, until 1800
when he returned to Edinburgh, he resided in England as a
clergyman. Alison's sermons were "much admired during his
3 7
lifetime," and Wordsworth's "devotion to the Church of
3 8
England"- could well have aligned him with the spiritual
dimension of the aesthetic process as Alison presents it in
his sermons. Despite the diversity of critical opinion

13
concerning the precise nature of Wordsworth's religious be
liefs, Moorman's biographical study suggests that Anglican
beliefs constitute an element of continuity throughout Words-
39
worth's poetic career. It is, therefore, logical (and
necessary) to investigate Alison's sermons as well as his
aesthetic treatise to understand the spiritual value of the
aesthetic response.
The following chapters explore the insight into Words
worth's poetry afforded by a knowledge of Alison and examine
selected poems in terms of specific Alisonian concepts and
diction. To explore all of Wordsworth's poetry in terms of
Alison is beyond the scope of this study. I treat both
familiar and unfamiliar poems which share thematic, and in
many cases verbal, affinities, with Alison's essays. The
development is generally thematic: the first three chapters
focus on aspects of Alison's spiritual aestheticsthe
natural education of the child, the moral dangers of the
city, and ethical standards appropriate to maturity.
"Tintern Abbey," because of its importance in Wordsworth's
poetic development and because it reflects the spiritual
value of the aesthetic response so fully, is treated in a
separate chapter.

14
Notes
Walter Jackson Bate, From Classic to Romantic: Pre
mises of Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (1946; rpt.
New York: Harper and Row, 1961) pp. 113-14.
^Bate, p. 102.
3
Ernest Lee Tuveson, The Imagination as a Means of
Grace; Locke and the Aesthetics of Romanticism (Berkeley;
Univ. of California Press, 1960), p. 210.
4
Tuveson, p. 186.
5
Tuveson, p. 188.
6
Tuveson, p. 190.
7
Samuel H. Monk, The Sublime: A Study of Critical
Ann
Arbor:
Univ. of
^Monk,
P-
150.
^Monk,
P
154.
10*, ,
Monk,
P-
152.
"^Monk,
P*
149.
the
^Walter John Hi-
Picturesque in E
Theory (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1957),
pp. 13*8-59 .
W.P. Albrecht, "Archibald Alison and the Sublime
Pleasures of Tragedy," in Romantic and Victorian: Studies
in Memory of William H. Marshall, ed. W. Paul Elledge and
Richard L. Hoffman (Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson
Univ. Press, 1971), p. 233.
14
Martin Kallich, "The Meaning of Archibald Alison's
Essays on Taste," Philological Quarterly, 27 (October 1948),
314. "

15
P.W.K. Stone, The Art of Poetry, 1750-1820; Theories
of Poetic Composition and Style in the Late Neo-Classic and
Early Romantic Periods (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1967), p. 93. In the group of writers concerned with "an
aesthetics of Taste," Stone includes Hugh Blair, Alexander
Gerard, James Beattie, Lord Karnes, Joseph Priestley, and
Sir Joshua Reynolds (p. 174).
^Stone, p. 96.
17
Stone, pp. 175-76.
18
Newton P. Stallknecht, Wordsworth and Philosophy:
Suggestions Concerning the Source of the Poet's Doctrines
and the Nature of His Mystical Experience (New York: n.p.,
1929) p. 1~. Two studies which describe the relationship
between the mind and external nature in Wordsworth's poetry
are Colin C. Clarke's Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the
Poetry of Wordsworth (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962) and
Alan Grob's The Philosophic Mind: A Study of Wordsworth's
Poetry and Thought, 1797-1805 (Columbus: Ohio State Univ.
Press, 1973). Exploring theWordsworthian relationship be
tween the internal and the external by exploiting the delib
erate ambiguity of key terms such as "image," "shape," and
"form," Clarke concludes that most of the poetry of the
"great decade" (1897-1806) treats the "ambiguity of percep
tion" (p. 53) and that the poet's discovery of his main
theme, "the place of mind in nature," coincides with his
use of aesthetic terminology "with a greatly increased range
of suggestion" (p. 26). Grob's study presents ideas similar
to those of Clarke. Although he does not focus on aesthetic
diction to the extent that Clarke does, he finds that to
define the relationship between "the world and the self"
the poet employs a vocabulary that is "uncompromisingly
sensationalistic" (p. 34). Like Clarke, Grob finds the
interaction between the mind and nature a major theme in
Wordsworth's poetry (especially that written between 1797
and 1800) (p. 13).
19
Arthur Beatty, William Wordsworth: His Doctrine and
Art in Their Historical Relations, 3rd ed. (Madison: Univ.
of Wisconsin Press, 1960) pT 49.
^Beatty, pp. 49-51.
ZxBeatty, p. 45.
22
Newton P. Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought:
Studies in Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature, 2nd
ed. (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1958), p. 34.

16
23
Stallknecht, Strange Seas of Thought, p. 251.
24
Leonard M. Trawick, ed., Backgrounds of Romanticism;
English Philosophical Prose of the Eighteenth Century
(Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1967) p. xxiii.
?5 .
Willard L. Sperry, Wordsworth's Anti-Climax, Harvard
Studies in English, 13 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press,
1935) p. 131.
2 6
W.J.B. Owen, editor of Wordsworth's Literary Criticism
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 19 74) comments on this
relationship: "Wordsworth's literary criticism springs from
his creative writings: it is almost invariably a defence of
his own poetry" (p. 1).
27
Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth: A Biography, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65) TT7 100-01, 261.
2 8
Leslie Stephen, "Archibald Alison," in Dictionary of
National Biography, ed. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, 22
vols. (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1937), I, 287.
29
Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: An Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 4.
30 .. ,
Alison, I, 6.
^^Alison, I, 8.
3?
Alison, I, 9.
33
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Friend, ed. Barbara E.
Rooke, Vol. IV of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, Bollingen Series, 75, 2 vols. (London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1969), II, 411.
^Kallich, p. 314.
^5
Sara Hutchinson, The Letters of Sara Hutchinson from
1800 to 1835, ed. Kathleen Coburn (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1954), p. 198.
3 g
Hutchinson, p. 201.
"^Stephen, I, 287.

17
O O
Moorman, II, 478.
39
Moorman discusses Wordsworths connection with
Anglicanism in detail (II, 473-87). While much of her dis
cussion treats the poet's belief concerning "the beneficent
influence of the Anglican Church on society" (II, 473), she
notes that Wordsworth continued to view the Church of Eng
land "as a rock of refuge in the raging sea of change" (II,
478) and campaigned to obtain better educated Anglican clergy
men for the parishes in the Lake District (II, 483). Richard
E. Brantley (Wordsworth1s "Natural Methodism" [New Haven:
Yale Univ. Press, 1975]), like Moorman, argues for the in
fluence of Anglicanism rather than a secular theology, but
he maintains that Evangelical Anglicanism was the primary
force affecting the poet. The third volume of Hoxie Neale
Fairchild's Religious Trends in English Poetry (New York:
Columbia Univ"[ Press, 1949) describes the unorthodox nature
of Wordsworth's religion, and James G. Benziger's Images of
Eternity: Studies in the Poetry of Religious Vision from
Wordsworth to T.S. Eliot (Carbondale: Southern Illinois
Univ. Press, 1962) shows how the poet found in nature a
substitute for traditional religious belief.

CHAPTER I
THE NATURAL EDUCATION OF THE CHILD
During the eighteenth century children became a subject
of more concern than they had been in previous centuries, and,
by the beginning of the nineteenth century, philosophers
such as Locke and writers such as Rousseau were influencing
theories of child development among the Romantic poets.^
Scholars, including Basil Willey, Colin Clarke, and Alan
Grob, have argued that Wordsworth made the figure of the
child an essential part of his poetic doctrine, and that
the Wordsworthian child finds in the natural world an impor
tant determinant of his future character; but of course such
scholars have come to varying conclusions as to the exact
nature of the childs function in Wordsworth's aesthetics,
2
and as to how nature shapes a particular character. Early
twentieth-century scholars,such as Irving Babbitt and F.L.
Lucas, and more recent critics, such as Jacques Barzun,
J.H. van den Berg, and Owen Barfield, have stressed Rousseaus
influence as an important source of Wordsworth's idealized
and highly favorable view of childhood, but such scholars
have differed as to whether Rousseau's influence was a
salutary one, and they do not sufficiently recognize that
Wordsworth's view of childhood is considerably less senti
mental and considerably more complex than an exclusive con-
3
centration on Rousseaus influence tends to indicate.
18

19
These various explanations for Wordsworth's interest in
the child, when taken together, come at the whole truth more
successfully than would any narrow approach based on the
assumption that the poet was greatly concerned to remain
always consistent with some single codified philosophy or
exclusionary theory of child development. Alison, however,
is closer than Rousseau and Locke to Wordsworth's place and
time; he was aware of almost a century's response to Locke's
view of nature as the child's prime educator; and his view
of childhood includes the unsentimental and unpsychologized
(in short the un-Rousseauistic) view of childhood that is
also to be found throughout Wordsworth's poetry. Alison's
Essays on Taste and his collected sermons, moreover, present
the child in several contexts, and when these writings are
seen as a valuable analogue to Wordsworth's poetry, they
yield some especially manageable, suggestive, and hitherto
neglected examples of the many ideas of childhood that were
easily available to the poet. A concentration on Alison in
the study of this particular subject of childhood may seem
too narrowly based, but because of the variety in his views,
such a concentration can lead to several lines of inquiry
and therefore to the entertainment of multiple and hitherto
unconsidered hypotheses concerning the historical base of
Wordsworth's central interest in this single period of human
life.
I shall argue, for example, that Wordsworth, like Alison,
treats the child as an object of aesthetic delight,

20
concentrates on the child's growth amid (and because of) a
setting of natural objects, shows how religious sentiments
such as piety arise from contact with the natural world,
describes the divine protection afforded the child, and sees
the child's earthly activity within the framework of an
ideal world as represented by the "celestial home," an image
of preexistence. Alison is an especially interesting
analogue to Wordsworth insofar as the minister/aesthetician,
like Wordsworth in his capacity as both poet and deep
religious thinker, somehow manages to see the child as an
object of aesthetic interest at the same time that he shows
concern for the child's spiritual welfare. If there is a
common theme among the diverse views of childhood that I
think Wordsworth and Alison share, it is their perhaps not
fully articulated but nevertheless strongly implicit paradox
that beauty is truth and truth beauty, or that the spiritual
and the aesthetic, in these two writers, coexist and even
coalesce to some extent. An awareness of this strange co
existence can contribute to the practical criticism of
Wordsworth's worksor at least a sample of them.
Because the theme of childhood is found in much of
Wordsworth's poetry, it is necessary to limit this study
to those selections that best illustrate the poet's concern
with the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of the child's
development. One could choose for discussion "Tintern
Abbey," "Michael," almost any of the "Poems Referring to the
Period of Childhood," or parts of The Excursion because such

21
works contain numerous references to the child; however,
"Tintern Abbey" and "Michael" are treated at length in other
chapters, and the scattered allusions to childhood in The
Excursion are subordinated to the predominant theme of
intellectual and philosophical maturity. Rather than treat
all of the "Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood," I
have chosen to treat only the following, which seem especially
close to the spirit of Alison: "Foresight," "The Westmore
land Girl," "The Idle Shepherd-Boys," "Anecdote for Fathers,"
"The Pet-Lamb," "To H. C.," "Characteristics of a Child
Three Years Old," and "My Heart Leaps Up." Two other short
poems, "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower" and "It Is
a Beauteous Evening," are included in this discussion because
they illustrate clearly the child's relationship with nature.
I have chosen also to treat the first two books of The
Prelude, which describe in detail the child's growth amid a
setting of natural forms, and to include Wordsworth's por
trait of the city child in Book VII, because it suggests
the type of divine protection that even children denied con
tact with nature enjoy. Finally, this discussion includes
"Ode; Intimations of Immortality," a poem glorifying the
child's ability to gain knowledge intuitively and reflecting
an Alisonian concern with the originand inevitable fading
of the child's powers. An examination of these poems within
the framework of Alison's philosophy should help to clarify
these topics of discussion: the child as an object of
aesthetic delight, his association with natural objects

22
and the piety emerging from such contacts (the process of
spiritual development), and finally the concept of pre
existence, the "celestial home" the child leaves to inhabit
the earth.
Before tracing the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of
Wordsworth's theme of child development in the light of
Alisonian terminology, it may be helpful not only to indicate
further the incompleteness of our current understanding of
Wordsworths interest in childhood as a subject of poetry,
but also to establish some pertinent biographical evidence
from the lives of both Wordsworth and Alison.
A. Charles Babenroth, in his dated but recently re
printed standard study, provides an extensive treatment of
Wordsworths poetry of childhood. Describing Wordsworth
4
as the "poet of childhood," Babenroth notes the number of
occurrences of the word "child" and its variants in the
Wordsworth Concordance and finds that these allusions to
childhood suggest its central position in the poet's
philosophy. He finds that the poet uses the word "child"
over four hundred times; "babe" and "baby," over one. hundred
times; "infant," over one hundred and twenty-five times;
"girl," fifty times; and "boy," over two hundred and fifty
times.^
The fact, that Wordsworth uses nouns denoting childhood
and infancy approximately one thousand times in his poetry
appears especially significant when one compares the poet's
extensive use of such words with his use of other common

23
nouns. The word "grass," for example, appears only seventy-
five times in this nature poet's poetry, and even a more
richly connotative word such as "sky" and its plural form
appear only two hundred and seventy-five times. The word
"adult" does not appear in the Concordance (despite the
fact that the French-Latin loanword was fully naturalized
by the middle of the seventeenth century), and the word
"woman" and its plural appear only ninety-one times. The
word "man," which (together with its plural form) occurs
approximately one thousand times, appears to be the poet's
favorite word for designating an adult; however, this number
is misleading because Wordsworth uses the word not only
to denote an adult male but also to refer to any human being,
g
a group including children as well as adults of both sexes.
In addition to using linguistic analysis to establish
the importance of the child in Wordsworth's poetry, and
examining such allusions to discern the poet's interest in
the individual child, Babenroth also discusses Wordsworth's
humanitarian interest in the child. He describes Words
worth as an advocate of the natural rights of children, one
who condemned child labor abuses and who was concerned with
7
"practical problems of education." Babenroth's concern
with such issues, however, causes him to ignore the poet's
interest in aesthetics:
With childhood, he associated all that is
beautiful and ennobling in life. In child
hood man lives closest to nature, and it was
his firm belief that England could be saved
only if Englishmen would live simply in
communion with nature. His interest in nature

24
and children was not that of an esthete; he
was a humanitarian who inherited the ethical
interests of the benevolists from Thomson to
Southey.
Similarly, Hoxie Fairchild's discussion of Wordsworth's
"naturalism" focuses primarily on ethical concerns:
. other things being equal, the excellence of human
beings is in proportion to the number and richness of their
contacts with nature." As a corollary to this statement,
Fairchild bases Wordsworth's glorification of the child on
the "richness" of the child's associations with the natural
9
worldhis "fresh and lively perceptions." Although both
Babenroth's and Fairchild's studies are dated, the fact that
they have recently been reprinted indicates that their mis
conceptions are probably still widely held. Their extended
treatments of the subject of childhood indicate its impor
tance to an understanding of Wordsworth, but neither enter
tains the possibility that the poet's interest in the child
could have an aesthetic as well as an ethical basis nor
explains precisely how the child is enriched through his
contacts with nature.
Not only do several of his poems allude to children,
but as early as 1809 Wordsworth began to plan an arrangement
for the 1815 edition of his miscellaneous poems whereby he
would devote the entire first division to "Poems Referring
to Childhood." James Scoggins, explaining the various
changes in Wordsworth's organizational plan, notes that
the "arrangement of his miscellaneous poems" has "guaranteed
relevance"consequently, it is possible to see Wordsworth's

25
arrangement as indicating, for example, his emphasis on the
feelings that arise in the mind of the adult when he con
templates childhood. The arrangement, in any case,
certainly points to the thematic centrality of childhood
and thus demands critical attention.
Biographical evidence also points to the importance
of childhood for Wordsworth. Witness, for example, his
attempt to raise Basil Montagu, Jr., as a "child of nature."
He not only expressed the poetic ideal of the child's
natural education but also felt qualified to test his theory
on a child "living rather miserably" with his father, an
unhappy widower who "apparently reverted to wild habits and
intemperance." Montagu described his association with
Wordsworth as a "fortunate event" and recognized the poet's
concern for Basil, Jr.: "In the wreck of my happiness he
i 2
saw the probable ruin of my infant." By the middle of
the summer of 1795, a plan had been formulated arranging
13
for the child to be raised by the Wordsworths.
Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy thus began their
experiment in teaching Basil to grow up as a "child of
nature." Having noted in 1795 that Basil was "yet by no
means a spoiled child notwithstanding the disadvantages
14
under which he has laboured," Dorothy later explains the
Wordsworths' "system respecting Basil":
We teach him nothing at present but what he
learns from the evidence of his senses. He
has an insatiable curiosity which we are
always careful to satisfy to the best of
our ability. It is directed to everything

26
he sees, the sky, the fields, trees, shrubs,
corn. . Our grand study has been to make
him happy in which we have not been altogether
disappointed; he is certainly the most contented
child I ever saw; the least disposed to be
fretful.
Despite the initial success of the Wordsworths' plan, Basil's
extensive contacts with the natural world failed to have the
permanently beneficial effects on his character and happiness
the natural education was designed to effect. His moral
development failed to keep pace with the good health he en
joyed; in 1796 Wordsworth wrote that "Basil is quite well,
quant au physique, mais pour le moral il-y-a bien a craindre.
16
Among other things he lies like a little devil." A final
portrait of Basil in the winter of 1813 reveals that, never
cured of his childhood tendency to lie, he began to abuse
the Wordsworths, stating they had "treated him with cruelty"
when he lived with them. Until his death in 1830 Basil,
having a "diseased mind," lived in a state of "illness and
17
unhappiness." Although Wordsworth's experiment wxth Basil
indicates his concern with the education of children, it
also suggests that his ideal of the natural education of the
child is not necessarily successful when applied to the
practical concerns of child rearing. Perhaps this relatively
early episode in Wordsworth's biography led him to explore
in his poetry the relation between natural education and
practical morality.
Biographical evidence concerning Alison, combined with
the evidence found in his essays and sermons, suggests a
similar conviction that the type of education the child

27
receives determines his future character and happiness, and
in Alison's case the connection between morality and natural
education is strong and clear. Alison's son describes his
father's devotion to nature and explains that all of the
children "grew up with the same habits, and indelibly
received the same impressions":
A devoted worshipper of Nature, my father was
firmly impressed with the conviction, so con
spicuous in his writings, that the best feelings
of the heart were to be drawn from her influences,
and the purest enjoyments from her contemplation.18
In accordance with his belief that devotion to nature af
fords spiritual benefits as well as the "purest enjoyments,"
Alison took steps to insure that his children would enjoy
these benefits:
Each child had its little garden, which was
assiduously cultivated by its own hands;
. . and the reward of good conduct was to
accompany our father on walks "out of bounds"
to the copse woods, heaths, or brakes in the
vicinity, to bring in the prettiest specimens
of wild flowers for our little parterres.^
Alison's son reports that as a young adult he is able to
assimilate the messages of his father's sermons with the
natural education he had received as a child, noting that
his father "loved to trace the analogies between natural
and revealed religion, and to work out the finger of God
alike in the greatest changes of the moral as in the
minutest objects of the physical world. ..." He concludes
that his natural education and his father's sermons "moulded
20
our principles and views of life."

28
Alison's writings reflect the importance of properly
educating the child much as his training of his own children
does. Essays on Taste, concerned with the associations
natural objects evoke, contains numerous allusions to the
child's contact with natural stimuli. Moreover, the second
of the two essays concludes with a passage emphasizing the
importance of providing the young with a natural education:
It is on this account that it is of so much con
sequence in the education of the Young, to en
courage their instinctive taste for the Beauty
and Sublimity of Nature. While it opens to the
years of infancy or youth a source of pure, and
of permanent enjoyment, it has consequences on
the character and happiness of future life, which
they are unable to foresee. ... It is to lay
the foundation of an early and of a manly piety
. . to make them look upon the universe which
they inhabit, not as the abode only of human
cares, or human joys, but as the temple of the
Living God, in which praise is due, and where 21
service is to be performed. (II, 6, ii, 446-47)
The significance of Alisons essays, as indicated by his em
phatic placement of the passage on childhood, resides not
only in the aesthetic concept of discovering the beauty
and sublimity of the natural world but also in the spiritual
applications of his aesthetic principles: the conclusion,
like the essays themselves, moves from the child's education
in the natural world to his acceptance of the natural world
as God's "temple."
Alison's sermons reflect a similar concern with child
hood. The fact that Alison's collected sermons are separate
entities and are not arranged thematically makes it diffi
cult to trace a merger of the aesthetic and spiritual aspects
of the child's natural education; however, ideas similar to

29
those found in his essays appear throughout his sermons.
Thirty of his forty-five collected sermons include allu
sions to a child or to his education, and many of the
sermons not concerned with childhood, such as "On the
Thanksgiving for the Victory at Trafalgar" and "On the
Jubilee, Appointed for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the
King's Accession," are topical; Alison's childhood theme
was clearly a central one. The fact that the second of
the two volumes is dedicated to "the Young of the Congre
gation of the Cowgate Chapel, Edinburgh," with "Every Wish
for Their Present, and Every Prayer for Their Final
Happiness," further indicates his emphasis on the child's
22
education.
Thus, Wordsworth and Alison share an interest in the
child, a concern reflected both in their personal lives and
in the number of writings devoted to such a theme. In
Alison's essays one finds a Wordsworthian concern for the
child both as an object of aesthetic delight and as an
example of religious devotion and piety. In fact, the
aesthetic delight the child provides merges with an
appreciation of his spiritual qualities.
For both Wordsworth and Alison the delight one
experiences in viewing the child parallels the delight one
experiences in viewing other objects in nature. In fact,
for both writers the child is closely associated with
natural objects, specifically those characterizing spring.
For example, Alison relates the delicate forms of young

30
plants and animals to man's infancy and youth:
In the Vegetable Kingdom, the infancy or youth
of plants is, in general, distinguished by
winding Forms. The infancy and youth of
animals is, in the same manner, distinguished
by winding or serpentine Forms; their mature
and perfect age, by Forms more direct and
angular. In consequence of this connection,
Forms of the first kind become in such cases
expressive to us of Infancy, and Tenderness,
and Delicacy. . (Essays, II, 4, i, 331-32)
Furthermore, Alison describes winding forms as the "most
beautiful" (Essays, II, 4, i, 339), noting that such forms
also suggest "ease," freedom from "force" or "constraint"
(Essays, II, 4, i, 334).
Alison finds the budding flower an especially appro
priate metaphor for the child. Citing the rosebud as an
exception to his statement that winding forms are the
most beautiful, Alison notes that the beauty and delicacy
of the flower reside not in its winding form but in the
associations it evokes:
How much more beautiful is the Rose Tree when
its buds begin to blow, than afterwards when
its flowers are full and in their greatest
perfection! yet in this first situation, its
Form has much less winding surface, and is
much more composed of straight lines and of
angles, than afterwards, when the weight of
the flower weighs down the feeble branches,
and describes the easiest and most varied
curves. The circumstance of its youth, a
circumstance in all cases so affecting; the
delicacy of its blossom, so well expressed by
the care which nature has taken in surrounding
the opening bud with leaves, prevail so much
upon our Imagination, that we behold the Form
itself with more delight in this situation,
than afterwards, when it assumes the more
general Form of delicacy. (Essays, II, 4, i,
360-61)

31
In addition to establishing the similarity of one's aesthetic
response to the "circumstance of youth" in flowers and to
other manifestations of youth by describing how all such
forms "affect" or excite one's emotions, Alison also suggests
the role of nature as youth's guardian and protector.
Aesthetic concerns merge with the spiritual as the protected
bud evokes the association of the divine protection afforded
the child. Even when Alison refers to the "bloom of youth"
(Essays, II, 6, ii, 237) in his comments on the beauty and
sublimity of color, he clarifies the metaphor of the flower
to indicate that the beauty of youth's color depends on its
"pleasing" or "interesting" associations, not on any quality
inherent in the color itself (Essays, II, 6, ii, 236).
The animal kingdom presents similar symbols of youth.
For both Alison and Wordsworth the lamb is especially appro
priate as a symbol of innocence: "The plaintive and in
teresting bleat of the Lamb ceases to be beautiful whenever
it ceases to be the sign of infancy, and the call for that
tenderness which the infancy of all animals so naturally
demands" (Essays, II, 2, i, 231). Thus, the lamb's beauty
derives from its associations with infancy and spring.
Alison finds a "love of innocence" one of the moral
"impressions" one should associate with spring, "the
youth of the year":
It reminds us of our own infancy, when the mind
was pure, and the heart was happy. It reminds
us of that original innocence in which man was
created, and for the loss of which no attainments
of mortality can make any compensation. ("On
Spring," I, 36)

32
Even the forms and motions of childhood are beautiful
to the observer. Alison refers to the "Beauty of the
attitudes or gestures of infancy, of the careless play of
limbs, and the elastic vigour of motion, which distinguish
that happy age" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 371). He further notes
that we "expect mirth and joy in Infancy" (Essays, II, 6, ii,
291) and that the "bright or brilliant Eye" of the child,
signifying "Happiness, Vivacity, and Gaiety" can evoke the
emotion of beauty (Essays, II, 6, ii, 223).
Many of Wordsworth's "Poems Referring to the Period of
Childhood" describe the child in terms understandable in
the light of an Alisonian emphasis on both the child as an
aesthetic object and the child's association with the natural
world. The adult beholds children with delight because their
motions and gestures indicate their lack of restraint and
their freedom from external control. Most of the poems in
this group place the child in the natural world and allude
to specific qualities Alison outlines in his description of
childhood.
Wordsworth identifies the child with young plants and
animals of the natural world much as Alison does. For
example, "Foresight" presents children picking flowers, and
"The Westmoreland Girl" is presented as an "opening flower"
23
(1. 80). The image of the iamb occurs repeatedly in this
group of poems. "The Idle Shepherd-Boys" and "The Westmore
land Girl" concern the rescue of a lamb, lambs are at play
when the poet questions young Edward in "Anecdote for

33
Fathers," and "The Pet-Lamb" features a child's conversation
with a lamb. Wordsworth also uses the metaphor of the child
as a lamb to express his fears for Hartley Coleridge's future
("To H. C."). The poet consoles himself by suggesting that
Hartley will be spared the loss of innocence and joy that
normally attends adult life:
Nature will either end thee quite;
Or, lengthening out thy season of delight,
Preserve for thee, by individual right,
A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks.
(11. 21-24)
Although Wordsworth may be merely expressing the hope that
Hartley will be able to maintain the essence of innocence
and joy throughout adult life, his emphasis on the child's
inability to "sustain unkindly shocks" (1. 28) suggests
that he is able to view Hartley as subject only to mortality,
not to the loss of innocence that would characterize adult
life.
Various characteristics of the child emphasized in
Alison's aesthetic theory appear in Wordsworth's shorter
poems of childhood. The children of Wordsw7orth's poems
manifest joy, their motions and gestures characterized by
freedom from restraint. In outlining the "Characteristics
of a Child Three Years Old," Wordsworth finds that adults
"take delight in its activity" (1. 10); he also emphasizes
the child's happiness:
. . this happy Creature of herself
Is all-sufficient; solitude to her
Is blithe society. . (11. 11-13)

34
Furthermore, Wordsworth notes that her "Innocence" affords
a kind of "dignity" to the child's "laughing eyes" and ran
dom motions:
Loving she is, and tractable, though wild;
And Innocence hath privilege in her
To dignify arch looks and laughing eyes;
And feats of cunning. . (11. 1-4)
In Alison's aesthetic terms the adult beholds the child with
delight because the "attitudes or gestures of infancy"
(Essays, II, 6, ii, 371) and the "bright or brilliant Eye"
of the child satisfy both the adult's expectation of "joy
and mirth" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 291) and his aesthetic sense
of beauty.
Similar attributes of childhood noted by Alison are
reflected in Wordsworth's observation of Hartley Coleridge
("To H. C."). The poet views the "happy child" as a
"blessed vision" (1. 11) and emphasizes his "breeze-like
motion" (1. 4) and his "exquisitely wild" state (1. 12).
The use of the word "exquisitely" reinforces the idea that
the child is viewed as an object of aesthetic interest.
According to the OED, an "exquisite" object is "of such
consummate excellence, beauty, or perfection, as to excite
intense delight or admiration." This definition reflects
both of Alison's aesthetic terms "beauty" and "delight"
and suggests that Wordsworth's interest in the child is
aesthetic as well as ethical.
For both Wordsworth and Alison aesthetic interests
yield to a concern for the child's spiritual development.
Bo.th writers view the child as afforded a type of divine

35
protection but acknowledge that he needs some type of edu
cation to lead him from the love of the beauty of the natural
world to the love of man and the love of God. Both insist
that religious devotion is natural for the child, and both
outline the benefits of youthful piety.
The ideal of the natural education, as outlined by
Alison, is central to Wordsworth's philosophy. Alison
describes the ideal education for the child, an ideal few
enjoy in reality:
There are few who have been taught in infancy
to raise their minds to the contemplation of
His works; who love to kindle their adoration
at the altar of Nature, or to lose themselves
in astonishment amid the immensity of the
universe; and who thus "seeing Him with their
eyes," learn to associate the truths of religion
with all the most valued emotions of their
hearts. ("On Spring," I, 24)
In childhood a "natural impulse" "leads us to meditation
and praise" ("On Spring," I, 25-26). The failure to provide
children associations with the natural world tends "to
chill the native sensibility of [their] minds to devotion;
and to render religion rather the gloomy companion of the
church and the closet, than the animating friend of [their]
ordinary hours" ("On Spring," I, 24).
Although both Wordsworth and Alison prefer to view the
child in a natural setting, they acknowledge that even the
child denied contact with nature is afforded a type of
divine protection. In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth
presents a child in the city who is surrounded by a crowd
of "spectators," "dissolute men / And shameless women"

36
24
(VII, 360-61). Despite his surroundings, the child is the
product of nature rather than the product of his "alien"
environment: "He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose / Just
three parts blowna cottage-child . ." (VII, 352-53).
Physically removed from natural forms, he is at the same
time afforded nature's protection:
Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer
Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked
By special privilege of Nature's love,
Should in his childhood be detained for ever I
(VII, 373-76)
Alison's sermon "On Evil Communication" helps to explain
why childhood is such an enviable state and why Wordsworth
wishes the city child could be forever "detained" in child
hood. The child is provided with a "guardian" to protect
him from the "dangers of passion and inexperience" ("On
Evil Communication," I, 241) and is guided by the "hand of
nature" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). Alison further
explains that "an unseen arm" conducts children "through
the dawn of their infant journey" ("On Summer," I, 194).
Another advantage of childhood is the unimpaired innocence
the child enjoys: "In almost every case the young begin
well. They come out of the hand of nature pure and un
corrupted" ("On Evil Communication," I, 240). As Words
worth indicates, however, the unimpaired innocence that
permits the child of Book VII of The Prelude to associate
with corrupted adults "Like one of those who walked with
hair unsinged / Amid the fiery furnace" (VII, 369-70) will
not always afford him such protection:

37
. . [he] may now have lived till he could look
With envy on thy [the Maid of Buttermeres]
nameless babe that sleeps,
Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed.
(VII, 379-81)
If the child grows to adulthood and is afforded no protec
tion from the corruption surrounding him, he may be envious
of the infant who "sleeps in earth / . fearless as a
lamb" (VII, 324-25).
If the concept of a natural education Wordsworth and
Alison express is interpreted literally, the ideal child
would be the one provided the most contacts with the natural
world. Fairchild sees the Lucy lyric "Three Years She Grew
in Sun and Shower" as the expression of such an ideal:
His sense of nature's benign influence makes him
imagine a child wholly under the tutelage of
nature. He would have been the first to admit
that actual children need education, provided it
is of a sort to develop rather than warp the
natural virtues.25
As Fairchild warns, the poem is not to be considered a
26
"pedagogical treatise"; perhaps it is best considered a
lyric expression of Wordsworth's belief that goodness and
virtue can result from continued association with nature.
Lucy1s association with natural forms is a total expression
of her identity: she and nature are merged. Only in the
1802 version of the poem does Wordsworth use the word
"teacher" to describe the relationship of nature to Lucy:
"Her teacher I myself will be ." (1. 7). In the
standard version of the poem, the relationship between
Lucy and nature is more abstract: "Myself will to my
darling be / Both law and impulse ..." (11. 7-8). Lucy

38
acquires "grace," a quality Alison associates with spiritual
development, merely by association with natural forms:
The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; for her the willow bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the Storm
Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form
By silent sympathy. (11. 19-24)
As a logical consequence of their merged identity, nature
lays claim to Lucy and leaves the persona of the poem with
only her memory.
There is evidence in both Wordsworth and Alison to
suggest that Lucy's education is only an ideal. Alison
notes that if "the young were left only to nature and them
selves, it is reasonable to think that they might pass this
important period of life without danger" ("On Evil Communi
cation," I, 241-42); however, he observes that in reality
the external forces of "evil communication" begin to "assail"
the young ("On Evil Communication," I, 242). For this
reason Alison insists that the child's natural education
must be supplemented by religious training:
. . the religious affections which are to form
the great distinction of maturity, must be
awakened and exercised in youth; and they
signify to us, that, to guide the youthful mind
to the early love of God, is the great end to
which all labours, and cares, and illustrations
of education, ought to be steadily and uniformly
directed. ("On Religious Education," II, 27)
In "The Westmoreland Girl" Wordsworth insists on this
kind of religious training. The child's natural education
is described in terms that suggest its inadequacy: "Left
among her native mountains / With wild Nature to run wild"

39
(11. 27-28). Alison's insistence that religion must be
blended with "every common business of their lives" if
man is to reach "the highest state of perfection of which
mortality is capable" ("On the Love of Excellence," II,
206) is paralleled in Wordsworths discovery that the child
should be subject to some form of control or restraint:
Easily a pious training
And a steadfast outward power
Would supplant the weeds, and cherish,
In their steed, each opening flower.
(11. 77-80)
Wordsworth modifies the metaphor of the child as a flower,
a metaphor often used by Alison, to reflect his concern
that the natural be supplemented by an additional external
source of discipline. Richard E. Brantley defines this
external source of discipline, or "necessary chastisement,"
in terms of Wesleyan Methodism: "Wesley quotes from William
Law (with whom Wordsworth was familiar) in order to indicate
the beneficial results of strong corrective measures: firm
paternal control, wrote Law, will teach the child a spirit
27
of 'humility . and devotion.'" Alison's ideas con
cerning child rearing are similar, but his emphasis is on
education and guidance rather than on control or discipline.
The concept of piety alluded to in the training of the
Westmoreland Girl emerges as an essential element of the
child's education. Alison notes that piety is manifested
in every aspect of the life of Christ, especially in "the
early dedication of his mind to religious thought, and in
the great and exalted views which he then attained of the

40
wisdom and goodness of God" ("On the Example of Our Savior's
Piety," II, 94). Alison further describes Christ's natural
education and his "early and secret devotion" as the "great
foundation of that character which distinguished his future
days": "Amid the obscurity and solitude of Nazareth, we can
see him employed in silent communion with God. We can follow
the progress of his youthful devotion, as it rose amid the
scenery of nature ..." ("On the Example of Our Savior's
Piety," II, 95-96).
In his sermon "On the Youth of Solomon" Alison again
turns to the theme of youthful piety, explaining its
significance for the child who is receiving a natural edu
cation:
[Piety is] suited, in the first place, we think,
to the opening of human life,to that interesting
season, when nature in all its beauty first opens
on the view, and when the wisdom and goodness
of the Almighty fall on the heart, unmingled
and unimpaired. ("On the Youth of Solomon," I,
46-47)
Alison finds that "piety which springs only from the heart,
the devotion which nature, and not reasoning inspires"
affords "the best and noblest school in which the mind may
be trained to whatever is great and good in human nature"
("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 48). Alison's use of the
word "school" helps to reinforce the idea that the "piety"
inspired by contact with natural forms is an essential part
of the child's education, an integral part of the formation
of his future character. He concludes that for the child
receiving such an education "Nature herself would then be
come the friend of piety" ("On Spring," I, 35).

41
Alison's emphasis on piety and its significance for
the childs spiritual development relates to Wordsworth's
use of the phrase "natural piety" in his rainbow lyric
("My Heart Leaps Up"). Wordsworth's phrase "natural piety"
may be intended not so much to imply the displacement of
religious devotion and exercise into naturalistic and secular
contexts, as to affirm (as Alison does) that nature as
teacher works so harmoniously with the purpose and content
of religious instruction that, in effect, the two kinds of
education work together as one. Alison's insistence on the
superiority of youthful piety to all other attainments of
life and his comments on its effect on future happiness
afford added insight into Wordsworth's conclusion:
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(11. 7-9)
Wordsworth's statement that the "Child is father of the Man"
may be an allusion to the theory of association, the process
by which the sensations of childhood are the basis for the
adult's moral character; "natural piety" is then viewed as
the child's most valuable contribution to the adult. Other
critics have offered related interpretations for Wordsworths
phrase. Florence Marsh finds that "natural piety" has to
2 8
do with "human nature" more than with "external nature,"
while Colin Clarke equates "natural piety" with the poet's
faith that "Nature never did betray / The heart that loved
29
her" (."Tintern Abbey," 11. 122-23). Both of these ideas
are reflected in Alison's concept of youthful piety. Alison's

42
piety is concerned with "human nature" in that it forms future
character, and with trust in "external nature" in that piety
evolves from association with natural forms.
Alison's comments on youthful piety also help to clarify
the child's apparent reverence for nature in "It Is a
Beauteous Evening." The use of religious imagery in the
poem not only establishes the theme of the "sanctity of
childhood," as Carl Woodring suggests,^ but also relates
directly to Alison's comments on youthful piety. Alison
finds that in youth "religion comes to thee in all its
charms" as the "God of Nature reveals himself to thy soul"
("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 66). Thus, the child of the
sonnet is indirectly receiving religious instruction at the
same time she observes the sunset and the sea:
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
(11. 10-14)
Several of the ideas reflected in Alison's statements
concerning youthful piety are also to be found in the child's
implicit religious experience. The fact that she is not
"solemn" can be explained by Alison's statement that piety
"comes in that happy season, when life is new, and hope
unbroken. ... It comes not, then, to terrify, or to
alarm, but to afford every high and pleasing prospect in
which the heart can indulge" ("On the Youth of Solomon,"
I, 51). The absence of "solemn thought" does not indicate
the child's nature is "less divine" than the adult's; in

43
fact, Alison strongly implies that happiness, because it is
an appropriate response in worship, is a good indicator of
the godlike potential of childhood. Alison also suggests
the unconscious nature of the child's worship. In the
natural world the child's religious devotion arises almost
spontaneously: he cannot look upon nature, the "mighty
machine of Eternal Wisdom," without "the most elevated
sentiments of devotion . ." ("On the Religious and Moral
Ends of Knowledge," I, 162). Finally, because religion is
both joyful and natural for the child, it is a permanent
state rather than an occasional experience: "At such a
period, religion is not a service of necessity, but of joy.
It is not an occasional, but a permanent subject of medi
tation ..." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 52). Only on
occasion does the adult experience the religious sentiments
that the child constantly enjoys.
While Wordsworth's shorter poems, especially the lyrics,
present a static impression of childhood, The Prelude pre
sents the process of the child's spiritual development. In
his sermon "On Religious Education" Alison outlines a process
closely parallel to that which Wordsworth describes in the
first two books of The Prelude. Alison, like Wordsworth,
sees the mind's development beginning in infancy and
describes the powers that "awaken in the infant mind":
The earliest powers that awaken in the infant
mind, are those of Affection;the love of
parents,of kinsmen,--of benefactors; and
gradually the love of whatever is good or
great in the characters or in the history of
their species. ("On Religious Education," II, 23)

44
Alison uses the term "affection" to describe not only the
"loving attachment" the child feels toward others but also
the "influence" of qualities, such as virtue, the child
encounters in his environment.
Wordsworth similarly traces the development of the mind
to the awakening powers of affection--specifically the

infant's affection for his mother:
For him, in one dear Presence, there exists
A virtue which irradiates and exalts
Objects through widest intercourse of sense.
No outcast he, bewildered and depressed:
Along his infant veins are interfused
The gravitation and the filial bond
Of nature that connect him with the world.
(II, 238-44)
The power of affection, manifested first in the child's
love for his mother, is transferred by the process of
association to the objects in the mother's environment.
The virtue the mother represents permeates objects in the
external world, and the child therefore feels affection for
such objects. Richard J, Onorato, who presents a psycho
analytical discussion of Wordsworth's persona in The Prelude,
reaches a similar conclusion about the mother's role in
extending the child's affections to objects in the natural
world: "the ambience of the mother's love . suffuse[s]
the natural objects of the world for the infant with light,
31
love, and wonder." The child's affection for natural
objects thus depends on his perceiving such objects as
infused with human virtue; the mother-infant relationship
Wordsworth describes is the beginning of the process.

45
Wordsworth continues to use the term "affections" to
describe the child's evolving relationship with natural
objects:
. . all their forms
And changeful colours by invisible links
Were fastened to the affections.
(I, 610-12)
The fact that Wordsworth uses the terms "forms" and "colours,"
terms relating to external forms, in connection with
"affections," a power or faculty of the human mind, indi
cates that he, like Alison, is exploring the relationship
between the mind and the external world. Clarke and Onorato
reach similar conclusions about the human quality that
apparently permeates external forms. Clarke notes that the
poet frequently turns to associationist theory and diction
to "explain the apparent existence of feelings out there in
32
nature." Onorato cites Wordsworth's assertion that nature
"Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair, / And made me
love them . ." (I, 546-47) as further evidence that the
poet "figuratively preserves in the beauteous forms of
33
nature a very human association."''
In addition to describing a basically associationist
process of learning to ascribe human qualities to external
objects, both Alison and Wordsworth maintain that nature
can on occasion affect the mind of the child more directly
than the principle of association would permit. Alison
finds that knowledge of God "springs" in the "mind" of the
child "to withdraw the veil which covers the splendours of
the Eternal Mind ." ("On the Youth of Solomon," I, 51).

46
The concept that religious insight "springs" to mind, or
comes forth suddenly, suggests perhaps nature's direct
teaching described in The Prelude:
. . even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield;the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things. . (I, 585-88)
!
As knowledge of God "springs" directly in the mind of the
child who observes the external world, the child of The
Prelude similarly learns directly from nature: the words
"gleams" and "flashing" reinforce the concept of a sudden,
illuminating experience. Although Alison is referring to
a religious experience and Wordsworth is describing less
precise truths revealed by nature, both point to a type of
learning that depends not on association or sensory per
ception but on moments of sudden, almost unmediated
insight.
Finally, educated both by the process of association
and by the direct teaching of nature, children begin to .
develop a conscience:
They feel themselves the members of a mighty
system, in which they are called to cooperate;
and they recognize above them some Almighty
Power, upon whom they feel themselves dependent,
and to whom, the rising voice of conscience tells
them, they are accountable. ("On Religious
Education," II, 25)
Wordsworth shows a similar concern with the development
of conscience in the child. However, he suggests that the
beginning of conscience in the child depends not on
recognition of accountability to an "Almighty Power" but
on nature's "severer interventions" (I, 355). After

47
stealing the bird from another's snare, the child of The
Prelude experiences what Alison terms the "rising voice of
conscience":
. . and when the deed was done
I heard among the solitary hills,
Low breathings coming after me, and sounds
Of undistinguishable motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod.
(I, 321-25)
The "low breathings" and the "sounds / Of undistinguishable
motion" the child hears suggest that conscience emerges
first as a palpable external force that frightens the child.
Ultimately, the child of The Prelude comes to rely on
conscience not as an external and palpable force but as an
internal standard of discipline. Associating with "enduring
things / With life and nature" (I, 409-10), he is disci
plined to recognize man's potential for greatness:
. . purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
(I, 410-14)
The fact that Wordsworth uses the words "purifying" and
"sanctifying" to describe the process by which one comes
to recognize human dignity suggests that he views it as an
essential part of the child's religious education. Alison
similarly associates the development of conscience with the
child's recognition of his role in the divine system and
with his love for human virtue (."On Religious Education,"
II, 23, 25) .

48
While both Wordsworth and Alison emphasize the natural
education the child should receive and outline certain facets
of the process of spiritual growth, Wordsworth in "Ode:
Intimations of Immortality" and Alison in certain sermons
imply that the child's earthly existence is inferior to
another existence he has known. Wordsworth's decision to
place the poem at the end of the "Poems Referring to the
Period of Old Age" indicates the poem's concern with the
. 34
entirety of man's existence, not simply with childhood.
Sharing Lionel Trilling's view that the poem is a commentary
35
on "growing up," Marsh finds that Wordsworth uses the
image of the child in the poem to suggest his spiritual
origins as well as to describe his growth: "Thus, while
dealing with normal growth and development, Wordsworth holds
the child image steadily before us and with the word
glories (.'Forget the glories he hath known') continues to
3 6
suggest spiritual reality." An evaluation of the poem
in light of Alison's ideas concerning childhood not only
points to the themes of "growing up" and "spiritual
reality," but also places the child's earthly activities
within the framework of his leaving his celestial home to
inhabit the earth.
Roth Wordsworth and Alison tend to glorify the state
of childhood because of the child's recent arrival from his
celestial home and to examine the consequences of pre
existence on the child's earthly activities. In his
37
defense of the poem, dictated to Isabella Fenwick in 1843,

49
Wordsworth indicates his concern with the "dreamlike
vividness and splendour" of the child's perceptions rather
than with conclusive proof of a "prior state of existence":
To that dream-like vividness and splendour which
invest objects of sight in childhood, every one, I
believe, if he would look back, could bear testi
mony, . but having in the Poem regarded it as
presumptive evidence of a prior state of existence,
I think it right to protest against a conclusion,
which has given pain to some good and pious persons,
that I meant to inculcate such a belief. It is far
too shadowy a notion to be recommended to faith,
as more than an element in our instincts of
immortality.38
Because the poet is concerned primarily with the freshness
of the child's perceptions and with his instinctive sense
of immortality, he adopts the image of a prior state of
existence, the child's spiritual home, to provide a reason
able explanation for the "celestial light" (1. 4) that
surrounds objects of sight in childhood. Although Words
worth, afraid of offending "good and pious persons" with
his concept of preexistence, maintains that he is not recom
mending the idea as religious doctrine, Alison in his ser
mon "On the Youth of Solomon" uses a similar image to
describe childhood and the celestial origin of the child's
soul:
. . the first and purest state of the human mind,
when the soul comes fresh from the hands of its
Creator, and when no habits of life have contracted
the reach of its powers.... when nature seems
everywhere to rejoice around. ... (I, 51)
Alison, like Wordsworth, seems to emphasize the effects of
the child's state of preexistence rather than the state
itself: he emphasizes the purity and joy of childhood,

50
as well as its unbounded "powers," alluding only generally
to the soul's arrival from the "hands of its Creator."
Alison's explanation of the exalted state of childhood
helps to clarify some of Wordsworth's imagery in the first
five stanzas of the poem. The concept of "happy nature"
suggested by Alison ("when nature seems everywhere to
rejoice around") predominates in the third and fourth
stanzas. Nature and the child join in festivities in which
the adult cannot easily participate:
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday;
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy
Shepherd-boy! (11. 27-35)
In attributing a human potential for joy to the animals and
objects in nature, both Alison and Wordsworth employ a
process akin to personificationascribing qualities of
the mind to external objects. Moreover, Wordsworths
description of the child's rejoicing in nature emphasizes
his empathy for the natural world as well as his heightened
perceptions. Alison's description of the childs "powers,"
which have not been "contracted" by the "habits of life,"
perhaps helps to explain the "freshness" of the child's
perceptions that Wordsworth emphasizes in the first stanza:
all objects seem "Apparelled in celestial light, / The
glory and the freshness of a dream" (11. 4-5).

51
Even as the adult begins to experience the child's joy,
he finds that natural objects remind him of "something that
is gone" (1. 53). The question of where the "visionary
gleam" (1. 56) has gone is answered by a description of the
"glory" that surrounds the child recently delivered from his
celestial home and the "forgetting" that accompanies birth
and earthly existence:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home. . .
(11. 58-65)
Both Wordsworth and Alison view physical birth in terms of
its negative spiritual consequences. While Alison merely
alludes to the purity of the child's mind before his contact
with the world, Wordsworth uses the terms "sleep" and
"forgetting" to suggest that the child's birth represents
in fact a kind of spiritual death, erasing the child's
memory of his other existence. To modify somewhat the
negative tone of the first lines of the stanza and to ex
plain how the child still possesses powers the adult does
not, Wordsworth explains that the child trails "clouds of
glory," that he retains vestiges of his former existence.
To signal the fading of the child-'s "glory" and his
recollections of preexistence as he grows up and acquires
earthly habits, both Wordsworth and Alison use images of
restraint and confinement. Alison uses the verb "contracted"

52
to describe the tendency of the "habits of life" to limit
the "reach of its [childhood's] powers" ("On the Youth of
Solomon," I, 51). Furthermore, Alison implies that the
"narrow space" of earthly activity is inferior to the
"infinity of the past and of the future" ("On the Power of
Christian Faith," II, 447). Both "contracted" and "narrow"
suggest confinement; Wordsworth uses images of imprisonment
to express a similar idea: "Shades of the prison-house
begin to close / Upon the growing Boy" (11. 67-6 8) He
also refers to the child as earth's "Inmate," a "Foster-
child" who feels somewhat alien in his new environment (1.
83). As Alison finds that the "habits of life" restrict
the child's powers, Wordsworth maintains that the "weight"
of "custom" effects similar results:
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
(11. 127-29)
As Alison notes, "the soul comes fresh from the hands of
its Creator"; Wordsworth's image of the child's soul en
cumbered by "earthly freight" and laboring under the "weight"
of "custom" suggests the way the child's powers are stifled
as he grows up. Following custom and imitating the adult,
the child moves further from the truth he could once dis
cover intuitively and becomes oppressed by the "inevitable
yoke" of adulthood (1. 125).
Another image both Wordsworth and Alison associate
with the child's fading glory is the "celestial light" (1.
4). As the child reaches adulthood, "... the Man

53
perceives it die away, / And fade into the light of common
day (11. 76-77). Woodring cites "Plotinus' emphasis on the
metaphors of divine light and material darkness" as a pre-
39
decessor to Wordsworth's imagery, and Alison similarly
describes the world as a "dark" place where "he who is born
of God, and who is again to return to God" must reside ("On
the Power of Christian Faith," II, 455). Both Alison and
Wordsworth are concerned with the loss of the divine light
as the child grows into an adult, and Wordsworth's "light
of common day" would clearly seem dark to one who remembers
"celestial light."
Despite the loss experienced as the child grows older,
both writers note that some recompense is offered to the
adult. Alison's description of the recompense is similar
to that the adult of the "Ode" acknowledges: "Even amid
all the ruins of our fallen nature, there are remembrances
of its original glory ..." ("On the Love of Excellence,"
II, 210). Alison's description not only parallels the
"glory" of childhood presented in the "Ode" but also sug
gests, by the use of the word "ruins," the "embers" of the
ninth stanza of the poem:
0 joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
(11. 130-33)
Thus, one recompense afforded the adult is his ability to
remember his transient moments of "original glory."

54
The acceptance of adult responsibilities affords another
type of recompense: in a state of spiritual maturity one
acquires a "human heart" and a concern for human suffering
and mortality. Alison finds "beneficence employed, and
patience exerted, and resolution displayed, and resignation
shewn" ("On the Power of Christian Faith," II, 455) as man
reaches adulthood. The adult of the "Ode" shows resigna
tion in realizing that "... nothing can bring back the
hour / Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower"
(11. 173-79). More importantly, he develops a "philosophic
mind" (1. 187), suggesting a "practical wisdom" that recon
ciles him to adult duty. The beneficent adult shows concern
for human suffering and mortality:
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
(11. 201-04)
Replacing the "celestial light" that clothed natural objects
in childhood is the "sober colouring" (1. 198) of the adult's
sense of mortality, which makes even the smallest object in
nature meaningful. The poem in which Wordsworth celebrates
the child and his ability to know truth intuitively closes
with a tribute to the adult's sensitivity and ability to
respond to human beings as well as to natural objects.
Although the figure of the child is certainly central
to the philosophies of both Wordsworth and Alison, each
suggests that one must relinquish the delights of childhood
to accept adult responsibilities. As Alison's Essays on

55
Taste and collected sermons provide a useful means of
focusing on Wordsworth's theme of child development in its
twin aspects of the spiritual and the aesthetic, his works
afford similar insight into the standards of character and
conduct Wordsworth deems appropriate for adults. The im
portance of childhood and youth, Alison notes, resides
partly in the training it provides for the responsibilities
of adult life:
It is in the private meditations of youthful
years,---the secret opinions which the young
then form, . that their future character
in life, and even their fate in eternity, is
determined; and that from the shade of secret
thought, they all come forward upon the stage
of active life, either to be the blessings or
the curse of the society to which they belong.
("On the Love of Excellence," II, 208)
The natural education of the child thus provides the founda
tion for the adult's system of ethics. The following chapter
reinforces the importance of association with natural forms
during this period of character formation by examining the
negative aesthetic and spiritual consequences of contact
with artificial urban stimuli.

56
Notes
A. Charles Babenroth maintains that "the beginnings of
many modern conceptions in poetry as well as in politics,
theology, education, and social welfare" may be traced to
the end of the eighteenth century. He finds this "especially
true with respect to interest in childhood" and cites Locke's
Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Shaftesbury's
Characteristics, and Rousseau's Emile as works particularly
influential m shaping nineteenth-century thought (English
Childhood: Wordsworth's Treatment of Childhood in the Light
of English Poetry from Prior to Crabbe [1922; rpt. New York:
Octagon Books, 1973], p. 1). The importance of Shaftesbury's
Characteristics, C.A. Moore argues, is manifested not only
m the "constant poetising of benevolence and charity" but
also in "extensive practical charity" ("Shaftesbury and the
Ethical Poets in England, 1700-60," PMLA, 31 [March 1916],
317); moreover, much of this philanthropic activity involved
measures to help children. Historian G.M. Trevelyan describes
some of the humanitarian activities of the period which
benefited children: the "foundation of hospitals," the
"improvement of medical service and infant welfare," and
the establishment of Charity and Sunday Schools (English
Social History: A Survey of Six Centuries: Chaucer to Queen
Victoria [London: Longmans Green~ 194 2] pi 363)". As
literature tends to reflect societal concerns, it is not
surprising that the child emerges as a significant literary
theme during the last decades of the eighteenth century and
that Romantic poets such as Wordsworth make the figure of
the child an important poetic symbol. For discussionsof
the emergence of the child in English literature, see Robert
Pattison's The Child Figure in English Literature (Athens:
Univ. of Georgia Press, 1978), David Grylls's Guardians and
Angels: Parents and Children in Nineteenth-Century Litera
ture (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), and Peter Coveney's
The Image of Childhood: The Individual and Society: A
Study of the Theme in English Literature (rev. ed. [Baltimore:
Penguin Books, 1967]).
2
Basil Willey (The Seventeenth Century Background:
Studies in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and
Religion [1934; rpt. London: Chatto and WIndus, 1949]) con
trasts Wordsworth's view of the child's "decline" into adult
hood with Descartes' position (p. 91) and finds many of the
poet's beliefs about man and nature grounded in the "Locke
tradition" (p. 308). Alan Grob (The Philosophic Mind; A
Study of Wordsworth's Poetry and Thought, 1797-1305 [Columbus:
Ohio State Univ. Press, 1973] ) maintains"~that by 1802 Words
worth views the child's "passions" as "an ultimate source of
spiritual and, perhaps, even moral authority for the conduct
of the whole of life" (p. 9), while Colin C. Clarke ("Nature's
Education of Man: Some Remarks on the Philosophy of

57
Wordsworth," Philosophy, 23 [October 1948], 302-16).
provides a more specific commentary on nature's spiritual
instruction.
3
Both Irving Babbitt (Rousseau and Romanticism [1919;
rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947]) and F.L. Lucas (The
Decline and Fall of the Romantic Ideal [New York: Macmillan,
1936]) stress the emotional and irrational aspects of
Romanticism. Babbitt finds that Wordsworth ascribes to the
child powers he cannot possibly possess and that he invests
too much trust in spontaneity and nature (p. 248); similarly,
Lucas views the poet's "idealization of childhood" as "part
of the Romantic dreamer's flight from the harsh, drab world
of adult life" (p. 110). Some recent scholars have viewed
Rousseau more sympathetically. Attacking Babbitt's view of
Rousseau as a mere "visionary dreamer," Jacques Barzun
(Classic, Romantic, and Modern [New York: Doubleday, 1961])
maintains that Rousseau "has affected in one way or another
all those who have come after him . ." (p. 19), and Owen
Barfield (Romanticism Comes of Age, 1st American ed. [Middle-
town, ConnTl Wesleyan Univ. Press, .1966] ) contrasts
Rousseau's view of man's "natural goodness" with Calvin's
concept of man's "total depravity" (pp. 205-06). J.H. van
den Berg, however, points to the negative effects of Rousseau's
influence. In viewing the child as a child rather than as
an adult, van den Berg argues, Rousseau destroyed the mutual
understanding between children and adults that existed be
fore the late eighteenth century (The Changing Nature of
Man: Introduction to a Historical Psychology-) trans. hTf .
Croes [New York: w7w. Norton, 1961] p7 23) 7
4
Babenroth, p. 299.
^Babenroth, p. 383. Babenroth's totals include
different forms of the words.
g
"Ode: Intimations of Immortality" affords an illus
tration of this distinction. In the phrase "Nor Man nor
Boy" Cl. 159), the poet uses the word "Man" to denote an
adult and the word "Boy" to designate a child; in the
phrase "her Foster-child, her Inmate Man" (1. 183), Words
worth uses the word "Man" as an appositive renaming the
word "child."
7
Babenroth, pp. 301-02.
g
Babenroth, p. 344.
9
Hoxie Neale Fairchild, The Noble Savage: A Study in
Romantic Naturalism (1928; rpt. New York: Russell and
Russell, 1961), p. 175.

58
James Scoggins, Imagination and Fancy: Complementary-
Modes in the Poetry of Wordsworth (Lincoln: Univ. of
Nebraska Press, 1966), p7 77
"^Scoggins, p. 45.
12
Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth: A Biography, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957-65), I, 261.
13
Moorman, I, 266.
14
'Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 2 September
1795, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The
Early Years 1787-1805, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Chester
L. Shaver, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 150.
15
"Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall," 19 March 1797,
The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early
Years 1787-1805, p. 180.
^Moorman, I, 289. "Basil is quite well in constitution;
however, regarding his moral principles, there is much to be
anxious for."
^^Moorman, II, 237-38.
18
Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: An Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 10.
19
Sir Archibald Alison, I, 11.
20
Sir Archibald Alison, I, 43-44.
21 .
Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthe
tically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and
Principles of Taste, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archi
bald Constable, 1812). The essay number appears first,
followed by the chapter number, the volume number, and the
page citation.
?2 .
Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated parenthe
tically in the text, are to Sermons, Chiefly on Particular
Occasions, 2 vols. (.Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1815).

59
23 .
Citations from Wordsworth's poems other than The
Prelude, indicated parenthetically in the text, are to
The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest De
Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952-59).
24
Citations from the 1850 edition of The Prelude, indi
cated parenthetically in the text, are to The Prelude; or,
Growth of a Poet's Mind, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev.
Helen Darbishire, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959).
2^Fairchild, p. 188.
2 6
Fairchild, p. 188.
2^Richard E.
(New Haven: Yale
Brantley, Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism
Univ. Presi-^ 1975) p~. 47.
2 8
Florence G. Marsh, "Wordsworth's Ode: Obstinate
Questionings," Studies in Romanticism, 5 (Summer 1966), 225.
29
^Clarke,
"Nature's Education of Man," p. 312.
2^Carl R. Woodring, Wordsworth, Riverside Studies in
Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 165.
31
Richard J. Onorato, The Character of the Poet: Words
worth in The Prelude (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press,
1971), p. 113.
32
Colin C. Clarke, Romantic Paradox: An Essay on the
Poetry of Wordsworth (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962),
p. 64.
220norato, p. 113.
34
138) .
Scoggins notes these changes in arrangement (pp. 39,
35_
Lionel Trilling, "The Immortality Ode," m The Liberal
Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society
(New York: Viking Press, 1950), p. 131.
^Marsh, p. 223.
3 7
'Moorman, II, 21.

60
3 8
This statement concerning the "Ode is quoted in the
notes to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest
De Selincourt, IV, 463-64.
Woodring, p.
91.

CHAPTER II
WORDSWORTH'S ETHICAL AND IMAGINATIVE TREATMENT OF
"THE DOMINION OF MAN"
Both Wordsworth and Alison deplore the consequences of
commercialism and industrialism--specifically the accumula
tion of men in cities. Both contrast the beauties of the
natural world with populous and commercial cities that afford
no basis for associative sentiments of sublimity and beauty.
Although Wordsworth and Alison were not the only early
nineteenth-century writers to treat this theme, Alison's
Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste and his collected
sermons afford especially valuable insight into the nature
of the city in Wordsworth's poetry. By using Alison's
essays and sermons as an analogue, one discovers that
Wordsworth is interested not merely in condemning urban noise,
smoke, and spectacle, but also in showing the aesthetic and
spiritual consequences of the process of urbanization: the
city exerts a deadening effect on the poetic imagination
and contributes to moral decline. Alisons Essays also
afford insight into the type of escape offered to the
imaginative city dweller: he can either escape imaginatively
to natural forms which have held his affections or he can
perceive in urban forms a type of natural order and harmony.
My investigation of Wordsworth's treatment of the ethical
and imaginative facets of urban life consists of four parts.
61

62
The first (and shortest) section includes background infor
mation: it places the discussion within the tradition of
contrasting the city and the country and presents briefly
the views of Wordsworth and Alison on this topic, suggesting
that Alison is especially valuable as an analogue for a
study of Wordsworth. In this section Joseph Warren Beach's
comments are used because they effectively summarize Words
worth's views on the subject; moreover, the specific poems
presenting Wordsworth's views concerning nature and natural
virtue are treated in other chapters. The remainder of the
chapter, involving a close comparison of the ideas in Words
worth's poetry and those in Alison's Essays and sermons,
begins with a discussion of the stimuli with which the city
dweller is confronted, followed by a discussion of the
aesthetic and spiritual consequences of urban life, and con
cludes with a discussion of the proper response to urban
residence.
Throughout my discussion of Wordsworth's treatment of
the city, I emphasize Alison's concept of the "dominion of
Man." The stimuli I discusssights, sounds, and motions
relate to human activity, and I give special attention to
the absence of grace in the crowd's behavior, grace being
the concept by which Alison relates human motion or gesture
to an internal standard of self-discipline. Commercialism,
industrialization, paintings, theatrical productions, and
courtroom and pulpit oratory are specific examples of human
activities discussed in this section. This part concludes

63
with a discussion of Bartholomew Fair, the epitome of all
the negative stimuli encountered in the city. In addition
to Book VII of The Prelude, the main topic of discussion,
I make brief allusions to other parts of The Prelude, The
Excursion, and "To the Lady Fleming"; and I include discus
sions of "The Reverie of Poor Susan" and "The World Is Too
Much With Us." The analysis of the consequences of urban
living includes discussions of the Bartholomew Fair passage
in The Prelude, "The World Is Too Much With Us," and "Peter
Bell," concluding with a detailed examination of "Michael,"
the poem which best exemplifies the moral decline fostered
by city life. Finally, in discussing the proper response
to urban life, I examine "The Reverie of Poor Susan,"
"Composed Upon Westminster Bridge," and Book VII of The
Prelude, which illustrate the types of retreat afforded the
imaginative person.
Before investigating Wordsworth's treatment of the city,
it would be helpful to summarize briefly the opposition
between the natural world and artificial urban forms, a
contrast important both to Wordsworth and to Alison. Many
critics of English literature have noted this contrast;
Raymond Williams, offering perhaps the most comprehensive
treatment, surveys all English literature in terms of this
theme."'" Consequently, both Wordsworth and Alison are
necessarily viewed as writers who treat certain facets of
the tradition in a similar manner, rather than as the only
early nineteenth-century writers to concern themselves with

64
the opposition between the country and the city. However,
Alison's work remains of special value in analyzing Words
worth's views concerning the city: while writers such as
Williams concern themselves with the multiplicity of
associations the country and the city have acquired, Alison
shows a Wordsworthian concern with specific aesthetic and
spiritual consequences of urban residence.
Both Alison and Wordsworth find it useful to explain
artificial urban life in terms of the natural. Wordsworth's
attitude toward the city emerges from the poet's preference
for the natural rather than the artificial, as Beach has
noted:
The country is nature more obviously than the town
because it is the world as it came unspoiled from
the hands of the Great Artificer; whereas in town
the aspect of things is defaced by the works of
man, so often perverse and degraded. . nature
generally suggests the opposition between God's
world and man's.3
Beach's description of Wordsworth's philosophy is closely
paralleled by Alison's description in his sermon "On the
Moral Dangers of the Society of Great Cities":
In all ages, the scenes of nature have been the
seat of devotion. It is there, "where day unto
day uttereth speech, and night unto night teacheth
knowledge concerning God." . the silent, but
incessant movements of that mighty system, which
speak the incessant providence of the Mind that
guides it. ... It is a different scene with
which we are presented when we visit the habita
tions of men. . From the dominion of nature,
we enter at once the dominion of Man. No sound
reaches our ear but those of his activity;no
prospect opens upon our eye, but those of his
power or his pride. . [We] begin to imagine
that we are living only in a world of human art.
(II, 253-55)3

65
Thus, for both Wordsworth and Alison the country is preferred
to the city because the natural forms afford more basis for
religious devotion.
Both writers emphasize the virtue emerging from associa
tion with natural forms rather than the vice resulting from
association with urban forms. Alison in Essays on Taste
reflects this concern with rural virtue rather than urban
vice; moreover, the ethical concerns he raises emerge from
the concept of virtue founded on one's relationship with the
natural world. Wordsworth's poetry reveals a similar con
cern with characters whose virtue is attached to nature;
Beach describes Wordsworth's preference for such persons as
heroes of his poems:
It is clear that Wordsworth discovers more of
nature among peasants than among townsmen.
Their passions, he finds, are more simple, less
confused, and more profoundbetter subject
for poetry, and giving more promise of an ideal
social condition in the future. Their social
feelings have not been tainted with commercialism;
their families not broken up by the industrial
revolution.4
Both Wordsworth and Alison believed that possession of land
in rural areas afforded protection from the evils of society.
In a letter written to Charles James Fox in 1801, Words
worth explains that "Michael" and "The Brothers" were in
spired by the rural virtue or "domestic affections" of the
"small independent proprietors of land" who "live in a
country not crowded with population. . ."3 Alison's
practice illustrates this belief: he granted leases of
land from the "considerable tract" awarded him as a clergy
man, finding that "in the allotment system, which tended to

66
enlist the active propensities on the side of virtue, was
to be found the most effective antidote to the evils which
were, even in that rural district, beginning to afflict
^ 6
society.
These ethical and religious considerations merge with
aesthetic concerns for both writers in their view of natures
opposition to the city; the loss of imagination and moral
decline are virtually inseparable processes. Alison describes
the loss of the ability to respond to natural beauty:
". . they who have been doomed, by their professions, to
pass their earlier years in populous and commercial cities
. . soon lose that sensibility which is the most natural
of all,the sensibility to the beauties of the country . ."
7
(Essays, I, 2, i, 90). Similarly, in the "Preface to the
Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads" Wordsworth alludes to the
city's deadening effect on the imagination:
For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times,
are now acting with a combined force to blunt the
discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting
it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a
state of almost savage torpor. The most effective
of these causes are the great national events
which are daily taking place, and the increasing
accumulation of men in cities, where the unifor
mity of their occupations produces a craving for
extraordinary incident, which the rapid communi- g
cation of intelligence hourly gratifies. (Ill, 389)
Although both Wordsworth and Alison describe the loss
of imagination and the moral decline which result from the
city dweller's alienation from natural forms and the virtue
afforded by association with these forms, a difference in
emphasis exists. Alison the theologian is inclined to give,

67
at least in his sermons, as much emphasis to moral decline
as to active virtue. Wordsworth, however, generally eschews
the potential sensationalism associated with the corrupting
influence of city life to emphasize rural virtue. Because
Wordsworth does not always explain fully how urban life
contributes to moral decline, Alison is an especially
valuable analogue to his implicit as well as explicit
attitudes toward virtue and vice.
Because the aesthetics of both writers are grounded
in empiricism, the best means of exploring the corrupting
influence of urban life is to consider the sights, sounds,
and motions the city presents. Alison's second of the two
Essays on Taste suggests that by examining these, one can
determine whether an object in the material world is
9
capable of exciting emotions of sublimity and beauty.
While natural forms provide the basis for experiencing
beauty and sublimity and evidence of divine workmanship,
the city dweller is bombarded with both visual and auditory
evidence that he is in what Alison terms the "dominion of
Man" ("Cities," II, 254). The human arts the city offers
--commercialism, industrialism, paintings, theatrical pro
ductions, and especially the spectacle, noise, and motion
of the crowdconstitute an ironic replacement for the
"spectacle" ("Cities," II, 254) of nature's operations.^0
The multitude of persons encountered, a constant re
minder that the city is the "dominion of Man," reflects
Alison's concern with sight, sound, and motion: the crowd

68
is not only a spectacle but also produces excessive noise
and exemplifies motion. Alison uses the adjective "populous"
in association with cities in Essays on Taste (I, 2, i, 90)
and in his city sermon notes one's tendency to be "lost" in
the "multitude" when he enters into "the society of populous
cities" (II, 260). Alison finds that city dwellers are not
concerned with others: "No eye follows him [the city
dweller] with interest or affection ..." ("Cities," II,
260). Alison finds the city paradoxically both crowded and
lonely.
Numerous allusions to the crowded city are found in
Wordsworth's poetry. Frequently, Wordsworth modifies the
noun "city" with a derogatory adjective describing its size
and number of inhabitants. Although Wordsworth only twice
uses the phrase "crowded city" in his poetry, the word
"crowd" appears four times in Book VII of The Prelude (11.
221, 627, 684, 697), which describes his London residence.
Wordsworth's "multitudes" and "masses," frequently associated
with cities, are often modified by adjectives describing the
crowd's conduct; for example, he refers to "That huge
fermenting mass of human-kind" in London (Prelude, VII, 621).
Many of the allusions to the size of cities also seem to be
indirect allusions to the number of persons in the city;
the use of "vast domain" to describe London (Prelude, VII,
765), for example, suggests a populous city, and the diction
is similar to that in Alison's phrase "dominion of Man."
Wordsworth, like Alison, describes the city as a place both

69
lonely and crowded. Even as a young boy, Wordsworth finds
himself perplexed by this phenomenon:
Above all, one thought
Baffled my understanding: how men lived
Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.
(Prelude, VII, 115-18)
Although merely baffling to Wordsworth as a child, this
lack of concern for others is for Alison a precursor to
moral decline: "Removed from the observations of others,
he [the city dweller] is too apt to think himself removed
from his own; to yield to temptations when they are known
only to himself" ("Cities," II, 260).
The behavior of the multitude in Wordsworth's cities
is characterized by two of Alison's aesthetic elements
sound and motion. As silence is associated with tran
quillity in Essays on Taste (II, 1, i, 184), noise must
necessarily have an opposite effect. To maintain that in
the city "No sound reaches our ear but those of [man's]
activity" ("Cities," II, 254) is to suggest city noise as
an ironic counterpart to the "tranquillity of nature"
("Cities," II, 254). Wordsworth similarly emphasizes noise
in his description of city life. His casual allusion to
"city noise" in "To the Lady Fleming" (1. 52) becomes
harsher in The Excursion when he refers to the "obstreperous
city" (IV, 369). In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth re
sorts to even harsher terms: the noise is described as a
"deafening din" (1. 155), a "roar" (1. 168), an "uproar"
(1. 273), and a "hubbub" (1. 211).

70
The noise of the city is inseparably linked to its
motion. Alison alludes to the "agitations" of urban society
("Cities," II, 256) and the "bustle of cities" ("Cities,"
II, 255). In The Excursion Wordsworth associates "bustle,
care, and noise" with city life (VII, 665) and alludes to
the "bustling crowd" (VIII, 245). The phrase "turbulence
of murmuring cities vast" (The Excursion, III, 104) also
reflects the combination of sound and motion. The excessive
motion as well as noise which characterizes the city is
criticized in Wordsworth's apostrophe to London:
Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain
Of a too busy world! Before me flow,
Thou endless stream of men and moving things!
. . the quick dance
Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening
din. . (Prelude, VII, 149-55)
The London apostrophe indicates how auditory and visual
stimuli, not inherently noxious, acquire such a quality when
excessive. Wordsworth uses strong adjectives and intensi
fies ("endless stream," "deafening din," and "too busy-
world"; my italics) to reinforce the concept of excess in
this description of London.
The behavior of the crowd is characterized not only by
excessive motion and unpleasant noise but also by the absence
of grace. For the two writers "grace" suggests a merging
of aesthetic and spiritual attributes. In expanding his
second essay in the 1811 edition, Alison adds a section
entitled "Of the Sublimity and Beauty of Attitude and
Gesture" followed by the section "Of Grace.
For Alison

71
"grace" is an aesthetic attribute in that it refers to
observable facets of the human form--posture (attitude) and
motion (gesture); these "attitudes" or "gestures" associated
with human behavior acquire spiritual overtones in that
human conduct reflects an internal quality of self-discipline
or the absence of such a quality. Alison's description of
ungraceful conduct closely parallels the behavior of Words
worth's "fermenting mass" (Prelude, VII, 621): Alison notes
that no attitudes or gestures reflecting passions or emotions
which are "violent, or intemperate, or significant of want
of self-command" are considered graceful (Essays, II, 5, ii,
338). Urban residence actually seems to promote the type of
ungraceful conduct Alison outlines in his Essays and Words
worth observes in London.
Because the adjective "sublime" is generally associated
with one's response to natural beauty in Alison and in
Wordsworth, Wordsworth's use of the verb "sublimed" in the
apostrophe to London at first appears to contradict Alison's
concept of the ungraceful conduct fostered by cities:
Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes
With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe
On strangers, of all ages. . (VII, 152-54)
However, Alison's Essays explains how Wordsworth can
experience a "sublime" emotion when viewing the rabble
without an additional "sentiment of respect" (II, 5, ii,
382) for the persons involved:

72
The gestures of rage, in the same manner, of
force, of anguish, of terror, may affect us
with very sublime emotions of fear, of
astonishment, of awful interest, but they
may be unaccompanied with any emotion of
respect for the individual who displays
them. (II, 5, ii, 381-82; my italics)
The mob's conduct suggests violence and intemperance; in
Alison's terms it cannot therefore be regarded as graceful.
However, intemperate gestures of "rage," "force," "anguish,"
or "terror," which do not reflect an internal quality of
self-command, can evoke the "sublime" emotions of "astonish
ment" or "awful interest." Wordsworth's apostrophe thus re
flects an "awful interest" in the behavior of the mob with
out the admiration or "emotion of respect" that graceful
conduct would evoke.
Much of Wordsworth's description of London residence
is, in fact, concerned with intemperate behavior and grace
less conduct. Examples of what Alison would term graceless
persons are a "common produce" (VII, 588) their graceless
ness reflected in "Folly, vice, / Extravagance in gesture,
mien, and dress" (VII, 578-79). The few examples of
graceful conductthe legendary Maid of Buttermere's
"modest mien / And carriage, marked by unexampled grace"
(VII, 307-08) or the father with the sickly infant (VII,
602-18)"set off by foil, / Appeared more touching" (VII,
601-02).
In addition to the mobs conduct as evidence of human
art, mans workmanship is also reflected in industrialization
and commercialism. In Essays on Taste Alison alludes to

73
man-made objects which disfigure potentially sublime natural
settings (I, 2, i, 121), and Wordsworth shares his condemna
tion of industrialized society which despoils natural beauty.
Alison finds smoke-filled air, the byproduct of the human
art of industrialization, especially destructive of natural
beauty: "[We] see amid the thick atmosphere which surrounds
us, no other agency than that of mortal wisdom" ("Cities,"
II, 254). Wordsworth's poetry reflects a similar concern
with city smoke. In The Excursion he refers to "the dense
air, which town or city breeds" (IV, 22). In London the
father must bring his child into an open square "to breathe
the fresher air" (Prelude, VII, 610). Similarly, in Book I
of The Prelude, Wordsworth casts "A backward glance upon the
curling cloud / Of city smoke, by distance ruralised" (11.
88-89).
Industrialization and human arts constitute oppressive
forces from which the sensitive person needs relief. As
Alison observes, when the city dweller begins to imagine
that he is "living only in a world of human art," all
"former impressions" of natural virtue "subside" from his
mind ("Cities," II, 255). Alison outlines the destruction
of "natural taste" effected by industrialization and
commercialism:
The finest natural taste is seldom found able
to withstand that narrowness and insensibility
of mind, which is perhaps necessarily acquired
by the minute and uninteresting details of the
mechanical arts; and they who have been doomed,
by their professions, to pass their earlier
years in populous and commercial cities, and in
the narrow and selfish pursuits which prevail

74
there, soon lose that sensibility which is the
most natural of all,--the sensibility to the
beauties of the country. . (Essays, I, 2,
i, 89-90)
For both Wordsworth and Alison "natural taste" is developed
when one's instinctive love for the beauty and sublimity of
the natural world is encouraged, and is nurtured by continual
association with natural forms. The city is marked not only
by the absence of natural forms but also by the presence of
the "uninteresting details of the mechanical arts," which
tend to suppress imaginative thinking. Although the con
cept of human arts as oppressive forces underlies a large
part of Book VII of The Prelude, The Excursion provides a
more direct statement of this idea: the Solitary declares
that one must find a "lodge" away from "the stately towers,
/ Reared by the industrious hand of human art" (III, 101-02).
Wordsworth is perhaps not only describing the oppressive
forces of human arts as "diligent" or "hard-working" but
also using the adjective "industrious" to function as a
12
synonym for "industrial," a usage which enables him to
refer both to human arts in general and to a specific human
art, industrialism.
"The Reverie of Poor Susan," reflecting Alison's
concept of being imprisoned in the city, presents a
character who is engaged in oppressive "mechanical arts"
and commercial pursuits. The setting of the poem is Wood
Street (1. 1) in the mercantile district of London, and
the "narrow and selfish pursuits" and the "uninteresting
details of the mechanical arts" at which Susan is employed

75
combine to give her a feeling of "doom." In the fifth
stanza of the poem, printed only in 1800, Susan is described
as a "Poor Outcast" from the rural tranquillity of her father's
home: "a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's, / The
one only dwelling on earth that she loves" (11. 11-12). The
caged thrush suggests the artificial urban life to which
Susan is subjected. Alison explains that because there is
something unnatural or "artificial" about the caged bird
"we are generally unhappy, instead of being delighted with
the song of a bird in the cage" (Essays, II, 2, i, 233).
The plight of the caged thrush is symbolic of Susan's fate:
she is imprisoned in the city of London.
The most concise expression of Wordsworth's sentiments
concerning commercialism is his sonnet "The World Is Too
Much With Us." The traditional interpretation of the sonnet,
held by Douglas Bush among others, is that the "world"
represents the "ugly materialism of our commercial and
13
industrial civilization." The persona in the sonnet
deplores the fact that commercial pursuits render persons
insensitive to natural beauty:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours. . .
(11. 1-3)
"Getting and spending" parallel Alison's "narrow and selfish
pursuits" that characterize commercial society.
The final manifestations of human art in the city are
the various forms of theatrics Wordsworth watches and the
paintings he views. Although neither Wordsworth nor Alison

76
is generally critical of painting or performing arts, the
art forms encountered in London are associated with the
deceptive artificiality which characterizes the city. The
paintings present a semblance of reality to the viewer:
. . sights that ape
The absolute presence of reality,
Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land,
And what earth is, and what she has to shew.
(Prelude, VII, 232-35)
However, such paintings are for Wordsworth "imitations,
fondly made in plain / Confession of man's weakness and
his loves" (VII, 238-39). Alison finds the painter inferior
to the poet because he is limited to the sense of sight
(Essays, I, 2, i, 131). Wordsworth finds this visual
quality distorted in London as the paintings become part
of the "spectacles" (VII, 230) characterizing city life.
The theater similarly constitutes an artificial medium,
characterized by the paradoxical quality of "measured
passions" (Prelude, VII, 405). Both Alison and Wordsworth
use the term "passion" to describe a state of intense
feeling, and Alison's definition (Essays, II, 6, ii, 389)
suggests that the "intensity of passion" cannot be assessed,
patterned, or "measured." Alison finds that "artificial
passions" pervade city life ("Cities," II, 256), and Words
worth describes a similar quality in his discussion of
Drury Lane.
Furthermore, Alison's comments on grace suggest another
characteristic of the theater. Alison notes that the
theater would appear to offer one "the exhibition of Grace"

77
(Essays, II, 6, ii, 390); however, the "extravagance of
comic, or the violence of tragic passion" is incompatible
with graceful gestures (Essays, II, 6, ii, 391). Although
Wordsworth enjoys the theater in London, when one evaluates
these theatrical productions in light of Alison's comments,
they reveal the same lack of grace that characterizes the
14
conduct of most of those Wordsworth encounters in London.
Like the paintings and theatrical productions Wordsworth
views in London, the courtroom and pulpit oratory manifests
a quality of deceptive artificiality; the artificial forms
with which city dwellers are confronted actually deceive
their senses. Alison, concerned with this deception in the
city, finds that "ministers" of sin appear not "under their
real and characteristic forms, but under the masks of spirit,
of fashion, and of liberality; under semblances well con
structed to deceive, and still better constructed to betray"
("Cities," II, 257). In his description of the theatrics
of the courtroom and the pulpit, Wordsworth echoes the theme
of deception that marks Alison's description of city life:
Each fondly reared on its own pedestal,
Looked out for admiration. . .
Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense
Of these, and of the living shapes they wear,
There is no end. (Prelude, VII, 577-83)
In Alison's terms, the "lies" the city offers the senses
have the potential to become the deceptive "ministers" of
sin.
The epitome of human art and consequently the "true
epitome / Of what the mighty City is herself" (Prelude, VII,

78
722-23), Bartholomew Fair encompasses all the aspects of human
art which both Wordsworth and Alison associate with city
lifecommercialism, industrialism, noise, mob disorder, the
artificial, and the spectacular. The fair's basic functions
are commercial (the barter and selling of goods) and spec
tacular (the exhibits designed to entertain the spectators).^
Employing Alison's aesthetic terms, "colour, motion, shape,
sight, sound" (VII, 688), Wordsworth describes the spectacle
of Bartholomew Fair as a "shock" (VII, 685) to his aesthetic
sensibilities. In fact, the fair represents the culmination
of the human art which has surrounded him during his resi
dence in London:
What a shock
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din,
Barbarian and infernal,a phantasma,
Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound!
(VII, 685-88)
Wordsworth finds the spectacular exhibits at the fair the
most "perverted" form of human art:
All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,
All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of man, his dullness, madness, and their feats
All jumbled up together, to compose
A Parliament, of Monsters.
(VII, 714-18)
The allusion to Prometheus reinforces the idea that man
feels he is being creative, that Bartholomew Fair is his
"art." However, Promethean fire is stolen from divine
sources, and Wordsworth's use of terms such as "perverted,"
"freaks," "dullness," "madness," and "Monsters" suggests
that Bartholomew Fair is a grotesque parody of divine
workmanship.

79
The final image of the fair alludes both to the number
of persons at the fair and to the mill as a symbol of in
dustrialism:
Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,
Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,
Men, Women, three-years Children, Babes in arms.
(VII, 718-21)
The masses of people at the fair resemble the products of a
machine or a factory, "melted and reduced / To one
identity . (VII, 726-29). The passage suggests Blake's
Satanic mills in "Night the Eighth" of The Four Zoas,
symbolic of the single-fold vision of the state of Ulro.
The Satanic mills are associated with repressive patterns
of thought, or negative creations, as well as with the
16
industrial situation in England. Both of these concerns
are reflected in Wordsworth's use of the mill to represent
Bartholomew Fair: both the bleakness of the industrial
world and the products of negative creativity characterize
Wordsworth's portrait of London.
Wordsworth and Alison share a concern with the con
sequences of residence in the city. When the "scenes of
human activity" obscure "the traces of divine workmanship,"
the consequences are both aesthetic and spiritual:
There is no man, I believe, who has not
occasionally felt somewhat at least of this
influence;who, in removing from the scenes
of nature, into the business and bustle of
cities, has not experienced a kind of dis
turbance of his usual train of thought;
and who, (if he has not had the wisdom to
resist them,) has not felt himself gradually
losing the firmest impressions of his earlier

80
days, and insensibly acquiring those lower
dispositions of the world, which he once had
the wisdom to lament, and to despise.
("Cities," II, 255)
Since Wordsworth and Alison believe that one develops vir
tue from association with natural forms, then the loss of
one's earlier "impressions" may lead to moral decline.
The loss of imaginative power in the presence of urban
forms is illustrated in Book VII of The Prelude. Bartholomew
Fair, the "epitome" of urban life (VII, 722), has this de
structive potential;
A work completed to our hands, that lays,
If any spectacle on earth can do,
The whole creative powers of man asleep!
For once, the Muse's help will we implore,
And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings,
Above the press and danger of the crowd,
Ucon some showman's platform.
(VII, 679-85)
In both Wordsworth's and Alison's philosophy of creation,
a state of passive responsiveness is indicated by images
of corporeal sleeping; the "exercise of imagination," by
images of mental awakening (Essays, II, 6, ii, 434).
Bartholomew Fair presents an inversion of this imagery.
While the physical body is kept awake by the spectacles
at the fair, man's "creative powers" are laid asleep (VII,
679-81).
In an infrequent invocation to the Muse, Wordsworth
asks deliverance from "the press and danger of the crowd"
(VII, 684). The term "danger" is central to Alison's sermon
on the city; in fact, over half the sermon is devoted to
"a consideration of the dangers which surround those 'who

81
dwell in the cities of the plain' . (II, 253). Alison
defines one danger as the loss of "former impressions"
("Cities," II, 255) from contact with urban life. "Impres
sions" for Alison are generally associated with the relation
ship between external stimuli and the mind (Essays, I, i, 10);
consequently, the loss of impressions is ultimately associated
with the loss of imaginative power. Alison's Essays also
reflect a concern with this danger: imaginative persons find
it necessary to escape the "noise and tumult of vulgar joy"
to "yield with security to those illusions of Imagination,
and indulge again their visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165).
As Abbie Findlay Potts indicates in her discussion of Words
worth's Poet in The Prelude and Bunyan's Christian in Pil
grim's Progress, a theme common to both works is that of
17
"flight from the city." Bunyan's Vanity Fair, representing
the corruption of moral and spiritual values in the city,
obviously serves as a model for Wordsworth's Bartholomew
Fair, representing the loss of imaginative power and the
resulting moral decline suffered by city dwellers. As Potts
points out, "The analogies between London and its Bartholomew
Fair and the Town called Vanity with its Fair 'of ancient
18
standing' are so obvious that they need few illustrations."
"The World Is Too Much With Us" is as much a commentary
on the deadening effect of the city on the imagination as a
criticism of commercialism. Karl Kroeber's interpretation
of the sonnet argues for the identification of "Getting and
spending" with the loss of visionary powers, not merely
19
with monetary exchange. When the sonnet is evaluated,

82
however, in light of the Wordsworthian and Alisonian view
of the city, it appears unnecessary to force this identifi
cation (monetary exchange as symbol for loss of visionary
powers); rather, we can see the loss of such powers as a
consequence of commercial pursuits:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon I
(11. 1-4)
Wordsworth uses the word "powers" in its Alisonian sense to
denote "qualities of Mind which are capable of producing
emotion" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 417). Alison includes "in
vention" and "fancy" as "powers" of the mind (Essays, II,
6, ii, 417); consequently, to "lay waste" one's powers by
"Getting and spending" is to deaden one's imaginative
capacity.
Loss of imaginative capacity is also associated with
insensitivity to natural beauty. This is another of Words
worth's concerns in "The World Is Too Much With Us." Alison
includes "passive" qualities of mind, "feelings and affec
tions" such as "love" and "hope," as an integral part of
the imaginative response (.Essays, II, 6, ii, 417-18). When
Wordsworth's persona notes that "We have given our hearts
away," he may be referring to man's loss of an "affection"
or "love" for nature. This interpretation is reinforced
by the persona's comment following the octave's poetic
personification of the sea and the winds: "For this, for
everything, we are out of tune; / It moves us not" (11. 8-9).

83
For Alison, the excitement of some affection necessarily
precedes the experiencing of complex emotions (Essays, I, 2,
i, 81). In the sonnet the persona is not "moved" to
experience complex emotions of beauty or sublimity upon
viewing natural forms because the affections have not been
excited.
o
The sonnet also makes the Alisonian connection between
loss of imagination and the inability to personify natural
forms. Alison finds that the mind relates to the external
world by the imaginative process of personification, ascribing
"qualities of Mind" to external objects (Essays, II, i, 184-
85). Modern man's imaginative failure, in Alison's terms,
is a failure to personify. Kroeber reaches a similar
conclusion: "Modern man lacks the power to humanize nature,
to impose upon it, to put into it, anthropomorphic beings
20
such as Triton and Proteus."
Even in "Peter Bell," a poem not directly concerned
with the city, Wordsworth associates insensitivity to natural
beauty with urban life. Although Carl Woodring accurately
21
describes Peter as a "rather absurd villain," he shares
with Wordsworth's more respectable persona in "The World Is
Too Much With Us" a city-fostered inability to relate to
natural beauty. Although Peter has spent much time with
nature, the natural forms excite no affection or feeling:
Though Nature could not touch his heart
By lovely forms, and silent weather,
And tender sounds, yet you might see
At once that Peter Bell and she
Had often been together.
(11. 286-90)

84
He is not "touched" by natural forms, and in the same
Alisonian sense the persona of the sonnet is not "moved" to
experience emotion- The urban vice underlying Peter's
insensitivity to nature distorts his ability to modify or
shape sensations received from the external world:
To all the unshaped half-human thoughts
Which solitary Nature feeds
'Mid summer storms or winter's ice,
Had Peter joined whatever vice
The cruel city breeds.
(11. 296-300)
In Alison's terms Peter's imaginative failure is his de
structive personification of natural forms. Alison finds
that poetic personification consists of "bestowing on the
inanimate objects of [the poet's] scenery the characters
and affections of mind" (Essays, II, 2, i, 132). Rather
than viewing the natural forms as expressions of "higher
qualities" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 424), Peter modifies them in
accordance with his city-bred vice.
Although Peter's villainy is given a rather absurd
22
narrative treatment, the defection of Luke to the city
in "Michael" presents the pathos of the situation without
resorting to sentimentalism.^ Alan Grob finds the poem
24
characterized by a lack of sensationalism as well. The
absence of sentimentalism and sensationalism characterizes
Wordsworth's description of Luke's decline:
Meanwhile Luke began
To slacken in his duty; and, at length,
He in the dissolute city gave himself
To evil courses: ignominy and shame
Fell on him, so that he was driven at last
To seek a hidincr-place beyond the seas.
(11. 442-47)

85
Examining Luke's behavior in Alison's terms affords added
insight into the passage. Basically, Luke's defection re
sults from his mentally alienating himself from rural virtue
at the time he is physically alienated in the city from
natural forms.
Luke has received instruction in natural virtue from
his father Michael, the hero of the poem. Wordsworth's
ideal man is one whose virtue is attached to nature, and
the characterization of Michael depends almost entirely on
his relationship with his surroundings:
Those fields, those hills . had laid
Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
(11. 74-77)
Although Michael is not a poet, the use of the terms
"affections," "feeling," "love," and "pleasure," all of
which are central in Alison's language, suggests that he
is responsive to natural forms. Moreover, Wordsworth's
assertion that Michael's love for natural forms is virtually
inseparable from the pleasures he experiences in life in
dicates that he has coupled the aesthetic appreciation of
natural forms with an ethical code of natural virtue.
With the birth of his son, Michael's natural virtue
becomes enfolded in his love for Luke. The imagery in the
poem supports such an interpretation: Luke, carrying in
his cheeks "Two steady roses" (1. 179), seems to epitomize
nature. After the birth of his son, elements of the natural
world "the Shepherd loved before / Were dearer now" (11.

86
199-200). Geoffrey Hartman draws a similar conclusion,
finding that "parental affection and love for the land are
25
fused in Michaels heart."
Alison's sermons provide an accurate description of what
happens to Luke in the city. Alison finds the city "dangerous
to morality, as it provides the means of temptation" ("Cities,"
II, 256). Luke, prior to this time, has known only what
Alison terms "the innocence of rural life" ("Cities," II,
256). Moreover, cities are dangerous because they contain
"both Examples and Authority in vice" ("Cities," II, 258).
Although nature checks the "first beginnings of sin," the
"society of great cities tends but too powerfully to counter
act this salutary restraint":
It is there that every class and description of
guilt finds its companions and defenders;--that
the ambitious assemble, the sordid combine, the
profligate associate.It is there that fashion
misleads, in the higher conditions of life, and
example seduces in the lower;that the con
sciousness of individual guilt is lost amid the
guilt of the multitude who share it;and that
sophistry prepares its arguments to harden the
yet repenting heart against the return of its
first and best impressions. ("Cities," II, 258-59)
Two aspects of this description are applicable to Luke's
experience in the city. The loss of "consciousness of
individual guilt" is attributed by Alison to the "obscurity
which is produced to the individual, when he mingles in the
multitude of society" ("Cities," II, 260). Alison finds
that in the "solitude of rural life, every man is an object
of observation" ("Cities," II, 260). On the contrary, lost
in the "multitude" of the great cities, he is removed from

87
the observation of others: "No eye follows him with interest
or affection;no well-known countenance marks, in every
hour, by its expression, the joy or the sorrow his conduct
may occasion" ("Cities," II, 260). In the rural setting in
which Luke was raised, Michael has certainly viewed his son's
conduct with "interest" and "affection." Michael's discipline
is similar to Alison's description of expressing satisfaction
or dissatisfaction with the conduct of another: when Michael
is displeased with Luke's behavior, his response is to
. . exercise his heart with looks
Of fond correction and reproof bestowed
Upon the Child. . (11. 172-74)
Away from his father's discipline and example of rural virtue,
Luke loses his "consciousness of individual guilt" ("Cities,"
II, 259); this loss, in turn, effects "dishonour" and
"wretchedness" ("Cities," II, 261). The loss of feelings
of guilt renders Luke susceptible to what Alison terms the
city's "evil communication."
Alison considers "evil communication" one of the city's
most dangerous offerings; in fact, two of his sermons are
concerned with this aspect of city life. "Upon the Impor
tance of Religious Example" introduces the theme of the loss
of innocence and "that evil communication of which populous
towns have unfortunately ever been so profuse" (II, 283), a
theme which is more fully explored in the sermon entitled
"On Evil Communication." Michael seems to recognize this
danger but feels Luke will be able to resist temptation if
"evil men" become his companions (11. 405-06) However,

88
once Luke enters city life, the forces of evil communication
become too powerful for him to resist. Alison describes the
process:
If, accordingly, the young were left only to
nature and themselves, it is reasonable to
think they might pass this important period
of life without danger. . But unhappily
for them, and unhappily for the world, it is
at this time, that "evil communications" begin
to assail them; that they are deceived by the
promises of vice and folly. . ("Evil
Communication," I, 241-42)
The forces of evil communication "assail" the youths of
Alison's sermon; Luke is also "assailed" by external forces.
The result of such deception is "ignominy and shame" (1.
445). Alison is especially concerned with evil communica
tion afforded by those who permit "the most valuable years
of life to pass away in idleness and prodigality" ("Evil
Communication," I, 249). Idleness and prodigality appear
to be Luke's sins as he abandons the industry and economy
that has characterized his parents' lives; he begins to
"slacken in his duty" (1. 443) and gives himself to "evil
courses" (1. 445).
Wordsworth and Alison share the metaphor of youth as a
blossom which can be destroyed by external forces. Words
worth's use of the image of "Two steady roses" (1. 179) in
Luke's cheeks is consistent with Alison's comments on the
"delicacy" of youth ("Evil Communication," I, 242). For
Alison such an appraisal is both aesthetic and ethical:
the aesthetic response inspired by any delicate form is
compatible with Alison's description of youth who "come out

89
of the hand of nature pure and uncorrupted" ("Evil Communi
cation," I, 240). Luke, in the city, is confronted with
evil communication, the "malignant power" of city vice that
destroys his natural virtue ("Evil Communication," I, 238).
Moreover, the flower metaphor indicates the tragedy of
Luke's corruption both for Michael and for those who hear
the story
How painful . is it, (even to the unconnected
spectators), ... to see the spring of life un
timely blasted by some malignant power which
withers all the blossoms of virtue, and closes
all the expectations we have formed of their
opening being. ("Evil Communication," I, 238)
Michael's pain at his shattered expectations, masked to some
extent by his stoic and spiritual partnership with the land,
is reflected in his attitude concerning the sheepfold,
which represents both his love for nature and his love for
Luke:
. . 'tis believed by all
That many and many a day he thither went,
And never lifted up a single stone.
(11. 464-66)
Michael's fate indicates a Wordsworthian and Alisonian
attitude toward the evil personified in the city: even
one strengthened by communion with nature is afforded no
protection from evil; natural virtue merely enables one to
face the evil of others without exhaustion.
Both Wordsworth and Alison deal with the proper re
sponse of one who is forced to reside in the city. Alison's
advice in the sermons is predictably didactic: withdraw
from society for "regular hours" of "thought and meditation"

90
("Cities," II, 263), communicate with God and invoke divine
assistance ("Cities," II, 265), and congregate "with the
faithful of your people 'in the temple of God'" ("Cities,"
II, 266). However, when this advice is coupled with Alison's
statements in Essays on Taste, some similarity with Words
worth's beliefs becomes apparent: the concept of retreat
appears in Essays on Taste (and in Wordsworth's poetry) as
a retreat "from the noise and tumult of vulgar joy" to
"indulge" one's "visionary bliss" (I, 2, i, 165). Alison's
clarification of the concept of communion with God suggests
that it is an imaginative, as well as a religious, exercise
and that it includes a mood of reflection as well as the
specific act of prayer:
. . it is then that, escaping from the eye of
the world which fascinates us, we feel ourselves
in the presence of Him "who inhabiteth eternity,"
and, removed from the voice of earthly passion,
that we listen to the voice of "Him who comes
to seek, and suffers to save us." It is in such
exercises that the religious mind finds all its
rewards!that under the influence of the ever
near and assisting spirit, it throws off the
stains and impurities which it had acquired;
that it returns to the purity of all its
original impressions; that higher sentiments
awaken, and holier desires are felt. . .
("Cities," II, 265-66)
Even Alisons admonition to go to church is clarified as a
type of spiritual retreat: "For one solemn hour, the world
is thrown behind them. The delusions of society cease, and
the pulse of passion is still" ("Cities," II, 267). Thus,
much of Alison's advice may be described as an admonition
to retreat from the city's most noxious stimuli--Wordsworth1s

91
"fermenting mass" (Prelude, VII, 621) or Alison's society of
evil communication.
The concept of retreat from noxious urban stimuli
appears in "The Reverie of Poor Susan" as her waking dream.
In Alisonian terms Susan is indulging her "visionary bliss":
She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.
(11. 5-8)
Susan's experience clearly conforms to Alison's description
of "the young and the romantic" who find their imaginative
life more pleasurable than their real life (Essays, I, 2,
i, 165). Alison finds that "without any particular object
of meditation" pleasant scenes "rise as by enchantment be
fore the mind" (Essays, I, 2, i, 164). Even if the thrush
is considered an object of mediation, Susan's experience is
still the basic Alisonian process of the imagination's
effecting images in our mind "very different from those
which the objects themselves can present to the eye" (Essays,
I, 1, i, 5). Wordsworth's use of the phrase "note of en
chantment" (1. 5) to describe the bird's song seems to echo
Alison's terminology and suggests that Susan's imaginative
experience has a magical quality that transcends strict
empiricism.
Two of the qualities Alison ascribes to the imaginative
experience are reflected in Susan's reverie. Such illusions
are comforting (one may "yield with security") but transitory
She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:

92
The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes!
(11. 13-16)
The type of reverie Susan experiences affords only momentary
comfort in the midst of urban life. Although the fifth
stanza of the poem, appearing only in the 1800 edition, has
Susan returning to the home of her father, the final version
of the poem leaves Susan imprisoned in London.
Wordsworth in Book VII of The Prelude and the persona
in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" also retreat from
urban society for thought and meditation. The persona of
"Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" stands above the city
while its inhabitants are still sleeping and observes "the
very houses seem asleep; / And all that mighty heart is
lying still!" (11. 13-14). The poet in Book VII of The
Prelude similarly enjoys the city when it is devoid of man's
enterprises. In London at night, Wordsworth finds forms
which can, in Alison's terms, "awaken" his "genius" (Essays,
I, 6, ii, 433) :
. . scenes different there are,
Full-formed, that take, with small internal help,
Possession of the faculties,the peace
That comes with night; the deep solemnity
Of nature's intermediate hours of rest,
When the great tide of human life stands still;
The business of the day to come, unborn,
Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave;
The blended calmness of the heavens and earth,
Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds
Unfrequent as in deserts. . (VII, 652-62)
The operation of the mind in this passage suggests Alison's
description of the process of association; the scene causes
the poet to be "conscious of a train of thought being

93
immediately awakened in his imagination, analogous to the
character or expression of the original object" (Essays, I,
1, i, 4-5). The scene in London at night also reflects
Alison's assertion that tranquillity is the associated
emotion of the sensation of silence (Essays, II, 1, i, 184).
Alison finds an "alliance . between heaven and earth"
suggested by natural forms (Essays, II, 6, ii, 443), and
Wordsworth finds in "Moonlight and stars" the "blended
calmness of the heavens and earth" (VII, 660-01). Alison's
description of communion with God as escape from "earthly
passion" ("Cities," II, 265) approximates Wordsworth's
experience. The type of escape Wordsworth experiences in
London at night is a retreat from objects of human art to
a setting in which he is surrounded by divine workmanship.
Finally, the imaginative person trapped in the city has
still another means of escape afforded him: he can perceive
a type of natural order in urban forms. The processoccur
ring both in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" and in The
Preludeis clarified by an understanding of Alison's con
cept of harmony. For Alison, "harmony," one's perception of
the interrelationship of parts, is prerequisite for the
apprehension of the essence of the whole and for the ex
periencing of any complex emotion (Essays, II, 4, ii, 10).
Both the persona of the sonnet and the poet of The Prelude
discover that urban forms manifest a type of harmony similar
to that which pervades the natural world.

94
In "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" the concept of
harmony is reflected in the persona's recognition that the
urban forms can share the "majesty" (1. 3) and tranquillity
of the natural world. The way the persona of the sonnet
relates to the urban forms reflects Alison's concept of the
relationship of the internal and the external: "Ne'er saw
I, never felt, a calm so deep!" (1. 11). The use of the
verb "saw" indicates perception; the verb "felt" is used
by both Alison and Wordsworth to express sensation, an
internal response to external stimuli (Essays, II, 1, i,
177). The persona notes that the urban forms, mantled by
nature, effect the complex emotion of beauty:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning. . (11. 1-5)
The persona's response to the city is similar to Alison's
description of the response of the sensitive person to
natural forms:
. . I believe there is no man of genuine taste,
xvho has not often felt, in the lone majesty of
nature, some unseen spirit to dwell, which, in
his happier hours, touched as if with magic
hand, all the springs of moral sensibility. . .
(Essays, II, 6, ii, 438)
The city forms appear under the guise of the natural, and
the persona is able to experience emotions similar to those
experienced on actually viewing natural forms.
Furthermore, the most noxious evidences of man's
activities in the citysmoke and noiseare gone, and the
naturalthe sun and the riveris emphasized. The air is

95
"smokeless" (1. 8), and "Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and
temples" (1.6), edifices erected by human art, are "silent"
(1.5). Grob suggests the importance of the sun and the
river in the sonnet: for Wordsworth to acknowledge that
urban forms offer any potential for harmony and tranquillity
is "probably owing to the presence, in this urban prospect,
of his two major agents of natural harmony," the sun and
2 6
the river." As an additional indication of the harmony
of the scene, heaven and earth seem to converge: urban
forms "Open unto the fields, and to the sky" (1. 7). This
merger, suggesting Alison's "alliance . between heaven
and earth" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 443), represents the persona's
discovery that even urban forms can become symbolic of
divine workmanship.
While the persona in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge"
has only to perceive the harmony in urban forms mantled by
nature, the persona in The Prelude is forced to impose
imaginatively a type of natural order on urban forms. The
stimuli with which Wordsworth is confronted are basically
oppressive, with potential to deaden the imagination:
. . trivial objects, melted and reduced
To one identity, by differences
That have no law, no meaning, and no end
Oppression, under which even the highest minds
Must labour, whence the strongest are not free.
(VII, 726-30)
While natural forms serve as a stimulus for the exercise of
imagination, the mind must work against the influence of
urban objects.

96
Juxtaposed to the madness and confusion of Bartholomew
Fair is the description of the manner in which the persona
imaginatively perceives the forms:
But though the picture weary out the eye,
By nature an unmanageable sight,
It is not wholly so to him who looks
In steadiness, who hath among least things
An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole.
(VII, 731-36)
The persona is able to impose a type of Alisonian harmony
on the "unmanageable sight" confronting him in London.
Alison offers a tribute to imaginative powers that clarifies
the persona's ability to experience harmony in London:
Our minds, instead of being governed by the
character of external objects, are enabled to
bestow upon them a character which does net
belong to them; ... to connect feelings of
a nobler or a more interesting kind, than any
that the mere influences of matter can ever
convey. (Essays, II, 6, ii, 428)
The "under-sense of greatest" to which Wordsworth refers
relates the terminology of sensationalism ("sense") to the
ethical concept of the "exercises" in which "the religious
mind finds all its rewards" ("Cities," II, 266). The
exercise in which the poet participates is both imaginative
and ethical: the "mind" returns to the "purity of all its
original impressions," and "higher sentiments awaken, and
holier desires are felt" ("Cities," II, 266). The use of
the verb "awaken" in Alison's description reinforces the
idea that religious exercise is related to the exercise
of the imacrination.

97
The poet's imaginative return to the "purity of all
[the mind's] original impressions" ("Cities," II, 266) is
followed by a passage which alludes indirectly to Alison's
concept of the mind as the repository of sensations and
associated ideas (Essays, I, i, 132):
Attention springs,
And comprehensiveness and memory flow.
From early converse with the works of God
Among all regions; chiefly where appear
Most obviously simplicity and power.
(VII, 740-44)
The term "memory" also suggests Alison's discussion of
individual associations "connected with our own private
affections or remembrances" which result from "our own
memory and affections" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 422). Words-
r
worth's catalogue of remembered sensations is consistent
with Alison's concept of "majesty" (VII, 756) and "power"
(VII, 744) as "ideas of Emotion" effected by natural forms
(Essays, I, 2, i, 75). Alison's theory that motion without
apparent cause expresses power (Essays, II, 5, ii, 207) is
reflected in Wordsworth's description of the sea's motion:
And, as the sea propels, from zone to zone,
Its currents; magnufies its shoals of life
Beyond all compass; spreads, and sends aloft
Armies of clouds. 1 (VII, 750-53; my italics)
This description, coupled with Wordsworth's comment on the
sea's "beauty" (VII, 749), suggests Alison's concept that
"verbs in the active voice" are used to describe beautiful
motion (Essays, II, 5, ii, 208).
Like the emotions associated with the sea, the
remembered beauty of the "ancient hills" (VII, 757) helps

98
the persona to impose an imaginative order on the confusion
and chaos of London:
The changeful language of their countenances
Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts,
However multitudinous, to move
With order and relation. (VII, 758-61)
According to Alison's theory, the harmony the forms exhibit
connects them both with the poet's "affections" and with
his "memory." Alison finds that the scenes selected "by
Poets for description or allusion, are all such as have
some determinate Expression or Association" (Essays, II, 4,
ii, 13-14) and that poets "perceive or demand a relation
among the different parts to this peculiar Character"
(Essays, II, 4, ii, 14). Moreover, it is natural forms
that display "the utmost harmony and felicity of Composi
tion" (Essays, II, 4, ii, 14). If, for Alison, the imagina
tion is afforded the "key of the scene" (Essays, II, 4, ii,
11), we "conclude, that the Composition is good, and yield
ourselves willingly to its influence" (Essays, II, 4, ii,
12). The poet "yields" to the "influence" of the remembered
beauty of the natural forms, a process which imposes a kind
of harmony and order on the mental confusion and imaginative
slumbering which has characterized his life in London.
The conclusion to Book VII of The Prelude unites the
concept of harmony with Alison's idea of the "spirit" per
vading the natural world (Essays, II, 6, ii, 438). By re
taining his earlier impressions, Wordsworth is able to find
the "Spirit of Nature" "diffused" throughout "London's vast
domain" (VII, 765);

99
The Spirit of Nature was upon me there;
The soul of Beauty and enduring Life
Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused,
Through meagre lines and colours, and the press
Of self-destroying, transitory things,
Composure, and ennobling Harmony. (VII, 766-71)
The "Spirit of Nature" the poet senses in London has a
parallel in Alison's "unseen spirit" permeating external
nature and serves as an antidote to the potentially de
structive aspects of urban life. Alison's "unseen spirit"
touches, "as if with magic hand, all the springs of moral
sensibility," rekindling "those original conceptions of
the moral or intellectual excellence of his nature, which
it is the melancholy tendency of the vulgar pursuits of
life to diminish, if not altogether to destroy" (Essays,
II, 6, ii, 438). Life in London is characterized by
"vulgar pursuits"worldly ambitions and ungraceful conduct.
However, the poet is able to transform "meagre lines and
colours" imaginatively, to view them as possessing "ennobling
Harmony." Alison finds that "organic enjoyment" is not
"the only object of our formation": the "nobler conclusion"
for which man is destined is to be led by nature "to the
throne of the Deity" (Essays, II, 6, ii, 441-42). In
Alison's terms "ennobling Harmony" refers not only to an
aesthetic appreciation of form but also to an ethical
appreciation of the end for which man was created.
The presence of the "Spirit of Nature" in London
described in the conclusion to Book VII of The Prelude
suggests that the poet's attitude toward the city is not
as simple as it may first appear to be. Wordsworth is not

100
merely a pastoralist, whose love for the natural and dis
pleasure with the artificial causes him to seek God's
world rather than man's. Instead, Wordsworth's views
concerning the city as expressed in his poetry, and as
clarified to us by the aesthetics of Alison, encompass both
the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions. When Wordsworth's
poetic treatment of the city is evaluated in light of
Alison's theories, it becomes apparent that rather than
offering an unqualified condemnation of urban life, he is
objecting to specific stimuli which neither excite the
imagination nor give rise to moral improvement. Conse
quently, it is possible to remain in the city but to
counter its tendency to deaden one's imagination and to
lead to moral decline by imaginatively perceiving urban
forms as part of a harmony similar to that which permeates
the natural world. Wordsworth never abandons his concept
of natural virtue, but to attempt to explain his views of
the city only in terms of the opposition between natural
virtue and urban vice represents an oversimplification of
his ideas. Alison's Essays on Taste and his collected ser
mons make one aware of the complexities inherent in Words
worth's treatment of the city at the same time that they
constitute an invaluable means of clarifying and explaining
these complexities.

101
Notes
Williams' study, The Country and the City (London: Ox
ford Univ. Press, 1973), employs a sociological or Marxist
approach: he views landscape and country-house literature
as "mystifications" of the existing social order, mystifica
tions which transform literary descriptions of rural life
into expressions of "social compliment" for writers such as
Jonson, Thomson, Goldsmith, and Crabbe (p. 33). In Happy
Rural Seat: The English Country House and the Literary
Imagination (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1972), Richard
Gill analyzes the significance of the country house in the
works of modern authors such as Henry James and suggests in
an appendix ("The Poetry of Property") the importance of
this theme in earlier fiction. The classical motif of the
beatus vir appears both in Maynard Mack's The Garden and the
City: Retirement and Politics in the Later Poetry of Pope,
17 31-17'4'3 (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1969) and in
Maren-Sof ie Rj2fetvig' s The Happy Man: Studies in the Metamor
phoses of a Classical Ideal (2nd ed., Oslo Studies in English,
T] 2 vols. [Oslo: Norwegian Universities Press, 1962-71]).
Mack, arguing for the poet's Twickenham garden as an image
of retirement, finds that Pope frequently "speaks in the
guise of the Twickenham garden-philosopher who understands
and respects nature" (p. 85). R^stvig's two-volume study is
a more comprehensive treatment of the beatus vir: he shows
how epicureanism is modified by Augustan standards of
morality and suggests that the figure of the beatus vir is
ultimately destroyed in the poetry of James Thomson. Ralph
Cohen's The Unfolding of The Seasons (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins Univi Press, I9T0) argues for Thomson's poem as
indicative of a new attitude toward nature: in Thomson's
landscape poetry, both man and nature are subject to dis
order and transience.
2
Joseph Warren Beach, The Concept of Nature in
Nineteenth-Century English Poetry (1936; rpt. New York:
Russell and Russell, 1966)', p. 37.
3 .
Citations from Alison's sermons, indicated paren
thetically in the text, are to Sermons, Chiefly on Particu-
lar Occasions, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable,
1315) .
4
Beach, p. 37.
5
"William Wordsworth to Charles James Fox," 14 January
1801, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The
Early Years 1787-1805, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev.
Chester L. Shaver, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967),
p. 314.

102
6
Sir Archibald Alison, bart., Some Account of My Life
and Writings: An Autobiography, ed. Lady Jane R. Alison,
2 vols. (Edinburgh: W^ Blackwood and Sons, 1883), I, 12.
7 .
Citations from Alison's essays, indicated parenthe
tically in the text, are to Essays on the Nature and
Principles of Taste, 3rd ed.-) 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Archibald
Constable, 1812).
g
Citations from Wordsworth's prefaces and poems other
than The Prelude, indicated parenthetically in the text,
are to The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, ed. Ernest
De Selincourt, 2nd ed., 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952-59).
9
In the second essay, "Of the Sublimity and Beauty of
the Material World," Alison's chapter divisions reflect his
concern with the empirical basis of aesthetics: "On the
Sublimity and Beauty of Sound," "On the Sublimity and Beauty
of the Objects of Sight," and "On the Sublimity and Beauty
of Motion" are among his topics of discussion.
"LBoth Wordsworth and Alison exploit the various con
notations of the word "spectacle." Both use the term in
its basic denotative sense"a thing seen or capable of
being seen"a definition which relates to the terminology
of empiricism. Alison uses the term "spectacle" to describe
the "marvel or admiration" with which one regards the
natural world. In Book VII of The Prelude Wordsworth
"marvels" at the "spectacle" (1. 643) of the blind beggar;
however, more typically in his portrait of London he evokes
the negative connotations of the word: the display of rare
birds and beasts (VII, 230), the blasphemous woman (VII,
394), and Bartholomew Fair (VII, 680) are "spectacles" in
that they are objects of "curiosity or contempt."
"^Citations from The Prelude, indicated parenthetically
in the text, are to The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's
Mind, ed. Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Helen Darbishire, 2nd
ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959). Although all of the
poems discussed in detail in this chapter are from the
decade 1798-1807, the 1850 edition of The Prelude is used
because of what I take to be its stylistic improvements.
Most of the passages discussed show no significant "changes
of idea" (De Selincourt's term, p. lxiii) in the later
edition.
12
The OED notes that the word "industrious" is used
occasionally in the nineteenth century as synonymous with
"industrial."

103
13
Douglas Bush, Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in
English Poetry (Cambridge: Harvard College, 1937), p. 58.
14
W.P. Albrecht ("Archibald Alison and the Sublime
Pleasures of Tragedy," in Romantic and Victorian: Studies
in Memory of William H. Marshall, ed. W. Paul Elledge and
Richard L. Hoffman [Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson
Univ. Press, 1971]) notes that Alison sometimes fails to
"make very liberal judgments" in his drama criticism. For
example, he finds "Shakespeare's taste inferior to his genius"
(p. 243) and maintains that the English stage is inferior to
the French because drama such as Shakespeare's lacks grace:
"the bold delineations of character which distinguish the
drama which Shakespeare has formed, can be represented only
by the display of an energy and extremity of passion which
is incompatible with the temperance of graceful gesture"
(Essays, II, 5, ii, 403).
15
Henry Morley, Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair (London:
Chapman and Hall, 1859), p. vii. By Wordsworth's time,
Morley notes, the fair was more a "Pleasure Fair" than a
"place of Trade," the majority of the participants being
attracted by the "freaks" (VII, 715) and the "Prodigies"
(VII, 693) Wordsworth describes in The Prelude.
16
The Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V.
Erdman (1965; rpt. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970):
The Mills of Satan and Beelzeboul stand round the
roots of Urizens tree
For this lake is forrnd from tears & sighs & death
sweat of the Victims
Of Urizens laws. to irrigate the roots of the tree
of Mystery. (11. 26-28)
17
Abbie Findlay Potts, Wordsworth's Prelude: A Study
of Its Literary Form (1953; rot. New York: Octagon Books,
1966), pp. 219-20.
18
Potts, p. 237. Also common to both works is the
theme of deception and lies in the city and the absence
of truth. "Truth" is the only item Christian and Faithful
wish to purchase in Vanity Fair, and the "freward multitude"
hearing Burke speak hates "truth" (VII, 531-32).
19
Karl Kroeber, "A Newr Reading of 'The World Is Too
Much With Us,'" Studies in Romanticism, 2 (August 1962), 184.
20
Kroeber, p. 186.

104
21
Carl R. Woodring, "Peter Bell and 'The Pious: A New
Letter," Philological Quarterly, 30 (October 1951), 433.
22
Woodring refers to the narrative method as "playful"
(p. 433).
23
Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, the editors
of Understanding Poetry (New York: H. Holt, 1938) describe
the poem in a similar manner, noting that it achieves an
effect of "slow-moving forcefulness" (pp. 84-85).
24
Alan Grob, The Philosophic Mind: A Study of Words
worth's Poetry and~Thought, 1797-1805 (Columbus: Ohio State
Univ. Press, 973), p7 177.
25
Geoffrey H. Hartman, Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press^ 1964) p. 263.
^Grob, p. 105.

CHAPTER III
ALISON AND THE HUMAN FOCUS OF WORDSWORTH'S
POETRY CONCERNING MATURITY
Although both Wordsworth and Alison view the child as
an object of aesthetic interest, their concern with his
natural education suggests progression toward the goal of
spiritual maturity. In fact, part of the importance of
childhood and youth resides in the preparation it provides
for adult life. Without minimizing the significance of
childhood or detracting from the child's glory, both writers
indicate that in maturity human powers are completely de
veloped and adults define themselves, according to Alison,
as either "the blessings or the curse of the society to
which they belong" {"On the Love of Excellence," II, 208).^
Both Wordsworth and Alison find that maturity brings an
increased interest in mankind: the adult not only identi
fies with other human beings (and more importantly with
human virtue) but also recognizes that this sense of human
dignity is, as Alison notes, "obviously intended as a
principle of Conduct,--as a source not only of enjoyment,
but of activity,as a constant spur, not only to make us
think, but to make us act with dignity" ("Of the Dangers of
Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With Active Virtue,"
II, 231).
Both scholars concerned with Wordsworth and writers
who describe the theological temperament of the late
105

106
eighteenth century emphasize the concern for humanity central
to much of Wordsworth's poetry concerning maturity; Alison
provides an especially valuable background for examining
this interest in mankind because his ideas furnish a frame
work in which we may evaluate the poet's views without sug
gesting that Wordsworth subscribed to any single codified
theory or moral doctrine. Scholars not directly concerned
with Wordsworth have described the growing interest in
benevolence and sympathetic identification with other human
beings as a dominant impulse of the age immediately preceding
2
the Romantic period. The ideas which Wordsworth and Alison
expressed were thus partly the product of the age in which
they wrote; nevertheless, Alison remains a valuable analogue
for the study of Wordsworth because of certain specific
ideas the two writers share concerning maturity. Most
critics of Wordsworth have noted his evolving interest in
mankind in his description of his own maturity; however, an
examination of the poets concern for humanity in light of
Alison's ideas affords a better understanding of how the
young adult identifies with mankind and how such identifica
tion becomes the foundation of his ethics and defines the
standards of character and conduct appropriate for adult
life. After reviewing some of the relevant criticism, I
shall discuss the following aspects of maturity, using
Alison to clarify Wordsworth's ideas: (1.) the poet's
growing regard for mankind as described in Book VIII of
The Prelude--his love for simple persons whose virtue is

107
closely allied with nature, his exaltation of the humble
person, and his description of the virtues associated with
simple life; (2) Wordsworth's recognition of man's mortality,
his sympathy for human frailty, and the charity and benevo
lence such understanding inspires; and, finally (3), an
appreciation of man's potential for greatness and the obli
gations such potential imposes.
Donald Greene's reassessment of R.S. Crane's "Sugges
tions Toward a Genealogy of the 'Man of Feeling'"^ helps to
clarify much of the literature of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. Although Greene's primary thesis is
that Crane is incorrect, in attributing some of these doc
trines to latitudinarian Anglicans and that some of these
ideas certainly appeared before 1660, his discussion is
especially helpful because his careful analysis of Crane's
ideas provides important insight into the theological tem
perament of the age in which Wordsworth and Alison wrote.
Greene's discussion of the concept of "universal benevolence"
and "anti-stoicism" suggests the two writers' concern with
active virtue, benevolence, and charity, as well as their
4
sympathy for all mankind. Furthermore, his comments on
antincmianism and Pelagianism help clarify both writers'
position on the importance of charitable acts. Anglicanism,
as Greene explains, "firmly repudiates antinomianism," the
heresy "that those who have attained justification by faith
have no further need to concern themselves with 'good
works'"; disowning antinomianism, however, does not imply

108
that Anglican theologians accepted Pelagianism, "the doctrine
that unaided man has the power to perform works which simply
in themselves have such merit" that they "can effect an
5
individual's salvation." Both Wordsworth and Alison main
tain that religious doctrine should be blended with the
"common business" of life ("On the Love of Excellence," II,
206). Alison, in fact, implies that charitable deeds are a
means by which "faith may be exercised" ("On the Consolation
Which the Gospel Affords Under the Natural Evils of Life,"
I, 375), a position suggesting that good deeds complement,
not supersede, "justification by faith."
Raymond Dexter Havens, who studies Wordsworth's philos
ophy in The Prelude, and Colin C. Clarke and Arthur Beatty,
who describe the poet's concept of natural education, note
the adult's increasing interest in mankind. Moreover, even
scholars with different critical approaches, who arrive at
varying conclusions about the role this interest in humanity
plays in Wordsworth's philosophy, acknowledge the mature
person's concern for other human beings. Although Beatty's
description of Wordsworth's concern for humanity is the
most explicit and relates perhaps most closely to Alison's
philosophy, critics in the latter group, such as Harold
Bloom, Richard E. Brantley, and Alan Grob, are important in
that their comments also point to the thematic importance
of mankind in Wordsworth's poetry.
Raymond Dexter Havens' dated but still useful study of
The Prelude suggests the human focus of the latter books of

109
the poem, specifically Book VIII. Despite the "loosely knit,
discursive, repetitious style" of Book VIII, Havens finds
"nearly all passages connected, if somewhat remotely, with
the main theme""Love of Nature Leading to Love of Mankind."
Furthermore, he notes that the book reevaluates the first
twenty-one years of the poet's life in light of his growing
interest in mankind and describes its significance in terms
of the overall structure of The Prelude: "Such a study comes
very properly at this place just before an account of the
visit to France, which was not only the most important event
in his life but the one that did the most to develop his
g
interest in mankind."
Colin C. Clarke's description of nature's "moral edu
cation" examines the relationship between such training
and adult virtue. Nature's education, Clarke maintains,
effects "a love of mannot the love of one class of men
only, but of all men." He finds this love of mankind the
foundation of the poet's "moral strength" and the "climax
of his education through nature." In Wordsworth's maturity
" . man assumes a new dignity and he himself assumes a
7
new serenity." Clarke's remarks are especially significant
in that he views Wordsworth's concern for mankind as a
determinant of his attitude and conduct in adulthood: the
"new serenity" suggests the "philosophic mind" of "Ode:
Intimations of Immortality," reconciling the poet to adult
responsibilities.

110
Arthur Beatty cites both Wordsworth's poetry and prose
as evidence of his concern for mankind. Examining three
poems concerning maturity ("Elegiac Stanzas on Peele Castle,"
"Tintern Abbey," and "Ode: Intimations of Immortality"),
Beatty concludes: "All alike identify complete attainment
and unity with complete identification of the individual
with his kind." He finds that the poet's criticism similarly
emphasizes human attributes:
. . in the Advertisement to the Lyrical Ballads
in 1798, he threw over all aesthetic theories and
based the merits of his poetry on the sole merit
of a "natural delineation of human passions, human
characters, and human incidents," a position which
he never abandoned, but held tenaciously in all the
succeeding prefaces.
This focus on mankind, Beatty notes, separates Wordsworth
from the Rousseauists and suggests affinities with the
g
philosophies of Bacon and Locke. Like Clarke, Beatty
discusses the adult's relationship to nature and the edu
cation it has provided:
Thus, the function of Nature is to furnish us with
the materials of a true knowledge, and the educa
tion of man is to adjust his relations to her so
that she becomes the helper, and not the usurper,
of a power and place which she should not possess.
Other scholars also describe the theme of love for
mankind in Wordsworth's poetry. Harold Bloom maintains
that until Book VIII of The Prelude Wordsworth is "affected
only by external nature, but with a gradually intensifying
sense of others held just in abeyance." ^"L Although he
maintains that Wordsworth's "mature love for nature leads
to love for other men," Bloom finds the poet's attitude

Ill
toward maturity somewhat ambivalent: man's "mature love
for nature" includes recognizing nature as "external" to
12
himself, a process effecting both "freedom" and "grief."
Richard E. Brantley's analysis of Wordsworth's "spiritual
idiom," specifically his distinction between Extraordinary
and Ordinary spiritual experiences, points to an important
difference between childhood and maturity: the "Extraordinary
emotions" of the poet's youth "are soon replaced by a growing
regard for his fellow man; and the 'grace' (The Prelude [1805
ed.], VIII, 488) of mature spiritual experience seems
. 13
Ordinary m the precise and honorific meaning of the term."
Finally, in examining the relationship between Wordsworth
and William Godwin, Alan Grob asserts that it is the human
focus of the theory of rational benevolence, "together with
its emphasis upon the importance of individual moral achieve
ment," that Wordsworth found attractive. Grob concludes
that Wordsworth is not "a disciple of Godwin," but rather
that his primary concern is the process of human development:
His principal interest is, of course, in delineating
the details of the process itself and pointing to
the important contributory roles played by nature
and man's early sympathies and passions in bridging
the gulf between childhood egoism and a mature and
disinterested concern for the welfare of others. 4
The fact that these three critics, each employing a different
approach, arrive at essentially the same conclusion about
the adult's concern for others indicates the importance of
the theme in Wordsworth's poetry.
Despite the volume of criticism treating Wordsworth's
interest in mankind, Alison's theories are important in that

112
they help to clarify certain aspects of the poet's philosophy
that at first appear contradictory. For example, in Book
VIII of The Prelude Wordsworth describes both the frailty
and the grandeur of man:
How little they, they and their doings, seem,
And all that they can further or obstruct!
Through utter weakness pitiably dear,
As tender infants are: and yet how great! ^
For all things serve them. . (11. 59-63)x
Wordsworth's description suggests the Augustan concept of
humanism. Humanism, as Paul Fussell defines the term,
points to a similar "paradox" in human nature: despite
human "limitations," man is "the only creature capable of
16
dignity." Alison's theories provide a framework in which
the poet's concern with these paradoxical qualities may be
better understood. Wordsworth's humanitarianismhis love
for mankind and his emphasis on qualities such as benevolence
and charityarises from an essentially humanistic conception
of man's nature. After reviewing the poet's retrospective
account of how his love for nature led to a love for mankind,
specifically his love for those simple persons whose virtue
is closely allied to nature, and describing the benevolence
and charity such love inspires, I shall examine the basically
humanistic conclusion to The Prelude, which maintains that the
dignity of mankind resides in the divinity of the human mind.
The conclusion to Alison's Essays on Taste, reflecting
humanitarian concerns, describes a process analogous to that
which Wordsworth relates in Book VIII of The Prelude.
Nature's education leads one to identify with humanity, and
this identification effects benevolence and sympathy:

113
It [the purpose of a natural education] is to
identify them with the happiness of that nature
to which they belong; to give them an interest
in every species of being which surrounds them;
. . to awaken those latent feelings of
benevolence and of sympathy, from which all the
moral or intellectual greatness of man finally
arises. (II, 6, ii, 447)^-^
Similarly, in his sermon "On Spring," Alison notes that one
of the lessons the season should teach us is "the love of
nature and of humanity." Since spring symbolizes the
"benevolence of God," nature should effect a similar love
for mankind:
Is it possible we can contemplate this scene,
without feeling our own benevolence exalted?
without being reminded anew of the ties which
relate us to all the family of God; and without
blending with the love of Him "who alone is good,"
the love of every thing that he hath made?
(I, 37-38)
Book VIII of The Prelude describes a process similar
to that Alison has outlined. As Wordsworth reaches maturity,
he turns more and more to human concerns, a process that
occurs "instinctively," without conscious effort. A "ready
pupil" of fancy Cl. 424), the poet turns "Instinctively to
human passions, then / Least understood" (11. 425-26). As
the fanciful and sentimentalized account of the woodman
"Withering by slow degrees, 'mid gentle airs" (1. 446) sug
gests, the boy has by no means reached the state of exalted
benevolence Alison describes; nevertheless, fancy's "slender
cords" help "to guide the unconscious Boy / For the Man's
sake ..." (11, 455-56) Nature's role in the process is
underscored when Wordsworth describes how natural forms and
human concerns merge without his conscious effort:

114
Even then the common haunts of the green earth,
And ordinary interests of man,
Which they embosom, all without regard
As both may seem, are fastening on the heart
Insensiblv, each with the other's help.
(11. 116-20)
Wordsworth also makes it clear that his concern for
human beings does not displace his love for nature:
. . 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 told
Was Man in my affections and regards
Subordinate to her. . (11. 346-51)
Human concerns are secondary to his love for nature at this
time; furthermore, Wordsworth's love for mankind develops
partly because his first human contacts involve those per
sons, such as shepherds, whose virtue is closely allied to
natural forms:
For me, when my affections first were led
From kindred, friends, and playmates, to partake
Love for the human creature's absolute self,
That noticeable kindliness of heart
Sprang out of fountains, there abounding most
Where sovereign Nature dictated the tasks
And occupations which her beauty adorned,
And Shepherds were the men that pleased me
first. . (11. 121-28)
The poet's evolving love for mankind is thus aided by his
early love for natural forms: he learns to love shepherds
because he views them against the background of nature.
Alison's comments on life's "low and neglected scenes,"
suggesting the dignity of the simple, humble person ("On the
Love of Excellence," II, 214-15), and his comments on the
way in which the "labour of nature" inspires a similar "love
of industry" in man ("On Spring," I, 38) point to a virtue

115
arising almost spontaneously from working amid natural forms.
One who labors against the background of nature's industry
is, in effect, "awakened ... to new zeal in the service
of God" ("On Spring," I, 39). Alison maintains that such
industry is the foundation of virtue: "the moral honours
of our being can only be won by the stedfast magnanimity
of pious duty" ("On Winter, As the Season of Social Amuse
ment," I, 422). Furthermore, humble and simple persons
represent "the most dignified submission to the hand of
chastening Heaven," the "most magnanimous adherence to truth
and honesty" ("On the Love of Excellence," II, 215).
When Wordsworths love for the simple shepherd class is
evaluated in light of Alison's comments, it becomes apparent
that he learns to love such persons for their virtue rather
than only because of their association with nature. The
shepherds Wordsworth admires are not the mythical shepherds
of "old time" (1. 173); they are nature's "fellow-workers"
(."On Spring," I, 39), in Alison's sense of the term:
. . the sun and sky,
The elements, and seasons as they change,
Do find a worthy fellow-labourer there
Man free, man working for himself, with choice
Of time, and place, and object; by his wants,
His comforts, native occupations, cares,
Cheerfully led to individual ends
Or social, and still followed by a train
Unwooed, unthought-of evensimplicity,
And beauty, and inevitable grace.
(11. 101-10)
Wordsworth's finding beauty and "inevitable grace" in the
simplicity of the shepherd's life suggests both Alison's
definition of grace and his comments on humble life as

116
"friendly to human character" {"On Instability of Character,"
II, 321). In Essays on Taste Alison notes that grace suggests
"something dignified or exalted in the mind of the person"
who manifests such a quality and maintains that the expres
sion of grace evokes "some sentiment of respect, or admira
tion" in others (II, 6, ii, 381-82). Moreover, Alison main
tains that a humble life, such as that of a shepherd, leads
almost inevitably to "stability of character":
The necessities of nature . are ever friendly
to human character, and almost unavoidably produce
some degree of steadiness of purpose, and energy
of pursuit. They, whose labour is every day to
provide for the day that is passing, have an
object from which they are not permitted to
deviate, which summons their powers into continual
activity, and which insensibly gives to their
general character the same features of steadiness
and of energy. ("On Instability of Character,"
II, 320-21)
Alison describes the virtue of such a person as consistent
with the "principles of Christian character" ("On Instabil
ity of Character," II, 320).
The shepherds of Wordsworths youth are virtuous in
being "Intent on little but substantial needs" (1. 162);
moreover, their "Christian character" leads the poet to
view them in religious terms. He refers to their "sanctity
of Nature" (1. 295) and describes how even visually he
associates them with worship:
Or him have I descried in distant sky,
A solitary object and sublime,
Above ail height! like an aerial cross
Stationed alone upon a spiry rock
Of the Chartreuse, for worship.
(11. 271-75)

117
The description of the shepherd silhouetted against the sky
like a cross amid a setting of natural forms is followed by
a description of the effect such a vision has on the poet's
views of human nature:
Thus was man
Ennobled outwardly before my sight,
And thus my heart was early introduced
To an unconscious love and reverence
Of human nature; hence the human form
To me became an index of delight,
Of grace and honour, cower and worthiness.
(11. 275-81)
This description of his love for mankind, as represented by
the shepherd, combines both the spiritual and the aesthetic
terminology of Alison. The term "delight" is generally
associated with one's aesthetic response to something
pleasing, while terms such as "honour" and "grace" refer
to spiritual qualities.
Similarly, Wordsworth's early association with such
men has spiritual as well as aesthetic consequences. Viewing
man "thus purified, / Removed, and to a distance that was
fit" (11. 304-05) not only affords pleasure but also provides
protection from the "vulgar passions" of the world:
And thus
Was founded a sure safeguard and defence
Against the weight of meanness, selfish cares,
Coarse manners, vulgar passions, that beat in
On all sides from the ordinary world
In which we traffic. (11. 317-22)
Alison similarly views the world as a potential source of
corruption and notes that if one is not introduced early in
life to examples of piety and virtue "the habits of worldly
pursuit have, ere this period [maturity] occurs, contracted

118
the mind to narrow views, and sordid occupations" ("On the
Youth of Solomon," I, 49).
In addition to the shepherds of Book VIII as models of
human virtue, the participants at the "rustic fair" (1. 11)
of the book's beginning suggest certain qualities which
Alison associates with human dignity. Alison explains how
such "scenes of relaxation" tend "to preserve the dignity of
human character":
Whenever amusement is sought, it is in the society
of our brethren; and whenever it is found, it is
in our sympathy with the happiness of those around
us. It bespeaks the disposition of benevolence,
and it creates it. ("On Winter, As the Season of
Social Amusement," I, 415)
Alison further notes that persons engaged in such activities
present "to the thoughtful eye, one of the most pleasing
appearances of their original character" ("On Winter, As
the Season of Social Amusement," I, 415-16). Wordsworth
not only uses words such as "gaiety" and "cheerfulness"
(1. 53) to describe the general atmosphere of happiness
that prevails but also chooses the term "delightful" (1. 18)
to describe his own aesthetic response to the event. Juxta
posed to the "spectacle" (1. 680) of London's Bartholomew
Fair in Book VII, the "rustic fair" at the beginning of
Book VIII presents a pleasing vision of "rural peace" (1.
73). The book of The Prelude that chronicles the poet's
growing regard for human nature thus begins with a scene
illustrating the more admirable qualities of man's
character.

119
The examples of human dignity presented in Book VIII
are somewhat abstract and idealized and are used more to
illustrate the poet's growing to love mankind than to sug
gest real persons. In other poemsespecially "Michael" and
"Resolution and Independence"Wordsworth presents the
dignity of the simple person in more concrete terms. Like
the shepherds of Book VIII of The Prelude, the characters
in these poems are strengthened by communion with nature;
however, Michael and the leech-gatherer are tragic figures
18
in that they represent "personal suffering and heroism."
Michael's virtue arises from his association with
natural forms; in fact, Wordsworth's characerization of
the shepherd depends almost entirely on his relationship
with his surroundings. Alison's description of the "union
of devotional sentiment with sensibility to the expressions
of natural scenery" (Essays on Taste, II, 6, ii, 443) helps
to explain how the natural forms that lay "Strong hold on
his affections" (1. 75) lead Michael to religious thought.
He views himself as God's fellow-worker and the recipient
of nature's benevolence:
"I have been toiling more than seventy years,
And in the open sunshine of God's love
Have we all lived. ..." (11. 228-30)1
This industry, both the source and confirmation of
Michael's virtue, is better understood in light of Alison's
comments concerning virtue and industry. Alison describes
the virtue simple persons possess: "... an imperious law
binds them to duty, to labour, and to happiness" ("Of the

120
Dangers of Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With Active
Virtue," II, 234). He also notes that the need to work "has
confirmed, if not created, many virtues among the poor" ("On
the Seasons of Scarcity," I, 106). Alison further exalts
the humble life by acknowledging the importance of performing
"family duties" ("On Stability of Character," II, 354) and
by describing favorably "the calm occupations of sequestered
industry" ("On Summer," I, 201).
Michael's industry is certainly emphasized in the poem.
The shepherd not only performs his "occupations out of doors"
(1. 96) in tending his sheep but also attends to various
other domestic duties. "Living a life of eager industry"
(1. 122), Michael and his wife become "a proverb in the vale"
(1. 94), working so late into the night that their cottage
with its burning lamp becomes a "public symbol" (1. 130) of
their domestic virtues:
This light was famous in its neighbourhood,
And was a public symbol of the life
That thrifty Pair had lived. . .
And from this constant light, so regular,
And so far seen, the House itself, by all
Who dwelt within the limits of the vale,
Both old and young, was named the Evening Star.
(11. 129-39)
Although Carl Woodring is correct in placing this model of
. 2 0
industry within the framework of the "Protestant ethic,"
Alison's comments on industry provide a more precise expla
nation of why this quality is so valued: as an integral
part of "stability of character," he maintains, it is the
"surest promise of Honour" ("On Stability of Character,"

121
II, 342). Furthermore, as the title of Alison's sermon "Of
the Dangers of Moral Sentiment, When Not Accompanied With
Active Virtue" indicates, industry affords honor because it
suggests the traditional Anglican theory of good works, a
doctrine opposed both to the antinomian heresy, with its
ideas of the elect, and to attacks on the Shaftesburian
tradition, which maintains that men should be inherently
disposed to virtue, not led to good deeds by the rewards
offered by religion.
The character of Luke in the poem serves as a foil to
the industry of Michael. Alison, who has three sermons
"On the Parable of the Prodigal Son" (II, 356-421), considers
conduct such as Luke'spermitting "the most valuable years
of life to pass away in idleness and prodigality" ("On Evil
Communication," I, 249)--a direct negation of the virtue of
industry. Alison describes more precisely how abandoning
industry leads to further degeneration of character:
The habit of exertion once broken, would soon
cease to exist. The ambition of higher excel
lence, once banished from the heart, it would
be open to passions of which it had little
suspicion. . Every day as it passed, wTould
take something from the vigour of character,
or the purity of taste. . ("On the Love of
Excellence," II, 218)
Michael's stability of character, rather than Luke's
instability, is Wordsworth's major concern in the poem, and
Michael's response to his son's defection establishes more
clearly the stoicism and resolution in his character.
Luke's demise is chronicled in six lines (11. 442-47): he
begins "To slacken in his duty (1. 443), breaking the

122
"habit of exertion," and gives himself "To evil courses"
(1. 445). Michael, on the other hand, continues to commune
with nature:
Among the rocks
He went, and still looked up to sun and cloud,
And listened to the wind. . (11. 455-57)
Although the image of the shepherd at the end of the poem
laboring alone at the sheepfold or unable to work because
of griefmoves others to "pity" (1. 463), his stoicism and
resolution in the face of evil make him heroic in Alison's
sense of "stability of character."
The leech-gatherer of "Resolution and Independence"
presents a similar model of "stability of character." Like
Michael's, his virtue arises from his constant attention to
duty. Alison maintains that "... no discipline can ever
lead to honour and to virtue, but that which inspires
resolution, and habituates to self-command" ("On Instability
of Character," II, 331), and the leech-gatherer's "Employ
ment hazardous and wearisome" (1. 101) promotes these
qualities:
From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance;
And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.
(11. 103-05)
What surprises the poet most about the man's resolution
and self-command is the fact that "so firm a mind" is found
in such a "decrepit" body (1. 138). W7ordsworth' s description
of the man "bent double, feet and head / Coming together in
life's pilgrimage" (11. 66-67) points to the kind of physical
resolution Alison includes in his description of old age:

123
The same power which first called you into being,
and spread the blossoms of your spring, is now in
his great system, conducting you to the termination
of your days, and resolving your material frame into
the dust from which it sprung. ("On Winter, As the
Season of Religious Thought," I, 438)
Within Alison's framework, even the leech-gatherer's
infirmities afford him a kind of dignity as they represent
his journey toward immortality: Alison maintains that "the
infirmities of age shall put on 'immortality'" ("On Winter,
As the Season of Religious Thought," I, 439). The "resolu
tion" of the title suggests not only the leech-gatherer's
firmness of mind but also the approaching dissolution of
his body, its "resolution" into its original form.
Finally, the persona of the poem also makes a "resolu
tion" : he reaches a decision about the conduct of his own
life based on the leech-gatherer's example. From the joyous
mood of the first three stanzas of the poem, the poet plunges
into "dejection" (1. 25), with depressing thoughts of future
"Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty" (1. 35).
Alison does not celebrate such gloom as a worthy emotion
("On Autumn," I, 322); in fact, he maintains that it must
be corrected. In the "merciful providence of God," some
event frequently arises which "restores the mind to its
proper tone . ("On Instability of Character," II, 327-
28). Furthermore, he notes, we are led, "as if by some
mysterious charm, from the bosom of melancholy to the
highest hopes and consolations of our being" ("On Autumn,"
I, 335). The mysterious, almost supernatural, aspect of
the leech-gatherer is emphasized in the poem:

124
And the whole body of the Man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.
(11. 109-12)
The leech-gatherer is a dream-like character who seems sent
to the poet for the specific purpose of rescuing him from
despondency.
The despondency from which the poet is rescued is
basically solipsistic: he fears for himself "Cold, pain,
and labour, and all fleshly ills" (1. 115), despairing to
think he will join Chatterton (1. 43) and Burns (11. 45-46)
"in their misery dead" (1. 116). The leech-gatherer
rescues him from this selfishness. Alison describes the
process:
. . although the train of our thoughts may
have begun with the selfishness of our own
concerns, we feel that, by the ministry of
some mysterious power, they end in awakening
our concern for every being that lives. ("On
Autumn," I 330)
While the persona's questions at the beginning of the poem
are part of the "stranger's privilege" (1. 82) of idle
conversation, by the poem's conclusion he eagerly questions
the old man (1. 118) and is haunted by the image of him
"Wandering about alone and silently" (1. 131). Such a
change in attitude indicates that the poet has been humanized,
that he identifies sympathetically with another human being.
The poet's response to the leech-gatherer in "Resolu
tion and Independence" illustrates both his identification
with the model of virtue he provides and his concern for
the man's welfare; this pattern of empathizing with others

125
is an integral part of Wordsworth's humanitarianism. In
"Ode: Intimations of Immortality," "Elegiac Stanzas on
Peele Castle," and "Tintern Abbey" the poet is saddened by
his recognition of man's mortality. But, as Alison main
tains, this "commiseration" for all mankind inspires the
virtues of benevolence and charity ("On Autumn," I, 331-32).
Wordsworth's concern with such qualities is reflected in
several poems: "Lines Left Upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree"
provides a brief description of the actions of benevolent
persons, as well as a description of the proud Yew-Tree
man, who is never humanized; "A Narrow Girdle of Rough
Stones" describes the poet's own failure to exhibit charity;
and Oswald of The Borderers mocks the qualities of compassion
and charity. Finally, in "The Old Cumberland Beggar,"
Wordsworth creates a character who serves not primarily as
a model of virtue but as a stimulus for the charity of
others: the beggar evokes charity and benevolence and,
at the same time, reminds people of the kind deeds they have
done in the past.
Alison's comments help to establish the relationship
between appreciating the frailty of other human beings and
virtues such as humility and charity. In maturity man is
moved to "solemn" and "serious thought," and, in turn, his
heart "is not thus finely touched, but to fine issues"
concerning humanity ("On Autumn," I, 326-27). Alison
further describes the melancholy such "meditations" ("On
Autumn," I, 328-2^) inspire:

126
It is not an individual remonstrance;it is not
the harsh language of human wisdom, which too
often insults, while it instructs us. . and
the lesson they teach us is, not that we alone
decay, but that such also is the fate of all the
generations of man. ("On Autumn," I, 329-30)
Such meditations "would teach us humility,and with it they
would teach us charity, . they would teach us commisera
tion for the whole family of man" ("On Autumn," I, 331-32).
In both "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" and "Peele
Castle" the poet is momentarily distressed by the recogni
tion of human frailty, what Beatty terms the "wisdom of
21
maturity." In "Peele Castle" Wordsworth finds "A deep
distress hath humanised my Soul" (1. 36) and bids farewell
to his former happiness that existed apart from human
feeling:
Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone,
Housed in a dream, at distance from the Kind!
Such happiness, wherever it be known,
Is to be pitied; for 'tis surely blind.
(11. 53-56)
Although critics such as Bloom emphasize the poet's wavering
22
"confidence" in nature, Alison's comments on maturity
suggest the necessity of becoming humanized, even at the
expense of the "blind" happiness innocence enjoys. Words
worth's use of the word "Kind" (1. 54) implies that he has
lived apart from both mankind and qualities such as kindness,
benevolence, and sympathy. The process of becoming humanized
effects kindness, as well as other adult virtues such as
"fortitude" and "patient cheer" Cl. 57).
Similarly, in "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" the
poet acquires a "human heart" (1. 201), indicating his

127
concern for mankind, and a "philosophic mind" (1. 187),
reconciling him to adult responsibilities. The recognition
of man's mortality that Alison stresses is explicitly
described in the concluding stanza of the poem: the adult
finds his perceptions of natural objects "Do take a sober
colouring from an eye / That hath kept watch o'er man's
mortality . (11. 198-99). His newly acquired sense
of mortality imbues all forms of life with significance:
"To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts
that do often lie too deep for tears" (11. 203-04). The
poet's response to human mortality also suggests Alison's
concept of "soothing" melancholy ("On Autumn," I, 327): he
finds "soothing thoughts that spring / Out of human suf
fering" (11. 184-85). Like Alison's "circumstances of
melancholy" which "guide us most securely to put our trust
in him" ("On Autumn," I, 332) and which confirm the
"immortal spirit" of God, who yearly brings new life to
nature ("On Autumn," I, 333-34), the poets adult wisdom
leads to "the faith that looks through death" (1. 185).
Alison finds that "even-tide," the time of day associated
with maturity and with meditation, brings "sentiments and
affections more valuable than all the splendours of the day"
("On Autumn," I, 323-24). Wordsworth describes maturity
in similar terms:
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind. . .
(11. 178-81)

128
Both Wordsworth and Alison thus point to a specifically
adult source of consolation and strength.
In "Tintern Abbey" the poet finds his adult concern for
humanity "Abundant recompense" (1. 88) for his loss of the
"dizzy raptures" (1. 85) nature afforded him in adolescence.
Wordsworth's description of the change in his relationship
with nature closely parallels Alison's description of the
humanizing process of meditation. In maturity, the poet
views nature as permeated with the human:
For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. (11. 88-93)
Wordsworth, like Alison, suggests that the meditative
experience is essentially calming. Alison describes it as
a "melancholy so soothing, so gentle in its approach, and
so prophetic in its influence ..." ("On Autumn," I, 327)
and maintains that it is neither "an individual remonstrance"
nor "the harsh language of human wisdom, which too often
insults, while it instructs us ... ("On Autumn," I, 329-
30). Similarly, the "still, sad music of humanity" Words
worth hears in nature is neither "harsh nor grating" (11.
91-92). Finally, Alison and Wordsworth agree on the effect
of such moments of meditation. Alison notes: "We rise from
our meditations with hearts softened and subdued" ("On
Autumn," I, 328-29). Wordsworth acknowledges a similar
effect: his viewing nature from the adult perspective of
human concerns tends "To chasten and subdue" him (1. 193).

129
In light of Alison's comments concerning maturity, such a
response to nature is both reasonable and appropriate.
"Lines Left Upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree" deals primarily
with a proud man's failure to be humanized. His pride is,
in fact, the source of his character flaw. Though "disguised
in its own majesty" (1. 51), his pride is "littleness" (1.
52) and results in his failure to identify with other human
beings. As Alison also acknowledges, the true wisdom of
maturity should lead to love for mankind: "... true
knowledge leads to love" (1. 60). Furthermore, the Yew-Tree
man has never accepted his own humanity:
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself,
In lowliness of heart. (11. 61-64)
The Yew-Tree man's meditations are more "morbid" (1. 31)
than soothing, and he fails to make the necessary identifi
cation with mankind. The process of becoming humanized
requires acknowledging both the lowly and the exalted
elements of human nature; the man's false pride, rather
than "True dignity" (1. 61), makes it impossible for him
to accomplish this.
In juxtaposition to the man's own failure to exhibit
charity is his vision of the benevolence of others. The
man is, on occasion, sufficiently "subdued" by nature to
recognize in others the benevolence he will never feel:
Nor, that time,
When nature had subdued him to herself,
Would he forget those Beings to whose minds
Warm from the labours of benevolence

130
The world, and human life, appeared a scene
Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh,
Inly disturbed, to think that others felt
What he must never feel. . (11. 37-44)
Wordsworth emphasizes the effect of the "labours of benevo
lence" rather than the actions themselves: actions of
benevolence, inspired by a love for mankind, result in a
more exalted view of the "world" and of "human life" (1.
41). Alison's concept of the relationship between the
internal and the external (qualities of mind and attributes
of external objects) is suggested here; furthermore, Words
worth's use of the word "kindred" to establish this rela
tionship is significant. "Kindred" not only implies the
similarity between loftiness of thought and one's vision
of the world and of mankind but also reinforces the human
focus of the passage by implying perhaps the word's now
obsolete sense of "human kindred" or "the human race." The
"loveliness" (1. 42) of the world depends on the concern for
humanity benevolent persons feel: the Yew-Tree man dies,
having never experienced this concern.
"A Narrow Girdle of Rough Stones," presenting the
poet's own failure to exhibit charity, involves charity not
in its limited sense of almsgiving and providing materially
for the needs of others but in its extended sense of loving
all humanity and manifesting this love by kind deeds. In
the poet's case, the lesson of Point Rash-Judgment is that
benevolence should extend to judging the actions of others.
The poet and his companions mistakenly assume the peasant
they encounter is "Improvident and reckless" (1. 50), wasting

131
his time fishing when he could be gainfully employed as a
laborer in harvest season. Approaching more closely, they
discover that the man, wasted by illness, is far "Too weak
to labour in the harvest field" (1. 63) and that he is
"using his best skill to gain / A pittance from the dead
unfeeling lake" (11. 64-65) Forced to confront the physical
decay of the peasant, with its suggestions of human mortality,
the poet is, to use Alison's term, "subdued," moved from
"selfishness" to a concern for all mankind ("On Autumn," I,
329-30). After "serious musing" and "self-reproach" (1. 70)
the poet and his companions discover "What need there is to
be reserved in speech, / And temper all our thoughts with
charity" (11. 72-73) .
In the character of Oswald in The Borderers Wordsworth
creates a villain who not only fails to exhibit charity and
benevolence but also mocks these qualities in others. In
his prefatory essay the poet describes Oswald as "a young
man of great intellectual powers yet without any solid
23
principles of genuine benevolence." Oswald thus represents
two major character flaws Alison describes: the first is
the "abuse of learning and talents" ("On Evil Communication,"
I, 250), and the second (and more serious) is his denial of
his humanity. Oswald neither identifies with other human
beings nor exhibits the corresponding virtues of benevolence
and sympathy.
Wordsworth's presentation of Oswald's character flaws
is explicit. Oswald abuses his intellectual powers in that

132
he uses them to serve what Alison terms "constitutional
humour" ("On Instability of Character," II, 318) rather than
to serve any higher principles of benevolence. In addressing
Marmaduke, Oswald describes the "only law" to which he must
account:
You have obeyed the only law that sense
Submits to recognize; the immediate law,
From the clear light of circumstances, flashed
Upon an independent Intellect.
(Act III, 1493-96)
With his superior intellect and his "Restless" mind (Act
III, 1451), Oswald is far more like an isolated Byronic
hero than the typical Wordsworthian cha