Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971]


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If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Coetzee, Jacques Derrida, and others. He is currently writing a critical commentary on the work of Geoffrey Hartman. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access.

Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Get access to the full version of this article. View access options below. You previously purchased this article through ReadCube. Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. Neoplatonic writ ings, too, express intel lect as light and see the mind as essentially act ive and true perception as interchange between perceiver and perceived.

Wordsworth's ideas of v is ion, inevi tably influenced by empiricism, are closer to Neoplatonism. Yet he drew on both to express similar ideas, for he cared, not for a log ica l ly consistent philosophy, but rather for communicating his understanding of his own exper ience. Wordsworth and Coler idge 19 i i i. Newton 25 i v. The British Empiricists 27 v. European Philosophers 32 v i. Chi ldhood 44 i i. Beyond the Senses 49 i i i. The Educated Eye 56 i v. The Eye as Despot 63 v. The Sense of Loss 78 v i. Experience Imagined and Realised 84 v i i. Wise Passiveness 98 i i. Locke , Hart ley, and the Education of Nature i i i.

The External and Purposive Power i v. Grace v i v. The Anima Mundi v i. Berkeley and the Language of G o d v i i.

Wordsworth, Coleridge and the Poetic Revolution

Imagery of Sight and Light i i. Light in Neoplatonic Writings i i i. Reciprocity in Perception Notes Conclusion List of Works C i ted v i i Acknowledgements I am grateful to the Pinney family and to the Librarian of the Wi l ls Memorial Library of the University of Bristol for permission to examine the Pinney Papers, and to the Librarian and staff of the English Faculty L ibrary, Ox fo rd , for their hospital i ty, assistance and courtesy.

Owen and J. Smyser, by the Oxford University Press. Therefore a l l references to Wordsworth's prose are to Grosart 's edit ion of A l l references to The Prelude are to the version, unless otherwise stated. Ernest de Sel incourt , rev. Chester L. Shaver Oxford, Shawcross , reprinted Ox fo rd , Exc: The Excursion v i i i I.

Download Wordsworths Poetry 1787 1814 With The Essay Retrospect 1971

Ernest de Selincourt Oxford, Ernest de Sel incourt, 2 v o l s. Mary Moorman, Part II, rev. Mary Moorman and Alan G. Works of Wi l l iam Wordsworth, ed. Ernest de Selincourt, 5 vo ls. Oxford, Introduction A vital impulse of early Romantic poetry is to establish a new relationship between the intel lect and the senses. Cer ta in ly in the poetry of Wordsworth, and consequently in the crit icism of that poetry, one central theme is the relation of nature to mind, of object to subject.

The following study attempts to contribute to the already lengthy discussion of this matter by concentrating on just one of the senses, namely sight, the sense generally understood as most important and as typical of a l l the senses: it examines Wordsworth's imagery of sight and l ight, his references to the nature of sight, and his attitudes to his own visual exper ience. In order to understand this material properly in the context of contemporary assumptions about sight, it also explores the relevant writings of those philosophers whose works possibly contributed to the formation of Wordsworth's ideas on these subjects.

In thus placing Wordsworth's thought more precisely in relation to the history of ideas, it may help towards a clearer understanding of the or ig ina l i ty , as wel l as the meaning, of his poetry. Sight is of particular importance to Wordsworth's poetry. The mind of man was the main region of his song, as he claimed in the Prospectus to The Excursion , and for h im, sense experience and especial ly visual exper ience, was an essential part of intel lectual act iv i ty and growth, as is apparent from the early books of The Prelude.

His attitude to the eye is ambiguous, and this ambiguity is evident both in his attitude to his own visual experiences, as I shall show at length in 2. Wordsworth's own eye was to him a source of delight and intel lectual growth throughout his l i f e , and yet it was also potential ly a barrier to delight and intel lectual growth by its tendency to become the medium of an obsessive sensuous pleasure, enslaving the mind. XII, This mental suffering was the result of the mind's excessive passivity in the act of percept ion. For Wordsworth, the poetic act of perception is essentially a matter of reciprocal action between subject and object , between man and nature, and thus for him moments of vi tal understanding came with those "spots of t ime" which enable him to understand to what point, and how, The mind is lord and master—outward sense The obedient servant of her w i l l.

Prelude XI I , Wordsworth's bel ief in the reciprocal nature of the act of perception is also apparent in his imagery of sight and l ight, which is of vi tal importance to much of his best work; it is clear from the nature of the imagery that the eye is seen both as shedding and as receiving l ight. This assertion is supported, and its implications studied, in chapter IV. Wordsworth's attitude to vision was pecul iar ly his own. Coler idge shared, and indeed perhaps reinforced, Wordsworth's sense of the despotism of the eye , as I w i l l show in chapter II, while for B lake, the eye , l ike a l l the senses, fettered the imagination and restricted intel lectual ac t i v i t y.

In this, the poets were the rather forward children of their generation, and thus grandchildren of an earl ier generation. Ever since the publication of Newton's Opt icks in , the eye had been a matter of intense interest, while Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding had of course made a l l later thinkers very much aware of the role of the senses in knowledge, through his stress on empirical as opposed to innate knowledge.

Throughout the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a l l philosophers treated sight as first among the senses, as typical of them a l l , and as paral lel to the in te l lec t. For Locke , "the perception of the mind" is "most aptly 2 explained by words relating to the s ight. Mo t ion , Figure, and Posit ion, the visible idea is so much more v iv id and ready than the tangible one, as to prevail over i t , notwithstanding that our Information 4 from Feeling is more precise than that from Sight, and the test of its Truth.

Marjorie Hope Nicolson stresses the importance of sight in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, writ ing that "Sight , to Locke , as to Descartes, was 'the most comprehensive of a l l our senses, conveying to our minds the ideas of light and colours, which are peculiar only to that sense,. Philosophers, scientists, laymen, al l showed great interest in the problem of a 'man born b l ind ' which Wi l l iam Molyneux raised, and 5 which became a commonplace of the generat ion.

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A study of the precise nature of their ideas on sight, which are very important in themselves, is l i ke ly to i l luminate the assumptions and arguments about v is ion, and the act of perception in general , in Wordsworth's works. The theories of vision under discussion naturally epitomize the entire view of man in relation to the universe. A study of the empiricist attitudes to the eye brings into clear focus the concept of mind which was commonly accepted by Wordsworth's contemporaries.

The inf luence of these writers on the discussion 5. It has been prosecuted with enormous industry and ingenuity, but also with a certain lack of or ig inal i ty—a lack which is itself a striking tribute to the power of our seventeenth- and eighteenth-century predecessors. Their terminology has been abandoned. Current beliefs about the eye of man assumed that it looked on objects which had form but no intrinsic colour, as this was a secondary qual i ty , not inherent in the object i tself , but merely the reaction of the eye to reflected l ight.

The eye received images passively, according to these doctrines, and al l human knowledge and ideas were based on the experience of the external world imprinted on the mind through its agency and that of the other senses. The mind and the universe were thus radical ly d iv ided. This concept of the mind and the universe was obviously not accepted without question even in the eighteenth century.

Le ibn iz was an early cr i t ic of empiricist concepts. G i a n Orsin i notes that "to the empiricist maxim that 'there is nothing in the mind that does not come through the senses,' he aff ixed in the clause 'with the exception of the mind i tse l f. There was a strong reaction to the commonly accepted world picture in France too, which was expressed by Diderot, in the Reve d'Alembert and De I'Interpretation de la Nature, and was furthered by the extreme g materialism of Holbach's Systeme de la Nature with its pantheistic impl icat ions.

The great eighteenth century partisan of the mind as opposed to the senses was of course Kant who "presented a view of the human mind in knowledge which was radical ly different from those of his predecessors; and in general this radical difference consists in his regarding the mind, not as essentially passive in the face of a world communicating itself to mind, but as essentially act ive in exercising certain powers, wh ich , he he ld , are a necessary condition of knowledge, and of 9 knowledge of a world of ob jects.

Another way in which the reaction to empiricism manifested itself, and one which I bel ieve was more important to Wordsworth's development, was in the growing interest in intel lectual circles in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, in Platonic and Neoplatonic ideas of the mind and the universe, an interest, paral leled in the Neoclassicism of the visual arts in the per iod.

This aspect of the reaction to empiricism is probably the most important for the development of the early Romantic poets, and I bel ieve that an understanding of Neoplatonism is of especial importance to the understanding of Wordsworth's ideas of perception. Here aga in , a study of the eye is part icularly relevant. There are remarkable and suggestive similarit ies between certain aspects of Wordsworth's ideas of these matters and those of the Neoplatonists, and these'isimilarities are most striking in the treatment of sight and l ight.

Sight was of especial importance to the Neoplatonists because of their doctrines concerning l ight, which they understood as in te l lec t , both in symbol and in fact. Thomas Taylor, who devoted his l i fe to the translation and interpretation of the Neoplatonic writers, bel ieved that "sight corresponds to in te l l igence, and this is the same with that which is both inte l l ig ib le and in te l lec tua l " and that " l ight. Nevertheless, despite a l l this questioning of empiricism it was sti l l the 8.

Indeed, this reaction is one of the sources of the poetic inspiration of a l l three writers. They are a l l poets of the mind. The subject of their poetry is not, of course, as if was for the philosophers, the nature of the ordinary, inevitable act of percept ion, but the nature of the act of perception for the extraordinary man, the artist or prophet or for the ordinary man in moments of artistic or prophetic insight.

They dist inguish, each in his own way, between the world as seen by the indifferent and the world as seen by the artist. For a l l three poets an important object was to communicate the reali ty and the value of the world of imagination and joy that comes through the reciprocal action of subject and object in heightened perception. Their poetry is a rejection of the passive mind and a celebration of the act ive mind, and the imaginat ion. Both Coler idge and Blake identif ied their rejection of the concept of the mind as passive with a rejection of empiricism.

Their rejection went to the lengths of disparagement of Newton whom they saw somewhat unjustly as the epitome of empiricism which shows some intel lectual bravado as Newton was then the great embodiment of in te l lec t , learning and sc ience.


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Coler idge wrote to Thomas Poole on 23 M a r c h , , blaming Newton himself for the influence which his work had had on the thinking of others "Newton was a mere materialist— Mind in his system is always passive—a lazy Looker-on on an external Wor ld. Wordsworth is equal ly concerned to express the mind as essentially ac t i ve.

The Suspension of Reading: Wordsworth's ‘‘Boy of Winander’’ and Trauma Theory

Yet his reaction to empiricism is less apparent and more complex. The assumptions underlying Wordsworth's poetry, the ideas which he uses as a means of organizing his experience and insights shows both a partial acceptance and dependence on British empiristl theories of the mind and an ultimate rejection of the mental universe which it puts forward.

An examination of Wordsworth's language and ideas about the eye and the A study of the main relevant empiricist writings is necessary for a proper understanding both of what he assimilated and what he rejected. And in a study of the relevant and avai lable Neoplatonic writers I have found parallels to Wordsworth's own thought which suggest that, as with Blake and Co ler idge, this was one of the sources of Wordsworth's alternative to empiricism.

The eventual aim of this thesis is cr i t ical and thus some parts of it are purely concerned with the poetry. It is not its purpose merely to link Wordsworth with the development of theories of v is ion , but to establish what he thought and felt about sight, and to show how these thoughts and feelings affected his poetry. Huguelet Ga inesv i l le , F lor ida, , I, Warnock, Berkeley Peregrine Books e d. Piper, The Act ive Universe London, , pp. Thomas Taylor London, , notes on the Craty lus, pp.

Ernest de Selincourt: 2nd ed. Helen Darbishire Oxford, , p. Chapter One : Wordsworth and the Philosophers Introductory Wordsworth's poetry deals with the whole human intellectual experience of seeing and feeling and thinking; he is an independent and powerful thinker. Yet his work is not concerned with philosophical argument, or with the expression of one philosophic viewpoint.

However, because of Wordsworth's concern with the process of mental growth, of the transformation of experience into intellect, he necessarily employs those concepts which philosophers treat in their epistemological writings. At times he consciously uses the concepts of one particular philosophy to communicate his own understanding, as he did with the Platonic notion of pre-existence in the Immortality Ode.

At other times, philosophical concepts are less explicitly used, but are implied in image, vocabulary, or the very choice of subject. At these times, it is difficult to know the status of these ideas, that is, to know whether Wordsworth is using them as a convenient vehicle for the expression of his own particular meaning through an accepted pattern of ideas, or whether he is writing of his own beliefs. In any case, it is necessary first of all to discover the nature of these ideas.

This thesis, therefore, will attempt to describe Wordsworth's ideas of the senses and especially of vision, in terms of those concepts which were certainly available to him, and to establish an appropriate vocabulary for the discussion of However, it is not intended as an attempt to establish a close relationship between his poetry and any one philosopher or school of philosophy, and it is in no sense a source study. Indeed, I bel ieve it is seriously misleading to say for instance that the key to the Immortality Ode lies in 1.

Wordsworth's use of ideas is l ike ly to be ec lec t ic and synthetic, for he did not write philosophical treatises pursuing one idea through each logical stage, but poems uniquely combining i dea , sensation, and emotion. The most serious implication of his best poetry surely is that vital experience involves the whole person and not the intel lect in isolat ion. In The Prelude, when Wordsworth contrasts his early l i fe with that of Co ler idge, he writes with pity for his friend who has had to piece together his images of greatness from ideas and books because his young mind was: Debarred from Nature's l iv ing images, Compel led to be a l i fe unto herself, And unrelentingly possessed by thirst O f greatness, love , and beauty.

Prelude V I , The same stress on personal experience is felt throughout Wordsworth's work; one may compare for instance "Expostulation and Rep ly , " and "The Tables Turned. Obviously Wordsworth recognized that the mind and mental act iv i ty were v i ta l ly important, and if he was not concerned with philosophical argument as such, he was certainly interested in ideas. In later chapters I shall attempt to As far as it is possible to establish Wordsworth's actual contact with these works, this can be done by consulting the fol lowing documents: Wordsworth's works and correspondence; the catalogue of the sale of Wordsworth's Rydal Mount l ibrary, published in Transactions of the Wordsworth Society 6 ; the catalogue of the contents of two bookcases, which were at Racedown Lodge, Dorset in , whi le Wordsworth l ived there, now among the Pinney Papers in the Bristol University Library; records of those books which were recommended for study at 3 Hawkshead school and Cambridge at the relevant time; Coler idge's works, correspondence and notebooks for the evidence they give of his own particular interests during the years of act ive friendship between Wordsworth and Coler idge; the correspondence and reminiscences of Wordsworth's other friends and acquaintances.

This chapter col lects a l l the external evidence of Wordsworth's contacts with the relevant and inf luential works of philosophy. The Philosophic Wordsworth and the Cri t ics Such a catalogue of external evidence is important because Wordsworth's attitude to philosophy has been much debated and because much crit icism suffers from false assumptions about this.

Therefore it is necessary to establish brief ly the It has been said that "Wordsworth was not a philosopher, either by incl inat ion or natural ab i l i ty ; and we can al low for confusion in whatever of philosophical theories he undertook to present" James, p.

This modern view has the authoritative backing of Matthew Arno ld , who wrote of Wordsworth that "his poetry is the real i ty , his philosophy,—so far, at least, as it may put on the form and habit of 'a scient i f ic system of thought, ' and the more it puts them on ,—is the 4 i l l us ion. He is a poet and a moralist, as wel l as a mere singer.

His ethical system, in part icular, is as dist inctive and capable of 5 systematic exposition as that of But ler. They might, indeed, have cited in support of their assumption, that Wordsworth was a ph i lo -sophical poet, the words of the first and best Wordsworthian. Wordsworth wi l l produce it is not for me to prophesy," wrote Co le r idge , "but I could pronounce with the l ivel iest convictions what he is capable of producing.

Wordsworth makes no attempt Nor do his prose works suggest much concern with philosophic problems although they show a l i ve ly interest in pol i t ics , education and poetic theory. His correspondence, too, discloses l i t t le concern with philosophy, although occasional ly he writes with passion about pol i t ics or rel ig ion; of course, only part of his correspondence survives. What evidence we have of his tastes in reading also seems negative or inconclusive. Throughout his l i fe he seems to have preferred poetry and ancient history to volumes of philosophy, and Hoxie Nea le FairchiId argues that Wordsworth must therefore have "derived his most characteristic philosophical and religious ideas largely, though not of course ent i re ly, from poet ry.

In later l i f e , he cared mainly for religious works: in , he speaks of himself as having " l i t t le relish for any other" though he says later "but a l l great poets are. I mean to say that, unless in those passages where a l l things are lost in each other, and limits vanish, and aspirations are raised, I read with something too much l ike g ind i f ference.

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In this sense, Coler idge's assertion cannot be doubted: Wordsworth's poetry does show that he was capable of writ ing a great 9 philosophic poem. Wordsworth's independent, observant, and very persistent interest in ideas, and especial ly those concerned with mental processes, is shown, for example, by his treatment of the formation of deep impressions.

The Boy, there introduced, is l is tening, with something of a feverish and restless anx iety , for the recurrence of the riotous soundsvwhich he had previously exc i ted , and , at the moment when the intenseness of his mind is beginning to remit, he is surprised into a perception of the solemn and tranqui l l iz ing images which the poem describes" Prelude, p. Wordsworth discussed the same process with de Quincey in relation to these lines: "I have remarked, from my earliest days, that, i f under any circumstances the attention is energet ical ly braced up to an act of steady observation orff of steady expectat ion, then, i f this intense Such discoveries are the result of a keen concern with the nature of the mind's ac t iv i t y.


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Other mental processes are shown in other poems: in "Peter Be l l " the arousing and thus regenerative effect of sense impressions on a blunted sensibi l i ty; in " M i c h a e l " the growth of love for mankind through tales such as that which the poem te l ls. But it is misleading to list separate poems, for the whole of Wordsworth's work shows this powerful interest in the nature and development of the mind.

As an educated man, and one with such strong interests in this a rea , it is certain that he wi l l have been aware of a l l the concepts discussed in this thesis, even if he had not himself read al l the works in which they are discussed, just as an educated person today is aware of the principal concepts of the existentialists and l inguistic analysts even though he may not have read a word of Sartre or Aye r.

A man indifferent to the systematic argument and narrow appl icat ion of most philosophical works, and yet with a vital interest in ideas, is unl ikely to have checked his own concepts against those of others and adopted them consciously into a system; he would rather have seized on and used in his own work those parts of other men's systems which were sympathetic and relevant to h im.

His poetry shows that this was indeed Wordsworth's usual procedure in dealing with other people's ideas. O f a l l the scholars who have His direct experience of l i fe was by far the most important source of his ideas; next to this was the l iv ing presence of Coler idge; f inal ly there was the inf luence of books, and among these he roamed far and w i d e. Wordsworth and Coler idge In discussing the extent of Wordsworth's contact with the philosophers, I shall often use as evidence of a k i nd , i f not the clearest k i nd , Coler idge's known interest in certain philosophers during the time of his act ive friendship with Wordsworth, The quotation above suggests my reasons, and yet this kind of evidence has been used rather rashly by some writers as indicat ing Wordsworth's undeniable and intimate acquaintance with various works of philosophy.

So I should state my view of Coler idge's influence on Wordsworth, and the problem of how much knowledge of current philosophical ideas Wordsworth is l i ke ly to have absorbed from conversation with Coler idge. We know that during the fourteen years of close friendship the two poets inf luenced each other deeply.

Wordsworth's extreme anxiety to have Coler idge's notes for "The Recluse" shows clear ly his bel ief in the importance of Coler idge's ideas for his own work. On 6 M a r c h , , he wrote: "I am very anxious to have I cannot say how much importance I attach to this, i f it should please G o d that I survive you, I should reproach myself forever in.

I cannot say what a load it would be to me, should I survive you and you die without this memorial left behind. Do for heaven's sake, put this out of the reach of accident immediately" EY, p. Two years later, he wrote to Sir George Beaumont, "Within this last month I have returned to the Recluse, and have written addit ional l ines. Should Coler idge return, so that I might have some conversation 13 with him on the subject, I should go on swimmingly. It seems l i ke ly that the reason why he found Coler idge's ideas so important is that Coler idge was not only a great but a trained and informed thinker— he was famil iar with the coin of philosophic thought.

This view of their intel lectual relationship surely suggests that Wordsworth and Coler idge did discuss philosophical ideas, and that Wordsworth found Coler idge's intimate knowledge of philosophical writings useful to himself. Another reason for supposing that Wordsworth could have acquired information about relevant philosophical works from Coler idge is that both were interested in It is obvious that the two poets were drawn together in , because, whi le their beliefs were not iden t i ca l , their deepest interests were shared.

They both cared profoundly for the "one l i fe " in man and nature. In "De jec t ion" Coler idge wrote; O Lady, we perceive but what we g ive , And in our l i fe alone doth Nature l ive : Ours is her wedding garment, Ours her shroud! Although Wordsworth came to different conclusions, his preoccupation, the preoccupation of most of his best work, is the same, and so is his relating of joy to these matters; Paradise, and groves Elys ian, Fortunate F ie lds—l ike those of old Sought in the At lant ic Main—why should they be A history only of departed things, O r a mere f ict ion of what never was?

For the discerning intel lect of M a n , When wedded to this goodly universe In love and holy passion, shall find these A simple produce of the common day. Prospectus to The Excursion, In the course of this thesis the differences and similarit ies in their views of such matters should become evident. Their views on lesser matters were sometimes ident ica l : Crabb Robinson reports of Coler idge's lectures on education in that he disparaged the " improving" kind of chi ldren's books as teaching "not virtue but vani ty" and said "I inf in i te ly prefer the l i t t le books of The Seven Champions of Jack 15 the G i a n t - K i l l e r , e t c.

Such deep common interests, resulting occasional ly in identity of opin ion, make it at least extremely probable that what one read the other would soon hear of; especial ly when, as in There is , in any case, clear evidence that the poets did discuss philosophical works. Conversations about Sp inoza, for instance, are recorded in Biographia Literaria X , I, , no doubt with a l i t t le garnish, when Coler idge is writing about the government agent who spied on them, when because of their sympathies with the French Revolution and acquaintance with radicals l ike John The lwa l l , the two poets were suspected of sedit ion: "At first he fancied we were aware of our danger; for he often heard me talk of one Spy N o z y , which he was incl ined to interpret of himself, and of a remarkable feature belonging to him, but he was speedily convinced that it was the name of a man who had made a book and who l ived long ago.

Our talk ran most upon books and we were perpetually desiring each other to look at this and to listen to that. The two friends were naturally informed of each other's intel lectual history. Writ ing in September of his independent arrival at conclusions similar to Schel l ing 's , he says: "As Wordsworth, Southey, and indeed al l of my intel l igent friends can attest, I had formed it during the study of Plato, and the Scholars of Ammonius, and in later times of Scotus Joan.

Erigena , Giordano Bruno, Behmen and the much calumniated Spinoza. Indeed, Coler idge was so communicative about his philosophical interests to the Wordsworths that he was prepared to joke with Dorothy about Fichte i CL II, : 9 February, It seems quite certain that Coler idge did discuss his philosphical interests with Wordsworth; that because of their great sympathy in their most serious interests each w i l l have wanted to communicate to the other anything which related to these interests; that these interests included the problems of the senses discussed here; and also that either poet much admired and was much influenced by the other, and that Wordsworth would therefore have been prepared to accept ideas and information from Coler idge in the years of their closest friendship, which of course correspond with the period in which he produced most of his best work.

Newton P. Stallknecht writes with some truth that Knowing what we do of Coler idge's habits of torrential conversation and of the many hours of conversation that Wordsworth and Coler idge shared when they were almost constantly together in and , I do not think it i l legit imate to suppose that Wordsworth gained what we might ca l l an intensive survey of the thought of Coler idge's philosophical heroes. There is no reason to suppose that Wordsworth had retained or further developed an acquaintance with each of these writers; but when we find doctrines or phrases appearing in Wordsworth's work which closely resemble those belonging to any one of the above-mentioned philosophers we have no reason to reject the possibil ity of such an influence on the grounds that external evidence is lacking to show that Wordsworth was in any way acquainted with the author in question.

For these reasons I have been prepared to evince Coler idge's knowledge of certain philosophic works as evidence of Wordsworth's contact with these works, though, of course, l ike most of the other evidence it only shows possible or probable contact. Newton In writing of the external evidence of Wordsworth's famil iarity with the works and ideas of the most important philosophers who have treated the nature of the senses and sense-objects, I shall consider first the British Empiricists, then modern European philosophers, and f inal ly Plato, and the Neoplatonists.

But before discussing the British Empiricists, it is necessary to discuss Newton, whose Opt icks was the most inf luential work in forming eighteenth century ideas of the eyes and the senses. It is wrong to identify Newton with the British Empiricists, for in fact they tended to seize upon those parts of his work which supported their Yet as his discoveries did so influence their thought it is natural to consider him with them. Wordsworth evidently had a deep respect for Newton, and moreover his imagination was stirred by thoughts of Newton's intel lectual adventures, as his account of his Cambridge days records: And from my p i l low, looking forth by light O f moon or favouring stars, I could behold The antechapel where the statue stood O f Newton with his prism and silent face, The marble index of a mind for ever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, a lone.

It was one of the works assigned by St. John's Col lege when he was an under-graduate there in , although as he had decided not to read for a place in 1 g the tripos, there is no certain evidence that he did read the work then. As for the Pr inc ip ia , B. Schneider says p. But almost certainly by this period his Cambridge education wi l l have ensured ah adequate knowledge of Newton's work.

The British Empiricists Locke's work, too, w i l l certainly have been famil iar to Wordsworth. All rights reserved. For permissions please e-mail: journals. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this article. Download all figures. Sign in. You could not be signed in. Sign In Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution Sign in.

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Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971] Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971]
Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971] Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971]
Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971] Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971]
Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971] Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971]
Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971] Wordsworths poetry, 1787-1814 : [with the essay Retrospect 1971]

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