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ing the level of the centre of the court higher than the ceiling of the basement, it would be much better if the whole court, or at least two-thirds of it, were to be lowered for its new destination to the level of the present area-when, the windowbars being removed, the basement would have the advantage of all the light and air of which it is susceptible-would less deserve the opprobrious name of cellars now too justly bestowed on it—and, what is more important, would become much more available to the purposes of the Museum. It may be objected to this proposition, that it would alter the architectural proportions of the inner façades of the court. We admit that it would in theory, but not sensibly in fact, for the theoretical base-line of the architectural elevation is the terrace of the flight of steps that descend into the court, which is several feet higher than the line of sight, so that on every side of the court, except that single spot, the theoretic base vanishes, and, the basement and its area being visible to every eye, the supposed architectural proportion is really little better than a sham, and may, we think, be disregarded, in consideration of the general improvement.

We have said that this lowering of the level-whether carried throughout or limited to widening the area on each side to 40 or 50 feet-is not indispensable to the success of our plan for the appropriation of the court, but it would certainly be an important improvement-first, because the area itself is not only mean and unsightly, but a wanton introduction of a vulgar expedient only pardonable in a London street because it is inevitable, but which becomes ridiculously, we might say offensively, useless in the interior court of the Museum. And, as we think that the slabs of Egyptian and Assyrian sculpture, and by and bye, perhaps, all the bas-reliefs, which are now affixed to the inner side of the walls, and imperfectly lighted, might be as well or indeed better fixed to the court side of the same wall, and lighted from the sky, it would be desirable that the spectator should be able to examine thein more conveniently than across the area.

5. But there is another consideration. One of the complaints against the existing galleries is, that the sculptures originally designed to be viewed from and at different heights are now only visible from one level. The defect-be it greater or less-exists in every gallery we ever saw, and is, generally speaking, inevitable. We have, therefore, been always inclined to rank this complaint amongst the hyper-criticisms; but when an opportunity occurs of remedying a defect, however slight it may appear, it is as well to avail ourselves of it. It is therefore an additional recommendation

commendation of our proposed use of the court, and still more of partly or wholly lowering its level, that the three flights of steps by which visitors are to descend into it would afford a succession of elevations near which the works that are supposed to require various points of view might be placed. Let us add, that, if there be anything really serious in this complaint of the uniform level of the present galleries, the surface of the court might be, as we have above intimated, broken into two or three different levels, as proposed by Mr. Smirke, but with different dimensions and for a very different object from his: the centre one, at, or above, or below, the present level, as might be ultimately decided, and two lateral ones on that of the present area. The space, indeed, would afford five such terraces- -a centre one of 60 feet wide, and two lateral ones at each side 40 feet wide-the width of the present Egyptian Gallery-the space of which by the new appropriation of the court would be thus more than quintupled. But again, we say, these details of distribution, which we only throw out to meet complaints that have been made, do no otherwise affect our general proposition than by affording prospects of additional advantage.

There is now but one principal entrance into the courtthat from the Great Hall; and although the idea of a similar one in the opposite façade is very tempting, we are of opinion that it would be necessary to limit ourselves to the two lesser and lateral entrances already existing in the two northern angles-for these, amongst other reasons-that they are there; and that their removal would be not merely unnecessarily expensive, but injurious to, and indeed incompatible with, the internal arrangements of the building, and particularly if the new Reading-room be placed in the central library; for not only would it be extremely inconvenient to have the Reading-room opening at once upon the court, but the ante-rooms, through which it is indispensable that the Readers should pass, can nowhere be so well obtained as in the spaces between these lateral entrances and the central room. The absence of a decent entrance, corridors, and ante-rooms, is, as every officer and reading visitor feels, one of the greatest discomforts of the existing arrangement. It really deserves the epithet of disgraceful.

On the whole, after the fullest consideration that we have been able to give to this interesting subject, we do not hesitate to recommend the covering and appropriating the central court in the manner we have sketched-not merely as a temporary or economical expedient, nor as removing the most serious and well-founded objection that can be made to the edifice, but as

being in itself a great and permanent improvement. Some such device ought to have been originally adopted-and this will now only complete the existing edifice without in any degree interfering with any future or external plans either of accommodation or architecture. We do not propose to block up a single window, nor break a single door. The fitting the Egyptian and Assyrian and two unfurnished and unappropriated Galleries for whatever purposes may be found most advisable — the exchange of the Reading-rooms with the adjoining compartment of the Library-and the levelling, flooring, and glass-roofing the court-is all that we contemplate; and these changes, so easy and simple, would probably satisfy all the wants of the Museum for the present, and, we believe, the two next, generations. By that time, perhaps, our successors may be disposed to extend a circumambient edifice over the whole space designated on the plan we have reproduced. We do not deny that it is a grand idea, and that individually we should be glad to see it adequately carried into effect; but as the case stands, we must be satisfied to bequeath to our grandchildren the honour, the pleasure, the cost, and the criticism of such a monument.

ART. VIII.-1. Memoirs of William Wordsworth, Poet-Laureate, D.C.L. By Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., Canon of Westminster. 2 vols. 8vo. 1851.

2. Memoirs of William Wordsworth, compiled from authentic sources. By January Searle, Author of Life, Character, and Genius of Ebenezer Elliott, &c. 12mo., pp. 312. 1852.

It of

T was a frequent saying of the subject of these memoirs The Canon

of Westminster tells us that it is especially just as to his uncle himself, and adds, in language far too magisterial to be spoken out of a school-room, 'Let no other Life of Wordsworth be composed beside what has thus been written with his own hand.' Two volumes in large octavo are a singular commentary upon this prohibitory ordinance. In fact, the position is abandoned the instant it is taken up. The logical Doctor confesses that the personal incidents in his great kinsman's verse can only be fully understood through a narrative in prose, and that even the sentiments will be better appreciated when they are shown to have been in harmony with the poet's practice.


He therefore follows up his absolute decree, 'Let no other Life be composed,' with the counter-declaration that 'a biographical manual to illustrate the poems ought to exist.' He still professes, it is true, to exclude everything relating to the man except what is connected with something in his works: this, however, is a vague principle, of which he has not attempted to define the limits, and which he has applied so capriciously that it becomes additionally hard to guess what meaning he attaches to it. In the strictest use of the words it might be understood to shut out all that was not explanatory of the actual sense of the poems; in its widest signification it might comprise whatever influenced the genius of the author, whatever related to his mode of conceiving and executing his works, and whatever in his life, habits, or conversation, was either in contrast or in keeping with his verse. The latter latitudinarian interpretation would seem to have found some favour with Dr. Wordsworth, for he has touched upon every branch of the subject, though in most cases, in his fear of plucking forbidden fruit, he has mainly served up the leaves. The volumes comprise not a few interesting letters and memoranda-but they are scattered among many more which have neither life of their own, nor any proper connexion with the life of the poet ;while the portion of the text which proceeds from the Canon himself is, almost without exception, as vapid as verbose. His example is ill-calculated to recommend his theory, which we believe to be altogether unmanageable in practice. The perplexity of distinguishing between the author and the man, of deciding whether facts had any bearing upon the writings, would soon induce a biographer, worthy of the name, to break through the cobwebs which fettered his pen, and adopt 'the good old rule, the simple plan' of giving a full-length portrait of the original. If the Wordsworth system were possible, it would, at best, be undesirable :—it would produce a deceptive as well as an imperfect narrative-it would take from biographies what has always been felt to be the larger half of their use and entertainment, and, in a word, would deteriorate and nearly destroy a department of literature which Dr. Johnson pronounced to be the most delightful of any.

The signal failure of Dr. Wordsworth to convey an adequate idea of his uncle's character and career left the stage empty for Mr. January Searle. Again the performer has proved unequal to his part. Mr. Searle-whose Life of Ebenezer Elliott we never met with-seems never to have set eyes upon his new and greater hero, nor even to have conversed with any one who had. His 'authentic sources' are the materials already


before the public-some of them exceedingly apocryphaland in the process of 'compilation,' as he may well call it, he has used his scissors more than his pen. 'Instead of vitality,' he says of the official Memoirs, we have dry facts-which are the mere bones of biography-and these are often strung together with very indifferent tendons.' Mr. Searle's tendons. are likewise indifferent. What narrative belongs to him is feeble to silliness, and his occasional remarks are made doubly absurd by ostentatious accompaniments of which his predecessor had set him no example-most pitiable affectation and most laughable egotism.

A family of Wordsworths were anciently landowners at Penistone, near Doncaster, and from them the poet supposed himself to be descended. The particular branch from which he was inclined to derive his origin was that of William Wordsworth of Falthwaite, in Yorkshire, who, in a will dated 1665, styles himself yeoman, and a year later, gent. ; but the genealogy was conjectural, and his authentic pedigree terminates with his grandfather. His father was John Wordsworth, an attorney, apparently much esteemed, who superintended part of the Lowther estates, and occupied an old manor-house of that family, at Cockermouth, in Cumberland :—his mother was Anne Cookson, daughter of a mercer at Penrith. The poet, their second child, was born April 7, 1770. Mrs. Wordsworth was not one of those nervous mothers who conjure up dangers ghostly and bodily when their children stray beyond the tether of the apron-string. At five years old he was allowed to range at will from dewy morn to dewy eve over the surrounding country, and among other amusements of that tender age, indulged largely in bathing. Porson, who hated water in all its applications, inward and outward, and who used to say that bathing was supposed to be healthy because there were people who survived it, would have looked with wonder upon the infant Laker, whose custom it was to make one long bathing of a summer's day,' only leaving the stream to bask, dressed in nature's livery, upon the bank, and then plunging back into the cooling current. His fifth was probably the most amphibious year of his life, for he was soon after put to a school at Cockermouth, kept by a clergyman. The school-house stood by the church; and a woman one week-day being sentenced to do penance in a white sheet, young William was praised by his mother for his virtuous zeal in attending the spectacle. He had been enticed by a rumour that he would be paid a penny for his services in looking on, and when he proceeded to complain that the fee was not forthcoming, 'Oh,' said Mrs. Wordsworth, if that was



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