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tentions and methods and may aid in the solution of the very puzzling aesthetic problems presented to the critic by many of the longer and shorter poems. By connecting Wordsworth with English philosophy we may the more clearly see why he approached his theories by way of associationism, and discussed them in such terms as nature, emotion, imagination, fancy, activity, power, reason, and so on. If the study of Wordsworth in his connections with the philosophers will give aid in the solution of these difficult critical problems and in the elucidation of difficult passages, it will be its own abundant justification, and will suggest a new way of studying the relationship between Wordsworth and his contemporary poets; for he who touches Wordsworth touches an age, and the explanation of Wordsworth involves the explanation of all his contemporaries. This more distinctly literary relationship has merely been glanced at in the present book, fuller consideration of this subject being deferred to another time. Furthermore, the fortunes of Wordsworth's doctrine may be seen in a new aspect, when we view him in connection with the philosophic and scientific thought of a later day, as we see him reflected in the criticism and poetry of Matthew Arnold and in the aesthetic theories of John Ruskin. Into these fascinating fields I have not entered on this occasion, but have left them for future ventures.
I have been as little controversial as possible, and on almost every page I have repressed the desire to turn aside from my main argument to answer an opposing view or interpretation. This procedure has been adopted because I have expended my energies in making the poet speak for himself; and because in his presence I have not wished to indulge in brawls of the market-place. This attitude of pacifism does not argue a lack of conviction on my part; quite the contrary; but I am persuaded that my attack on those who regard Wordsworth as an advocate of vague emotion and flabby, sentimental expansiveness will be more effective if it is made in the poet's own words and in accord with his own dispassionate method. To their assertions I have opposed the calm and deliberate statements of Wordsworth, and have allowed the reader to weigh the evidence. I trust that it will be clear that I am in no sense the defender of Wordsworth's poetry and thought. Into a dis
cussion regarding the ultimate value of his art and thought I have not entered, because they need no defense if they are understood. I have consistently taken the attitude that an earnest attempt to understand is to be regarded as the best and only defense of this great poet. In every case where I have acted as the interpreter of the poet's thought and art, I have done my best to follow "in the footing of his feet," and to couch my explanation in his language, in the hope that Dante's prayer might be answered in this, my journey through the dark passages of our poet's thought:
"Vagliami 'l lungo studio, e 'l grande amore."
In my quotations from the poems I have made use of the earliest text of the Lyrical Ballads of 1798 and of 1800, and of the Poems of 1807, because it is contemporary with important statements of his doctrine, and so is a more perfect reflection of his mind at the time of publication than that which came from later consideration and self-criticism. I use the final text of the other poems, except in certain specified cases, either because the changes in the later text are not significant, or, as in the case of The Prelude, because the original text which is contemporary with the writing of the poem is not available, the poem having been published from a late revision of the earlier manuscript. My quotations from these poems are based on the admirable Oxford edition, edited by Thomas Hutchinson.
August 23, 1922.