[The follow passage appears in Stopford A. Brooke's Life and Letters (1865). George P. Landow, Professor of English and the History of Art, Brown University, has scanned it from the text of the 1902 edition (see bibiography) and formatted it in HTML.]
I have begun to read Wordsworth's 'Retrospect' [The Prelude] again, and have persevered, in spite of the dulness, which at first deterred me; I rejoice extremely that I did. I find it deeply interesting, now that I have got a clue to his object, which is to show how influences are provided for us, if we will once surrender ourselves to them, partly passively, partly actively, instead of inventing artificial discipline; and that those influences, being God's, are the best — slow, sure, and purifying. It is a history of his own life, and, being a reflection of it, is apparently monotonous, having no shocks or striking incidents; but his intention is to show how, just from this very monotony, a character of purity and strength was built up. Some passages are excessively beautiful, the diction always pure and clear, like an atmosphere of crystal pellucidness, through which you see all objects without being diverted aside to consider the medium through which they are seen. When you do pause to think of this, you remark, ' What a clear atmosphere! what pure water! or, what transparent crystal!' but at first you remark only the object. This, too, I observed of Stanley's 'Life of Arnold.' Every one spoke of Arnold, no one stopped to observe how well Stanley had done it; Stanley had merged himself and become transparent. Lord Lansdowne was the first whom I ever heard remark upon the biographer, though I had been on the watch long to see if any one would.
For myself, never have I felt a more fixed and settled depression. The thought of fixture here, except under the alternative of great pecuniary sacrifice, has been overwhelming at some moments, and at others, a dead, heavy weight: to be for ever, en evidence, especially for one so unfitted as I am for it by tastes and predilections; yet I am ashamed of the hasty way in which I dismissed Wordsworth's 'Prelude.' It is a noble work, one that has made my eyes fill again and again, not by its pathos, but by its lofty tone and translucent purity: a severe work, worthy of uatriarchal times, when men went out in^lthe fields to
Brooke, Stopford A. Life and Letters of Fred[erick]. W. Robertson, M. A., Incumbent of Trinity Chapel, Brighton, 1847-53. People's Edition. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co., 1902.
Last modified 7 December 2007