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By F. B. Pinion

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Extra resources for A Wordsworth Companion: Survey and Assessment

Sample text

A succession of aweinspiring spectacles, with dizzying crossings and prospects, violent gusts of wind, and continual changes from gloom to dazzling brightness, coupled with the tumult of roaring waterfalls and of wind buffeting wind and crags, took their toll; the sublime turned at times into the terrific. Stunned and bewildered, they went on to a hostel where they spent 'an awful night', their sensations being prolonged by a tremendous torrent 'that came thundering down a chasm of the mountain on the opposite side of the glen'.

Much of the mathematical teaching he had to endure during his first year was already familiar, and there were no teachers to inspire the kind of respect and admiration he had for William Taylor; he missed too the affection and steadying influence of Ann Tyson; Cambridge, the Picturesque, and London 23 Tutors showed little interest in their students beyond an egocentred desire for examination successes; too many scholars were motivated by prizes and competitiveness, and Wordsworth's interest became cankered by the gnawing spirit of emulation_ which an examination-ridden system bred.

Thus, in response to the 'quickening soul' of the universe, his mind became activated; looking for 'universal things', he felt Incumbencies more awful, visitings Of the Upholder of the tranquil soul, That tolerates the indignities of time, And from the centre of eternity All finite motions overruling, lives In glory immutable. Alone on winter evenings amid college groves, he indulged in lighter musings; 'scarcely Spenser's self' in his youth could have enjoyed visions more tranquil than were his when, looking up at the graceful ivy-wreathed branches of an ash beneath the frosty moon, he fancifully created bright appearances of 'human forms with superhuman powers'.

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