Providence and Love: Studies in Wordsworth, Channing, Myers, George Eliot, and Ruskin

Providence and Love: Studies in Wordsworth, Channing, Myers, George Eliot, and Ruskin

Providence and Love: Studies in Wordsworth, Channing, Myers, George Eliot, and Ruskin

Providence and Love: Studies in Wordsworth, Channing, Myers, George Eliot, and Ruskin

Synopsis

These studies are connected by common underlying themes: the sense of Providence, the growing awareness of its loss in the nineteenth century and the pressure on the ideal of Romantic love as that came increasingly to be treated as a substitute. Other questions are raised. Were Wordsworth's `Lucy' poems simply Romantic fictions, or did they mask the memory of an actual youthful attachment? What was the story behind the secret message which F. W. H. Myers left with the Society for Psychical Research, hoping to transmit it after his death? And what was it about the young Cambridge men George Eliot met in 1872 that made them particularly attractive to her? Investigation of these and other matters has led to close scrutiny of various manuscripts in British and American libraries, certain of which, including some letters of George Eliot recently discovered in Cambridge, are reproduced here for the first time.

Excerpt

For my research on the background to Wordsworth's 'Lucy' poems I wish to acknowledge the assistance of the staffs of the County Record Offices at Barrow-in-Furness and at Carlisle, and of the church of Latterday Saints, whose microfilms of sections from English parish registers much facilitate the researcher's task. the work has also benefited from discussions with members of the Wordsworth Summer Conference and of the 1995 conference of the British Association for Romantic Studies at Bangor at which I was able to present a part of the chapter. I am particularly grateful in addition to the Librarian and staff of the Dove Cottage Library at Grasmere for giving me ready access to manuscripts there and acknowledge the kindness of the Wordsworth Trust in allowing me to quote a few passages from them, some of which have not been previously reproduced, and to include a photograph of one page.

In connection with my chapter on William Ellery Channing, I am greatly indebted to Katherine H. Griffin of the Massachusetts Historical Society, who came across his manuscript journal when searching unsuccessfully at my request for Channing's account of his visit to Coleridge (see Chapter 3, note 26 below) and very kindly made a xerox available to me. I am most grateful both to her and to the Society, which has allowed me to reproduce the extracts which appear in this article. the accounts of the conversations with Wordsworth and Southey there are given in full in my text. My account first appeared in a slightly different form in an article for the Review of English Studies, and I am happy to thank the Editors and publisher for permission to use it again here.

In dealing with the work of F. W. H. Myers I owe a particular debt to the work of Alan Gauld. Although my work on the manuscripts was carried out in independence from his, I quote some of the same passages in my section on Myers as appeared in his excellent book, The Founders of Psychical Research. Although his work contains apt and shrewd comments on . . .

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