Wordsworth in Early American Criticism

By Annabel Newton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION

I

Wordsworth, as I noted at the beginning of the preceding chapter, was little known in this country before 1824. A reprint of the Lyrical Ballads had been made in 1802. No more of his poems were printed in America until 1824. By that year the poet came into his own. The "This will never do" with which Jeffrey introduced his criticism of The Excursion proved a false augury. Slowly England and America came around to Wordsworth. No longer was he ignored and neglected. The magazines gave much space to him. His principles of poetry were explained and made the subject of comment. Copious extracts were made from his poems. The public demanded his works. Whereas it had been the fashion a few years before to decry the poet, it was now the fashion to praise him. His reputation was established. The harsh and unjust critics were silent. The reviewers made sincere attempts to be fair, to be just. They made an allround study of Wordsworth's poetry; thus the picture obtained of the poet's work is not one-sided. If any unfavorable criticism appeared, it was offset by favorable comment. The reviewers in this country seemed to wish to make amends for their past neglect and to set Wordsworth right with America.

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