Wordsworth, like many other Englishmen, at first hailed the French Revolution with delight. As a young man he had come back to England in 1792 with a stone from the Bastille in his pocket, an ardent supporter of the revolutionaries.

'Oh! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!

For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,

But to be young was very heaven!-Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways

Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!

When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself

A prime Enchantress-to assist the work

Which then was going forward in her name!'

But under the régime of the guillotine, and later when the Republic entered on a career of conquest, his attitude towards France changed.


This poem refers to the subjugation of Switzerland by Napoleon in 1803.

Two Voices are there; one is of the sea,

One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice:
In both from age to age thou didst rejoice,
They were thy chosen music, Liberty!
There came a Tyrant, and with holy glee


Thou fought'st against him; but hast vainly striven:
Thou from thy Alpine holds at length art driven,
Where not a torrent murmurs heard by thee.
Of one deep bliss thine ear hath been bereft :
Then cleave, O cleave to that which still is left; 10
For, high-souled Maid, what sorrow would it be
That Mountain floods should thunder as before,

And Ocean bellow from his rocky shore,
And neither awful Voice be heard by thee.


The next four sonnets were composed in 1802, soon after the Peace of Amiens, when France was allowed by England and the Powers to keep nearly all she had gained by conquest.

O FRIEND! I know not which way I must look
For comfort, being, as I am, opprest,

To think that now our life is only drest
For show; mean handy-work of craftsman, cook,
Or groom!-We must run glittering like a brook 5
In the open sunshine, or we are unblest:
The wealthiest man among us is the best:
No grandeur now in nature or in book
Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense,
This is idolatry; and these we adore:
Plain living and high thinking are no more:
The homely beauty of the good old cause
Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence,
And pure religion breathing household laws.



MILTON! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;



And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.





GREAT men have been among us; hands that penned
And tongues that uttered wisdom-better none:
The later Sidney, Marvel, Harrington,

Young Vane, and others who called Milton friend.
These moralists could act and comprehend:
They knew how genuine glory was put on;
Taught us how rightfully a nation shone


In splendour: what strength was, that would not bend


But in magnanimous meekness. France, 'tis strange,
Hath brought forth no such souls as we had then.
Perpetual emptiness! unceasing change!
No single volume paramount, no code,
No master spirit, no determined road;
But equally a want of books and men!

3. The later Sidney. Algernon Sidney, who fought in the Civil War on the side of Parliament. In Charles II's reign he became the leader of the Whigs, and in 1683 he was unjustly executed for complicity in the Rye House Plot.

Marvel. (1621-78.) The poet and politician who assisted Milton in his secretaryship, and wrote the 'Horatian Ode' on Cromwell (p. 15).

Harrington. A political philosopher (d. 1677).

4. Vane. Sir Harry Vane, the leader of the Independents against the Presbyterians.

IT is not to be thought of that the Flood
Of British freedom, which, to the open sea
Of the world's praise, from dark antiquity
Hath flowed, with pomp of waters, unwithstood,'
Road by which all might come and go that would
And bear out freights of worth to foreign lands.
That this most famous Stream in bogs and sands
Should perish; and to evil and to good
Be lost for ever. In our halls is hung
Armoury of the invincible Knights of old:



We must be free or die, who speak the tongue That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold Which Milton held. In every thing we are sprung Of Earth's first blood, have titles manifold.

4. with pomp, &c. From S. Daniel (1562-1619), Civil War, II. vii.


Composed in 1806, after the battle of Jena.

By the crushing defeat of the Prussians at Jena so soon after Austerlitz, Napoleon was master of nearly the whole of Europe, and the Fourth Coalition was destroyed; next year Russia came to terms with Napoleon at Tilsit, and England stood alone.


ANOTHER year!-another deadly blow!
Another mighty Empire overthrown!
And We are left, or shall be left, alone;
The last that dare to struggle with the Foe.
'Tis well! from this day forward we shall know
That in ourselves our safety must be sought;
That by our own right hands it must be wrought;
That we must stand unpropped or be laid low.
O dastard whom such foretaste doth not cheer!
We shall exult, if they who rule the land
Be men who hold its many blessings dear,
Wise, upright, valiant; not a servile band,
Who are to judge of danger which they fear,
And honour which they do not understand.



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NOBLY, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the NorthWest died away;

Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;

Bluish mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;

In the dimmest North-East distance, dawned Gibraltar grand and gray;

'Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?'-say,


Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise

and pray,

While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.


1. Cape St. Vincent. In 1797 Admiral Jervis's fleet attacked the Spaniards off Cape St. Vincent, and through the skill and gallantry of Nelson won a decisive victory.

2. Cadiz Bay. Cadiz was the headquarters of the French and Spanish fleets under Villeneuve during the naval operations of 1805 which ended in the Battle of Trafalgar. The allusion may be to Essex's attack on Cadiz in 1596.

4. Gibraltar. Besieged by the French, but, after a stubborn resistance, relieved in 1782 by Admiral Howe.

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