1. HIS PERSONALITY AND GENIUS
Dorothy Wordsworth—whom Professor Harper has praised not beyond reason as “the most delightful, the most fascinating woman who has enriched literary history”—once confessed in a letter about her brother William that “his person is not in his favour,” and that he was “certainly rather plain.” He is the most difficult of all the great poets whom one reverences to portray as an attractive person. “‘Horse-face,’ I have heard satirists say,” Carlyle wrote of him, recalling a comparison of Hazlitt’s; and the horse-face seems to be symbolic of something that we find not only in his personal appearance, but in his personality and his work.
His faults do not soften us, as the faults of so many favourite writers do. They were the faults, not of passion, but of a superior person, who was something of a Sir Willoughby Patterne in his pompous self-satisfaction. “He says,” records Lamb in one of his letters, “he does not see much difficulty in writing like Shakespeare, if he had a mind to try it.” Lamb adds: “It is clear that nothing is wanting but the mind.”
Leigh Hunt, after receiving a visit from Wordsworth in 1815, remarked that “he was as sceptical on the merit of all kinds of poetry but one as Richardson was on those of the novels of Fielding.” Keats, who had earlier spoken of the reverence in which he held Wordsworth, wrote to his brother in 1818: “I am sorry that Wordsworth has left a bad impression wherever he visited in town by his egotism, vanity, and bigotry.” There was