* William Wordsworths’ ‘Lyrical Ballads’ published in 1978 and written with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped the launch of the Romantic movement in English literature.
* The Romantic Movement arose at the end of the 18th century. It was called Romanticism and opposed most of the earlier held views of the century.
* The forerunners of the romanticists argued that men are naturally good; society makes them bad. If the social world could be changed, all men might be happier. Many re-forms were suggested: better treatment of people in prisons and almshouses; fewer death penalties for minor crimes and an increase in charitable institutions.
* The romanticists believed all men were brothers and deserve the treatment that human beings are by nature entitled. Everyman has a right to life, liberty, and equal opportunity. These statements had been emphasised in the American Declaration of Independence. Englishmen hoped this and the French revolution would lead the way for the rest of the world. Along with democracy and individualism came other ideas.
* One of these ideas was that the simple, humble life is best. Another is was that people should live close to nature. Because of this concern for nature and the ‘simple folk’, authors began to take an interest in old legends, folk ballads, antiquities, ruins, noble savages and rustic character.
* Many writers started to give more play to there senses and to their imagination. Their pictures of nature become livelier and more realistic. They loved to describe rural scenes, graveyards, majestic mountains, and roaring waterfalls. They also liked to write poems and stories of such eerie or supernatural things such as ghosts, haunted castles and mad folk.
* This meant romanticism grew. The movement cannot be precisely defined. It was a group of ideas, a web of beliefs.
* Not one Romantic writer expressed all these ideas, but each believed enough of them to set them apart from earlier writers.
* The romanticist was emotional and imaginative. He acted through inspiration and intuition. He believed in democracy, humanity and the possibility of achieving a better world.
* William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was best known as the ‘poet of nature’
* He was born on the 7th April 1770 in Cockermouth, in the north of England. He came from a family of landowners and from his earliest days he loved the simplicity and beauty of the region in which he lived.
* He attended Cambridge University, where he was an average student, and graduated in1791.
* His life was peaceful and uneventful. He travelled to the continent and on his second visit became interested in the French revolution.
* In 1971 he returned from a trip to France after falling in love with Marie Anne Vallon who bore him an illegitimate daughter.
* He decided to join the freedom fighters. His family disapproved and stopped sending him money. This lack of funds brought him back to England in late 1792.
* He then lived for three years, aimlessly, without any plans for a profession. He then received a legacy from a friend, he took a cottage in Dorset with his sister Dorothy and devoted his life to poetry, and there he met Coleridge.
* In 1802 he married Mary Hutchinson.
* Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on October 21st 1772 in Ottery St.Mary in Devonship approx two years after Wordsworth, and died in 1834 sixteen years before Wordsworth.
* He was the youngest of 10 children of John Coleridge, who died when he was 8. At an early age Samuel had already read the Bible and ‘Arabian Nights’ The next year he was sent to Christ’s Hospital a charity school in London.
* He too attended Cambridge University and became deeply in debt. He then ran away to London and enlisted in the Army under an unused name. After a few months his brothers arranged his discharge, and he returned to Cambridge. But he was restless, stimulated by the ideals of the French revolution and left without a degree in 1794.
* With the poet Robert Southey he planned to go to America to start a utopian community (called a pantisocrasy), but they lacked the funds to carry out the funds to carry out the project.
* He was a major 19th Century English lyrical poet.
* He had a tendency to daydream- a weakness, like his later drug addiction, which limited his work.
* These reveries however, inspired the exotic imagery that made his poetry so haunting.
* Coleridge’s daydreams were affected by the use of opium, which he started taking to relieve the pains of neuralgia. This addiction created problems for the poet and is believed by some to have made his work much less than what it might have been. His imaginative power is expressed in his dream poets- ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Christabel’, and ‘Kubla Khan,’ the most famous unfinished poem to date in the English language. Coleridge claimed that “Kubla Khan” was the product of a hallucinatory dream experienced after he had taken opium” in consequence of a slight indisposition”. On awaking, he began to commit the experience to paper, but was interrupted by “a person on business from Porlock”. On returning to his desk, he found that the intensity of his impressions had faded. The poem claims to be “scattered lines and images” from a longer, forgotten work.
* In 1797 when Wordsworth moved into Alfoxden Street, Sommerset. He and Coleridge continued a friendship that was to influence English poetry for generations. The two poets talked, walked and worked together. In 1798 they published their famous collection of ‘Lyrical Ballads’.
* All but four of the ‘Lyrical Ballads’ were written by Wordworth.
* The ‘Lyrical ballads’ included Coleridges ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and Wordsworths ‘Lines Above Tintern Abbey’ ‘Michael’ and ‘The Revery of Poor Susan’.
* Wordsworth wrote a preference to the second edition of this book, which stated the two writers’ philosophy of poetry. It startled the literary world. Wordsworth said that poetry was the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” He also said that poets should describe simple scenes in everyday words, that they should be true to nature, and that they should use imagination to create an atmosphere.
* Many people laughed at these ideas and his poems, but he continued to write for the rest of his long life. He composed many dull poems, but also many which were strikingly beautiful. He had created most of his finest work by 1807.
* Wordsworth and Coleridge were very good friends, Wordworth once descried Coleridge as “he is the only wonderful man I ever met,” He was also described by Thomas Carlyle as a “king of men.” C.Lamb however described him as a “damaged archangel”
* Today Coleridge is greatly remembered for the few poems that he wrote in his earlier years. It has been said of his poetry: “All that he did excellently might be bound up in 20 pages, but it should be bound in pure gold”
* Although Coleridge is regarded as principally a poet, he wrote a number of important prose works and was also a prolific and highly regarded journalist. “Bioraphia Literaria” (published in 1817) analyses the nature of poetry and the principles of criticism. “Lectures of Shakespeare” (1849) rank him among the greatest of Shakespearean critics. “Aids to Reflection” (1825) is the most famous of his philosophical and religious works.
* Coleridge became, in later years, a sorry figure more or less abandoning poetry all together to concentrate on Philosophical Speculation.
* Wordsworth became even more successful. In the last 50 years of his life he lived in Grasmere and Rydale Mount in the Lake District in the north of England.
* He married his cousin Mary Hutchinson and he gradually won public favour, and critics finally agreed with his ideas. He was made poet laureate in 1843.
* In his long poem ‘The Prelude’ Wordsworth related the story of his mental growth. He tells how his boyish love of nature’s beauty grew into recognition of the kinship between nature and mankind. He expressed his love of nature in his ‘Intimations of Immorality’ when he wrote, “To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”
* He is not a dramatic poet, but in his best nature poems, some of his sonnets and several of his peasant poets he changes the commonplace into stirring poetry. Matthew Arnold wrote, “Wordsworth’s poetry is great because of the extraordinary power with which Wordsworth feels the joy offered us in Nature, the joy offered us in the simple affections and duties”
* Wordsworth lived to see his work universally praised. In 1842 he was awarded a government pension, and in the following year he succeeded Southey as Poet Laureate. Wordsworth died at Rydal Mount, on April 23, 1850, and was buried in the Grasmere churchyard.
1776- American Declaration of independence from Britain.
1789- Outbreak of the French Revolution
1793- Revolutionary government in France declared War on Britain.
1799- In France, Napoleon overthrew the dictionary
1802- Britain made peace with France after the War between them.
1805- Battle of Trafalgar- Royal Navy
1815- Battle of Waterloo, Britain and Allies defeat France.
1829- Greek Kingdom established
1830- July Revolution in France, Louis Phillippe replaced Charles X
1832- Great Reform Act the Reform Bill of 1832 provided for the redistribution of parliamentary seats, and virtually tripled the electorate.
1848- In February Revolution Louis Philippe was over thrown and the second revolution Louis Philippe was over thrown and the second set up.
1852-1870 Louis Neapolitan, Naepolian’s first nephew, restored the empire with the title- Naepolian the III