chapter  3
22 Pages

Beyond Godwin

Elements in Wordsworth’s Politics, 1794
WithMark J. Bruhn

Stewart's Elements anticipates the fundamental logic of Wordsworth's post-Godwinian political views, as expressed in the letter to Mathews and recollected in The Prelude; more crucially, it simultaneously advances a philosophical rationale for the new and prophetic interiority Wordsworth is striving to articulate in the Expanded Version of Evening Walk. The Expanded Version's graveside reflection and the balance of the new additions devoted to the melancholic moods of the poet's own mind all serve to illustrate the "Principle of Association" that, in the terms of Stewart's analysis, depends upon "Vicinity in time and place". The Expanded Version thus bears out another of Stewart's observations, one which likewise anticipates Wordsworth's definition of the poet in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads: much of the beauty and sublimity of material objects arises from the ideas and feelings which we have been taught to associate with them.