1851 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

Christopher Wordsworth, in Memoirs of William Wordsworth (1851) 1:34, 49-50.



When at Cockermouth he was instructed in the rudiments of learning by the Rev. Mr. Gilbanks; and it is recorded, that the Poet's father set him very early to learn portions of the works of the best English poets by heart, so that at an early age he could repeat large portions of Shakespeare, Milton, and Spenser.... The mind of Wordsworth was indeed cheered at Cambridge, the "garden of great intellects," by visions of the illustrious dead, who had been trained in that university — Chaucer, Spenser, Ben Jonson, Milton, Cowley, Dryden; and he resorted with delight to the groves and walks, especially those of St. John's,

Whenever free to choose
Did I by night frequent the college groves
And tributary walks;

and he describes one venerable tree, now no more, in those walks, which, on successive sojourns at Cambridge, he never failed to visit with feelings of affection.