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and of Mr. Coleridge's Prose in the E. R. clxiii correct view of his notion of Mr. Wordsworth's poetry, nothing more can be said than that it is a curious fact in the history of the human mind;-Mr. Coleridge could but judge by appearances, and I think he has not misrepresented them.
In regard to the review of the Lay Sermon, I am not surprised that the Editor saw nothing in it to disapprove; though few, I think, who, at this hour, standing without the charmed circle of party, perused that article, would fail to see, that it is not so much a cri tique of the Sermon as a personal pasquinade-(what are "caprice, indolence, vanity," but personal charges?)
penned by one, who had scanned the author narrowly, in order to abuse him scientifically, and with a certain air of verisimilitude. He had enjoyed special opportunities of taking those observations, which he afterwards recurred to for such an ill purpose. My Father had received him, (at Stowey and, I believe, once again at Keswick), with frank hospitality under his own roof; had extolled his talents when others saw no lustre in the rough diamond; had furnished his mind with pregnant hints-intellectual seed, which, as the soil was very capable, bore, in due time, a harvest
This air of verisimilitude is less in that article than in the parent lampoon, (in Mr. Hazlitt's Political Essays), any distorted resemblance which the latter may be thought to contain, being frittered away, in the Edinboro' copy, by an evident desire that the portrait should be pure deformity. In the former Mr. Coleridge is described as 'belonging to all parties," and "of service to none." This might be favourably interpreted; he who belongs to all parties at one and the same time, belongs to none in particular and can serve none in particular; but he may serve his country all the more. This feature was not copied; but the portion that follows, "he gives up his independence of hind," in which there was no truth at all, was carefully transfused, the spirit of it at least,-into the second portrait. Both
of fruit for his own enrichment. I think he did not deny these obligations, even while he was privately expressing that personal pique and hostile feeling, which he vented to the public under cover of patriotism and concern for the people. Under cover, I say, without impugning his sincerity and earnestness in either; the former, the angry feeling against Mr. Coleridge, he made no secret of among his associates in general. Under the circumstances my Father was to be excused for supposing that this gentleman of "judgment and talents" had been employed to run down the Lay Sermon in the E. Review, on account of his known talents for satire, and the severe judgments he had already published on himself in particular; but, as this has been denied, I have withdrawn two expressions which contain the imputation; the passage concerning the satirist himself I have not thought fit to withdraw.
Mr. Jeffrey's demeanour at the Lakes in 1810 should never have been brought into this question; but from a natural wish to maintain the general truthfulness, if not the prudence and propriety, of my Father's lan
contain the same insinuation respecting my Father's fundamental religious principles-the same attempt to cast them into suspicion with the unphilosophic world-upon which I need make no remark. At that time it may perhaps have brought some additional discredit upon his name, that he imputed catholicity to his mother church. "The Church of England, which he sometimes, by an hyperbole of affectation, affects to call the Catholic Church"!!!
These things are said in the supposition that my Father was not wrong in believing the anthor of the critique in the E. R. and the writer of the two critiques in the Pol. Essays, to be the same person. Either they are identical, or the one is a close copyist of the other,his spleen the same, only colder and more unrelenting.
guage on the subject, I cannot help saying, that Lord Jeffrey's own account of it serves quite as well as Mr. Coleridge's, to illustrate the difference,-I think I may say the discrepancy, between the gentleman conducting himself kindly and courteously in social life, and the same gentleman performing his duty as a reviewer. My Father had undergone no essential change, in the interval, either as a poet, a politician, or a man, nor had he shewn any. The Friend was before the public. To pay compliments, even when they are no more than the genuine overflow of the soul, is a mark of complacency; but to have made efforts to "gratify" a gentleman under a notion that he "liked to receive compliments," was a still greater exercise of politeness. The critique of Christabel did not seem quite symphonious with compliments paid to the poetic mind of him who was best known to the public as the author of The Ancient Mariner, a poem which, equally with that and on very similar grounds, deserved to be called a "mixture of raving and drivelling."4 "I cheerfully
4 An article on Coleridge in the Penny Cyclopædia, which, together with some misstatements of fact, contains the Ed. Review opinions on my Father's merits as an author, to wit, that he had next to none at all, and seems to have been written by a disciple of the critic who pronounced Christabel worthless with the exception of one passage, after referring to what was pointed out on this subject by Mr. Dequincey, proceeds thus: "Of this habit," (that of "trusting to others for suggestions which he improved, and for ideas which he elaborated,") another instance is supplied by Alvar's dungeon soliloquy in the Remorse (Act. v. Scene 1.) the ideas, and, to a certain extent, the words of which are derived from Caleb's prison soliloquy in Caleb Williams." Impressive writer in his own line as I knew Mr. Godwin to be, I was surprised to learn that he had written anything so poetical as Alvar's dungeon soliloquy. Anxious how
acquit" the writer of any the least perception of merit in the poem; although Scott and Byron, the most ad
ever to give him his due I took up Caleb Williams, and for pleasure, as well as duty, read it all through for the second time in my life. I perused with special care the three powerful chapters in which Caleb describes his imprisonment; I found that he dwells upon the "squalid solitude" of his forced abode, and Alvar mentions "friendless solitude;" that he speaks of a "groan" uttered in sleep, and Alvar speaks of "groaning and tears;" but with these exceptions I found neither the ideas nor the words of Alvar's soliloquy in Caleb Williams. My Father may possibly have been led to make the reflections and form the images of that soliloquy by Godwin's striking novel, as Thomson was led to write The Seasons by the perusal of Nature; but he certainly did not borrow them ready-made therefrom. The closest resemblance to Caleb Williams that I can find in the Remorse is not in Act. v. but in Act. i. where Alvar says,
"My own life wearied me!
And but for the imperative voice within,
With mine own hand I had thrown off the burthen."
At the end of Chap. xi. Vol. ii. Caleb says, "I meditated sui cide and ruminated, in the bitterness of my soul, upon the dif ferent means of escaping from the load of existence." Caleb is restrained from self-murder, not by "an imperative voice within," a voice which "calmed" while it "quelled;" his words "still some inexplicable suggestion withheld my hand. I clung with desperate fondness to this shadow of existence, its mysterious attractions and its hopeless prospects." The three preceding pages are very fine in their way, but have nothing in common with the Remorse except of the most general description. Indeed unless my Father had been the first man that ever described imprisonment, he could not have avoided some general similarity with former describers.
The whole article I would recommend as a study to those who are desirous of acquiring the art of depreciation; the principle of which rests on the force of contrast with a pretence of candour, and may be thus thrown into the form of a rule; give the man praise a minori in order to take away all the
mired poets of the day, were known to have expressed admiration of it, he naturally preferred his own judg
credit commonly given him a majori: exalt other men, in order to pull him down from his seat, although these other men would themselves be the first to replace him in it. The Cyclopædist denies my Father originality of mind on plausible grounds, perhaps, and yet, I think, on insufficient ones. The habit of obtaining from others "suggestions to improve" and "ideas to elaborate" may be almost called common to the genus vatum. Dante is esteemed a vigorous and original writer : yet it has been clearly shewn that the vision of the boy monk Alberico "served as a model for the entire edifice of his poem," and furnished him with some of his striking details.* Dante adopted everything in the Vision that he could turn to advantage, and left it to his commentators to make his acknowledgments to the youthful Visionary. Milton borrowed from all quarters, as may be seen in Todd's edition of his works. Tasso took wholesale from preceding Italian poets and from the Classics. Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard contains scarcely a single image or sentiment that is entirely new, and in all his other poems he helps himself without scruple to the ideas and sometimes to the words of other poets. Shakespeare is full of borrowed pegs to hang his thoughts upon. Lord Byron declared that these charges of plagiarism against particular poets were a folly, since all poets are guilty of it. I think that almost all poets borrow a good deal in one way or another; but there is a difference in the mode of their borrowing; some take the thoughts and images of other writers and combine them with new matter; some take a great deal of what constitutes the substance and brilliancy of their compositions from historical or descriptive books in prose. Writers of a rich and ornate style borrow more than those of a severer cast: Byron borrowed far more from books than Crabbe, and Mr. Wordsworth has borrowed less, I believe, than any other great poet. Nature is
See the Essay on this subject, extracted from an ancient manuscript, prefixed to Zotti's Dante, p. 19-42.