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of so little importance, as to make it almost ludi- It is equally creditable to the taste and judgment crous to mention my name at all." It is evident, of Coleridge, that he was one of the first to point therefore, that a sense of what he might have done out, with temper and sound reasoning, the fallacy for fame, and of the little he had done, was felt of a great portion of Wordsworth's poetic theory by the poet; and yet, the little he did produce has namely, that which relates to low life. Wordsamong it gems of the purest lustre, the brilliancy worth contended that a proper poetic diction is a of which time will not deaden until the universal language taken from the mouths of men in genevoice of nature be heard no longer, and poetry ral, in their natural conversation under the influperish beneath the dull load of life's hackneyed ence of natural feelings. Coleridge wisely asserted, realities.
that philosophers are the authors of the best parts of language, not clowns; and that Milton's language is more that of real life than the language of a cottager. This subject he has most ably treated in chapter 17 of his Biographia Literaria.
The poem of "Christabel,” Coleridge says, was composed in consequence of an agreement with Mr. Wordsworth, that they should mutually produce specimens of poetry which should contain "the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader, Two years after he had abandoned the Morning by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and Post, he set off for Malta, where he most unexthe power of giving the interest of novelty by pectedly arrived on a visit to his friend Dr. Stodart, the modifying colors of imagination. The sudden then king's advocate in that island, and was incharm, which accidents of light and shade, which troduced by him to the Governor, Sir Alexander moon-light or sun-set diffused over a known and Ball, who appointed him his secretary. He refamiliar landscape, appeared to represent the prac-mained in the island fulfilling the duties of his ticability of combining both." Further he ob- situation, for which he seems to have been but serves on this thought, "that a series of poems indifferently qualified, a very short period. One might be composed of two sorts. In the one, the advantage, however, he derived from his official incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, employ: that of the pension granted by Governsupernatural; and the excellence to be aimed at ment to those who have served in similar situawas to consist in the interesting of the affections tions. On his way home he visited Italy; entered by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would Rome, and examined its host of ancient and modnaturally accompany such situations, supposing ern curiosities, and added fresh matter for thought them real, etc. For the second class, subjects to his rapidly accumulating store of ideas. Of were to be chosen from ordinary life." Thus, it this visit he gives several anecdotes; among them appears, originated the poems of the "Ancient one respecting the horns of Moses on Michael Mariner," and "Christabel," by Coleridge, and Angelo's celebrated statue of that lawgiver, in the "Lyrical Ballads" of Wordsworth. tended to elucidate the character of Frenchmen Perhaps there is no English writer living who Coleridge was all his life a hater of France and understood better than Coleridge the elements of Frenchmen, arising from his belief in their being poetry, and the way in which they may be best completely destitute of moral or poetical feeling. combined to produce certain impressions. His A Prussian, who was with him while looking upon definitions of the merits and differences in style the statue, observed that a Frenchman was the only and poetic genius, between the earliest and latest animal, "in the human shape, that by no possiwriters of his country, are superior to those which bility can lift itself up to religion or poetry." A any one else has it in his power to make; for, in foolish and untrue remark on the countrymen of truth, he long and deeply meditated upon them, Fenelon and Pascal, of Massillon and Corneille and no one can be dissatisfied by the reasons he Just then, however, two French officers of rank gives, and the examples he furnishes, to bear out happened to enter the church, and the Goth from his theories and opinions. These things he did the Elbe remarked that, the first things they would as well or better in conversation than in writing. notice would be the "horns and beard" (upon which His conversational powers were indeed unrivalled, the Prussian and Coleridge had just been rearing and it is to be feared that to excel in these, he theories and quoting history), and that the associ sacrificed what was more durable; and that he ations the Frenchmen would connect with them resigned, for the pleasure of gratifying an attentive" would be those of a he-goat and a cuckold." It listening circle, and pleasing thereby his self-love happened that the Prus-Goth was right: the offi by its applause, much that would have delighted cers did pass some such joke upon the figure. the world. His flow of words, delivery, and va- Hence, by inference, would the poet have his riety of information were so great, and he found readers deduce the character of a people, whose it so captivating to enchain his auditors to the car literature, science, and civilization are perhaps of his triumphant eloquence, that he sacrificed to only not the very first in the world. this gratification what might have sufficed to Another instance of his fixed and absurd dislike confer upon him a celebrity a thousand times of every thing French, occurred during the de more to he coveted by a spirit akin to his own. livery of a course of Lectures on Poetry, at the
Royal Institution, in the spring of 1808; in one of which he astonished his auditory by thanking his Maker, in the most serious manner, for so ordering events, that he was totally ignorant of a single word of "that frightful jargon, the French language!" And yet, notwithstanding this public avowal of his entire ignorance of the language, Mr. Coleridge is said to have been in the habit, while conversing with his friends, of expressing the utmost contempt for the literature of that country!
In the years 1809-10, Mr. Coleridge issued from Grasmere a weekly essay, stamped to be sent by the general post, called "The Friend." This paper lasted for twenty-seven numbers, and was then abruptly discontinued; but the papers have since been collected and enlarged in three small volumes.
In the year 1812, Mr. Coleridge, being in London, edited, and contributed several very interesting articles to, Mr. Southey's "Omniana," in two small volumes. In the year 1816, appeared the Biographical Sketches of his Literary Life and Opinions, and his newspaper Poems re-collected under the title of "Sibylline Leaves."
About this time he wrote the prospectus of "The Encyclopædia Metropolitana," still in the course of publication, and was intended to be its editor; but this final mistake was early discovered and rectified.
In the year 1816 likewise was published by Mr. Murray, at the recommendation of Lord Byron, who had generously befriended the brother (or rather the father) poet, the wondrous ballad tale of "Christabel." The author tells us in his preface that the first part of it was written in his great poetic year, 1797, at Stowey; the second part, after his return from Germany, in 1800, at Keswick the conclusion yet remains to be written! The poet says, indeed, in this preface, "As in my very first conception of the tale, I had the whole present to my mind, I trust that I shall yet be able to embody in verse the three parts yet to come We do not pretend to contradict a poet's dreams; but we believe that Mr. Coleridge never communicated to mortal man, woman, or child, how this story of witchcraft was to end. The poem is, perhaps, more interesting as a fragment. For sixteen years we remember it used to be recited and transcribed by admiring disciples, till at length it was printed, and at least half the charm of the poet was broken by the counterspell of that rival magician, Faust. In 1818 was published the drama of Zapolya. In 1825, "Aids to Reflection, in the Formation of a Manly Character, on the several grounds of Prudence, Mo
rality and Religion; illustrated by select passages from our older Divines, especially from Archbishop Leighton." This is for the most part a compilation of extracts from the works of the Archbishop.
To conclude the catalogue of Mr. Coleridge's works, in 1830 was issued a small volume “On the Constitution of the Church and State, according to the idea of each, with Aids towards a right Judgment on the late Catholic Bill."
In the year 1828, the whole of his poetical works, including the dramas of Wallenstein (which had been long out of print), Remorse, and Zapolya, were collected in three elegant volumes by Mr. Pickering.
The latter years of Mr. Coleridge's life were made easy by a domestication with his friend Mr. Gillman, the surgeon of Highgate Grove, and for some years, the poet deservedly received an an. nuity from his Majesty of £100 per annum, as an Academician of the Royal Society of Literature. But these few most honorable pensions to worn-out veterans in literature were discontinued by the late ministry. Mr. Coleridge contributed one or two erudite papers to the transactions of this Society. In the summer of 1823, Mr. Coleridge made the tour of Holland, Flanders, and up the Rhine as far as Bergen. For some years before his death, he was afflicted with great bodily pain; and was on one occasion heard to say, that for thirteen months he had from this cause walked up and down his chamber seventeen hours each day. He died on the 25th of July, 1834, having previously written the following epitaph for him. self:
"Stop, Christian passer-by! stop, child of God!
This is perfection-worthy of the author of the best essay on epitaphs in the English language. He was buried in Highgate Church. He has left three children, namely, Hartley, Derwent, and Sara. The first has published a volume of poems, of which it is enough to say that they are worthy of Mr. Wordsworth's verses addressed to him at "six years old." The second son is in holy orders, and is married and settled in the west of England; and the poet's daughter is united to her learned and lively cousin, Mr. Henry Nelson Coleridge, the author of "Six Months in the West Indies." This young lady had the good
and subjected for a few minutes to the ethereal influence of that wonderful man's monologue, and he will begin to believe himself a poet. The bar
fortune to be educated in the noble library on the banks of the Cumberland Greta, where she assisted her accomplished uncle in translating from the old French the history of the Chevalier Bay-ren wilderness may not blossom like the rose; but ard, and from the Latin the account of the Abipones, or Equestrian Indians of South America, by the Jesuit Martin Dobrizhoffer; both of which works were published by Mr. Murray.
"But of his native speech, because well nigh
A garrulous but a lively tale, and fraught
And if he could, in Merlin's glass, have seen
SOUTHEY'S Tale of Paraguay.
The following brief sketches of Coleridge's character are selected from among the numerous notices which appeared in various reviews and periodicals at the time of his decease.
it will seem, or rather feel to do so, under the lustre of an imagination exhaustless as the sun.'
"At the house of the attached friend, under whose roof this illustrious man spent the latter years of his life, it was the custom to have a con. versazione every Thursday evening. Here Coleridge was the centre and admiration of the circle that gathered round him. He could not be otherwise than aware of the intellectual homage of which he was the object; yet there he sate, talking and looking all sweet and simple and divine things, the very personification of meekness and humility. Now he spoke of passing occurrences, or of surrounding objects,-the flowers on the table, or the dog on the hearth; and enlarged in most familiar wise on the beauty of the one, the attachment, the almost moral nature of the other, and the wonders that were involved in each. And now, soaring upward with amazing majesty, into "As a great poet, and a still greater philoso- those sublimer regions in which his soul de. pher, the world has hardly yet done justice to the lighted, and abstracting himself from the things genius of Coleridge. It was in truth of an order of time and sense, the strength of his wing soon not to be appreciated in a brief space. A far carried him out of sight. And here, even in these longer life than that of Coleridge shall not suffice his eagle flights, although the eye in gazing after to bring to maturity the harvest of a renown like him was dazzled and blinded, yet ever and anon a sunbeam would make its way through the loophis. The ripening of his mind, with all its golden fruitage, is but the seed-time of his glory. The holes of the mind, giving it to discern that beauclose and consummation of his labors (grievous tiful amalgamation of heart and spirit, that could to those that knew him, and even to those that equally raise him above his fellow-men, or bring knew him not,) is the mere commencement of him down again to the softest level of humanity. his eternity of fame. As a poet, Coleridge was It is easy,' says the critic before alluded to,—'it unquestionably great ; as a moralist, a theologian, easy to talk-not very difficult to speechifyand a philosopher, of the very highest class, he hard to speak; but to 'discourse' is a gift rarely was utterly unapproachable. And here, gentle bestowed by Heaven on mortal man. Coleridge reader, let me be plainly understood as speaking has it in perfection. While he is discoursing, the not merely of the present, but the past. Nay, more. Seeing that the earth herself is now past her prime, and gives various indications of her beginning to 'grow grey in years,' it would, perhaps, savour more of probability than presumption, if I were likewise to include the future. It is thus that, looking both to what is, and to what has been, we seem to feel it, like a truth intuitive, that we shall never have another Shakspeare in the drama, nor a second Milton in the regions of sublimer song. As a poet, Coleridge has done enough to show how much more he might and could have done, if he had so thought fit. It was truly said of him, by an excellent critic and accomplished judge, 'Let the dullest clod that ever vegetated, provided only he be alive and hears, be shut up in a room with Coleridge, or in a wood,
world loses all its common-places, and you and
An elaborate and admirable critique on Cole. ridge's "Poetical Works," in "The Quarterly Review, No. CIII.," written just before his death, opens as follows:
visited Mr. Coleridge have left him with a feeling akin to the judgment indicated in the above remark. They admire the man more than his works, or they forget the works in the absorbing impression made by the living author. And no wonder. Those who remember him in his more vigorous days can bear witness to the peculiarity and transcendent power of his conversational eloquence. It was unlike any thing that could be heard elsewhere; the kind was different, the degree was different; the manner was different. The boundless range of scientific knowledge, the brilliancy and exquisite nicety of illustration, the deep and ready reasoning, the strangeness and immensity of bookish lore, were not all; the dra
be added; and with these the clerical-looking dress, the thick waving silver hair, the youthfulcolored cheek, the indefinable mouth and lips, the quick yet steady and penetrating greenish-grey eye, the slow and continuous enunciation, and the everlasting music of his tones,-all went to make up the image and to constitute the living presence of the man."
"Idolized by many, and used without scruple by more, the poet of 'Christabel' and the 'Ancient Mariner' is but little truly known in that common literary world, which, without the prerogative of conferring fame hereafter, can most surely give or prevent popularity for the present. In that circle he commonly passes for a man of genius who has written some very beautiful verses, but whose original powers, whatever they were, have been long since lost or confounded in the pursuit of metaphysic dreams. We ourselves venture to think very differently of Mr. Coleridge, both as a poet and a philosopher, although we are well enough aware that nothing which we can say will, as matters now stand, much advance his chance of becoming a fashionable author. In-matic story, the joke, the pun, the festivity, must deed, as we rather believe, we should earn small thanks from him for our happiest exertions in such a cause; for certainly, of all the men of letters whom it has been our fortune to know, we never met any one who was so utterly regardless of the reputation of the mere author as Mr. Coleridge-one so lavish and indiscriminate in the exhibition of his own intellectual wealth before any and every person, no matter who-one so reckless who might reap where he had most prodigally sown and watered. God knows,'- -as we once heard him exclaim upon the subject of his unpublished system of philosophy,-'God knows, I have no author's vanity about it. I should be absolutely glad if I could hear that the thing had been done before me.' It is somewhere told of Virgil, that he took more pleasure in the good verses of Varius and Horace than in his own.. We would not answer for that; but the story has always occurred to us, when we have seen Mr. Coleridge criticising and amending the work of a contemporary author with much more zeal and hilarity than we ever perceived him to display about any thing of his own. Perhaps our readers may have heard repeated a saying of Mr. Wordsworth, that many men of this age had done wonderful things, as Davy, Scott, Cuvier, &c.; but that Coleridge was the only wonderful man he ever knew. Something, of course, must be allowed in this as in all other such cases of antithesis; but we believe the fact really to be, that the greater part of those who have occasionally
In a note at the conclusion of the number of "The Quarterly Review" from which the preceding passage has been taken, Mr. Coleridge's decease is thus mentioned:
"It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Mr. Coleridge. When the foregoing article on his poetry was printed, he was weak in body, but exhibited no obvious symptoms of so near a dissolution. The fatal change was sudden and decisive; and six days before his death he knew, assuredly, that his hour was come. His few worldly affairs had been long settled; and, after many tedious adieus, he expressed a wish that he might be as little interrupted as possible. His sufferings were severe and constant till within thirty-six hours of his end; but they had no power to affect the deep tranquillity of his mind, or the wonted sweetness of his address. His prayer from the beginning was, that God would not withdraw his Spirit; and that by the way in which he would bear the last struggle, he might be able to evince the sincerity of his faith in Christ. If ever man did so, Coleridge did."