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things; as political economists say, their labors deavored to show that his own writings in the are of the most “unproductive class” in the com- Morning Post were greatly influential on the pubmunity of thinkers.
lic mind. Coleridge himself confesses that his The next step of our poet in a life which seems Morning Post essays, though written in defence to have had no settled object, but to have been or furtherance of the measures of the government, steered compassless along, was to undertake the added nothing to his fortune or reputation. How political and literary departments of the Morning should they be effective, when their writer, who Post newspaper, and in the duties of this situation not long before addressed the people, and echoed he was engaged in the spring of 1802. No man from his compositions the principles of freedom was less fitted for a popular writer; and, in com- and the rights of the people, now wrote with mon with his early connexions, Coleridge seems scorn of“ mob-sycophants," and of the “ half-witted to have had no fixed political principles that the vulgar ?" It is a consolation to know that our public could understand, though he perhaps was author himself laments the waste of his manhood able to reconcile in his own bosom all that others and intellect in this way. What might he not might imagine contradictory, and no doubt he did have given to the world that is enduring and adso conscientiously. His style and manner of mirable, in the room of these misplaced political writing, the learning and depth of his disquisitions lucubrations! Who that has read his better works for ever came into play, and rendered him unin. will not subscribe to this truth ? telligible, or, what is equally fatal, unreadable to His translation of Schiller's Wallenstein may be the mass. It was singular, tos, that he disclosed denominated a free one, and is finely executed in his biography so strongly his unsettled political It is impossible to give in the English language a principles, which showed that he had not studied more effective idea of the work of the great Gerpolitics as he had studied poetry, Kant, and the man dramatist. This version was made from a ology. The public of each party looks upon a copy which the author himself afterwards revised political writer as a sort of champion around whom and altered, and the translator subsequently reit rallies, and feels it impossible to trust the published his version in a more correct form, with changeable leader, or applaud the addresses of him the additional passages and alterations of Schiller. who is inconsistent or wavering in principles: it This translation will long remain as the most will not back out any but the firm unflinching effective which has been achieved of the works partisan. In truth, what an ill compliment do of the German dramatists in the British tongue. men pay to their own judgment, when they run The censure which has been cast upon our poet counter to, and shift about from points they have for not writing more which is worthy of his repudeclared in indelible ink are founded on truth and tation, has been met by his enumeration of what reason irrefutable and eternal! They must either be has done in all ways and times; and, in truth, have been superficial smatterers in what they first he has written a vast deal which has passed unpromulgated, and have appeared prematurely in noticed, upon fleeting politics, and in newspaper print, or they must be tinctured with something columns, literary as well as political. To the like the hue of uncrimsoned apostasy. The mem- world these last go for nothing, though their author bers of what is called the “ Lake School” have calculates the thought and labor they cost him at been more or less strongly marked with this re- full value. He concedes something, however, to prehensible change of political creed, but Coleridge this prevailing idea respecting him, when he says, the least of them. In truth he got nothing by any " On my own account, I may perhaps have had change he ventured upon, and, what is more, he sufficient reason to lament my deficiency in selfexpected nothing; the world is therefore bound to control, and the neglect of concentrating my pow. say of him what cannot be said of his friends, if it ers to the realization of some permanent work. But be true, that it believes most cordially in his sin- to verse, rather than to prose, if to either, belongs cerity—and that his obliquity in politics was the voice of mourning,' for caused by his superficial knowledge of them, and Keen pangs of love awakening as a babe his devotion of his high mental powers to different Turbulent, with an outcry in the heart,
And fears self-will'd that shunn'd the eye of hope, questions. Notwithstanding this, those who will
And hope that scarce could know itself from fear; not make a candid allowance for him, have ex
Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain, pressed wonder how the author of the “ Consciones And genius given and knowledge won in vain, ad Populum," and the “ Watchman,” the friend And all which I had cull'd in wood walks wild, of freedom, and one of the founders of the Pantis
And all which patient toil had rear'd, and all
Commune with thee had open'd out-but flowers ocracy, could afterwards regard the drivelling and
Strew'd on my corpse, and borne upon my bier, chicanery of the pettifogging minister, Perceval, In the same coffin, for the self-same grave! as glorious in British political history, and he himself as the “best and wisest" of ministers! In another part of his works, Coleridge says, Although Coleridge has avowed his belief that he speaking of what in poetry he had written, “ as to is not calculated for a popular writer, he has en- myself
, I have published so little, and that little
S. T. C."
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 has done, is felt by of a great portion of Wordsworth's poetic theory, the poet; and yet, the little he has produced has namely, that which relates to low life. Wordsamong it gems of the purest lustre, the brilliancy worth contends 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 asserts, realities.
that philosophers are the authors of the best parts The poem of “Christabel,” Coleridge says, was of language, not clowns; and that Milton's lancomposed in consequence of an agreement with guage is more that of real life than the language Mr. Wordsworth, that they should mutually pro- of a cottager. This subject he has most ably duce specimens of poetry which should contain treated in chapter 17 of his Biographia Literaria. " 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 in. charm, 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, supposingern 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, intendthe “ Lyrical Ballads” of Wordsworth.
ed to elucidate the character of Frenchmen. ColePerhaps there is no English writer living who ridge has been 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 possi. writers of his country, are superior to those which bility can lift itself up to religi 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 does 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 are indeed unrivalled, the Prussian and Coleridge had just been rearing and it is to be feared that, to excel in these, he has theories and quoting history), and that the associ. sacrificed what are more durable; and that he has 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, are so great, and he finds it readers deduce the character of a people, whorso captivating to enchain his auditors to the car literature, science, and civilization are perhap. of his triumphant eloquence, that he has sacrificed only not the very first in the world. to this gratification what might have sufficed to Another instance of his fixed and absurd dislike confer upon him a celebrity a thousand times more of every thing French, occurred during the de. to be 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 this question, and always will do so, when it is of which he astonished his auditory by thanking recollected what he has had the power to effect. his Maker, in the most serious manner, for so or- It will not forgive him for writing upon party, and dering events, that he was totally ignorant of a in support of principles that even now are pretty single word of “that frightful jargon, the French nearly exploded, “what was meant for mankind.” language !" And yet, notwithstanding this public Coleridge mistook his walk when he set up for a avowal of his entire ignorance of the language, politician, and it is to be feared the public have a Mr. C. is said to have been in the habit, while great deal to regret on account of it. He will not conversing with his friends, of expressing the ut- be known hereafter by his Morning Post articles, most contempt for the literature of that country! but by his verses. Whatever pains his political
Whelmed in the wild mazes of metaphysics, papers may have cost him, and from his own acand for ever mingling its speculations with all he count they were laboriously composed, they will does or says, Coleridge has of late produced nothing avail him nothing with posterity. The verses of equal to the power of his pen. A few verses in an Coleridge give him his claim to lasting celebrity, annual, or a sonnet in a magazine, are the utmost and it is in vain that he would have the world of his efforts. He resides at Hampstead, in the think otherwise. He says, “Would that the cri. house of a friend having a good garden, where he terion of a scholar's utility were the number and walks for hours together enwrapped in visions of moral value of the truths which he has been the new theories of theology, or upon the most abstruse means of throwing into the general circulation, or of meditations. He goes into the world at times, to the number and value of the minds whom, by his the social dinner-party, where he gratifies his self conversation or letters, he has excited into activity, love by pouring out the stores of his mind in con- and supplied with the germs of their after-growth ! versation to admiring listeners. Were he not apt A distinguished rank might not indeed then be to be too profound, he would make an excellent awarded to my exertions, but I should dare look talker, or rather un grand causeur for a second forward to an honorable acquittal.” Madame de Sévigné, if such an accomplished fe. In temper and disposition Coleridge is kind and male is to be found in the nineteenth century, amiable. His person is bulky and his physiogeither in England or France. The fluency of nomy is heavy, but his eye is remarkably fine ; Coleridge's language, the light he throws upon and neither envy nor uncharitableness have his subjects, and the pleasure he feels in commu- made any successful impression in attac his nicating his ideas, and his knowledge, innate or moral character. His family have long resided acquired, are equally remarkable to the stranger. with Mr. Southey's in the north of England; the He has been accused of indolence, not perhaps narrow pecuniary circumstances of our poet are with reason : the misdirection of his distinguished assigned as the reason. It is ardently desired talents would be a better explanation of that for by all lovers of the Muses, that the author of the which he has been blamable. He attempts to “ Ancient Mariner,” and of “Genevieve,” may justify himself on the score of quantity, by assert- see life protracted to a green old age, and yet ing that some of his best things were published in produce works which may rival those of his de. newspapers. The world differs with him upon parted years.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE.
impelled to seek for sympathy; but a Poet's feelings
are all strong. Quicquid amet valde amat. Akenside COMPOSITIONS resembling those here collected are
therefore speaks with philosophical accuracy when not unfrequently condemned for their querulous he classes Love and Poetry, as producing the same
effects : Egotism. But Egotism is to be condemned then only when it offends against time and place, as in a His
Love and the wish of Poets when their tongue lory or an Epic Poem. To censure it in a Monody
Would toach to others', bosoms, what so charms
Their own. or Sonnet is almost as absurd as to dislike a circle
Pleasures of Imagination. for being round. Why then write Sonnets or Mono- There is one species of Egotism which is truly dies ? Because they give me pleasure when perhaps disgusting; not that which leads us to communicate nothing else could. After the more violent emotions our feelings to others but that which would reduce of Sorrow, the mind demands amusement, and can the feelings of others to an identity with our own. find it in employment alone : but, full of its late suf- The Atheist, who exclaims “pshaw!” when he ferings, it can endure no employment not in some glances his eye on the praises of Deity, is an Egotist : measure connected with them. Forcibly to turn an old man, when he speaks contemptuously of Loveaway our attention to general subjects is a painful verses, is an Egotist: and the sleek Favorites of and most often an unavailing effort.
Fortune are Egotists, when they condemn all “ melBut O! how grateful to a wounded heart
ancholy, discontented" verses. Surely, it would be The tale of Misery to impart
candid not merely to ask whether the poem pleases From others' eyes bid artless sorrows flow, And rajse esteem upon the base of Woe!
ourselves, but to consider whether or no there may
Shaw. not be others, to whom it is well calculated to give The communicativeness of our Nature leads us to an innocent pleasure. describe our own sorrows; in the endeavor to de. I shall only add, that each of my readers will, i scribe them, intellectual activity is exerted ; and hope, remember, that these Poems on various subfrom intellectual activity there results a pleasure, jects, which he reads at one time and under the inwhich is gradually associated, and mingles as a cor- fluence of one set of feelings, were written at differrective, with the painful subject of the description. ent times and prompted by very different feelings; - True!” (it may be answered)" but how are the and therefore that the supposed inferiority of one Public interested in your sorrows or your Descrip- Poem to another may sometimes be owing to the tion ?" We are for ever attributing personal Unities temper of mind in which he happens to peruse it. to imaginary Aggregates. What is the Public, but a term for a number of scattered individuals ? of whom My poems have been rightly charged with a pro
many will be interested in these sorrows, as have fusion of double-epithets, and a general turgidness. experienced the same or similar.
I have pruned the double-epithets with no sparing Holy be the lay
hand ; and used my best efforts to tame the swell Which mourning soothes the mourner on bis way. and glitter both of thought and diction.* This latter If I could judge of others by myself, I should not hesitate to affirm, that the most interesting passages * Without any feeling of anger, I may get be allowed to are those in which the Author develops his own express some degree of surprise, that after having run the feelings? The sweet voice of Cona* never sounds critical gauntlet for a certain class of faults, which I had, viz.
a too ornate and elaborately poetic diction, and nothing havso sweetly, as when it speaks of itself; and I should ing come before the judgment-seat of the Reviewers during almost suspect that man of an unkindly heart, who the long interval, I should for at least seventeen years, quarte could read the opening of the third book of the Para- after quarter, have been placed by them in the foremost rank dise Lost without peculiar emotion. By a Law of our ridicule for faults directly opposite, viz. bald and prosaic lan
of the proscribed, and made to abide the brunt of abuse and Nature, he, wbo labors under a strong feeling, is guage, and an affected simplicity both of matter and manner
-faults which assuredly did not enter into the character of • Oesian.
my compositions.- Literary Life, i. 51. Published 1817.
fault however had insinuated itself into my Religious And when thou lovest thy pale orb to shroud Musings with such intricacy of union, that some- Behind the gather'd blackness lost on high ; times I have omitted to disentangle the weed from And when thou dartest from the wind-rent cloud the fear of snapping the flower. A third and heavier Thy placid lightning o'er the awaken'd sky. accusation has been brought against me, that of ob- Ah such is Hope' as changeful and as fair! scurity ; but not, I think, with equal justice. An Now dimly peering on the wistful sight; Author is obscure, when his conceptions are dim Now hid behind the dragon-wing'd Despair and imperfect, and his language incorrect, or unap- But soon emerging in her radiant might, propriate, or involved.
A poem that abounds in She o'er the sorrow-clouded breast of Care allusions, like the Bard of Gray, or one that imper- Sails, like a meteor kindling in its flight. sonates high and abstract truths, like Collins's Ode on the poetical character, claims not to be popularbut should be acquitted of obscurity. The deficiency is in the Reader. But this is a charge which every poet, whose imagination is warm and rapid, must
TIME, REAL AND IMAGINARY. expect from his contemporaries. Milton did not escape it; and it was adduced with virulence against Gray and Collins. We now hear no more of it: On the wide level of a mountain's head not that their poems are better understood at present, (I knew not where, but 't was some faery place than they were at their first publication ; but their Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails outspread, fame is established; and a critic would accuse him- Two lovely children run an endless race, self of frigidity or inattention, who should profess A sister and a brother ! not to understand them. But a living writer is yet This far outstript the other ; sub judice ; and if we cannot follow his conceptions Yet ever runs she with reverted face, or enter into his feelings, it is more consoling to our And looks and listens for the boy behind : pride to consider him as lost beneath, than as soaring For he, alas! is blind ! above us. If any man expect from my poems the O'er rough and smooth with even step he pass’d, same easiness of style which he admires in a drink. And knows not whether he be first or last. ing-song, for him I have not written. Intelligibilia, non intellectum adfero.
I expect neither profit nor general fame by my writings ; and I consider myself as having been
MONODY ON THE DEATH OF amply repaid without either. Poetry has been to me its own “exceeding great reward :" it has soothed
CHATTERTON. my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude: and it has given O what a wonder seems the fear of death, me the habit of wishing to discover the Good and Seeing how gladly we all sink to sleep, the Beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me. Babes, Children, Youths and Men,
S. T. C. Night following night for threescore years and ter
But doubly strange, where life is but a breath
To sigh and pant with, up Want's rugged steep. JUVENILE POEMS.
Away, Grim Phantom! Scorpion King, away!
Reserve thy terrors and thy stings display
For coward Wealth and Guilt in robes of state !
Lo! by the grave I stand of one, for whom
(That all bestowing, this withholding all) Your eye is like the star of eve,
Made each chance knell from distant spire or donie And sweet your voice, as seraph's song. Sound like a seeking Mother's anxious call, Yet not your heavenly beauty gives
Return, poor Child! Home, weary Truant, home! This heart with passion soft to glow : Within your soul a voice there lives! Thee, Chatterton! these unblest stones protect It bids you hear the tale of woe.
From want, and the bleak freezings of neglect. When sinking low the sufferer wan
Too long before the vexing Storm-blast driven, Beholds no hand outstretch'd to save,
Here hast thou found repose! beneath this sod! Fair, as the bosom of the swan
Thou! O vain word! thou dwell'st not with the clod! That rises graceful o'er the wave,
Amid the shining Host of the Forgiven
(Believe it, O my soul !) to harps of Seraphim.
TO THE AUTUMNAL MOON.
Mild Splendor of the various-vested Night!
Yet oft, perforce ('t is suffering Nature's call.)
Thy corse of livid hue ;