« AnteriorContinuar »
been sent from the Treasury. The rapid and unusual increase in the sale of the Morning Post is a sufficient pledge, that genuine impartiality with a respectable portion of literary talent will secure the success of a newspaper without the aid of party or ministerial patronage.' But by impartiality I mean an honest and enlightened adherence to a code of intelligible principles previously announced, and faithfully referred to in support of every judgment on men and events; not indiscriminate abuse, not the indulgence of an editor's own malignant passions, and still less, if that be possible, a determination to make money by flattering the envy and cupi. dity, the vindictive restlessness and self-conceit of the half-witted vulgar; a determination almost fiendish, but which, I have been informed, has been boastfully avowed by one man, the most notorious of these mob-sycophants! From the commencement of the Addington administration to the present day, whatever I have written in The Morning Post, or (after that paper was transferred to other proprietors) in THE COURIER,“ has been in defence or furtherance of the measures of Government.
Things of this nature scarce survive that night
Can scarcely aught be said, but that they were .!”:47 Yet in these labors I employed, and in the belief of partial friends wasted, the prime and manhood of my intellect. Most assuredly, they added nothing to my fortune or my reputation. The industry of the week supplied the necessities of the week. From
46 [Mr. Coleridge began to write for The Courier in 1811. One series of Essays, mentioned in a subsequent page, he had published in that Paper in 1809. He wrote for the Morning Post in 1800 and 1802, but not regularly or throughout each of those years. See the Biog. Supplement. S. C.)
47 [From the prologue to “ The Royal Slave,” a Tragi-comedy by William Cartwright.
The author of this play flourished in the reign of James I. and his successor, and died of the camp disease, in 1643, according to Wood's Athen. Ox., in the thirty-third year of his age. He wrote, beside The Royal Slave, The Ordinary, a Comedy; The Lady Errant, a Tragi-comedy; The Siege, or Love's Convert, a Tragi-comedy; and Poems, all which were printed together in 1651. S. C.]
government or the friends of government I not only never re. ceived remuneration, nor ever expected it; but I was never honored with a single acknowledgment, or expression of satisfaction. Yet the retrospect is far from painful or matter of regret. I am not indeed silly enough to take as anything more than a violent hyperbole of party debate, Mr. Fox's assertion that the late war (I trust that the epithet is not prematurely applied) was A war produced by the Morning Post; or I should be proud to have the words inscribed on my tomb.“ As little do I regard
18 [In the Autumn of 1802 Mr. Coleridge published in the Morning Post two long letters to Mr. Fox, the first of which appeared on the fourth, . and the second on the ninth, of November.
These Letters are not only Anti-Gallican and Anti-Jacobin, but strongly Anti-Napoleon. They breathe the same uncompromising hostility to the then master of France, the same disdain of the “ upstart Corsican,” not simply or chiefly as an invader of hereditary rights, but as an unprincipled despot and oppressor of liberty, whom force of circumstances more than inherent power had raised on high,disdain unmitigated by a shade either of adıniration or fear,—which continued to be his line of sentiment on that subject for the rest of his life. But the friends and admirers of Fox were displeased with the letters on his account, because they reflected on him for a departure from sound Anglicanism in his latter policy, and expressed the deeper regret on this head, because his character, as previously manifested, had seemed to be that of a “genuine Englishman.” The writer was reproached with inconsistency, because he had once been the satirist of Pitt and the eulogist of Fox, Whether or no these censures were deserved, whether the language of the Letters was indeed, as even his friend Lamb pronounced it, “ a gentlemanly ushering in of most arrogant charges," or only such plain, bold speaking as becomes an English subject,-an ereetion of strong blame upon a groundwork of real earnest praise ;-whether or no its tone and import argue any essential inconsistency in a former eulogist of Fox, whom it declares to have “ a just claim on the gratitude and admiration of his country for his counsels and exertions during the whole continuance of the ominous” revolutionary war; or a satirist of Pitt, when it affirms that the Jacobinical party in England had never been truly formidable, “ unless it were during the Jacobinical career of Mr. Pitt's purtisans" at the close of the contest with America ;-these are questions, which will be answered more justly and dispassionately hereafter, by many even now, than they were in the year 1802. “Upon the whole,” says Mr. Dequincey, in reference to my father's change of sides in politics, “ I am of opinion, that few events of Mr. Coleridge's life were better calculated to place his disinterested pursuit of truth in a luminous point of view." An extract from Mr. Dequincey's defence of Mr. Coleridge's political con.
ine circumstance, that I was a specified object of Buonaparte' resentment during my residence in Italy in consequence of those essays in the Morning Post during the peace of Amiens. Of this I was warned directly, by Baron Von Humbolt, the Prussian Plenipotentiary, who at that time was the minister of the Prussian court at Rome; and indirectly, through his secretary, by Cardinal Fesch himself. Nor do I lay any greater weight on the confirming fact, that an order for my arrest was sent from Paris, from which danger I was rescued by the kindness of a noble Benedictine, and the gracious connivance of that good old man, the present Pope." For the late tyrant's vindictive appetite was omnivorous, and preyed equally on a Duc d'Enghein, and the writer of a newspaper paragraph. Like a true vulture," Napoleon, with an eye not less telescopic, and with a taste equally coarse in his ravin, could descend from the most dazzling heights to pounce on the leveret in the brake, or even on the field mouse amid the grass. But I do derive a gratification from the knowledge, that my essays contributed to introduce the practice of placing the questions and events of the day in a moral point of view; in giving
" a dignity to particular measures by tracing their policy or impolicy to permanent principles, and an interest to principles by
sistency, and an opinion expressed by him of his political writings, in allusion to what is said of “Buonaparte's resentment” in this paragraph of the B. L., will appear in the Appendix, note J. S. C.]
49 ["Rather unexpectedly he had a visit early one morning from a noble Benedictine with a passport signed by the Pope in order to facilitate his departure. He left him a carriage, and an admonition for instant flight, which was promptly obeyed by Coleridge. Hastening to Leghorn, he dis. covered an American vessel ready to sail for England, on board of whic's he embarked.” Life of Coleridge, by Jaines Gillman, pp. 180–1. S. C.]
60 I seldom think of the murder of this illustrious Prince without recol. lecting the lines of Valerius Flaccus :
super ipsius ingens
Argonaut i., 29.
Manuel Phile, De Animal, Proprietat , sect. i., L. 18.
the application of them to individual measures. In Mr. Burke's writings indeed the germs of almost all political truths may be found. But I dare assume to myself the merit of having first explicitly defined and analysed the nature of Jacobinism ; and that in distinguishing the Jacobin from the republican, the democrat, and the mere demagogue, I both rescued the word from remaining a mere term of abuse, and put on their guard many honest minds, who even in their heat of zeal against Jacobinism, admitted or supported principles from which the worst parts of that system may be legitimately deduced. That these are not necessary practical results of such principles, we owe to that fortunate inconsequence of our nature, which permits the heart to rectify the errors of the understanding. The detailed exami. nation of the consular Government and its pretended constitution, and the proof given by me, that it was a consummate despotism in masquerade, extorted a recantation even from the Morning Chronicle, which had previously extolled this constitution, as the perfection of a wise and regulated liberty. On every great occurrence I endeavored to discover in past history the event that most nearly resembled it. I procured, wherever it was possible, the contemporary historians, memorialists, and pamphleteers. Then fairly subtracting the points of difference from those of likeness, as the balance favored the former or the latter, I conjectured that the result would be the same or different. In the series of essays entitled “A comparison of France under Napoleon with Rome under the first Cæsars,"52 and in those which followed “ On the probable final restoration of the Bourbons,"53 I feel myself authorized to affirm, by the effect produced on many intelligent men, that were the dates wanting, it might have been suspected that the essay shad been written within the last twelve months.
$? [Comparison of the present state of France, with that of Rome under Tulius and Augustus Cæsar. Morning Post, Sep. 21, continued on Sep 2.5, and on Oct. 2, 1802. S. C.]
23 (Morning Post, 1802, Ed This article, On the circumstances that ap. pear especially to favor the return of the Bourbons at this present time, was published on the 12th of October. It came after two by Mr. Coleridge on the affairs of France, the first of which appeared Oct. 5, and was followed on the 21st hy an essay of his, entitled Once a Jacobin always a Jacobin, an extract from which was inserted in The Friend. S. (.]
The same plan I pursued at the commencement of the Spanish revolution, and with the same success, taking the war of the United Provinces with Philip II. as the ground-work of the com. parison.54 I have mentioned this from no motives of vanity, nor even from motives of self-defence, which would justify a certain degree of egotism, especially if it be considered, how often and grossly I have been attacked for sentiments, which I had exerted my best powers to confute and expose, and how grievously these charges acted to my disadvantage while I was in Malta. Or rather they would have done so, if my own feelings had not precluded the wish of a settled establishment in that island. But I have mentioned it from the full persuasion that, armed with the two-fold knowledge of history and the human mind, a man will scarcely err in his judgment concerning the sum total of any future national event, if he have been able to procure the original documents of the past, together with authentic accounts of the present, and if he have a philosophic tact for what is truly important in facts, and in most instances therefore for such facts as the dignity of history has excluded from the volumes of our modern compilers, by the courtesy of the age entitled historians.
To have lived in vain must be a painful thought to any man, and especially so to him who has made literature his profession. I should therefore rather condole than be angry with the mind, which could attribute to no worthier feelings than those of vanity or self-love, the satisfaction which I acknowledge myself to have enjoyed from the republication of my political essays (either whole or as extracts) not only in many of our own provincial papers, but in the federal journals throughout America. I regarded it as some proof of my not having labored altogether in vain, that from the articles written by me shortly before and at the commencement of the late unhappy war with America, not only the sentiments were adopted, but in some instances the very language, in several of the Massachusetts state papers.
But no one of these motives nor all conjointly would have im. pelled me to a statement so uncomfortable to my own feelings,
M[Eight letters on the Spaniards, which appeared in The Courier on the 7th, 8th, 9th, 15th, 20th, 21st, and 220 days of December, 1809, and on the 20th of January, 1810. S. C.)