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the general purpose of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away, like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas ! without the after-restoration of tbe latter."
We have chosen to make Mr. Coleridge tell his own story for two reasons-first, because he relates it much better than we could have done; and next, because such is the general opinion of the maliciousness of Reviewers, that those who bad not actually read it in the author's own words, might have supposed it (so singular is the fact) to be a gratuitous ill-natured supposition of our own.
It is said of Milton, that often when he awoke from a night's repose, he would write down to the amount of twenty or thirty verses, inspired during the night. But this, it seems, is nothing to the liberality of Mr. Coleridge's muse, who, in the short space of three hours, brought, not a train of poetical ideas, to be afterwards embodied in appropriate verse, but a corps of well-appointed able-bodied lines, ready, without further training or discipline, for the service of Messrs. Bulmer and Co., Cleveland-Row,
Mr. C. tells us, that the few lines (about fifty) which the intrusion of the man of business left him, “ are published rather as a psychological curiosity, than on the ground of any supposed poetic merits." But it was poetry, and not psychology, which the public were likely to expect from him; and his vision, with all its concomitants and consequences, might have been suppressed without any public detriment. There seems to be no great harm in dreaming while one sleeps ; but an author really should not thus dream while he is awake, and writing too.
The lines in this psychological curiosity, descriptive of the palace and garden of Kubla Khan, although somewhat in the style of the “ Song by a Person of Quality,” have much of Oriental richness and harmony.
“ And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
savage place! as holy and inchanted
A mighty fountain momently was forced ;
Ancestral voices prophesying war!" pp. 56, 57. The last poem in the volume is called “ The Pains of Sleep.”. We do not pretend to know its meaning; we doubt, indeed, whetber it has any. And we appeal to our mystical readers if there be any thing more delightfully incomprehensible in Jacob Behmen, or more outrageously fanatical in the most irrational article in the Methodist Maga. zine.
“ Erc on my bed my limbs I lay,
pp. 62,63. There is a great deal more of this night-mare stuff; and the author, after informing us that such punishments are.
justly due to bad men, concludes with this emphatic sentence:
“ Sucb griefs with such men well agree,
And wbom I love, I love indeed." From the ample extracts' we have given, our readers will perceive that there is some fine poetry in this volume, alihough disfigured by many instances of feebleness and foolishness. We might mention the oracular sayings of Sir Leoline, the author's mysterious commentary, and the Baron's hysterical raving and weeping: but we apprehend that our readers have had enough of such a treat. Besides all this, the poems are lavishly embellished with notes of interrogation and admiration-contain an incalculable number of affected words--exhibit a constant repetition of the line, when the author intends to be eminently forcible--and are full of exclamations about Mary Mother, Jesu, the Virgin all divine, O sorrow and shame! &c. &c.
If any of Mr. Coleridge's readers should think that we have been too severe on bim, let them consider that bis sins are not involuntary, but committed in defiance of common sense as well as of criticism, We believe, however, that all those who are not bigoted admirers of the Lakers, will assent to the general correctness of the opinion of these poems which we have ventured to express; and will continue to do so, till they shall learn to look upon babyism and silliness as nature and simplicity, the extravagance of Bedłam as originality, and to mistake the contortions and savings of Pythia for her inspirations.
Art. III.-The Life and Studies of Benjamin West, Esq.
President of the Royal Academy of London, prior to his Arrival in England ; compiled from Materials furnished by himself. By John GALT. London, Cadeli and Davies, 1816. 8vo.
We hope Mr. Galt will, at no remote period, oblige the public with a sequel to this interesting volume, which embraces but a small portion of the long and valuable life of
the individual whose biography forms its subject. It is prefaced by a short and simple address, which we transcribe.
“ The professional life of Mr. West constitutes an important part of an historical work, in which the matter of this volume could only have been introduced as an episode, and, perhaps, not with much propriety even in that form. It was my intention, at one time, to have prepared the whole of his memoirs, separately, for publication; but a careful review of the manuscript convinced me, that the transactions in which he had been engaged, subsequently to his arrival in England, are so much of a public nature, and belong so immediately to the history of the Arts, that such a separation could not be effected without essentially impairing the interest and unity of the main design; and that the particular nature of this portion of his memoirs admitted of being easily detached and arranged into a whole complete within itself.
"I do not think that there can be two opinions with respect to the utility of a work of this kind. Mr. West, in relating the circumstances by which he was led to approximate, without the aid of an instructor, to those principles and rules of art, which it is the object of schools and academies to disseminate, has conferred a greater benefit on young artists than he could possibly have done by the most ingenious and eloquent lectures on the theories of his profession; and it was necessary that the narrative should appear in his own time, in order that the authenticity of the incidents might not rest on the authority of any biographer."
Biography, when derived from undoubted sources, and wben impartial, (as we have every reason to believe the work under our consideration to be,) although of all species of literature the most entertaining and useful, is by no means the one best adapted to furnish an interesting article to the pages of a review. When the style of the author is simple and compressed, it is not possible to tell his story in fewer words than he himself employs; and a dry detail of facts-a mere catalogue of events, may as well be gathered from the heads of the chapters, as extracted from the body and substance of the work. Sonrething however we must do, and we will endeavour to do it liberally.
The first five chapters are taken up with an account of the infancy and education of the subject of the memoir; blended with some notices on the opinions, babits, and principles of that exemplary sect of Englisli emigrants--the Quakers of Pensylvania-among whom Mr. West was born. We do not pat much faith in the opinion adopted by some of the kinsmen and friends of the artist, who have affirmed that the very circumstances of his birth, which was accelerated by the emotion excited in bis mother by 'a very eloquent and impressive sermont, were indicative of the extraordinary energy of character which his youth and maturity evinced. The
strong determination of his mind towards the graphic art, would not, we think, have suffered any diminution, had the good lady stayed away from meeting on this eventful afternoon, and retired to her bed without having been hastened thither by the enthusiasm of the pious brother.
All the wonders we have heard and known of native genius and unassisted talent, become ordinary tales of ordinary persons, when compared with the astonishing developement of powers in a boy to whom all examples of design, all implements of art, and even all conversation concerning pictures and prints, were wholly unknown and inaccessible; and who in his seventh year actually displayed the imagination to conceive, and the dexterity to execute, the portrait of an infant, which was immediately recognised as bearing a resemblance to its model! The progress of young West was tapid; and we are informed that the venerable president now looks with complacency on one of his earliest efforts, and discovers in it traits of ability which he has not since excelled. It is pleasing to trace the coincidence of feeling between great and congenial minds: Sir Joshua Reynolds, when one of his first pictures was shown to him after he had attained to that deserved eminence which placed him above a rival in his own country, said, he was ashamed to see it done so well.' The liberal and judicious manner in which the primitive sons of simplicity and truth, the relations of Mr. West, departed from their approved system of opinion concerning the vanity and folly of a devotion to the ornamental arts, so far as to allow him to follow the calling of a painter, instead of being apprenticed to some common trade, are honourable to the good sense of the fraternity. When the
portrait-painting, and thereby acquired that facility of bandling and those stores of diversified contour and expression which are so essential to the detail of historical painting, bis own fervent desire to drink deep of inspiration at the hallowed fount of genius, and the earnest recommendation of his friends, combined to direct him to Italy. The three last chapters treat principally of his reception from the eminent persons who formed the best society of Rome at that period, and describe the impression made upon bis mind and the strong excitement sustained by his feelings on finding him. self in the em porium of the arts, the shrine of the mistress of the world. We cannot deny ourselves the gratification of presenting our readers with the account given by the author,