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future collection. The reception it Language is a material which it romet with was no doubt a very dis- quires no little labour to reduce into couraging one, more particularly when beautiful forms,-a truth of which the contrasted with the vehement admira- ancients were, above all others, well tion which seems to have been expres- and continually aware. For although sed by all who saw it while yet in vivid ideas naturally suggest happy exMs. Mr Coleridge, however, should pressions, yet the latter are, as it were, remember that the opinions of the few only insulated traits or features, which who saw and admired Christabel then, require much management in the may very well, without any over- joining, and the art of the composer weening partiality on his part, be put is seen in the symmetry of the whole into competition with the many who structure. Now, in many respects Mr have derided it since. Those who Coleridge seems too anxious to enjoy know the secret history of the poem, the advantages of an inspired writer, and compare it with the productions and to produce his poetry at once of the most popular poets of our time, in its perfect form-like the palaces will have no difficulty in perceiving which spring out of the desert in comhow deep an impression his remarka- plete splendour at a single rubbing of ble creation had made on the minds the lamp in the Arabian Tale. But of those of his contemporaries, whose carefulness above all is necessary to a approbation was most deserving to be poet in these latter days, when the oran object of ambition with such a man dinary medium through which things as Mr Coleridge.
are viewed is so very far from being Christabel, as our readers are aware, poetical—and when the natural strain is only a fragment, and had been in of scarcely any man's associations can existence for many years antecedent be expected to be of that sort which is to the time of its publication. Nei- most akin to high and poetical feeling. ther has the author assigned any rea- There is no question there are many, son either for the long delay of its ap- very many passages in the poetry of pearance-or for the imperfect state in this writer, which shew what excelwhich he has at last suffered it to ap- lent things may be done under the pear. In all probability he had waited impulse of a happy moment-paslong in the hope of being able to finish sages in which the language-above all it to his satisfaction ; but finding that things—has such aërial graces as he was never revisited by a mood suf- would have been utterly beyond the ficiently genial-he determined to let reach of any person who might have the piece be printed as it was. It is attempted to produce the like, without not in the history of Christabel alone being able to lift his spirit into the that we have seen reason to suspect same ecstatic mood. It is not to be Mr Coleridge of being by far too pas- denied, however, that among the sive in his notions concerning the whole of his poems there are only a mode in which a poet ought to deal few in the composition of which he with his muse. It is very true, that seems to have been blessed all throughthe best conceptions and designs are out with the same sustaining energy of frequently those which occur to a man afflatus. The Mariner--we need not of fine talents, without having been say—is one of these. The poem Love painfully sought after : but the exere is another-and were Christabel comtion of the Will is always necessary pleted as it has been begun, we doubt in the worthy execution of them. It be- not it would be allowed by all who are hoves a poet, like any other artist, after capable of tasting the merits of such he has fairly conceived the idea of his poetry, to be a third-and, perhaps, piece, to set about realising it in good the most splendid of the three. earnest, and to use his most perseve- It is impossible to gather from the ring attention in considering how all part which has been published any its parts are to be adapted and con- conception of what is the meditated joined. It does not appear that even conclusion of the story of Christabel. the language of a poem can arise spon- Incidents can never be fairly judged taneously throughout like a strain of of till we know what they lead to. music, any more than the colours of Of those which occur in the first and the painter will go and arrange them- second cantos of this poem, there is selves on his canvass, while he is no doubt many appear at present very musing on the subject in another room. strange and disagreeable, and the sooner the remainder comes forth to long-estranged friend of his youth, explain them, the better. One thing Sir Roland De Vaux of Triermaine, is evident, that no man need sit down is some evil being; whether demon to read Christabel with any prospect or only demon-visited, we have no of gratification, whose mind has not means to ascertain. Nothing can be rejoiced habitually in the luxury of finer than the description of the manvisionary and superstitious reveries. He ner in which this strange visitant is that is determined to try every thing first introduced. by the standard of what is called com
The night is chill; the forest bare ; mon sense, and who has an aversion is it the wind that moaneth bleak ? to admit, even in poetry, of the exist- There is not wind enough in the air ence of things more than are dreamt To move away the ringlet curl of in philosophy, had better not open from the lovely lady's cheek this production, which is only proper There is not wind enough to twirl for a solitary couch and a midnight The one red leaf, the last of its clan, taper. Mr Coleridge is the prince of That dances as often as dance it can, superstitious poets, and he that does On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
Hanging so light, and hanging so high, not read Christabel with a strange and harrowing feeling of mysterious dread,
Hush, beating heart of Christabel ! may be assured that his soul is made Jesu, Maria, shield her well!
She folded her arms beneath her cloak, of impenetrable stuff
And stole to the other side of the oak. The circumstances with which the
What sees she there? poem opens are admirably conceived. There she sees a damsel bright, There is in all the images introduced Drest in a silken robe of white; a certain fearful stillness and ominous Her neck, her feet, her arms were bare, meaning, the effect of which can never And the jewels disorder'd in her hair. be forgotten. The language, also, is I guess, 'twas frightful there to see so much in harmony with the rude era
A lady so richly clad as she of the tale, that it seems scarcely to have
Beautiful exceedingly! been written in the present age, and Mary mother, save me now! is indeed a wonderful proof of what (Said Christabel,) And who art thou ? genius can effect, in defiance of unfa- The lady strange made answer meet,
And her voice was faint and sweet :vourable associations. Whoever has had his mind penetrated with the true I scarce can speak for weariness.
Have pity on my sore distress, expression of a Gothic building, will
Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear, find a similar impression conveyed by (Said Christabel,) How cam'st thou here? the vein of language employed in this And the lady, whose voice was faint and legend. The manners, also, and forms
sweet, of courtesy ascribed to the personages,
Did thus pursue her answer meet :are full of solemn grace.
My sire is of a noble line, -He kissed her forehead as he spake; And my name is Geraldine. And Geraldine, in maiden wise,
Five warriors seiz'd me yestermorn, Casting down her large bright eyes, Me, even me, a maid forlorn : With blushing cheek and courtesy fine, They chok'd my cries with force and fright, Turned her from Sir Leoline ;
And tied me on a palfrey white. Softly gathering up her train,
The palfrey was as fleet as wind, That o'er her right arm fell again,
And they rode furiously behind. And folded her arms across her chest, They spurr'd amain, their steeds were white; And couched her head upon her breast. And once we cross'd the shade of night. This is only one little example of As sure as Heaven shall rescue me,
I have no thought what men they be ; the antique stateliness that breathes Nor do I know how
long it is over the whole of their demeanour. (For I have lain in fits, I wis) But if these things are not perceived Since one, the tallest of the five, by the reader, it is altogether in vain Took me from the palfrey's back, to point them out to him.
A weary woman, scarce alive. The general import of the poem Some mutter'd words his comrades spoke : cannot yet be guessed at; but it is He plac'd me underneath this oak, evident that the mysterious lady whom Whither they went I cannot tell
He swore they would return with haste; Christabel meets in the forest—whom I thought I heard, some minutes past, she introduces by stealth into the cas- Sounds as of a castle bell. tle of her father-and in whom her Stretch forth thy hand (thus ended she), father recognizes the daughter of the And help a wretched maid to flee. VOL. VI.
Then Christabel stretch'd forth her hand, But they without its light can see
The chamber carv'd so curiously,
Carv'd with figures strange and sweet,
All made out of the carver's brain,
The lamp with twofold silver chain
But Christabel the lamp will trim.
She trimm'd the lamp, and made it bright, All our household are at rest,
And left it swinging to and fro, Each one sleeping in his bed ;
While Geraldine, in wretched plight, Sir Leoline is weak in health,
Sank down upon the floor below. And may not well awaken'd be;
With what exquisite delicacy are all So to my room we'll creep in stealth, And you to-night must sleep with me.
these hints of the true character of this
stranger imagined. The difficulty of They cross'd the moat, and Christabel
passing the threshold—the dread and Took the key that fitted well ; A little door she open'd straight,
incapacity of prayer-the moaning of All in the middle of the gate ;
the old mastiff in his sleep-the reThe gate that was iron'd within and without, kindling of the lying embers as she Where an army in battle array had marched passes the influence of the lamp
* fastened to the angel's feet."-All The lady sank, belike thro' pain,
these are conceived in the most perfect And Christabel with might and main beauty. Lifted her up, a weary weight,
The next intimation is of a far more Over the threshold of the gate :
fearful and lofty kind. The stranger Then the lady rose again, And mov'd, as she were not in pain.
is invited by Christabel to drink of wine So free from danger, free from fear,
made by his departed mother; and They cross'd the court: right glad they were listens to the tale of that mother's fate And Christabel devoutly cried,
who died it seems, “ in the hour To the lady by her side,
that Christabel was born." ChristaPraise we the Virgin all divine
bel expresses a wish of natural and Who hath rescued thee from thy distress ! innocent simplicityAlas, Alas! said Geraldine,
O mother dear that thou wert here
-I would, said Geraldine she were.
But soon with alter'd voice, said she
“ Off, wandering mother ! Peak and pine ! The mastiff old did not awake,
“ I have power to bid thee flee." Yet she an angry moan did make !
Alas! What ails poor Geraldine ? And what can ail the mastiff bitch ?
Why stares she with unsettled eye ? Never till now she utter'd yell
Can she the bodiless dead espy ? Beneath the eye of Christabel.
And why with hollow voice cries she, Perhaps it is the owlet's scritch :
** Off, woman, off! this hour is mine For what can ail the mastiff bitch ?
“ Though thou her guardian spirit be, They passid the hall, that echoes still, “ Off, woman, off! 'tis given to me.” Pass as lightly as you will ! The brands were fiat, the brands were dying, And rais'd to heaven her eyes so blue
Then Christabel knelt by the lady's side, Amid their own white ashes lying ;
Alas! said she, this ghastly ride-
Dear lady! it hath wilder'd you !
The lady wip'd her moist cold brow,
And faintly said, " 'Tis over now!" Save the boss of the shield of Sir Leoline tall, Again the wild-flower wine she drank : Which hung in a murky old nitch in the wall. Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright, O softly tread, said Christabel,
And from the floor whereon she sank, My father seldom sleepeth well.
The lofty lady stood upright: Sweet Christabel her feet she bares,
She was most beautiful to see, And they are creeping up the stairs ; Like a lady of a far countrèe. Now in glimmer, and now in gloom, After the notion of evil has once been And now they pass the Baron's room,
suggested to the reader, the external As still as death with stifled breath! And now have reach'd her chamber door ;
beauty and great mildness of demeanAnd now with eager feet press down
our ascribed to the Stranger produce The rushes of her chamber floor.
only the deeper feeling of terror : and The moon shines dim in the open air, they contrast, in a manner singularly And not a moonbeam enters here.
impressive, with the small revelations
which every now and then take place lightnings.” We know not that there of what is concealed beneath them.- is any English poet who owes so much It is upon this happy contrast that to this single element of power as Colea the interest of the whole piece chiefly ridge. It appears to us that there is hinges, and would Mr Coleridge only not one of them, at least not one that take heart, and complete what he has has written since the age of Elizabeth, so nobly begun-he would probably in whose use of words the most delia make Christabel the finest exempli- cate sense of beauty concurs with so fication to be found in the English, or much exquisite subtlety of metaphyperhaps in any language since Hoc sical perception. To illustrate this by mer's, of an idea which may be traced individual examples is out of the quesin most popular superstitions.
tion, but we think a little examination In these two poems-we might even would satisfy any person who is acsay in the extracts we have made from customed to the study of language of them-the poetical faculties of Cole. the justice of what we have said. ridge are abundantly exhibited in the In the kind of poetry in which he has whole power and charm of their na- chiefly dealt, there can be no doubt tive beauty. That such exercise of the effect of his peculiar mastery over these faculties may have been so far this instrument has been singularly injudicious as not calculated to awake happy-more so than, perhaps, it could en much of the ordinary sympathies have been in any other. The whole of mankind - but rather addressing essence of his poetry is more akin to every thing to feelings of which in music than that of any other poetry their full strength and sway only a few we have ever met with. Speaking are capable-all this is a reproach easy generally, his poetry is not the poetry to be made, and in a great measure per of high imagination —nor of teemhaps it may be a well-founded re- ing fancy-nor of overflowing sentiproach. But nothing surely can be ment-least of all, is it the poetry of more unfair, than to overlook or deny intense or overmastering passion.the existence of such beauty and such If there be such a thing as poetry strength on any grounds of real or pre- of the senses strung to imaginationtended misapplication. That the au- such is his. It lies in the senses, but thor of these productions is a poet of they are senses breathed upon by imaa most noble class—a poet most origination--having reference to the imaginal in his conceptions-most master- gination though they do not reach to ly in his execution-above all things it-having a sympathy, not an union, a most inimitable master of the lane with the imagination like the beauty guage of poetry-it is impossible to of flowers. In Milton there is bedeny. His powers indeed - to judge tween sense and imagination a strict from what of them that has been put union-their actions are blended into forth and exhibited-may not be of one. In Coleridge what is borrowed the widest-or even of the very highest from imagination or affection is brought kind. So far as they go, surely, they to sense-sense is his sphere. In him are the most exquisite of powers. In the pulses of sense seem to die away his mixture of all the awful and all in sense. The emotions in which he the gentle graces of conception in his deals-even the love in which he deals sway of wild-solitary-dreamy phan--can scarcely be said to belong to the tasies-in his music of words—and class of what are properly called pasa magic of numbers--we think he stands sions. The love he describes the best absolutely alone among all the poets of is a romantic and spiritual movement the most poetical age.
of wonder, blended and exalted with In one of the great John Müller's an ineffable suffusion of the powers of early letters (compositions, by the way, sense. There is more of aerial rowhich it is a thousand pities the Eng- mance, than of genuine tenderness, lish reader should have no access to even in the peerless love of his Geneadmire) there is a fine passionate dis- vieve. Her silent emotions are an un, quisition on the power of words and known world which her minstrel on the unrivalled use of that power watches with fear and hope and yet exemplified in the writings of Rous- there is exquisite propriety in calling seau. “He sways mankind with that that poem Love, for it truly repredelicious might”-says the youthful sents the essence of that passionhistorian—" as Jupiter does with his where the power acquired over the human soul depends so much upon the There came and look'd hhn in the face awakening, for a time, of the idea of An angel beautiful and bright ; infinitude, and the bathing of the uni- And that he knew it was a Fiend, versal spirit in one interminable sea of
This miserable Knight! thoughts undefineable. We are aware And that unknowing what he did, that this inimitable poem is bet- He leap d amid a murderous band, ter known than any of its author's And sav'd from outrage worse than death productions and doubt not that many
The Lady of the
Land ! hundreds of our readers have got it And how she wept, and claspt his knees ; by heart long ago, without knowing And how she tended him in vainby whom it was written—but there And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain. can be no harm in quoting it, for they that have read it the most frequently And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away, will be the most willing to read it again.
When on the yellow forest-leaves
A dying man he lay.
His dying words—but when I reach'd
That tenderest strain of all the ditty, And feed his sacred flame.
My faultering voice and pausing harp
Disturb'd her soul with pity!
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrill'd my guileless Genevieve;
The music, and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve ;
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng, And she was there, my hope, my joy,
And gentle wishes long subdued, My own dear Genevieve !
Subdued and cherish'd long ! She leant against the armed man,
She wept with pity and delight, The statue of the armed knight ;
She blush'd with love, and virgin-shame : She stood and listen'd to my lay,
And like the murmur of a dream, Amid the lingering light.
I heard her breathe my name. Few sorrows hath she of her own,
Her bosom heav'd-she stept aside, My hope ! my joy ! my Genevieve ! As conscious of my look she steptShe loves me best, whene'er I sing
Then suddenly, with timorous eye The songs that make her grieve.
She fled to me and wept. I play'd a soft and doleful air,
She half enclosed me with her arms, I sang an old and moving story
She press'd me with a meek embrace ; An old rude song, that suited well
And bending back her head, look'd up, That ruin wild and hoary.
And gazed upon my face. She listend with a flitting blush,
'Twas partly Love, and partly Fear, With downcast eyes and modest grace ;
And partly 'twas a bashful art, For well she knew, I could not chuse
That I might rather feel, than see, But gaze upon her face.
The swelling of her heart.
I calm'd her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin-pride,
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.
We shall take an early opportunity I told her how he pined ; and ah !
of offering a few remarks on Mr Coles The deep, the low, the pleading tone With which 1 sang another's love,
ridge's efforts in tragedy-and in parInterpreted my own.
ticular on his wonderful translation, or She listen'd with a flitting blush,
rather improvement of the Wallenstein. With downcast eyes, and modest grace ;
We shall then, perhaps, be able still And she forgave me, that I gazed
more effectually to carry our readers Too fondly on her face!
along with us—when we presume to But when I told the cruel scorn
address a few words of expostulation That craz'd that bold and lovely Knight,
to this remarkable man on the strange And that he cross’d the mountain-woods,
and unworthy indolence which has, Nor rested day nor night;
for so many years, condemned so That sometimes from the savage den, many of his high gifts to slumber in And sometimes from the darksome shade, comparative uselessness and inaction. And sometimes starting up at once “A cheerful soul is what the muses loveIn green and sunny glade.
A soaring spirit is their prime delight."