Imatges de pàgina

this final arrangement of the Poetical and Dramatic Works of S. T. Coleridge, by those into whose charge they have devolved, as they feel assured, both the Author himself and his earliest Editor would at this time find to be either necessary or desirable. The observations and experience of eighteen years, a period long enough to bring about many changes in literary opinion, have satisfied them that the immature essays of boyhood and adolescence, not marked with any such prophetic note of genius as certainly does belong to the four school-boy poems they have retained, tend to injure the general effect of a body of poetry. That a writer, especially a writer of verse, should keep out of sight his third-rate performances, is now become a maxim with critics; for they are not, at the worst, effectless: they have an effect, that of diluting and weakening, to the reader's feelings, the general power of the collection. Mr. Coleridge himself constantly, after 1796, rejected a certain portion of his earliest published Juvenilia : never printed any attempts of his boyhood, except those four with which the present publication commences; and there can be no doubt that his Editor of 1834 would ere now have come to the conclusion, that only such of the Author's early performances as were sealed by his own approval ought to form a permanent part of the body of his poetical works.

The “ Allegoric Vision," as it cannot be considered poetry in the full sense of the word, and may

be read with much more advantage in its proper place—the Introduction to the Author's second Lay Sermon,—the Editors have thought fit to withdraw from this collection. And a piece of extravagant humour, printed for the first time among the Author's works in 1834, rather it would appear with his acquiescence, than by his desire, has been excluded for the reasons assigned by the Author himself in the Apologetic Preface. The “Devil's Walk," having been reproduced with his full authority in the Edition of 1828, has been retained, -restored, however, as in the Edition of 1834, to its original form and completeness. To this extent a discretionary privilege has been exercised, for which, it is believed, that little apology will be required by the public.*

It must be added, that time has robbed of their charm certain sportive effusions of Mr. C.'s later years, which were given to the public, in the first gloss and glow of novelty in 1834, and has proved that, though not devoid of the quality of genius, they possess, upon the whole, not more than an ephemeral interest. These the Editors have not scrupled to omit on the same grounds and in the same confidence that has been already explained.

Four short pieces only have been added, the third and ninth Sonnets (pages 41 and 45), from the edition of 1796, the “Day-Dream” (page 221), from the Appendix to Coleridge's “ Essays on his own Times," and the “Hymn" (page 315), which is now printed for the first time.

• This humorous piece first appeared in the Morning Post, when, according to the Editor of that Journal,

so great a sensation that sev ral hundred sheets extra were sold by them, as the paper was in request for days and weeks afterwards.

The Portrait has been engraved from a picture of S. T. Coleridge, at twenty-six years of age, which originally belonged to the poet's admirable friend, Thomas Poole, of Nether Stowey, by the kind permission of R. P. King, Esq., of Brislington, near Bath, its present owner. It is presented not as altogether satisfactory, but as the best and most interesting record of the Poet's youthful face that was to be obtained.

S. C.


March, 1852.


COMPOSITIONS resembling those of the present volume are not unfrequentiy condemned for their querulous egotism. But egotism is to be condemned then only when it offends against time and place, as in a history or an epic poem. To censure it in a monody or sonnet is almost as absurd as to dislike a circle for being round. Why then write Sonnets or Monodies ? Because they give me pleasure when perhaps nothing else could. After the more violent emotions of sorrow, the mind demands amusement, and can find it in employment alone: but full of its late sufferings, it can endure no employment not in some measure connected with them. Forcibly to turn away our attention to general subjects is a painful and most often an unavailing effort.

“But 0 ! how grateful to a wounded heart
The tale of misery to impart-
From others' eyes bid artless sorrows flow,
And raise esteem upon the base of woe!”


The communicativeness of our nature leads us to describe our own sorrows; in the endeavour to describe them, intellectual activity is exerted; and from intellectual activity there results a pleasure, which is gradually associated, and mingles as a corrective, with the painful subject of the description. “True!" (it may be answered)" but how is the Public interested in your sorrows or your description ? " We are for ever attributing personal unities to imaginary aggregates. What is the Public, but a term for a number of scattered individuals ? Of whom as many will be interested in these sorrows, as have experienced the same or similar.

“Holy be the lay Which mourning soothes the mourner on his way.”

If I could judge of others by myself, I should not hesitate to affirm, that the most interesting passages in all writings are those in which the author developes his own feelings? The sweet voice of Cona * sounds so sweetly, as when it speaks of itself; and I should almost suspect that man of an unkindly heart, who could read the opening of the third book of the Paradise Lost without peculiar emotion. By a law of our nature, he, who labours under a strong feeling, is impelled to seek for sympathy; but a poet's feelings are all strong. Quicquid amet valde amat. Akenside therefore speaks with philosophical accuracy when he classes Love and Poetry, as producing the same effects :


“Love and the wish of Poets when their tongue Would teach to others' bosoms, what so charms Their own."


• Ossian.

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