Imatges de pÓgina
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more effective idea of the work of the great Ger- thy of the reader, by a faithful adherence to man dramatist. This version was made from a the truth of nature, and the power of giving the which the author himself afterwards revised interest of novelty by the modifying colours of and altered, and the translator subsequently re-imagination. The sudden charm, which accidents published his version in a more correct form, with of light and shade, which moon-light or sun-set the additional passages and alterations of Schiller. diffused over a known and familiar landscape, Fürther he observes on this This translation will long remain as the most appeared to represent the practicability of comeffective which has been achieved of the works of bining both,» thought, that a series of poems might be comthe German dramatists in the British tongue. posed of two sorts. In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural; and the excellence to be aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real, etc. For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life.» Thus, it appears, originated the poems of the Ancient Mariner, and « Christabel,» by Coleridge, aud the « Lyrical Ballads" of Wordsworth.

The censure which has been cast upon our poet for not writing more which is worthy of his reputation, has been met by his enumeration of what he has done in all ways and times; and, in truth, he has written a vast deal which has passed unnoticed, upon fleeting politics, and in newspaper columns, literary as well as political. To the world these last go for nothing, though their author calculates the thought and labour they cost him at full value. He concedes something, however, to this prevailing idea respecting him, when he says, On my own account, I may perhaps have had sufficient reason to lament my deficiency in self-control, and the neglect of concentrating my powers to the realization of some permanent work. But to verse, rather than to prose, if to either, belongs the voice of mourning,' for

Keen pangs of love awakening as a babe
Turbulent, with an outery in the heart,
And fears self-will'd that shunn'd the eye of hope,
And hope that scarce could know itself from fear;
Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain,
And genius given and knowledge won in vain,
And all which I had cull'd in wood-walks wild,
And all which patient toil had rear'd, and all
Commune with thee had open'd out-but flowers
Strew'd on my corpse, and borne upon my bier,
In the same coffin, for the self-same grave!

S. T. C.»

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Perhaps there is no English writer living who understood better than Coleridge the elements of poetry, and the way in which they may be best combined to produce certain impressions. His definitions of the merits and differences in style and poetic genius, between the earliest and latest writers of his country, are superior to those which any one else has it in his power to make; for, in truth, he long and deeply meditated upon them, and no one can be dissatisfied by the reasons he gives, and the examples he furnishes to bear out his theories and opinions. These things he does as well or better in conversation than in writing. His conversational powers are indeed unrivalled, and it is to be feared that, to excel in these, he has sacrificed what are more durable; and that he has resigned, for the pleasure of gratifying an attentive listening circle, and pleasing thereby his self-love by its applause, much that would have delighted the world. His flow of words, delivery, and variety of information are so great, and he finds it so captivating to enchain his auditors to the car of his triumphant eloquence, that he has sacrificed to this gratification what might have sufficed to confer upon him a celebrity a thousand times more to be coveted by a spirit akin to his own.

In another part of his works, Coleridge says, « as to speaking of what in poetry he had written, myself, I have published so little, and that little of so little importance, as to make it almost ludicrous to mention my name at all. It is evident, therefore, that a sense of what he might have done for fame, and of the little he has done, is felt by the poet; and yet, the little he has produced has It is equally creditable to the taste and judgamong it genus of the purest lustre, the brilliancy of which time will not deaden until the universal ment of Coleridge, that he was one of the first to voice of nature be heard no longer, and poetry point out, with temper and sound reasoning, the perish beneath the dull load of life's hacknied fallacy of a great portion of Wordsworth's poetic theory, namely, that which relates to low life. realities. a h The poem of « Christabel,» Coleridge says, Wordsworth contends that a proper poetic diction was composed in consequence of an agreement is a language taken from the mouths of men in with Mr Wordsworth, that they should mutu- general, in their natural conversation under the ally produce specimens of poetry which should influence of natural feelings. Coleridge wisely ascontain the power of exciting the sympa-serts, that philosophers are the authors of the best

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parts of language, not clowns; and that Milton's language is more that of real life than the language of a cottager. This subject he has most ably treated in chapter 17 of his Biographia Literaria.

ing this public avowal of his entire ignorance of the language, Mr C. is said to have been in the habit, while conversing with his friends, of expressing the utmost contempt for the literature of that country!

Two years after he had abandoned the Morning Post, he set off for Malta, where he most unexpect- Whelmed in the wild mazes of metaphysics, and edly arrived on a visit to his friend Dr Stodart, for ever mingling its speculations with all he then king's advocate in that island, and was intro- does or says, Coleridge has of late produced noduced by him to the Governor, Sir Alexander Ball, thing equal to the power of his pen. A few verses who appointed him his secretary. He remained in in an annual, or a sonnet in a magazine, are the the island fulfilling the duties of his situation, for utmost of his efforts. He resides at Hampstead, which he seems to have been but indifferently in the house of a friend having a good garqualified, a very short period. One advantage, den, where he walks for hours together enhowever, he derived from his official employ: that wrapped in visions of new theories of theology, of the pension granted by Government to those or upon the most abstruse of meditations. He who have served in similar situations. On his goes into the world at times, to the social dinnerway home he visited Italy; entered Rome, and party, where he gratifies his self-love by pouring examined its host of ancient and modern curi- out the stores of his mind in conversation to adosities, and added fresh matter for thought to miring listeners. Were he not apt to be too prohis rapidly accumulating store of ideas. Of this found, he would make an excellent talker, or rather visit he gives several anecdotes; among them one un grand causeur for a second Madame de Sévigné, respecting the horns of Moses on Michael Angelo's if such an accomplished female is to be found in celebrated statue of that lawgiver, intended to the nineteenth century, either in England or elucidate the character of Frenchmen. Coleridge France. The fluency of Coleridge's language, the has been all his life a hater of France and French-light he throws upon his subjects, and the pleasure men, arising from his belief in their being completely destitute of moral or poetical feeling. A Prussian, who was with him while looking upon the statue, observed that a Frenchman was the only animal,« in the human shape, that by no possibility can lift itself up to religion or poetry.» A foolish and untrue remark on the countrymen of Fenelon and Pascal, of Massillon and Corneille. Just then, however, two French officers of rank happened to enter the church, and the Goth from the Elbe remarked that, the first things they would notice would be the horns and beard (upon which the Prussian and Coleridge had just been rearing theories and quoting history), and that the associations the Frenchmen would connect with them « would be those of a he-goat and a cuckold.» It happened that the Prus-Goth was right: the officers did pass some such joke upon the figure. Hence, by inference, would the poet have his readers deduce the character of a people, whose literature, science, and civilization are perhaps only not the very first in the world.

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he feels in communicating his ideas, and his knowledge, inuate or acquired, are equally remarkable to the stranger. He has been accused of indolence, not perhaps with reason: the misdirection of his distinguished talents would be a better explanation of that for which he has been blameable. He attempts to justify himself on the score of quantity, by asserting that some of his best things were published in newspapers. The world differs with him upon this question, and always will do so, when it is recollected what he has had the power to effect. It will not forgive him for writing upon party, and in support of principles that even now are pretty nearly exploded, what was meant for mankind.» Coleridge mistook his walk when he set up for a politician, and it is to be feared the public have a great deal to regret on account of it. He will not be known hereafter by his Morning Post articles, but by his verses. Whatever pains his political papers may have cost him, and from his own account they were laboriously composed, they will avail him nothing with posterity. Another instance of his fixed and absurd dis- verses of Coleridge give him his claim to lasting like of every thing French, occurred during the celebrity, and it is in vain that he would have the delivery of a course of Lectures on Poetry, at world think otherwise. He says, Would that the Royal Institution, in the spring of 1808; the criterion of a scholar's utility were the numin one of which he astonished his auditory by ber and moral value of the truths which he has thanking his Maker, in the most serious manner, been the means of throwing into the general cirfor so ordering events, that he was totally igno- culation, or the number and value of the minds rant of a single word of that frightful jargon, whom, by his conversation or letters, he has exthe French language!» And yet, notwithstand-cited into activity, and supplied with the germs of

The

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THE

POETICAL WORKS

OF

SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE.

Juvenile Poems.

PREFACE.

COMPOSITIONS resembling those here collected are not
unfrequently condemned for their querulous Egotism.
But Egotism is to be condemned then only when it of-
fends 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 O! 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!
SHAW.

labours under a strong feeling, is impelled to seek for
sympathy; but a Poet's feelings are all strong. Quic-
quid 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.
Pleasures of Imagination.

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There is one species of Egotism which is truly disgusting; not that which leads us to communicate our feelings to others, but that which would reduce the feelings of others to an identity with our own. The Atheist, who exclaims pshaw! when he glances his eye on the praises of Deity, is an Egotist: an old man, when he speaks contemptuously of Love-verses, is an Egotist : and the sleek Favourites of Fortune are Egotists, when they condemn all melancholy, discontented verses. Surely, it would be candid not merely to ask whether the poem pleases ourselves, but to consider whether or no there may not be others, to whom it is well calculated to give an innocent pleasure.

The communicativeness of our Nature leads us to deI shall only add, that each of my readers will, I hope, scribe our own sorrows; in the endeavour to describe remember, that these Poems on various subjects, which them, intellectual activity is exerted; and from intellec- he reads at one time and under the influence of one set tual activity there results a pleasure, which is gradually of feelings, were written at different times and prompted associated, and mingles as a corrective, with the painful by very different feelings; and therefore that the supsubject of the description. True!» (it may be answer-posed inferiority of one Poem to another may sometimes ed) << but how are the PUBLIC interested in your Sorrows be owing to the temper of mind in which he happens or your Description?» We are for ever attributing per- to peruse it. sonal 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 are those in which the Author develops his own feelings? The sweet voice of Cona' never 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

Ossian.

My poems have been rightly charged with a profusion of double-epithets, and a general turgidness I have pruned the double-epithets with no sparing hand; and used my best efforts to tame the swell and glitter both of thought and diction.' This latter fault however had

Without any feeling of anger, I may yet be allowed to expres some degree of surprise, that after having run the critical gauntlet for a certain class of faults, which I had, viz. a too ornate, and elaborately poetic diction, and nothing having come before the for at least seventeen years, quarter after quarter, have been placed judgment-seat of the Reviewers during the long interval, I should by them in the foremost rank of the proscribed, and made to abide the brunt of abuse and ridicule for faults directly opposite, viz. bald and prosaic language, and an affected simplicity both of matter and manner-faults which assuredly did not enter into the character of my compositions.-Literary Life, i, 51. Published 1817.

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