The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - 1838
by James Gillman
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Over the high opposite hills, so dark in their pine forests, a far higher round barren stony mountain looked in upon the prospect from a distant country. Through this scenery we passed on, till our road was crossed by a second waterfall; or rather, aggregation of little dancing waterfalls, one by the side of the other for a considerable breadth, and all came at once out of the dark wood above, and rolled over the mossy rock fragments, little firs, growing in islets, scattered among them. The same scenery continued till we came to the Oder Seich, a lake, half made by man, and half by nature. It is two miles in length, and but a few hundred yards in breadth, and winds between banks, or rather through walls, of pine trees. It has the appearance of a most calm and majestic river. It crosses the road, goes into a wood, and there at once plunges itself down into a most magnificent cascade, and runs into the vale, to which it gives the name of the 'Vale of the Roaring Brook.' We descended into the vale, and stood at the bottom of the cascade, and climbed up again by its side. The rocks over which it plunged were unusually wild in their shape, giving fantastic resemblances of men and animals, and the fir-boughs by the side were kept almost in a swing, which unruly motion contrasted well with the stern quietness of the huge forest-sea every where else.


"In nature all things are individual, but a word is but an arbitrary character for a whole class of things; so that the same description may in almost all cases be applied to twenty different appearances; and in addition to the difficulty of the thing itself, I neither am, nor ever was, a good hand at description. I see what I write, but, alas! I cannot write what I see. From the Oder Seich we entered a second wood; and now the snow met us in large masses, and we walked for two miles knee-deep in it, with an inexpressible fatigue, till we came to the mount called Little Brocken; here even the firs deserted us, or only now and then a patch of them, wind shorn, no higher than one's knee, matted and cowering to the ground, like our thorn bushes on the highest sea-hills. The soil was plashy and boggy; we descended and came to the foot of the Great Brocken without a river—the highest mountain in all the north of Germany, and the seat of innumerable superstitions. On the first of May all the witches dance here at midnight; and those who go may see their own ghosts walking up and down, with a little billet on the back, giving the names of those who had wished them there; for 'I wish you on the top of the Brocken,' is a common curse throughout the whole empire. Well, we ascended—the soil boggy—and at last reached the height, which is 573 toises above the level of the sea. We visited the Blocksberg, a sort of bowling-green, inclosed by huge stones, something like those at Stonehenge, and this is the witches' ball-room; thence proceeded to the house on the hill, where we dined; and now we descended. In the evening about seven we arrived at Elbingerode. At the inn they brought us an album, or stamm-buch, requesting that we would write our names, and something or other as a remembrance that we had been there. I wrote the following lines, which contain a true account of my journey from the Brocken to Elbingerode.

I stood on Brocken's sovran height, and saw Woods crowding upon woods, hills over hills; A surging scene, and only limited By the blue distance. Wearily my way Downward I dragged, through fir groves evermore, Where bright green moss moved in sepulchral forms, Speckled with sunshine; and, but seldom heard, The sweet bird's song become a hollow sound; And the gale murmuring indivisibly, Reserved its solemn murmur, more distinct From many a note of many a waterbreak, And the brook's chatter; on whose islet stones The dingy kidling, with its tinkling bell, Leapt frolicksome, or old romantic goat Sat, his white beard slow waving. I moved on With low and languid thought, for I had found That grandest scenes have but imperfect charms Where the eye vainly wanders, nor beholds One spot with which the heart associates Holy remembrances of child or friend, Or gentle maid, our first and early love, Or father, or the venerable name Of our adored country. O thou Queen, Thou delegated Deity of Earth, O 'dear, dear' England! how my longing eyes Turned westward, shaping in the steady clouds Thy sands and high white cliffs! Sweet native isle, This heart was proud, yea, mine eyes swam with tears To think of thee; and all the goodly view From sovran Brocken, woods and woody hills Floated away, like a departing dream, Feeble and dim. Stranger, these impulses Blame thou not lightly; nor will I profane, With hasty judgment or injurious doubt, That man's sublimer spirit, who can feel That God is every where, the God who framed Mankind to be one mighty brotherhood, Himself our Father, and the world our home.

We left Elbingerode, May 14th, and travelled for half a mile through a wild country, of bleak stony hills by our side, with several caverns, or rather mouths of caverns, visible in their breasts; and now we came to Rubilland,—Oh, it was a lovely scene! Our road was at the foot of low hills, and here were a few neat cottages; behind us were high hills, with a few scattered firs, and flocks of goats visible on the topmost crags. On our right hand a fine shallow river about thirty yards broad, and beyond the river a crescent hill clothed with firs, that rise one above another, like spectators in an amphitheatre. We advanced a little farther,—the crags behind us ceased to be visible, and now the whole was one and complete. All that could be seen was the cottages at the foot of the low green hill, (cottages embosomed in fruit trees in blossom,) the stream, and the little crescent of firs. I lingered here, and unwillingly lost sight of it for a little while. The firs were so beautiful, and the masses of rocks, walls, and obelisks started up among them in the very places where, if they had not been, a painter with a poet's feeling would have imagined them. Crossed the river (its name Bodi), entered the sweet wood, and came to the mouth of the cavern, with the man who shews it. It was a huge place, eight hundred feet in length, and more in depth, of many different apartments; and the only thing that distinguished it from other caverns was, that the guide, who was really a character, had the talent of finding out and seeing uncommon likenesses in the different forms of the stalactite. Here was a nun;—this was Solomon's temple;—that was a Roman Catholic Chapel;—here was a lion's claw, nothing but flesh and blood wanting to make it completely a claw! This was an organ, and had all the notes of an organ, &c. &c. &c.; but, alas! with all possible straining of my eyes, ears, and imagination, I could see nothing but common stalactite, and heard nothing but the dull ding of common cavern stones. One thing was really striking;—a huge cone of stalactite hung from the roof of the largest apartment, and, on being struck, gave perfectly the sound of a death-bell. I was behind, and heard it repeatedly at some distance, and the effect was very much in the fairy kind,—gnomes, and things unseen, that toll mock death-bells for mock funerals. After this, a little clear well and a black stream pleased me the most; and multiplied by fifty, and coloured ad libitum, might be well enough to read of in a novel or poem. We returned, and now before the inn, on the green plat around the Maypole, the villagers were celebrating Whit-Tuesday. This Maypole is hung as usual with garlands on the top, and, in these garlands, spoons, and other little valuables, are placed. The high smooth round pole is then well greased; and now he who can climb up to the top may have what he can get,—a very laughable scene as you may suppose, of awkwardness and agility, and failures on the very brink of success. Now began a dance. The women danced very well, and, in general, I have observed throughout Germany that the women in the lower ranks degenerate far less from the ideal of a woman, than the men from that of man. The dances were reels and waltzes; but chiefly the latter. This dance is, in the higher circles, sufficiently voluptuous; but here the emotions of it were far more faithful interpreters of the passion, which, doubtless, the dance was intended to shadow; yet, ever after the giddy round and round is over, they walked to music, the woman laying her arm, with confident affection, on the man's shoulders, or around his neck. The first couple at the waltzing was a very fine tall girl, of two or three and twenty, in the full bloom and growth of limb and feature, and a fellow with huge whiskers, a long tail, and woollen night-cap; he was a soldier, and from the more than usual glances of the girl, I presumed was her lover. He was, beyond compare, the gallant and the dancer of the party. Next came two boors: one of whom, in the whole contour of his face and person, and, above all, in the laughably would-be frolicksome kick out of his heel, irresistibly reminded me of Shakespeare's Slender, and the other of his Dogberry. Oh! two such faces, and two such postures! O that I were an Hogarth! What an enviable gift it is to have a genius in painting! Their partners were pretty lasses, not so tall as the former, and danced uncommonly light and airy. The fourth couple was a sweet girl of about seventeen, delicately slender, and very prettily dressed, with a full-blown rose in the white ribbon that went round her head, and confined her reddish-brown hair; and her partner waltzed with a pipe in his mouth, smoking all the while; and during the whole of this voluptuous dance, his countenance was a fair personification of true German phlegm. After these, but, I suppose, not actually belonging to the party, a little ragged girl and ragged boy, with his stockings about his heels, waltzed and danced;—waltzing and dancing in the rear most entertainingly. But what most pleased me, was a little girl of about three or four years old, certainly not more than four, who had been put to watch a little babe, of not more than a year old (for one of our party had asked), and who was just beginning to run away, the girl teaching him to walk, and who was so animated by the music, that she began to waltz with him, and the two babes whirled round and round, hugging and kissing each other, as if the music had made them mad. There were two fiddles and a bass viol. The fiddlers,—above all, the bass violer,—most Hogarthian phizzes! God love them! I felt far more affection for them than towards any other set of human beings I have met with since I have been in Germany, I suppose because they looked so happy!"

Coleridge and his companions in their tour passed through a district belonging to the elector of Metz, and he often repeated the following story, which one of the party has since related in print; that, going through this district, chiefly inhabited by boors, who were Romanists, of the lowest form of this persuasion of Christians, the party fatigued and much exhausted, with the exception of Blumenbach, arrived somewhat late, though being a summer evening, it was still light, at a Hessian village, where they had hoped, as in England, to find quarters for the night. Most of the inhabitants had retired to rest, a few only loitering about, perhaps surprized at the sight of strangers. They shewed no inclination to be courteous, but rather eyed them with suspicion and curiosity. The party, notwithstanding this, entered the village ale-house, still open, asked for refreshments and a night's lodging, but no one noticed them. Though hungry, they could not procure any thing for supper, not even a cup of coffee, nor could they find beds; after some time, however, they asked for a few bundles of straw, which would probably have been granted, had not Coleridge, out of patience at seeing his friends' forlorn situation, imprudently asked one of them, if there lived any Christians in Hesse Cassel? At this speech, which was soon echoed by those within the house to the bystanders without, the boors became instantly so infuriated, that rushing in, the travellers were immediately driven out, and were glad to save themselves from the lighted fire-wood on the hearth, which was hurled at them. On this they went to seek a spot to bivouac for the night. Coleridge lay under the shelter of a furze-bush, annoyed by the thorns, which, if they did not disturb his rest, must have rendered it comfortless. Youth and fatigue, inducing sleep, soon rose above these difficulties. In the ascent of the Brocken, they despaired of seeing the famous spectre, in search of which they toiled, it being visible only when the sun is a few degrees above the horizon. Haue says, he ascended thirty times without seeing it, till at length he was enabled to witness the effect of this optical delusion. For the best account of it, see the Natural Magic of Sir D. Brewster, [26] who explains the origin of these spectres, and shews how the mind is deluded among an ignorant and easily deceived people, and thus traces the birth of various ghost stories in the neighbourhood, extending as far in Europe, as such stories find credence.

"In the course of my repeated tours through the Hartz," Mr. Jordan says, "I ascended the Brocken twelve different times, but I had the good fortune only twice (both times about Whitsuntide), to see that atmospheric phenomenon called the Spectre of the Brocken, which appears to me worthy of particular attention, as it must, no doubt, be observed on other high mountains, which have a situation favourable for producing it. The first time I was deceived by this extraordinary phenomenon, I had clambered up to the summit of the Brocken, very early in the morning, in order to wait there for the inexpressibly beautiful view of the sun rising in the east. The heavens were already streaked with red: the sun was just appearing above the horizon in full majesty, and the most perfect serenity prevailed throughout the surrounding country. When the other Hartz mountains in the south-west, towards the Worm mountains, lying under the Brocken, began to be covered by thick clouds; ascending at this moment the granite rocks called the Teufelskauzel, there appeared before me, though at a great distance towards the Worm mountains, the gigantic figure of a man, as if standing on a large pedestal. But scarcely had I discovered it when it began to disappear; the clouds sank down speedily and expanded, and I saw the phenomenon no more. The second time, however, I saw the spectre somewhat more distinctly, a little below the summit of the Brocken, and near the Heinrichs-hoehe, as I was looking at the sun rising about four o'clock in the morning. The weather was rather tempestuous, the sky towards the level country was pretty clear, but the Harz mountains had attracted several thick clouds which had been hovering around them, and which, beginning to settle on the Brocken, confined the prospect. In these clouds, soon after the rising of the sun, I saw my own shadow of a monstrous size, move itself for a couple of seconds exactly as I moved, but I was soon involved in clouds, and the phenomenon disappeared."

It is impossible to see this phenomenon, except when the sun is at such an altitude as to throw his rays upon the body in a horizontal direction; for, if he is higher, the shadow is thrown rather under the body than before it. After visiting the Hartz, Coleridge returned to Goettingen, and in his note-book in a leave-taking memorial as well as autograph, the following lines were written by Blumenbach, the son:—

"Wenn Sie, bester Freund, auch in Jhrer Heimath die Natur bewundern werden, wie wir beide es auf dem Harze gethan haben, so erinnern Sie sich des Harzes, und ich darf dann hoffen, das Sie auch mich nicht vergessen werden.

"Leben Sie wohl, und reisen gluecklich,



If you perchance, my dearest friend, should still continue to admire the works of nature at your home, as we have done together on the Hartz; recall to your recollection the Hartz, and then I dare hope that you will also think of me.

Farewell, may you have a prosperous voyage.

(Signed) yours, BLUMENBACH.

Coleridge returned to England after an absence of fourteen mouths, and arrived in London the 27th November, 1799.

He went to Germany but little versed in the language, and adopted the following plan of acquiring it, which he recommends to others

"To those," says he, "who design to acquire the language of a country in the country itself, it may be useful, if I mention the incalculable advantages which I derived from learning all the words that could possibly be so learnt, with the objects before me, and without the intermediation of the English terms. It was a regular part of my morning studies for the first six weeks of my residence at Ratzeburg, to accompany the good and kind old pastor, with whom I lived, from the cellar to the roof, through gardens, farm-yards, &c., and to call every the minutest thing by its German name. Advertisements, farces, jest-books, and conversation of children while I was at play with them, contributed their share to a more homelike acquaintance with the language, than I could have procured from books of polite literature alone, or even from polite society."

In support of this plan, he makes a quotation from the massive folios of Luther—a passage as he calls it of "hearty sound sense," and gives the simple, sinewy, idiomatic words of the "original," with a translation of his own:

"For one must not ask the letters in the Latin tongue, how one ought to speak German; but one must ask the mother in the house, the children in the lanes and alleys, the common man in the market, concerning this; yea, and look at the moves of their mouths while they are talking, and thereafter interpret. They understand then, and mark that one talks German with them."

Whether he owed his successful acquirement of the language to these plans adopted by him, or whether to his extraordinary powers of mind, it must be left to others to judge. To form any thing like an accurate opinion, it may be necessary to re-state, that during this fourteen months' residence, he acquired such a knowledge of the German, as enabled him to make that extraordinary translation of the Wallenstein, (which will be presently noticed), reading at the same time several German authors, and storing up for himself the means of becoming familiar with others, on subjects in which the English language was deficient. In addition to what in this short period he effected, I may say that some part of this time was employed in receiving many lessons from professor Tychsen, in the Gothic of Ulphilas, which, says he,

"sufficed to make me acquainted with its grammar, and the radical words of most frequent occurrence; and with the occasional assistance of the same philosophical linguist, I read through Ottfried's Metrical Paraphrase of the Gospel, and the most important remains of the Theotiscan."

Coleridge's Biographia contains the history and developement of his mind till 1816, when it was published; he called it his Literary Life, but of necessity it is intermixed with his biography, as he must have found it impossible to separate them. He had even half promised himself to write his own biography, but the want of success in his literary labours, and the state of his health, caused him to think seriously that his life was diminishing too fast, to permit him to finish those great works, of which he had long planned the execution. The conception of these works was on such a scale, that even his giant intellect, with his great and continuous powers of application, could not have executed them. But to continue.—On his return to London, his first literary occupation was the translation of the Wallenstein, which he effected in six weeks, in a lodging in Buckingham-street, in the Strand; it was printed and published in 1800.

The MS. was purchased by Longman's house under the condition that the English Version and Schiller's Play in German were to be published at the same time. The play, as is well known to all German readers, is in three parts; the first part, the Camp, being considered by Coleridge as not sufficiently interesting to the British public to translate, it was not attempted; the second part, the Piccolomini, was translated with the occasional addition of some lines, in order to make out the thought when it appeared to require it, particularly in the Horological scene of the Watch Tower. In the last part the Death of Wallenstein is equally free, but the liberties taken with this play are those of omission.

German was not at that time cultivated in England, and the few plays which were translated, were but bad specimens of German Literature. The Wallenstein is an historical play, without any of those violent tragic events which the public expect to find in German plays, and this was one cause perhaps of disappointment.—It is a play of high thoughts— ennobling sentiments, and for the reflecting individual with good feelings, one of those plays, by which, even without reference to the story, the head and the heart are both benefited. There is no violent excitement produced, and in quiet thought one can dwell on it with pleasure. Coleridge truly prophesied its fate, for when translating it, he said it would fall dead from the press, and indeed but few of the copies were sold;—his advice to the publishers, whom he had forewarned of this failure, was to reserve the unsold copies, and wait till it might become fashionable. They however parted with it as waste paper, though sixteen years afterwards it was eagerly sought for, and the few remaining copies doubled their price; but now that the German language has become more general, and the merit of this translation been appreciated, it has been reprinted with success.

Since the visit of these remarkable men to Germany, the taste for German literature has each year slowly increased, so as to make it almost appear that they have given the direction to this taste, which in England has caused a free inquiry into the writings of German authors, particularly of their poets and philosophers for the one class; and also into the interesting tales and stories to be found for the many who require such amusement.

The edition of Wallenstein, 1800, contains the following preface, which was afterwards abridged, but is here given as it was originally written; the first criticism on it was wholly made out of this preface, and these lines were quoted by the reviewer, in condemnation of the play and the translation, though it is well known that the critic was ignorant of German. The date of the MS. by Schiller is September 30th, 1799, the English is 1800. Coleridge indeed calls it a translation, but had it been verbatim, it would have required much longer time; take it however as we will, it displays wonderful powers; and as he noticed in a letter to a friend, it was executed in the prime of his life and vigour of his mind. Of the metre of this drama he spoke slightingly, and said according to his taste,

"it dragged, like a fly through a glue-pot. It was my intention," he writes, "to have prefixed a life of Wallenstein to this translation; but I found that it must either have occupied a space wholly disproportionate to the nature of the publication, or have been merely a meagre catalogue of events narrated, not more fully than they already are in the play itself. The recent translation, likewise, of Schiller's History of the Thirty Years' War, diminished the motives thereto. In the translation, I have endeavoured to render my author literally, wherever I was not prevented by absolute differences of idiom; but I am conscious, that in two or three short passages, I have been guilty of dilating the original; and, from anxiety to give the full meaning, have weakened the force. In the metre I have availed myself of no other liberties, than those which Schiller had permitted to himself, except the occasional breaking up of the line, by the substitution of a trochee for an iambus; of which liberty, so frequent in our tragedies, I find no instance in these dramas.

The two Dramas, Piccolomini, or the first part of Wallenstein, and Wallenstein, are introduced in the original manuscript by a prelude in one act, entitled Wallenstein's camp. This is written in rhyme, and in nine syllable verse, in the same lilting metre (if that expression may be permitted) with the second eclogue of Spencer's Shepherd's Calendar. This prelude possesses a sort of broad humour, and is not deficient in character, but to have translated it into prose, or into any other metre than that of the original, would have given a false idea, both of its style and purport; to have translated it into the same metre, would have been incompatible with a faithful adherence to the sense of the German, from the comparative poverty of our language in rhymes; and it would have been unadvisable, from the incongruity of those lax verses with the present state of the English public. Schiller's intention seems to have been merely to have prepared his reader for the tragedies, by a lively picture of the laxity of discipline, and the mutinous disposition of Wallenstein's soldiery. It is not necessary as a preliminary explanation. For these reasons it has been thought expedient not to translate it.

The admirers of Schiller, who have abstracted their idea of that author from the Robbers, and the Cabal and Love plays, in which the main interest is produced by the excitement of curiosity, and in which the curiosity is excited by terrible and extraordinary incident, will not have perused, without some portion of disappointment, the dramas which it has been my employment to translate. They should, however, reflect, that these are historical dramas, taken from a popular German history; that we must therefore judge of them in some measure with the feelings of Germans, or by analogy with the interest excited in us by similar dramas in our own language. Few, I trust, would be rash or ignorant enough, to compare Schiller with Shakspeare, yet, merely as illustration, I would say, that we should proceed to the perusal of Wallenstein, not from Lear or Othello, but from Richard the Second, or the three parts of Henry the Sixth. We scarcely expect rapidity in an historical drama; and many prolix speeches are pardoned from characters, whose names and actions have formed the most amusing tales of our early life. On the other hand, there exist in these plays more individual beauties, more passages the excellence of which will bear reflection than in the former productions of Schiller.

The description of the Astrological Tower, and the reflections of the young lover, which follow it, form in the original a fine poem, and my translation must have been wretched indeed, if it can have wholly overclouded the beauties of the scene in the first act of the first play, between Questenberg, Max. and Octavio Piccolomini.

If we except the scene of the setting sun in the Robbers, I know of no part in Schiller's plays, which equals the whole of the first scene of the fifth act of the concluding play. It would be unbecoming in me to be more diffuse on this subject. A translator stands connected with the original author by a certain law of subordination, which makes it more decorous to point out excellencies than defects; indeed, he is not likely to be a fair judge of either. The pleasure or disgust from his own labour, will mingle with the feelings that arise from an after view of the original poem; and in the first perusal of a work in any foreign language, which we understand, we are apt to attribute to it more excellence than it really possesses, from our own pleasurable sense of difficulty overcome without effort. Translation of poetry into poetry is difficult, because the translator must give a brilliancy to his language without that warmth of original conception, from which such brilliancy would follow of its own accord. But the translator of a living author is encumbered with additional inconveniences. If he render his original faithfully, as to the 'sense' of each passage, he must necessarily destroy a considerable portion of the 'spirit'; if he endeavour to give a work executed according to laws of 'compensation', he subjects himself to imputations of vanity, or misrepresentation. I thought it my duty to remain by the sense of my original, with as few exceptions as the nature of the language rendered possible."

About this time, or soon after his return from Germany, the proprietor of the Morning Post, who was also the editor, engaged Coleridge to undertake the literary department. In this he promised to assist, provided the paper was conducted on fixed and announced principles, and that he should neither be requested nor obliged to deviate from them in favour of any party or any event. In consequence, that journal became, and for many years continued, 'anti-ministerial, yet with a very qualified approbation of the opposition, and with far greater earnestness and zeal, both anti-jacobin and anti-gallican. As contributors to this paper, the editor had the assistance of Mr. Wordsworth, Mr. Southey, and Mr. Lamb. Mr. Southey, from his extreme activity and industry, with powers best suited for such employment, with a rapidity and punctuality which made him invaluable to the proprietor, was the largest contributor. The others not possessing the same qualifications, although extremely powerful in their way, were not of the same value to the proprietor.

To Coleridge, he continued liberal and kind, and Coleridge appreciated his talents; often has he been heard to say, if Mr. Stuart "knew as much of man as he does of men, he would be one of the first characters in Europe." The world, and even that part of it, who either receive pleasure, or are benefited by the labours of literary men, often seem to forget how many there are who being compelled to work during the week for the provision of the week, are (if not possessed of much bodily strength) unfit to continue further mental exertions; nor can they find the leisure and repose necessary to produce any work of importance, though such efforts must always be found so much more congenial to the feelings of a man of genius. Whatever his enemies or his more envious friends may choose to have put forth, it was to him a most painful thought, particularly as he had made literature his profession, to have lived in vain. This feeling sometimes haunted him, and when the feelings are gloomily disposed, they often become in their turn depressing causes, which frequently ended in a deep and painful sigh, and a renewal of his laborious and inspiring thoughts as an antidote. The severest of his critics have not pretended to have found in his compositions triviality, or traces of a mind that shrank from the toil of thinking.

A respectable portion of literary talent will secure the success of a newspaper, provided that it impartially adheres "to a code of intelligible principles previously announced, and faithfully referred to in support of every judgment on men and events." Such were the opinions and feelings by which the contributors to this paper, as well as the proprietor was influenced during this period; and to these causes, as well as from the talents of the editor and of the writers, it mainly owed its success. Papers so conducted do not require the aid of party, nor of ministerial patronage. Yet a determination to make money by flattering the envy and cupidity, and the vindictive restlessness of unthinking men, seems frequently to have succeeded, not confining itself to the daily press, but diffusing itself into periodicals of a different stamp.

"I do derive," says Coleridge, "a gratification from the knowledge, that my essays have contributed to introduce the practice of placing the questions and events of the day in a moral point of view. In Burke's writings, indeed, the germs of 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 in distinguishing the Jacobin from the Republican, the Democrat, and the mere Demagogue," ('vide Friend'.)

Whilst Coleridge retained the opinions of the Unitarians, or rather preached among them, they hailed him as the rising star of their society, but when he seceded from them on his change of opinions, many of them bruited his name in execration. Not so was it with Mr. Estlin and other amiable and intelligent men, they understood him, and felt he had acted on the full conviction of his mind, and that he was acting conscientiously when he declined the opportunity of possessing a fixed income, of which he stood so much in need. Those who knew him, knew how much he suffered, and how painful it was for him to have differed with such a friend as Mr. Estlin, one to whom he had been indebted for many kind offices: But Coleridge was too sincere a man to dissemble.—There were however others, who, from motives and feelings not honourable to them, dissemblers even in Unitarianism, who sought every opportunity of defaming him, and attempted to strip him of his virtues, and of his genius, by calumny and detraction. In this, however, they were foiled. On the other hand, the party more inclined to favour fanaticism, were so indiscreet in their praise as to become in their turn equally injurious to his character, and verified the old adage, that indiscreet friends are too often the worst of enemies; for this party considered his conversion as nothing less than a special miracle. It was impossible for a mind so philosophical and so constituted, to remain long in the trammels of a philosophy like Hartley's, or to continue to adhere to such a substitute for Christianity as Unitarianism; like the incarcerated chicken, he would on increase of growth and power, liberate himself from his imprisonment and breathe unencumbered the vital air, the pabulum of animal life, which by parallel reasoning, Coleridge was aiming at in a spiritual life. From such a substitute for Christianity, that imitation so unvitalizing in its effects, the studiously industrious and sincere man will recoil; but the vain and superficial man will find much in it for the display of his egotism, and superficial knowledge. Often did he remark when conversing on these subjects, there was a time, when

"I disbelieved down to Unitarianism, it would have been more honest to have gone farther, to have denied the existence of a GOD! but that my heart would not allow me to do."

But to this subject we shall have occasion to return. The mind which grows with its culture, seeks deeper research, and so was it with his. Certainly, one of the effects of his visits to Germany, was to root up whatever remained of the Mechanical Philosophy of Hartley, after whom he had named his eldest son, and to open to his mind in philosophy new and higher views, and in religion more established views. But change with the many, though the result of conviction and the growth of truth, is still a change; and with the unthinking, it deteriorates from the character of a man, rather than as it should do elevate him,

... unless above himself he can Erect himself, how mean a thing is man!


In the years 1783, 1784, and 1786, Bishop Horsley wrote some of the tracts in controversy with Priestley, upon the historical question of the belief of the first ages in OUR LORD'S Divinity, which are collected in one volume, with large additional notes, dated 1789.

In a memorandum 'book', made by Coleridge, it appears that he never saw nor read this volume, till some time in 1805; therefore his views were not altered by the bishop's reasoning, but had undergone a great change previously.

Horsley's writings carry with them a conviction of their truth. His clear though concentrated style rivets the attention, and forcibly impresses the mind, with his depth of learning, and at the same time inspires the feeling of its practical utility. He was an opponent most aptly suited to Priestley. The times however greatly favoured the latter; the discoveries of Lavoisier, led the way to the study of chemistry, which became fashionable and generally cultivated, and with its brilliancy dazzled the multitude. Priestley displayed considerable expertness and fitness for the practical application of the discoveries of others; and he added also to the new mass of facts, which were daily presenting themselves, and thus science became enriched, enriching at the same time the pockets of the manufacturers, exciting national industry, and adding considerably to the national property. Priestley's researches and discoveries gave an irresistible weight to his name, and had an undue influence, as we shall presently see, in the arguments or opinions he advanced. This, Horsley foresaw, and felt, and therefore built his arguments on the permanent, in order to subdue the creatures founded on the impermanent and other worthless idols of the mind's forming.

How the world were delighted and wonder-struck by the supposed discovery, that it was the province of vegetable life to supply the vital air, which animal life destroyed! Priestley was hailed as the wonder of his age, and for a while its oracle. He was however no ordinary being, and even his enemies admitted him to be a kind and moral man. His intellectual powers will speak for themselves. We have now had sufficient experience to see how shifting all kind of theory must be when left to the will and ingenuity of man only—and how unsafe a guide in questions of importance as the one now referred to. Horsley saw the weak points of Priestley's argument, and was not to be dazzled and put aside by Priestley's philosophical display. Horsley fearlessly entered into this controversy, like a man who felt his own strength, and particularly the strength of his cause; though he needed not the courage of a Luther, he was apparently a man who possessed it, if called on. He used the best means to silence his adversary [27], with the Bible before him as his shield, (but at the same time his support as well as defence,) from behind which he assailed his opponent with his Biblical learning so powerfully, that his first attack made Priestley feel the strength of his adversary. In vaunting language, Priestley made the best defence which he thought he could, but not the most prudent, by promising to answer his opponent so efficiently, as to make him a convert to his doctrines. But in this vaunting prediction, that he would not only answer his opponent satisfactorily, to all who were interested in the controversy, but convert him to his opinions, it need not be added he failed, so completely, and at the same time displayed such a "ridiculous vanity," as to deprive him of that influence which he had so overrated in himself. Horsley's letters seem particularly to have attracted Coleridge's attention, and to have caused him to make one of his concise, pithy and powerful notes as a comment on this letter of Horsley's, entitled, "The Unitarian Doctrine not well calculated for the conversion of Jews, Mahometans, or Infidels, of any description." [28]

The following is Coleridge's Comment on the Letter, to which allusion has been made, and from the date seems to have been written during his residence at Malta:

"February 12, 1805.—Thinking during my perusal of Horsley's letters in reply to Dr. Priestley's objections to the Trinity on the part of Jews, Mahometans, and Infidels, it burst upon me at once as an awful truth, what seven or eight years ago I thought of proving with a 'hollow faith', and for an 'ambiguous purpose', [29] my mind then wavering in its necessary passage from Unitarianism (which, as I have often said, is the religion of a man, whose reason would make him an atheist, but whose heart and common sense will not permit him to be so) through Spinosism into Plato and St. John. No Christ, no God! This I now feel with all its needful evidence of the understanding: would to God my spirit were made conform thereto—that no Trinity, no God! That Unitarianism in all its forms is idolatry, and that the remark of Horsley is most accurate; that Dr. Priestley's mode of converting the Jews and Turks is, in the great essential of religious faith, to give the name of Christianity to their present idolatry—truly the trick of Mahomet, who, finding that the mountain would not come to him, went to the mountain. O! that this conviction may work upon me and in me, and that my mind may be made up as to the character of Jesus, and of historical Christianity, as clearly as it is of the logos, and intellectual or spiritual Christianity—that I may be made to know either their especial and peculiar union, or their absolute disunion in any peculiar sense. [30]

With regard to the Unitarians, it has been shamelessly asserted, that I have denied them to be Christians. God forbid! For how should I know what the piety of the heart may be, or what quantum of error in the understanding may consist, with a saving faith in the intentions and actual dispositions of the whole moral being, in any one individual? Never will God reject a soul that sincerely loves him, be his speculative opinions what they may: and whether in any given instance certain opinions, be they unbelief, or misbelief, are compatible with a sincere love of God, God only can know. But this I have said, and shall continue to say, that if the doctrines, the sum of which I 'believe' to constitute the truth in Christ, 'be' Christianity, then Unitarianism' is not, and vice versa: and that in speaking theologically and 'impersonally', i.e. of Psilanthropism and Theanthropism, as schemes of belief—and without reference to individuals who profess either the one or the other—it will be absurd to use a different language, as long as it is the dictate of common sense, that two opposites cannot properly be called by the same name.

I should feel no offence if a Unitarian applied the same to me, any more than if he were to say, that 2 and 2 being 4, 4 and 4 must be 8."

Biog. Lit. vol. ii. p. 307.

[Footnote 1: In his 'Literary Life,' Mr. Coleridge has made the following observation regarding talent and genius:

"For the conceptions of the mind may be so vivid and adequate, as to preclude that impulse to the realising of them, which is strongest and most restless in those who possess more than mere 'talent' (or the faculty of appropriating and applying the knowledge of others,) yet still want something of the creative and self-sufficing power of absolute 'Genius'. For this reason, therefore, they are men of 'commanding' genius. While the former rest content between thought and reality, as it were in an intermundium of which their own living spirit supplies the 'substance', and their imagination the ever-varying 'form'; the latter must impress their preconceptions on the world without, in order to present them back to their own view with the satisfying degree of clearness, distinctness, and individuality."

Vol. i. p. 31.]

[Footnote 2: In consequence of various reports traducing Coleridge's good name, I have thought it an act of justice due to his character, to notice several mistatements here and elsewhere, which I should otherwise have gladly passed over.]

[Footnote 3: Coleridge was always most ready to pass a censure on what appeared to him a defect in his own composition, of which the following is a proof:—In his introductory remarks to this Greek Ode, printed in the Sibylline Leaves, he observes:

"The Slaves in the West Indies consider Death as a passport to their native country. This sentiment is expressed in the introduction to the 'Greek Ode on the Slave Trade,' of which the Ideas are better than the language in which they are conveyed."

Certainly this is taking no merit to himself, although the Ode obtained the Prize.]

[Footnote 4:

"At the beginning of the French Revolution, Klopstock wrote odes of congratulation. He received some honorary presents from the French Republic (a golden crown, I believe), and, like our Priestley, was invited to a seat in the legislature, which he declined: but, when French liberty metamorphosed herself into a fury, he sent back these presents with a palinodia, declaring his abhorrence of their proceedings; and since then be has been more perhaps than enough an Anti-Gallican. I mean, that in his just contempt and detestation of the crimes and follies of the revolutionists, he suffers himself to forget that the revolution itself is a process of the Divine Providence; and that as the folly of men is the wisdom of God, so are their iniquities instruments of his goodness."

'Biographia Literaria,' vol. ii. p. 243.]

[Footnote 5: Coleridge in the 'Friend,' says:

"My feelings, however, and imagination did not remain unkindled in this general conflagration (the French Revolution); and I confess I should be more inclined to be ashamed than proud of myself if they had. I was a sharer in the general vortex, though my little world described the path of its revolution in an orbit of its own. What I dared not expect from constitutions of government and whole nations, I hoped from Religion."]

[Footnote 6: This is a mistake. The candidate was Mr. Bethell, one of the members for Yorkshire, and not the Bishop of Bangor, as is commonly supposed. Bishop Bethel himself, not long ago, told me this.]

[Footnote 7: The writer of the article above quoted followed Coleridge in the school, and was elected to Trinity College a year after. As I have before observed, he seems to have been well acquainted with his habits; yet, with regard to his feelings on certain points, as his ambition and desire for a college life, I think he must have misunderstood him. Ambition never formed any part of Coleridge's character. Honours, titles, and distinctions had no meaning for him. His affections, so strong and deep, were likely to be his only stimulants in the pursuit of them.]

[Footnote 8: Frend's trial took place at Cambridge, in the Vice-Chancellor's Court, in the year 1793, for sedition and defamation of the Church of England, in giving utterance to and printing certain opinions, founded on Unitarian Doctrines, adverse to the established Church.—'Vide' State Trials. Sentence of banishment was pronounced against him: which sentence was confirmed by the Court of Delegates, to which Mr. Frend had appealed from the Vice-Chancellor's Court. He then appealed from the decision of the Court of Delegates, protested against the proceedings, and moved this cause to the Court of King's Bench. This Court, after an examination of the case, decided, that the proceedings at Cambridge having been strictly formal, they had no power to interfere, and therefore the sentence against Frend remained in full force. Being a Fellow of Jesus' College at the time that Coleridge was a student, he excited the sympathies of the young and ardent of that day.]

[Footnote 9: The repetition of Middleton's name, so frequently occurring may appear to a stranger unnecessary; but Middleton, loving Coleridge so much, and being his senior in years, as well as in studies, was to him, while at school and at college, what the Polar Star is to the mariner on a wide sea without compass,—his guide, and his influential friend and companion.]

[Footnote 10: There is another incident which I shall here relate that raised him in the esteem of his comrades. One of them was seized with confluent small-pox, and his life was considered in great danger. The fear of the spread of this had produced such alarm in his quarters, that the sufferer was nearly deserted. Here Coleridge's reading served him; and, having a small quantity of medical knowledge in addition to a large share of kindness, he volunteered his services, and nursed the sick man night and day for six weeks. His patient recovered, to the joy of Coleridge and of his comrades. The man was taken ill during a march, and in consequence of the fears of the persons of the place, he and Coleridge (who had volunteered to remain with him) were put into an out-building, and no communication held with them—Coleridge remaining the whole time in the same room with the man (who, during part of his illness, was violently delirious) nursing and reading to him, &c.]

[Footnote 11: In a published letter to a friend is the following observation:

"I sometimes compare my own life with that of Steele (yet oh! how unlike), led to this from having myself also for a brief time 'borne arms', and written 'private' after my name, or rather another name; for being at a loss when suddenly asked my name, I answered 'Comberbach', and verily my habits were so little equestrian, that my horse, I doubt not, was of that opinion."]

[Footnote 12: Capt. Nathaniel Ogle sold out of the 15th Dragoons, Nov. 19th, 1794.

Comberbacke enlisted at Reading, Dec. 3rd, 1793, commanded at this time by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Churchill, who was a Major in the regiment at the time Comberbacke was discharged at Hounslow, on the 10th of April, 1794, according to the War-Office books.]

[Footnote 13: Probably the week in which he enlisted.]

[Footnote 14: A gentleman much interested in these lectures, who was also present, has given the following version of the story, and it is so well done, that I am desirous of inserting it:—

"In all Mr. Coleridge's lectures he was a steady opposer of Mr. Pitt and the then existing war; and also an enthusiastic admirer of Fox, Sheridan, Grey, &c. &c., but his opposition to the reigning politics discovered little asperity; it chiefly appeared by wit and sarcasm, and commonly ended in that which was the speaker's chief object, a laugh. Few attended Mr. C.'s lectures but those whose political views were similar to his own; but on one occasion, some gentlemen of the opposite party came into the lecture-room, and at one sentiment they heard, testified their disapprobation by the only easy and safe way in their power; namely, by a hiss. The auditors were startled at so unusual a sound, not knowing to what it might conduct; but their noble leader soon quieted their fears, by instantly remarking, with great coolness, 'I am not at all surprised, when the red hot prejudices of aristocrats are suddenly plunged into the cool waters of reason, that they should go off with a hiss!' The words were electric. The assailants felt, as well as testified their confusion, and the whole company confirmed it by immense applause! There was no more hissing."]

[Footnote 15: This note was written at Highgate, in a copy of the 'Conciones ad Populum'.]

[Footnote 16:

"With the exception of one extraordinary man, I have never known an individual, least of all an individual of genius, healthy or happy without a profession, i.e., some 'regular' employment, which does not depend on the will of the moment, and which can be carried on so far 'mechanically', that an average quantum only of health, spirits, and intellectual exertion are requisite to its faithful discharge. Three hours of leisure, unannoyed by any alien anxiety, and looked forward to with delight as a change and recreation, will suffice to realize in literature a larger product of what is truly genial, than weeks of compulsion. Money, and immediate reputation form only an arbitrary and accidental end of literary labour. The 'hope' of increasing them by any given exertion will often prove a stimulant to industry; but the 'necessity' of acquiring them will, in all works of genius, convert the stimulant into a 'narcotic'. Motives by excess reverse their very nature, and instead of exciting, stun and stupify the mind; for it is one contra-distinction of genius from talent, that its predominant end is always comprised in the means; and this is one of the many points, which establish an analogy between genius and virtue. Now, though talents may exist without genius, yet, as genius cannot exist, certainly not manifest itself, without talents, I would advise every scholar, who feels the genial power working within him, so far to make a division between the two, as that he should devote his 'talents' to the acquirement of competence in some known trade or profession, and his genius to objects of his tranquil and unbiassed choice; while the consciousness of being actuated in both alike by the sincere desire to perform his duty, will alike ennoble both. 'My dear young friend,' (I would say), suppose yourself established in any honourable occupation. From the manufactory or counting-house, from the law-court, or from having visited your last patient, you return at evening,

'Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of home Is sweetest...'

to your family, prepared for its social enjoyments, with the very countenances of your wife and children brightened, and their voice of welcome made doubly welcome by the knowledge that, as far as 'they' are concerned, you have satisfied the demands of the day, by the labour of the day. Then, when you retire into your study, in the books on your shelves, you revisit so many venerable friends with whom you can converse. Your own spirit scarcely less free from personal anxieties than the great minds, that in those books are still living for you! Even your writing-desk, with its blank paper and all its other implements, will appear as a chain of flowers, capable of linking your feelings, as well as thoughts to events, and characters, past or to come: not a chain of iron which binds you down to think of the future and the remote, by recalling the claims and feelings of the peremptory present: but why should I say retire? The habits of active life and daily intercourse with the stir of the world, will tend to give you such self command, that the presence of your family will be no interruption. Nay, the social silence, or undisturbing voices of a wife or sister will be like a restorative atmosphere, or soft music which moulds a dream without becoming its object. If facts are required to prove the possibility of combining weighty performances in literature with full and independent employment, the works of Cicero and Xenophon among the ancients; of Sir Thomas Moore, Bacon, Baxter, or, to refer at once to later and contemporary instances, Darwin and Roscoe, are at once decisive of the question."

'Biog. Lit.']

[Footnote 17: Tale and novel writing of second-rate order, somewhat spiced and stimulating, are sure to succeed, and carry 'of course' popularity with their success, by advertising the writer. Of this there is an instance in Coleridge's own works. The "Zapoyla," entitled a "Christmas Tale," (and which he never sat down to write, but dictated it while walking up and down the room,) became so immediately popular that 2000 copies were sold in six weeks, while it required two years for the sale of 1000 copies of the "Aids to Reflection," which cost him much labour, and was the fruit of many years' reflection.]

[Footnote 18: i.e. Nether Stowey, at the foot of the Quantock Hills.]

[Footnote 19: Thomas Poole, Esq.]

[Footnote 20: The following lines are here referred to

"And now, beloved Stowey! I behold Thy Church-tower, and, methinks, the four huge elms Clustering, which mark the mansion of my friend; And close behind them, hidden from my view, Is my own lowly cottage, where my babe And my babe's mother dwell in peace. With light And quicken'd footsteps thitherward I tend, Remembering thee, O green and silent dell! And grateful, that by nature's quietness And solitary musings, all my heart Is soften'd, and made worthy to indulge Love, and the thoughts that yearn for human kind.

Nether Stowey,

April 28th, 1798." ]

[Footnote 21: Ossian.]

[Footnote 22: This ill-natured remark requires no comment: but I would fain recommend the reader to peruse the beautiful and faithful portrait of him in the Preface to the second edition of the "Table Talk," Murray, Albemarle Street.]

[Footnote 23: He was not an enthusiast in the sense this individual used the word; in whatever studies he was engaged, he pursued them with great earnestness, and they were sufficient to excite his powerful and sensitive intellect, so as to induce an observer not well acquainted with him to form this opinion. In the character of preacher, he exhibited more the character of philosopher and poet, never manifesting that sectarian spirit, which too often narrows the mind, or perhaps is rather the 'result' of a narrow mind, and which frequently seems to exclude men from the most substantial forms of Christianity, viz. "Christian charity and Christian humility." His religion was the very opposite of a worldly religion, it was at all times the religion of love.

This visit to Shrewsbury, as the probable successor of Mr. Rowe, was undertaken by the advice of Mr. afterwards Dr. Estlin, a Unitarian dissenter and preacher in Bristol, a man possessed of great kindness and of great influence among this sect, to whom Coleridge had been indebted for many kind offices; the result of this visit forms a part of the sequel.]

[Footnote 24: 'Poetical Works,' vol. i. p. 238.]

[Footnote 25:

"No little fish thrown back into the water, no fly unimprisoned from a child's hand, could more buoyantly enjoy its element than I this clear and peaceful home, with the lovely view of the town, groves, and lake of Ratzeburg."]

[Footnote 26: From the earliest periods of authentic history, the Brocken has been the seat of the marvellous. On its summits are still seen huge blocks of granite, called the Sorcerer's Chair and the Altar. A spring of pure water is known by the name of the Magic Fountain, and the Anemone of the Brocken is distinguished by the title of the Sorcerer's Flower. These names are supposed to have originated in the rites of the great Idol Cortho, whom the Saxons worshipped in secret on the summit of the Brocken, when Christianity was extending her benignant sway over the subjacent plains. As the locality of these idolatrous rites, the Brocken must have been much frequented, and we can scarcely doubt that the spectre which now so often haunts it at sunrise, must have been observed from the earliest times; but it is nowhere mentioned that this phenomenon was in any way associated with the objects of their idolatrous worship. One of the best accounts of the Spectre of the Brocken, is that which is given by M. Haue, who saw it on the 23rd May, 1797. After having been on the summit of the mountain no less than thirty times, he had at last the good fortune of witnessing the object of his curiosity. The sun rose about four o'clock in the morning through a serene atmosphere. In the south-west, towards Achtermannshoehe, a brisk west wind carried before it the transparent vapours, which had yet been condensed into thick heavy clouds. About a quarter past four he went towards the inn, and looked round to see whether the atmosphere would afford him a free prospect towards the south-west, when he observed at a very great distance, towards Achtermannshoehe, a human figure of a monstrous size. His hat having been almost carried away by a violent gust of wind, he suddenly raised his hand to his head, to protect his hat, and the colossal figure did the same. He immediately made another movement by bending his body, an action which was repeated by the spectral figure. M. Haue was desirous of making further experiments, but the figure disappeared. He remained however in the same position expecting its return, and in a few minutes it again made its appearance on the Achtermannshoehe, when it mimicked his gestures as before. He then called the landlord of the inn, and having both taken the same position which he had before, they looked towards the Achtermannshoehe, but saw nothing. In a very short space of time, however, two colossal figures were formed over the above eminence, and after bending their bodies, and imitating the gestures of the two spectators, they disappeared. Retaining their position and keeping their eyes still fixed upon the same spot, the two gigantic spectres again stood before them, and were joined by a third. Every movement that they made was imitated by the three figures, but the effect varied in its intensity, being sometimes weak and faint, and at other times strong and well defined——. "Vide Sir D. Brewster's Natural Magic, p. 128.]

[Footnote 27: Horseley appears to have been in his way a Christian Hercules, and well adapted for cleansing even an Augean stable of apostasy.]

[Footnote 28: "Letter sixteenth," p. 264. ed. 1789, in Bishop Horsley's 'Tracts' in controversy with Dr. Priestley.]

[Footnote 29: This observation, it is presumed, alludes to the time when he was 'preaching' Unitarianism.]

[Footnote 30: Written in 1805.]

[Footnote 31:

Alas! for myself at least I know and feel, that wherever there is a wrong not to be forgiven, there is a grief that admits neither of cure nor comforting.

'Private Record, 1806.']

[Footnote 32: It appears that Mr. Alexander Macauley, the secretary, an honest and amiable man, died suddenly, without "moan or motion," and Coleridge filled his situation till the arrival of a new secretary, appointed and confirmed by the ministers in England.]

[Footnote 33: 1805.

"For months past so incessantly employed in official tasks, subscribing, examining, administering oaths, auditing," &c.]

[Footnote 34: April 22, 1804.

"I was reading when I was taken ill, and felt an oppression of my breathing, and convulsive snatching in my stomach and limbs. Mrs. Ireland noticed this laborious breathing."]

[Footnote 35: I would fain request the reader to peruse the poem, entitled "A Tombless Epitaph," to be found in Coleridge's 'Poetical Works', 1834, page 200.]

[Footnote 36: Coleridge when asked what was the difference between fame and reputation, would familiarly reply, "Fame is the fiat of the good and wise," and then with energy would quote the following beautiful lines from Milton:—

Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil, Nor in the glistering foil Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies: But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes, And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; As he pronounces lastly on each deed, Of so much fame in Heaven expect thy meed.


[Footnote 37: "The following memoranda written in pencil, and apparently as he journeyed along, but now scarcely legible, may perhaps have an interest for some readers:—

"Sunday, December 15th, 1805.

"Naples, view of Vesuvius, the Hail-mist—Torre del Greco—bright amid darkness—the mountains above it flashing here and there from their snows; but Vesuvius, it had not thinned as I have seen at Keswick, but the air so consolidated with the massy cloud curtain, that it appeared like a mountain in basso relievo, in an interminable wall of some pantheon."]

[Footnote 38: The order for Coleridge's arrest had already been sent from Paris, but his escape was so contrived by the good old Pope, as to defeat the intended indulgence of the Tyrant's vindictive appetite, which would have preyed equally on a Duc D'Enghien, and a contributor to a public journal. In consequence of Mr. Fox having asserted in the House of Commons, that the rupture of the Truce of Amiens had its origin in certain essays written in the Morning Post, which were soon known to have been Coleridge's, and that he was at Rome within reach, the ire of Buonaparte was immediately excited.]

[Footnote 39: Though his Note Books are full of memoranda, not an entry or date of his arrival at Rome is to be found. To Rome itself and its magnificence, he would often refer in conversation. Unfortunately there is not a single document to recall the beautiful images he would place before your mind in perspective, when inspired by the remembrance of its wonder-striking and splendid objects. He however preserved some short essays, which he wrote when in Malta, Observations on Sicily, Cairo, &c. &c. political and statistical, which will probably form part of the literary remains in train of publication.

Malta, on a first view of the subject, seemed to present a situation so well fitted for a landing place, that it was intended to have adopted this mode, as in 'The Friend', of dividing the present memoir; but this loss of MS. and the breaches of continuity, render it impracticable.]

[Footnote 40: At this time all his writings were strongly tinctured with Platonism.]

[Footnote 41: Each party claimed him as their own; for party without principles must ever be shifting, and therefore they found his opinions sometimes in accordance with their own, and sometimes at variance. But he was of no party—his views were purely philosophical.]

[Footnote 42: The character of Buonaparte was announced in the same paper.]

[Footnote 43: Those who spoke after Pitt were Wilberforce, Tierney, Sheridan, &c.]

[Footnote 44: This speech of Mr. Pitt's is extracted from the 'Morning Post', February 18th, 1800.]

[Footnote 45: The following exquisite image on Leighton was found in one of Coleridge's note books, and is also inserted in his Literary Remains:

"Next to the inspired Scriptures, yea, and as the vibration of that once struck hour remaining on the air, stands Archbishop Leighton's commentary on the first epistle of Peter."]

[Footnote 46: In his later days, Mr. Coleridge would have renounced the opinions and the incorrect reasoning of this letter].



Mr. Coleridge once met Mrs. Barbauld at an evening party. He had not long been present, and the recognition of mere acquaintanceship over, than, walking across the room, she addressed him in these words:

"So, Mr. Coleridge, I understand you do not consider Unitarians Christians."

"I hope, Madam," said he, "that all persons born in a Christian country are Christians, and trust they are under the condition of being saved; but I 'do' contend that Unitarianism' is not 'Christianity';"

to which she replied,

"I do not understand the distinction."

This want of knowledge of the difference, is common to many very clever and very amiable persons of this creed. It is hoped that we are not always to be tried by our speculative opinions, for man is frequently constituted higher and better than the principles he sometimes adopts.

Coleridge frequently observed,

"I do not so much care for men's religious opinions,—they vary, and are dependant on that which usually surrounds them-but I regard with more attention what men are."

He extended his kindness to all he believed to be good, whatever their creed, and when in his power, his aid. When injured, he immediately forgave, as he hoped to be forgiven, [1] and when reviled and persecuted, he never became 'persecutor'. Of him it may be said, what he himself observed of the pious Baxter, that "he came a century before his time." The Western world however seems to have better appreciated the works of Coleridge, than most of his countrymen: in some parts of America, his writings are understood and highly valued.

In 1801, he settled at Keswick, in a house, which if not built, was at least finished for him, by a then neighbour (a Mr. Jackson,) and for a time he occupied a part of it. But here his health greatly failed, and he suffered severe rheumatism from the humidity of a lake country, which was the main cause of his leaving Keswick for Malta.

It has been already observed, that when a youth at school, he had, from imprudent bathing, become a rheumatic subject, and during the rest of his life, remained liable to most painful affections of that disorder.

In 1803, the fear of sudden death induced him to insure his life, that his family might not be left, dependant on his friends. In 1804, his rheumatic sufferings increasing, he determined on a change of climate, and accepted an invitation from his friend, Sir John, then Mr. Stoddart, residing at Malta, where he arrived in May. He soon became acquainted with the governor of the island, Sir Alexander Ball, who was greatly attached to Coleridge, and whose character has been so well described by him in The Friend. During a change of secretaries, [2] Coleridge, at the request of Sir Alexander, officiated, pro tempore, as public secretary of that island; and there was found in him—what at that time was so much required—an able diplomatic writer in this department of correspondence. The dignities of the office he never attempted to support: he was greatly annoyed at what he thought its unnecessary parade, and he petitioned Sir Alexander to be released from the annoyance. There can be no doubt that, to an individual accustomed to public business, his occupation might appear light, and even agreeable; but his health, which was the object of this change, not being much benefited, and the duties of the employment greater than he was equal to, made it for him an arduous one. [3] He seemed at this time, in addition to his rheumatism, to have been oppressed in his breathing, which oppression crept on him imperceptibly to himself without suspicion of its cause yet so obvious was it, that it was noticed by others "as laborious;" [4] and continuing to increase, though with little apparent advancement, at length terminated in death.

"Friday afternoon, four o'clock, April 18,1804. The Speedwell dropped anchor in the harbour of Malta: one of the finest in the world, the buildings surrounding it on all sides, of a neat ever-new-looking sand-free-stone. Some unfinished, and in all, the windows placed backward, looked like Carthage when AEneas visited it-or a 'burnt out' place."

Saturday, April 19.—In the after-dinner hour walked out with Mr. and Mrs. Stoddart, towards the Quarantine harbour. One's first feeling is, that it is all strange, very strange; and when you begin to understand a little of the meaning and uses of the massy endless walls and defiles, then you feel and perceive that it is very wonderful. A city all of freestone, all the houses looking new like Bath; all with flat roofs, the streets all strait, and at right angles to each other; but many of them exceedingly steep, none quite level; of the steep streets, some, 'all' stepped with a smooth artificial stone, some having the footpath on each side in stone steps, the middle left for carriages; lines of fortification, fosses, bastions, curtains, &c. &c. endless:—with gardens or bowling-grounds below; for it is all height and depth—you can walk nowhere without having whispers of suicide, toys of desperation. Expletive cries of Maltese venders shot up, sudden and violent. The inhabitants very dark, almost black; but straight, cleanlimbed, lively, active,—cannot speak in praise of their cleanliness—children very fair—women from the use of the faldetto, or cloak-hooding their heads, as women in England in a shower throw over their aprons, and from the use of always holding it down to one side of the face, all have a continued languishing manner of holding their heads one way—picturesque enough as expressive of a transient emotion, but shocking and inelegant in 'all' and always. The language Arabic, corrupted with Italian, and perhaps with others.

Sunday, April 20, 1804.—Went to church, plain chapel with a picture behind the pulpit, which I was not close enough to see, and at the other end in a nitch, a 'cross painted'! Was it there before? or was it in complaisance to Maltese superstitions?—Called on Sir A. Ball—there I met General Valette, and delivered my letter to him,—a striking room, very high; 3/4ths of its height from the ground hung with rich crimson silk or velvet; and the 1/4th above, a mass of colours, pictures in compartments rudely done and without perspective or art, but yet very impressively and imagination-stirringly—representing all the events and exploits of the Order.—Some fine pictures, one by Correggio, one of a Cain killing Abel, I do not know by whom.

Monday, April 21, 1804, Hardkain.—Sir A. Ball called on me, and introduced me to Mr. Lane, who was formerly his tutor, but now his chaplain. He invited me to dine with him on Thursday, and made a plan for me to ride to St. Antonio on Tuesday morning with Mr. Lane, offering me a horse. Soon after came on thunder and storm, and my breathing was affected a good deal, but still I was in no discomfort.

April 22, Tuesday morning, six o'clock, was on horseback, and rode to St. Antonio.—Fields with walls, to keep the fort from the rain—mere desolation seemingly, and yet it is fertile. St. Antonio, a pleasant country-house, with a fine but unheeded garden, save among the low orange and lemon trees, still thick with fruit on many of the trees, fruit ripe, blossoms, and the next year's fruit. Pepper-trees very beautiful, and the locust-tree not amiss. Visited St. John's—O magnificence!

Wednesday, April 23.—General Valette I called on at his country-house, just out of the gates, near the end of the Botanic Garden, and it is the pleasantest place I have seen here. The multitude of small gardens and orangeries, among the huge masses of fortifications, many of them seeming almost as thick as the gardens inclosed by them are broad. Pomegranate in (beautiful secicle) flower. Under a bridge over a dry ditch saw the largest prickly pear. Elkhorns for trunk, and then its leaves—but go and look and look.—(Hard rain.) We sheltered in the Botanic Garden; yet reached home not unwetted."

The simplicity of Coleridge's manners, and entire absence of all show of business-like habits, amongst men chiefly mercantile, made him an object of curiosity, and gave rise to the relation of many whimsical stories about him. But his kindness and benevolence lent a charm to his behaviour and manners, in whatever he was engaged. From the state of his own lungs, invalid-like, he was in the habit of attending much to those about him, and particularly those who had been sent to Malta for pulmonary disease. He frequently observed how much the invalid, at first landing, was relieved by the climate and the 'stimulus' of change; but when the novelty, arising from 'that' change, had ceased, the monotonous sameness of the blue sky, accompanied by the summer heat of the climate, acted powerfully as a sedative, ending in speedy dissolution,—even more speedy than in a colder climate. The effects on Coleridge seemed to run parallel to this. At first he remarked that he was relieved, but afterwards speaks of his limbs "as lifeless tools," and of the violent pains in his bowels, which neither opium, ether, nor peppermint, separately or combined, could relieve. These several states he minuted down, from time to time, for after-consideration or comparison. He most frequently sought relief from bodily suffering in religious meditations, or in some augmented exercise of his mind:

"Sickness, 'tis true, Whole years of weary days, besieged him close, Even to the gates and inlets of his life! But it is true, no less, that strenuous, firm, And with a natural gladness, he maintained The citadel unconquered, and in joy Was strong to follow the delightful muse."

'Tombless Epitaph'. [5]

The citadel did, indeed, remain unconquered even to his 'last' hour—he found in religious meditation and prayer that solace and support which, during a life of misery and pain, gave him his extraordinary patience and resignation. If an ejaculation escaped him, it was usually followed by some moral or religious reflection, as thus runs one of his notes:

"O me miserum! Assuredly the doctrine of grace, atonement, and the spirit of God interceding by groans to the spirit of God, (Rev. viii. 26.), is founded on constant experience, and even if it can be ever 'explained away', it must still remain as the rising and setting of the sun itself, as the darkness and as the light—it must needs have the most efficient character of reality,—quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus! Deeply do I both know and feel my weakness—God in his wisdom grant, that my day of visitation may not have been past."

Lest some 'will-worshiping' individuals, inflated by vanity, and self-righteousness, should misunderstand or misconstrue him, the following lines are copied from his poems:—


"Frail creatures are we all! To be the best, Is but the fewest faults to have:— Look thou then to thyself, and leave the rest To God, thy conscience and the grave."

'Poetical Works.'

There is not, perhaps, to be found on record a more perfect example of humility and charity, than that which he exhibited and sustained for so long a period of suffering and trial. Surely he could not be compared to the generality of his fellows—to men who, though possessing great worldly reputation, never gave him their support; but, on the contrary, were sometimes even ready to whisper down his fair name!

"For whispering tongues can poison truth; And constancy lives in realms above."


Some of these might be well meaning enough to believe, that in giving publicity to what they erroneously considered moral infirmities, (not possessing the knowledge to discriminate between moral and physical infirmities), they were performing a religious duty—were displaying a beacon to deter others from the same course. But in the case of Coleridge, this was a sad misconception. Neither morally nor physically was he understood. He did all that in his state duty could exact; and had he been more favoured in his bodily constitution, he would not have been censured for frailties which did not attach to him.

Alas! how little do the many know of the hearts of truly great men! Least of all could such men as Coleridge be known by modern pharisees.

"It is no uncommon thing," says an affectionate and kind-hearted friend, whose genius is rarely equalled, "to see well intentioned men please themselves with the feeling that they are not as others; that they are the favorites of Heaven, and washed clean by special dispensation from the spots of frail mortality; who more-over assume that they possess the most delicate feelings; but then those feelings are under such admirable discipline, that they can, with the most exquisite suffering, cry over their own sentences, shed tears of pity and blood for their duty, make a merit of the hardness which is contrary to their nature, and live in perpetual apprehension of being too tender-hearted. It is wonderful with what ingenuity these people can reconcile their flexible consciences to acts at which their inferiors might blush or shudder, and no less fearful to reflect how many poor wretches, not wholly past hope or reformation, may have been sent to their last account, with all their imperfections on their heads, to satisfy the religious or political fears of these pharisees. The patrons and employers of spies, we may expect to make the greatest sacrifice to expediency,—a word which every man will explain after his own way."

To have written during his life any thing like an eulogy on Coleridge would have been most painful to him, yet he must have felt, that he deserved well of his fellow beings; for fame, and fame only, he observes, is the aim and object of every good and great man, though it is too often confounded with mere reputation. When a youth, he had learnt how to value that bubble reputation, its fleeting character, but the love of which, in some men, is so injurious both to head and heart. Reputation, "the morrow's meal," the "breakfast only," the furnisher of the tinsel ornaments, or at most of some of the worldly agreeables, sown perhaps for future worldly enjoyment. 'He' laboured for riches of another kind, and stored them, in the hope of receiving a more permanent reward:

"By fame of course," says Coleridge, "I mean any thing rather than reputation, [6] the desire of working in the good and great permanently, through indefinite ages, the struggle to be promoted into the rank of God's fellow-labourers. For bold as this expression is, it is a quotation from Scripture, and therefore justified by God himself, for which we ought to be grateful, that he has deigned to hold out such a glory to us! This is however only one consistent part of the incomprehensible goodness of Deity in taking upon himself man."

His note-books abound with "his hints and first thoughts; "as he says, his "Cogitabilia rather than actual cogitata a me,"—not always to be understood as his fixed opinions, but often merely suggestions of the disquisition, and acts of obedience to the apostolic command of "Try all things, hold fast that which is good." Among them is the following characteristic of the man and his feelings, noted down for some future disquisition.

"Wuerde, Worthiness, VIRTUE, consist in the mastery over the sensuous and sensual impulses; but Love requires INNOCENCE. Let the lover ask his heart whether he could endure that his mistress should have 'struggled' with a sensual impulse for another, though she overcame it from a sense of duty to him? Women are LESS offended with men, from the vicious habits of men in part, and in part from the difference of bodily constitution; yet still to a pure and truly loving woman it must be a painful thought. That he should struggle with and overcome ambition, desire of fortune, superior beauty, &c. or with desire objectless, is pleasing; but 'not' that he has struggled with positive appropriated desire, i.e. desire 'with' an object. Love in short requires an absolute 'peace' and 'harmony' between all parts of human nature, such as it is, and it is offended by any war, though the battle should be decided in favour of the worthier.

This is perhaps the final cause of the 'rarity' of true love, and the efficient and immediate cause of its difficulty. Ours is a life of probation, we are to contemplate and obey 'duty' for its own sake, and in order to this we, in our present imperfect state of being, must see it not merely abstracted from, but in direct opposition to the 'wish', the 'inclination'. Having perfected this, the highest possibility of human nature, he may then with safety harmonize 'all' his being with it; 'he may' LOVE!—To perform duties absolutely from the sense of duty, is the 'ideal', which perhaps no human being ever can arrive at, but which every human being ought to try to draw near unto. This is in the only wise, and verily, in a most sublime sense to see God face to face; which, alas! it seems too true, that no man can do and 'live', i.e. a 'human' life. It would become incompatible with his organization, or rather it would 'transmute' it, and the process of that transmutation to the senses of other men would be called 'death'.—Even as to caterpillars; in all probability the caterpillar dies, and he either does not see, which is most probable, or at all events he does not see the connection between the caterpillar and the butterfly, the beautiful Psyche of the Greeks.

Those who in this life 'love' in perfection—if such there be—in proportion as their love has no struggles, see God darkly and through a veil:—for when duty and pleasure are absolutely coincident, the very nature of our organization necessitates that duty, will be contemplated as the symbol of pleasure, instead of pleasure being (as in a future life we have faith it will be) the symbol of duty. This then is the distinction between human and angelic 'happiness'. Human happiness—humanly happy I call him, who in enjoyment finds his duty; angelically happy he, who seeks and finds his 'duty' in enjoyment. Happiness in general may be defined—not the aggregate of pleasurable sensations, for this is either a dangerous error and the creed of sensualists, or else a mere translation or wordy paraphrase—but the state of that person who, in order to enjoy his nature in its highest manifestations of conscious 'feeling', has no need of doing wrong, and who in order to do right is under no necessity of abstaining from enjoyment."

On the arrival of the new secretary at Malta, Mr. Coleridge left it, September 27, 1805, and after a day's voyage, arrived at Syracuse. He remained in Sicily a short time only, for he was eager to visit the "eternal city" (Rome,) in which he staid some months. The next date marking his progress, is the 15th December, 1806, Naples,—the usual place of the residence of travellers during summer. [7] This gap in his minutes is partly filled up by his own verbal account, repeated at various times to the writer of this memoir. While in Rome, he was actively employed in visiting the great works of art, statues, pictures, buildings, palaces, &c. &c. observations on which he minuted down for publication. Here he became acquainted with the eminent literary men at that time collected there, and here he first saw the great American painter Alston, for whom he always cherished an unfeigned regard. The German poet Tieck, he then for the first time also saw, and many others of celebrity. To one of them he was mainly indebted for his safety, otherwise he might have terminated his career in the Temple at Paris: for to Buonaparte, through one of his industrious emissaries, Coleridge had become obnoxious, in consequence of an article written by him in the Morning Post. This salutary warning he obtained from the brother of the celebrated traveller, Humboldt, of whom he had enquired, whether he could pass through Switzerland and Germany, and return by that route to England. Humboldt then informed Coleridge, that having passed through Paris on his journey to Rome, he had learnt that he, Coleridge, was a marked man, and unsafe: when within the reach of Buonaparte he advised him to be more than usually circumspect, and do, all in his power to remain unknown. [8] 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 discovered an American vessel ready to sail for England, on board of which he embarked. On the voyage she was chased by a French vessel, which so alarmed the American, that he compelled Coleridge to throw his papers overboard, and thus to his great regret, were lost the fruits of his literary labours in Rome. [9]

In 1806 he returned to England, and took up his residence for a time at Keswick, but was more generally with his friend Wordsworth, then living at Grassmere.

At Grassmere he planned 'The Friend', for which Mr. Wordsworth wrote a few contributions; and receiving occasionally some little assistance from other writers, he was enabled to furnish the quantity of valuable matter which appeared in that publication. Some of his earnest admirers, and those too persons best acquainted with his works, are disposed to give this the preference.

His friend, Lamb, who is justly considered a man of exquisite taste, used to say, in his odd and familiar way, "Only now listen to his talk, it is as fine as an angel's!" and then, by way of a superlative, would add, "but after all, his best talk is in 'The Friend'."

To the Lake Edition of this work, as it has been termed, is appended the following prospectus, addressed to a correspondent

"It is not unknown to you, that I have employed almost the whole of my life in acquiring, or endeavouring to acquire, useful knowledge by study, reflection, observation, and by cultivating the society of my superiors in intellect, both at home and in foreign countries. You know too, that at different periods of my life, I have not only planned, but collected the materials for many works on various and important subjects: so many indeed, that the number of my unrealized schemes, and the mass of my miscellaneous fragments, have often furnished my friends with a subject of raillery, and sometimes of regret and reproof. Waiving the mention of all private and accidental hinderances, I am inclined to believe, that this want of perseverance has been produced in the main by an over-activity of thought, modified by a constitutional indolence, which made it more pleasant to me to continue acquiring, than to reduce what I had acquired to a regular form. Add too, that almost daily throwing off my notices or reflections in desultory fragments, I was still tempted onward by an increasing sense of the imperfection of my knowledge, and by the conviction, that in order fully to comprehend and develope any one subject, it was necessary that I should make myself master of some other, which again as regularly involved a third, and so on, with an ever-widening horizon. Yet one habit, formed during long absences from those with whom I could converse with full sympathy, has been of advantage to me—that of daily noting down, in my memorandum or common place books, both incidents and observations, whatever had occurred to me from without, and all the flux and reflux of my mind within itself. The number of these notices and their tendency, miscellaneous as they were, to one common end ('quid sumus et quid futuri gignimur,' what we are and what we are born to become; and thus from the end of our being to deduce its proper objects), first encouraged me to undertake the weekly essay, of which you will consider this letter as the prospectus.

Not only did the plan seem to accord better than any other with the nature of my own mind, both in its strength and in its weakness; but conscious that, in upholding some principles both of taste and philosophy, adopted by the great men of Europe, from the middle of the fifteenth till toward the close of the seventeenth century. I must run counter to many prejudices of many of my readers (for old faith is often modern heresy). I perceived too in a periodical essay, the most likely means of winning instead of forcing my way. Supposing truth on my side, the shock of the first day might be so far lessened by reflections of the succeeding days, as to procure for my next week's essay a less hostile reception, than it would have met with, had it been only the next chapter of a present volume. I hoped to disarm the mind of those feelings, which preclude conviction by contempt, and as it were, fling the door in the face of reasoning, by a 'presumption' of its absurdity. A motion too for honourable ambition was supplied by the fact, that every periodical paper of the kind now attempted, which had been conducted with zeal and ability, was not only well received at the time, but has become permanently, and in the best sense of the word, popular. By honourable ambition, I mean the strong desire to be useful, aided by the wish to be generally acknowledged to have been so. As I feel myself actuated in no ordinary degree by this desire, so the hope of realizing it appears less and less presumptuous to me, since I have received from men of highest rank and established character in the republic of letters, not only strong encouragements as to my own fitness for the undertaking, but likewise promises of support from their own stores.

The 'object' of 'The Friend' briefly and generally expressed is—to uphold those truths and those merits against the caprices of fashion, and such pleasures, as either depend on transitory and accidental causes, or are pursued from less worthy impulses. The chief 'subjects' of my own essays will be:—

The true and sole ground of morality, or virtue, as distinguished from prudence.

The origin and growth of moral impulses, as distinguished from external and immediate motives.

The necessary dependence of taste on moral impulses and habits; and the nature of taste (relatively to judgment in general and to genius) defined, illustrated and applied. Under this head I comprise the substance of the Lectures given, and intended to have been given, at the Royal Institution, on the distinguished English Poets, in illustration of the general principles of Poetry, together with suggestions concerning the affinity of the Fine Arts to each other, and the principles common to them all: Architecture; Gardening; Dress; Music; Painting; Poetry.

The opening out of new objects of just admiration in our own language, and information of the present state and past history of Swedish, Danish, German and Italian literature, (to which, but as supplied by a friend, I may add the Spanish, Portuguese and French,) as far as the same has not been already given to English readers, or is not to be found in common French authors.

Characters met with in real life; anecdotes and results of my life and travels, &c. &c. as far as they are illustrative of general moral laws, and have no immediate leaning on personal or immediate politics.

Education in its widest sense, private and national sources of consolation to the afflicted in misfortune or disease, or dejection of mind from the exertion and right application of the reason, the imagination, and the moral sense; and new sources of enjoyment opened out, or an attempt (as an illustrious friend once expressed the thought to me) to add sunshine to daylight, by making the happy more happy. In the words 'dejection of mind,' I refer particularly to doubt or disbelief of the moral government of the world, and the grounds and arguments for the religious hopes of human nature."

The first number, printed on stamped paper, was dated June 8th, 1809. He commences this work with the following motto:

"Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence, because we can proceed with intelligence. Whereas, in hot reformations, is what men more zealous than considerate, call 'making clear work', the whole is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested; mixed with so much imprudence and so much injustice; so contrary to the whole course of human nature and human institutions, that the very people who are most eager for it, are among the first to grow disgusted at what they have done. Then some part of the abdicated grievance is recalled from its exile in order to become a corrective of the correction.

Then the abuse assumes all the credit and popularity of a reform. The very idea of purity and disinterestedness in politics falls into disrepute, and is considered as a vision of hot and inexperienced men; and thus disorders become incurable, not by the virulence of their own quality, but by the unapt and violent nature of the remedies."

('Burke's speech on the 11th of February, 1780'.)


"Conscious that I am about to deliver my sentiments on a subject of the utmost delicacy, I have selected the general motto to all my political lucubrations, from an authority equally respected by both parties. I have taken it from an orator, whose eloquence enables Englishmen to repeat the name of Demosthenes and Cicero, without humiliation; from a statesman, who has left to our language a bequest of glory unrivalled and all our own, in the keen-eyed, yet far-sighted genius, with which he has made the profoundest general principles of political wisdom, and even the recondite laws of human passions, bear upon particular measures and passing events. While of the harangues of Pitt, Fox, and their compeers on the most important occurrences, we retain a few unsatisfactory fragments alone, the very flies and weeds of Burke shine to us through the purest amber, imperishably enshrined, and valuable from the precious material of their embalment. I have extracted the passage not from that Burke, whose latter exertions have rendered his works venerable as oracular voices from the sepulchre of a patriarch, to the upholders of the government and society in their existing state and order; but from a speech delivered by him while he was the most beloved, the proudest name with the more anxious friends of liberty; while he was the darling of those who, believing mankind to have been improved, are desirous to give to forms of government a similar progression. From the same anxiety, I have been led to introduce my opinions on this most hazardous subject, by a preface of a somewhat personal character. And though the title of my address is general, yet, I own, I direct myself more particularly to those among my readers, who, from various printed and unprinted calumnies, have judged most unfavourably of my political tenets; aid to those whose favour I have chanced to win in consequence of a similar, though not equal mistake. To both, I affirm, that the opinions and arguments, I am about to detail, have been the settled convictions of my mind for the last ten or twelve years, with some brief intervals of fluctuation, and those only in lesser points, and known only to the companions of my fire-side. From both and from all my readers, I solicit a gracious attention to the following explanations: first, on the congruity of the following numbers, with the general plan and object of 'The Friend;' and secondly, on the charge of arrogance or presumption, which may be adduced against the author for the freedom, with which in these numbers, and in others that will follow on other subjects, he presumes to dissent from men of established reputation, or even to doubt of the justice, with which the public laurel-crown, as symbolical of the 'first' class of genius and intellect, has been awarded to sundry writers since the revolution, and permitted to wither around the brows of our elder benefactors, from Hooker to Sir P. Sidney, and from Sir P. Sidney, to Jeremy Taylor and Stillingfleet."

The work ceased at the 27th number, March 15th, 1810. As is usually the case when authors become their own publishers, there was a pecuniary loss; but as long as printing lasts, it must remain a record of his powers.

Yet the critics, if critics they were worthy to be called, discovered only feebleness of mind, when in the attempt to make themselves acquainted with his principles, they professed, either through ignorance, or indolence, not to understand him. When his mental powers had so far advanced, he felt a conviction of the truth of the Triune power, [10] and at once saw that there was no important truth, in which this Triad was not contained. As ours was a constitutional government, composed of three great powers (of the three great estates of the realm, as Queen Elizabeth would say, the church, the nobles, and the commonalty,) when these, Coleridge observed, were exactly balanced, the government was in a healthy state, but excess in any one of these powers, disturbed the balance and produced disorder, which was attended by dissatisfaction and discord. A political writer, he laboured to maintain this balance; and when either power was threatened by any disturbance, threw in a counterweight, sometimes on one side and sometimes on another, as he, according to his philosophical opinions, thought they deserved either censure or praise. [11] For this 'apparent' fluctuation he was termed, by those men who never understood his principles, vacillating and inconsistent: but he cast his "bread upon the waters," and in due time it returned to him.

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