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views, increased his stores of knowledge, and matured his mental powers; but his genius, as pictured in his writings, though strengthened and fertilized, thenceforth loses much of its unity. Its emanations are frequently more grand and startling, but less simple and direct. There is more machinery, and often a confusion of appliances. We feel that it is the same mind in an advanced state ; the same noble instrument breathing deeper strains, but with a melody more intricate and sad.
In the Sibylline Leaves we have depicted a later stage of the poet's life. Language is now a moro effective expedient. It follows the thought with a clearer echo. It is woven with a firmer hand. The subtle intellect is evidently at work in the very rush of emotion. The poet has discovered that he cannot hope
" from outward forms to win The passion and the life. whose fountains are within."
A new sentiment, the most solemn that visits the breast of humanity, is aroused by this reflective process -the sentiment of duty. Upon the sunny landscape of youth falls the twilight of thought. A conviction has entered the bosom of the minstrel that he is not free to wander at will to the sound of his own music. His life cannot be a mere revel in the embrace of beauty. He too is a man, born to suffer and to act. He cannot throw off the responsibility of life. He must sustain relations to his fellows. The scenery that delights him assumes a new aspect. It appeals not only to his love of nature, but his sense of patriotism :
More tender ties bind the poet-soul to his native isle
A pledge of more than passing life-
Then was I thrilled and melted, and most warm
Thus gather the many-tinted hues of luman destiny around the life of the young bard. To a mind of philosophical cast, the transition is most interesting. It is the distinguishing merit of Coleridge, that in his verse we find these epochs warmly chronicled. Most just is his vindication of himself from the charge of egotism. To what end are beings peculiarly sensitive, and capable of rare expression, sent into the world, if not to make us feel the mysteries of our nature, by faithful delineations, drawn from their own consciousness? It is the lot, not of the individual, but of man in general, to feel the sublimity of the mountain-the loveliness of the flower—the awe of devotion—and the ecstasy of love, and we should bless those who truly set forth the traits and triumphs of our nature—the consolations and anguish of our human life. We are thus assured of the universality of Nature's laws—of the sympathy of all genuine hearts. Something of a new dignity invests the existence, whose common experience is susceptible of such portraiture. In the keen regrets, the vivid enjoyments, the agonizing remorse, and the glowing aspirations recorded by the poet, we find the truest reflections of our own souls. There is a nobleness in the lineaments thus displayed, which we can scarcely trace in the bustle and strife of the world. Self-respect is nourished by such poetry, and the hope of immortality rekindled at the inmost shrine of the heart. Of recent poets, Coleridge has chiefly added to such obligations. He has directed our gaze to Mont Blanc as to an everlasting altar of praise ; and kindled a perennial flame of devotion amid the snows of its cloudy summit. He has made the icy pillars of the Alps ring with solemn anthems. The pilgrim to the Vale of Chamouni shall not hereafter want a Hymn, by which his admiring soul may " wreak” itself upon expression.
Rise, o ever rise,
Earth, and her thousand voices, praises God. To one other want of the heart has the muse of Coleridge given genuine expression. Fashion, selfishness, and the mercenary spirit of the age, have widely and deeply profaned the very name of Love. To poetry it flies as to an ark of safety. The English bard has set apart and consecrated a spot sacred to its meditation“midway on the mount,' beside the ruined tower;" and thither may we repair to cool the eye fevered with the glare of art, by gazing on the fresh verdure of nature, when
The moonshine stealing o'er the scene
Has blended with the lights of eve,
Our own dear Genevieve.
in thought and sensation.” Necessity drove him to literary labor. He was too unambitious, and found too much enjoyment in the spontaneous exercise of his mind, to assume willingly the toils of authorship. His mental tastes were not of a popular cast. In boyhood he “waxed not pale at philosophic draughts,” and there was in his soul an aspiration after truth-an interest in the deep things of life—a “ hungering for eternity,” essentially opposed to success as a miscellaneous writer. One of the most irrational complaints against Coleridge, was his dislike of the French. Never was there a more honest prejudice. In literature, he deemed that nation responsible for having introduced the artificial school of poetry, which he detested ; in politics, their inhuman atrocities, during the revolution, blighted his dearest theory of man; in life, their frivolity could not but awaken disgust in a mind so serious, and a heart so tender, where faith and love were cherished in the very depths of reflection and sensibility. It is indeed easy to discover in his works ample confirmation of the testimony of his friends, but they afford but an unfinished monument to his genius. We must be content with the few memorials he has left of a powerful imagination and a good heart. Of these his poems furnish the most beautiful. They are the sweetest echo of his marvellous spirit:
A song divine, of high and passionate thoughts,
The eye of the Ancient Mariner holds us, in its wild spell, as it did the wedding-guest, while we feel the truth that
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
He made and loveth all.
The charm of regretful tenderness is upon us with as sweet a mystery, as the beauty of “the lady of a far
countrie,” when we read these among other musical lines of Christabel :
Alas! they had been friends in youth;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain,
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain. " No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher.” True as
be in one sense, we hold it an unfortunate rule for a poetical mind to act upon. It was part of the creed of Coleridge, and his works illustrate its unfavorable influence. His prose, generally speaking, is truly satisfactory only when it is poetical. The human mind is so constituted as to desire completeness. The desultory character of Coleridge's prose writings is often wearisome and disturbing. He does not carry us on to a given point by a regular road, but is ever wandering from the end proposed. We are provoked at this waywardness the more, because, ever and anon, we catch glimpses of beautiful localities, and look down most inviting vistas. At these promising fields of thought, and vestibules of truth, we are only permitted to glance, and then are unceremoniously hurried off in the direction that happens to please our guide's vagrant humor. This desultory style essentially mars the interest of nearly all the prose of this distinguished man. Not only the compositions, but the opinions, habits, and experience of Coleridge, partake of the same erratic character. His classical studies at Christ's hospital were interwoven with the reading of a circulating library. He proposed to become a shoemaker while he was studying medicine. He excited the wonder of every casual acquaintance by his schoolboy discourse, while he provoked his masters by starting an argument instead of repeating a rule. He incurred a chronic rheumatism by swimming with his clothes on, and left the sick ward to enlist in a regiment of dragoons. He laid magnificent plans of irimi