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familiar knowledge of English manners and character, and never betrays, except here and there in the construction of the plot, the hand of a foreigner. It is quite free from exaggeration, and inasmuch as it exhibits no glaring anachronism or absurd caricature, is a literary curiosity. We accept it as such, though bound to reject its higher claims. The mystery of Swift's amours has yet to be cleared up. We explain his otherwise unaccountable behaviour by attributing his cruelty to prevailing insanity. The career of Swift was brilliant, but not less wild than dazzling. The sickly hue of a distempered brain gave a colour to his acts in all the relations of life. The storm was brewing from his childhood; it burst forth terribly in his age, and only a moment before all was wreck and devastation, the half-distracted man sat down and made a will, by which he left the whole of his worldly possessions for the foundation of a lunatic asylum.
Ordober, 3, 1850.
REMINISCENCES OF COLERIDGE AND SOUTHEY. 237
REMINISCENCES OF COLERIDGE AND
READER ! imagine a pious Boswell, and you have good Joseph Cottle before you. “Never, my dear sir,” said Dr. Johnson, in one of his admonitory epistles to the obsequious Bozzy,_"never take it into your head to think that I do not love you; you may settle yourself in full confidence both of my love and esteem. I love you as a kind man, I value you as a worthy man; and hope, in time, to reverence you as a pious man." The condition unfortunately wanting in the personal character of the biographer of the greatest of lexicographers is found in the memorialist of one of the noblest philosophers whom the world has seen. There is much that is kind in Cottle, more that is worthy, and a good deal that is anquestionably religious. Boswell was polite, affable, and courteous to a fault; Cottle is all three short of the fault. Bozzy, a gentleman and a lawyer, lived for the acquaintance and friendship of the eminent and learned of his generation. Cottle, beginning life as a bookseller, seems to have as eagerly pursued such friendships, discriminating only between those a Christian conscience might lawfully approve and those it was in duty bound to reject. Boswell, certainly not a poet, published, nevertheless, in imitation of
careant. Cottle ink for ever himents, distin Bozzy, from
his superiors, “The Club at Newmarket," a tale in verse; Cottle, by no means destined to live as a darling of the muses, presents us, in emulation of his more highly-gifted companions, with his “Hymns and Sacred Lyrics," 12mo, half-bound. Bozzy, from the multitude of his attachments, distinguished one that he might link for ever his little soul with that of a giant. Cottle identifies his small history with the career of a master mind towering high above contending intellects. Both are anxious to commemorate their heroes and themselves; both take the same means, both are in a measure faithful to a duty arduous though self-imposed. Boswell never hesitates to display the human weaknesses of the god he worships; but he exhibits the foibles only to magnify the virtues, and, rather than these should suffer, is always ready to immolate himself. Cottle is equally candid; but less for the sake of his hero than for the cause of religion, which is dearer to him even than his idol ;—the one thinks of nothing but his mighty subject—the other, as the Wesleyans would say, is ever anxious to “ improve” it. In one part of his work, the ecstatic Boswell tells us he can compare his biography to nothing but the Odyssey : the episodes may be interesting and instructive, but the hero is never out of sight and always in the foreground. In the first line of his book, the more collected Cottle prepares us for a sublimer vision ; he assures us that it is with "a solemnised feeling" that he enters on his reminiscences, and that his task is something better than that of admiring the eloquence, extolling the genius, and forgetting the failings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
he assures rottle prepares line of his bolways in the
that of admin
COITLE'S VIEWS OF BIOGRAPHY.
It is astonishing how much you may abuse a man if you will but do it in a reverent spirit, and, as it were, for the good of the object abused. You may fill three-fourths of a professed panegyric with absolute censure, provided the latter proceed from pious lips and from the depths of a self-constituted converted heart. Joseph Cottle reminds us at every step of those very good-natured friends who are always saying unkind things with a view to one's peace of mind and eventual improvement. You invite an old acquaintance to your hospitable board ; you give him of food the best, of welcome the heartiest ; you suffer the cloth to be removed, only that it may lead to the presence of more genial things, and forthwith your old acquaintance dilates upon the sinfulness of men in general, and upon your own backslidings in particular. Anger is impossible, wrath is out of the question. If you remonstrate, the speaker avows that if his love were less his reserve would be greater—if your interests, temporal and eternal, were not as lead upon his heart, he would eschew your wine and walnuts and make you over to the fiend for ever. We confess that we are not altogether comfortable in witnessing the tête-à-tête conferences, the domestic passages, revealed in the present volume. The faults of Coleridge are not unknown—they were many and grievous; but it is hardly the office of the friend of half-a-century to disseminate them after death, upon the plea of pious obligations. There is sometimes as much piety in drawing down the veil upon the infirmities of departed genius, as in ruthlessly upraising it, especially if the hand concerned has grasped, day after day, for fifty years, in confidence and friendship, the other's palm, that now lies withered and cannot help itself. Critics and historians have a duty to perform, stern often and unacceptable; they know their work, and do not shrink from it. Friend. ship, too, has its privileges and rights. Joseph Cottle, you should not be ashamed of them. One such privilege-not the least—is to keep buried in your bosom, for your own instruction if you will, the heavy faults committed in the flesh by him you loved, but now irreparable and punishable elsewhere. We know true piety is anxious to communicate its warnings and examples to mankind; but, have no fear! angels will close their eyes the while you lock such secrets in your breast.
Now, nobody must dislike Cottle in consequence of these remarks. On the contrary, the reader must love Cottle. He is as good-hearted and as well. meaning a creature as ever breathed. He is an old man, a patriarch in these times, and a living familiar of those whose names have already become classical in the English tongue. Charles Lloyd, Robert Lovell, Sir H. Davy, Hannah More, Robert Hall, Charles Lamb, Robert Southey, and Samuel Coleridge, were youthful and aspiring when Cottle was young, helping some, counselling others, and admiring all. Of that friendly and illustrious group who, united by sympathy and the like pursuits and faith, fought their way to victory and fame under a galling fire of ridicule and scorn, and of whom the grey and honoured Wordsworth stands, alas ! the sole survivor,* Joseph Cottle
of those whlish tongue. More, Ro
• Wordsworth has since departed, but Joseph Cottle still lives on. August, 1851.