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changes that can take place in the heart of man occurred to him. He ? tells us, indeed, that, even before this, in England, while meditating, his heart had long been with the blessed Paul, and the beloved disciple, (John,) though his head was with Spinoza. He now became convinced, both head and heart, of the doctrine of St. Paul, and a firm believer in the Divine Trinity in Unity, or, to use his own expression, found a reconversion.
Not very long after his return from Germany, Coleridge was solicited to undertake the literary and political department of the “Morning Post” newspaper, and consented, on condition that the paper should thenceforward be conducted on fixed and announced principles, and that he should not be obliged, nor requested, to deviate from those principles in favour of any party or any event. In consequence, that journal became, and for many years continued, as he tells us, " anti-ministerial indeed, yet with a very qualified approbation of the opposition, and with greater earnestness and zeal both anti-Jacobin and anti-Gallican.” In the whole of our conflict with revolutionized France, subsequent to the first war, Mr. Coleridge considered that we fought from heaven—that the stars in their courses fought against Sisera; and he looked upon Edmund Burke as the greatest, most far-sighted, and most scientific statesman who ever lived, because, he said, that he alone referred always and everywhere to fixed principles, and regarded all things--all actions -all events--in relation to the laws that determine their existence and circumscribe their possibility. He used, curiously enough, to instance, in proof of this, the speeches and writings of Burke at the commencement of the American war, and compare them with his speeches and writings at the commencement of the French Revolution. The principles, he affirmed, were the same, and the deductions the same; though the practical inferences drawn in the one case and the other were almost directly opposite.
When Mr. Fox made, by a somewhat violent hyperbole of debate, the memorable assertion, that “the late war was a war produced by the * Morning Post," " Mr. Coleridge declared that if he could but flatter himself that the statement was true, he would be proud to have the words inscribed upon his tomb.
It is well known that Coleridge, while in Italy, was warned, both by Baron von Humboldt, and indirectly by Cardinal Fesch himself, that Buonaparte entertained a personal resentment against him for his newspaper essays during the peace of Amiens. Yet this was the man who, in 1796, had written that extraordinary “ war-eclogue,” entitled “ Fire, Famine, and Slaughter,” consigning, in a strange mixture of fun and fury, the “ heaven-born minister,” Pitt, to the flames of everlasting perdition, as the instigator of the first revolutionary war with France. To this poem, when republished long afterwards, an apologetic preface was prefixed, full of the vigour, clearness, and introspective energy which so eminently characterise the genius of the man. It appears that at a dinner party of some of the most distinguished men of the time, Coleridge being present, the poem, which had appeared anonymously in a newspaper, was arraigned, as betraying, on the part of the writer, the most atrocious sentiments and the deepest malignity of heart. Coleridge took up the cudgels in its defence, not as his own, but on the merits of the case.
He admitted that if it could for a moment be supposed that
the writer seriously wished what, in his verses, he had wildly imagined; any attempt even to palliate inhumanity so monstrous would be an insult to every reasonable being; but that, in fact, the very fury of the ebullition marked it as only a sportive effusion of the fancy. He observed that really deep feelings of anger or revenge are commonly expressed in a few words, ironically mild and tame. The mind, under so direful and fiendlike an influence, seems to take a morbid pleasure in contrasting the intensity of its wishes and feelings with the slightness or levity of the expressions by which they are hinted. A rooted hatred-. an inveterate thirst of revenge—is a sort of madness, and exercises, as it were, a perpetual tautology of mind, in thoughts and words which admit of no adequate substitutes. Like a fish in a globe of glass, it moves restlessly round and round the scanty circumference which it cannot leave without losing its vital element.
After pouring out a rapid succession of thoughts such as these, illustrated, as he expressed it of another, “ by his fervent and ebullient fancy, constantly fuelled by an unexampled opulence of language,” he electrified the company by faltering out to the amiable host, “ I must Dow confess, Sir, that I am the author of that poem. It was written some years ago. I do not attempt to justify my past self, young as I then was; but as little as I would now write a similar poem, so far was I, even then, from imagining that the lines could be taken as more or less than a sport of fancy. At all events, if I know my own heart, there was never a moment in my existence in which I should have been more ready, had Mr. Pitt's person been in hazard, to interpose my own body, and defend his life at the risk of my own."
From the commencement of the Addington administration, whatever Coleridge wrote in the “Morning Post,” or (after that paper was transferred to other proprietors) in the “ Courier," was in defence or furtherance of the measures of Government.
About two years after leaving the “Morning Post,” Coleridge set off for Malta, where he arrived, rather unexpectedly, on a visit to his friend Dr. Stoddart, then King's Advocate in the island; by him he was introduced to the Governor, Sir Alexander Ball, who appointed him his secretary. He did not remain long, however, in Malta, and in his way home visited Italy. Of his residence at Rome he has given many entertaining as well as very interesting anecdotes. On one occasion, when visiting St. Peter's with a Prussian gentleman whom he had known in Germany, they were engaged in a deep discussion on the merits of Michael Angelo's famous statue of Moses, and rearing theories and quoting history and classic lore in elucidation of the horns and the heard as emblems of power and majesty. The entrance of two French officers of rank gave occasion to the remark that a Frenchman was “the only animal in human shape that by no possibility can lift up itself to religion or poetry.” The Pruss-Goth offered to stake a principality that the first thing “ these fellows ” would notice in that sublime statue they were then admiring, would be the horns and the beard; and that the associations the Frenchmen would connect with them would be those of a he-goat and a cuckold. Never was a prediction more lucky in its fulfilment. Before the smile that it occasioned had passed from the features of Coleridge and his companion, the two officers had begun to criticise the figure, and had actually given utterance to the precise
joke, and in the very terms, he anticipated from them. Coleridge always entertained a rooted dislike to France and Frenchmen, arising solely from his belief in their being completely destitute of moral or poetical feeling. Some almost ludicrous instances of this aversion occurred in the bursts of eloquent indignation in which he has been known occasionally to indulge, not only in his private discoursings, but sometimes also in public lectures, of which there was a notable example in his course on Poetry at the Royal Institution, Albemarle-street, in the spring of 1808.
His subsequent prose works were the “ Statesman's Manual; or, the Bible the best Guide to Political Skill and Foresight: a Lay Sermon, with Comments and Essays connected with the Study of the Inspired Writings." A second “ Lay Sermon” to the higher and middle classes, on the existing distresses, followed in 1817. In the year 1825 was published “ Aids to Reflection in the Formation of a Manly Character, on the several grounds of Prudence, Morality, and Religion : illustrated by Select Passages from our elder Divines, especially from Archbishop Leighton.” This was followed, in 1830, by an essay
" On the Constitution of the Church and State, with aids toward a right judgment on the late Catholic Bill; ” in this work he addresses the Liberalists and Utilitarians of the time in the language of grave but earnest admonition.
And in the latest recorded conversation of Mr. Coleridge, in the year before last, speaking of the state of the different classes in England, he remarked
“ We are in a dreadful state; care, like a foul hag, sits upon us all! one class presses with iron foot upon the wounded heads beneath, and all struggle for a worthless supremacy, and all to rise to it more shackled by their expenses. Sir! things have come to a dreadful pass with us; we need most deeply a reform ; but, I fear, not the horrid reform we shall have. Things must alter ; the upper classes of England have made the lower persons things; the people, in breaking from this unnatural state, will break from their duties also."
From the same authority we shall subjoin the latest testimony we possess respecting the condition and the feelings of Coleridge during the latter part of his residence at Highgate, where he died, on July 25th :
“ He remarked that he had for some time past suffered much bodily anguish; for thirteen months he had walked up and down his chamber seventeen hours each day. I inquired whether his mental powers were affected by such intense suffering? Not at all,' he answered; ' my body and head appear to hold no connexion; the pain of my body, blessed be God, never reaches my mind. Of all the men whom I have ever met, the most wonderful in conversational powers is Coleridge. With all his talent and poetry, he is an humble and devout follower of the blessed Jesus, even as Christ crucified.' When I bade him a last farewell, he was in bed, in great bodily suffering, but with no less mental vigour, and feeling an humble resignation to the will of his Heavenly Father. He will not live long, I fear; but his name and his memory will be dearer to ages to come than to the present."
Who would not exclaim, on reading this touching record, “Oh let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like his !” His hope was indeed “full of immortality,” and his memory is embalmed in the hearts of those whose love he valued far above all popular and
ephemeral reputation. Of his poems, the most secure and lasting monument of his fame, a complete edition was published precisely at the time of his decease. To these we may recur hereafter, and endeavour to do some faint justice to their genius and transcendent beauty. We have purposely abstained from any mention of their merits in this hurried biographical notice, both from the impossibility of entering upon so wide a subject within any reasonable limits, and in the hope of correcting the seemingly very general impression that Coleridge was nothing more than a poet, and an idle, if not an indolent one. Besides his newspaper essays—to which he himself attributed, and we think with justice, as much importance, from their practical influence over the minds of men, as to any other part of his political or philosophical writings—his prose works occupy nine goodly volumes, every page of which teems with profound thought and felicitous expression. The intellectual wealth even of his conversations did not perish, but will be found, after many days, in the thoughts and writings of those whom he informed and delighted by the eloquent outpourings of his well-stored and meditative mind, and through whom it may be truly said that even on earth his spirit is not dead, but sleepeth; and his immortal part has awakened from the troubled dream of life: he has outsoared the shadow of our night, and is himself a portion of that spiritual loveliness which once he made more lovely!
“ Heartless things
Let not high verse, mourning the memory
Art and eloquence,
But pale despair and cold tranquillity:
A SECOND MISS-DIRECTED LETTER.
London, August 7.
kind letter--and how beautifully written! I am afraid I shall be quite beaten dead, in my study of English, by you; however, perhaps you have had more time to devote to it than I have during this extraordinary winter season of the English summer. All our gaieties are, however, over; and I start to-morrow, like the champions of old, to make war upon the Moors. I have never before been in this country at the proper season for this sport, and am not quite sure I shall very much admire it. The dandies here, who seem fit to faint at the exertion of walking across a boudoir, appear to obtain new strength and vigour in the Highlands, and labour the whole day long in the noble pursuit of grouse and blackcocks.
In reply to your question about British art, and what the people call native talent, I own I am a little prejudiced in favour of France. As I told you in my last, the theatres are below contempt-speaking of the entertainments : not so the buildings. The winter theatres, as they call those which continue open all the summer, are very splendid; but a new one has just been opened for the exclusive performance of English operas, which, to my taste, far exceeds them in beauty of design and decoration. It has a balcony, and an orchestra with seats for spectators, like our
Its size is admirably adapted for seeing and hearing; and, in short, it does infinite credit to the architect, although he is an Englishman.
Their National Gallery is a complete burlesque upon its name. The pictures are huddled up in a small private house in the Pall-mall, and a few people now and then step in and look at them, most usually to get out of a shower of rain. I heard one lady, with two daughters and a double chin—a regular Mrs. Bull-burst out into an exclamation of delight at a large painting of Paul Veronese, (whom, by the way, I think she called Poll Free-and-Easy,) in which her daughters joined, “ I do think it quite beautiful. Dear me, how it shines !”
The English have neither taste nor judgment of their own. three charlatans in the shape of picture-dealers, and half-a-dozen professors of dictation in the shape of newspaper writers, tell this English public what to admire and what to despise; and when one party has succeeded in persuading the Committee of Taste into buying a picture at an exorbitant price, the other faction proceed to pronounce it perfect. It is then put into a deep case, besides the frame, and placed upon an easel in the middle of the room. Round this, all the visiters- the all being, as I have already said, a very select number-flock, and are generally aided, in the tone and character of their remarks, by the observations made by one of the charlatans to whom I have before alluded, and who is generally at his post to support his own judgment, upon which the picture has been added to this “ National Gallery,' which might be doubled up into any one tolerably-sized room in the Tuileries, or serve as a lodge at one end of the gallery of the Louvre.