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collegians, and his maturer friends, with a confidence proportioned to the intimacy of their knowledge, bear witness to, as again realized in the life of Robert Southey. But still more striking to those, who by biography or by their own experience are familiar with the general habits of genius, will appear the poet's matchless industry and perseverance in his pursuits ; the worthiness and dignity of those pursuits ; his generous submission to tasks of transitory interest, or such as his genius alone could make otherwise ; and that having thus more than satisfied the claims of affeetion or prudence, he should yet have made for himself time and power, to achieve more, and in more various departments, than almost any other writer has done, though employed wholly on subjects of his own choice and ambition. But as Southey possesses, and is not possessed by, his genius, even so is he master even of his virtues. The regular and methodical tenor of his daily labors, which would be deemed rare in the most mechanical pursuits, and might be envied by the mere man of business, loses all semblance of formality in the dignified simplicity of his manners, in the spring and healthful cheerfulness of his spirits. Always employed, his friends find him always at leisure. No less punctual in trifles, than steadfast in the performance of highest duties, he inflicts none of those small pains and discomforts which irregular men scatter about them, and which in the aggregate so often becorne formidable obstacles both to happiness and utility; while on the contrary he bestows all the pleasures, and inspires all that ease of mind on those around him or connected with him, which perfect consistency, and (if such a word might be framed) absolute reliability, equally in small as in great concerns, can not but inspire and bestow ; when this too is softened without being weakened by kindness and gentleness. I know few men who so well deserve the character which an ancient attributes to Marcus Cato, namely, that he was likest virtue, in as much as he seemed to act aright, not in obedience to any law or outward motive, but by the necessity of a happy nature, which could not act otherwise.* As son, brother, husband, father, masistimationem, eam esse et præterita fiduciam et reliqua spem bonam, ut nihil impedire me, aut absterrere possit, quo minus flagitia tua, si pergis lacessere, etiam liberius adhuc et diligentius persequar.-Def. cont. Alex. Morum.—Ed.]
*[- homo virtuti simillimus, et par omnia ingenio Diis quam hominibus propior, qui nunquam recte fecit, ut facere videretur, sed quia aliter focere non poterat.-Vell. Paterc. II. 35.- Ed.]
ter, friend, he moves with firm, yet light steps, alike unostentatious, and alike exemplary. As a writer, he has uniformly made his talents subservient to the best interests of humanity, of public virtue, and domestic piety; his cause has ever been the cause of pure religion and of liberty, of national independence and of national illumination. When future critics shall weigh out his guerdon of praise and censure, it will be Southey the poet only, that will supply them with the scanty materials for the latter. They will likewise not fall to record, that as no man was ever a more constant friend, never had poet more friends and honorers among the good of all parties; and that quacks in education, quacks in politics, and quacks in criticism were his only enemies. *
It is not easy to estimate the effects which the example of a young man as highly distinguished for strict purity of disposition and conduct, as for intellectual power and literary acquirements, may produce on those of the same age with himself, especially on those of similar pursuits and congenial minds. For many years, my opportunities of intercourse with Mr. Southey have been rare, and at long intervals; but I dwell with unabated pleasure on the strong and sudden, yet I trust not fleeting, influence, which my moral being underwent on my acquaintance with him at Oxford, whither I had gone at the commencement of our Cambridge vacation on a visit to an old school-fellow.* Not indeed on my moral or religious principles, for they had never been contaminated; but in awakening the sense of the duty and dignity of making my actions accord with those principles, both in word and deed. The irregularities only not universal among the young men of my standing, which I always knew to be wrong, I then learned to feel as degrading; learned to know that an opposite conduct, which was at that time considered by us as the easy virtue of cold and selfish prudence, might originate in the noblest emotions, in views the most disinterested and imaginative. It is not, however, from grateful recollections only, that I have been impelled thus to leave these my deliberate sentiments on record; but in some sense as a debt of justice to the man, whose name has been so often connected with mine for evil to which he is a stranger. As a specimen I subjoin part of a note, from The Beauties of the Anti-jacobin, in which hav. ing previously informed the public that I had been dishonored at Canbridge for preaching Deism, at a time when, for my youthful ardor in defence of Christianity, I was decried as a bigot by the proselytes of French phi-(or to speak more truly, psi-)-losophy, the writer concludes with these words: “since this time he has left his native country, commenced citizen of the world, left his poor children fatherless, and his wife destitute. Ex his
[ Mr. Coleridge first became acquainted with Mr. Southey, then an under graduate at Baliol College, in June, 1794.-Ed.]
THE LYRICAL BALLADS WITH THE PREFACE—MR. WORDSWORTH'S
EARLIER POEMS-ON FANCY AND IMAGINATION-THE INVESTIGA
TION OF THE DISTINCTION IMPORTANT TO THE FINE ARTS.
I HAVE wandered far from the object in view, but as I fancied to myself readers who would respect the feelings that had tempted me from the main road; so I dare calculate on not a few, who will warmly sympathize with them. At present it will be sufficient for my purpose, if I have proved, that Mr. Southey's wridisce his friends, LAMB and SOUTHEY."* With severest truth it may be asserted, that it would not be easy to select two men more exemplary in their domestic affections than those whose names were thus printed at full length as in the same rank of morals with a denounced infidel and fugitive, who had left his children fatherless, and his wife destitute! Is it surprising, that many good men remained longer than perhaps they otherwise would have done adverse to a party, which encouraged and openly rewarded the authors of such atrocious calumnies ! Qualis es, nescio; sed per quales agis, scio et doleo.
* [Of this now harmless injustice Mr. Talfourd speaks as follows, in his interesting sketch of the life, accompanying the delightful Letters of Charles Lamb. It was surely rather too much, even for partisans, when denoun. cing their political opponents,”—(in the poem of the ‘New Morality' published in the 'Anti-Jacobin,')——"as men who dirt on private worth and virtue threw,' thus to slander two young men of the most exemplary character—one of an almost puritanical exactness of demeanor and conduct-and the other persevering in a life of noble self-sacrifice, chequered only by the frailties of a sweet nature, which endeared him even to those who were not admitted to the intimacy necessary to appreciate the touching example of bis severer virtues." Vol. i p. 120.
This passage I quote not, of course, for the sake of refuting The AntiJacobin of 1798, but for its warm testimony to the virtues of my father's friend, Mr. Lamb. Having quoted it, I can not but observe, as regards the terms in which it speaks of Mr. Southey (my revered uncle), that his purity,-a pureness of heart and spirit far beyond any that mere exactitude of demeanor and conduct could evidence or express,-was utterly unmixed, as to me it seems, with puritanism, either in opinion or in spirit,
tings no more than my own furnished the original occasion to this fiction of a new school of poetry, and to the clamors against its supposed founders and proselytes.
As little do I believe that Mr. Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads were in themselves the cause. I speak exclusively of the two volumes so entitled.* A careful and repeated examination of these confirms me in the belief, that the omission of less than a hundred lines would have precluded nine tenths of the criticism on this work. I hazard this declaration, however, on the supposition, that the reader has taken it up, as he would any other collection of poems purporting to derive their subjects or interests from the incidents of domestic or ordinary life, intermingled with higher strains of meditation which the poet utters in his own person and character ; with the proviso, that these poems were perused without knowledge of, or reference to, the author's peculiar opinions, and that the reader had not had his attention previously directed to those peculiarities. In that case, as actually happened with Mr. Southey's earlier works, the lines and passages which might have offended the general taste, would have been considered as mere inequalities, and attributed to inattention, not to perversity of judgment. The men of business who had passed their lives chiefly in cities, and who might therefore be expected to derive the highest pleasure from acute notices of men and manners conveyed in easy, yet correct and pointed language ; and all those who, reading but little poetry, are most stimulated with that species of it, which seems most distant from prose, would probably have passed by the volumes altogether.
* [See ante, note, p. 144.—Ed]
May we not say that the deepest and most pervading purity is preclusive of puritanism? On this point he might be favorably contrasted with Cowper, as well as honorably compared to him in moral strictness, and perhaps raised above him on the score of that deeper purity which is a nature rather than a principle.
Of Mr. Lamb's character in this respect Mr. Coleridge gave a brief description which has been preserved in the specimens of his Table Talk. It was of Charles Lamb that he said, “ Nothing ever left a stain on that gentle creature's mind, which looked upon the degraded men and things around him like moonshine on a dunghill, which shines and takes no pollution. All things are shadows to him, except those which move his affections.”
Some further account of Mr. Lamb will be found in the biographical supplement at the end of the volume.-S. C.
Others more catholic in their taste, and yet habituated to be most pleased when most excited, would have contented themselves with deciding, that the author had been successful in proportion to the elevation of his style and subject. Not a few, perhaps, might, by their admiration of the Lines written near Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the Wye, those Left upon a Yew Tree Seat, The Old Cumberland Beggar, and Ruth, have been gradually led to peruse with kindred feeling The Brothers, the Hart-leap Well, and whatever other poems in that collection may be described as holding a middle place between those written in the highest and those in the humblest style ; as for instance between the Tintern Abbey, and The Thorn, or Simon Lee.* Should their taste submit to no further change, and still remain unreconciled to the colloquial phrases, or the imitations of them, that are, more or less, scattered through the class last mentioned ; yet even from the small number of the latter, they would have deemed them but an inconsiderable subtraction from the merit of the whole work; or, what is sometimes not unpleasing in the publication of a new writer, as serving to ascertain the natural tendency, and consequently the proper direction of the author's genius.
In the critical remarks, therefore, prefixed and annexed to the Lyrical Ballads, t I believe, we may safely rest, as the true origin of the unexampled opposition which Mr. Wordsworth's writings have been since doomed to encounter. The humbler passages in the poems themselves were dwelt on and cited to justify the rejection of the theory. What in and for themselves would have been either forgotten or forgiven as imperfections, or at least comparative failures, provoked direct hostility when announced as intentional, as the result of choice after full deliberation. Thus the poems, admitted by all as excellent, joined with those which had pleased the far greater number, though they formed two thirds of the whole work, instead of being deemed (as in all right they should have been, even if we take for granted that the reader judged aright) an atonement for the few exceptions, gave wind and fuel to the animosity against both the poems and the
[The poems here mentioned are now found in the collected edition of Mr Wordsworth's Works as follows: II. p. 161. V. p. 7–p. 282. II. p. 106. I p. 109. II. p. 141—p. 124. V. p. 17.-Ed.] [This Preface, published in 1800, is now printed II. p. 303.-Ed.]