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tive felicity to be realized on the banks of the Susquehanna, while he wandered penniless in the streets of London. He was at different times a zealous Unitarian, and a high Churchman-a political lecturer—a metaphysical essayist—a preacher-a translator—a traveller-a foreign secretary—a philosopher-an editor-a poet. We cannot wonder that his productions, particularly those that profess to be elaborate, should, in a measure, partake of the variableness of his mood. His works, like his life, are fragmentary. He is, too, frequently prolix, labors upon topics of secondary interest, and excites only to disappoint expectation. By many sensible readers his metaphysical views are pronounced unintelligible, and by some German scholars declared arrant plagiarisms. These considerations are the more painful from our sense of the superiority of the man He
proposes to awaken thought, to address and call forth the higher faculties, and to vindicate the claims of important truth. Such designs claim respect. We honor the author who conscientiously entertains them. We seat ourselves reverently at the feet of a teacher whose aim is so exalted. We listen with curiosity and hope. Musical are many of the periods, beautiful the images, and here and there comes a single idea of striking value; but for these we are obliged to hear many discursive exordiums, irrelevant episodes, and random speculations. We are constantly reminded of Charles Lamb's reply to the poet's inquiry if he had ever heard him preach“I never knew you do anything else," said Elia. It is highly desirable that the prose-writings of Coleridge should be thoroughly winnowed. A volume of delightful aphorisms might thus be easily gleaned. Long after we have forgotten the general train of his observations, isolated remarks, full of meaning and truth, linger in our memories. Scattered through his works are many sayings, referring to literature and human nature, which would serve as maxims in philosophy and criticism. Their effect is often lost from the position they occupy,
in the midst of abstruse or dry discussions that repel the majority even of truth seekers. His Biographia is the most attractive of his prose productions.
It is not difficult, in a measure at least, to explain or rather account for, these peculiarities. Coleridge himself tells us that in early youth, he indulged a taste for metaphysical speculations to excess. He was fond of quaint and neglected authors. He early imbibed a love of controversy, and took refuge in first principles,-in the elements of man's nature to sustain his positions. To this ground few of his school-fellows could follow him ; and we cannot wonder that he became attached to a field of thought seldom explored, and, from its very vague and mystical character, congenial to him. That he often reflected to good purpose it would be unjust to deny; but that his own consciousness, at times, became morbid, and his speculations, in consequence, disjointed and misty, seems equally obvious. We are not disposed to take it for granted that this irregular development of mental power is the least useful. Perhaps one of Coleridge's evening conversations or single aphorisms has more deeply excited some minds to action, than the regular performances of a dozen inferior men. It is this feeling which probably led him to express, with such earnestness, the wish that the “ criterion of a scholar's utility were the number and value of the truths he has circulated and minds he has awakened.”
A distinguishing trait of Coleridge's genius was a rare power of comparison. His metaphors are often unique and beautiful. Here also the poet excels the philosopher. It may be questioned if any modern writer whose works are equally limited, has illustrated his ideas with more originality and interest. When encountered amid his grave disquisitions, the similitudes of Coleridge strikingly proclaim tlie poetical cast of his mind, and lead us to regret that its energies were not more devoted to the imaginative department of literature. At times he was conscious of the same feeling. - Well
were it for me perhaps," he remarks in the Biographia, shad I never relapsed into the same mental disease; if I had continued to pluck the flower and reap the harvest from the cultivated surface, instead of delving in the unwholesome quicksilver mines of metaphysic depths.” That he formed as just an estimate of the superficial nature of political labor, is evident from the following allusion to partisan characters :
Fondly these attach
Which gave them birth and nursed them. A few examples, taken at random, will suffice to show his - dim similitudes woven in moral strains."
" To set our nature at strife with itself for a good purpose, implies the same sort of prudence as a priest of Diana would have manifested, who should have proposed to dig up the celebrated charcoal foundations of the mighty temple of Ephesus, in order to furnish fuel for the burnt. offerings on its altars."
“The reader, who would follow a close reasoner to the summit of the absolute principle of any one important subject, has chosen a chamoishunter for his guide. He cannot carry us on his shoulders; we must strain our sinews, as he has strained his; and make firm footing on the smooth rock for ourselves, by the blood of toil from our own feet.”
"In the case of libel, the degree makes the kind, the circumstances constitute the criminality; and both degree and circumstances, like the ascending shades of color, or the shooting hues of a dove's neck, die away into each other, incapable of definition or outline."
“ Would to heaven that the verdict to be passed on my labors depended on those who least needed them! The water-lily in the midst of waters, lifts up its broad leaves and expands its petals, at the first pattering of the shower, and rejoices in the rain with a quicker sympathy than the parched shrub in the sandy desert."
"Human experience, like the stern lights of a ship at sea, illumines only the path which we have passed over."
“I have laid too many eggs in the hot sands of this wilderness, the world, with ostrich carelessness and ostrich oblivion. The greater part, indeed, have been trod under foot, and are forgotten: but yet no small number have crept forth into life, some to furnish feathers for the caps of others, and still more to plume the shafts in the quivers of my enemies."
On the driving cloud the shining bow,
Mid the wild rack and rain that slant below
As though the spirits of all lovely flowers
Weeps only tears of poison The more elaborate poetical compositions of Coleridge display much talent and a rare command of language. His dramatic attempts, however, are decidedly inferior in interest and power to many of his fugitive pieces. Wallenstein, indeed, is allowed to be a master-piece of translation—and, although others have improved upon certain passages, as a whole it is acknowledged to be an unequalled specimen of its kind. But to realize the true elements of the poet's genius, we must have recourse to his minor poems. In these, his genuine sentiments found genial development. They are beautiful emblems of his personal history, and admit us to the secret chambers of his heart. We recognise, as we ponder them, the native fire of his muse, “unmixed with baser matter.” Of the juvenile poems, the Monody on Chatterton strikes us as the most remarkable. It overflows with youthful sympathy, and contains passages of singular power for the effusions of so inexperienced a bard. Take, for instance, the following lines, where an identity of fate is suggested from the consciousness of error and disappointment:
Poor Chatterton! he sorrows for thy fate
Few young poets of English origin, have written more beautiful amatory poetry than this :
O (have I sighed) were mine the wizard's rod,
Nor were religious sentiments unawakened :
Fair the vernal mead,
It is delightful to dwell upon these early outpourings of an ardent and gifted soul. They lay bare the real characteristics of Coleridge. Without them our sense of his genius would be far more obscure. When these juvenile poems were written, “ existence was all a feeling, not yet shaped into a thought.” Here is no mysticism or party feeling, but the simplicity and fervor of a fresh heart, touched by the beauty of the visible world, by the sufferings of genius, and the appeals of love and religion. The natural and the sincere here predominate over the studied and artificial. Time enlarged the bard's