Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

Co

man.

OLERIDGE, the metaphysician, as he has been called, was born in 1773, in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, England, the son of a clergyHe received his education at Jesus College, and at Christ's Hospital. Upon his leaving college he enlisted as a common soldier in the dragoons, taking the name of Comberback. He did not long remain, however, and in connection with this, an interesting anecdote is related.

He was first known to the public by some lines inserted in Southey's "Joan of Arc," and when in 1796 a collection of his poems were published, he at once became famous. His drama, "The Fall of Robespierre," came out soon after, followed by his "Ode to the Departing Year," and "Years in Solitude," (1798). About that time he was introduced to Southey and Lovell, when the three started in to revolutionize the world by a series of lectures, beginning at Bristol, with Coleridge's lecture on the happiness of the human race, by means of republicanism. These lectures, which at first were enthusiastically received, lost their popularity and were discontinued. Another volume of poems appeared at this time, and proving a financial success, Coleridge decided to appropriate those funds to the propagation of his theory in America, under the name of Pantisocracy. Alas! cupid, in the disguise of the Frick sisters, here interfered and left America to darkness. Fortunately the Frick sisters numbered three, and the trio, Coleridge, Southey and Lovell, were brought into closer relation by marriage ties. With greater demands upon his purse, Coleridge found difficulty in making his pen provide sufficient for his needs, and the result was financial embarrassment, from which he was most fortunately relieved by the celebrated Mr. Wedgewood, who enabled him to complete his studies in Germany.

After his return home, he wrote the leading articles for the Morning Post, translated some dramas of Schiller's, and accompanied Sir Alexander Ball, as secretary, to Malta. On his return from Malta, he produced a tragedy called "Remorse," which raised him to a much higher altitude of fame than any of his preceeding productions. He now took up his residence on the borders of one of the lakes in Cumberland and here was written "Chistabel." For nineteen years previous to his death, Coleridge resided in Hampstead with two old and valued friends; and here, one Friday in July, 1834, he breathed his last, and was laid to rest in the vault of Highgate Church, on the 2nd of August. His last days, though full of suffering,

were abundantly blessed of God. His prayer, that God would not withdraw His Spirit, and that he might be able to evince his faith in Christ, was fully answered. His preparations for death were made long in advance, and his dying wish, that he might be as little interrupted as possible, was fully complied with. A handsome tablet has been erected in Highgate New Church, to his memory. N. L. M.

REFLECTIONS.

ON HAVING LEFT A PLACE OF RETIREMENT.

Low was our pretty cot! our tallest rose
Peeped at the chamber-window. We could hear
At silent noon, and eve, and early morn,
The sea's faint murmur. In the open air

Our myrtles blossomed; and across the porch
Thick jasmins twined: the little landscape round
Was green and woody and refreshed the eye.
It was a spot, which you might aptly call
The Valley of Seclusion! Once I saw
(Hallowing his Sabbath-day by quietness)
A wealthy son of commerce saunter by,
Bristowa's citizen: methought, it calmed
His thirst of idle gold, and made him muse
With wiser feelings: for he paused, and looked
With a pleased sadness, and gazed all around
Then eyed our cottage, and gazed round again,
And sighed, and said, It was a blessèd place.
And we were blessèd. Oft with patient ear
Long-listening to the viewless sky-lark's note
(Viewless, or haply for a moment seen
Gleaming on sunny wing)—‘And such,' I said
'The inobtrusive song of happiness-
Unearthly minstrelsy! then only heard
When the soul seeks to hear; when all is hushed
And the heart listens!'

But the time, when first From that low dell steep up the stony mount, I climbed with perilous toil and reached the top, Oh what a goodly scene! Here the bleak mount, The bare bleak mountain speckled thin with sheep; Gray clouds, that shadowing spot the sunny fields. And river, now with bushy rocks o'erbrowed, Now winding bright and full, with naked banks; And seats, and lawns, the abbey, and the wood, And cots, and hamlets, and faint city-spire: The Channel there, the islands and white sails, Dim coasts, and cloud-like hills, and shoreless

ocean

It seemed like omnipresence! God, methought,
Had built him there a temple: the whole world
Seemed imaged in its vast circumference.
No wish profaned my overwhelmed heart.
Blest hour! it was a luxury-to be!

Ah quiet dell! dead cot! and mount sublime!
I was constrained to quit you. Was it right,
While my unnumbered brethren toiled and bled,
That I should dream away the entrusted hours
On rose-leaf beds, pamp'ring the coward heart
With feelings all to delicate for use?
Sweet is the tear that from some Howard's eye
Drops on the cheek on one he lifts from earth:
And he, that works me good with unmoved face,
Does it but half: he chills me while he aids,
My benefactor, not my brother man!
Yet even this, this cold beneficence
Seizes my praise, when I reflect on those,
The sluggard Pity's vision-weaving tribe!
Who sigh for wretchedness, yet shun the wretched,
Nursing in some delicious solitude

Their slothful loves and dainty sympathies!

I therefore go, and join head, heart and hand,
Active and firm, to fight the bloodless fight
Of science, freedom, and the truth in Christ.
Yet oft when after honorable toil
Rests the tired mind, and waking loves to dream,
My spirit shall revisit thee, dear cot!

Thy jasmin and thy window-peeping rose,
And myrtles fearless of the mild sea-air.
And I shall sigh fond wishes-sweet abode!
Ah-had none greater! and that all had such!

THE COMPLAINT OF NINATHOMA.

How long will ye round me be swelling,
O ye blue-tumbling waves of the sea?
Not always in caves was my dwelling,

Nor beneath the cold blast of the tree. Thro' the high-sounding halls of Cathlóma

In the steps of my beauty I stray'd; The warriors beheld Ninathóma,

And they blessed the white-bosomed maid! A ghost! by my cavern it darted!

In moon-beams the spirit was drestFor lovely appear the departed

When they visit the dreams of my rest! But disturbed by the tempest's commotion

Fleet the shadowy forms of delightAh, cease, thou shrill blast of the ocean! To howl through my cavern by night.

THE ROSE.

As late each flower that sweetest blows
I plucked, the garden's pride!
Within the petals of a rose

A sleeping Love I spied.

Around his brows a beamy wreath
Of many a lucent hue;

All purple glowed his cheek, beneath,
Inebriate with dew.

I softly seized th' unguarded power,
Nor scared his balmy rest;

And placed him, caged within the flower,
On spotless Sara's breast.

But when unweeting of the guile
Awoke the pris'ner sweet,
He struggled to escape awhile
And stamped his fairy feet.

Ah! soon the soul-entrancing sight Subdued th' impatient boy!

He gazed! he thrilled with deep delight! Then clapped his wings for joy.

And oh! he cried—‘Of magic kind

What charms this throne endear! Some other Love let Venus findI'll fix my empire here.'

KISSES.

CUPID, if storying legends tell aright,
Once framed a rich elixir of delight.

A chalice o'er love-kindled flames he fixed,
And in it nectar and ambrosia mixed;
With these the magic dews which evening brings,
Brushed from the Idalian star by fairy wings:
Each tender pledge of sacred faith he joined,
Each gentler pleasure of th' unspotted mind-
Day-dreams, whose tints with sportive brightness
glow,

And hope, the blameless parasite of woe.
The eyeless chemist heard the process rise,
The steamy chalice bubbled up in sighs;

Sweet sounds transpired as when the enamoured

dove

Pours the soft murmuring of responsive love.
The finished work might envy vainly blame,
And "kisses" was the precious compound's name.
With half, the god his Cyprian mother blest,
And breathed on Sara's lovelier lips the rest.

RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER.

PART FOURTH.

"I FEAR thee, ancient Mariner! I fear thy skinny hand!

And thou art long, and lank, and brown, As is the ribbed sea-sand.

[blocks in formation]

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:

A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware!

Sure my kind saint took pity on me, And I blessed them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sunk
Like lead into the sea.

CHATTERTON.

O Chatterton! that thou wert yet alive!

Sure thou would'st spread the canvas to the gale, And love, with us, the tinkling team to drive O'er peaceful freedom's undivided dale;

And we, at sober eve, would round thee throng, Hanging, enraptured, on thy stately song! And greet with smiles the young-eyed poesy All deftle mask'd, as hoar antiquity.

-Monody on the Death of Chatterton.

TEARS.

Oh mark those smiling tears, that swell
The opened rose! From heaven they fell,
And with the sunbeam blend;
Blessed visitations from above:
Such are the tender woes of love
Fost'ring the heart they bend!
-Ode to Sara.

BROOK.
Dear native brook! like peace, so placidly

Smoothing thro' fertile fields thy current meek! Dear native brook! where first young poesy

Started wildly-eager in her noontide dream, Where blameless pleasures dimple quiet's cheek, As water-lilies ripple a slow stream! -Written in Early Youth.

MOON.

The moon, that oft from heaven retires,
Endears her renovated ray.
What tho' she leave the sky unblest
To mourn awhile in murky vest?
When she relumes her lovely light,
We bless the wanderer of the night.
-Absence.-A Farewell Ode.

« PreviousContinue »