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His Metaphysical Tendencies.
Thou fairy voyager! that dost float
To brood on air than on an earthly stream.' After the lapse of many a chequered year these verses retained their applicability, and were forcibly brought back to the memory even of strangers, who chanced to mark the subject of them as he paced irregularly about, with a vague grace, caught in some stream of thought, with feet that seemed almost unable to keep their hold of the ground, extended arms, a glowing cheek, and an eye still youthful, flashing beneath long white loeks that floated on the air. Wordsworth also indulged in prophecy.
Nature will either end thee quite;
A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks.' :, Half the promise was granted if the other half was scattered to the winds. The season of delight had past away: but even when the autumnal pastures had become flecked with patches of monitory snow, the young lamb's heart' remained.
The philosopher, whose metaphysical principles ended in the most advanced spiritualisin, was, at the period of his son's birth, in the materialist stage of his progress : and it was to the enthusiasm with which he then regarded the speculations of David Hartley, that that son owed his name. He acquired, at a very early date, those habits of abstract thought which characterised his boyhood, though apparently the system of the young psychologist tended at least as much in the direction of Berkeley as of Hartley. The following curious anecdote was preserved in a diary kept by Mr. Henry Crabbe Robinsou :• Hartley Coleridge, when about five years old, was asked a
question about himself being called Hartley. “Which Hart66 ley?” asked the boy. “ Why, is there more than one ““ Hartley ?” “ Yes," he replied, “ there's a deal of Hartleys." «« How so ?” “ There's Picture Hartley (Hazlitt had painted 6" a portrait of him) and Shadow Hartley; and there's Echo «« Hartley, and there's Catch-me-fast Hartley ;" at the same time seizing his own arm with the other hand very eagerly,
an action which shows that his mind must have been drawn to * reflect on what Kant calls the great and inexplicable mystery, 'viz. that man should be both his own subject and object, and " that these two should be one. At the same early age,'
continued Coleridge, · Hartley used to be in agony of thought,
legion about him when abou: Henry carious a
Shadow fast Harand very cl drawn
re, and discharge ch importacholars, wank
' — puzzling himself about the reality of existence. As when 'some one said to him, “It is not now; but it is to be.” “But,” ' said he, “if it is to be, it is.". The relation of the potential to the actual, we must grant to be a somewhat hard riddle for a child of five years old.
From the age of about seven, and during a large part of his boyhood, Hartley Coleridge resided with his uncle, Mr. Southey, at Keswick. In 1808 he was placed with his brother at school at Ambleside, under the care of the Rev. Mr. Dawes, to whom Mr. Coleridge pays a just tribute of respect :— He was a * man of lofty stature, and immense bodily strength, and though ' sufficiently exact in the discharge of his scholastic duties, yet 'he evidently attached quite as much importance to the health'ful recreations and out-of-door life of his scholars, as to their * progress in Greek and Latin. Morbidly shy, he shrank from ' mixing in society, and in his walks would as soon have met a • lion as a lady in his path ... He had the very soul of honour, ' and carried with him in every word and gesture the evidence ' of a manly and cordial nature. From the lessons of this liardy northern Hartley Coleridge derived at least as much benefit as from the Greek Grammar composed for him by his father, - a monument of paternal affection and industry, not a little characteristic; beginning as it does with a philosophic disclaimer of philosophy, proceeding to the complexities of gender and case, and ending with a pregnant essay on the connexion between Idolatry and Atheism. It was a literary curiosity, well worthy of preservation, and will remind the reader of Milton's logico-poetical exercise, which begins with « Ens' and Predicament,' and concludes with · Rivers arise!'
One of the chief advantages which Hartley Coleridge derived from his school-residence was, that it afforded him an opportunity of being much in the society of Mr. Wordsworth. It was at this time also that at his beautiful seat Elleray he became acquainted with Professor Wilson, who continued to the last « one of his kindest friends.' Sir George Beaumont and Mr. Basil Montague were also among his friends.' His biographer remarks, It was so, rather than by a regular course of study, " that he was educated, - by desultory reading, by the living « voice of Coleridge, Southey and Wordsworth, Lloyd, Wilson, « and De Quincey; and, again, by homely familiarity with o town's folk and country folk of every degree; lastly, by daily c recurring hours of solitude, — by lonely wanderings with o the murmur of the Brathay in his ear.' At a later period of his life he was described as - like the Wye, a wanderer 5 through the woods.' At school he had much liberty. He
illing to theith a phitry, not
never played with the other boys, and probably never fought with them. He was not sufficiently adroit for ordinary sports, and his uncle used to tell him that he had two left hands. In his lessons he was neither stupid nor unusually quick. He had no school friendships; but his companions admired him for his singularity, and loved him for the fascinating skill with which he told them tales. His powers in this respect seem to have equalled those of the Sultana Scheherezade, though his aim was much less practical:
It was not by a series of tales, but by one continuous tale, regularly evolved, and possessing a real unity, that he enchained the attention of his auditors, night after night, as we lay in bed ... during a space of years, and not unfrequently for hours together, This enormous romance, far exceeding in length, I should suppose, the compositions of Calprenede, Scudery, or Richardson, though delivered without premeditation, had a progressive story, with many turns and complications, with salient points recurring at intervals, with a suspended interest varying in intensity, and occasionally wrought up to a very high pitch, and at length a catastrophe and a conclusion. ... He spoke without hesitation, in language as vivid as it was flowing. This power of improvisation he lost, or conceived himself to lose, when he began the practice of written composition.'
At a still earlier period, however, his marvellous power of continuous narration had been yet more signally displayed. Few anecdotes illustrative of childhood are so remarkable as that in which his brother records an instance of this habit. For years the child seems to have lived a double life; and the faith which he reposed in the inward world was at least as great as that with which he regarded the outward. No other incident recorded of his early days is so significant a comment on his after life, both in its strength and its weakness :
* At a very early period of his childhood, of which he had himself a distinct though' visionary remembrance, he imagined himself to foresee a time when, in a field that lay close to the house in which he lived, a small cataract would burst forth, to which he gave the name of Jug-force. The banks of the stream thus created soon became populous, – a region – a realm; and as the vision spread in ever-widening circles, it soon overflowed, as it were, the narrow spot in which it was originally generated; and Jug-forcia, disguised under the less familiar appellation of Ejuxria, became an island continent, with its own attendant isles; a new Australia, or newest Sea-land, if it were not rather a reflection of the old Europe projected from the clouds on some wide ocean somewhere. The history and geography of this region were at one time as familiar to me, to say the least, as any-other portion, I was about to say, of the habitable globe. The details have gradually faded from my memory, and, fitly enough, no written record remains (though an elaborate map
of the country was once in existence), from which they can be recovered.
6“ The earth hath bubbles as the water hath,
And these are of them.” "Taken as a whole, the Ejuxrian world presented a complete analogon to the world of fact, so far as it was known to Hartley, complete in all its parts ; furnishing a theatre and scene of action with dramatis persone, and suitable machinery, in which, day after day, for the space of long years, he went on evolving the complicated drama of existence. There were nations, continental and insular, each with its separate history, civil, ecclesiastical, and literary, its forms of religion and government, and specific national character. In Portfomandra, the analagon of England, as I now discern, . . . the tissue was woven with wonderful minuteness, and uniform consistency. The names of generals and statesmen were “familiar to my ear as “ household words.” I witnessed the war of faction, and had to trace the course of sedition. I lived to see changes of government, a great progress of public opinion, and a new order of things. When at length a sense of unreality was forced upon him, and he felt himself obliged to account for his knowledge of and connexion with this distant land, he had a story, borrowed from the Arabian Nights, of a great bird by which he was transported to and fro. But he recurred to these explanations with great reluctance, and got rid of them as quickly as possible. Once I asked him how it came that his absence on these occasions was not observed; but he was angry and mortified, and I never repeated the experiment. In truth, I was willingly beguiled. His usual mode of introducing the subject was, “Derwent," (for these disclosures in latter years were made to me alone) "I have had letters and papers from Ejuxria.' ... Nothing could exceed the seriousness of his manner, and doubtless, of his feelings. He was, I am persuaded, utterly unconscious of invention. ... I have reason to believe that be continued the habit mentally, from time to time, after he left school, and, of course, had no longer a confidant. ,
In a letter from Mrs. Basil Montague, in whose house he spent some time when a child, his anxieties on the subject of this imaginary race are thus amusingly depicted :--. One day when he was walking very pensively I asked him what ailed
him. He said, “ My people are too fond of war; and I have "" just made an eloquent speech in the Senate, which has not ““ made any impression on them, ... and to war they will go."
That such movements of mind, however indicative of genius, are yet unhealthy if indulged habitually, encouraged artificially, or left unbalanced by opposite habits, can hardly be doubted. Except in the highest moments of creative energy, the mind should never lose sight of the distinctness of its own conceptions from the phenomena of the outward world. It is this self-pos
71 session - a thing wholly distinct from a morbid self-consciousness - which chiefly separates inspiration from mere enthusiasm. Who can read Shakspeare or Dante, the greatest masters of the world of vision (though the former was stronger yet in a more terrestrial sphere), without perceiving that they ever continue lords over themselves, and that the Spirits whom they summon go and come alike at their command? The keener a poet's intuition of the ideal the more does he require a corresponding urgency in his sense of the real. The knowledge of what is and of what ought to be are the two opposed wings upon which the poetic mind rises; and the breadth of pinion at each side must be equal if the flight is to be sustained. This is one reason that mere Veracity, as distinguished from philosophical
Truth, though it often appears but a condescension to unimportant fact, occupies, notwithstanding, so high a place in the world of Art. The effort to attain it is a perpetual discipline of humility, of attention, of regard for others, and of self-command; and the exercise of it not only stamps upon works of genius that ‘note' of authenticity, required most by the most unfamiliar themes, but also removes from them the innumerable aberrations or weaknesses which may often be ultimately traced to some moral defect, such aš vanity, unsteadiness, or want of a decisive aim. Severity, indeed, is a characteristic of all genuine Art; for while beauty is ever its object, purity is the inseparable condition of its intellectual fruitions. Self-indulgence, therefore, must in all its forms be hostile to the consolidation of the poetic faculty; nor is the Syren more seductive in any other form than that of abstraction which subsides into day-dream, and imagination which feeds ever on its own stores. It is not a predominance of intellect, but a deficiency of will, which banishes us from the world of reality, and converts into a gilded prison the palace-halls of the imagination.
The influence of an education, which, though it included so much of an elevating nature, was yet on the whole one of development, rather than of discipline, was not calculated to supply the deficiencies of a nature rich in resources, but poor in the power of turning them to account; and a childhood and boyhood, not only simple, tender-hearted and affectionate, but • truthful, dutiful, thoughtful, and religious, if not devout,' did not pass into early manhood without tokens of approaching danger. “A certain infirmity of will, the specific evil of his • life, had already shown itself. His sensibility was intense, and he had not wherewithal to control it. He could not open a letter without trembling. He shrank from mental pain. He was beyond measure impatient of constraint. He was liable