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COLERIDGE, S. T.

the common emotions of humanity. From this sprang the Lyrical Ballads, to which Coleridge contributed The Ancient Mariner, the Nightingale and two scenes from Osorio, and after much cogitation the book was published in 1798 at Bristol by Cottle, to whose reminiscences, often indulging too much in detail, we owe the account of this remarkable time. A second edition of the Lyrical Ballads in 1800 included another poem by Coleridge—Love, to which subsequently the sub-title was given of An Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladie. To the Stowey period belong also the tragedy of Osorio (afterwards known as Remorse), Kubla Khan and the first part of Christabel. In 1798 an annuity, granted him by the brothers Wedgwood, led Coleridge to abandon his reluctantly formed intention of becoming a Unitarian minister. For many years he had desired to see the continent, and in September 1798, in company with Wordsworth and his sister, he left England for Hamburg. Satyrane’s Letters (republished in Biog. Lit. 1817) give an account of the tour.

A new period in Coleridge’s life now began. He soon left the Wordsworths to spend four months at Ratzeburg, whence he removed to Göttingen to attend lectures. A great intellectual movement had begun in Germany. Coleridge was soon in the full whirl of excitement. He learnt much from Blumenbach and Eichhorn, and took interest in all that was going on around him. During his stay of nine months in Germany, he made himself master of the language to such purpose that the translation of Wallenstein—his first piece of literary work after his return to England—was actually accomplished in six weeks. It was published in 1800, and, although it failed to make any impression on the general public, it became at once prized by Scott and others as it deserved. It is matter for regret that a request to Coleridge that he should undertake to translate Faust never received serious attention from him. During these years Coleridge wrote many newspaper articles and some poems, among them “Fire, Famine and Slaughter,” for the Morning Post (January 8, 1798). He had vehemently opposed Pitt’s policy, but a change came over his way of thought, and he found himself separated from Fox on the question of a struggle with Napoleon. He had lost his admiration for the Revolutionists, as his “Ode to France” shows (Morning Post, April 16, 1798). Like many other Whigs, he felt that all questions of domestic policy must at a time of European peril be postponed. From this time, however, his value for the ordered liberty of constitutional government increased; and though never exactly to be found among the ranks of old-fashioned Constitutionalists, during the remainder of his life he kept steadily in view the principles which received their full exposition in his well-known work on Church and State. In the year 1800 Coleridge left London for the Lakes. Here in that year he wrote the second part of Christabel. In 1803 Southey became a joint lodger with Coleridge at Greta Hall, Keswick, of which in 1812 Southey became sole tenant and occupier.

In 1801 begins the period of Coleridge’s life during which, in spite of the evidence of work shown in his compositions, he sank more and more under the dominion of opium, in which he may have first indulged at Cambridge. Few things are so sad to read as the letters in which he details the consequences of his transgression. He was occasionally seen in London during the first years of the century, and wherever he appeared he was the delight of admiring circles. He toured in Scotland with the Wordsworths in 1803, visited Malta in 1804, when for ten months he acted as secretary to the governor, and stayed nearly eight months at Naples and Rome in 1805–1806. In Rome he received a hint that his articles in the Morning Post had been brought to Napoleon’s notice, and he made the voyage from Leghorn in an American ship. On a visit to Somersetshire in 1807 he met De Quincey for the first time, and the younger man’s admiration was shown by a gift of £300, “from an unknown friend.” In 1809 he started a magazine called The Friend, which continued only for eight months. At the same time Coleridge began to contribute to the Courier. In 1808 he lectured at the Royal Institution, but with little success, and two years later he gave his lectures on Shakespeare and other poets. These lectures attracted great attention and were followed by two other series. In 1812 his income from the Wedgwoods was reduced, and he settled the remainder on his wife. His friends were generous in assisting him with money. Eventually Mackintosh obtained a grant of £100 a year for him in 1824 during the lifetime of George IV., as one of the royal associates of the Society of Literature, and at different times he received help principally from Stuart, the publisher, Poole, Sotheby, Sir George Beaumont, Byron and Wordsworth, while his children shared Southey’s home at Keswick. But between 1812 and 1817 Coleridge made a good deal by his work, and was able to send money to his wife in addition to the annuity she received. The tragedy of Remorse was produced at Drury Lane in 1813, and met with considerable success. Three years after this, having failed to conquer the opium habit, he determined to enter the family of Mr James Gillman, who lived at Highgate. The letter in which he discloses his misery to this kind and thoughtful man gives a real insight into his character. Under judicious treatment the hour of mastery at last arrived. The shore was reached, but the vessel had been miserably shattered in its passage through the rocks. For the rest of his life he hardly ever left his home at Highgate. During his residence there, Christabel, written many years before, and known to a favoured few, was first published in a volume with Kubla Khan and the Pains of Sleep in 1816. He read widely and wisely, in poetry, philosophy and divinity. In 1816 and the following year, he gave his Lay Sermons to the world. Sibylline Leaves appeared in 1817; the Biographia Literaria and a revised edition of The Friend soon followed. Seven years afterwards his most popular prose work—The Aids to Reflection—first appeared. His last publication, in 1830, was the work on Church and State. It was not till 1840 that his Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit, by far his most seminal work, was posthumously published. In 1833 he appeared at the meeting of the British Association at Cambridge, but he died in the following year (25th of July 1834), and was buried in the churchyard close to the house of Mr Gillman, where he had enjoyed every consolation which friendship and love could render. Coleridge died in the communion of the Church of England, of whose polity and teaching he had been for many years a loving admirer. An interesting letter to his god-child, written twelve days before his death, sums up his spiritual experience in a most touching form.

Of the extraordinary influence which he exercised in conversation it is impossible to speak fully here. Many of the most remarkable among the younger men of that period resorted to Highgate as to the shrine of an oracle, and although one or two disparaging judgments, such as that of Carlyle, have been recorded, there can be no doubt that since Samuel Johnson there had been no such power in England. His nephew, Henry Nelson Coleridge, gathered together some specimens of the Table Talk of the few last years. But remarkable as these are for the breadth of sympathy and extent of reading disclosed, they will hardly convey the impressions furnished in a dramatic form, as in Boswell’s great work. Four volumes of Literary Remains were published after his death, and these, along with the chapters on the poetry of Wordsworth in the Biographia Literaria, may be said to exhibit the full range of Coleridge’s power as a critic of poetry. In this region he stands supreme. With regard to the preface, which contains Wordsworth’s theory, Coleridge has honestly expressed his dissent:—“With many parts of this preface, in the sense attributed to them, and which the words undoubtedly seem to authorize, I never concurred; but, on the contrary, objected to them as erroneous in principle, and contradictory (in appearance at least) both to other parts of the same preface, and to the author’s own practice in the greater number of the poems themselves.” This disclaimer of perfect agreement renders the remaining portion of what he says more valuable. Coleridge was in England the creator of that higher criticism which had already in Germany accomplished so much in the hands of Lessing and Goethe. It is enough to refer here to the fragmentary series of his Shakespearian