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But he has not done himself justice in this comparison. Never was a man more beloved by all who approached him. Even his peculiarities, if he had any, were genial and pleasant. One anecdote I happen to know personally. He was invited to a large evening party, at Tavistock House, the residence of Mr. Perry, proprietor of the “ Morning Chronicle," a delightful person, where men of all parties met, forgetting their political differences in so cial pleasure. The guest was so punctual, that only two young inmates were in the room to receive him.
“ What are we to have to-night?" inquired he of Miss Lunan, Mr. Perry's niece, and Professor Porson's stepdaughter.
“Music, I suppose,” was the reply; "at least I know that Catalani is coming !"
“Ah!" rejoined the poet, “then I shall come another time. You will not miss me. Make my excuses !” and off he ran, laughing at his own dislike to opera singers and bravura songs.
Every body has heard the often told story of Coleridge's enlisting in a cavalry regiment under a feigned name, and being detected as a Cambridge scholar in consequence of his writing some Greek lines, or rather, I believe, some Greek words, over the bed of a sick comrade, whom, not knowing how else to dispose of him, he had been appointed to nurse. It has not been stated that the arrangement for his discharge took place at my father's house at Reading. Such, however, was the case. The story was this. Dr. Ogle, Dean of Winchester, was related to the Mitfords, as relationships go in Northumberland, and having been an intimate friend of my maternal grandfather, had no small share in bringing about the marriage between his young cousin and the orphan heiress. He continued to take an affectionate interest in the couple he had brought together, and the 15th Light Dragoons, in which his eldest son had a troop, being quartered in Reading, he came to spend some days at their house. Of course Captain Ogle, between whom and my father the closest friendship subsisted, was invited to meet the Dean, and in the course of the dinner told the story of the learned recruit. It was the beginning of the great war with France ; men were procured with difficulty, and if one of the servants waiting at table had not been induced to enlist in his place, there might have been some hesitation in procuring a discharge. Mr. Coleridge never forgot my father's zeal in the cause, for kind and clever as he
was, Captain Ogle was so indolent a man, that without a flapper, the matter might have slept in his hands till the Greek kalends. Such was Mr. Coleridge's kind recognition of my father's exertions, that he had the infinite goodness and condescension to look over the proof-sheets of two girlish efforts, “ Christina” and “ Blanch,” and to encourage the young writer by gentle strictures and stimulating praise. Ah! I wish she had better deserved this honoring notice!
I add one of his sublimest poems.
HYMN BEFORE SUNRISE IN THE VALE OF CHAMOUN ,
Hast thou a charm to stay the Morning Star
In his steep course ? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc !
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful form!
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines
How silently! Around thee and above
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass : methinks thou piercest it
As with a wedge! But when I look again
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity!
0 dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense
Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer
I worshiped the Invisible alone.
Yet like some sweet beguiling melody,
So sweet we know not we are listening to it,
Thou the meanwhile wast blending with my thought,
Yea with my life, and life's most secret joy;
Till the dilating soul, onwrapped, transfused,
Into the mighty vision passing-there
As in her natural form swelled vast to Heaven!
Awake, my soul! not only passive praise
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute tears and thrilling ecstasy. Awake!
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my hymn.
Thou first and chief, sole sovran of the vale !
Or struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky or when they sink
Companion of the Morning Star at dawn,
Thyself earth's rosy star, and of the dawn
Co-herald! wake, 0 wake, and utter praise !
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in earth?
Who filled thy countenance with rosy light?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams?
And you, ye five wild torrents, fiercely glad !
Who called you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks,
Forever shattered and the same forever?
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam ?
And who commanded (and the silence came),
Here let the billows stiffen and have rest?
Ye ice-falls ! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain-
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!
Motionless torrents! silent cataracts !
Who made you glorious as the gates of heaven
Beneath the keen full moon ? Who bade the sun
Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet ?-
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! sing, ye meadow-streams, with gladsome voice!
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
Ye living flowers, that skirt the eternal frost !
Ye wild goats, sporting round the eagle's nest !
Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain-storm!
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds !
Ye signs and wonders of the element !
Utter forth, God! and fill the hills with praise !
Once more, hoar mount, with thy sky-painting peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche unheard
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds that vail thy breast-
Thou too again, stupendons Mountain! thou,
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow traveling with dim eyes, suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest like a vapory cloud
To rise before me-Rise, o ever rise;
Rise like a cloud of incense from the earth!
Thou kingly spirit throned among the hills,
Thou dread embassador from earth to heaven,
Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun,
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God!
One can not look too often upon Mr. Wordsworth's charming female portrait :
She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight:
A lovely apparition sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
I saw her upon nearer view
A spirit, yet a woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty ;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright and good
For human nature's daily food ;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.
And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A being breathing thoughtful breath;
A traveler betwixt life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength and skill,
A perfect woman nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, and command ;
And yet a spirit still and bright,
With something of an angel light.
I would add " Laodamia,” if it were not too long, and the “ Yew-trees,?' if I had not a misgiving that I have somewhere planted those deathless trunks before. In how many ways is a great poet glorious! I met with a few lines taken from that
noble poem the other day in the “Modern Painters,” cited for the landscape :
“ Huge trunks, and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibers serpentine,
Upcoiling and inveterately convolved !
Beneath whose shade
With sheddings from the pinal umbrage tinged
and so forth. Mr. Ruskin cited this fine passage for the picture, I for the personifications :
May meet at noontide, Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight, Death the skeleton,
And Time the shadow !"
Both quoted the lines for different excellences, and both were right.