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and the eloquence, of a great man's social converse, has been snatched from forgetfulness, and endowed with a permanent shape for general use. And although, in the judgment of many persons, I may incur a serious responsibility by this publication; I am, upon the whole, willing to abide the result, in confidence that the fame of the loved and lamented speaker will lose nothing hereby, and that the cause of Truth and of Goodness will be every way a gainer. This sprig, though slight and immature, may yet become its place, in the Poet's wreath of honour, among flowers of graver hue. If the favour shown to several modern instances of works nominally of the same description as the present were alone to be considered, it might seem that the old maxim, that nothing ought to be said of the dead but what is good, is in a fair way of being dilated into an understanding that every thing is good that has been said by the dead. The following pages do not, I trust, stand in need of so much indulgence. Their contents may not, in every particular passage, be of great intrinsic importance ; but they can hardly be without some, and, I hope, a worthy interest, as coming from the lips of one at least of the most extraordinary men of the age ; while to the best of my knowledge and intention, no living person's name is introduced, whether for praise or for blame, except on literary or political grounds of common notoriety. Upon the justice of the remarks here published, it would be out of place in me to say any thing; and a commentary of that kind is the less needed, as, in almost every instance, the principles upon which the speaker founded his observations are expressly stated, and may be satisfactorily examined by themselves. But, for the purpose of general elucidation, it seemed not improper to add a few notes, and to make some quotations from Mr. Coleridge's own works; and in doing so, I was in addition actuated by an earnest wish to call the attention of reflecting minds in general to the views of political, moral, and religious philosophy contained in those works, which, through an extensive but now decreasing prejudice, have hitherto been deprived of that acceptance with the pub

- - * * - - o “... . . . PRErack. . . . . vii •lic which their great preponderating merits deserve, and will, as I believe, finally obtain. And I can truly say, that if, in the course of the perusal of this little work, any one of its readers shall gain a clearer insight into the deep and pregnant principles, in the light of which Mr. Coleridge was accustomed to regard God and the World, —I shall look upon the publication as fortunate, and consider myself abundantly rewarded for whatever trouble it has cost me. A cursory inspection will show that these volumes lay no claim to be ranked with Boswell's in point of dramatic interest. Coleridge differed not more from Johnson in every characteristic of intellect, than in the habits and circumstances of his life, during the greatest part of the time in which I was intimately conversant with him. He was naturally very fond of society, and continued to be so to the last; but the almost unceasing ill health with which he was afflicted, after fifty, confined him for many months in every year to his own room, and, most commonly, to his bed. He was then rarely seen except by single visiters; and few of them would feel any disposition upon such occasions to interrupt him, whatever might have been the length or mood of his discourse. And indeed, although I have been present in mixed company where Mr. Coleridge has been questioned and opposed, and the scene has been amusing for the moment— I own that it was always much more delightful to me to let the river wander at its own sweet will, unruffled by aught but a certain breeze of emotion which the stream itself produced. If the course it took was not the shortest, it was generally the most beautiful; and what you saw by the way was as worthy of note as the ultimate object to which you were journeying. It is possible, indeed, that Coleridge did not, in fact, possess the precise gladiatorial power of Johnson: yet he understood a sword-play of his own ; and I have, upon several occasions, seen him exhibit brilliant proofs of its effectiveness upon disputants of considerable pretensions in their particular lines. But he had a genuine dislike of the practice in himself or others; and no slight provocation *

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... • could move him to any such exertion. He was, indeed, to my observation, more distinguished from other great men of letters by his moral thirst after the Truth—the ideal Truth—in his own mind, than by his merely intellectual qualifications. To leave the every-day circle of society, in which the literary and scientific rarely— the rest never—break through the spell of personality;where Anecdote reigns everlastingly paramount and exclusive, and the mildest attempt to generalize the Babel of facts, and to control temporary and individual phenomena by the application of eternal and overruling principles, is unintelligible to many, and disagreeable to more ;to leave this species of converse—if converse it deserves to be called—and pass an entire day with Coleridge, was a marvellous change indeed. It was a Sabbath past expression, deep, and tranquil, and serene. You came to a man who had travelled in many countries and in critical times ; who had seen and felt the world in most of its ranks and in many of its vicissitudes and weaknesses; one to whom all literature and genial art were absolutely subject, and to whom, with a reasonable allowance as to technical details, all science was in a most extraordinary degree familiar. Throughout a longdrawn summer's day would this man talk to you in low, equable, but clear and musical tones, concerning things human and divine; marshalling all history, harmonizing all experiment, probing the depths of your consciousness, and revealing visions of glory and of terror to the imagination ; but pouring withal such floods of light upon the mind, that you might, for a season, like Paul, become blind in the very act of conversion. And this he would do, without so much as one allusion to himself, without a word of reflection on others, save when any given act fell naturally in the way of his discourse, without one anecdote that was not proof and illustration of a previous position;—gratifying no passion, indulging no caprice, but, with a calm mastery over your soul, leading you onward and onward for ever through a thousand windings, yet with no pause, to some magnificent point in which, as in a focus, all the party-coloured rays of his discourse o

should converge in light. In all this he was, in truth, your teacher and guide; but in a little while you might forget that he was other than a fellow-student and the companion of your way,+so playful was his manner, so simple his language, so affectionate the glance of his pleasant eye There were, indeed, some whom Coleridge tired, and some whom he sent asleep. It would occasionally so happen, when the abstruser mood was strong upon him, and the visiter was narrow and ungenial. I have seen him at times when you could not incarnate him, when he shook aside your petty questions or doubts, and burst with some impatience through the obstacles of common conversation. Then, escaped from the flesh, he would soar upwards into an atmosphere almost too rare to breathe, but which seemed proper to him, and there he would float at ease. Like enough, what Coleridge then said, his subtlest listener would not understand as a man understands a newspaper; but upon such a listener there would steal an influence, and an impression, and a sympathy; there would be a gradual attempering of his body and spirit, till his total being vibrated with one pulse alone, and thought became merged in contemplation;–

And so, his senses gradually wrapt
In a half sleep, he'd dream of better worlds,
And dreaming hear thee still, O singing lark,

That sangest like an angel in the clouds! o

But it would be a great mistake to suppose that the general character of Mr. Coleridge's conversation was abstruse or rhapsodical. The contents of the following pages may, I think, be taken as pretty strong presumptive evidence that his ordinary manner was plain and direct enough ; and even when, as sometimes happened, he seemed to ramble from the road, and to lose himself in a wilderness of digressions, the truth was, that at that very time he was working out his foreknown conclusion through an almost miraculous logic, the difficulty of which consisted precisely in the very fact of its minuteness and universality. He took so large a scope, that, if he was interrupted before he got to the end, he appeared to have been talking without an object; although, perhaps, a few steps more would have brought you to a point, a retro

rospect from which would show you the pertinence of all

he had been saying. I have heard persons complain that they could get no answer to a question from Coleridge. The truth is, he answered, or meant to answer, so fully, that the querist should have no second question to ask. In nine cases out of ten he saw the question was short or misdirected; and knew that a mere yes or no answer could not embrace the truth—that is, the whole truth—and might, very probably, by implication, convey error. Hence that exhaustive, cyclical mode of discoursing in which he frequently indulged ; unfit, indeed, for a dinner-table, and too long-breathed for the patience of a chance visiter, but which, to those who knew for what they came, was the object of their profoundest admiration, as it was the source of their most valuable instruction. Mr. Coleridge's affectionate dis

ciples learned their lessons of philosophy and criticism

from his own mouth. He was to them as an old master of the Academy or Lyceum. The more time he took, the better pleased were such visiters; for they came expressly to listen, and had ample proof how truly he had declared, that whatever difficulties he might feel, with pen in hand, in the expression of his meaning, he never found the smallest hitch or impediment in the utterance of his most subtle reasonings by word of mouth. How many a time and oft have I felt his abstrusest thoughts steal rhythmically on my soul, when chanted forth by him Nay, how often have I fancied I heard rise up in answer to his gentle touch, an interpreting music of my own, as from the passive strings of some wind-smitten lyre Mr. Coleridge's conversation at all times required attention, because what he said was so individual and unexpected. But when he was dealing deeply with a question, the demand upon the intellect of the hearer was very great; not so much for any hardness of language, for his diction was always simple and easy; nor for the ab

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