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I never meant it should be so ; We are as mendicants who wait
And how the matter happened thus, Along the roadside in the sun.
Indeed, I really do not know, Tatters of yesterday and shreds
Nor how the subject to discuss. Of morrow clothe us every one.
I always loved the ladies, but
'Tis wondrous how these “buts" conAnd some are dotards, who believe
trive And glory in the days of old ;
To keep a man from wedlock shut, While some are dreamers, harping still
A bachelor of forty-five.
When five-and-twenty was my date,
Had any dismal seer foretold
That this would be my hap and fate, And tosses in the suppliant hat
I should have held him false as bold; One great new-minted gold to-day.
More likely were it had he said
That now I should not be alive, But there be others, happier far,
Than that I should be still unwed,
A bachelor of forty-five.
Ah yes! When beams youth's radiant sun, They idle down the traffic lands,
When faith is strong, and hope is high, And loiter through the woods with Spring; Man weens not how his path may run, To them the glory of the earth
Nor how the promised land may lie ; Is but to hear a bluebird sing.
He weens not to what unthought goal
Resistless fate his life may drive,
And make him — poor unmated soul !
But cheerful hope is with me still —
Hard were my case if hope had fled; One I remember kept his coin,
Good fishes yet the waters fill, And laughing flipped it in the air ;
And there are damsels still unwed ; But when two strolling pipe-players
And in some matrimonial sea Came by, he tossed it to the pair.
Perchance I yet may daring dive, Spendthrift of joy, his childish heart And be no more, though still I be, Danced to their wild outlandish bars ;
A bachelor of forty-five. Then supperless he laid him down
WOODBURN. That night, and slept beneath the stars.
A BACHELOR OF FORTY-FIVE. Ar forty-five! Ah, can it be
The rapid steeds have reached this stage, That Time has meted out to me
The years of man's maturer age ; And I can call mine own at this
No better half, no family hive, But live in so-called single bliss,
A bachelor of forty-five ?
It was not for your heart I sought,
Only your heart to me.
Ah, that so rare a gift should be
I fain would take the ladies' way,
And, as to age, deny the fact ; But 'tis an awkward game to play,
These registrars are so exact. No! I'll admit it, like a man,
Nor foolishly with figures strive, But face the truth, e'en as I can,
A bachelor of forty-five.
I asked a momentary thing,
And, with ingenuous eyes,
You offer, as the lesser prize,
You will but love me : so,
Since I too cannot let you go,
From The Contemporary Review. among those whose thoughts have SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
passed into the sap which circulates in No member of that brilliant constel- a national life. There are not many lation which made England illustrious men in the whole history of literature at the opening of the nineteenth cen- of whom we can say as much. tury is more worthy of contemplation We may hope shortly for aid from than Coleridge. The names of Scott, fresh material in our apprehension of a Byron, and Shelley call up a more mind so worthy of study. But, as Mr. romantic and attractive background, Morley remarked on the eve of Sir while that of Wordsworth marks a George Trevelyan's biography of Mamore dignified and continuous career. caulay, the period just preceding any The biography of Coleridge could not biography which strongly stimulates become a classic like that of the first public interest is one specially fitted named of these poets, it could not even for taking stock of our previous knowltake, in popular and literary interest, edge of its subject. Before we add the much lower place we must accord new data to our impressions of a great to that of the second, and his fame man it is well to gather up all which could no more form the foundation of are already familiar. We invite our such a cult as that which attaches to readers, therefore, to prepare for a the third, than it could court the rigid perusal of the eagerly expected edition scrutiny which brings out the spotless- of “ Coleridge's Letters” from the ness of the last. Nevertheless, looking hand of his grandson by a review of back on the group as a whole, we see the wealth already at their disposal. him, in some respects, the most re- It would be impossible, we believe, to markable of any. Indeed, some of that collect a larger amount of opinion and brilliancy in which they excel him is reminiscence bearing on almost any indirectly due to his rays. We cannot life than that which lies ready to hand read certain passages in the “Excur- for this purpose,' and what is new will. sion” without catching echoes of Kant, be studied with more profit and more and Wordsworth must have received interest if we prepare its background these through Coleridge ; we cannot by a backward glauce on what is old. read the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel” Our special object now is to bring his without thinking of “ Christabel,” and literary achievement into connection “ Christabel” was written and seen by with his personal history and character, Scott before the “Lay” was published. and to gather up the teaching involved These are striking instances of a both in what he did and what he failed stimulating insluence unquestionably to do. Iu the life of genius we may exercised by Coleridge on his contem- read, writ large, many of the lessons poraries independently of his literary that lie hidden in other lives. To debequest to posterity. He was a poet, tach this element from the biography and he was also a thinker. We need and the work of Coleridge is the aim look no further than to a group includ- of the following essay. ing Keats and Scott to see that a poet He lived a little more than sixty is not necessarily a thinker. As we years, and we may, on a broad view, have from them immortal verse in divide that period between the two which the poetic rays transcend the divisions of his literary activity. He thought rays, so in Coleridge we reach edited, the Watchman and wrote some the other end of the spectrum ; the
1 It is not my intention to give references, but thought element transcends the poetic may mention that by far the most interesting life expression, and claims independent of Coleridge known to me - that by Professor
Brandl of Strasburg - can unfortunately not be attention. If he had never written a judged by its English translation. It is written in line of poetry, his prose, and even German, which again and again leads the reader to more the record of his influence in all fancy himself reading French, and should be
studied by every Englishman who cares for the important memoirs of his time, would history of his country and century and is not conestablish his claim to a high position fined to his own language.
newspaper articles sufficiently impor-power lay within the man and not tant, it is said, to rouse the hostility of without, that it was not the result of Napoleon, before his thirtieth year ; some tragic situation throwing its while a few beautiful lines date later. shadow on a mind specially prepared But on the whole his poetry belongs to for sympathy with all that it involves, his youth, and his prose, as those or of some profound thought winning a readers of to-day know it who know it sudden splendor from its sacramental at all, to what we must call his old age. reflection on the world of nature, but a This correspondence between the char- real creation, a summons from the acter and the date of his productions world of the unseen by that magic, of seems more natural at first than at last. which, we cannot but think ShakeHis prose writings are all introductions speare intended Prospero's wand to to some fuller exposition of his philos- symbolize his own mastery. A certaiu ophy ; and while they look to the variety of form is needed to establish future, most of his finest verse owes its this, and as no one short poem can peculiar beauty, in our opinion, to the prove its author to be a poet, so the pathos of a half-suggested past. The scant proportion of Coleridge's contripoetry which would have eutitled him, bution to the poetic wealth of the had he died at the age of Keats, to world must tell in our estimate of his Wordsworth's description of Chatter-poetic rank. But his place is with the tou, “the marvellous boy" - a de-immortals, and his eminence is in some :scription, it has been truly said, far respects the more remarkable from the more applicable to Keats - has always very causes which shroud it, as a peak something autumnal in its tone. Hardly looks higher among clouds. The mysany other poet, equally well known, tic twilight of “Christabel” might ever made so little use of his genius. have lost its charm in a conclusion. We can recall only the fame of Gray as On the whole, of course, his poetry one equally secure above the rising would have gained much if less frag. waters of oblivion and yet attaching to mentary, but there is something which as minute a production. Two tiny it would thus have lost. octavos would contain all that is in We would compare his verse to one the full sense original to him, and that of those gleamy, picturesque days in posterity will care to remember ; and late autumn, when the brief interval The verse which makes up this minute between morning and sunset seenis legacy is not only scanty, its several touched by reminiscence or anticipaparts are also incomplete. The “ An- tion of the twilight. The light is never cient Mariner" is the only important brilliant, and never steady ; it is alpoem by him which is neither a mere ways a gleam upon gloom,” but from self-utterance, nor a fragment. It this very reason it has a peculiar, soft, may seem a poor thing to estimate the delicate, misty radiance under which production of a poet by mere bulk, as the commonest objects take a new if we were dealing with bales of cotton, charm. At its noontide it has somebut there is such a thing as exquisite thing of an evening beauty, and the poetry of which there is hardly enough evening is upon us before we realize to entitle the writer to the name of that the afternoon has begun. His last poet. We should scarcely apply the important poem was finished while lic word to the author either of the most had still the lifetime of a generation to perfect elegy in the language the pass in this world ; and even the out· Burial of Sir John Moore ;” or of ward imagery of this dirge on his one of its most perfect sonnets – that “shaping spirit of imagination " harof Blanco White's on “ Night and monizes with the spirit of an approachDeath." To have expressed noble ing twilight of the soul. It is with thought in poetic form does not make a the fulness of poetic utterance that he poet, unless there be enough of the takes his farewell of poetry. We see production to show, as it were, that the in that farewell, in all its perfection,
his delicate observation of nature, espe- | Making it a companionable form, cially of those more ethereal aspects of Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling nature which belong to atmospheric
spirit influences : the green evening sky at By its own moods interprets - everywhere which his univtelligent critics sneered, Echo or mirror-seeking of itself. the thin, evanescent clouds that “give Perhaps we must set him beside away their motion to the stars," such Wordsworth before we can fully apprefaint, pure, transient shades and tints ciate his legacy, just as the faint Ausli as Turner, who may be considered his of a rose-petal may need association pictorial brother, was just then prepar- with its neighbors to make its delicate ing to reveal in a world previously con- color tell. His poetry is full of what templated under the influence of vague we may call Wordsworthian touches
S; conventional description, and needing indeed, his name might just as well a poet's touch to be truly seen.
It is have afforded an epithet for the poetic not only in objects belonging to what and accurate delineation of natural obwe are accustomed to associate with jects in verse, if only he had written pature, in the conventional sense of more ; it was his office as much as the word, that we may follow this re- Wordsworth's to impress on us all that vealing, sympathetic gaze. Coleridge is hidden in the every-day scenes enlarges that meaning, he shows us around us. It is as when, in the dawn new beauties not only in the heavens of the Newtonian astronomy, a writer but in regions where we have been ac- published a work entitled
"A Discustomed to look for nothing poetic. course concerning a New Planet”. The lines entitled (not very happily, the earth, to wit. It was a new planet we think) “Frost at Midnight,”' bring in the literal sense of the word; it this attentiveness to all subdued, eva- took its place among the stars, but did nescent forms of light to bear on an not cease to remain our familiar home. object as prosaic as his bedroom fire. In this sense it may be said that When he tells us that
Wordsworth and Coleridge combined the thin blue flame
in the discovery of a new planet — they Lies on my low burnt fire, and quivers not, gave this every-day world the glory of
a star. If common things may be how expressively, as it were with a looked into, and not merely looked at, Zoroastrian touch, he associates the it is mainly to these two poets we owe life in the flame with his own sense of this priceless gift. But the difference repose, and the soft breathings of his of the "great iwin brethren” is as insleeping babe.
Shut into his own structive as their resemblance. Colechamber with the curtains drawn, his ridge is always intimate with his reader. imagination still finds appropriate ma- We might almost say that Wordsworth terial ; bere also we trace his vivid, is never intimate with his reader. He dreamy sympathy with whatever is teaches, informs, narrates, but does shadowy, whatever leaves the imagina- not confide. The single
exception lion space and scope, and is most suited which occurs to us - the verses entias a symbolism of sad memory. The tled " Complaint” – if, as it is said, stillness of midnight is painted with a they were inspired by Coleridge, may peculiar force in the following lines, be said to prove the rule. The tone of fixing attention on a trivial object of pathetic appeal -- of unreproachful love which the faint movement could only sensible of chill — is certainly much in that absolute quiet be admitted to a more like Coleridge than the writer, fantastic impersonation, natural in the and if indeed he was the friend there eerie solitude of that hour :
immortalized, we may trace the close Only that film which fluttered on the grate spiritual kindred of the two poets in a Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
sort of mesmeric influence potent even Methinks its motion in the hush of Nature in absence and estrangement. WordsGives it dim sympathies with me who live, worth speaks of himself continually,
his poetic legacy contains his autobiog- | Upon a lonesome wild raphy, and his verse is occasionally Not far from home, but she hath lost her egotistic ; but the lines to which we way, have referred are the only instance we And now moans low in utter grief and fear, can recall in which we should describe And now screams loud, and hopes to make
her mother hear. it as confidential. Coleridge is in this respect more allied to Byron ; the fact 'Tis midnight ; and small thoughts have I that there is nothing of the “pageant”
of sleep, in his “ bleeding heart,” makes it Full seldom may my friend such vigils seem unnatural to compare them ; but
keep ! we feel equally with both that the in- Visit him, gentle Sleep, with wings of
healing, terest lies in the unveiling of an indi
And may this storm be but a mountain viduality. Except in the “ Ancient
notable exception, no May all the stars hang bright above his doubt, but one which in many respects dwelling, stands apart from the rest of his poetry Silent as though they watched the silent - all the finer interests of Coleridge's earth. verse lies in the revelation of himself. With light heart may he rise, The ode which we have noticed as Gay fancy, cheerful eyes. glowing with the sunset of his muse And sing his lofty song, and teach me to bears in its very form the impress of
rejoice! an intimate confidence. It is addressed Oh, Wordsworth! friend of my devoutest
choice, to no vague public, but (as at first written) to an “ Edmund," whose ideal Oh, raised from anxious dread and busy personality formed a transparent veil By the immenseness of the good and fair for that of Wordsworth. The change which thou seest everywhere of that pseudonym for the anonymous Joy lifts thy spirit, joy attunes thy voice ; “ Lady” (whom we are taught to iden- To thee do all things live from pole to pole, tify with Wordsworth's sister-in-law) Their life the eddying of thy living soul. is on several accounts to be regretted ; O simple spirit, guided from above ! it introduces a slight touch of senti- O lofty poet, full of life and love ! mentality which, just because it is not Brother and friend of my devoutest choice, altogether out of harmony with the Thus mayest thou ever, evermore rejoice! self-revelation of a morbid nature, The reader who studies that address should have been resolutely held at from Coleridge to Wordsworth, and rebay ; and it commemorates a bitter members that it is the last verse in his recollection of the saddest estrange- last poem, and that he lived thirty-two ment of Coleridge's sad life. Let the years after writing it, holds a clue to all reader always substitute not the origi- that is most vital in the life of both nal Edmund, but the real Wordsworth poets, and the literary movement that for the nameless “ Lady” (and the un- centres in them. That in its present known Otway), and let us especially form it commemorates estrangement recall the conclusion, as peculiarly cx- rather than union does but enhance its pressive, in one way or another, of significance as a revelation of the life both poets and of their friendship. of Coleridge. We give the lines as they at first ap- If he had died in the year in which peared in the Morning Post, with this he wrote these lines we should have single and desirable alteration. The almost the same little collection of subject is the sound of the wind in the fragmentary remains that we possess Æolian harp :
vow, and they would be surrounded by It tells another tale, with sounds less deep brilliant promise cut off by the inex:
that peculiar halo which belongs to and loud, As Wordsworth's self had framed the ten- orable. Why should an early blight
raise nothing of the emotion with which 'Tis of a little child
we contemplate an early death ? No