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II. Next year (1795) they were both in Bristol engaged to two sisters called Fricker and wedded to their pantisocratic dream. To supply funds for its fulfilment, Coleridge delivered a series of lectures on politics and religion, published immediately afterwards under the name of Conciones ad Populum. They were marked by the same violence of style and thought as the drama; in politics they denounced Pitt and all his legislation, and adored liberty; in religion they were Unitarian. In October of the same
year he married Sara Fricker, and passed three months of honeymoon in a cottage at Clevedon. Here he wrote a number of his early poems and revised others. And by April 1797 he had the collection in sufficient order to publish it through Cottle in Bristol as Poems on Various Subjects, by S. T. Coleridge, late of Jesus College, Cambridge. It contains most of what he had written between his seventeenth and twenty-fifth years. The poems may be divided into political, religious, philosophical, and descriptive of nature; but there is a tinge of the political, the philosophical, and the worship of nature in most of them. One of the longest of them, in fact one of the longest poems he ever wrote, was called "Religious Musings, a Desultory Poem ", completed on Christmas Eve 1794. It shows manifest traces of the close study of Paradise Lost; for it is in Miltonic blank verse, often in Miltonic phraseology, and it is full of apostrophes and invocations. But it is also deeply tinged with the metaphysical tendencies and the mysticism which after his visit to Germany made him a philosophic monologist instead of a poet. This mystic quality appears especially in the passages that, written long before he had met Wordsworth, identify God and Nature, and find all-pervading love the true spirit of the universe;
Diffused through all, that doth make all one whole "; "'tis the sublime of man ""to know ourselves" " "parts and proportions of one wondrous whole" "; "this fraternises man, this constitutes our charities":"blest are they" who adore "Him, nature's essence, mind, and energy "nor contempt embosom, nor revenge". He soon launches into fierce tirades against all who help to obstruct this love by
superstition, or trade, which "loud laughing packs his bales of human anguish ", or war, and especially against the allied enemies of the new French Republic, Catherine of Russia "that foul woman of the North", Austria, and
"Each petty German princeling nursed in gore”.
He curses Britain for professing "Thee to defend, meek Galilean";
"O blasphemy! to mingle fiendish deeds
He gives a long philosophical account of the origin of society, such as he saw it, based on property, twystreaming fount whence vice and virtue flow", and exhibiting "foul oppression's ruffian gluttony", and numberless poor and famished. He curses the press-gang, and prophesies "the day of retribution nigh"; even now the storm begins", the French Revolution; the "abhorred forms" of tyranny and superstition, "mitred atheism", have "met the horrible judgment"; the kingdoms of the world belong now to " pure faith" and "much piety";
Self-governed, the vast family of Love,
Raised from the common earth by common toil,
He apostrophises Milton, Newton, Priestley, pictures the last day, and closes with an anticipation of his joining the "mystic choir" of "contemplant spirits"; meanwhile he sings "heart-stirring song" and feels that here is mystery ;
"Life is a vision shadowy of Truth;
And vice and anguish and the wormy grave,
A still longer poem "The Destiny of Nations, a Vision ", written also in 1794, is even more Miltonic in its blank verse, phraseology, apostrophes, and aspirations, and is much more obscure; and it is all the worse that it is, like so many of his poems, a fragment. It is a half-allegorical picture of the spirit of freedom. It is Platonist, if not Neoplatonist, and introduces from The Republic the simile of the cave in which men sit, their "backs to bright reality". He finds a spirit in all things, and approves in this respect even the most primitive religions. "Such perhaps the
spirit", that communed with Joan of Arc. This spirit dwelt among the Swiss, and tried to protect them from war'; and at the sight of her the "Protoplast", Night, and chaos fled. She watched over the martyrs. And now in England she asks Peace why this island takes to war; the answer is because "the appetites of kings" are sated with "the low flattery of their reptile lords ", and "must have keener condiment". The spirit sees Revolution appear, and raises a hymn to God. There are more "prosaisms in this poem and also more felicities than in the previous; these are instances of the latter ;
"The snowy blast drifts arrowy by";
"The Aeolian Harp" was another blank-verse poem of this early period, written during the happy months at Clevedon in 1796. It is an elaborate analogy between the wind-harp and the human soul; and is filled with the naturetranscendentalism that connects him with the Lake school. "O the one life within us and abroad". "Methinks it should have been impossible Not to love all things in a world so filled."
And animated things are perhaps but "organic harps",
Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
Two pieces of somewhat the same type and written in blank verse were connected with the visit of his old schoolfellow Charles Lamb and his sister to him in Somersetshire. One was "To a Friend who had declared his intention of writing no more poetry" and was written in 1796; the other and finer "This Lime-tree Bower my Prison was written in June 1797 during the visit. In this last he gives beautiful expression to his sense of the brotherhood of nature; "Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure "; it also expresses the delight of friendship with his "gentle-hearted Charles", to whom no sound is dissonant which tells of Life".
13. His volume of Poems contained a series of Sonnets on Eminent Characters, which he called Effusions in order
to avoid any appearance of rivalry with his sonneteering inspirer W. L. Bowles. They cannot be said to be great successes, having no natural climax. One is on Burke, another on Pitt, a third on Kosciusko, a fourth to Earl Stanhope the sympathiser with the French Revolution. They are full of the revolutionary spirit and were evidently written at the same time as The Destiny of Nations. He describes Pitt, for example, as "yon dark scowler", "who with proud words of dear-loved Freedom came" "and kissed his country with Iscariot mouth", and "Ah! foul apostate from his father's fame", "fixed her on the cross of deep distress". Stanhope he addresses as "Friend of the human race", "Champion of freedom and her God". One "To the Autumnal Moon" is the nearest approach he makes to smypathy with nature; he spoils it by drawing out an analogy between hope and the moon, "mother of wildlyworking visions". Another "To the Author of The Robbers" gives a very different impression of this representative of the Storm-and-Stress movement on the German stage from his Critique on Bertram in his Biographia Literaria; it adopts the over-drawn and unnatural sentiment of Schiller's youthful play; "Ah! Bard tremendous in sublimity!"; if he met him "beneath some vast old tempestswinging wood", he "would brood" "with mute awe and then weep aloud in a wild ecstasy".
14. A third type of poem in the volume is represented by the Monody on the Death of Chatterton, consisting of irregular lines and stanzas like the ode which he afterwards cultivated. This is not a very philosophical or suggestive poem and one of its best stanzas is taken without acknowledgement from a Sonnet by an old Christ's Hospital school-fellow and a prospective pantisocrat, Favell. It is, like many of these poems, full of the old eighteenth century trick of personifying abstract ideas, Care, Want, Scorn, Despair. He did not abandon the artificiality till he met Wordsworth; for it was natural to his metaphysical turn of mind. The best line in it is this;
"Youth of tumultous soul and haggard eye".
The interest of the poem lies in the autobiographic close. He gives up the theme, "lest kindred woes persuade a
kindred doom"; for he too has had "big gall-drops shook from Folly's wing "; he will seek a cottaged dell" "o'er the ocean swell"; had Chatterton lived, he would have joined them in their pantisocratic expedition, and driven "the twinkling team", "o'er peaceful Freedom's undivided dale"; yet will he "love to follow the sweet dream", "where Susquehanna pours his untainted stream "; and solemn cenotaph to thee", "Sweet harper of time-shrouded Minstrelsy".
15. There is another relic of the Queen Anne period in his one poem in heroic couplet, "To a young ass, its mother being tethered near it". It belongs to December 1794, three years before he came across Wordsworth; yet it has in it all that simple, almost commonplace, sympathy with the lowliest phases of animal life which reached its climax in "Peter Bell". He pities "the little foal of an oppressed race"; "I love the languid patience of thy face”; and he pities the ass too with its circle of grass all eaten, “pity, best taught by fellowship of woe"; "half famished in a land of luxury"; he would take the young one with him as a pantisocrat ;
"I hail thee brother, spite of the fool's scorn";
Lewti or The Circassian Love-Chaunt is dated by him 1795, although it did not appear till the last years of the century. It has little likeness to his early poems, and belongs rather to the dreamily sensuous series, that includes Christabel and Kubla Khan; although it has syllabic metre, it has the octosyllabic line and the irregularly lyrical stanza; these are amongst the best lines ;
"It is a breezy jasmine-bower,
The nightingale sings o'er her head;
And creep, like thee, with soundless tread,
16. Early in 1797 with Charles Lloyd, a new friend, he removed to Nether Stowey in Somersetshire, into a cottage given by an old friend and patron, Thomas Poole. Here