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The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge by James Gillman

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Clustering, which mark the mansion of my friend;
And close behind them, hidden from my view,
Is my own lowly cottage, where my babe
And my babe's mother dwell in peace. With light
And quicken'd footsteps thitherward I tend,
Remembering thee, O green and silent dell!
And grateful, that by nature's quietness
And solitary musings, all my heart
Is soften'd, and made worthy to indulge
Love, and the thoughts that yearn for human kind.

Nether Stowey,

April 28th, 1798." ]

[Footnote 21: Ossian.]

[Footnote 22: This ill-natured remark requires no comment: but I would
fain recommend the reader to peruse the beautiful and faithful portrait
of him in the Preface to the second edition of the "Table Talk," Murray,
Albemarle Street.]

[Footnote 23: He was not an enthusiast in the sense this individual used
the word; in whatever studies he was engaged, he pursued them with great
earnestness, and they were sufficient to excite his powerful and
sensitive intellect, so as to induce an observer not well acquainted
with him to form this opinion. In the character of preacher, he
exhibited more the character of philosopher and poet, never manifesting
that sectarian spirit, which too often narrows the mind, or perhaps is
rather the 'result' of a narrow mind, and which frequently seems to
exclude men from the most substantial forms of Christianity, viz.
"Christian charity and Christian humility." His religion was the very
opposite of a worldly religion, it was at all times the religion of

This visit to Shrewsbury, as the probable successor of Mr. Rowe, was
undertaken by the advice of Mr. afterwards Dr. Estlin, a Unitarian
dissenter and preacher in Bristol, a man possessed of great kindness and
of great influence among this sect, to whom Coleridge had been indebted
for many kind offices; the result of this visit forms a part of the

[Footnote 24: 'Poetical Works,' vol. i. p. 238.]

[Footnote 25:

"No little fish thrown back into the water, no fly unimprisoned from a
child's hand, could more buoyantly enjoy its element than I this clear
and peaceful home, with the lovely view of the town, groves, and lake
of Ratzeburg."]

[Footnote 26: From the earliest periods of authentic history, the
Brocken has been the seat of the marvellous. On its summits are still
seen huge blocks of granite, called the Sorcerer's Chair and the Altar.
A spring of pure water is known by the name of the Magic Fountain, and
the Anemone of the Brocken is distinguished by the title of the
Sorcerer's Flower. These names are supposed to have originated in the
rites of the great Idol Cortho, whom the Saxons worshipped in secret on
the summit of the Brocken, when Christianity was extending her benignant
sway over the subjacent plains. As the locality of these idolatrous
rites, the Brocken must have been much frequented, and we can scarcely
doubt that the spectre which now so often haunts it at sunrise, must
have been observed from the earliest times; but it is nowhere mentioned
that this phenomenon was in any way associated with the objects of their
idolatrous worship. One of the best accounts of the Spectre of the
Brocken, is that which is given by M. Haue, who saw it on the 23rd May,
1797. After having been on the summit of the mountain no less than
thirty times, he had at last the good fortune of witnessing the object
of his curiosity. The sun rose about four o'clock in the morning through
a serene atmosphere. In the south-west, towards Achtermannshoehe, a brisk
west wind carried before it the transparent vapours, which had yet been
condensed into thick heavy clouds. About a quarter past four he went
towards the inn, and looked round to see whether the atmosphere would
afford him a free prospect towards the south-west, when he observed at a
very great distance, towards Achtermannshoehe, a human figure of a
monstrous size. His hat having been almost carried away by a violent
gust of wind, he suddenly raised his hand to his head, to protect his
hat, and the colossal figure did the same. He immediately made another
movement by bending his body, an action which was repeated by the
spectral figure. M. Haue was desirous of making further experiments, but
the figure disappeared. He remained however in the same position
expecting its return, and in a few minutes it again made its appearance
on the Achtermannshoehe, when it mimicked his gestures as before. He then
called the landlord of the inn, and having both taken the same position
which he had before, they looked towards the Achtermannshoehe, but saw
nothing. In a very short space of time, however, two colossal figures
were formed over the above eminence, and after bending their bodies, and
imitating the gestures of the two spectators, they disappeared.
Retaining their position and keeping their eyes still fixed upon the
same spot, the two gigantic spectres again stood before them, and were
joined by a third. Every movement that they made was imitated by the
three figures, but the effect varied in its intensity, being sometimes
weak and faint, and at other times strong and well defined----. "Vide
Sir D. Brewster's Natural Magic, p. 128.]

[Footnote 27: Horseley appears to have been in his way a Christian
Hercules, and well adapted for cleansing even an Augean stable of

[Footnote 28: "Letter sixteenth," p. 264. ed. 1789, in Bishop Horsley's
'Tracts' in controversy with Dr. Priestley.]

[Footnote 29: This observation, it is presumed, alludes to the time when
he was 'preaching' Unitarianism.]

[Footnote 30: Written in 1805.]

[Footnote 31:

Alas! for myself at least I know and feel, that wherever there is a
wrong not to be forgiven, there is a grief that admits neither of cure
nor comforting.

'Private Record, 1806.']

[Footnote 32: It appears that Mr. Alexander Macauley, the secretary, an
honest and amiable man, died suddenly, without "moan or motion," and
Coleridge filled his situation till the arrival of a new secretary,
appointed and confirmed by the ministers in England.]

[Footnote 33: 1805.

"For months past so incessantly employed in official tasks,
subscribing, examining, administering oaths, auditing," &c.]

[Footnote 34: April 22, 1804.

"I was reading when I was taken ill, and felt an oppression of my
breathing, and convulsive snatching in my stomach and limbs. Mrs.
Ireland noticed this laborious breathing."]

[Footnote 35: I would fain request the reader to peruse the poem,
entitled "A Tombless Epitaph," to be found in Coleridge's 'Poetical
Works', 1834, page 200.]

[Footnote 36: Coleridge when asked what was the difference between fame
and reputation, would familiarly reply, "Fame is the fiat of the good
and wise," and then with energy would quote the following beautiful
lines from Milton:--

Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies:
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heaven expect thy meed.


[Footnote 37: "The following memoranda written in pencil, and apparently
as he journeyed along, but now scarcely legible, may perhaps have an
interest for some readers:--

"Sunday, December 15th, 1805.

"Naples, view of Vesuvius, the Hail-mist--Torre del Greco--bright amid
darkness--the mountains above it flashing here and there from their
snows; but Vesuvius, it had not thinned as I have seen at Keswick, but
the air so consolidated with the massy cloud curtain, that it appeared
like a mountain in basso relievo, in an interminable wall of some

[Footnote 38: The order for Coleridge's arrest had already been sent
from Paris, but his escape was so contrived by the good old Pope, as to
defeat the intended indulgence of the Tyrant's vindictive appetite,
which would have preyed equally on a Duc D'Enghien, and a contributor to
a public journal. In consequence of Mr. Fox having asserted in the House
of Commons, that the rupture of the Truce of Amiens had its origin in
certain essays written in the Morning Post, which were soon known to
have been Coleridge's, and that he was at Rome within reach, the ire of
Buonaparte was immediately excited.]

[Footnote 39: Though his Note Books are full of memoranda, not an entry
or date of his arrival at Rome is to be found. To Rome itself and its
magnificence, he would often refer in conversation. Unfortunately there
is not a single document to recall the beautiful images he would place
before your mind in perspective, when inspired by the remembrance of its
wonder-striking and splendid objects. He however preserved some short
essays, which he wrote when in Malta, Observations on Sicily, Cairo, &c.
&c. political and statistical, which will probably form part of the
literary remains in train of publication.

Malta, on a first view of the subject, seemed to present a situation so
well fitted for a landing place, that it was intended to have adopted
this mode, as in 'The Friend', of dividing the present memoir; but
this loss of MS. and the breaches of continuity, render it

[Footnote 40: At this time all his writings were strongly tinctured with

[Footnote 41: Each party claimed him as their own; for party without
principles must ever be shifting, and therefore they found his opinions
sometimes in accordance with their own, and sometimes at variance. But
he was of no party--his views were purely philosophical.]

[Footnote 42: The character of Buonaparte was announced in the same

[Footnote 43: Those who spoke after Pitt were Wilberforce, Tierney,
Sheridan, &c.]

[Footnote 44: This speech of Mr. Pitt's is extracted from the 'Morning
Post', February 18th, 1800.]

[Footnote 45: The following exquisite image on Leighton was found in one
of Coleridge's note books, and is also inserted in his Literary

"Next to the inspired Scriptures, yea, and as the vibration of that
once struck hour remaining on the air, stands Archbishop Leighton's
commentary on the first epistle of Peter."]

[Footnote 46: In his later days, Mr. Coleridge would have renounced the
opinions and the incorrect reasoning of this letter].



Mr. Coleridge once met Mrs. Barbauld at an evening party. He had not
long been present, and the recognition of mere acquaintanceship over,
than, walking across the room, she addressed him in these words:

"So, Mr. Coleridge, I understand you do not consider Unitarians

"I hope, Madam," said he, "that all persons born in a Christian
country are Christians, and trust they are under the condition of
being saved; but I 'do' contend that Unitarianism' is not

to which she replied,

"I do not understand the distinction."

This want of knowledge of the difference, is common to many very clever
and very amiable persons of this creed. It is hoped that we are not
always to be tried by our speculative opinions, for man is frequently
constituted higher and better than the principles he sometimes adopts.

Coleridge frequently observed,

"I do not so much care for men's religious opinions,--they vary, and
are dependant on that which usually surrounds them-but I regard with
more attention what men _are_."

He extended his kindness to all he believed to be good, whatever their
creed, and when in his power, his aid. When injured, he immediately
forgave, as he hoped to be forgiven, [1] and when reviled and
persecuted, he never became 'persecutor'. Of him it may be said,
what he himself observed of the pious Baxter, that "he came a century
before his time." The Western world however seems to have better
appreciated the works of Coleridge, than most of his countrymen: in some
parts of America, his writings are understood and highly valued.

In 1801, he settled at Keswick, in a house, which if not built, was at
least finished for him, by a then neighbour (a Mr. Jackson,) and for a
time he occupied a part of it. But here his health greatly failed, and
he suffered severe rheumatism from the humidity of a lake country, which
was the main cause of his leaving Keswick for Malta.

It has been already observed, that when a youth at school, he had, from
imprudent bathing, become a rheumatic subject, and during the rest of
his life, remained liable to most painful affections of that disorder.

In 1803, the fear of sudden death induced him to insure his life, that
his family might not be left, dependant on his friends. In 1804, his
rheumatic sufferings increasing, he determined on a change of climate,
and accepted an invitation from his friend, Sir John, then Mr. Stoddart,
residing at Malta, where he arrived in May. He soon became acquainted
with the governor of the island, Sir Alexander Ball, who was greatly
attached to Coleridge, and whose character has been so well described by
him in The Friend. During a change of secretaries, [2] Coleridge, at
the request of Sir Alexander, officiated, pro tempore, as public
secretary of that island; and there was found in him--what at that time
was so much required--an able diplomatic writer in this department of
correspondence. The dignities of the office he never attempted to
support: he was greatly annoyed at what he thought its unnecessary
parade, and he petitioned Sir Alexander to be released from the
annoyance. There can be no doubt that, to an individual accustomed to
public business, his occupation might appear light, and even agreeable;
but his health, which was the object of this change, not being much
benefited, and the duties of the employment greater than he was equal
to, made it for him an arduous one. [3] He seemed at this time, in
addition to his rheumatism, to have been oppressed in his breathing,
which oppression crept on him imperceptibly to himself without suspicion
of its cause yet so obvious was it, that it was noticed by others "as
laborious;" [4] and continuing to increase, though with little apparent
advancement, at length terminated in death.

"Friday afternoon, four o'clock, April 18,1804. The Speedwell dropped
anchor in the harbour of Malta: one of the finest in the world, the
buildings surrounding it on all sides, of a neat ever-new-looking
sand-free-stone. Some unfinished, and in all, the windows placed
backward, looked like Carthage when AEneas visited it-or a 'burnt out'

Saturday, April 19.--In the after-dinner hour walked out with Mr. and
Mrs. Stoddart, towards the Quarantine harbour. One's first feeling is,
that it is all strange, very strange; and when you begin to understand
a little of the meaning and uses of the massy endless walls and
defiles, then you feel and perceive that it is very wonderful. A city
all of freestone, all the houses looking new like Bath; all with flat
roofs, the streets all strait, and at right angles to each other; but
many of them exceedingly steep, none quite level; of the steep
streets, some, 'all' stepped with a smooth artificial stone, some
having the footpath on each side in stone steps, the middle left for
carriages; lines of fortification, fosses, bastions, curtains, &c. &c.
endless:--with gardens or bowling-grounds below; for it is all height
and depth--you can walk nowhere without having whispers of suicide,
toys of desperation. Expletive cries of Maltese venders shot up,
sudden and violent. The inhabitants very dark, almost black; but
straight, cleanlimbed, lively, active,--cannot speak in praise of
their cleanliness--children very fair--women from the use of the
faldetto, or cloak-hooding their heads, as women in England in a
shower throw over their aprons, and from the use of always holding it
down to one side of the face, all have a continued languishing manner
of holding their heads one way--picturesque enough as expressive of a
transient emotion, but shocking and inelegant in 'all' and always. The
language Arabic, corrupted with Italian, and perhaps with others.

Sunday, April 20, 1804.--Went to church, plain chapel with a picture
behind the pulpit, which I was not close enough to see, and at the
other end in a nitch, a 'cross painted'! Was it there before? or was
it in complaisance to Maltese superstitions?--Called on Sir A.
Ball--there I met General Valette, and delivered my letter to him,--a
striking room, very high; 3/4ths of its height from the ground hung
with rich crimson silk or velvet; and the 1/4th above, a mass of
colours, pictures in compartments rudely done and without perspective
or art, but yet very impressively and
imagination-stirringly--representing all the events and exploits of
the Order.--Some fine pictures, one by Correggio, one of a Cain
killing Abel, I do not know by whom.

Monday, April 21, 1804, Hardkain.--Sir A. Ball called on me, and
introduced me to Mr. Lane, who was formerly his tutor, but now his
chaplain. He invited me to dine with him on Thursday, and made a plan
for me to ride to St. Antonio on Tuesday morning with Mr. Lane,
offering me a horse. Soon after came on thunder and storm, and my
breathing was affected a good deal, but still I was in no discomfort.

April 22, Tuesday morning, six o'clock, was on horseback, and rode to
St. Antonio.--Fields with walls, to keep the fort from the rain--mere
desolation seemingly, and yet it is fertile. St. Antonio, a pleasant
country-house, with a fine but unheeded garden, save among the low
orange and lemon trees, still thick with fruit on many of the trees,
fruit ripe, blossoms, and the next year's fruit. Pepper-trees very
beautiful, and the locust-tree not amiss. Visited St. John's--O

Wednesday, April 23.--General Valette I called on at his
country-house, just out of the gates, near the end of the Botanic
Garden, and it is the pleasantest place I have seen here. The
multitude of small gardens and orangeries, among the huge masses of
fortifications, many of them seeming almost as thick as the gardens
inclosed by them are broad. Pomegranate in (beautiful secicle) flower.
Under a bridge over a dry ditch saw the largest prickly pear. Elkhorns
for trunk, and then its leaves--but go and look and look.--(Hard
rain.) We sheltered in the Botanic Garden; yet reached home not

The simplicity of Coleridge's manners, and entire absence of all show of
business-like habits, amongst men chiefly mercantile, made him an object
of curiosity, and gave rise to the relation of many whimsical stories
about him. But his kindness and benevolence lent a charm to his
behaviour and manners, in whatever he was engaged. From the state of his
own lungs, invalid-like, he was in the habit of attending much to those
about him, and particularly those who had been sent to Malta for
pulmonary disease. He frequently observed how much the invalid, at first
landing, was relieved by the climate and the 'stimulus' of change; but
when the novelty, arising from 'that' change, had ceased, the monotonous
sameness of the blue sky, accompanied by the summer heat of the climate,
acted powerfully as a sedative, ending in speedy dissolution,--even more
speedy than in a colder climate. The effects on Coleridge seemed to run
parallel to this. At first he remarked that he was relieved, but
afterwards speaks of his limbs "as lifeless tools," and of the violent
pains in his bowels, which neither opium, ether, nor peppermint,
separately or combined, could relieve. These several states he minuted
down, from time to time, for after-consideration or comparison. He most
frequently sought relief from bodily suffering in religious meditations,
or in some augmented exercise of his mind:

"Sickness, 'tis true,
Whole years of weary days, besieged him close,
Even to the gates and inlets of his life!
But it is true, no less, that strenuous, firm,
And with a natural gladness, he maintained
The citadel unconquered, and in joy
Was strong to follow the delightful muse."

'Tombless Epitaph'. [5]

The citadel did, indeed, remain unconquered even to his 'last' hour--he
found in religious meditation and prayer that solace and support which,
during a life of misery and pain, gave him his extraordinary patience
and resignation. If an ejaculation escaped him, it was usually followed
by some moral or religious reflection, as thus runs one of his

"O me miserum! Assuredly the doctrine of grace, atonement, and the
spirit of God interceding by groans to the spirit of God, (Rev. viii.
26.), is founded on constant experience, and even if it can be ever
'explained away', it must still remain as the rising and setting of
the sun itself, as the darkness and as the light--it must needs have
the most efficient character of reality,--quod semper, quod ubique,
quod ab omnibus! Deeply do I both know and feel my weakness--God in
his wisdom grant, that my day of visitation may not have been past."

Lest some 'will-worshiping' individuals, inflated by vanity, and
self-righteousness, should misunderstand or misconstrue him, the
following lines are copied from his poems:--


"Frail creatures are we all! To be the best,
Is but the fewest faults to have:--
Look thou then to thyself, and leave the rest
To God, thy conscience and the grave."

'Poetical Works.'

There is not, perhaps, to be found on record a more perfect example of
humility and charity, than that which he exhibited and sustained for so
long a period of suffering and trial. Surely he could not be compared to
the generality of his fellows--to men who, though possessing great
worldly reputation, never gave him their support; but, on the contrary,
were sometimes even ready to whisper down his fair name!

"For whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above."


Some of these might be well meaning enough to believe, that in giving
publicity to what they _erroneously_ considered moral infirmities, (not
possessing the knowledge to discriminate between moral and physical
infirmities), they were performing a religious duty--were displaying a
beacon to deter others from the same course. But in the case of
Coleridge, this was a sad misconception. Neither morally nor physically
was he understood. He did all that in his state duty could exact; and
had he been more favoured in his bodily constitution, he would not have
been censured for frailties which did not attach to him.

Alas! how little do the many know of the hearts of truly great men!
Least of all could such men as Coleridge be known by modern pharisees.

"It is no uncommon thing," says an affectionate and kind-hearted
friend, whose genius is rarely equalled, "to see well intentioned men
please themselves with the feeling that they are not as others; that
they are the favorites of Heaven, and washed clean by special
dispensation from the spots of frail mortality; who more-over assume
that they possess the most delicate feelings; but then those feelings
are under such admirable discipline, that they can, with the most
exquisite suffering, cry over their own sentences, shed tears of pity
and blood for their duty, make a merit of the hardness which is
contrary to their nature, and live in perpetual apprehension of being
too tender-hearted. It is wonderful with what ingenuity these people
can reconcile their flexible consciences to acts at which their
inferiors might blush or shudder, and no less fearful to reflect how
many poor wretches, not wholly past hope or reformation, may have been
sent to their last account, with all their imperfections on their
heads, to satisfy the religious or political fears of these pharisees.
The patrons and employers of spies, we may expect to make the greatest
sacrifice to _expediency_,--a word which every man will explain after
his own way."

To have written during his life any thing like an eulogy on Coleridge
would have been most painful to him, yet he must have felt, that he
deserved well of his fellow beings; for fame, and fame only, he
observes, is the aim and object of every good and great man, though it
is too often confounded with mere reputation. When a youth, he had
learnt how to value that bubble reputation, its fleeting character, but
the love of which, in some men, is so injurious both to head and heart.
Reputation, "the morrow's meal," the "breakfast only," the furnisher of
the tinsel ornaments, or at most of some of the worldly agreeables, sown
perhaps for future worldly enjoyment. 'He' laboured for riches of
another kind, and _stored_ them, in the hope of receiving a more
permanent reward:

"By fame of course," says Coleridge, "I mean any thing rather than
reputation, [6] the desire of working in the good and great
permanently, through indefinite ages, the struggle to be promoted into
the rank of God's fellow-labourers. For bold as this expression is, it
is a quotation from Scripture, and therefore justified by God himself,
for which we ought to be grateful, that he has deigned to hold out
such a glory to us! This is however only one consistent part of the
incomprehensible goodness of Deity in taking upon himself man."

His note-books abound with "his hints and first thoughts; "as he says,
his "Cogitabilia rather than actual cogitata a me,"--not always to be
understood as his fixed opinions, but often merely suggestions of the
disquisition, and acts of obedience to the apostolic command of "Try all
things, hold fast that which is good." Among them is the following
characteristic of the man and his feelings, noted down for some future

"Wuerde, Worthiness, VIRTUE, consist in the mastery over the sensuous
and sensual impulses; but Love requires INNOCENCE. Let the lover ask
his heart whether he could endure that his mistress should have
'struggled' with a sensual impulse for another, though she overcame it
from a sense of duty to him? Women are LESS offended with men, from
the vicious habits of men in part, and in part from the difference of
bodily constitution; yet still to a pure and truly loving woman it
must be a painful thought. That he should struggle with and overcome
ambition, desire of fortune, superior beauty, &c. or with desire
objectless, is pleasing; but 'not' that he has struggled with positive
appropriated desire, i.e. desire 'with' an object. Love in short
requires an absolute 'peace' and 'harmony' between all parts of human
nature, such as it is, and it is offended by any war, though the
battle should be decided in favour of the worthier.

This is perhaps the final cause of the 'rarity' of true love, and the
efficient and immediate cause of its difficulty. Ours is a life of
probation, we are to contemplate and obey 'duty' for its own sake, and
in order to this we, in our present imperfect state of being, must see
it not merely abstracted from, but in direct opposition to the 'wish',
the 'inclination'. Having perfected this, the highest possibility of
human nature, he may then with safety harmonize 'all' his being with
it; 'he may' LOVE!--To perform duties absolutely from the sense of
duty, is the 'ideal', which perhaps no human being ever can arrive at,
but which every human being ought to try to draw near unto. This is in
the only wise, and verily, in a most sublime sense to see God face to
face; which, alas! it seems too true, that no man can do and 'live',
i.e. a 'human' life. It would become incompatible with his
organization, or rather it would 'transmute' it, and the process of
that transmutation to the senses of other men would be called
'death'.--Even as to caterpillars; in all probability the caterpillar
dies, and he either does not see, which is most probable, or at all
events he does not see the connection between the caterpillar and the
butterfly, the beautiful Psyche of the Greeks.

Those who in this life 'love' in perfection--if such there be--in
proportion as their love has no struggles, see God darkly and through
a veil:--for when duty and pleasure are absolutely coincident, the
very nature of our organization necessitates that duty, will be
contemplated as the symbol of pleasure, instead of pleasure being (as
in a future life we have faith it will be) the symbol of duty. This
then is the distinction between human and angelic 'happiness'. Human
happiness--humanly happy I call him, who in enjoyment finds his duty;
angelically happy he, who seeks and finds his 'duty' in enjoyment.
Happiness in general may be defined--not the aggregate of pleasurable
sensations, for this is either a dangerous error and the creed of
sensualists, or else a mere translation or wordy paraphrase--but the
state of that person who, in order to enjoy his nature in its highest
manifestations of conscious 'feeling', has no need of doing wrong, and
who in order to do right is under no necessity of abstaining from

On the arrival of the new secretary at Malta, Mr. Coleridge left it,
September 27, 1805, and after a day's voyage, arrived at Syracuse. He
remained in Sicily a short time only, for he was eager to visit the
"eternal city" (Rome,) in which he staid some months. The next date
marking his progress, is the 15th December, 1806, Naples,--the usual
place of the residence of travellers during summer. [7] This gap in his
minutes is partly filled up by his own verbal account, repeated at
various times to the writer of this memoir. While in Rome, he was
actively employed in visiting the great works of art, statues, pictures,
buildings, palaces, &c. &c. observations on which he minuted down for
publication. Here he became acquainted with the eminent literary men at
that time collected there, and here he first saw the great American
painter Alston, for whom he always cherished an unfeigned regard. The
German poet Tieck, he then for the first time also saw, and many others
of celebrity. To one of them he was mainly indebted for his safety,
otherwise he might have terminated his career in the Temple at Paris:
for to Buonaparte, through one of his industrious emissaries, Coleridge
had become obnoxious, in consequence of an article written by him in the
Morning Post. This salutary warning he obtained from the brother of the
celebrated traveller, Humboldt, of whom he had enquired, whether he
could pass through Switzerland and Germany, and return by that route to
England. Humboldt then informed Coleridge, that having passed through
Paris on his journey to Rome, he had learnt that he, Coleridge, was a
marked man, and unsafe: when within the reach of Buonaparte he advised
him to be more than usually circumspect, and do, all in his power to
remain unknown. [8] Rather unexpectedly, he had a visit early one
morning from a noble Benedictine, with a passport signed by the Pope, in
order to facilitate his departure. He left him a carriage, and an
admonition for instant flight, which was promptly obeyed by Coleridge.
Hastening to Leghorn, he discovered an American vessel ready to sail for
England, on board of which he embarked. On the voyage she was chased by
a French vessel, which so alarmed the American, that he compelled
Coleridge to throw his papers overboard, and thus to his great regret,
were lost the fruits of his literary labours in Rome. [9]

In 1806 he returned to England, and took up his residence for a time at
Keswick, but was more generally with his friend Wordsworth, then living
at Grassmere.

At Grassmere he planned 'The Friend', for which Mr. Wordsworth wrote a
few contributions; and receiving occasionally some little assistance
from other writers, he was enabled to furnish the quantity of valuable
matter which appeared in that publication. Some of his earnest admirers,
and those too persons best acquainted with his works, are disposed to
give this the preference.

His friend, Lamb, who is justly considered a man of exquisite taste,
used to say, in his odd and familiar way, "Only now listen to his talk,
it is as fine as an angel's!" and then, by way of a superlative, would
add, "but after all, his best talk is in 'The Friend'."

To the Lake Edition of this work, as it has been termed, is appended the
following prospectus, addressed to a correspondent

"It is not unknown to you, that I have employed almost the whole of my
life in acquiring, or endeavouring to acquire, useful knowledge by
study, reflection, observation, and by cultivating the society of my
superiors in intellect, both at home and in foreign countries. You
know too, that at different periods of my life, I have not only
planned, but collected the materials for many works on various and
important subjects: so many indeed, that the number of my unrealized
schemes, and the mass of my miscellaneous fragments, have often
furnished my friends with a subject of raillery, and sometimes of
regret and reproof. Waiving the mention of all private and accidental
hinderances, I am inclined to believe, that this want of perseverance
has been produced in the main by an over-activity of thought, modified
by a constitutional indolence, which made it more pleasant to me to
continue acquiring, than to reduce what I had acquired to a regular
form. Add too, that almost daily throwing off my notices or
reflections in desultory fragments, I was still tempted onward by an
increasing sense of the imperfection of my knowledge, and by the
conviction, that in order fully to comprehend and develope any one
subject, it was necessary that I should make myself master of some
other, which again as regularly involved a third, and so on, with an
ever-widening horizon. Yet one habit, formed during long absences from
those with whom I could converse with full sympathy, has been of
advantage to me--that of daily noting down, in my memorandum or common
place books, both incidents and observations, whatever had occurred to
me from without, and all the flux and reflux of my mind within itself.
The number of these notices and their tendency, miscellaneous as they
were, to one common end ('quid sumus et quid futuri gignimur,' what we
are and what we are born to become; and thus from the end of our being
to deduce its proper objects), first encouraged me to undertake the
weekly essay, of which you will consider this letter as the

Not only did the plan seem to accord better than any other with the
nature of my own mind, both in its strength and in its weakness; but
conscious that, in upholding some principles both of taste and
philosophy, adopted by the great men of Europe, from the middle of the
fifteenth till toward the close of the seventeenth century. I must run
counter to many prejudices of many of my readers (for old faith is
often modern heresy). I perceived too in a periodical essay, the most
likely means of winning instead of forcing my way. Supposing truth on
my side, the shock of the first day might be so far lessened by
reflections of the succeeding days, as to procure for my next week's
essay a less hostile reception, than it would have met with, had it
been only the next chapter of a present volume. I hoped to disarm the
mind of those feelings, which preclude conviction by contempt, and as
it were, fling the door in the face of reasoning, by a 'presumption'
of its absurdity. A motion too for honourable ambition was supplied by
the fact, that every periodical paper of the kind now attempted, which
had been conducted with zeal and ability, was not only well received
at the time, but has become permanently, and in the best sense of the
word, popular. By honourable ambition, I mean the strong desire to be
useful, aided by the wish to be generally acknowledged to have been
so. As I feel myself actuated in no ordinary degree by this desire, so
the hope of realizing it appears less and less presumptuous to me,
since I have received from men of highest rank and established
character in the republic of letters, not only strong encouragements
as to my own fitness for the undertaking, but likewise promises of
support from their own stores.

The 'object' of 'The Friend' briefly and generally expressed is--to
uphold those truths and those merits against the caprices of fashion,
and such pleasures, as either depend on transitory and accidental
causes, or are pursued from less worthy impulses. The chief 'subjects'
of my own essays will be:--

The true and sole ground of morality, or virtue, as distinguished from

The origin and growth of moral impulses, as distinguished from
external and immediate motives.

The necessary dependence of taste on moral impulses and habits; and
the nature of taste (relatively to judgment in general and to genius)
defined, illustrated and applied. Under this head I comprise the
substance of the Lectures given, and intended to have been given, at
the Royal Institution, on the distinguished English Poets, in
illustration of the general principles of Poetry, together with
suggestions concerning the affinity of the Fine Arts to each other,
and the principles common to them all: Architecture; Gardening; Dress;
Music; Painting; Poetry.

The opening out of new objects of just admiration in our own language,
and information of the present state and past history of Swedish,
Danish, German and Italian literature, (to which, but as supplied by a
friend, I may add the Spanish, Portuguese and French,) as far as the
same has not been already given to English readers, or is not to be
found in common French authors.

Characters met with in real life; anecdotes and results of my life and
travels, &c. &c. as far as they are illustrative of general moral
laws, and have no immediate leaning on personal or immediate politics.

Education in its widest sense, private and national sources of
consolation to the afflicted in misfortune or disease, or dejection of
mind from the exertion and right application of the reason, the
imagination, and the moral sense; and new sources of enjoyment opened
out, or an attempt (as an illustrious friend once expressed the
thought to me) to add sunshine to daylight, by making the happy more
happy. In the words 'dejection of mind,' I refer particularly to doubt
or disbelief of the moral government of the world, and the grounds and
arguments for the religious hopes of human nature."

The first number, printed on stamped paper, was dated June 8th, 1809. He
commences this work with the following motto:

"Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further
improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the
effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence,
because we can proceed with intelligence. Whereas, in hot
reformations, is what men more zealous than considerate, call 'making
clear work', the whole is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested;
mixed with so much imprudence and so much injustice; so contrary to
the whole course of human nature and human institutions, that the very
people who are most eager for it, are among the first to grow
disgusted at what they have done. Then some part of the abdicated
grievance is recalled from its exile in order to become a corrective
of the correction.

Then the abuse assumes all the credit and popularity of a reform. The
very idea of purity and disinterestedness in politics falls into
disrepute, and is considered as a vision of hot and inexperienced men;
and thus disorders become incurable, not by the virulence of their own
quality, but by the unapt and violent nature of the remedies."

('Burke's speech on the 11th of February, 1780'.)


"Conscious that I am about to deliver my sentiments on a subject of
the utmost delicacy, I have selected the general motto to all my
political lucubrations, from an authority equally respected by both
parties. I have taken it from an orator, whose eloquence enables
Englishmen to repeat the name of Demosthenes and Cicero, without
humiliation; from a statesman, who has left to our language a bequest
of glory unrivalled and all our own, in the keen-eyed, yet far-sighted
genius, with which he has made the profoundest general principles of
political wisdom, and even the recondite laws of human passions, bear
upon particular measures and passing events. While of the harangues of
Pitt, Fox, and their compeers on the most important occurrences, we
retain a few unsatisfactory fragments alone, the very flies and weeds
of Burke shine to us through the purest amber, imperishably enshrined,
and valuable from the precious material of their embalment. I have
extracted the passage not from that Burke, whose latter exertions have
rendered his works venerable as oracular voices from the sepulchre of
a patriarch, to the upholders of the government and society in their
existing state and order; but from a speech delivered by him while he
was the most beloved, the proudest name with the more anxious friends
of liberty; while he was the darling of those who, believing mankind
to have been improved, are desirous to give to forms of government a
similar progression. From the same anxiety, I have been led to
introduce my opinions on this most hazardous subject, by a preface of
a somewhat personal character. And though the title of my address is
general, yet, I own, I direct myself more particularly to those among
my readers, who, from various printed and unprinted calumnies, have
judged most unfavourably of my political tenets; aid to those whose
favour I have chanced to win in consequence of a similar, though not
equal mistake. To both, I affirm, that the opinions and arguments, I
am about to detail, have been the settled convictions of my mind for
the last ten or twelve years, with some brief intervals of
fluctuation, and those only in lesser points, and known only to the
companions of my fire-side. From both and from all my readers, I
solicit a gracious attention to the following explanations: first, on
the congruity of the following numbers, with the general plan and
object of 'The Friend;' and secondly, on the charge of arrogance or
presumption, which may be adduced against the author for the freedom,
with which in these numbers, and in others that will follow on other
subjects, he presumes to dissent from men of established reputation,
or even to doubt of the justice, with which the public laurel-crown,
as symbolical of the 'first' class of genius and intellect, has been
awarded to sundry writers since the revolution, and permitted to
wither around the brows of our elder benefactors, from Hooker to Sir
P. Sidney, and from Sir P. Sidney, to Jeremy Taylor and Stillingfleet."

The work ceased at the 27th number, March 15th, 1810. As is usually the
case when authors become their own publishers, there was a pecuniary
loss; but as long as printing lasts, it must remain a record of his

Yet the critics, if critics they were worthy to be called, discovered
only feebleness of mind, when in the attempt to make themselves
acquainted with his principles, they professed, either through
ignorance, or indolence, not to understand him. When his mental powers
had so far advanced, he felt a conviction of the truth of the Triune
power, [10] and at once saw that there was no important truth, in which
this Triad was not contained. As ours was a constitutional government,
composed of three great powers (of the three great estates of the realm,
as Queen Elizabeth would say, the church, the nobles, and the
commonalty,) when these, Coleridge observed, were exactly balanced, the
government was in a healthy state, but excess in any one of these
powers, disturbed the balance and produced disorder, which was attended
by dissatisfaction and discord. A political writer, he laboured to
maintain this balance; and when either power was threatened by any
disturbance, threw in a counterweight, sometimes on one side and
sometimes on another, as he, according to his philosophical opinions,
thought they deserved either censure or praise. [11] For this 'apparent'
fluctuation he was termed, by those men who never understood his
principles, vacillating and inconsistent: but he cast his "bread upon
the waters," and in due time it returned to him.

There must come a time when the works of Coleridge will be fairly
weighed against the agreeable time-killing publications of our day;
works for which their frivolous authors have reaped an abundant harvest
while this giant in literature gained scarcely a dwarf's portion. But
Truth, though perhaps slowly, must finally prevail. Mr. Coleridge
remarks, that for his own guidance he was greatly benefited by a
resolve, which, in the antithetic and allowed quaintness of an adage or
maxim he had been accustomed to word thus:

"until you 'understand a writer's ignorance', presume yourself
'ignorant of his understanding'."

This was for him a golden rule, and which, when he read the
philosophical works of others, he applied most carefully to himself. If
an unlearned individual takes up a book, and, on opening it, finds by
certain characters that it is a book on Algebra, he modestly puts, it
down with perhaps an equally modest observation. "I never learned the
Mathematics, and am ignorant of them: they are not suited to my taste,
and I do not require them." But if perchance, he should take up a
philosophical work, this modesty is not exercised: though he does not
comprehend it, he will not acknowledge the fact; he is piqued however,
and not satisfied with a mere slighting observation, but often ends, as
disappointed vanity usually does, in shallow abuse. The political, the
critical, the philosophical views of Coleridge, were all grand, and from
his philosophical views he never deviated; all fluctuating opinions
rolled by him, not indeed unheeded, but observed with sympathy and with
regret, when not founded on those permanent principles which were to
benefit and give good government to man.

Coleridge, it is well known, was no adept in matters of business, and so
little skilled in ephemeral literature as not to be able to profit by
any weekly publication. The first edition of The Friend was published
weekly, on paper with the government stamp, and that reached, as before
related, its twenty-seventh number.

Such a work was not suited to his genius: in fact, no periodical which
required rapid writing on slight amusing subjects, with punctuality in
publication, which demanded steadiness of health, and the absence of
those sedative causes arising, in part, from his benevolent heart and
sensitive nature, ever would have suited him. To write like a
novelist--to charm ennui--is that which is required of a modern author
who expects pecuniary recompense. Although he needed such recompense,
the character of his genius unfitted him for the attainment of it; and
had he continued the work, the expenditure would have ended in still
greater pecuniary loss. One of his last political essays is that taken
from the Morning Post, of March 19, 1800, on the character of Pitt. [12]
These Essays were soon forgotten, though this, at the time, was much
read and admired as part of the history of the man and his political
feelings. It was the effect which Buonaparte believed to have been
produced by these on the public mind that tempted him to try to
incarcerate Coleridge. Some time after, Otto, the French ambassador at
our Court, was ready with a bribe, in the hope to obtain from Coleridge
a complimentary essay to his sovereign. The offer of the bribe would
have deterred him from writing any more on the subject. Had he been
willing to sell himself--to write a flattering character of the great
hero--to raise that hero in the estimation of Europe, he would have been
amply recompensed.

In his 'Biographia Literaria,' he says,

"But I do derive a gratification from the knowledge, that my essays
have contributed to introduce the practice of placing the questions
and events of the day in a moral point of view, in giving dignity to
particular measures by tracing their policy or impolicy to permanent
principles, and an interest to principles by the application of them
to individual measures. In Mr. Burke's writings, indeed, the germs of
almost all political truths may be found. But I dare assume to myself
the merit of having first explicitly defined and analysed the nature
of Jacobinism; and that in distinguishing the jacobin from the
republican, the democrat and the mere demagogue, I both rescued the
word from remaining a mere term of abuse, and put on their guard many
honest minds, who even in their heat of zeal against jacobinism,
admitted or supported principles from which the worst part of that
system may be legitimately deduced."

With this view the following Essays and Observations have been
republished here,--as illustrative of his early opinions to be compared
with those of his more advanced life,--to shew the injustice of his
political opponents, who never seemed to have troubled themselves about
principle,--and the necessary growth of intellectual power giving deeper
insight, with the additional value of experience and its consequences.


From the Morning Post, March 19, 1800.

"Plutarch, in his comparative biography of Rome and Greece, has
generally chosen for each pair of lives the two contemporaries who
most nearly resembled each other. His work would perhaps have been
more interesting, if he had adopted the contrary arrangement, and
selected those rather who had attained to the possession of similar
influence, or similar fame, by means, actions, and talents the most
dissimilar. For power is the sole object of philosophical attention in
man, as in inanimate nature; and in the one equally as in the other,
we understand it more intimately, the more diverse the circumstances
are with which we have observed it co-exist. In our days, the two
persons who appear to have influenced the interests and actions of men
the most deeply, and the most diffusively, are beyond doubt the Chief
Consul of France and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and in these
two are prerented to us similar situations, with the greatest
dissimilitude of characters.

William Pitt was the younger son of Lord Chatham; a fact of no
ordinary importance in the solution of his character, of no mean
significance in the heraldry of morals and intellect. His father's
rank, fame, political connections, and parental ambition, were his
mould; he was cast, rather than grew.

A palpable election, a conscious predestination controlled the free
agency, and transfigured the individuality of his mind; and that,
which he 'might have been', was compered into that, which he 'was to
be'. From his early childhood it was his father's custom to make him
stand up on a chair, and declaim before a large company; by which
exercise, practised so frequently, and continued for so many years, he
acquired a premature and unnatural dexterity in the combination of
words, which must of necessity have diverted his attention from
present objects, obscured his impressions, and deadened his genuine
feelings. Not the 'thing' on which he was speaking, but the praises to
be gained, were present to his intuition; hence he associated all the
operations of his faculties with words, and his pleasures with the
surprise excited by them.

But an inconceivably large portion of human knowledge and human power
is involved in the science and management of 'words'; and an education
of words, though it destroys genius, will often create, and always
foster, talent. The young Pitt was conspicuous far beyond his fellows,
both at school and at college. He was always full grown: he had
neither the promise nor the awkwardness of a growing intellect.
Vanity, early satiated, formed and elevated itself into a love of
power; and in losing this colloquial vanity, he lost one of the prime
links that connect the individual with the species, too early for the
affections, though not too early for the understanding. At college he
was a severe student; his mind was founded and elemented in words and
generalities, and these two formed all the superstructure. That
revelry and that debauchery, which are so often fatal to the powers of
intellect, would probably have been serviceable to him; they would
have given him a closer communion with realities, they would have
induced a greater presentness to present objects. But Mr. Pitt's
conduct was correct, unimpressibly correct. His after-discipline in
the special pleader's office, and at the bar, carried on the scheme of
his education with unbroken uniformity. His first political
connections were with the reformers; but those who accuse him of
sympathising or coalescing with their intemperate or visionary plans,
misunderstand his character, and are ignorant of the historical facts.

Imaginary situations in an imaginary state of things rise up in minds
that possess a power and facility in combining images. Mr. Pitt's
ambition was conversant with old situations in the old state of
things, which furnish nothing to the imagination, though much to the
wishes. In his endeavours to realise his father's plan of reform, he
was probably as sincere as a being, who had derived so little
knowledge from actual impressions, could be. But his sincerity had no
living root of affection; while it was propped up by his love of
praise and immediate power, so long it stood erect and no longer. He
became a member of the Parliament, supported the popular opinions, and
in a few years, by the influence of the popular party, was placed in
the high and awful rank in which he now is. The fortunes of his
country, we had almost said the fates of the world, were placed in his
wardship--we sink in prostration before the inscrutable dispensations
of Providence, when we reflect in whose wardship the fates of the
world were placed!

The influencer of his country and of his species was a young man, the
creature of another's predetermination, sheltered and weather-fended
from all the elements of experience; a young man, whose feet had never
wandered; whose very eye had never turned to the right or to the left;
whose whole track had been as curveless as the motion of a fascinated
reptile! It was a young man, whose heart was solitary, because he had
existed always amid objects of futurity, and whose imagination too was
unpopulous, because those objects of hope to which his habitual wishes
had transferred, and as it were 'projected', his existence, were all
familiar and long-established objects! A plant sown and reared in a
hot-house, for whom the very air, that surrounded him, had been
regulated by the thermometer of previous purpose; to whom the light of
nature had penetrated only through glasses and covers; who had had the
sun without the breeze; whom no storm had shaken; on whom no rain had
pattered; on whom the dews of Heaven had not fallen! A being who had
had no feelings connected with man or nature, no spontaneous impulses,
no unbiassed and desultory studies, no genuine science, nothing that
constitutes individuality in intellect, nothing that teaches
brotherhood in affection! Such was the man--such, and so denaturalized
the spirit, on whose wisdom and philanthropy the lives and living
enjoyments of so many millions of human beings were made unavoidably

From this time a real enlargement of mind became almost impossible.
Pre-occupations, intrigue, the undue passion and anxiety, with which
all facts must be surveyed; the crowd and confusion of those facts,
none of them seen, but all communicated, and by that very
circumstance, and by the necessity of perpetually classifying them,
transmuted into words and generalities; pride; flattery; irritation;
artificial power; these, and circumstances resembling these,
necessarily render the heights of office barren heights; which command
indeed a vast and extensive prospect, but attract so many clouds and
vapours, that most often all prospect is precluded. Still, however,
Mr. Pitt's situation, however inauspicious for his real being, was
favourable to his fame. He heaped period on period; persuaded himself
and the nation, that extemporaneous arrangement of sentences was
eloquence; and that eloquence implied wisdom.

His father's struggles for freedom, and his own attempts, gave him an
almost unexampled popularity; and his office necessarily associated
with his name all the great events that happened during his
administration. There were not however wanting men who saw through
this delusion: and refusing to attribute the industry, integrity, and
enterprising spirit of our merchants, the agricultural improvements of
our landholders, the great inventions of our manufacturers, or the
valour and skilfulness of our sailors, to the merits of a minister,
they have continued to decide on his character from those acts and
those merits, which belong to him, and to him alone. Judging him by
this standard, they have been able to discover in him no one proof or
symptom of a commanding genius. They have discovered him never
controlling, never creating, events, but always yielding to them with
rapid change, and sheltering himself from inconsistency by perpetual
indefiniteness. In the Russian war, they saw him abandoning meanly
what he had planned weakly, and threatened insolently. In the debates
on the Regency, they detected the laxity of his constitutional
principles, and received proofs that his eloquence consisted not in
the ready application of a general system to particular questions, but
in the facility of arguing for or against any question by specious
generalities, without reference to any system. In these debates he
combined what is most dangerous in democracy with all that is most
degrading in the old superstitions of monarchy; and taught an
inherency of the office in the person, in order to make the office
itself a nullity, and the premiership, with its accompanying majority,
the sole and permanent power of the state. And now came the French
Revolution. This was a new event: the old routine of reasoning, the
common trade of politics, were to become obsolete. He appeared wholly
unprepared for it: half favouring, half condemning, ignorant of what
he favoured, and why he condemned, he neither displayed the honest
enthusiasm and fixed principle of Mr. Fox, nor the intimate
acquaintance with the general nature of man, and the consequent
'prescience' of Mr. Burke.

After the declaration of war, long did he continue in the common cant
of office, in declamation about the Scheld and Holland, and all the
vulgar causes of common contests! and when at least the immense genius
of his new supporter had beat him out of these 'words' (words
signifying 'places' and 'dead objects', and signifying nothing more),
he adopted other words in their places, other generalities--Atheism
and Jacobinism--phrases, which he learnt from Mr. Burke, but without
learning the philosophical definitions and involved consequences, with
which that great man accompanied those words: Since the death of Mr.
Burke the forms, and the sentiments, and the tone of the French have
undergone many and important changes: how, indeed, is it possible that
it should be otherwise, while man is the creature of experience! But
still Mr. Pitt proceeds in an endless repetition of the same 'general
phrases'. This is his element: deprive him of general and abstract
phrases, and you reduce him to silence; but you cannot deprive him of
them. Press him to specify an 'individual' fact of advantage to be
derived from a war, and he answers, Security! Call upon him to
particularize a crime, and he exclaims--Jacobinism! Abstractions
defined by abstractions; generalities defined by generalities! As a
minister of finance he is still, as ever, the words of abstractions.
Figures, custom-house reports, imports and exports, commerce and
revenue--all flourishing, all splendid! Never was such a prosperous
country as England under his administration! Let it be objected, that
the agriculture of the country is, by the overbalance of commerce, and
by various and complex causes, in such a state, that the country hangs
as a pensioner for bread on its neighbours, and a bad season uniformly
threatens us with famine. This (it is replied) is owing to our
PROSPERITY,--all 'prosperous' nations are in great distress for
food!--Still PROSPERITY, still GENERAL PHRASES, unenforced by one
single image, one 'single fact' of real national amelioration; of any
one comfort enjoyed, where it was not before enjoyed; of any one class
of society becoming healthier, or wiser, or happier. These are
'things', these are realities, and these Mr. Pitt has neither the
imagination to body forth, or the sensibility to feel for. Once,
indeed, in an evil hour, intriguing for popularity, he suffered
himself to be persuaded to evince a talent for the real, the
individual; and he brought in his POOR BILL!! When we hear the
minister's talents for finance so loudly trumpeted, we turn
involuntarily to his POOR BILL--to that acknowledged abortion--that
unanswerable evidence of his ignorance respecting all the fundamental
relations and actions of property, and of the social union!

As his reasonings, even so is his eloquence. One character pervades
his whole being: words on words, finely arranged, and so dexterously
consequent, that the whole bears the semblance of argument, and still
keeps awake a sense of surprise; but when all is done, nothing
rememberable has been said, no one philosophical remark, no one image,
not even a pointed aphorism. Not a sentence of Mr. Pitt's has ever
been quoted, or formed the favourite phrase of the day, a thing
unexampled in any man of equal reputation; but while he speaks, the
effect varies according to the character of his auditor. The man of no
talent is swallowed up in surprise; and when the speech is ended, he
remembers his feelings, but nothing distinct of that which produced
them: (how opposite an effect to that of nature and genius, from whose
works the idea still remains, when the feeling is passed away, remains
to connect itself with the other feelings, and combine with new
impressions!) The mere man of talent hears him with admiration; the
mere man of genius with contempt; the philosopher neither admires nor
contemns, but listens to him with a deep and solemn interest, tracing
in the effects of his eloquence the power of words and phrases, and
that peculiar constitution of human affairs in their present state,
which so eminently favours this power.

Such appears to us to be the prime minister of Great Britain, whether
we consider him as a statesman or an orator. The same character
betrays itself in his private life; the same coldness to realities, to
images of realities, and to all whose excellence relates to reality:
he has patronized no science, he has raised no man of genius from
obscurity, he counts no one prime work of God among his friends. From
the same source, he has no attachment to female society, no fondness
for children, no perceptions of beauty in natural scenery; but he is
fond of convivial indulgences, of that stimulation, which, keeping up
the glow of self-importance, and the sense of internal power, gives
feelings without the mediation of ideas.

These are the elements of his mind; the accidents of his fortune, the
circumstances that enabled such a mind to acquire and retain such a
power, would form the subject of a philosophical history, and that too
of no scanty size. We can scarcely furnish the chapter of contents to
a work, which would comprise subjects so important and delicate as the
causes of the diffusion and intensity of secret influence; the
machinery and state intrigue of marriages; the overbalance of the
commercial interest; the panic of property struck by the late
revolution; the short-sightedness of the careful; the carelessness of
the far-sighted; and all those many and various events which have
given to a decorous profession of religion, and a seemliness of
private morals, such an unwonted weight in the attainment and
preservation of public power. We are unable to determine whether it be
more consolatory or humiliating to human nature, that so many
complexities of event, situation, character, age, and country, should
be necessary in order to the production of a Mr. Pitt."

On the day following the editor promised the character of Buonaparte,
but the surmise of a visit from the French minister, then at our court,
was sufficient to put a stop to its publication; accordingly it 'never
appeared'. Coleridge was requested by the proprietor and editor to
report a speech of Pitt's, which at this time was expected to be one of
great eclat.

Accordingly, early in the morning off Coleridge set, carrying with him
his supplies for the campaign: those who are acquainted with the gallery
of the house on a press night, when a man can scarcely find elbow room,
will better understand how incompetent Coleridge was for such an
undertaking; he, however, started by seven in the morning, but was
exhausted long before night. Mr. Pitt, for the first quarter of an hour
spoke fluently, and in his usual manner, and sufficiently to give a
notion of his best style; this was followed by a repetition of words,
and words only; he appeared to "talk against time," as the phrase is.
Coleridge fell asleep, and listened occasionally only to the speeches
[13] that followed. On his return, the proprietor being anxious for the
report, Coleridge informed him of the result, and finding his anxiety
great, immediately 'volunteered' a speech for Mr. Pitt, which he wrote
off hand, and which answered the purpose exceedingly well: it is here
presented. The following day, and for days after the publication, the
proprietor received complimentary letters announcing the pleasure
received at the report, and wishing to know who was the reporter. The
secret was, however, kept, and the real author of the speech concealed;
but one day Mr. Canning calling on business, made similar inquiries, and
received the same answer. Canning replied, "It does more credit to the
author's head than to his memory.

[14] The honourable gentleman calls upon ministers to state the object
of the war in one sentence. I can state it in one word: it is
Security. I can state it in one word, though it is not to be explained
but in many. The object of the war is security: security against a
danger, the greatest that ever threatened this country; the greatest
that ever threatened mankind; a danger the more terrible, because it
is unexampled and novel. It is a danger which has more than menaced
the safety and independence of all nations; it is a danger which has
attacked the property and peace of all individuals; a danger which
Europe has strained all its sinews to repel; and which no nation has
repelled so successfully as the British; because no nation has acted
so energetically, so sincerely, so uniformly on the broad basis of
principle; because no other nation has perceived with equal clearness
and decision the necessity, not only of combating the evil abroad, but
of stifling it at home; because no nation has breasted with so firm a
constancy the tide of jacobinical power; because no nation has pierced
with so steadfast an eye, through the disguises of jacobinical
hypocrisy; but now, it seems, we are at once to remit our zeal and our
suspicion; that Jacobinism, which alarmed us under the stumbling and
drunken tyranny of Robespierre; that Jacobinism, which insulted and
roused us under the short-sighted ambition of the five Directors; that
Jacobinism, to which we have sworn enmity through every shifting of
every bloody scene, through all those abhorred mockeries which have
profaned the name of liberty to all the varieties of usurpation; to
this Jacobinism we are now to reconcile ourselves, because all its
arts and all its energies are united under one person, the child and
the champion of Jacobinism, who has been reared in its principles, who
has fought its battles, who has systematised its ambition, at once the
fiercest instrument of its fanaticism, and the gaudiest puppet of its

The honourable gentleman has discovered, that the danger of French
power and French principles is at an end, because they are concentred,
and because to uniformity of design is added an unity of direction; he
has discovered that all the objects of French ambition are
relinquished, because France has sacrificed even the 'appearances' of
freedom to the best means of realising them; in short that now, for
the first time, Jacobinism is not to be dreaded, because now, for the
first time, it has superadded to itself the compactness of despotism.
But the honourable gentleman presses hard, and requires me to be
definite and explicit. What, says he, do you mean by destroying the
power of Jacobinism? Will, you persevere in the war, until you have
received evidence that it is extinct in this country, extinct in
France, extinct in the mind of every man? No! I am not so shamefully
ignorant of the laws that regulate the soul of man. The mind once
tainted with Jacobinism can never be wholly free from the taint; I
know no means of purification; when it does not break out on the
surface, it still lurks in the vitals; no antidote can approach the
subtlety of the venom, no length of quarantine secure us against the
obstinacy of the pestilence.

Those who are now telling us, that all danger from revolutionary
principles is now passed by, are yet endeavouring to call up again the
very arguments which they used at the commencement of the war, in the
youth and rampancy of Jacobinism; and repeat the same language, with
which they then attempted to lull the nation into security, combined
with the same acts of popular irritation. They are telling us, that
ministers disregard peace; that they are prodigal of blood; insensible
to the miseries, and enemies to the liberties of mankind; that the
extinction of Jacobinism is their pretext, but that personal ambition
is their motive; and that we have squandered two hundred millions on
an object, unattainable were it desirable, and were it not
unattainable, yet still to be deprecated. Sir, will men be governed by
mere words without application? This country, Sir, will not. It knows
that to this war it owes its prosperity, its constitution, whatever is
fair or useful in public or domestic life, the majesty of her laws,
the freedom of her worship, and the sacredness of our firesides. For
these it has spent two hundred millions, for these it would spend two
hundred millions more; and, should it be necessary, Sir, I doubt not
that I could find those two hundred millions, and still preserve her
resources unimpaired. The only way to make it not necessary is to
avail ourselves of the hearty co-operation of our allies, and to
secure and invigorate that co-operation by the firmness and vigour of
our own conduct. The honourable gentleman then comes back upon me, and
presses me upon the supposed dissonance between our views and those of
our allies. But surely there may allowably exist in the minds of
different men different means of arriving at the same security. This
difference may, without breaking the ties of effective union, exist
even in this house; how much more then in different kingdoms? The
Emperor of Russia may have announced the restoration of monarchy, as
exclusively his object. This is not considered as the ultimate object
by this country, but as the best means and most reliable pledge of a
higher object, viz. our own security, and that of Europe; but we do
not confine ourselves to this, as the only possible means.

From this shade of difference we are required to infer the
impossibility of cordial co-operation! But here the honourable
gentleman falls into a strange contradiction. He affirms the
restoration of monarchy an unjust object of the war, and refuses
expressly and repeatedly to vote a single farthing on such a ground;
and yet the supposed secession of Russia from the allied powers, the
secession of that government, whose 'exclusive' object is the
restoration of monarchy, is adduced by him as another and equal ground
for his refusal. Had the Emperor of Russia persevered in directing his
utmost forces to the attainment of that object, to which Austria will
not pledge herself, and which the honourable gentleman considers as an
unjust object, then the honourable gentleman would have been
satisfied. But I will not press too hard on the honourable gentleman,
or lay an undue weight on an inadvertence. I will deal most fairly
with him if I did believe, which I do not, that Austria saw no
advantages in the restoration of monarchy, yet still I would avail
myself of her efforts, without changing my own object. Should the
security of Britain and Europe result from the exertions of Austria,
or be aided by her influence, I should think it my duty to advise his
Majesty to lend the Emperor every financial assistance, however those
exertions and that influence might spring from principles not in
unison with our own.

If the honourable gentleman will tell me, that the object of Austria
is to regain the Netherlands, and to reconquer all she may leave lost
in Germany and Italy, so far from feeling this as a cause of distress,
I feel it a ground of consolation, as giving us the strongest
assurance of his sincerity, added to that right which we possess of
believing Austria sincere, from our experience that Austria, above
all, must know the insecurity of peace with Jacobins. This, Sir, would
be a ground of consolation and confident hope; and though we should go
farther than the Emperor of Germany, and stop short of Russia, still,
however, we should all travel in the same road. Yet even were less
justifiable objects to animate our ally, were ambition her inspiring
motive, yet even on that ground I contend that her arms and victories
would conduce to our security. If it tend to strip France of territory
and influence, the aggrandisement of Austria is elevated by comparison
into a blessing devoutly to be wished! The aggrandisement of Austria,
founded on the ruins of Jacobinism, I contend, Sir, to be a truly
British object. But, Sir, the honourable gentleman says, he thinks the
war neither just nor necessary, and calls upon me, without the
qualifying reservations and circuitous distinctions of a special
pleader; in short, without BUTS or IFS, to state the real object; and
affirms that in spite of these buts and ifs, the restoration of
monarchy in France is the real and sole object of ministers, and that
all else contained in the official notes are unmeaning words and
distinctions fallacious, and perhaps meant to deceive. Is it, Sir, to
be treated as a fallacious distinction, that the restoration of
monarchy is not my sole or ultimate object; that my ultimate object is
security, that I think no pledge for that security so unequivocal as
the restoration of monarchy, and no means so natural and so effectual?
'but' if you can present any other mode, that mode I will adopt. I am
unwilling to accept an inadequate security; but the nature of the
security which it may be our interest to demand, must depend on the
relative and comparative dangers of continuing the war, or concluding
a peace. And 'if' the danger of the war should be greater than that of
a peace, and 'if' you can shew to me that there is no chance of
diminishing Jacobinism by the war, and 'if' you can evince that we are
exhausting our means more than our enemies are exhausting theirs, then
I am ready to conclude a peace without the restoration of monarchy.

These are the 'ifs' and the 'buts', which I shall continue to
introduce, not the insidious and confounding subtleties of special
pleading, but the just and necessary distinctions of intelligible
prudence; I am conscious of sincere and honest intentions in the use
of them, and I desire to be tried by no other than God and my country.
But are we not weakening ourselves? Let any man calmly, and with the
mind of an Englishman, look round on the state of our manufactures,
our commerce, on all that forms and feeds the sources of national
wealth, and to that man I can confidently leave the following
questions to be answered. From the negotiations at Lisle to the
present moment has England or France weakened itself in the greater
degree? Whether, at the end of this campaign, France is not more
likely to suffer the feebleness ensuing on exhausted finance than

If Jacobinism, enthroned in Buonaparte, should resist both the
pressure of foreign attack, and its own inherent tendencies to
self-destruction, whether it must not derive such power of resistance
from the use of such revolutionary and convulsive efforts, as involve,
and almost imply a consequent state of feebleness? And whether
therefore, if any unexpected reverse of fortune should make it
expedient or necessary for us to compromise with Jacobinism, it would
not be better for us to compromise with it at the end of the campaign,
than at present? And by parity of reasoning, whether it be not true
(even on the supposition that Jacobinism is not to be routed,
disarmed, and fettered); yet, that even on this supposition, the
longer we defer a peace, the safer that peace will be!

Sir, we have been told that Jacobinism is extinct, or at least dying.
We have been asked too, what we mean by Jacobinism? Sir, to employ
arguments solely to the purposes of popular irritation is a branch of
Jacobinism? It is with pain, Sir, that I have heard arguments
manifestly of this tendency, and having heard them, I hear with
redoubled suspicion of the assertions, that Jacobinism is extinct. By
what softer name shall we characterise the attempts to connect the war
by false facts and false reasoning with accidental scarcity? By what
softer name shall we characterise appeals to the people on a subject
which touches their feelings, and precludes their reasoning? It is
this, Sir, which makes me say, that those whose eyes are now open to
the horrors and absurdities of Jacobinism are nevertheless still
influenced by their early partiality to it. A somewhat of the
'feeling' lurks behind, even when all the 'principle' has been
sincerely abjured. If this be the case with mere spectators, who have
but sympathised in the distance, and have caught disease only by
'looking on', how much more must this hold good of the actors? And
with what increased caution and jealousy ought we not to listen to the
affirmation, that Jacobinism is obsolete even in France? The
honourable gentleman next charges me with an unbeseeming haughtiness
of tone, in deeming that the House had pledged itself to the present
measure by their late vote for the continuance of the war. This is not
accurate. I did not deem the House pledged: I only assigned reasons of
'probability', that having voted for the continuance of war, they
would deem themselves inconsistent if they refused assent to those
measures by which the objects of the war were most likely to be
realised. My argument was, not that the House had pledged itself to
this measure directly, but only as far as they must perceive it to be
a means of bringing the war to that conclusion to which they have
pledged themselves: for unless gendemen will tell me, that though they
cannot prevent votes in favour of the war, they will yet endeavour to
palsy the arm of the country in the conduct of it; and though they
cannot stifle the vast majority of suffrages to the plan, they will
yet endeavour to way-lay it in its execution; unless the gentlemen
will tell me so themselves, I will not impute it to them. (Here Mr.
Pitt made a short reply to some observations of Mr. Bouverie in the
early part of the debate, and then proceeded.) It was said of himself
and friends (and often said) by a gentleman who does not now commonly
honour us with his presence here, 'We are the minority who represent
the opinions of the country.' In my opinion a state of universal
suffrage, formal or virtual, in which, nevertheless, the few represent
the many, is a true picture of Jacobinism. But, however this may be,
if smallness of number is to become a mark and pledge of genuine
representation, that gentleman's friends must acquire the
representative character in a continual progression; for the party has
been constantly decreasing in number, and both here and out of this
House, they are at present fewer than they ever were before. But they
vote for peace, and the people wish for peace; and therefore they
represent the opinions of the people. The people wish for peace--so do
I! But for what peace? Not for a peace that is made to-day and will be
broken to-morrow! Not for a peace that is more insecure and hazardous
than war. Why did I wish for peace at Lisle? Because war was then more
hazardous than peace; because it was necessary to give to the people a
palpable proof of the necessity of the war, in order to their cordial
concurrence with that system of finance, without which the war could
not be successfully carried on; because our allies were then but
imperfectly lessoned by experience; and finally, because the state of
parties then in France was less Jacobinical than at any time since
that era. But will it follow that I was then insincere in negotiating
for peace, when peace was less insecure, and war more hazardous;
because now with decreased advantages of peace, and increased means of
war, I advise against a peace? As to the other arguments, it is of
less consequence to insist upon them, because the opposition implied
in them holds not against this measure in particular, but against the
general principle of carrying on the war with vigour. Much has been
said of the defection of Russia, and every attempt made to deduce from
this circumstance so misnamed causes of despair or diminished hope. It
is true that Russia has withdrawn herself from confident co-operation
with Austria, but she has not withdrawn herself from concert with this
country. Has it never occurred, that France, compelled to make head
against armies pressing on the whole of her frontiers, will be
weakened and distracted in her efforts, by a moveable maritime force?
What may be the ultimate extent of the Russian forces engaged in this
diversion, we cannot be expected to know, cut off as we are from the
continent, by the season and the weather. If the Russians, acting in
maritime diversion on the coast of France, and increased by our own
forces, should draw the French forces from Switzerland and Italy, it
does not follow that the Russians may be greatly, and perhaps equally
useful to the objects of the campaign, although they will cease to act
on the eastern side of France. I do not pretend to know precisely the
number and state of the French armies, but reason only on
probabilities; and chiefly with the view of solving the honourable
gentleman's difficulty, how the Russians can be useful, if not on the
continent. It is unnecessary to occupy the time and attention of the
House with a serious answer to objections, which it is indeed
difficult to repeat with the same gravity with which they were
originally stated.

It was affirmed, gravely affirmed, that L12,000,000 would be wanted
for corn! I should be happy, if, in the present scarcity, corn could
be procured from any, and all parts of the world, to one-third of that
amount. It will not be by such arguments as these, that the country
will be induced to cease a war for security, in order to procure corn
for subsistence. I do object, that there is unfairness both in these
arguments in themselves, and in the spirit which produces them. The
war is now reviled as unjust and unnecessary; and in order to prove it
so, appeals are made to circumstances of accidental scarcity from the
visitation of the seasons. The fallacy of these reasonings is equal to
their mischief. It is not true that you could procure corn more easily
if peace were to be made to-morrow. If this war be unjust, it ought to
be stopped on its own account; but if it be indeed a war of principle
and of necessity, it were useless and abject to relinquish it from
terrors like these. As well might a fortress, sure of being put to the
sword, surrender for want of provision. But that man, Sir, does not
act wisely, if, feeling like a good citizen, he use these arguments
which favour the enemy. God forbid, that an opposition in opinion
among ourselves should make us forget the high and absolute duty of
opposition to the enemies of our country. Sir, in the present times,
it is more than ever the bounden duty of every wise and good man to
use more than ordinary caution in abstaining from all arguments that
appeal to passions, not facts; above all, from arguments that tend to
excite popular irritation on a subject and on an occasion, on which
the people can with difficulty be reasoned with, but are irritated
most easily. To speak incautiously on such subjects, is an offence of
no venial order; but deliberately and wilfully to connect the words,
war and scarcity, were infamous, a treachery to our country, and in a
peculiar degree cruel to those whom alone it can delude, the lower
uneducated classes. I will not enlarge upon that subject, but retire
with a firm conviction that no new facts have occurred which can have
altered the opinion of this House on the necessity of the war, or the
suitableness of similar measures to the present to the effectual
carrying of it on, and that the opinion of the House will not be
altered but by experience and the evidence of facts."

The following paragraph is extracted from private memoranda, and was
intended for publication ten years afterwards, in the Courier Newspaper,
in which he wrote a series of Essays to Judge Fletcher, which were at
that time acknowledged by the most able judges to be prophetic. But it
must be remembered he never wrote for party purposes. His views were
grounded on Platonic principles keeping the balance of the powers, and
throwing his weight into the scale that needed assistance.


"Every brutal mob, assembled on some drunken St. Monday of faction, is
'_the People_' forsooth, and now each leprous ragamuffin, like a
circle in geometry, is at once one and all, and calls his own brutal
self 'us the People.' And who are the friends of the People? Not those
who would wish to elevate each of them, or at least, the child who is
to take his place in the flux of life and death, into something worthy
of esteem, and capable of freedom, but those who flatter and infuriate
them as they do. A contradiction in the very thought. For if really
they are good and wise, virtuous and well-informed, how weak must be
the motives of discontent to a truly moral being!--but if the
contrary, and the motives for discontent proportionally strong, how
without guilt and absurdity appeal to them as judges and arbiters! He
alone is entitled to a share in the government of all, who has learnt
to govern himself--there is but one possible ground of a right to
freedom, viz. to understand and revere its duties."

As specimens of his political writings I select the following, and leave
party men to criticise them--Coleridge being of no party, but guided, as
will sufficiently appear to those who have read his works with
attention, solely by philosophical principles, from which he never
swerved. Nor did he desire the praise of men, merely because they were
in power; still less that of the multitude. For this reason, I repeat,
these fragments are given, as illustrative of Coleridge's political
views, and to shew how easily the harmony of the constitutional balance
may be disturbed by party zeal. His opinions were often misunderstood
even sometimes by kindly-disposed individuals, when 'theirs' were not
founded on certain data, because their principles were not derived from
permanent sources. The doctrine of expediency was one he highly
censured, and it had existed long enough to prove to him that it was
worthless. What one set of well-intentioned men may effect, and which
for a time may have produced good, another set of men by the same
doctrine, 'i.e.' of expediency may effect, and then produce incalculable
mischief, and, therefore, Coleridge thought there was neither guide nor
safety, but in the permanent and uncontrovertible truths of the sacred
writings, so that the extent of this utility will depend on faith in
these truths, and with these truths, his name must 'live or perish'. But
some part of Coleridge's writings requiring too much effort of thought
to be at once thoroughly understood, may therefore have been found
distasteful, and consequently have exposed his name to ridicule, in some
cases even to contempt; but the application Coleridge has made of these
truths to the duties and various circumstances of life will surely be
found an inestimable blessing. They were truly his rock of support, and
formed the basis of the building he was endeavouring to raise.

In the year 1807, he wrote those weekly Essays of the Friend, which were
published about this time, and thus gave to the world some of his rich
intellectual stores. The following letter, which he addressed to Mr.
Cottle, will shew the progress of his mind from Socinian to Trinitarian
belief at that period of his life:

"Bristol, 1807.


To pursue our last conversation. Christians expect no outward or
sensible miracles from prayer. Its effects, and its fruitions are
spiritual, and accompanied, says that true Divine, Archbishop
Leighton, 'not by reasons and arguments but by an inexpressible kind
of evidence, which they only know who have it.'

To this I would add, that even those who, like me I fear, have not
attained it, may yet presume it. First, because reason itself, or
rather mere human nature, in any dispassionate moment, feels the
necessity of religion, but if this be not true there is no religion,
no religation, or binding over again; nothing added to reason, and
therefore Socinianism (misnamed Unitarianism) is not only not
Christianity, it is not even 'religion', it does not religate; does
not bind anew. The first outward and sensible result of prayer, is, a
penitent resolution, joined with a consciousness of weakness in
effecting it, yea even a dread, too well grounded, lest by breaking
and falsifying it, the soul should add guilt to guilt; by the very
means it has taken to escape from guilt; so pitiable is the state of
unregenerate man.

Are you familiar with Leighton's Works? He resigned his
archbishoprick, and retired to voluntary poverty on account of the
persecution of the Presbyterians, saying, 'I should not dare to
introduce Christianity itself with such cruelties, how much less for a
surplice, and the name of a bishop.' If there could be an intermediate
space between inspired, and uninspired writings, that space would be
occupied by Leighton. No show of learning, no appearance, or
ostentatious display of eloquence; and yet both may be shown in him,
conspicuously and holily. There is in him something that must be felt,
even as the scriptures must be felt. [15]

You ask me my views of the 'Trinity'. I accept the doctrine, not as
deduced from human reason, in its grovelling capacity for
comprehending spiritual things, but as the clear revelation of
Scripture. But perhaps it may be said, the 'Socinians' do not admit
this doctrine as being taught in the Bible. I know enough of their
shifts and quibbles, with their dexterity at explaining away all they
dislike, (and that is not a little) but though beguiled once by them,
I happily, for my own peace of mind, escaped from their sophistries,
and now, hesitate not to affirm, that Socinians would lose all
character for honesty, if they were to explain their neighbour's will
with the same latitude of interpretation, which they do the

I have in my head some floating ideas on the 'Logos', which I hope,
hereafter, to mould into a consistent form; but it is a gross
perversion of the truth, in 'Socinians', to declare that we believe in
'Three Gods', and they know it to be false. They might, with equal
justice, affirm that we believe in 'three suns'. The meanest peasant,
who has acquired the first rudiments of Christianity, would shrink
back from a thought so monstrous. Still the Trinity has its
difficulties. It would be strange if otherwise. A 'Revelation' that
revealed nothing, not within the grasp of human reason!--no
religation, no binding over again, as before said: but these
difficulties are shadows, contrasted with the substantive, and
insurmountable obstacles with which they contend who admit the 'Divine
authority of Scripture', with the 'superlative excellence of Christ',
and yet undertake to prove that these Scriptures teach, and that
Christ taught, his own 'pure humanity!'

If Jesus Christ was merely a Man,--if he was not God as well as Man,
be it considered, he could not have been even a 'good man'. There is
no medium. The SAVIOUR 'in that case' was absolutely 'a deceiver!'
one, transcendently 'unrighteous!' in advancing pretensions to
miracles, by the 'Finger of God,' which he never performed; and by
asserting claims, (as a man) in the most aggravated sense,

These consequences, Socinians, to be consistent, must allow, and which
impious arrogation of Divinity in Christ, (according to their faith,)
as well as his false assumption of a community of 'glory' with the
Father, 'before the world was,' even they will be necessitated to
admit, completely exonerated the Jews, according to their law, in
crucifying one, who 'being a man,' 'made himself God!' But, in the
Christian, rather than in the 'Socinian', or 'Pharisaic' view, all
these objections vanish, and harmony succeeds to inexplicable
confusion. If Socinians hesitate in ascribing 'unrighteousness' to
Christ, the inevitable result of their principles, they tremble, as
well they might, at their avowed creed, and virtually renounce what
they profess to uphold.

The Trinity, as Bishop Leighton has well remarked, is, 'a doctrine of
faith, not of demonstration,' except in a 'moral' sense. If the New
Testament declare it, not in an insulated passage, but through the
whole breadth of its pages, rendering, with any other admission, the
Book, which is the Christian's anchor-hold of hope, dark and
contradictory, then it is not to be rejected, but on a penalty that
reduces to an atom, all the sufferings this earth can inflict.

Let the grand question be determined; Is, or is not the Bible
'inspired?' No one Book has ever been subjected to so rigid an
investigation as the Bible, by minds the most capacious, and, in the
result, which has so triumphantly repelled all the assaults of
Infidels. In the extensive intercourse which I have had with this
class of men, I have seen their prejudices surpassed only by their
ignorance. This I found conspicuously the case in Dr. D. (Vol. i. p.
167) the prince of their fraternity. Without, therefore, stopping to
contend on what all dispassionate men must deem, undebatable ground, I
may assume inspiration as admitted; and, equally so, that it would be
an insult to man's understanding to suppose any other Revelation from
God than the Christian Scriptures. If these Scriptures, impregnable in
their strength; sustained in their pretensions by undeniable
prophecies and miracles; and by the experience of the 'inner man', in
all ages, as well as by a concatenation of arguments, all bearing upon
one point, and extending, with miraculous consistency, through a
series of fifteen hundred years; if all this combined proof does not
establish their validity, nothing can be proved under the sun; but the
world and man must be abandoned, with all its consequences to one
universal scepticism! Under such sanctions, therefore, if these
Scriptures, as a fundamental truth, 'do' inculcate the doctrine of the
'Trinity;' however surpassing human comprehension; then I say, we are
bound to admit it on the strength of 'moral demonstration'.

The supreme Governor of the world, and the Father of our spirits, has
seen fit to disclose to us, much of his will, and the whole of his
natural and moral perfections. In some instances he has given his
'word' only, and demanded our 'faith'; while, on other momentous
subjects, instead of bestowing a full revelation; like the 'Via
Lactea', he has furnished a glimpse only, through either the medium of
inspiration, or by the exercise of those rational faculties with which
he has endowed us. I consider the Trinity as substantially resting on
the first proposition, yet deriving support from the last.

I recollect when I stood on the summit of Etna, and darted my gaze
down the crater; the immediate vicinity was discernible, till, lower
down, obscurity gradually terminated in total darkness. Such figures
exemplify many truths revealed in the Bible. We pursue them, until,
from the imperfection of our faculties, we are lost in impenetrable
night. All truths, however, that are essential to faith, 'honestly'
interpreted; all that are important to human conduct, under every
diversity of circumstance, are manifest as a blazing star. The
promises also of felicity to the righteous, in the future world,
though the precise nature of that felicity may not be defined, are
illustrated by every image that can swell the imagination: while the
misery of the 'lost', in its unutterable intensity, though the
language that describes it is all necessarily figurative, is there
exhibited as resulting chiefly, if not wholly, from the withdrawment
of the 'light of God's countenance', and a banishment from his
'presence!'--best comprehended in this world, by reflecting on the
desolations which would instantly follow the loss of the sun's
vivifying and universally diffused 'warmth'.

You, or rather 'all', should remember, that some truths, from their
nature, surpass the scope of man's limited powers, and stand as the
criteria of 'faith', determining, by their rejection, or admission,
who among the sons of men can confide in the veracity of heaven. Those
more ethereal truths, of which the Trinity is conspicuously the chief,
without being circumstantially explained, may be faintly illustrated
by material objects.--The eye of man cannot discern the satellites of
Jupiter, nor become sensible of the multitudinous stars, the rays of
which have never reached our planet, and, consequently, garnish not
the canopy of night; yet, are they the less 'real', because their
existence lies beyond man's unassisted gaze? The tube of the
philosopher, and the 'celestial telescope',--the unclouded visions of
heaven, will confirm the one class of truths, and irradiate the other.

The 'Trinity' is a subject on which analogical reasoning may
advantageously be admitted, as furnishing, at least, a glimpse of
light, and with this, for the present, we must be satisfied. Infinite
Wisdom deemed clearer manifestations inexpedient; and is man to
dictate to his Maker? I may further remark, that where we cannot
behold a desirable object distinctly, we must take the best view we
can; and I think you, and every candid and inquiring mind, may derive
assistance from such reflections as the following.

Notwithstanding the arguments of Spinosa, and Descartes, and other
advocates of the 'Material system', (or, in more appropriate language,
the 'Atheistical system!') it is admitted by all men not prejudiced,
not biassed by sceptical prepossessions, that 'mind' is distinct from
'matter'. The mind of man, however, is involved in inscrutable
darkness, (as the profoundest metaphysicians well know) and is to be
estimated, (if at all) alone, by an inductive process; that is, by its
'effects'. Without entering on the question, whether an extremely
circumscribed portion of the mental process, surpassing instinct, may,
or may not, be extended to quadrupeds, it is universally acknowledged,
that the mind of man, alone, regulates all the voluntary actions of
his corporeal frame. Mind, therefore, may be regarded as a distinct
genus, in the scale ascending above brutes, and including the whole of
intellectual existences; advancing from 'thought', (that mysterious
thing!) in its lowest form, through all the gradations of sentient and
rational beings, till it arrives at a Bacon, a Newton, and then, when
unincumbered by matter, extending its illimitable sway through Seraph
and Archangel, till we are lost in the GREAT INFINITE!

Is it not deserving of notice, as an especial subject of meditation,
that our 'limbs', in all they do, or can accomplish, implicitly obey
the dictation of the 'mind'? that this operating power, whatever its
name, under certain limitations, exercises a sovereign dominion, not
only over our limbs, but over all our intellectual pursuits? The mind
of every man is evidently the moving force, which alike regulates all
his limbs and actions; and in which example, we find a strong
illustration of the subordinate nature of mere 'matter'. That alone
which gives direction to the organic parts of our nature, is wholly
'mind'; and one mind, if placed over a thousand limbs, could, with
undiminished ease, control and regulate the whole.

This idea is advanced on the supposition, that 'one mind' could
command an unlimited direction over any given number of 'limbs',
provided they were all connected by 'joint' and 'sinew'. But suppose,
through some occult and inconceivable means, these limbs were
dis-associated, as to all material connexion; suppose, for instance,
one mind, with unlimited authority, governed the operations of 'two'
separate persons, would not this, substantially, be only 'one person',
seeing the directing principle was one? If the truth, here contended
for, be admitted, that 'two persons', governed by 'one mind', is
incontestably 'one person'; the same conclusion would be arrived at,
and the proposition equally be justified, which affirmed that,
'three', or, otherwise, 'four' persons, owning also necessary and
essential subjection to 'one mind', would only be so many diversities,
or modifications of that 'one mind', and therefore the component
parts, virtually collapsing into 'one whole', the person would be
'one'. Let any man ask himself, whose understanding can both reason,
and become the depository of truth, whether, if 'one mind' thus
regulated, with absolute authority, 'three', or, otherwise, 'four'
persons, with all their congeries of material parts, would not these
parts, inert in themselves, when subjected to one predominant mind,
be, in the most logical sense, 'one person'? Are ligament and exterior
combination indispensable pre-requisites to the sovereign influence of
mind over mind? or mind over matter? [16]

But perhaps it may be said, we have no instance of one mind governing
more than one body. This may be, but the argument remains the same.
With a proud spirit, that forgets its own contracted range of thought,
and circumscribed knowledge, who is to limit the sway of Omnipotence?
or, presumptuously to deny the possibility of 'that' Being, who called
light out of darkness, so to exalt the dominion of 'one mind', as to
give it absolute sway over other dependent minds, or (indifferently)
over detached, or combined portions of organized matter? But if this
superinduced quality be conferable on any order of created beings, it
is blasphemy to limit the power of GOD, and to deny 'his' capacity to
transfuse 'his own' Spirit, when, and to whom he will.

This reasoning may now be applied in illustration of the Trinity. We
are too much in the habit of viewing our Saviour Jesus Christ, through
the medium of his body. 'A body was prepared for him,' but this body
was mere matter; as insensible in itself, as every human frame when
deserted by the soul. If therefore the Spirit that was in Christ, was
the Spirit of the Father: if no thought, no vibration, no spiritual
communication, or miraculous display, existed in, or proceeded from
Christ, not immediately and consubstantially identified with JEHOVAH,
the Great First cause; if all these operating principles were thus
derived, in consistency alone with the conjoint divine attributes; of
this Spirit of the Father ruled and reigned in Christ as his own
manifestation, then, in the strictest sense, Christ exhibited 'the
God-head bodily,' and was undeniably ''one' with the Father;'
confirmatory of the Saviour's words; 'Of myself,' (my body) 'I can do
nothing, the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.'

But though I speak of the body, as inert in itself, and necessarily
allied to matter, yet this declaration must not be understood as
militating against the Christian doctrine of the 'resurrection of the
body'. In its grosser form, the thought is not to be admitted, for,
'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,' but, that the
body, without losing its consciousness, and individuality, may be
subjected, by the illimitable power of Omnipotence, to a sublimating
process, so as to be rendered compatible with spiritual association,
is not opposed to reason, in its severe abstract exercises, while in
attestation of this 'exhilarating belief', there are many remote
analogies in nature exemplifying the same truth, while it is in the
strictest accordance with that final dispensation, which must, as
Christians, regulate all our speculations. I proceed now to say, that:

If the postulate be thus admitted, that one mind influencing two
bodies, would only involve a diversity of operations, but in reality
be one in essence; or otherwise, (as an hypothetical argument,
illustrative of truth) if one preeminent mind, or spiritual
subsistence, unconnected with matter, possessed an undivided and
sovereign dominion over two or more disembodied minds, so as to become
the exclusive source of all their subtlest volitions and exercises,
the 'unity', however complex the modus of its manifestation, would be
fully established; and this principle extends to DEITY itself, and
shows the true sense, as I conceive, in which Christ and the Father
are one.

In continuation of this reasoning, if God who is light, the Sun of the
Moral World, should in his union of Infinite Wisdom, Power, and
Goodness, and from all Eternity, have ordained that an emanation from
himself (for aught we know, an essential emanation, as light is
inseparable from the luminary of day) should not only have existed in
his Son, in the fulness of time to be united to a mortal body, but
that a like emanation from himself (also perhaps essential) should
have constituted the Holy Spirit, who, without losing his ubiquity,
was more especially sent to this lower earth, 'by' the SON, 'at' the
impulse of the Father, then, in the most comprehensive sense, God, and
his Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, are ONE. 'Three Persons in
one God,' and thus form the true Trinity in Unity.

To suppose that more than ONE Independent Power, or Governing mind
exists in the whole universe, is absolute Polytheism, against which
the denunciations of all the Jewish, and Christian Canonical books
were directed. And if there be but ONE directing MIND, that Mind is
GOD!--operating, however, in Three Persons, according to the direct
and uniform declarations of that inspiration which 'brought life and
immortality to light.' Yet this divine doctrine of the Trinity is to
be received, not because it is, or can be clear to finite
apprehension, but, (in reiteration of the argument) because the
Scriptures, in their unsophisticated interpretation expressly state
it. The Trinity, therefore, from its important aspects, and Biblical
prominence, is the grand article of faith, and the foundation of the
whole Christian system.

Who can say, as Christ [17] and the Holy Ghost proceeded from, and are
still one with the Father, and as all the disciples of Christ derive
their fulness from him, and, in spirit, are inviolately united to him
as a branch is to the vine, who can say, but that, in one view, what
was once mysteriously separated, may, as mysteriously, be recombined,
and, (without interfering with the everlasting Trinity, and the
individuality of the spiritual and seraphic orders) the Son, at the
consummation of all things, deliver up his mediatorial kingdom to the
Father, and God, in some peculiar, and infinitely sublime sense,
become All 'in' All!

God love you,


Those who are acquainted with Mr. Coleridge's maturer view of the
doctrine of the Trinity, will not need to be informed that this letter
does not convey his later conviction in regard to this awful mystery,
and will know that his philosophic meditations rested essentially in the
same faith that dictated the Article of the Church of England on this

Mr. De Quincey has made several mistatements in a memoir on Mr.
Coleridge, which he wrote in Tait's Magazine; but it may be only fair
first to quote a few interesting remarks, with which he begins:

"In the summer season of 1807 I first saw this illustrious man, the
largest and most spacious intellect in my judgment that has ever yet
existed amongst men. My knowledge of his works as a most original
genius began about the year 1799."

A little before that time, Wordsworth published the "Lyrical Ballads,"
in which was the Ancient Mariner of Coleridge, and to which Mr. De
Quincey attributes the unfolding of his own mind; this confession is by
no means humiliating, for many persons of the highest reputation have
made similar acknowledgments, and some there are still living who have
the courage and integrity to do so now.

"I found (says this gentleman) that Professor Wilson, as well as
myself, saw in these poems 'the ray of a new morning;'--and to these
names may be added that of the celebrated Sir Walter Scott."

The admiration of Mr. De Quincey was so great that inquiring where
Coleridge was to be found, and learning that he was in Malta, he
contemplated an immediate visit to that island, but the fear of a French
prison reconciled him to remaining in England. When on a visit in 1807
(to a relation), at the Hot Wells, he learnt that Coleridge was staying
with a friend not far from Bristol. This friend was Mr. Poole of Nether
Stowey, and thither he bent his steps. In this house Mr. De Quincey
spent two days, and gives, from his own knowledge, a sketch of Mr.
Poole's person and character very descriptive of the original. Coleridge
often remarked that he was the best "ideal for a useful member of
parliament he ever knew;"

"a plain dressed man leading a bachelor life," as Mr. De Quincey
observes, "in a rustic old fashioned house, amply furnished with
modern luxuries, and a good library. Mr. Poole had travelled
extensively, and had so entirely dedicated himself to his humble
fellow countrymen, who resided in his neighbourhood, that for many
miles round he was the general arbiter of their disputes, the guide
and counsellor of their daily life; besides being appointed executor
and guardian to his children by every third man who died in or about
the town of Nether Stowey."

Such in few words was the individual whom Coleridge, in his social hours
and in the full warmth of friendship, would most eloquently and
feelingly describe. [19]

Mr. De Quincey having been informed that Coleridge was at Bridgewater,
left Nether Stowey for that place, in search of him. The meeting and the
description recall him forcibly to the minds of those who twenty years
after were so intimately acquainted with him:

"In Bridgewater I noticed a gateway, standing under which was a man
corresponding to the description given me of Coleridge whom I shall
presently describe. In height he seemed to be five feet eight inches,
(he was in reality about an inch and a half taller,) though in the
latter part of life, from a lateral curvature in the spine, he
shortened gradually from two to three inches. His person was broad and
full, and tended even to corpulence; his complexion was fair, though
not what painters technically style fair, because it was associated
with black hair; his eyes were large and soft in their expression, and
it was by the peculiar appearance of haze or dreaminess which mixed
with their light that I recognized my object. This was Coleridge; I
examined him steadily for a moment or more, and it struck me he
neither saw myself, nor any other object in the street. He was in a
deep reverie; for I had dismounted, made two or three trifling
arrangements at the inn door, and advanced close to him, before he
seemed apparently conscious of my presence. The sound of my voice
announcing my name first awoke him; he started, and for a moment
seemed at a loss to understand my purpose, or his own situation, for
he repeated rapidly a number of words which had no relation to either
of us; very likely trying a metre, or making verse, a frequent
practice of his, and of Mr. Wordsworth's. There was no mauvaise haute
in his manner, but simple perplexity, and an apparent difficulty in
recovering his position amongst daylight realities. This little scene
over, he received me with a kindness of manner so marked, that it
might be called gracious. The hospitable family, with whom he was
domesticated, were distinguished for their amiable manners, and
enlightened understandings; they were descendants from Chubb, the
philosophic writer, and bore the same name. For Coleridge they all
testified deep affection and esteem, sentiments which the whole town
of Bridgewater seemed to share, for in the evening, when the heat of
the day had declined, I walked out with him; and rarely, perhaps
never, have I seen a person so much interrupted in one hour's space as
Coleridge on this occasion, by the courteous attentions of young and
old." [20]

This appears so faithful a portraiture of Coleridge that it is
impossible to read it without once more beholding him as in a mirror.
Continuing his description, he speaks again of his extreme courtesy, and
of his easy and gentlemanly manner of receiving strangers. A friend of
mine seldom speaks of the past in connexion with Coleridge's name, but
he reminds me of a visit he once made to me during my absence at the sea
shore, and of the courteous grace he displayed in doing the honours of
the house.

In every thing wherein the comfort or happiness of others were
concerned, Coleridge ever evinced how entirely he could devote himself
to those he loved or who might require his sympathy:

His own fair countenance, his kingly forehead,
His tender smiles, love's day-dawn on his lips--
The sense, the spirit, and the light divine,
At the same moment in his steadfast eye
Were virtue's native crest, the innocent soul's
Unconscious meek self-heraldry--to man
Genial, and pleasant to his guardian angel!
He suffered, nor complained; though oft with tears
He mourned the oppression of his helpless brethren;
Yea with a deeper and yet holier grief
Mourned for th' oppressor; but this
In sabbath hours--a solemn grief,
Most like a cloud at sunset,
Was but the veil of purest meditation,
Pierced through and saturate with the intellectual rays
It softened.

'Literary Remains', vol. i. 277.

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