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guide, our own familiar friend. We could not lay upon the grass that grows on his grave the weight of the lightest complaint. I merely regret that in his old age he did not renew the series of his youthful sonnets, because his constitutional habits of reflection and his singular powers of versification preëminently qualified him for this form of poetry. I could readily point out many a passage in Mr. Coleridge's prose-works, in which some noble thought is illuminated by a richlyimaginative illustration, and which would need only the metrical arrangement to constitute a sonnet of the first order. His son, Hartley Coleridge, who has given proof that the genius of the family has not been buried in the father's grave, might find in such a process of transformation a task affectionate to the memory of his parent and worthy of his own powers.*
It is irksome, we are aware, to write from other men's suggestions, and the best efforts of mind are those which are purely self-evolved. The mere difficulty of any undertaking would be no obstacle to the intellect that could conceive a sonnet in all respects so adequate to its high theme as the following from the poems of Hartley Coleridge:
" TO SHAKSPEARE.
Deeper than ocean, or abysmal dark
And stock reserved of every living kind, If our voice could reach him, we would commend such passages as the following as suitable material for a sonnet: the fine comparison in the “ Friend,"
,"_"Human experience, like the stern-lights of a ship at sea, illumines only the path we have passed over ;”-or Coleridge's impassioned wish respecting the reception of his works :-“Would to Heaven that the verdict to be passed on my labours depended on those who least needed them! The water-lily, in the midst of the waters, lifts up its broad leaves and expands its petals at the first pattering of the shower, and rejoices in the rain with a quicker sympathy than the parched shrub in the sandy desert; '-or his bold conception respecting the design of miracles, in the “ Statesman's Manual :”“ It was only to overthrow the usurpation exercised in and through the senses, that the senses were miraculously appealed to. Reason and revelation are their own evidence. The natural sun is, in this respect, a symbol of the spiritual. Ere he is fully arisen, and while his glories are still under veil, he calls up the breeze to chase away the usurping vapours of the night-season, and thus converts the air itself into the minister of its own purification ; not, surely, in proof or elucidation of the light from heaven, but to prevent its interception."
So, in the compass of the single mind,
Serene of thought, unhurt by thy own flame.” In closing my enumeration of the capabilities of the sonnet, there is one other purpose to which it was equal. It could express the feelings of Charles Lamb. Why of Charles Lamb more than of any one else ? Reader, if you ask that question you have not yet learned the dear mystery of those two monosyllables,- “ Charles Lamb." But if
you have been more fortunate, how much of the spirit of “ Elia” will you not recognise in these two brief poems!
And holiday-rejoicing spirit down
That like a millstone on man's mind doth press,
I have thus endeavoured, not very systematically, to vindicate a neg. lected department of English poetry. I never engage in an investigation of the kind, involving a recurrence to the early periods of English literature, without feeling disposed, on closing it, to give way to a thanksgiving that “the lines have fallen to us in such pleasant places; that we have so goodly a heritage.” To the student of poetry-we hope a distinction is drawn between such and many of the ordinary readers of poetry-we commend the sonnet as worthy of his regard, and as one of the best tests of a cultivated taste.
The public taste for the sonnet is reviving, and it would not be a difficult task to give it a true tone. Let a selection be made from the sonnets of Shakspeare, Milton, Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, and other of the earlier poets, and from those of Warton, Bowles, Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, and others, illustrated with occasional critical notices. A volume might be formed into which none but the best English sonnets should be admitted. Besides its intrinsic merit, such a book would possess much of the charm of novelty, and, what would distinguish it most favourably from all books of selections, each selection would be a complete and perfect poem in itself. I can scarcely imagine a more agreeable volume for the study or for the parlour-table I recommend the suggestion to some enterprising publisher, as one likely to be successful, and which would certainly render a service to the cause of English letters.
Poems of Hartley Coleridge. We love to meet occasionally with a new name in the annals of literature. For, though there is a sovereign company to whom we never falter in our allegiance, yet, for the honour of time present, and for the satisfaction of knowing that the best portion of the world is not standing still, we rejoice now and then to hail a new author. Under this designation we desire to be distinctly understood as not including that growing class of handicraftsmen who are engaged in the manufacture of what by courtesy are called books. When we speak of authorship, we mean that occupation which gives to a name an abiding-place in the history of letters. It is one of the evils of the accumulation of modern publications, that a man, unless gifted with supernatural reading-powers,
POEMS OF HARTLEY COLERIDGE.
is compelled to be somewhat reserved in forming new literary acquaint
He contents himself with his old friends; he retreats to the shelf of his library that has become endeared to him; he finds his security among the familiar volumes that he could lay his hand
in the dark; he is shy of new-made gentry. Yet these very feelings probably enhance the pleasure of meeting with a volume which bears the stamp of something above the mere mechanism of bookmaking.
It is an added pleasure to be able to greet a new poet. The world, we are apprehensive, is growing too prosy. We are haunted with a vague sort of alarm
1—more like a dream, or a nightmare, than a waking thought—that hosts of the tenants of this goodly green globe will turn into brokers and money-dealers. The hearts of men, we fear, will be in the stocks. It is one of the characteristics of the times, that whole communities are alarmingly utilitarian. Nothing is secure from the base uses of economists and calculators; no spot or edifice, however hallowed, is assured in its moral associations; no spectacle, however glorious by the work of nature, is safe from the rude touch of heartless speculation. Men have been found bold enough to lay their impious hands upon scenes the most awful in creation. The cataract and the cascade are measured for water-power; the mountain-torrent is a feeder. A traveller, revisiting a district of country after a few years absence, inquires after a waterfall as he does after an old inhabitant, and is no more surprised at finding that one has gone to his rest than that the other has been turned to its work. Niagara has scarcely been secure. Presumptuous as modern “improvement” is, there need not, we suppose, be a rational fear that the ceaseless discharge of more than five inland seas might be perceptibly diminished; but that the matchless sublimity of that spot may be grievously impaired, we have greatly feared. Our last pilgrimage to that place of worship—that shrine of the Almighty-was hastened by this apprehension. As we approached it, we heard of railroads to the Falls,—of the "City of the Falls,”—of town-lots, and of water-power. We saw, with a heavy heart, the actual plan of these devices. Alas! thought we, shall that voice of the Creator be silenced ?-shall the deep that there crieth unto deep be hushed ? But there came glad tidings that nature was avenged. The bold mortal—the Titan of the land-jobbers—who had dared to traffic with her glories was laid prostrate in the very deed. We turned pagan for the
gave thanks to the spirit of the cataract, whom, in fancy, we beheld triumphing over the prostrate evil genius of Speculation. It will, we fondly trust, prove a lesson against future presumption. We have no fear that man, with all the pomp and power and
pride of mechanism, can draw more than a drop from that flow; yet he may most vexatiously intrude: the shrill accents of art may be mingled with the solemn tones of nature,-a harsh accompaniment to the unison of voices of the great waters. The surrounding scenery may be sadly defaced, if touched by any hand which is not restrained by a sense of the sublimities of the place. As we wandered about the neighbourhood, a group of Indians glided across our path,—a young Tuscarora, with a very unabated look, and his squaw with her infant peering out of its cradle on its mother's back. By the by, an Indian mother's love should be exceeding deep, we surmise, for her dear little savage is borne so much more than the infants of the sophisticated matrons in civilized communities. As we looked at them, a thought came into our mind that the traces of the world as it has been were not yet quite effaced,—that something was still left untouched by the restless, feverish hand of coveteousness. We gazed upon the savages as the Ancient Mariner did upon the bright water snakes :
“ A spring of love gush'd from my heart,
And I bless'd them unaware;
And I bless'd them unaware." We have no ambition to be sentimentally conservative; but we do lament that the spirit of change is restrained by no higher consideration than a distrust of investment, and that it has no fear of assaulting the bounds set by nature or by moral association. It is only when it transgresses its lawful limits—as in the glaring instance we have adverted to-that we deplore the progress of improvement so called. The world would be all the better, we fancy, if the practical fit which is on it were somewhat abated. A factitious standard has been introduced by the self-sufficient wisdom of the day, which tests all things by what is called a practical character,—which means, we believe, the quality of teaching men to make money, or to increase the crops, or to multiply the fabric of “stuffs,” under which latter denomination may be included a large proportion of the products of the press. Books are valued according to the same standard. Now, we most thankfully greet any literary effort which recognises a higher aim and a nobler end. Surely there is a practical character of a better kind than that which is indicated by the ordinary acceptation of the term ; surely something more is to be done than to administer to man's physical wants ; he is to be supplied with something more than food, and clothing, and the trash called “light reading” by those who look upon books as mere allies against time. A writer elevating himself above the lower spheres of authorship is