« IndietroContinua »
began this scrawl, a friend reminded but in all of these, my preliminary conme of a letter I wrote him many years tributions ; viz. That by the reader's ago, on the improvement of the mind, agreement with the principles, and by the habit of commencing our inqui- sympathy with the general feelings, ries with the attempt to construct the which they are meant to impress, the most absolute or perfect form of the ob- interest of myfuture contributions, and ject desiderated, leaving its practicabi- still more, their permanent effect, will lity, in the first instance, undetermi- be heightened ; and most so in those, ned. An essay, in short, de emenda- in which, as narrative and imaginative tione intellectûs per ideas-the benefi- compositions, there is the least shew of cial influence of which, on his mind, reflection, on my part, and the least nehe spoke of with warmth. The main cessity for it,-though I flatter myself contents of the letter, the effect of not the least opportunity on the part which, my friend appreciated so high- of my readers. ly, were derived from conversation with It will be better too, if I mistake not, a great man, now no more. And as I both for your purposes and mine, to have reason to regard that conversation have it said hereafter, that he dragged as an epoch in the history of my own slow and stiff-knee'd up the first hill, mind, I feel myself encouraged to hope but sprang forward as soon as the road that its publication may not prove use was full before him, and got in fresh; less to some of your numerous readers, than that he set off in grand style to whom Nature has given the stream, broke up midway, and came in brokenand nothing is wanting but to be led winded. Finis coronat opus. into the right channel. There is one
Your's, &c. other motive to which I must plead conscious, not only in the following,
S. T. COLERIDGE.
To a Junior Soph, at Cambridge. Often, my dear young friend! often, and tell him, that he brought to my reand bitterly, do I regret the stupid pre- collection the glorious passage in Plojudice that made me neglect my ma- tinus,“ Should any one interrogate thematical studies, at Jesus. There is Nature how she works ? if graciously something to me enigmatically attrac- . she vouchsafe to answer, she will say, tive and imaginative in the generation It behoves thee to understand me (or of curves, and in the whole geometry better, and more literally, to go along of motion. I seldom look at a fine pro- with me) in silence, even as I am sispect'or mountain landscape, or even at lent, and work without words ;”—but a grand picture, without abstracting you have a Plotinus, and may construe the lines with a feeling similar to that it for yourself:-(Ennead 3. 1. 8. c. 3.). with which I should contemplate the attending particularly to the comparigraven or painted walls of some tem son of the process pursued by Nature, ple or palace in Mid Africa,--doubt- with that of the geometrician. And ful whether it were mere Arabesque, now for your questions respecting the or undecyphered characters of an un- moral influence of W.'s minor poems. known tongue, framed when the lan- Of course, this will be greatly modifiguage of men was nearer to that of na ed by the character of the recipient. ture—a language of symbols and cor- But that in the majority of instances it respondences. I am, therefore, far has been most salutary, I cannot for a more disposed to envy, than join in the moment doubt. But it is another queslaugh against your fellow-collegiate, for tion, whether verse is the best way of amusing himself in the geometrical disciplining the mind to that spiritual construction of leaves and flowers. alchemy, which communicates a ster
Since the receipt of your last, I ne- ling value to real or apparent trifles, ver take a turn round the garden with- by using them as moral diagrams, as out thinking of his billow-lines and your friend uses the oak and fig-leaves shell-lines, under the well-sounding as geometrical ones.
To have formed names of Cumaids and Conchóids; the habit of looking at every thing, not they have as much life and poetry for for what it is relative to the purposes me, as their elder sisters, the Naids, and associations of men in general, but Nereids, and Hama-dryads. I pray for the truths which it suited to repreyou, present my best respects to him, sent-to contemplate objects as words
and pregnant symbols—the advantages You did not know my revered friend of this, my dear D., are so many, and and patron; or rather, you do know the so important, so eminently calculated man, and mourn his loss, from the chato excite and evolve the power of sound racter I have * lately given of him.and connected reasoning, of distinct The following supposed dialogue actuand clear conception, and of genial feel ally took place, in a conversation with ing, that there are few of W.'s finest him; and as in part, an illustration of passages--and who, of living poets, can what I have already said, and in part lay claim to half the number?-that I as text and introduction to much I repeat so often, as that homely qua- would wish to say, I entreat you to read train,
it with patience, spite of the triviality O reader ! had you in your mind
of the subject, and mock-heroic of the Such stores as silent thought can bring;
title. O gentle reader ! you would find A tale in
SUBSTANCE OF A DIALOGUE, WITH A COMMENTARY ON THE SAME.
A. I never found yet, an ink-stand ed, or made of such stuff, that in case that I was satisfied with.
of a blow or a fall from any common B.What would you have an ink-stand height, the ink-stand itself will not be to be? What qualities and properties broken ;-that from both these qualiwould
wish to have combined in ties, and from its shape, it may be safean ink-stand ? Reflect! Consult your ly and commodiously travelled with, past experience; taking care, however, and packed up with books, linen, or not to desire things demonstrably, or whatever else is likely to form the conself-evidently incompatible with each tents of the portmanteau, or travelling other; and the union of these desideru- trunk ;-that it should stand steadily ta will be your ideal of an ink-stand, and commodiously, and be of as pleaA friend, perhaps, suggests some addi- sing a shape and appearance as is comtional excellence that might rationally patible with its more important uses; be desired, till at length the catalogue -and, lastly, though of minor regard, may be considered as complete, when and non-essential, that it be capable of neither yourself, nor others, can think including other implements or requiof any desideratum not anticipated or sites, always, or occasionally connectprecluded by some one or more of the ed with the art of writing, as pen-knife, points already enumeraterd; and the wafers, &c. without any addition to the conception of all these, as realized in size and weight, otherwise desirable, one and the same artefact, may be fair- and without detriment to its more imly entitled, the
portant and proper advantages. IDEAL of an Ink-stand.
Now, (continued B.) that we have an
adequate notion of what is to be wishThat the pen should be allowed, ed, let us try what is to be done! And without requiring any effort or inter- my friend actually succeeded in conruptive act of attention from the wri-structing an ink-stand, in which, duter, to dip sufficiently low, and yet bering the twelve years that have elapsed prevented, without injuring its nib, since this conversation, alas ! I might from dipping too low, or taking up too almost say, since his death, I have nemuch ink: That the ink-stand should ver been able, though I have put my be of such materials as not to decom- wits on the stretch, to detect any thing pose the ink, or occasion a deposition wanting that an ink-stand could be raor discolouration of its specific ingre- tionally desired to possess; or even to dients, as, froin what cause I know not, imagine any addition, detraction, or is the fault of the black Widgewood- change, for use or appearance, that I ware ink-stands; that it should be so could desire, without involving a conconstructed, th on being overturned, tradiction. the ink cannot escape ; and so protect Here! (methinks I hear the reader
In the 8th Number of the Friend, as first circulated by the post. I dare assert, that it is worthy of preservation, and will send a transcript in my next.
exclaim) Here's a meditation on a ordinary understanding, not under the broom-stick with a vengeance ! Now, same* contagion of vanity as the wriin the first place, I am, and I do not ter. Besides, there are shallows for care who knows it, no enemy to me- the full-grown, that are the maximum ditations on broom-sticks; and though of safe depth for the younglings. There Boyle had been the real author of the are truths, quite common-place to you article so waggishly passed off for his on and me, that for the unconstructed poor Lady Berkley; and though that many would be new and full of wongood man had written it in grave der, as the common day-light to the good earnest, I am not certain that he Lapland child at the re-ascension of its would not have been employing his second summer. Thanks' and honour time as creditably to himself, and as in the highest to those stars of the first profitably for a large class of readers, magnitude that shoot their beams as the witty dean was while composing downward, and while in their proper the Draper's Letters, though the muses form they stir and invirtuate the forbid that I should say the same sphere next below them, and natures of Mary Cooke's Petition, Hamilton's pre-assimilated to their influence, yet Bawn, or even the rhyming corre call forth likewise, each after its own spondence with Dr Sheridan. In ha norm or mo:lel, whatever is best in zarding this confession, however, I beg whatever is susceptible to each, even leave to put in a provided always, that in the lowest. But, excepting these, the said Meditation on Broom-stick, I confess that I seldom look at Haror aliud quidlibet ejusdem farince, shall vey's Meditations or Quarle's Embe as truly a meditation as the broom- blems, † without feeling that I would stick is verily a broom-stick—and that rather be the author of those books the name be not a misnomer of vanity, of the innocent pleasure, the purifying or fraudulently labelled on a mere emotions, and genial awakenings of compound of brain-dribble and print- the humanity through the whole man, er's ink. For meditation, I presume, which those books have given to thouis that act of the mind, by which it sands anil tens of thousands--than seeks within either the law of the phe- shine the brightest in the constellation nomena, which it had contemplated of fame among the heroes and Dii miwithout, (meditatio scientifica,) or sem nores of literature. But I have a betblances, symbols, and analogies, cor ter excuse, and if not a better, yet a responsive to the same, (meditatio ethi- less general motive, for this solemn (n.) At all events, therefore, it implies trifling, as it will seem, and one that thinking, and tends to make the reader will, I trust, rescue my ideal of an think ; and whatever does this, does ink-stand from being doomed to the what in the present over-excited state same slut's corner with the de tribus of society is most wanted, though per- ('apellis, or de umbra asini, by virtue haps least desired. Between the think of the process which it exemplifies ; ing of a Harvey or Quarles, and the though I should not quarrel with the thinking of a Bacon or a Fenelon, allotment, if its risible merits allowed many are the degrees of difference, and it to keep company with the ideal immany the differences in degree of depth mortalized by Rabelais in his disquiand originality; but not such as to fill sition inquisitory De Rebus optime abe up the chasm in genere between think- stergentibus. ing and no-thinking, or to render the Dared I mention the name of my discrimination difficult for a man of Idealizer, a name dear to science, and
.“ Verily, to ask, what meaneth this ? is no Herculean labour. And the reader languishes under the same vain-glory as his author, and hath laid his head on the other knee of Omphale, if he can mistake the thin vocables of incogitance for the consubstan. tial words which thought begetteth and goeth forth in."-Sir T. Brown, MSS.
+ A full collection, a Bibliotheca Specialis, of the books of emblems and symbols, of all sects and parties, moral, theological, or political, including those in the Centennaries and Jubilee volumes published by the Jesuit and other religious orders, is a desideratum in our library literature that would well employ the talents of our ingenious masters in wood-engraving, etching, and lithography, under the superintendance of a Dibdin, and not unworthy of royal and noble patronage, or the attention of a Longman and his compeers. Singly or jointly undertaken, it would do honour to these princely merchants in the service of the muses. What stores might not a Southey contribute as notes or interspersed prefaces ? I could dream away an hour on the subject.
consecrated by discoveries of far-ex- logic of method, the only true Orga tending utility, it would at least give num Flevristicum which possesses the a biogruphical interest to this trifling former and better half of knowledge in anecdote, and perhaps entitle me to itself as the science of wise question, claim for it a yet higher, as a trait in ing, * and the other half in reversion, minimis, characteristic of a class of -it was reserved for the Marquis of powerful and most beneficent intel- Worcester to see and have given into lects. For to the same process of his hands, from the alternation of exthought we owe whatever instruments pansion and vacuity, a power mightier of power have been bestowed on man than that of Vulcan and all his Cy. kind by science and genius; and only clops; a power that found its practical such deserve the name of inventions or limit only where nature could supply discoveries. But even in those, which no limit strong enough to confine it. chance may seem to claim,“que homini For the genial spirit, that saw what it olvenisse videantur potius quam homo had been seeking, and saw because it venire in ea”—which come to us rather sought, was it reserved in the dancing than we to them--this process will lid of a kettle or coffee-urn, to behold most often be found as the indispensa- the future steam-engine, the Talus, ble antecedent of the discovery-as the with whom the Britomart of science is condition, without which the suggest- now gone forth to subdue and humana ing accident would have whispered to ize the planet !When the bodily organ, deaf ears, unnoticed; or, like the faces steadying itself on some chance thing, in the fire, or the landscapes made by imitates, as it were, the fixture of damp on a white-washed wall, noticed "the inward eye” on its ideal shapings, for their oddity alone. To the birth then it is that Nature not seldom reof the tree a prepared soil is as neces- veals her close affinity with mind, with sary as the falling seed. A Daniel was that more than man which is one and present ; or the fatal characters in the the same in all men, and from which banquet-hall of Belshazzar might have
66 the soul receives struck more terror, but would have been of no more import than the trail
Reason: and reason is her being !" of a luminous worm. In the far greata
Par. Lost. er number, indeed, of these asserted Then it is, that Nature, like an inboons of chance, it is the accident that dividual spirit or fellow soul, seems to should be called the condition-and think and hold commune with us. If, often not so much, but merely the oc- in the present contempt of all mental casion-while the proper cause of the analysis not contained in Locke, Hartinvention is to be sought for in the co- ley, or Condillac, it were safe to borexisting state and previous habit of row from “scholastic lore” a technical the observer's mind. I cannot bring term or two, for which I have not yet myself to account for respiration from found any substitute equally convethe stimulus of the air, without ascri- nient and serviceable, I should say, bing to the specific stimulability of that at such moments Nature, as anthe lungs a yet more important part other subject veiled behind the visible in the joint product. To how many object without us, solicits the intellimyriads of individuals had not the rise gible object hid, and yet struggling and fall of the lid in a boiling kettle beneath the subject within us, and been familiar, an appearance daily and like a helping Lucina, brings it forth hourly in sight? But it was reserved for us into distinct consciousness and for a mind that understood what was common light. Who has not tried to to be wished and knew what was want- get hold of some half-remembered ed in order to its fulfilment-for an name, mislaid as it were in the mearmed eye, which meditation had made mory, and yet felt to be there ? And contemplative, an eye armed from who has not experienced, how at within, with an instrument of higher length it seems given to us, as if some powers than glasses can give, with the other unperceived had been employed
*“ Prudens questio dimidium scientiæ,” says our Verulam, the second founder of the science, and the first who on principle applied it to the ideas in nature, as his great compeer Plato had before done to the laws in the mind.
in the same search? 'And what are the containing a doctrine so repugnant to objects last spoken of, which are in the best feelings of humanity, as is the subject, (i. e. the individual mind) inculcated in the following passage, yet not subjective, but of universal among a hundred others to the same validity, no accidents of a particular purpose, in earlier and in more recent mind resulting from its individual works, sent forth by professed Chrisstructure, no, nor even of the human tians. “ Most of the men, who are mind, as a particular class or rank of now alive, or that have been living for intelligences, but of imperishable sub- many ages, are Jews, Heathens, or sistence; and though not things, (i.e. Mahometans, strangers and enemies shapes in outward space,) yet equally to Christ, in whose name alone we can independent of the beholder, and more be saved. This consideration is exthan equally real—what, I say, are tremely sad, when we remember how those but the names of nature? the great an evil it is, that so many mila nomina quasi vojava, opposed by the lions of sons and daughters are born to wisest of the Greek schools to pheno- enter into the possession of devils to mena, as the intelligible correspondents eternal ages.”—Taylor's HolyDying,.p. or correlatives in the mind to the in- 28. Even Sir T. Brown, while his heart visible supporters of the appearances is evidently wrestling with the dogma in the world of the senses, the uphold- grounded on the trivial interpretation ing powers that cannot be seen, but of the word, nevertheless receives it the presence and actual being of which in this sense, and expresses most gloo
must be supposed—nay, will be sup- my apprehensions of the ends of E posed, in defiance of every attempt to those honest worthies and philoso
the contrary by a crude materialism, phers," who died before the birth of 60 alien from humanity, that there our Saviour : “ It is hard,” says he, does not exist a language on earth, in “ to place those souls in hell, whose which it could be conveyed without a worthy lives did teach us virtue on contradiction between the sense, and earth. How strange to them will the words employed to express it! sound the history of Adam, when they
Is this a mere random flight in ety- shall suffer for him they never heard mology, hunting a bubble, and bring- of!" Yet he concludes by condemning back the film ? I cannot think so ing the insolence of reason in daring, contemptuously of the attempt to fix to doubt or controvert the verity of the and restore the true import of any doctrine, or to question the justice word; but, in this instance, I should of the proceeding," which verity, he regard it as neither unprofitable, nor fears, the woeful lot of “ these great devoid of rational interest, were it only examples of virtue must confirm.' that the knowledge and reception of But here I must break off. the import here given, as the etymon,
Your's most affectionately,
S. T. COLERIDGE.
To the Same.