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not quite thrown off the mask of independence, nor accepted those meaner laurels which Apollo would have had reason to disdain. Before that period, there was a native goodness about his character, and a taste for placid virtue in his writings, which conciliated regard, and made us think of him with a pertinacious kindness. I will not answer, that my ideas of his poetry have not been of too high a description on this account, relying, as they did, on what appeared to be indicative of a finer species of mind, and to promise something greater than he had yet performed; but let his praises remain ;-it is not worth while to alter them.
It may be as well, however, to mention, that though Mr. Southey is represented as admitted where Mr. Wordsworth is not, it is not meant to insinuate that he is a better poet, but merely that he has not so abused the comparative little that was expected of him. He is no more to be compared with Mr. Wordsworth in real genius than the man who thinks once out of a hundred times is with him who thinks the whole hundred; but that he is at the same time a poet, will be no more denied than that the hundredth part of Mr. Wordsworth's genius would make a poet. His fancy, perhaps, has gone little beyond books, but still it is of a truly poetical character; he touches the affections pleasingly though not powerfully; and his moral vein stands him in stead, as it ought to do, of a good deal of dignity in other respects.
What he wants in the gross, is a natural strength of thinking, and in the particular, a real style of his own; for as his simplicity is more a thing of words than of thoughts, he naturally borrows his language from those who have thought for him. What Mr. Wordsworth conceals from you, or in fact overcomes by the growth of his own mind, Mr. Southey leaves open
and bald- direct imitation, prominent with nothing but haths, ands, yeas, evens, and other fragments of old speech. As to his attempt to bring back the Cowleian licentiousness of metre in another shape, and with nothing like an ear to make it seducing, it is a mere excuse for haste and want of study.
To return to the line in the text. Apollo, I am afraid, is not as easily to be defended as myself, for a want of foresight so unbecoming his prophetical character ;-but this I leave to be settled by some future BURMAN or BiFFius, whenever he shall do me the honour to find out the learning of this egregious performance, and publish the Feast of the Poets in two volumes quarto. Apollo, like other vivacious spirits, chose to do without his foresight sometimes—as the commentator will no doubt have the goodness to show for me.
By the way, speaking of Mr. Southey's court laurels, of which I have luckily said enough in another publication, people have not forgotten what he said formerly of “ the degraded title of epic,” and of his objections to write accordingly, under such degradation. How is it, that he has : not expressed a similar horror at the degraded title of Poet Laureat? He cannot pretend to say that it is not so-for setting aside the remaining reasons, one of the very persons who helped to degrade the one contributed to do as much for the other. Would it not be better, in some future edition of his works, to alter that word “degraded” into some more convenient epithet, such as worthless, for instance-that is to say, valueless-pennyless-something that does not give one a pension?
(16) For Colerülge had vex'd him long since, I suppose,
By his idling, and gabbling, and muddling in prose;
Mr. Coleridge is a man of great natural talents, as they who most lament his waste of them, are the readiest to acknowledge. Indeed, it is their conviction in this respect, which induces them to feel the waste as they do; and if Apollo shows him no quarter, it is evidently because he looks upon him as a deserter. Of his poetical defects enough will be said iņ speaking of those of Mr. Wordsworth ; and if as much cannot be said of his kindred beauties, it is rather, perhaps, because he has written less, and is a man of less industry, than because he does not equal the latter in genius. The allusion in the text is to his strange periodical publication, called the Friend. See Note 18.
There was an idle report, it seems, on the first appearance of Mr. Coleridge's tragedy, that I was the instigator of a party to condemn it. The play, as it happened, was not condemned, nor does any such party appear to have existed ;the criticism, also, which was written upon it in the Examiner, by a friend, must have removed, I should think, all doubts on that head. It is very certain, that at the time of its appearance I was too ill to be out of doors-nor is it less so, that regarding myself as a reporter of the public judgment in these matters, I never thought myself justified in being a party on either side viva
Mr. Coleridge should do more credit to his own notions of opposition, than to suppose me capable of these idle tricks. sists, however, in thinking it extraordinary that I should exhibit a more lively regret than others at seeing him throw away his fine genius as he has done, he may attribute it, if he pleases, to a cause from which he seems to have expected a reverse kind of treatment—to my having been bred up, as well as himself, in the humble but not unlet-' tered school over which his memory might have thrown a lustre.*
If he still per
* The Grammar school of Christ's Hospital. Of this institution, wbich is of a truly English description, and a sort of me. dium betwixt the high breeding of the more celebrated foundations and the conscious bumility of the charity school, see a very interesting account in some late numbers of the Gentleman's
(17) And Wordsworth, one day, made his very hairs bristle,
By going and changing his harp for a whistle.
The allusion here scarcely needs a remark; but in revising my verses, and endeavouring to do justice to Mr. Wordsworth, I was anxious, whenever I mentioned him, to show myself sensible of the great powers he possesses, and with what sort of gift he has consented to trifle.
(18) When one began spouting the cream of orations
In praise of bombarding one's friends and relations ;
Mr. Coleridge, in his Friend, ventured upon a studious and even cordial defence (at least so his readers understood it) of the attack on Copenhagen-one of those lawless outrages, done in the insolence and impatience of power, which at first brought infamy, and have at last brought down retribution, upon the head of Bonaparte. The
Magazine by my friend Charles Lamb, who was cotemporary there with Coleridge, and of wbose powers of wit and observation I should delight to say more, if he had not confined those chief talents of his to the fireside. Mr. Coleridge, I believe, helped to give a new stimulus to the literary ambition of his school-fellows. We cannot boast of many great names ; but of such as we have, we are fond in proportion to their fewness. It was here that the celebrated Candeo received the rudiments of his learning; and I recollect, it used to be a proud enjoyment to us to witness the grateful inscriptions in gold letters with which Joshua Barnes had adorned the books that he presented to the library. As to college honours, at least in the Belles Letters, it may be truly said that the school has of late years grown familiar with them.