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doing." And there is a favor of ma- | Wordsworth wrote in his lines “ To tured wisdom in the observation which H. C., six years old,” beginning, — ill accords with our preconceived ideas
O thou whose fancies from afar are brought. of an ungoverned youth.
There is, indeed, an elaborate formal still survives in the man who to the last ity about the religious aspirations of cherished a faith in goodness, a love these young people which is part of the for nature, and a tenderness of heart manners of a bygone age an age in which better men might well have enwhich, we must remember, people did vied. Here is a characteristic memonot find it unnatural to make love randum, dated 1827, at the end of some in faultless English and well-turnel college note-book: phrases. Passion did not walk abroad
It was begun [he writes] when I stood in tatters ; in public, at least, it most high in the world, proud but not glad of often wore a correct and sober habit, academic honors, with all the material, but. which sometimes had the air of deliber- alas ! without the moral of happiness. Its ate disguise. So when Southey writes, conclusion finds me a beggar, bankrupt in “I shall unite myself to a woman whom estate, in love, in friendship, and, worst of I have long esteemed as a sister, and all, in self-esteem. Yet the faith with for whom I now indulge a warmer senti- which it was commenced has ripened into ment,” we can hardly believe that these certainty, and the sad knowledge of what I are the words of an undergraduate
am, feelingly informs me what I might
have been. lover ; and when the little De Quincey,
This day, too, I beheld the first snowfretting against the tedium and re-drop, the earliest primrose. Nature begins straints of school, writes to ask how a
to revive, and why should not I begin a person can be happy “in a situation new year from this day? which deprives him of health,
of 90ciety, of amusement, of liberty, of
One may wish, indeed, that his good congeniality of pursuits,” we feel as if resolutions had rested upon a
foundation than some middle-aged and justly dissatis
he blossoming of a fied scholar had crept into his school- primrose, but at least the fancy recalls boy jacket and taken up the pen. And
the fair visions of his boyhood, and in matters of religion there is the same
shows a mind still open to the sacred tone of just and deliberate conviction, impressions of the spring. of prudence and foresight, and of well
He never sought to justify his own balanced judgments and firmly estab- derelictions from duty by a lowering of lished principles a tone of somewhat
the Christian standard, nor would he high-flown morality, savoring strongly
shut himself off from religious minis. of the pulpit, an elevated position in trations and observances lest he should
incur the censure of the Pharisee or which Hartley Coleridge, for instance, seems somewhat out of place. But if lay himself open to any suspicion of practice in some respects fell lamenta- hypocrisy. He did not hesitate to give bly short, at least they did not lower free expression to his opinions upon their standard so as to bring it into har- religious questions, and beld strong mony with personal derelictions. And
views upon Erastianism and other in Hartley we see perhaps, as plainly church questions of the day.
, as we are ever permitted to see in an- His Bible and Prayer-book (his brother other human being, the dual nature in writes) the same which he possessed when perpetual conflict. He shows us his a boy, and which he took with him to best and his worst — his high aspira- church as long as he lived, bear the marks tions, his disastrous falls, his sins and of careful and habitual use. The Book of his remorse. Aud through it all we
Job, of Isaiah, and the Psalms in particufeel the curious attractiveness of a char- lar, show the traces of constant perusal. acter which, in spite of its inherent Here, for instance, is his own account weakness, awakens pity but not con- of a summer Sunday as it lies before us tempt. The imaginative child of whom jotted down in his journal :
And now the day of rest draws to a close. heavenly beauty of the second lesson, The weather has kept the Sabbath. The and determines to write a religious morning was the very perfection of still- poem. After which he goes home to a
No gay sunshine, no clamorous wind, glass of wine with F., feels himself no drenching rain ; the sky wore one sober titted to correct his views upon the grey veil, and the mist hung upon the hills as if it paused on its journey ; the vapors to an end with a chapter of the Bible
beer-tax, and finally brings his Sunday were gathered up; no light detachments foraged along the mountain-sides to catch and a pipe on Monday morning. the flying sunbeams, but the thick masses
His religious inclinations, indeed, at formed an even line like an army drawn up one time had been so strong that he for a decisive engagement, and only halting thought of taking holy orders ; but fortill the truce of God was passed. ... The tunately, he too plainly recognized the vale was clad in deepest green, and fanci- force of evil habits and his own infirmfully resembled the face of one who is calm ity of purpose to venture upon such a and patient after long weeping. . . . Some step, and some ten years afterwards he time before nine I arose, found the twins, wrote: “Every man who enters the two dear innocent little girls whose shining ministry without a call, becomes a faces are a far better refutation of Calvinism than Dr. Tomline's, in their blue stuff worse man than he would have been
had he remained a layman. Thank frocks (as pretty a dress as a little rustic can wear), prepared for the Ambleside rush God, I have not that sin to answer bearing. Found also my own breakfast
for." But he never ceased to take an ready — read part of the “ Life of Barry” interest in the religious movements of
- deliberated whether to go to church — his day, nor did he affect an indiffersaw J. W., hailed him from the window- ence to matters from which the life he determined to hear him—set forth with was leading in his remote cottage beBible and Prayer-book — called into the tween Ambleside and Grasmere might Sunday-school, found the two nuns sur-well have estranged him. It is interrounded with good little men and women, esting to find him writing of Frederick bright with the beauty of benevolence –
Faber's sermon in September, 1837 : how sweet even a plain woman can look when engaged unaffectedly in doing good !
He is High Church to the very verge of - found myself thirsty — called at the Red Romanism. I have heard him but once ; Lion and took a sober potation of John he is evidently a inan of genius. He has Barleycorn got into church (mirabile the pale face, wild eye, and self-oblivious dictu) in time. John does duty very re- manner which evinces sincere enthusiasm. spectably. First lesson, David's politic He is not the man to fling brimstone at the getting rid of Saul's family ; second, a truly heads of an unoffending congregation, and heavenly chapter, 13th of John, admirably then go and dine with the worst sinner that calculated to remove the unsafe impressions will give him a good feed. Of his sincerity of the first. Singing rather out of tune. there can be no doubt. Of his Christian Resolved to write a poetical address to the sanity I have my suspicions. Supreme Being. ... Clouds dispersed with But though he might dissent, lie never the congregation. . . . Drank glass of wine sought to depreciate those from whom with F. Corrected my political views of the he differed, and when speaking of Newbeer-tax. ... Now will I read a chapter, smoke a pipe, and so to bed, for it is Mon man, Keble, and Pusey, he observed : day morning.
I do not join the vulgar pack in hunting
down these poor Oxford divines. I reverWhat a curious medley we have here ! ence them as I reverence the noble and the He begins his day like a country curate, honest. Their aim is not preferment, it is with his Bible and Prayer-book and a not popularity, but what they look upon as visit to the Sunday-school. Then comes truth, and truth too for truth's sake. They the call at the Red Lion, which, how- court not the great, and what is better still, ever, does not hinder him from pur
they court not the many. suing his way to church. Vor is his There is no need to dwell upon the attendance upon the service a per- darker side of the picture ; the many functory one. He is affected by the shortcomings, the repeated lapses of
this erring child of genius, are too well | and Fleet Street, the innumerable trades, known to need comment; but even in tradesmen, and customers, coaches, wagons, the unhappy seasons when, shunning play-houses, all the bustle and wickedness the society of those who loved him, he round about Covent Garden, the watchmen, went forth as a wanderer amongst the drunken scenes, rattles — life awake, if you hills, he never failed to breathe some
awake, at all hours of the night ; the imthing of their majestic spirit
possibility of being dull in Fleet Street; the
the crowds, the very dirt and mud, the sun spirit of noble aims and high aspira- shining upon houses and pavement, the tions, the spirit which found a voice in fruit-shops, the old bookstalls, parsons the poetry of the Lakes. And it is cheapening books, London itself a pantosurely not only an indication of individ- mime and a masquerade, — all these things ual character but of the religious temper work themselves into my mind and feed me of the day, to find a life in many re- without a power of satiating me. The spects so faulty, so rich in reverence wonder of these sights impels me into night and frequent in prayer, so full of that walks about her crowded streets, and I deep humility and affectionate piety often shed tears in the motley Strand from which we are apt to regard as the ai- fulness of joy at 80 much lise. tributes of the saint rather than of the It is true that all this is not incomsinner.
patible with the most affectionate reWe cannot wonder that those who gard for far other scenes associated were most painfully sensible of his fail- with the dearest memories of his earings loved him best, and that his old lier years, the Hertfordshire lanes and friend, the aged poet Wordsworth, him- hedgerows, Amwell and Blakesware self selected his grave close by that of and Mackery End; to these he looks his daughter, where a place was also back with regretful tenderness, as with reserved for himself and Mrs. Words- his faithful and graceful pen he once worth, in Grasmere churchyard. “Let more paints for us the haunts of his him lie by us,” he said. “He would boyhood. He has an appreciation of have wished it."
the “pretty pastoral walks,” and of In selecting another familiar figure what Nathaniel Hawthorne calls the from the group of which Hartley Cole - decorous restraint” of an English ridge was a younger member, we turn landscape ; but it is a cultured appreciafrom Grasmere with its many association, perhaps more natural to the fortions, to Christ's Hospital and Newgate eigner than the native. Many a “green Street, to the India House and the Tem- thought in a green shade” strays across plars' Walk, to the suburbs of Islington his pages ; as Hazlitt said, “ his affecand Enfield, and to the corner of the tions revert to and settle upon the past; Edmonton graveyard where Charles but even this must have something Lamb lies buried ; and the contrast of local and personal in it to interest him the bustliny streets of the town with deeply and thoroughly." the shadowed valley and the lonely It was a temper of mind to which mountain-side, to some extent typifies the vivid realization of the far future the difference between the humorist and of the unseen was most difficult. and the fugitive poet, the man of the In both Dr. Johnson and Hartley Coleworld and the recluse.
ridge religion seems to strike a deeper Charles Lamb, indeed, was all his life note ; in the one of awe and reverence, at heart a citizen. Even in writing to in the other of an intermittent but Wordsworth he is not afraid to con- lifelong penitence. In Charles Lamb fess :
there is more of the modern spirit, he
takes life and the world to come more I don't now care if I never see a mountain in my life. I have passed all my days
lightly. Yet his seasons of self-rein London, until I have found as many and proach and his struggles against his intense local attachments as any of you
besetting sin were born of a higher mountaineers can have done with dead feeling than the fear to lose the world's nature. The lighted shops of the Strand respect or his own. In spite of the
divergencies between him and Hartley | writes : “ I sometimes wish to induce a Coleridge, which at first sight strike us religious turn of mind, but habits are so forcibly, we shall discover a very stubborn things, and my religious fercurious similarity in their way of ap- vors are confined to some fleeting moproaching religious subjects. It is not ments of occasional solitary devotion.” a question of formulated beliefs, of Here again is an appreciative verdict creeds and dogmas — upon such points upon Walton's “ Complete Angler” they would have differed widely wbich one might hardly have expected enough ; the likeness goes deeper into from one of his years : “It breathes regions of the conscience and the heart, the very spirit of innocence, purity, producing those sympathies which are and simplicity of heart; there are the result of temperament rather than many choice old verses interspersed in of doctrine, and much less casily de- it; it would sweeten a man's temper at fined. With both the affections played any time to read it ; it would Christiana large part in the field of spiritual ef- ize every discordant passion ; pray fort and experience ; each had a true make yourself acquainted with it.” fellow-feeling, born of their own in- Already the criticism foreshadows firmities, for the poor, the sinful, the the delicacy of his own style, his aim unfortunate, and in each a sincere pen-being well exemplified in a letter of itence was, in one respect at least, sin- about the same date : “ Cultivate simgularly fruitless in real amendment of plicity, Coleridge, or rather, I should life. In Lamb's case, indeed, repent- say, banish elaborateness ; for simplicance was hardly tinged by remorse, ity springs spontaneous from the heart, and his humor, like a wandering sun- and carries into daylight with it its beam, lighted up every incident in his own modest buds, and genuine sweet history and every phase of his charac- and clear flowers of expression. I ter ; but at times it served, as if by allow no hotbeds in the garden of contrast, to deepen the shadows. Parnassus.”
The Unitarianism of his early years, If it was true of his writings, it was was rather, as has been said, “the ac- still more true of his religion. The cident of education than the result of theological hotbed was above all an conviction.” In later life he rarely abomination to him ; but through all spoke upon doctrinal subjects.
the twisted strands of his life, and
most closely intertwined with its friend. Such religion as I have had [he writes of himself] has always acted on me more by way thread of a personal trust and faith
ships and affections, runs the single of sentiment than argumentative process. I am for “comprehension,” as divines call in God, like the instinctive clinging of it [he wrote in 1828] ; but so as that the a child to its father. “God love you Church go a good deal more than half-way and yours.” “ God love us all, and over to the silent Meeting-house. I have may he continue to be the Father and ever said that the Quakers are the only pro- the Friend of the whole human race." fessors of Christianity as I read it in the “God love you, Coleridge!" Such Evangiles. I say professors ; marry, as to are some ordinary endings of his fapractice, with their gaudy hot types and miliar letters ; and if it were poetical vanities, they are much as one of cases of casual intimacy, still more did the sinful.
the religious sentiment guide and govBut the sober and contemplative re- ern the tender and absorbing passion ligion in which he had been brought of his life — his lifelong devotion to up had left its impress, not only upon his sister. “God love her, may we his inner spiritual life, but upon his never love each other less ; and mode of giving it expression. His through all the strain of drudgery and early letters to Coleridge abound in disappointment, of failing health and pious reflections which to our modern clouded intellect, that prayer at least ideas seem hardly natural in so young was fully granted.
At the age of twenty-one he To his peculiar love for what was
near and familiar for the haunts of him in goodly odes. You have been his his boyhood, and a lingering fondness jester, volunteer laureate, and self-elected even for his desk at the India House, court poet to Beelzebub. from which he had longed to be re- This is carrying the war into the eneleased — he joined a deep sense of the my's country with a vengeance. It is obligations, or what he calls the “kind hard upon Southey, whose temperate charities of relationship." “ What comment was : “I was very much surwould I not give,” he writes of his prised and grieved, because I knew mother, to call her back to earth for how much he would condemu himself." one day ;. on my knees to ask her par- And he was right. He proposed, being don for all those little asperities of tem- in London during the following month, per which from time to time have given to pay the Lambs a visit, and received her gentle spirit pain ? and the day, the following eager and penitent acmy friend, I trust will come ; there will knowledgment, tendered with a genbe time enough for kind offices of love erosity as free as his own : if heaven's eternal year be ours.” It The kindness of your note has melted is very characteristic of Lamb to feel away the mist which was upon me. I have as if the family circle in heaven would been fighting against a shadow. .. I wish not be broken, but that the demands of both magazine and review at the bottom of filial affection should there be met and the sea. I shall be ashamed to see you. answered ; characteristic of the man My guardian angel was absent at the who upon the threshold of a literary time.
Your penitent career, and with all the possibilities and
C. LAMB. the dreams of youth before him, could It is certainly remarkable to see how, write : “I am wedded, Coleridge, to in all his writings, a sense of the fitness the fortunes of my sister and my poor of things keeps his humor in check. old father."
The present generation may often fail His affection for his friends was to see the point of the jokes which hardly less enduring. Amid all his were so keenly relished by his contempleasantry he wings no shaft which poraries, but they cannot condemn them bears a sting in their direction ; the as indelicate or profane. Though bis one exception is in a letter to Southey, laughter may sometimes be ill-timed, whom he considered had condemned there is no ribaldry in it. “I am going him unjustly in a recent paper on infi- to stand godfather,” he writes. "I delity. This letter is indeed full of a con't like the business. I cannot mussubtle fire of indignation not unmixed ter up decorum for these occasions. I with bitterness, and there is an shall certainly disgrace the font. I was wonted venom in his wit as he writes at IIazlitt's marriage, and had like to in self-defence under a sense of the in- have been turned out several times justice done to him :
during the ceremony. Anything awful If in either of these papers, or elsewhere, makes me laugh. I misbehaved once I have been betrayed into some levities not at a funeral.” And yet we have a noaffronting the sanctuary, but glancing per- tion that liis conduct, however reprehaps at some of the outskirts and extreme hensible, arose rather from a sense of edges, the debatable land between the holy the inadequate representation in the and profane regions ; . . . if I have sported «rama of life of ideas which to him within the purlieus of serious matter, - it truly were full of awe, thau from any was, I dare say, a humor – be not startled, mere levity of mind. It is true that sir – which I have unwittingly derived from his humor has exorcised the spirit of yourself. You have all your life been making a jest of the devil. .
profound seriousness which we find in
I acquit you of intentional irreverence ; but indeed some of his literary contemporaries — a you have made wonderfully free with, and spirit of which we catch glimpses even been mighty pleasant upon, the popular in the weird dreams and rapt visions of idea and attributes of him. . You have De Quincey; here again it is obseryflattered him in prose, you have chanted lable that neither in riotous excess nor