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POEMS OF HARTLEY COLERIDGE.

403

human sympathy. The same pure feeling towards the sex pervades the volume, and finds expression in some elegiac pieces of a very touching character. There is evidence in the volume of a susceptibility to other emotions than the passion of love, and we are glad of it, for we have no great partiality for the poet amatory exclusively, whom we are tempted to fancy a sort of “ Master Slender,”—“a softlysprighted man, with a little yellow beard,” who has but one thought, “Sweet Anne Page !” and no other recollections than “stewed prunes and the bear-garden. Love-poets find their profit in the easy access they gain to the soft hearts that abound all the world over. But the true poet must deal with other feelings beside the one masterpassion,—kindly affections, and calm and placid impulses. As far as a writer's character may be conjectured from his writings, Hartley Coleridge must be a gentle and right-hearted being. Omitting those instances in which he speaks dramatically, there is an air of sincerity in his expressions of feeling which mightily wins his reader's goodwill. We must except his expressions of mirth, which have not a real or healthy tone; and, although there are in the volume words which, as Jeremy Taylor says, are as light as the skirt of a summer-garment,” yet they seem to be rather the relief of a heavy heart than the ventings of a light one. Passing them by, the beauty of sincerity is not the least of the beauties of the following lines :

“ SENSE, IF YOU CAN FIND IT.
“ Like one pale, flitting, lonely gleam

Of sunshine on a winter's day,
There came a thought upon my dream,
I know not whence, but fondly deem

It came from far away.
“ Those sweet, sweet snatches of delight

That visit our bedarken'd clay
Like passage-birds, with hasty flight :-
It cannot be they perish quite,

Although they pass away.
“ They come and go, and come again ;

They 're ours, whatever time they stay :
Think not, my heart, they come in vain,
If one brief while they soothe thy pain

Before they pass away.
“But whither go they? No one knows

Their home; but yet they seem to say
That far beyond this gulf of woes
There is a region of repose
For them that pass away!'

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We feel as if we should be missing a rare opportunity for appropriate quotation, considering the approaching season, if we passed by the stanzas on New Year's Day.” We are pretty confident that the year will come to its close without producing anything conceived in better · feeling, and that many a New Year's sermon will be preached to duller

At all events, the stanzas will be less likely than the sermons to be applied by those to whom they are addressed, away from themselves, to their neighbours. We have ventured to call attention, by means of italics, to some of the lines which show the exuberance of the poet's fancy :

ears.

“ NEW YEAR'S DAY.
" While the bald trees stretch forth their long lank arms,

And starving birds peck nigh the reeky farms;
While houseless cattle paw the yellow field,
Or, coughing, shiver in the pervious bield,
And naught more gladsome in the hedge is seen
Than the dark holly’s grimly-glistening green ;
At such a time the ancient year goes by
To join its parent in eternity;
At such a time the merry year is born,

Like the bright berry from the naked thorn.
“ The bell rings out; the hoary steeple rocks ;

Hark! the long story of a score of clocks ;
For once a year the village clocks agree, -
E’en clocks agree to sound the hour of glee;
And every cottage has a light awake,
Unusual stars long flicker o'er the lake;
The moon on high, if any moon be there,
May peep, or wink; no mortal now will care :
For 't is the season when the nights are long.

There's time, ere morn, for each to sing his song.
“ The year departs. A blessing on its head !

We mourn not for it, for it is not dead.
Dead? What is that? A word to joy unknown,
Which love abhors, and faith will never own.
A word whose meaning sense could never fird,
That has no truth in matter, nor in mind.
The passing breezes gone as soon as felt,
The flakes of snow that in the soft air melt,
The wave that whitening curls its frothy crest
And falls to sleep upon its mother's breast,
The smile that sinks into a maiden's eye,
They come, they go, they change; they do not die.
So the old year—that fond and formal name-
ls with us yet, another and the same.

POEMS OF HARTLEY COLERIDGE.

405

“ And are the thoughts that evermore are fleeing,

The moments that make up our being's being,
The silent workings of unconscious love,
Or the dull hate which clings, and will not move,
In the dark caverns of the gloomy heart,
The fancies wild and horrible, which start
Like loathsome reptiles from their crankling holes,
From foul, neglected corners of our souls :-
Are these less vital than the waves or wind,
Or snow that melts and leaves no trace behind ?
Oh! let them perish all, or pass away,

And let our spirits feel a New Year's day.
A New Year's day! 't is but a term of art,-

An arbitrary line upon the chart
Of time's unbounded sea,--fond Fancy's creature,
To reason alien, and unknown to nature.
Nay: 't is a joyful day,-a day of hope !
Bound, merry dancer, like an antelope;
And as that lovely creature, far from man,
Gleams through the spicy groves of Hindostan,
Flash through the labyrinth of the mazy dance

With foot as nimble, and as keen a glance.
“ And we, whom many New Year's days have told

The sober truth that we are growing old,
For this one night-ay, and for many more-
Will be as jocund as we were of yore.
Kind hearts can make December blithe as May,

And in each morrow find a New Year's day.” Hartley Coleridge is an egotist ; and gracefully does his egotism sit upon him. It is one of the poet's privileges. There are expressions throughout the volume calculated to excite commiseration and somewhat of curiosity in some breasts,-murmurings of self-reproach, -repinings after misspent time and neglected talent, together with intimations of domestic griefs. We know not what it may all mean, but certain are we that there is an air of sad reality about it: it is no fantastic woe,none of the old fashion of melancholy that may be traced from the days of Ben Jonson’s “Master Stephen” down to the times of Lord Byron. It is not possible to suspect Hartley Coleridge of playing any such small game,-of following the worn-out device of enacting “ Il Penseroso" for effect. His allusions to his poverty do him honour, and we cannot believe that one who has learned to depict nature with the delicacy and fidelity which mark this volume has been idle, or unprofitably employed. At all events, he has before him the time and the power of self-recovery. Throwing aside all distrust of the poetic power of the English tongue,

let him not waver or be drawn down by any despondency. Let him call to mind “the labour and intense study” which Milton looked upon as his portion in life, when he conceived the thought of “ a work not to be raised from the heat of youth, nor to be obtained by the invocation of Dame Memory and her siren daughters, but by devout prayer to that eternal Spirit who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases." Let him look to his favourite Wordsworth, and see what that career is which befits him who meditates the great achievements in verse, and we have no fear but that at some future day we shall behold him on higher ground than the beautiful effusions in the present volume. It has been our object to make our readers acquainted with a name that is well worth the knowing, and we have thus, we flatter ourselves, been helping Mr. Hartley Coleridge to gain some of his distant fame,- -a commodity that loses none of its value because it comes from far away. We take our leave of him, for the present, by quoting a poem of exquisite finish and beauty, which we have reserved for a final impression :

“ THE SABBATH DAY'S CHILD.

TO ELIZABETH, INFANT DAUGHTER OF THE REV. SIR RICHARD

FLEMING, BART.
" Pure precious drop of dear mortality, -

Untainted fount of life's meandering stream,
Whose innocence is like the dewy beam
Of morn, a visible reality,
Holy and quiet as a hermit's dream,-
Unconscious witness to the promised birth
Of perfect good, that may not grow on earth
Nor be computed by the worldly worth
And stated limits of morality,–

Fair type and pledge of full redemption given,
Through Him that saith, 'Of such is the kingdom of heaven.'
“ Sweet infant, whom thy brooding parents love

For what thou art, and what they hope to see thee,
Unhallow'd spirits and earth-born phantoms flee thee;
Thy soft simplicity-a hovering dove,
That still keeps watch, from blight and bane to free thee;
With its weak wings, in peaceful care outspread,
Fanning invisibly thy pillow'd head-
Strikes evil powers with reverential dread
Beyond the sulphurous bolts of fabled Jove,

Or whatsoe'er of amulet or charm
Fond Ignorance devised to save poor souls from harm.

POEMS OF HARTLEY COLERIDGE.

407

“ To see thee sleeping on thy mother's breast,

It were indeed a lovely sight to see ;
Who would believe that restless sin can be
In the same world that holds such sinless rest?
Happy art thou, sweet babe, and happy she
Whose voice alone can still thy baby-cries,
Now still itself; yet pensive smiles, and sighs,
And the mute meanings of a mother's eyes,
Declare her thinking, deep felicity,

A bliss, my babe, how much unlike to thine,
Mingled with earthly fears, yet cheer'd with hope divine !
“ Thou breathing image of the life of nature !

Say, rather, image of a happy death ;
For the vicissitudes of vital breath,
Of all infirmity the slave and creature,
That by the act of being perisheth,
Are far unlike that slumber's perfect peace
Which seems too absolute and pure to cease,
Or suffer diminution or increase,
Or change of hue, proportion, shape, or feature;

A calm, it seems, that is not, shall not be
Save in the silent depths of calm eternity.
“ A star reflected in a dimpling rill

That moves so slow it hardly moves at all,-
The shadow of a white-robed waterfall,
Seen in the lake beneath when all is still,-
A wandering cloud that, with its fleecy pall,
Whitens the lustre of an autumn moon, -
A sudden breeze that cools the cheek of noon,
Not mark'd till miss'd, so soft it fades, and soon,-
Whatever else the fond inventive skill

Of Fancy may suggest,-cannot supply Fit semblance of the sleeping life of infancy. “ Calm art thou as the blessed Sabbath eve,

The blessed Sabbath eve when thou wast born;
Yet sprightly as a summer Sabbath morn,
When, surely, 't were a thing unmeet to grieve ;
When ribbons gay the village-maids adorn,
And Sabbath music on the swelling gales
Floats to the farthest nooks of winding vales
And summons all the beauty of the dales.
Fit music this a stranger to receive;

And, lovely child, it rung to welcome thee, Announcing thy approach with gladsome minstrelsy. So be thy life, –a gentle Sabbath, pure

From worthless strivings of the work-day earth!

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