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111 think it bat a fond conceit, —
It cannot be that them art gone!
When we are old:
Coleridge's dramas are deficient in strong passion and rapid energy of action; and though as works of genius, they vastly excel many popular acting plays, posterity will confirm what has already been said of them, — " beautiful but impracticable." "Remorse," as a drama intended for the closet, rather than the stage, may take its place among the standard literature of our country; while "Zapoyla" for perfection of language and versification may be studied as a model. His translation of Schiller's "Wallenstein," said to have been executed in six weeks, has been pronounced even preferable to the original. Coleridge's rich musical numbers, the beauty of his language, and frequent amplification of the thought, make it rather a poem than a translation. These numbers, in which Wai
lenstein, looking forth into the windy night in search of the star of his nativity, recalls to mind the death of Max, and bemoans his loss, ailed the heart and ear like a spell.
"He is gone, he is dust!
He, the more fortunate! yea, he hath finished 1
. . . The bloom is vanished from my life,
In summing up the merits of Coleridge's poetry, 'beautiful as it is, we must admit the mournful truth that " it indicates more than it achieves." From childhood to age visions of grace, tenderness, and majesty seem ever to have haunted him. Some of these he embodied in exquisite but often fragmentary verse. That concentration and steadiness of purpose necessary to him who would turn his intellectual wealth to account he miserably lacked. A happier destiny, which he himself might have shaped, was wanting. Much of his life was spent in poverty and dependence, and in tyrannical self-indulgence that bred for him disappointment and ill health; and thus in days of distasteful drudgery for the periodical press or of aimless, indolent lotos-eating, he wasted — to use his own expression — "the prime and manhood of his intellect." Holding the key to every hidden chamber of profound and subtle thought, and every ethereal conception, equally master of the wildest imagery, the airiest fancy, and the most melodious harmonies, before posterity he stands abased beside the humblest mortal who, battling with the flesh and the Devil, has obtained the mastery of himself, albeit he never —
"On honey-dew hath fed,
Robert Southey, in the commencement of his literary career the associate of Wordsworth and Coleridge, has with them been properly reckoned as one of the Lake poets.
Southey was born in 1774. Having passed with credit through Westminster School, he was entered at Oxford in 1792. His friends designed him for the Church; but the poet became a Jacobin and Socinian, and his academic career was abruptly closed. In 1795 Southey married Miss Edith Fricker of Bristol, sister of the lady whom Coleridge afterward married. He is said to have parted with his wife immediately after the ceremony, at the portico of the church, to set out on his travels in Portugal. In 1797 he returned to England, and entered himself at Gray's Inn. In the same j-ear his "Thalaba" was published. Subsequently the poet established himself at Greta Hall, Keswick, where he spent the remainder of his life.
In 1813 Southey accepted the office of poet laureate. Subsequently he was offered a baronetcy and a seat in Parliament, both of which he prudently declined, preferring to seek fame and fortune by adhering to his solitary studies. These were, unhappily, too constant and uninterrupted. "Every day, every hour," says his biographer, "had its allotted employment, — always were there engagements to publishers imperatively requiring punctual fulfilment; always the current expenses of a large household to take anxious thought for. For although his mode of life was as simple and inexpensive as possible, his expenditure was with difficulty kept within his income, owing to his noble liberality to the distressed, and the considerable sums which were regularly drawn from him by his less successful relatives. The entire family of Coleridge had taken shelter under his kindly roof and shared his bounty. He was, too, constantly adding new purchases to his library, which at his death consisted of about fourteen thousand volumes, — probably the largest number of books ever collected by a person of such limited means. 'My ways,' he used to say, 'are as broad as the King's high-road, and my means lie in an ink-stand.'"
A thoroughly domestic man, his whole pleasure and happiness is said to have been centred in his home; yet he could not, however he might wish it, give time for the summer evening walk, or make one of a circle around the winter hearth, or even spare time for conversation after the family meals.
In personal appearance Southey is said to have been very striking, and in his early days he had been considered the beau-ideal of a poet. Lord Byron speaks of his appearance as " epic," and says, " To have his head and shoulders, I would almost have written his Sapphics." He was extremely courteous in manner, and frank and pleasant in conversation; to his intimates, wholly unreserved; disposed to give and receive pleasure, and frecly pouring forth his vast stores of information upon almost every subject.
His library was his world, within which he was content to range; and his books were his most cherished and constant companions. It is melancholy to reflect that for nearly three years before his death he sat among them in hopeless vacuity of mind.
Acutely sensitive by nature, and highly predisposed to nervous disease, the forty years of incessant mental application which he had passed through had at length overclouded his great mind, and brought upon him premature decay. His mind was beautiful even in its debility. He was often, it is said, conscious of losing himself for a moment in conversation, and then an expression of pain and of touching resignation would pass over his face. He spoke openly of his altered condition; and though doing nothing, he would frequently anticipate a return of his powers. His mind, while any spark of reason remained, was busy with its old day-dreams; works which he had projected were to be taken in hand, completed, and new works added to these. Long after he had ceased to compose, he took pleasure in reading, and the habit continned even after the power of comprehension was gone. His beloved books were a pleasure to him to the end; and when he had ceased to read them, he would walk slowly round his library looking at them, and taking them down mechanically.
At last no glimmering of reason appeared; the body grew weaker; and after a short attack of fever, he died on the 21st of March, 1843. Wordsworth — his only intimate friend within reach — crossed the hills on a wild March morning to follow his dear remains to their resting-place in the beautiful churchyard at Crossthwaite ; and when the April sod grew green upon his grave, all who loved him thanked God that there he rested.
Southey's first epic, "Joan of Arc," a portion of which was written by Coleridge, was published in 1796. In 1801 be brought out a second epic, "Thalaba, the Destroyer."