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rivals already in his support, he offered swept like a tornado, the defeat was not the second place in his cabinet to another, so overwhelmingly decisive in regard to Mr. Crawford, who declining its accep- public opinion as the division of electoral tance, Mr. Barbour, a friend of that gen votes made apparent. While Mr. Adams tleman, was placed in the War Depart had less than one-third of the votes of the ment, and Mr. McLean, a Jackson man, electors, he received five-elevenths of the was appointed Postmaster General. This popular vote of the Union. Many have effort at conciliation, persisted in after it believed the case was decided from the mohad too plainly failed, was a leading cause ment the Jackson and Crawford parties of Mr. Adam's defeat in 1828.
united. It was not so. The prospect of Mr. Adams continued the general policy the administration was so good in 1826 in of the former Republican administrations, the result of the State Elections, that the and particularly of Monroe's, of which he Jackson men felt a little discouraged, and had had so important a part in the direc in 1827 the prospect was equally fair. A tion. But though that policy was popular wiser politician than Mr. Adams would have in itself, and at another time might have saved himself in his position, for it was no secured the full triumph of Mr. Adams, difficult task to a shrewd party manager. there were circumstances working with | Whether Jefferson would have done it, stronger effects. Still the milder influence we think little of a problem. Under all of the administration was not without re disadvantages, the loss of the strong rallysult. Its party was placed on a firm foot- ing point of Jackson's popularity would have ing ; New Jersey and Delaware were re subjected the opposition to a signal defcat. claimed from the opposition ; in Pennsyl From the accession of Jackson the hisvania even, from the few thousands who
tory of parties is known to all. For the voted for either Adams or Clay in 1820, a
third time since its formation, (the ordinary party of 50,000 was built up by 1828. In variations only, no radical change or rethe West, Mr. Clay's large strength was organization having occurred to either,) paralyzed, because the West preferred a the party which supported Mr. Adams is Western man, and was excited by military predominant in the nation, and in control of glory, yet Jackson carried Ohio by only the government, (though as yet with but 2,201 majority in a vote of 128,993, and a partially effective power for adminisLouisiana by only 527 majority. And tration.) though in other States the Jackson fever
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF COLERIDGE.
It is a painful and ridiculous phenome The honest enemy may vent undisguised non in literature, the conversion of the hostility : but how hateful that creature, characters of men of genius and power, a friend and enemy in the same skin. into a kind of raw material for rhetoricians Love is blind, and either cannot see faults, and book mechanics. As a record, either or sees them in the light of failings ; it of affection, admiration, or of hatred, a presents the totality of a character as exbiography may be written ; or it may be cellent and amiable; touching upon the treated as the material of history, in a faulty parts lightly, and as if compelled to spirit perfectly dispassionate; or for a mo do so; but that man is no moralist, and is ral purpose, to hold out a grand example not a good man, nor a christian, who sets of virtue and its fruits, or of vice and its up his friend and his protege to the scorn punishments; or better still, for both in
of posterity. one: but the world owes those no thanks That great men have their vices and who convert the sacred ashes of the dead follies, very little acuteness is needed to into a vendible commodity. A coarse and observe ; nor is the least ability required wretched art must that be which covers to commemorate them : all that is needed the marble statue with white paint, or for that purpose is merely a servile, false, whose works may be compared with those and garrulous tongue : however much they of plumbers, who cast lead into the effi- may amuse us on the instant, they leave gies of great men, to be sold by weight to no respect for the narrator, and if devoid elude the excise. Posterity however is just, of pith and humor, excite only disgust. and the punishment of these leaden biograph The charge of immorality and indiscreers is to have their leaden productions clap- tion has been laid at the door of Lamarped over themselves, like an extinguisher. tine, for having taken a Robespierre for a
But, of all biographies, those are the rhetorical exercise. It has been assumed least agreeable, which, like Cottle's Cole- that the praise of Robespierre, by a Laridge, mingle admiration and contempt; martine, condemns a Lamartine: but it is the vanity of the writer, protecting itself at least worthy the enquiry whether there against the overshadowing greatness of its be not something magnanimous and praisetheme, by setting forth the littlenesses and worthy in the attempt, however mistaken, the faults of a hero by themselves, and to separate the virtues, even of the lowest calling attention to them in detail and in- of mankind, from the mountainous rubbish dividually—a mode of treatment which of error under which they lie buried in subjects the biographer to the charge either such a character,—whether the spirit of of incapacity or of malignity.
such a biographer is not more in comformiTo pronounce Hercules a god, and at ty with the christian rule, than that of the the same time tap him on the shoulder for pietist who has dragged to light, and puba good fellow with his failings ;—to wor lished to the world, the errors and weakship with a prodigality of insolent praise ; nesses of one of the noblest minds that to profess a deep respect, while minutely ever came into being. telling a debasing anecdote; to glory in To call up by rhetorical incantations, in the friendship of one whom they familiarly the spongy air of imagination, mere dreamhandle ;—these are the traces of envy, and wrought phantasms, imaginary Robeof a conceit, so far malignant, it is willing spierres, whose existence the first ray of to make the noblest reputation a sacrifice historical truth must dissipate, may be a to its own ordinary and contemptible task unworthy of a great author; and we shrewdness.
know that the good sense of mankind visits
these necromantic eulogies with a just con mind may have assisted this result. A tempt; but it requires no small forbearance school boy who could read at his leisure to refrain from bestowing something heavier hours, though subject at other times to a than contempt upon the meddling would severe school discipline, “a whole circulabe moralist, who gnaws about the feet of ting library, folios and all,” without other greatness—who throws down the statue sympathy than his own thoughts, would very by nibbling at the toe.
naturally discover none of those qualities The character of a great man is sacred which would have endeared him to his reto posterity; for, in our estimate of his latives. The insatiable ambition of knowcharacter, lies, in great measure, the force ledge, and the propensity of converting all and value of his works. When a dema- knowledge into food for speculation, posgogue wishes to stop the progress of a
sessed him early and with extraordinary statesman or a reformer, he makes a pub- force, and remained, in after life, the maslic exposition of his vices and follies. We ter passions of his nature. His imaginaread attentively and fervently the works of tion absorbed the energy of his body and a man whose character we respect, and we of his will; and he never acquired more throw by, and neglect, those works of whose than a transient command over his imauthors we make an unfavorable estimate. pulses. Having, when a child, but a Biography is therefore a more important weak resolution and a moderate pride, and delicate department of letters, than he was easily moulded and directed by his even history itself, and demands a more instructor, and received from him, under absolutely impartial and humane disposi- the constant stimulus of the ferule, an extion in the author.
cellent education in the learned languages. Can it be estimated how
hundreds In his nineteenth year he entered Jesus of persons have laid aside the writings College at Cambridge, and after an eccenof Lord Bacon, after reading the un- tric irregular course, always illustrating just criticism of his character by Ma- the predominance of imagination, we find caulay; or how much of abstract po- him, at the unfortunate conclusion of a litical opinion is created by a personal re- love adventure, enlisted in the horsegard for, or dislike of the characters of po- guards, and showing very little aptitude litical leaders ? The malignity of his early for military exercises. He admits that he defamers has condemned Plato to a learned never got beyond the awkward squad; and obscurity. A sarcasm on the moral cha- he seems never to have enjoyed any speracter of Socrates, from the lips of a cies of exercise except walking : in this, learned professor in one of our leading however, he was indefatigable; and Hazlitt Universities, repeated year after year, in relates of him that his gait was irregular the lecture room, keeps an entire Universi- and vascillating, suitable with the irreguty, year after year, in ignorance of Greek larity of his thoughts. philosophy. It is unnecessary to adduce The anecdotes of the life of Coleridge, other instances, and we have mentioned and his own account of his travels turn althese only to call attention to the impor- ways upon conversations, moods of thought, tance of biography as a department of observations of a speculative character literature.
upon life and manners, and betray, also, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the reviver the indulgence of strong, though not maof philosophy in England, was born in 1773, lignant, national prejudices; and though at Ottery, St. Mary, in Devonshire : his endowed with the most exalted universalfather was a clergyman with a numerous ity of intellect, his passions were nationalfamily, whose poverty compelled him to ized, and even narrowed, by a blind parplace Samuel, his youngest son, at the tiality for his native country—a fault school of Christ's Hospital, a charitable which we are compelled to honor, even in institution for education in London. From a narrow and contracted spirit. His hathis period he seems to have been neglect tred for the French literature—a hatred ed by his relatives, or to have lost sight of grounded, for the most part, on an ignothem ; for we find his correspondent, Cot rance which he did not pretend to conceal tle, reproaching him with the separation. --was carried to a ridiculous height: and The intensely imaginative character of his yet, to this day, England has reason to
revere the prejudices and even the bigotry work stands upon its own merits, and neof Coleridge, for with him began that ver upon the accidents which environ or literary, and theological reaction which bias it, however mean they be to appearrescued English literature from French ance. In the mysterious order of the moatheism and German mysticism.
ral world the most important results flow The influence of imagination appears in from crooked and outwardly contemptible his inconsiderate and unstable marriage. conditions; and the very vice of idleness So powerfully did imagination work upon which offends, may have been necessary to him at this time, although every advan the production of the works which charm tage that an author can desire was held and instruct us. Nor is the contemplation out to him by his publisher, Cottle, the of characters, in whom surprising imperenergy of his spirit was consumed in fections appear, notwithstanding the blame mighty projects, which were laid aside as with which we visit those who wantonly soon as they were commenced. Finding expose them-less useful than that of the many friends who were ready to extend to more perfect order of men.
The appearhim pecuniary aid, his life became one of ance of these faults in them is often almost entire dependance. The receipts through the inability to conceal-through from his works were very moderate : from a want of that art of secrecy which the one of his friends he even accepted an an generosity of their natures forbids them to nuity, and, as his disposition was amiable cultivate Greatness delights in a neglect and his conversation always delightful, he of trivial circumstances; and this fault of was never at a loss for a home.
greatness engages it in troubles unknown The habit he contracted, while a young to characters of more shrewdness and cunman, of using opium to allay the irritation ning. Intensely occupied with great matof his mind, seems to have remained with ters, and full of a generous confidence, him through life. The effects are visible in they expose what meaner men adroitly the fewness and incompleteness of his works, conceal : it is a part of their felicity that and in the early extinction of his poet their defects are obvious--that the world ical fire : and perhaps this habit may
have knows the worst that is in them ; their increased that natural inaccuracy of mind faults are magnified, indeed, by envy, the which disqualified him to become a histo parent of scandal; but they can afford to rian or narrator. As if aware of this im lose a little reputation ; they are hardly perfection, he seldom ventures to narrate. straitened by a loss that would bankrupt It is said that he sometimes deviated from another; the calumnies which go before the truth, in representing his own physical them only prepare a larger circle to be condition and habits to his friends; but astonished with their fame; and when the those deviations were of the same class common props of respectability--wealth, with the falsehoods of a convalescent, who rank, family, name, a good face, a prudent will venture upon harmless lies to obtain a morality, are struck away, men are amazed larger quantity of food. Coleridge's de to find that the grandeur of what is left ceptions are much dwelt upon by Mr. makes these losses insignificant and easily Cottle; but they appear, on the most ri borne. gid scrutiny, to have arisen solely out of The works of those masters, in whom physical weakness and a desire to escape great excellencies are joined with defects, the surviellance of friends, and never from inspire a stronger desire of imitation than the least depravity of heart.
such as seem to have reached ideal perfecIf it becomes necessary to record the des tion: the difficult and the easily attained pondencies, the weakness, and the vices of lie so near together in them, it looks like great men—not only humanity, but justice only a step from one to the other; and requires that they should be mentioned, if by this delusion we are hurried on : enat all, in the same breath with the noble couraged by the faults of our superiors we acts and great virtues by which they have seem, in bringing them down to us, to exalted and benefitted mankind. They have risen also to their level; and thus the will then, while they inspire us with pity, happiest results arise. A thousand efforts never lessen our respect or cool our admi tend toward the accessible, for one that is ration. Every great power and admirable stimulated by the sight of perfection.
That the faults of Coleridge were not of trayed no meanness, even when he allowed a nature to breed any sentiment but pity himself to be dependent; and he diffused and regret in those who knew him best through society, by his presence and conthere is abundant evidence that they versation, feelings of the most delightful even had the effect to draw him into closer and elevating kind. His companionship sympathy with many and force a nearer was courted, and his opinions quoted by acquaintance with his virtue might be eas the best; and even those who declared him ily shown.
mad, admitted that his madness was of a Those powerful traits which confer per most wonderful character. It is with this sonal influence in affairs of state and busi- madness, the same which has infected great ness did not make their appearance in minds from the beginning, that we are at Coleridge. It was not for the conduct of present interested; a madness which redifficult negotiations that he became im- conciles man to God, by making clear to portant to his own, and, perhaps, to all him the image of Deity in himself ; that succeeding ages, but for the conduct and divine image by which he becomes a moral expression of great and difficult thoughts ; being, by which, for it is not merely an and though the picture of his life would be image but an infinite and irresistible powan interesting study for the moralist, we er, the person of one man comes to repredo not mean, on this occasion, to present sent, not only the system of his own acits minuter features, or to give more than tions, but those of other men living with such a sketch of his character as is neces and after him, and thus creating nations, sary to an understanding of his works. To societies, and faiths. the writings of his friends and relatives, His literary character did not establish and particularly to the Essays of Lamb itself, as in the writings of the Sidneys and and Hazlitt, we refer the curious reader, Shakspeares, by the exhibition of refined limiting our attention for the rest to those and delicate sentiments, carried to a chiactions of his life, which he himself intend- valrous height; nor as in the Washingtons ed for posterity, namely, his philosophical and Alfreds, by a knowledge of public works.
justice and economy, but solely in those When the list of his virtues and grand efforts of intellect, which abstract attainments is set off against his faults, from human science the first principles and these latter almost vanish in the compa- primal energies of existence. His place rison. Their sum is, that he lacked re- therefore, is with Bacon and Aristotle, solution ; he schemed far more than he with Kant and Plato. In the faculty of accomplished. To have planned a work pure abstraction he was probably surpassed was with him enough. He projected by none of those. many vast undertakings and completed The Arabs, ridiculing the imbecility of few ; his works, with a few exceptions, certain mongrel tribes, call them men of were fragmentary; though the unity, not one thought; but this title is more proto say the monotony, of idea which pre- perly applicable to the most powerful than vails in his prose writings shows a thinker to the weakest of intellect. The original whose life was occupied with revolving a thinker, who labors to give a form and an few great thoughts. To have resolved on expression to his faith, or to his unbelief; the instant to break through an injurious whose continual effort is to accumulaté habit seemed to him equivalent to a real knowledge and experience for the susteabstinence; as the toper, who intermits a nance of some one idea, which is to dissolve day, will on that day honestly swear that and to recrystalize the aggregate into a he is no toper. It must not however, be system or image of the universe, is proforgotten that Coleridge has never been perly the man of one thought. In this charged with a deliberate wrong, or a ma lies all his power—that he has a thought, licious deceit; or with those vices—ex an idea, which is the lord and master of cepting one, injurious only to himself, his meditations. This is his philosopher's which so commonly beset men of genius. stone, his universal solvent, his tincture of His aims were noble ; his ambition took life, the mirror of his reflections, his the highest flight; his friendships were arcanum, his principle of spiritual gravisincere, judicious and enduring ; he be- tation, the reason of his morality, his in