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Government. But look at the new French catechism, and in it read the misgivings of the monster's mind as to the sufficiency of terror alone.
The system, which I have been confuting, is, indeed, so inconsistent with the facts revealed to us by our own mind, and so utterly unsupported by any facts of history, that I should be censurable in wasting my own time and my reader's patience by the exposure of its falsehood, but that the arguments adduced have a value of themselves independent of their present application. Else it would have been an ample and satisfactory reply to an asserter of this bestial theory,- Government is a thing which relates to men, and what you say applies only to beasts.-S. T. COLERIDGE. From 1772 to 1834.
COLERIDGE'S BIOGRAPHIA LITERARIA.
Ar school I enjoyed the inestimable advantage of a very sensible, though, at the same time, a very severe master. He early moulded my taste to the preference of Demosthenes to Cicero, of Homer and Theocritus to Virgil, and, again, of Virgil to Ovid. He habituated me to compare Lucretius (in such extracts as I then read) Terence, and, above all, the chaster poems of Catullus, not only with the Roman poets of the so-called silver and brazen ages, but with even those of the Augustan era ; and, on grounds of plain sense and universal logic, to see and assert the superiority of the former, in the truth and nativeness, both of their thoughts and diction.
At the same time that we were studying the Greek tragic poets, he made us read Shakspeare and Milton as lessons ; and they were the lessons, too, which required most time and trouble to bring up, so as to escape his censure. I learnt from him that poetry, even that of the loftiest, and, seemingly, that of the wildest, odes, had a logic of its own, as severe as that of science; and more difficult, because more subtle, more complex, and dependent on more, and more fugitive, causes. In the truly great poets, he would say, there is a reason assignable, not only for every word—and I well remember that, availing himself of the synonyms to the Homer of Didymus, he made us attempt to show, with regard to each, why it would not have answered the same purpose—and wherein consisted the peculiar fitness of the word in the original text.
In our own English compositions (at least for the last three years of our school education), he showed no mercy to phrase, metaphor, or image, unsupported by a sound sense, or where the same sense might have been conveyed with equal force and dignity in plainer words. Lute, harp, and lyre—muse, muses, and inspirations-Pegasus, Parnassus, and Hipocrene, were each and every of them an abomination to him. In fancy I can almost hear him now, exclaming, “Harp ?harp ?-lyre? Pen and ink, boy, you mean! Muse, boy, Muse ? Your nurse's daughter, you mean! Pierian spring ? Oh, aye! the cloister's pump, I suppose !” Nay, certain introductions, similes, and examples, were placed by name on a list of interdiction. Among the similes, there was,
I remember, that of the Manchineel fruit, as suiting equally well with too many subjects : in which, however, it yielded the palm at once to the example of Alexander and Clytus, which was equally good and apt, whatever might be the theme. Was it ambition ? Alexander and Clytus! Flattery? Alexander and Clytus! Anger? drunkenness? pride ? friendship? ingratitude ? late repentance? Still-still Alexander and Clytus! At length, the praise of agriculture having been exemplified in the sagacious observation, that had Alexander been holding the plough, he would not have run his friend Clytus through with a spear, this tried and serviceable old friend was banished by public edict in secula seculorum.
I have sometimes ventured to think, that a list of this kind,
or an index expurgatorius of certain well-known and everreturning phrases, both introductory and transitional, includ. ing the large assortment of modest egotisms, and flattering illeisms, &c., &c., might be hung up in our law courts and both houses of parliament, with great advantage to the public, as an important saving of national time, an incalculable relief to his Majesty's Ministers, but, above all, as insuring the thanks of country attorneys and their clients, who have private bills to carry through the house.
Be this as it may, there was one custom of our master's which I cannot pass over in silence, because I think it imitable and worthy of imitation. He would often permit our theme exercises, under some pretext of want of time, to accumulate till each lad had four or five to be looked over ; then, placing the whole number abreast on his desk, he would ask the writer why this or that sentence might not have found as appropriate a place under this or that other thesis ; and if no satisfying answer could be returned, and two faults of the same kind were found in one exercise, the irrevocable verdict followed, the exercise was torn up, and another on the same subject to be produced, in addition to the tasks of the day.
The reader will, I trust, excuse this tribute of recollection to a man whose severities, even now, not seldom furnish the dreams by which the blind fancy would fain interpret to the mind the painful sensations of distempered sleep, but neither lessen nor dim the deep sense of my moral and intellectual obligations. He sent us to the University excellent Latin and Greek scholars, and tolerable Hebraists. Yet our classical knowledge was the least of the good gifts which we derived from his zealous and conscientious tutorage. He is now gone to his final reward, full of years and full of honours, even of those honours which were dearest to his heart, as gratefully bestowed by that school in which he had been himself educated, and to which, during his whole life, he was a dedicated thing.---COLERIDGE.
It is impossible not to perceive in an analysis of the nature of habit, that powerful effect which it must exercise upon human happiness, by connecting the future with the present, and exposing us to do again that which we have already done. If we wish to know who is the most degraded, and the most wretched of human beings ;—if it be any object of curiosity in moral science to gauge the dimensions of wretchedness, and to see how deep the miseries of man can reach—if this be any object of curiosity, look for the man who has practised a vice so long, that he curses it and clings to it; that he pursues it because he feels a great law of his nature driving him on towards it ; but, reaching it, knows that it will gnaw his heart, and tear his vitals, and make him roll himself in the dust with anguish. Say everything for vice which you can say, magnify any pleasure as much as you please, but don't believe you can keep it; don't believe you
secret for sending on quicker the sluggish blood, and for refreshing the faded nerve.
Nero and Caligula, and all those who have had the vices and the riches of the world at their command, have never been able to do this. Yet you will not quit what you do not love, and you will linger on over the putrid fragments, and the nauseous carrion, after the blood, and the taste, and the sweetness are vanished away. But the wise toil and the true glory of life is to turn all these provisions of nature, all these great laws of the mind, to good; and to seize hold of the power of habit, for fixing and securing virtue: for if the difficulties with which we begin were always to continue, we might all cry out, with Brutus, “I have followed thee, O virtue, as a real thing, and thou art but a name !"
But the state which repays us is that habitual virtue, which makes it as natural to a man to act right, as to breathe ; which so incorporates goodness with the system, that pure
thoughts are conceived without study, and just actions performed without effort, As it is the perfection of health when every bodily organ acts without exciting attention; when the heart beats, and the lungs play, and the pulses flow, without reminding us that the mechanism of life is at work. So is it with the beauty of moral life; when man is just, and generous, and good, without knowing that he is practising any virtue, or overcoming any dificulty; and the truly happy man is he, who, at the close of a long life, has so changed his original nature, that he feels it an effort to do wrong ; and a mere compliance with habit to perform every great and sacred duty of life.--SYDNEY SMITH. From 1769 to 1845.
SOME OF THE EFFECTS PRODUCED BY READING
As the pathetic participates of an animal sensation, it might seem that, if the springs of this emotion were genuine, all men, possessed of competent knowledge of the facts and circumstances, would be instantaneously affected. And, doubtless, in the works of every true Poet will be found passages of that species of excellence which is proved by effects immediate and universal. But there are emotions of the pathetic that are simple and direct, and others against which it struggles with pride : these varieties are infinite as the combinations of circumstance and the constitutions of character. Remember, also, that the medium through which, in poetry, the heart is to be affected, is language--a thing subject to endless fluctuations and arbitrary associations. The genius of the Poet melts these down for his purpose, but they retain their shape and quality to him who is not capable of exerting within his own mind a corresponding energy. There is also a meditative, as well as a human, pathos; an enthusiastic, as well as an ordinary, sorrow; a sadness that has its seat in the depths of