Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Coleridge on the Seventeenth Century

Coleridge on the Seventeenth Century, Ed. Roberta Florence Brinkley, Duke 1955

Beautifully imagined, & happily applied. (Donne, Sermons, V. P.39 E. and p.40. A)
“But, as a thoughtfull man, a pensive, considerate man, that stands for a while, with his eyes fixed upon the ground, before his feete, when he casts up his head, hath presently, instantly the Sun, or the heavens for his objects—he sees not a tree, nor a house, nor a steeple by the way, but as soon as his eye is departed from the earth where it was long fixed, the next thing he sees is the Sun or the heavens;--so when Moses had fixed himself long upon the consideration of his own insufficiency for this service, when he tooke his eye from that low piece of ground, Himselfe, considered as he was then, he fell upon no tree, no house, no steeple, no such consideration as this, God may endow me, improve me, exalte me, enable me, qualifie me with faculties fit for this service, but his first object was that which presented an infallibility with it, Christ Jesus himself, the Messias himselfe…”

Very beautiful. (Donne, Sermons, XV. P.148. A.)
“The ashes of an Oak in the Chimney, are no Epitaph of that Oak, to tell me how high or how large that was. It tells me not what flocks it sheltered while it stood, nor what men it hurt when it fell. The dust of great persons graves is speechlesse too, it says nothing, it distinguishes nothing: As soon as the dust of a wretch whom thou wouldest not, as of a Prince whom thou couldest not look upon, will trouble thine eyes, if the wide blow it thither; and when a whirlewinde hath blowne the dust of the Church-yard into the Church, and the man sweeps out the dust of the Church into the Church-yard, who will undertake to sift those dusts again, and to pronounce, This is the Patrician, this is the noble floure, and this the yeomanly, this the Plebian bran.”

This next might be copied from the note book of Spenser. The “full eyes of childhood” is one of the finest images in the language. (Jeremy Taylor, no citation)
“Reckon but from the spritefulness of youth, and the fair cheeks and full eyes of childhood, to the loathsomeness and horror of a three days’ burial. For so have I seen a rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood; at first it was fair as the morning, and full with the dew of heaven as a lamb’s fleece; but when a ruder breath had forced open its virgin modesty, and dismantled its too youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on darkness, and decline to softness and the symptoms of a sickly age; it bowed the head and broke the stalk, and at night, having lost some of its leaves and all its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and outworn faces. “

What pen has uttered sweeter things on children, or the delights of the domestic hearth. His sermon on the Marriage-Ring is more beautiful than any pastoral. (Jeremy Taylor)
“No man can tell but he that loves his children, how many delicious accents make a man’s heart to dance in the pretty conversation of those dear pledges;—their childishness,—their stammering,—their little angers,—their innocence,—their imperfections,—their necessities,—are so many little emanations of joy and comfort to him that delights in their persons and society.”

He looked out upon nature with the eye and the heart of a poet, and in the following passage seems to have anticipated Thomson in on one of the most beautiful stanzas of the Castle of Indolence. (Jeremy Taylor, no citation)

“I am fallen into the hands of publicans and sequestrators, and they have taken all from me. What now? Let me look about me. They have left me sun, and moon, and fire, and water; a loving wife, and many friends to pity me, and some to relieve; and I can still discourse, and unless I list, they have not taken away my merry countenance, and my cheerful spirit, and a y conscience; they have still left me the providence of God, and all the promises of the Gospel, and my religion, and my hopes of heaven, and my charity to them too; and still I sleep, and digest, and eat, and drink; I read and meditate; I can walk in my neighbour’s pleasant fields, and see the varieties of natural beauties, and delight in the whole creation, and in God himself.” 


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