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poets; yet one cannot help feeling a humane sympathy for these naked solitary lines, rudely snatched like slaves from their native soil. Rather let us read one or two short but complete poems, and then say farewell to Rydal Mount.

HARTLEY. Of birds and flowers Wordsworth has sung sweetly and often. The daisy, the celandine, the redbreast, the cuckoo, the green linnet, the blue-cap, and the skylark, have each gained an immortal home in the poet's verse. Peace be with them all in their delicious nests and nooks of greenery! They are not born for death, but will sing or blossom there for ever. And so also will many of the sweet human figures he has introduced into his landscape live there in permanent youth and beauty, not because they possess in themselves any striking individuality, but because they form a moving part of the picture, and are a portion of the poet's own vitality. Every one who loves poetry must be familiar with "The Solitary Reaper," and both of you, doubtless, have it by heart. Nevertheless, allow me to recite it.

"Behold her, single in the field,

Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here or gently pass!

Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:

No sweeter voice was ever heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

"Will no one tell me what she sings ?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:

Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?

Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again!

"Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending ;-
I listen'd motionless and still,
And as I mounted up the hill
The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more."

TALBOT.

Proving her work "the better for the sweetness of her song." A beautiful idyl truly. The two last lines in the second stanza are especially memorable. May we not place by the side of it the picture of another reaper, drawn by Thomas Hood, in a pastoral lyric of twenty lines:

"She stood breast-high amid the corn,
Clasp'd by the golden light of morn,
Like the sweetheart of the sun,
Who many a glowing kiss had won!

"On her cheek an autumn flush

Deeply ripen'd;-such a blush

In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn.

"Round her eyes her tresses fell,
Which were blackest none could tell;
But long lashes veil'd a light,
That had else been all too bright.

"And her hat with shady brim,
Made her tressy forehead dim ;
Thus she stood amid the stooks,
Praising God with sweetest looks :—

"Sure, I said, Heaven did not mean,
Where I reap, thou should'st but glean.
Lay thy sheaf adown, and come

Share my harvest and my home."

HARTLEY. And so too let us deposit our sheaf of poetic gleanings. To-night we have read enough and talked more than enough to satisfy all reasonable desires; and, although mated for the nonce to the Muse of poetry, our love is in danger of becoming less ardent, if we have too much of her society.

STANLEY. So speaks a Benedict. If you or I, TALBOT, had given utterance to such a sentiment we should have been reproved for talking of what we understood not. But we may now take HARTLEY'S word for it, that absence adds to the affection of the matrimonial heart.

CHAPTER X.

O holde Einsamkeit,

O süszer Waldschatten,

Ihr grüne Wiesen, stille Matten,

Bei euch nur wohnt die Herzens freudigkeit.

TIECK.

Criticism must be brief-not, like poetry, because its charm is too intense to be sustained-but, on the contrary, because its interest is too weak to be prolonged.

BAGEHOT.

Ox entering his study the following evening I observed that HARTLEY appeared unusually thoughtful. He had one of Coleridge's prose works in his hands, but the book was closed; and, although there are "spiritualists" in the present day, who affirm that they are able to read a shut volume with as much ease as an open page, my friend did not pretend to possess any gift of that kind. Indeed, I have often heard him say, with Mr. Faraday, that he was "tired of the spirits." But if he were not reading "The Friend," I soon discovered that he was thinking of its author. "The most suggestive writer and the greatest genius of this century!" he exclaimed, pointing to the well-known initials, S. T. C. "It is passing sad to think that to so majestic an intellect, there should have been united so feeble a will. We revere the man and

pity him at the same time.

But our pity sometimes

approaches very nearly to contempt. Yet Coleridge's

self-reproach was far bitterer than the censure of his friends. In some unpublished letters of his which I have seen, his abasement seems to be extreme. He is like Job scraping himself with potsherds.

STANLEY. Coleridge might have been the greatest poet, as he was beyond all comparison the greatest critic of his century. With more creative imagination than Wordsworth possessed, with a finer ear, and with a wider culture, he nevertheless, fell far behind his friend; for he lacked his high moral courage, his invincible perseverance. The life of the one was itself a poem; the life of the other early lost its freshness of bloom. His genius only added to his misery; he felt himself bound by chains which he could not burst, and he despised himself for submitting to the bonds. Had he been a happy man, his majestic genius would, I think, have exerted a more potent

influence.

TALBOT. Despite this drawback, the power exercised by Coleridge over the minds, of his countrymen cannot well be over-estimated. Men of highest mark have acknowledged him as their master; and the germs of most recent thought may be discovered in his pages. As a boy there was scarcely any modern writer who affected me so powerfully. I was fascinated with his poetry and excited by his prose; and had read "The Friend," and the "Aids to Reflection," long before I could in any degree estimate the merits or defects of those suggestive volumes. We have not a hymn in the language equal to his in the Vale of Chamouni, not a love-poem superior to "Genevieve," not more than one or two odes that can vie with his "France," scarcely one poetical translation comparable to

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