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SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
COMPOSITIONS resembling those of the present volume are not unfrequently condemned for their querulous egotism. But egotism is to be condemned then only when it offends against time and place, as in a history or an epic poem.
To censure it in a monody or sonnet is almost as absurd as to dislike a circle for being round. Why then write Sonnets or Monodies ? Because they give me pleasure when perhaps nothing else could. After the more violent emotions of sorrow, the mind demands amusement, and can find it in employment alone : but full of its late sufferings, it can endure no employment not in some measure connected with them. Forcibly to turn away our attention to general subjects is a painful and often a most unavailing effort.
“But 01 how grateful to a wounded heart
The tale of misery to impart-
bid artless sorrows flow, And raise esteem upon the base of woe!”
The communicativeness of our nature leads us to describe our own sorrows ; in the endeavor to describe them, intellectual activity is exerted ; and from intellectual activity there results a pleasure, which is gradually associated, and mingles as a corrective, with the painful subject of the description.
" True !" (it may be answered)" but how is the Public interested in your sorrows or your description ?” We are forever attributing personal unities to imaginary aggregates. What is the Public, but
* To the first and second editions.