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And why with hollow voice cries she,
Off, woman! off! 't is given to me!'
And raised to heaven her eyes so blue,
And faintly said, “ 'T is over now! The power of witchcraft goes on increasing. Geraldine's silken robe falls; and, beautiful and stately lady as she shone before, there is now disclosed to the heart-stricken Christabel an untold sight of some hidden, hideous deformity, some superhuman stump, such as could only belong to a witch's body. The poor maiden sinks into a trance, and her power of speech is sealed up by the incantation that is uttered over her by the demon drawing close to her side :
“ In the touch of this bosom there worketh a spell
Which is lord of thy utterance, Christabel.” I cannot trace the story of the poem without too much impairing the effect, and shall therefore only notice one or two passages in the remainder of it. The most striking of these is the apostrophe to the friends, and the sublimest image of a broken friendship to be found in the whole range of poetry :
“ Alas, they had been friends in youth ;
The admirable skill in the versification of the poem, and its exact, adaptation to the spirit of different passages, may be shown by observing, in contrast with any of the passages I have recited, the sound of the spirited lines containing the command given by the knight to one of his retainers :
“ Bard Bracy, bard Bracy! your horses are fleet;.
White with their panting palfreys' foam.'' The bard then narrates a dream which had distressed his sleep, in which he had seen a beautiful bird—the pet dove of the castle-fascinated in the forest by a serpent, and fluttering and writhing in its toils. The dream needs no interpretation for either Geraldine or the spell-bound Christabel. When the witch hears it, she stealthily turns a look of withering fascination on her mute victim. The shrinking up of her eyes, and the large dilating of them when she assumes an air of innocence, are given with great power, as well as the effect on Christabel, who passively imitates the serpent-look that had appalled her :
“ A snake's small eye blinks dull and shy,
And the lady's eyes they shrunk in her head;
“ The maid, alas ! her thoughts are gone;
She nothing sees,-no sight but one !
The maid devoid of guile and sin,
It is that description of the serpent-look of the witch's eyes which, on being read in a company at Lord Byron's, is said to have caused Shelley to faint.
The poem of“ Christabel ” is a fragment. It was so left by the poet. Other writers have aspired to complete it, but their imitations have proved adventures as vain as presumptuous. Coleridge himself meditated its completion ; but, like other of his poems, it was a work of tomorrowand to-morrow—and to-morrow. And his petty pace of life crept away without it.
In my lecture on Burns, I quoted to you the stanzas which the peasant-poet in fancy appropriated as the epitaph for his own tomb. It was an admonition to the living, and a touching plea for a little charity to the memory of the poor inhabitant below. The deeply-meditative imagination of Coleridge was busy too in taking the measure of an unmade grave, and dictated his own epitaph. His mind had roamed through the vast regions of human learning, and trod the highest places of speculative philosophy ; his imagination had taken the boldest and most limitless flights; but this late effusion of his genius-probably his last verses—has its best heauty in its simplicity and its perfect Christian humility. The initials will be recognised as his customary designation of his name:
Stop, Christian passer-by! Stop, child of God,
(WITH NOTICE OF CHARLES LAMB.)
CHARLES LAMB, THE FRIEND OF COLERIDGE AND SOUTHEY_"THE OLD FAMILIAR
FACES "--"ELIA"--ROBERT SOUTHEY-CHARACTER OF HIS PROSE-HIS COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS-HIS MENTAL DERANGEMENT-PERSONAL INTEREST OF HIS POEMS-SATIRICAL POWER_"WAT TYLER"_" JOAN OF ARC"-THE PRODUCT OF IMAGINATION IS OFTEN TRUTH-“MADOC"_"RODERIC” _“THALABA" -"THE CURSE OF KEHAMA" - SCRIPTURAL CHARACTER OF "THALABA" - KEBLE'S “CHRISTIAN YEAR"-STORY OF “THALABA AND ONEIZA"-SOUTHEY'S ODES “THE RETREAT FROM MOSCOW"_“THE TALE OF PARAGUAY"- HIS PLAYFUL POETRY-ODE ON THE PORTRAIT OF BISHOP HEBER.
N the last lecture it was my intention to give a few words, at the
close, to an author whom I wished to notice briefly; but I became entangled in the witchery of “ Christabel,” and the glittering eye of “the Ancient Mariner" held me too long to let me accomplish my purpose. It was a life-long friend of Coleridge's I was anxious to speak of; and I must find room for him now, before proceeding to the chief subject of the present lecture. Let me, therefore, present Charles Lamb between his two friends Coleridge and Southey. His intimacy with Coleridge began within the venerable precincts of Christ's Hospital, when they were blue-coat boys together in that time-honoured school. The friendship of boyhood, as is not usual, lasted into manhood and during life, their minds, in many respects dissimilar, closely associated and identified. Coleridge died; and, in the brief interval of only a few months that Lamb survived, he was constantly reiterating, in a kind of soliloquy, and that confused state of feeling before we realize the absence in death of one whose presence has long been familiar,-he was reiterating, Coleridge is dead! Coleridge is dead !” A poet who knew and loved them both has coupled their names in the same stanzas of his elegy on his brotherbards :
“ Nor has the rolling year twice measured
From sign to sign its stedfast course,
Was frozen at its marvellous source.