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been privileged with a Minerval birth, to have risen in its zenith; but next to this, perhaps, the rapid and almost instantaneous advancement of pottery from the state in which Mr Wedgewood found the art, to its demonstrably highest practicable perfection, is the most striking fact in the history of 'modern improvements achieved by individual genius. In his early manhood, an obstinate and harassing complaint confined him to his room for more than two years; and to this apparent calamity Mr Wedgewood was wont to attribute his after unprecedented success. For a while, as was natural, the sense of thus losing the prime and vigour of his life and faculties, preyed on his mind incessantly-aggravated, no doubt, by the thought of what he should have been doing this hour and this, had he not been thus severely visited. Then, what he should like to take in hand; and lastly, what it was desirable to do, and how far it might be done, till generalizing more and more, the mind began to feed on the thoughts, which, at their first evolution, (in their larva state, may I say?) had preyed on the mind. We imagine the presence of what we desire in the very act of regretting its absence, nay, in order to regret it the more livelily; but while, with a strange wilfulness, we are thus engendering grief on grief, nature makes use of the product to cheat us into comfort and exertion. The positive shapings, though but of the fancy, will sooner or later displace the mere knowledge of the negative. All activity is in itself pleasure; and according to the nature, powers, and previous habits of the sufferer, the activity of the fancy will call the other faculties of the soul into action. The self-contemplative power becomes meditative, and the mind begins to play the geometrician with its own thoughts -abstracting from them the accidental and individual, till a new and unfail ing source of employment, the best and surest nepentha of solitary pain, is opened out in the habit of seeking the principle and ultimate aim in the most imperfect productions of art, in the least attractive products of nature; of beholding the possible in the real; of detecting the essential form in the intentional; above all, in the collation and constructive imagining of the outward shapes and material forces that shall best express the essential
form, in its coincidence with the idea, or realize most adequately that power, which is one with its correspondent knowledge, as the revealing body with its indwelling soul.
Another motive will present itself, and one that comes nearer home, and is of more general application, if we reflect on the habit here recommended, as a source of support and consolation in circumstances under which we might otherwise sink back on ourselves, and for want of colloquy with our thoughts, with the objects and presentations of the inner sense, lie listening to the fretful ticking of our sensations. A resource of costless value has that man, who has brought himself to a habit of measuring the objects around him by their intended or possible ends, and the proportion in which this end is realized in each. It is the neglect of thus educating the senses, of thus disciplining, and, in the proper and primitive sense of the word, informing the fancy, that distinguishes at first sight the ruder states of society. Every mechanic tool, the commonest and most indispensible implements of agriculture, might remind one of the school-boy's second stage in metrical composition, in which his exercise is to contain sense, but he is allowed to eke out the scanning by the interposition, here and there, of an equal quantity of nonsense. And even in the existing height of national civilization, how many individuals may there not be found, for whose senses the non-essential so preponderates, that though they may have lived the greater part of their lives in the country, yet, with some exceptions for the products of their own flower and kitchen garden, all the names in the Index to Withering's Botany, are superseded for them by the one name, a weed! "It is only a weed!" And if this indifference stopt here, and this particular ignorance were regarded as the disease, it would be sickly to complain of it. But it is as a symptom that it excites regret it is that, except only the pot-herbs of lucre, and the barren double-flowers of vanity, their own noblest faculties both of thought and action, are but weeds-in which, should sickness or misfortune wreck them on the desart island of their own mind, they would either not think of seeking, or be ignorant how to find, nourishment or medicine. As it is good to be provided
i with work for rainy days, Winter in dustry is the best cheerer of winter gloom, and fire-side contrivances for summer use, bring summer sunshine and a genial inner warmth, which the 1 friendly hearth-blaze may conspire with, but cannot bestow or compen 弱。 sate.
A splenetic friend of mine, who was fond of outraging a truth by some whimsical hyperbole, in his way of expressing it, gravely gave it out as his opinion, that beauty and genius were but diseases of the consumptive and scrofulous order. He would not carry it further; but yet, he must say, that he had observed that very good people, persons of unusual virtue and benevolence, were in general afflicted with or restless nerves! After yielding him the expected laugh for the oddity of the remark, I reminded him, that if his position meant any thing, the converse must be true, and we ought to have Helens, Medicæan Venuses, Shakespeares, Raphaels, Howards, Clarksons, and Wilberforces by thousands; and the assemblies and pump-rooms at Bath, Harrowgate, and Cheltenham, rival the conversazioni in the Elysian Fields. Since then, however, I have often recurred to the portion of truth, that lay at the bottom of my friend's conceit. It cannot be denied, that ill health, in a degree below direct pain, yet distressfully affecting the sensations, and depressing the animal spirits, and thus leaving the nervous system too sensitive to pass into the ordinary state of feeling, and forcing us to live in alternating positives, is a hot-bed for whatever germs, and tendencies, whether in head or heart, have been planted there independently.
Surely, there is nothing fanciful in considering this as a providential provision, and as one of the countless
proofs, that we are most benignly, as well as wonderfully, constructed! The cutting and irritating grain of sand, which by accident or incaution has got within the shell, incites the living inmate to secrete from its own resources the means of coating the intrusive substance. And is it not, or may it not be, even so, with the irregularities and unevennesses of health and fortune in our own case? We, too, may turn diseases into pearls. The means and materials are within ourselves; and the process is easily understood. By a law common to all animal life, we are incapable of attending for any continu ance to an object, the parts of which are indistinguishable from each other, or to a series, where the successive links are only numerically different, Nay, the more broken and irritating, (as, for instance, the fractious noise of the dashing of a lake on its border, compared with the swell of the sea on a calm evening,) the more quickly does it exhaust our power of noticing it. The tooth-ache, where the suffering is not extreme, often finds its speediest cure in the silent pillow; and gradually destroys our attention to itself by preventing us from attending to any thing else. From the same cause, many a lonely patient listens to his moans, till he forgets the pain that occasioned them. The attention attenuates, as its sphere contracts. But this it does even to a point, where the person's own state of feeling, or any particular set of bodily sensations, are the direct object. The slender thread winding in narrower and narrower circles round its source and centre, ends at length in a chrysalis, a dormitory within which the spinner undresses himself in his sleep, soon to come forth quite a new creature.
So it is in the slighter cases of suffering, where suspension is extinction,
Perhaps it confirms while it limits this theory, that it is chiefly verified in men whose genius and pursuits are eminently subjective, where the mind is intensely watchful of its own acts and shapings, thinks, while it feels, in order to understand, and then to generalize that feeling; above all, where all the powers of the mind are called into action, simultaneously, and yet severally, while in men of equal, and perhaps deservedly equal celebrity, whose pursuits are objective and universal, demanding the energies of attention and abstraction, as in mechanics, mathematics, and all departments of physics and physiology, the very contrary would seem to be exemplified. Shakespeare died at 53, and probably of a decline; and in one of his sonnets he speaks of himself as grey and prematurely old and Milton, who suffered from infancy those intense head-aches which ended in blindness, insinuates that he was free from pain, or the anticipation of pain. On the other hand, the Newtons and Leibnitzes have, in general, been not only long-lived, but men of robust health.
or followed by long intervals of ease. But where the unsubdued causes are ever on the watch to renew the pain, that thus forces our attention in upon ourselves, the same barrenness and monotony of the object that in minor grievances lulled the mind into oblivion, now goads it into action by the restlessness and natural impatience of vacancy. We cannot perhaps divert the attention; our feelings will still form the main subject of our thoughts, But something is already gained, if, instead of attending to our sensations, we begin to think of them. But in or der to this, we must reflect on these thoughts or the same sameness will soon sink them down into mere feel ing. And in order to sustain the act of reflection on our thoughts, we are obliged more and more to compare and
generalize them, a process that to a certain extent implies, and in a still greater degree excites and introduces the act and power of abstracting the thoughts and images from their original cause, and of reflecting on them with less and less reference to the individual suffering that had been their first subject. The vis medicatrix of Nature is at work for us in all our faculties and habits, the associate, reproductive, comparative, and combinatory.
That this source of consolation and support may be equally in your power as in mine, but that you may never have occasion to feel equally grateful for it, as I have, and do in body and estate, is the fervent wish of your affectionate
S. T. COLERIDGE.
THE BURIED ALIVE.
I HAD been for some time ill of a low and lingering fever. My strength gradually wasted, but the sense of life seemed to become more and more acute as my corporeal powers became weak er. I could see by the looks of the doctor that he despaired of my recovery; and the soft and whispering sorrow of my friends, taught me that I had nothing to hope.
One day towards the evening, the crisis took place. I was seized with a strange and indescribable quivering, -a rushing sound was in my ears, I saw around my couch innumerable strange faces; they were bright and visionary, and without bodies. There was light, and solemnity, and I tried to move, but could not. For a short time a terrible confusion overwhelined me,-and when it passed off, all my recollection returned with the most perfect distinctness, but the power of motion had departed. I heard the sound of weeping at my pillow-and the voice of the nurse say, "He is dead."I cannot describe what I felt at these words. I exerted my utmost power of volition to stir myself, but I could not move even an eyelid. After a short pause my friend drew near; and sobbing, and convulsed with grief, drew his hand over my face, and closed my eyes. The world was then darkened, but I still could hear, and feel, and suffer.
When my eyes were closed, I heard by the attendants that my friend had left the room, and I soon after found, the undertakers were preparing to hạbit me in the garments of the grave. Their thoughtlessness was more awful than the grief of my friends. They laughed at one another as they turned me from side to side, and treated what they believed a corpse, with the most appalling ribaldry.
When they had laid me out, these wretches retired, and the degrading formality of affected mourning commenced. For three days, a number of friends called to see me. I heard them, in low accents, speak of what I was; and more than one touched me with his finger. On the third day, some of them talked of the smell of corruption in the room.
The coffin was procured-I was lifted and laid in-My friend placed my head on what was deemed its last pillow, and I felt his tears drop on my face.
When all who had any peculiar interest in me, had for a short time looked at me in the coffin, I heard them retire; and the undertaker's men placed the lid on the coffin, and screwed it down. There were two of them present one had occasion to go away before the task was done. I heard the fellow who was left begin to whistle as he turned the screw-nails; but he checked himself, and completed the work in silence.
I was then left alone,-every one shunned the room.-I knew, however, that I was not yet buried; and though darkened and motionless, I had still hope;-but this was not permitted long. The day of interment arrived -I felt the coffin lifted and borne away-I heard and felt it placed in the hearse.-There was a crowd of people around; some of them spoke sorrowfully of me. The hearse began to move-I knew that it carried me to the grave. It halted, and the coffin was taken out-I felt myself carried on shoulders of men, by the inequality of the motion-A pause ensued-I heard the cords of the coffin moved-I felt it swing as dependent by them-It was lowered, and rested on the bottom of the grave-The cords were dropped upon the lid—I heard them fall.-Dreadful was the effort I then made to exert the power of action, but my whole frame was immoveable.
Soon after, a few handfuls of earth were thrown upon the coffin-Then there was another pause-after which the shovel was employed, and the sound of the rattling mould, as it covered me, was far more tremendous than thunder. But I could make no effort. The sound gradually became less and less, and by a surging reverberation in the coffin, I knew that the grave was filled up, and that the sexton was treading in the earth, slapping the grave with the flat of his spade. This too ceased,
and then all was silent.
I had no means of knowing the lapse of time; and the silence continued. This is death, thought I, and I am doomed to remain in the earth till the resurrection. Presently the body will fall into corruption, and the epicurean worm, that is only satisfied with the flesh of man, will come to partake of the banquet that has been prepared for him with so much solicitude and care. In the contemplation of this hideous thought, I heard a low and under sound in the earth over me, and I fan cied that the worms and the reptiles of death were coming-that the mole and the rat of the grave would soon be upon me. The sound continued to grow louder and nearer. Can it be possible, I thought, that my friends suspect they have buried me too soon? The hope was truly like light bursting through the gloom of death.
The sound ceased, and presently I
felt the hands of some dreadful being working about my throat. They dragged me out of the coffin by the head. I felt again the living air, but it was piercingly cold; and I was carried swiftly away-I thought to judgment, perhaps perdition.
When borne to some distance, I was then thrown down like a clod-it was not upon the ground. A moment after I found myself on a carriage; and, by the interchange of two or three brief sentences, I discovered that I was in the hands of two of those robbers who live by plundering the grave, and selling the bodies of parents, and children, and friends. One of the men sung snatches and scraps of obscene songs, as the cart rattled over the pavement of the streets.
When it halted, I was lifted out, and I soon perceived, by the closeness of the air, and the change of temperature, that I was carried into a room; and, being rudely stripped of my shroud, was placed naked on a table. By the conversation of the two fellows with the servant who admitted them, I learnt that I was that night to be dissected.
My eyes were still shut, I saw nothing; but in a short time I heard, by the bustle in the room, that the students of anatomy were assembling. Some of them came round the table, and examined me minutely. They were pleased to find that so good a subject had been procured. The demonstrator himself at last came in.
Previous to beginning the dissection, he proposed to try on me some galvanic experiment-and an apparatus was arranged for that purpose. The first shock vibrated through all my nerves: they rung and jangled like the strings of a harp. The students expressed their admiration at the convulsive effect. The second shock threw my eyes open, and the first person I saw was the doctor who had attended me. But still I was as dead: I could, however, discover among the students the faces of many with whom I was familiar; and when my eyes were opened, I heard my name pronounced by several of the students, with an accent of awe and compassion, and a wish that it had been some other subject.
When they had satisfied themselves with the galvanic phenomena, the demonstrator took the knife, and pierced
me on the bosom with the point.
up my trance ended. The utmost exertions were made to restore me, and in the course of an hour I was in the full possession of all my faculties.
THERE once was an Emperor (so says my story,)
Such a life had ill suited the man of the gown ;—
And, checking his barb, in his fullest career,
"Since your life must be dull, and your pastimes are few,
At the end of three months, you will find the true answer.
"The problem I next to your wisdom propound,
Is, how long it would take one to ride the world round?
"And then I expect you to tell me my thought,
When next to my presence, Lord Abbot, you're brought;
Some error in judgment, or optic illusion!
"Now, unless you shall answer these questions, I ween,
And I'll have you paraded all over the land,
On the back of an ass, with his tail in your hand!"
Off gallop'd the autocrat, laughing outright,