THE ANCIENT MARINER
The Latin motto is condensed, by omission, from about a page of Thomas Burnet's _Archaeologiae Philosophicae: sive Doctrina Antiqua de Rerum Originibus_, published in London in 1692. Burnet was Master of Charterhouse from 1685 till his death in 1715, and enjoyed considerable reputation as a man of curious learning. In the _Archaeologiae_ he professed to reconcile a former work of his on the origins of the world with the account given in Genesis. The quotation is from chapter VII. of book I., "De Hebraeis, eorumque Cabala," and may be translated thus: "I easily believe that the invisible natures in the universe are more in number than the visible. But who shall tell us all the kinds of them? the ranks and relationships, the peculiar qualities and gifts of each? what they do? where they dwell? Man's wit has ever been circling about the knowledge of these things, but has never attained to it. Yet in the meanwhile I will not deny that it is profitable to contemplate from time to time in the mind, as in a picture, the idea of a larger and better world; lest the mind, becoming wonted to the little things of everyday life, grow narrow and settle down altogether to mean businesses. At the same time, however, we must watch for the truth, and observe method, so as to distinguish the certain from the uncertain, day from night."
Instead of this motto the first edition had an Argument prefixed, as follows:
"How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country."
This was somewhat enlarged in the second edition (1800), and dropped thereafter.
*Page 3*, LINE 12--*eftsoons*. Anglo-Saxon _eftsona (eft_ afterwards, again, + _sona_ soon), reenforced by the adverbial genitive ending _-s._ Coleridge found the word in Spenser and the old ballads.
4, 23--*kirk*. The Scotch and Northern English form of "church." The old ballads had been preserved chiefly in the North; hence this Northern form came to be looked on as the proper word for church in the ballad style.
41, marginal gloss--*driven*. All editions down to Campbell's had "drawn;" but this he believes to have been a misprint, since the narrative seems to require "driven."
5, 55--*clifts*. This word arose from a confusion of "cliff," a precipice, and "cleft," a fissure. It was "exceedingly common in the 16th-18th cent.," according to the New English Dict., which gives examples from Captain John Smith, Marlowe, and Defoe.
62--*swound*. An archaic form of "swoon," found in Elizabethan English.
64--*thorough*. "Through" and "thorough" are originally the same word, and in Shakespeare's time both forms were used for the preposition. Cf. Puck's song in "Midsummer Night's Dream," "Thorough bush, thorough briar."
67--*eat*. This form (pronounced _et_) is still in use in England and New England for the past tense of the verb, though in America the form "ate" is now preferred. "Eat" as past participle, however, was archaic or rude even in Coleridge's time.
76--*vespers*. Properly a liturgical term, meaning the daily evening service in church; then in a more general way "evening." The Century Dict. gives no examples of its use as a nautical term. Probably Coleridge used it to give a suggestion of ante-Reformation times. The more familiar word for the evening service in the English Church is "even-song," but Coleridge in line 595 prefers "the little vesper bell" for its suggestion of medievalism.
6, 97--*like God's own head*. The comparison is the converse of that in the Bible, Matthew xvii., 2, Revelations I., 16, where the countenance of Christ glorified is said to shine "as the sun" (Sykes).
98--*uprist*. This word was used in Middle English as a noun, and regularly as the 3d pers. sing. pres. ind. of the verb "uprise." In "The Reves Tale" line 329, however, Chaucer uses, it in a context of past tenses, as Coleridge does here, as if it were a weak preterit; and Chaucer uses "rist up" in the same way several times (Sykes).
104--*The furrow followed free*. This was changed in "Sibylline Leaves" to "The furrow streamed off free," because, Coleridge tells us, "from the ship itself the _Wake_ appears like a brook flowing off from the stern." In the case of modern steamboats at least it would be more correct to say that the wake, as seen from the stern of the boat, looks like a brook _following_ the boat. The original reading was restored in the editions of 1828 and 1829.
7, 123--*The very deep did rot*, etc. The ship becalmed in tropic seas, and the slimy things engendered there, were a vision in Coleridge's mind before "The Ancient Mariner" was thought of. In the lines contributed to Southey's "Joan of Arc" in 1796 (published, with additions, as "The Destiny of Nations" in "Sibylline Leaves"), in an allegoric passage on Chaos and Love, he wrote:
"As what time, after long and pestful calms,
With slimy shapes and miscreated life
Poisoning the vast Pacific, the fresh breeze
Wakens the merchant sail uprising."
The same subject had occupied Wordsworth's imagination before he and Coleridge came together at Stowey; see Wordsworth's "The Borderers," Act iv.
125--*slimy things*. Strange creatures, the spawn of the rotting sea, for which the Mariner has no name.
131, marginal gloss--*Josephus, Michael Psellus*. The only "learned Jew, Josephus," that we know of is the historian of that name who lived in the first century of our era; but little has been found in his works to justify this reference. The "Platonic Constantinopolitan, Michael Psellus," was a Byzantine teacher of the eleventh century who wrote a dialogue in which demons are classified according to the element in which they live (Cooper; Sykes).
8, 152--*I wist*. "Wist" is properly the past tense of an old verb "wit," to know. But Coleridge seems to use "I wist" here as equivalent to "I wis" (see "Christabel," l. 92), which is a form of "iwis," an adverb meaning "certainly."
157--*with throats unslaked*, etc. A remarkable instance of onomatopoeia.
9, 164--*gramercy*. An exclamation, meaning originally "much thanks" (Old French _grand merci_), and so used by Shakespeare ("Merchant of Venice" II., 2, 128, "Richard III" III., 2, 108). But in the ballads it is often a mere exclamation of wonder and surprise, and so Coleridge uses it here,--*grin*. Coleridge says ("Table Talk" May 31, 1830): "I took the thought of 'grinning for joy' from my companion's remark to me, when we had climbed to the top of Plinlimmon [in Wales, in the summer of 1794], and were nearly dead with thirst. We could not speak from the constriction, till we found a little puddle under a stone. He said to me: 'You grinned like an idiot.' He had done the same." To "grin" was originally to snarl and show the teeth as animals do when angry. "They go to and fro in the evening: they grin like a dog, and run about through the city," Ps. LIX., 6, Prayer-Book Version, where the King James Version has "make a noise like a dog." Hence idiots, stupid people, foolish people, all who are or who demean themselves below the dignity of man, _grin_ rather than smile; and so the Mariner's companions, their muscles stiffened by drought, could show their gladness only by the contortions of a grin, not by a natural smile of joy.
169--*Without a breeze, without a tide*. The Phantom Ship is a wide-spread sailor's superstition that has been often used in the romantic literature of the nineteenth century. See Scott's "Rokeby," Canto II. xi; Marryat's "Phantom Ship;" Poe's "MS. Found in a Bottle;" and Longfellow's "Ballad of Carmilhan" (in "Tales of a Wayside Inn," Second Day). It is seen in storms, driving by with all sails set, and is generally held to be an omen of disaster. Coleridge has shaped the legend to his own purposes. The ship appears in a calm, not in a storm, and sailing without, rather than against, wind and tide; and instead of a crew of dead men it carries only Death and Life-in-Death. Possibly he was acquainted with a form of the legend found in Bechstein's _Deutsches Sagenbuch_ (pointed out by Dr. Sykes), in which "Falkenberg, for murder of his brother, is condemned to sail a spectral bark, attended only by his good and his evil spirit, who play dice for his soul."
185--*Are those her ribs*, etc. Instead of this stanza the first edition had these two:
"Are those _her_ naked ribs, which fleck'd
The sun that did behind them peer?
And are those two all, all the crew,
That woman and her fleshless Pheere?
"His bones are black with many a crack,
All black and bare, I ween;
Jet-black and bare, save where with rust
Of mouldy damps and charnel crust
They're patch'd with purple and green"
And again after line 198 the first edition had this stanza:
"A gust of wind sterte up behind
And whistled thro' his bones;
Thro' the holes of his eyes and the hole of his mouth
Half-whistles and half-groans."
But this crude grotesquerie of horror--quite in the taste of that day, the day of "Monk" Lewis and Mrs. Radcliffe--Coleridge's finer poetical judgment soon rejected.
190--*Her lips were red*, etc. Life-in-Death--who wins the Mariner, while Death wins his shipmates--is conceived as a witch, something after the fashion of Geraldine in "Christabel" or Duessa in "The Faerie Queene," but wilder, stranger than either; a thing of startling and evil beauty. Spenser's pages of description, however, give no such vivid image of loathsome loveliness as do the first three lines of this stanza. "Her skin was as white as leprosy" is a feat in suggestion.
10, 199, marginal gloss--*within the courts of the Sun*. Between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
210--*with one bright star Within the nether tip*. An interesting case of poetical illusion. No one, of course, ever saw a star _within_ the tip of the horned moon. Yet a good many readers, until reminded of their astronomy, think they have seen this phenomenon. Coleridge apparently knew that the human mind would receive it as experience. The phrase is no slip on his part; the earlier editions had instead "almost atween the tips," which is astronomically justifiable, but in "Sibylline Leaves" and later he wrote it as in the text.
222--*And every soul, it passed me by, Like the whizz of my cross-bow!* It was an ancient belief, imaginatively revived by romantic poets, that when a person died his soul could be seen, or heard, or both, as it left the body, Cf. Keats's "Eve of St. Agnes," first stanza; Rossetti's "Sister Helen;" and Kipling's "Danny Deever."
11, 226--*And thou art long*, etc. "For the last two lines of this stanza," runs. Coleridge's note to the passage in "Sibylline Leaves," "I am indebted to Mr. Wordsworth. It was on a delightful walk from Nether Stowey to Dulverton, with him and his sister, in the autumn of 1797, that this poem was planned, and in part composed." Wordsworth in later years declared that he contributed also lines 13-16, "and four or five lines more in different parts of the poem, which I could not now point out."
245--*or ever*. "Or" here is not the adversative conjunction but an entirely different word, an archaic variant of "ere," meaning "before."
250--*For the sky and the sea*, etc. Another instance of the sound fitting the sense. The rocking rhythm of the line is the rhythm of his fevered pulse. The poem is full of this quality.
13, 297--*silly*. This word meant in Old English timely (from _soel_, time, occasion) hence fortunate, blessed. From this was developed, under the influence of medieval religious teaching, the meaning innocent, harmless, simple; and from this again our modern meaning, foolish, simple in a derogatory sense. Chaucer has the word in all these meanings, and also in another, a modification of the second--wretched, pitiable. Another shade of the same meaning appears in Spenser's "silly bark," i.e. _frail_ ship, and in Burns's "To a Mouse":
"Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin'!"
"The epithet may be due either to the gush of love that has filled the Mariner's heart, or to his noticing the buckets, long useless, frail, now filled with water" (Sykes); very likely to both together.
14, 314--*fire-flags*. The notion of the "fire-flags" "hurried about" was probably suggested to Coleridge by the description of the Northern Lights (_aurora borealis_) in Hearne's "Journey ... to the Northern Ocean," a book printed in 1795 and known to both Wordsworth and Coleridge before 1798. Hearne says: "I can positively affirm that in still nights I have frequently heard them make a rustling and crackling noise, like the waving of a large flag in a fresh gale of wind." See also Wordsworth's "Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman" (Cooper).
15, 358--*Sometimes a-dropping*, etc. The Mariner's sin was that in wanton cruelty he took the life of a friendly fellow-creature; his punishment is to live with dead men round him and the dead bird on his breast, in such solitude that "God himself scarce seemed there to be," until he learns to feel the _sacredness of life_ even in the water-snakes, the "slimy things" that coil in the rotting sea; and the stages of his penance are marked by suggestions of his return to the privilege of human fellowship. The angels' music is like the song of the skylark, the sails ripple like a leaf-hidden brook--recollections of his happy boyhood in. England; and finally comes the actual land breeze, and he is in his "own countree." Observe the marginal gloss to line 442.
17, 407--*honey-dew*. See note on "Kubla Khan," line 53.
416--*His great bright eye*, etc. Dorothy Wordsworth in her Journal, February 27, 1798, describes the look of the sea by moonlight, "big and white, swelled to the very shores, but round and high in the middle."
20, 512--*shrieve*. To hear confession and pronounce absolution, one of the duties of the priesthood in the Catholic church. The word is more often spelled _shrive. Shrift_ is the abstract noun derived from it.
21, 523--*skiff-boat*. A pleonastic compound; a skiff is a boat. Coleridge is fond of such formations. See for example II. 41, 77, 472 of this poem and II. 46, 649 of "Christabel" (Cooper).
535--*ivy-tod*. A clump or bush of ivy. Cf. Spenser's "Shepheards Calender," March, II. 67 ff.:
"At length within an Yvie todde
(There shrouded was the little God)
I heard a busie bustling."
23, 607--*While each to his great Father bends*, etc. Cf. the 148th Psalm (Prayer-Book Version) v. 12: "Young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the name of the Lord: for his name only is excellent, and his praise above heaven and earth."
25,6-7--This couplet ran as follows in the first edition:
"Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
Hath a toothless mastiff bitch."
In the editions of 1828 and 1829 Coleridge changed it to the form printed in the text; "but _bitch_ has been restored in all subsequent editions except Mr. Campbell's" (Garnett).
16--*thin gray cloud*, etc. The "thin gray cloud," as also the dancing leaf of ll. 49-52, was observed at Stowey. They are noted in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal, January 31 and March 7, 1798.
26, 54--*Jesu*. This form of the word is nearer to the Hebrew original than the more familiar _Jesus_. It is often (though not exclusively) used in ejaculation and prayer, as here, and was perhaps supposed to be the vocative form.
27, 92--*I wis.* This is a misinterpretation of Middle English _iwis_, from Old English _gewis_, "certainly."
29, 129--*The lady sank,* etc. The threshold of a house is, in folk-lore, a sacred place, and evil things cannot cross but have to be carried over it.
142--*I cannot speak,* etc. Geraldine blesses "her gracious stars" (l. 114), but cannot join in praise to the Holy Virgin.
30, 167--*And jealous of the listening air*. This line was not in the first edition, but was added in the edition of 1828.
32, 252--*Behold! her bosom and half her side*, etc. There exist at least three versions of this passage. The text is that of the 1828 edition. The edition of 1816 lacked ll. 255-61, having only these lines between 253 and 262:
"And she is to sleep by Christabel.
She took two paces, and a stride," etc.
The third form is that of a MS. copy of the poem once the property of Wordsworth's sister-in-law, Sarah Hutchinson, and recently published in facsimile by Mr. E.H. Coleridge, which gives this reading for ll. 253-4:
"Are lean and old and foul of hue,
And she is to sleep by Christabel."
Coleridge seems to have tried both ways, that of revealing Geraldine's loathsome secret and that of leaving it an unknown and nameless horror, and finally to have chosen the latter, just as he rejected in later editions the charnel-house particulars in the description of Death in "The Ancient Mariner." Unquestionably he was right. The horror that is merely suggested and left shrouded in mystery for the imagination to work on is more powerful than that which is known. The suppressed line, however, helps us in an age less familiar with notions of the supernatural to understand what Geraldine is. The character is conceived upon the general lines of Duessa in the first book of "The Faerie Queene;" a being of great external loveliness, but within "full of all uncleanness." Observe also that the thought, shrouded here, is half revealed later (l. 457).
35, 344--*Bratha Head, Wyndermere, Langdale Pike*, etc. For the relation of the Second Part of the poem to the Lake country see Introduction. All of the places named in these lines are near the border-line between Cumberland and Westmoreland and within a dozen miles of the Wordsworths' home at Grasmere. Keswick, which was the home of Coleridge from 1800 to 1804, and of his wife and children for many years thereafter, is on Derwent Water, in Cumberland, some ten miles north of Grasmere. The little river Bratha runs into the upper or northern end of Windermere, a larger lake lying about three miles below Grasmere and connected with it by another stream. Langdale Pike (or Pikes, for there are more than one) is the name of the steep hills at the head of Langdale, on the Cumberland border. Dungeon-Ghyll is a ravine in Langdale (see Wordsworth's "The Idle Shepherd Boys; or, Dungeon-Ghyll Force"). Borrowdale lies over the border in Cumberland and slopes the other way, toward Derwent Water.
37, 407--*Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine*. Sir Leoline lives at "Langdale Hall," a supposed castle in the immediate vicinity of the poets' homes; the friend of his youth, whose daughter Geraldine claims to be, is given the name of a real family and an historical estate in eastern Cumberland, Tryermaine in Gilsland, on the River Irthing, which forms part of the boundary between Cumberland and Northumberland. Scott in his notes to "The Bridal of Triermain" quotes as follows from Burns's "Antiquities of Westmoreland and Cumberland": "After the death of Gilmore, Lord of Tryermaine and Torcrossock, Hubert Vaux gave Tryermaine and Torcrossock to his second son, Ranulph Vaux.... Ranulph, being Lord of all Gilsland, gave Gilmore's land to his younger son, named Roland.... And they were named Rolands successively, that were lords thereof, until the reign of Edward the Fourth."
44--*The Conclusion to Part the Second*. Campbell thought it "highly improbable" that these lines were originally composed as a part of "Christabel." In a letter to Southey, May 6, 1801, Coleridge speaks of his eldest boy, Hartley, then in his fifth year: "Dear Hartley! we are at times alarmed by the state of his health, but at present he is well. If I were to lose him, I am afraid it would exceedingly deaden my affection for any other children I may have." Then he writes the lines that we now have as the Conclusion to Part the Second; and adds: "A very metaphysical account of fathers calling their children rogues, rascals, and little varlets, etc."
Kubla Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, was a Mongolian conqueror who stretched his empire from European Russia to the eastern shores of China in the thirteenth century. His exploits, like those of his grandfather and those of the Mohammedan Timur in the next century, made a deep impression on the imagination of Western Europe. Compilers of travellers's tales, like Hakluyt and Purchas, caught up eagerly whatever they could find, history or legend, concerning the extent of his domain, the methods of his government, or the splendors of his court. The passage in "Purchas his Pilgrimage" to which Coleridge refers is as follows:
"In Xamdu did Cublai Can build a stately Palace, encompassing sixteene miles of plaine ground with a wall, wherein are fertile Meddowes, pleasant Springs, delightfull Streames, and all sorts of beasts of chase and game, and in the middest thereof a sumptuous house of pleasure" (quoted in the Notes of the Globe edition).
Coleridge's poem, however, contains suggestions and reminiscences from another part of Purchas's book, and probably from other books as well. "It reads like an arras of reminiscences from several accounts of natural or enchanted parks, and from various descriptions of that elusive and danger-fraught garden which mystic geographers have studied to locate from Florida to Cathay" (Cooper).
The earthly paradise, which was closed to man indeed, but not destroyed, when Adam and Eve were driven from its gates, has exercised the imagination of the Christian world from the early Middle Ages. Lactantius described it in the fourth century; the author of the "Phoenix," probably in the eighth century, translated Lactantius' Latin into Anglo-Saxon verse; Sir John Mandeville, in the fourteenth century, though he did not reach it himself because he "was not worthy," gives an account of it from what he has "heard say of wise Men beyond;" Milton described it enchantingly in "Paradise Lost;" Dr. Johnson used a modification of it in "Rasselas;" and William Morris in our own time made it the framework for a delightful series of world-old tales. The idea, indeed, is not peculiar to Christianity, but is probably to be found in every civilization. Christian Europe has naturally located it in the East; and since the Crusades, which brought Western Europe more in contact with the East, various eastern legends have been attached to or confounded with the original notion. One of these is the Abyssinian legend of the hill Amara (cf. l. 41, where Coleridge's "Mount Abora" seems to stand for Purchas's Amara). Amara in Purchas's account is a hill in a great plain in Ethiopia, used as a prison for the sons of Abyssinian kings. Its level top, twenty leagues in circuit and surrounded by a high wall, is a garden of delight. "Heauen and Earth, Nature and Industrie, have all been corriuals to it, all presenting their best presents, to make it of this so louely presence, some taking this for the place of our Forefathers Paradise." The sides of the hill are of overhanging rock, "bearing out like mushromes, so that it is impossible to ascend it" except by a passageway "cut out within the Rocke, not with staires, but ascending little by little," and closed above and below with gates guarded by soldiers. "Toward the South" of the level top "is a rising hill ... yeelding ... a pleasant spring which passeth through all that Plaine ... and making a Lake, whence issueth a River, which having from these tops espied Nilus, never leaves seeking to find him, whom he cannot leave both to seeke and to finde.... There are no Cities on the top, but palaces, standing by themselves ... spacious, sumptuous, and beautifull, where the Princes of the Royall blood have their abode with their families."
This legend looks backward to Mandeville, with whose account of the Terrestrial Paradise it has much in common, and forward to Milton, who used some of its elements in his description of Paradise in the fourth book of "Paradise Lost." (See Professor Cooper's article in "Modern Philology," III., 327 ff., from which this is condensed.)
Mr. E.H. Coleridge (the poet's grandson) has recently shown that in the winter of 1797-8 Coleridge read and made notes from a book, "Travels through ... the Cherokee Country," by the American botanist William Bartram. Chapter VII. of Bartram's book contains an account of some natural wonders in the Cherokee country that almost certainly afforded part of the imagery of "Kubla Khan." Bartram, says Mr. Coleridge, "speaks of waters which 'descend by slow degrees through rocky caverns into the bowels of the earth, whence they are carried by subterraneous channels into other receptacles and basons.' He travels for several miles over 'fertile eminences and delightful shady forests.' He is enchanted by a 'view of a dark sublime grove;' of the grand fountain he says that the 'ebullition is astonishing and continual, though its greatest force of fury intermits' (note the word 'intermits') 'regularly for the space of thirty seconds of time: the ebullition is perpendicular upward, from a vast rugged orifice through a bed of rock throwing up small particles of white shells.' He is informed by 'a trader' that when the Great Sink was forming there was heard 'an inexpressible rushing noise like a mighty hurricane or thunderstorm,' that 'the earth was overflowed by torrents of water which came wave after wave rushing down, attended with a terrific noise and tremor of the earth,' that the fountain ceased to flow and 'sank into a huge bason of water;' but, as he saw with his own eyes, 'vast heaps of fragments of rock' (Coleridge writes 'huge fragments'), 'white chalk, stones, and pebbles had been thrown up by the original outbursts and forced aside into the lateral valleys.'"
From these and from other like sources Coleridge's mind was no doubt stored with suggestions of tropical wonder and loveliness, which fell together--if his own account of the making of the poem is to be relied on--into the kaleidoscopic beauty of "Kubla Khan." It is not unlikely, too (cf. ll. 12-13), that the ash-tree dell at Stowey, which he had already used for a scene of supernatural terror in "Osorio," bears some part in his avowed dream of Xanadu.
45, 3--*Alph, the sacred river.* This name seems to be of Coleridge's own invention; at least it has not been pointed out where he found it.
16--*demon-lover.* The demon-lover (or more often, with sexes reversed, the fairy mistress) is a favorite theme of romance, taken from folk-lore, where it appears in many forms. Cf. the ballads of "Thomas Rymer," "Tam Lin," and "The Demon Lover," in Child's "English and Scottish Popular Ballads," and Scott's "William and Helen" (a translation of Burger's "Lenore").
46, 39, 41--*Abyssinian maid, Mount Abora.* See introductory note above.
53--*honey-dew.* A sweet sticky substance found on plants, deposited there by the aphis or plant-louse. It was supposed to be the food of fairies. Not improbably Coleridge was thinking of manna, a saccharine exudation found upon certain plants in the East. Mandeville describes it as found in "the Land of Job:" "This Manna is clept Bread of Angels. And it is a white Thing that is full sweet and right delicious, and more sweet than Honey or Sugar. And it Cometh of the Dew of Heaven that falleth upon the Herbs in that Country. And it congealeth and becometh all white and sweet. And Men put it in Medicines."
53-4--*For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.* Professor Cooper, in the article cited in the introductory note above, points out that this part of the poem contains perhaps reminiscences of the stories told of the Old Man of the Mountain. This was the title popularly given to the head of a fanatical sect of Mohammedans in Syria in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, whose method of getting rid of their enemies has given us the word _assassin_. To quote from Mandeville's "Travels," which has the essentials of the story, though the chief is here called Gatholonabes, and his domain is not in Syria but in the island Mistorak, "in the Lordship of Prester John:"
"He had a full fair Castle and a strong in a Mountain, so strong and so noble, that no Man could devise a fairer or a stronger. And he had made wall all the Mountain about with a strong Wall and a fair. And within those Walls he had the fairest Garden that any Man might behold....
"And he had also in that Place, the fairest Damsels that might be found, under the Age of fifteen Years, and the fairest young Striplings that Men might get, of that same Age. And they were all clothed in Cloths of Gold, full richly. And he said that those were Angels.
"And he had also made 3 Wells, fair and noble, and all environed with Stone of Jasper, and of Crystal, diapered with Gold, and set with precious Stones and great orient Pearls. And he had made a Conduit under the Earth, so that the 3 Wells, at his List, should run, one Milk, another Wine, and another Honey. And that Place he clept Paradise.
"And when that any good Knight, that was hardy and noble, came to see this Royalty, he would lead him into his Paradise, and show him these wonderful Things for his Sport, and the marvellous and delicious Song of divers Birds, and the fair Damsels, and the fair Wells of Milk, Wine and Honey, plenteously running. And he would make divers Instruments of Music to sound in an high Tower, so merrily, that it was Joy to hear; and no Man should see the Craft thereof. And those, he said, were Angels of God, and that Place was Paradise, that God had promised to his Friends, saying, '_Dabo vobis Terram fluentem Lacte et Melle_' ('I shall give thee a Land flowing with Milk and Honey'). And then would he make them to drink of certain Drink [hashish, a narcotic drug, whence their name of Assassins], whereof anon they should be drunk. And then would they think it greater Delight than they had before. And then would he say to them, that if they would die for him and for his Love, that after their Death they should come to his Paradise; and they should be of the Age of the Damsels, and they should play with them, and yet be Maidens. And after that should he put them in a yet fairer Paradise, where that they should see the God of Nature visibly, in His Majesty and in His Bliss. And then would he show them his Intent, and say to them, that if they would go slay such a Lord, or such a Man that was his Enemy or contrarious to his List, that they should not therefore dread to do it and to be slain themselves. For after their Death, he would put them in another Paradise, that was an 100-fold fairer than any of the tother; and there should they dwell with the most fairest Damsels that might be, and play with them ever-more.
"And thus went many divers lusty Pachelors to slay great Lords in divers Countries, that were his Enemies, and made themselves to be slain, in Hope to have that Paradise."
FRANCE: AN ODE
When Coleridge republished this poem in the _Post_ in 1802 he prefixed to it the following
_First Stanza_. An invocation to those objects in Nature the contemplation of which had inspired the Poet with a devotional love of Liberty. _Second Stanza_. The exultation of the Poet at the commencement of the French Revolution, and his unqualified abhorrence of the Alliance against the Republic. _Third Stanza_. The blasphemies and horrors during the domination of the Terrorists regarded by the Poet as a transient storm, and as the natural consequence of the former despotism and of the foul superstition of Popery. Reason, indeed, began to suggest many apprehensions; yet still the Poet struggled to retain the hope that France would make conquests by no other means than by presenting to the observation of Europe a people more happy and better instructed than under other forms of Government. _Fourth Stanza_. Switzerland, and the Poet's recantation. _Fifth Stanza_. An address to Liberty, in which the Poet expresses his conviction that those feelings and that grand _ideal_ of Freedom which the mind attains by its contemplation of its individual nature, and of the sublime surrounding objects (see stanza the first) do not belong to men as a society, nor can possibly be either gratified or realized under any form, of human government; but belong to the individual man, so far as he is pure, and inflamed with the love and adoration of God in Nature.
51, 22--*When France in wrath*, etc. The storming of the Bastile took place July 14, 1789. On the 4th of August feudal and manorial privileges were swept away by the National Assembly; and on the 18th of August the Assembly formally adopted a declaration of "the rights of man." In September 1792 the National Convention abolished royalty and declared France a republic.
52, 26-7--*With what a joy my lofty gratulation Unawed I* sang. Coleridge wrote a poem on the "Destruction of the Bastile," probably in 1789 or soon after (first printed in 1834); and in September, 1792, some lines "To a Young Lady, with a Poem on the French Revolution" (first printed in _The Watchman_ in 1796), in which he tells his emotions--
"When slumbering Freedom roused with high disdain
With giant fury burst her triple chain!"
28--*the disenchanted nation*. "Disenchanted" because they found that freedom, peace, and virtue were not to be secured by mere proclamation; and that all Europe was not ready at the call of the revolutionists to abolish prescriptive rights and establish republican forms of society. In January 1793 Louis XVI was beheaded. The act was followed pretty promptly by a coalition of England, Holland, Spain, Naples, and the German states against the Republic.
36--*Yet still my voice*. In "Religious Musings," 1794-6, and more ardently in the parts that he contributed to Southey's "Joan of Arc," 1796.
42--*Britain's name*. England was from the beginning the centre of resistance to the violence and ambition of revolutionary France; and Pitt, who controlled English policy in these years, was looked upon as a cold-blooded agent of tyranny by the French republicans and their English sympathizers.
44--*sweet music of deliverance*. The French were so convinced that their Revolution marked the beginning of a new era in human affairs that they determined to have a new chronology. Accordingly a commission of scientists was appointed to formulate a system, which was adopted in October 1793. The "Era of the Republic" was to be counted from the autumnal equinox, 1792. The year was divided into twelve months, as before, but they were renamed (_Thermidor_ hot month, _Fructidor_ fruit month, _Nivose_ snow month, &c.), and ran in periods of thirty days each from the 22d of September. This left five days undistributed, which were set apart as feast-days in celebration of five virtues or ideals. Each month consisted of three decades, and each tenth day, or _decadis_, was a holiday. The purpose of this was to eradicate the observance of the Christian Sunday. This chronology was in actual use in France until Napoleon put an end to it in 1806.
The municipality of Paris in 1793 decreed that on the 10th of November the worship of Reason should be inaugurated at Notre Dame. "On that day the venerable cathedral was profaned by a series of sacrilegious outrages unparalleled in the history of Christendom. A temple dedicated to 'Philosophy' was erected on a platform in the middle of the choir ... the Goddess of Reason, impersonated by Mademoiselle Maillard, a well known figurante of the opera, took her seat upon a grassy throne in front of the temple; ... and the multitude bowed the knee before her in profound admiration.... At the close of this grotesque ceremony the whole cortege proceeded to the hall of the Convention, carrying with them their 'goddess,' who was borne aloft in a chair of state on the shoulders of four men. Having deposited her in front of the president," Chaumette, the spokesman of the procession, "harangued the Assembly.... He proceeded to demand that the ci-devant metropolitan church should henceforth be the temple of Reason and Liberty; which proposition was immediately adopted. The 'goddess' was then conducted to the president, and he and other officers of the House saluted her with the 'fraternal kiss,' amid thunders of applause. After this, upon the motion of Thuriot, the Convention in a body joined the mass of the people, and marched in their company to the temple of Reason, to witness a repetition of the impieties above described.... At St. Gervais a ball was given in the chapel of the Virgin. In other churches theatrical spectacles took place.... On Sunday, the 17th of November, all the parish churches of Paris were closed by authority, with three exceptions.... Religion was proscribed, churches closed, Christian ordinances interdicted; the dreary gloom of atheistical despotism overspread the land."--Jervis, "The Gallican Church and the Revolution," quoted in Larned's "History for Ready Reference," p. 1300. The next year, however, Robespierre had a decree passed of which the first article was: "The French people acknowledge the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul;" and thereupon the inscriptions _To Reason_ that had been placed upon the French churches were replaced by others reading _To the Supreme Being_.
50--*calm and bright*. After the downfall of Robespierre in 1794 France gradually worked back to a less hysterical mood. In October 1795 a new form of government known as the Directory was established, under which the people enjoyed comparative safety at home and developed a remarkable military efficiency against their foreign enemies. Bonaparte's military genius brought him rapidly to the front in the wars of the Directory. It was he that created the Cisalpine and Ligurine "republics," and his policy directed the invasions of Rome and of Switzerland.
53, 66--*Helvetia*. In March, 1798, after having fostered or compelled the formation of republics under French protection in Holland, northern Italy, and Rome, the Directory, under pretence of defending the republican rights of the Vaudois, made a concerted attack upon Switzerland. Berne, the centre of resistance, was taken, despite the heroic defence of the mountaineers who for five centuries had maintained in "bleak Helvetia's icy caverns" a "shrine of liberty" for all Europe.
DEJECTION: AN ODE
55, 1 of motto--*yestreen*. Abbreviation of "yester-even," yesterday evening.
58, 82--*But now afflictions*, etc. In March 1801 Coleridge wrote to Godwin: "In my long illness I had compelled into hours of delight many a sleepless, painful hour of darkness by chasing down metaphysical game, and since then I have continued the hunt, until I found myself unaware at the root of pure mathematics.... The poet is dead in me." And years afterward in a letter to an artist friend, W. Collins (December, 1818): "Poetry is out of the question. The attempt would only hurry me into that sphere of acute feelings from which abstruse research, the mother of self-oblivion, presents an asylum."
95--*Reality's dark dream*! In the earlier forms of the poem the lines corresponding to 94-5 stood thus:
"Nay, wherefore did I let it haunt my mind,
This dark, distressful dream?"
He seems to mean, "This loss of joy, of poetic power, is, must be, only an evil dream, and I will shake it from my mind;" but he knows that it is a reality, and so turns to forget it in the sensuous intoxication of the wind's music. Or perhaps--for Coleridge is already a metaphysician--reality is used here in opposition to ideality or imagination; the truth of philosophy (cf. ll. 89-90) and the metaphysic habit of mind that the study of it induces--what we call reality--is a dream that has come between him and the world of the ideal in which he had and used his "shaping spirit of imagination." The passage is obscure.
100--*Bare crag*, etc. The scenery here is that of the Lake country where Coleridge and Wordsworth were then living--the former at Keswick in Cumberland, the latter at Grasmere, Westmoreland.
59, 120--*Otway*. Coleridge wrote originally, "As thou thyself [i.e. Wordsworth--see next note] had'st fram'd the tender lay." This he changed to "Edmund's self" when he first printed the poem in 1802; and finally to "Otway's self." Thomas Otway was a dramatist of the time of Charles II (born 1651, died 1685). He wrote, among other plays, two tragedies of wonderful pathetic power, "The Orphan" and "Venice Preserved." The theme and style of the former of these, especially, no doubt suggested his name to Coleridge here. Otway's own career was pathetic; he died young, neglected, and according to one story, starved. To this story Coleridge alludes in one of his early poems, the "Monody on the Death of Chatterton:"
"While, 'mid the pelting of that merciless storm,
Sunk to the cold earth Otway's famished form!"
121--*'T is of a little child*, etc. Alluding to Wordsworth's "Lucy Gray," which had been published in the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads," 1800.
YOUTH AND AGE
60, 12--*trim skiffs*, etc. Fulton had invented the steamboat in 1807. The first regular steamboat in British waters was built in 1812.
61, 34--*altered size*. Coleridge became very stout in his later years.
WORK WITHOUT HOPE
62, 5--*the sole unbusy thing*. Cf. George Herbert's "Employment:"
"All things are busie; onely I
Neither bring hony with the bees,
Nor flowers to make that, nor the husbandrie
To water these."
"I find more substantial comfort now," wrote Coleridge to his friend Collins in 1818, "in pious George Herbert's 'Temple,' which I used to read to amuse myself with his quaintness, in short, only to laugh at, than in all the poetry since Milton."