Shepherd.. He had a curious power that Hazlitt, as he was ca’d, o’ simulatin’ sowl. You could hae taen your Bible oath sometimes, when you were readin him, that he had a sowl—a human sowl—a sowl to be saved— but then, heaven preserve us! in the verra middle aiblins o’ a paragraph, he grew transformed afore your verra face into something bestial,—you heard a grunt that made ye grue, and there was an ill smell in the room, as frae a pluff o’ sulphur.—April, 1827.
Shepherd. Wordsworth tells the world, in ane of his prefaces, that he is a water-drinker—and its weel seen on him.—There was a sair want of speerit through the haill o’ yon lang “Excursion.” If he had just made the paragraphs about ae half shorter, and at the end of every ane taen a caulker, like ony ither man engaged in geyan sair and heavy wark, think na ye that his “Excursion” would hae been far less fatiguesome?—April, 1827.
North. I confess that the “Excursion” is the worst poem, of any character, in the English language. It contains about two hundred sonorous lines, some of which appear to be fine, even in the sense, as well as sound. The remaining seven thousand three hundred are quite ineffectual. Then, what labour the builder of that lofty rhyme must have undergone! It is, in its own way, a small tower of Babel, and all built by a single man.—Sept., 1825.
North. James, you don’t know S.T. Coleridge—do you? He writes but indifferent books, begging his pardon: witness his “Friend,” his “Lay Sermons,” and, latterly, his “Aids to Reflection”; but he becomes inspired by the sound of his own silver voice, and pours out wisdom like a sea. Had he a domestic Gurney, he might publish a Moral Essay, or a Theological Discourse, or a Metaphysical Disquisition, or a Political Harangue, every morning throughout the year during his lifetime.
Tickler. Mr. Coleridge does not seem to be aware that he cannot write a book, but opines that he absolutely has written several, and set many questions at rest. There’s a want of some kind or another in his mind; but perhaps when he awakes out of his dream, he may get rational and sober-witted, like other men, who are not always asleep.
Shepherd. The author o’ “Christabel,” and “The Ancient Mariner,” had better just continue to see visions, and dream dreams—for he’s no fit for the wakin’ world.—April, 1827.
North. James, I wish you would review for Maga all those fashionable novels—Novels of High Life; such as Pelham—the Disowned.