HAZLITT’S FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH COLERIDGE

HAZLITT’S FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH COLERIDGE

In the year 1798 Mr. Coleridge came to Shrewsbury, to succeed Mr. Rowe in the spiritual charge of a Unitarian Congregation there. Hazlitt had gone to hear Coleridge preach the Sunday after his arrival. A poet and a philosopher getting up into a Unitarian pulpit to preach the gospel, was a romance in these degenerate days, a sort of revival of the primitive spirit of Christianity, which was not to be resisted.

It was in January, 1798, that Hazlitt rose one morning before day-light, to walk ten miles in the mud, and went to hear this celebrated person preach. When he got there, the organ was playing to 100th psalm, and, when it was done, Mr. Coleridge roseand gave out his text, “And he went up into the mountain to pray, HIMSELF, ALONE.”

As Colerigde gave out this text, his voice “rose like a steam of rich distilled perfumes,” and when he cmae to the two last words, which he pronounced loud, deep, and distinct, it seemed to Hazlitt, who was then young as if the sounds had echoed from the bottom of the human heart, and as if that prayer might have folated in solemn silence through the universe. The idea of St. John came into hazlitt’s mind.

Hazlitt could not have been more delighted if he had heard the music of the spheres. Poetry and Philosophy had met together, Truth and Genius had embraced, under the eye and with the sanction of Religion. This was even beyond his hopes.

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