Coleridge An Unitarian Preacher





During his residence at Nether Stoney, Coleridge officiated as Unitarian

preacher at Taunton, and afterwards at Shrewsbury. Mr. Hazlitt has

described his walking ten miles on a winter day to hear Coleridge

preach. "When I got there," he says, "the organ was playing the 100th

psalm, and, when it was done, Mr. Coleridge rose and gave out his

text:--'He departed again into a mountain himself alone.' As he gave out

his text, his voice rose like a stream of rich distilled perfume; when

he came to the two last words, which he pronounced loud, deep, and

distinct, it seemed to me, who was then young, as if the sounds had

echoed from the bottom of the human heart, and as if that prayer might

have floated in solemn silence through the universe. The idea of St.

John came into my mind, of one crying in the wilderness, who had his

loins girt about, and whose food was locusts and wild honey. The

preacher then launched into his subject, like an eagle dallying with

the wind. The sermon was upon peace and war--upon Church and State; not

their alliance, but their separation; on the spirit of the world and the

spirit of Christianity; not as the same, but as opposed to one another.

He talked of those who had inscribed the cross of Christ on banners

dripping with human gore! He made a poetical and pastoral excursion;

and, to show the fatal effects of war, drew a striking contrast between

the simple shepherd-boy driving his team a-field, or sitting under the

hawthorn, piping to his flock, as though he should never be old, and the

same poor country-lad crimped, kidnapped, brought into town, made drunk

at an alehouse, turned into a wretched drummer-boy, with his hair

sticking on end with powder and pomatum, a long cue at his back, and

tricked out in the finery of the profession of blood.



"'Such were the notes our once-loved poet sung;'



and, for myself, I could not have been more delighted if I had heard the

music of the spheres."



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