9 MAY 1885, Page 3

A bust of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, presented by the representatives

of Dr. Mercer, a distinguished American, was unveiled in Westminster Abbey on Thursday, after a striking address from the American Minister, Mr. James Russell Lowell, delivered in the Chapter-House. The bust is by Mr. Thorneycroft, R.A.; but we have not yet heard how far those who were personally acquainted with Coleridge regard this bust as an adequate representation of that "rapt one of the godlike forehead" who so deeply impressed his contemporaries. The American Minister's address was, as is usual with him, a very striking literary criticism, though perhaps he fell into the very rare mistake of being somewhat too sparing of sympathy in his eloge, when he limited himself to pronouncing that "Coleridge, if not a great poet and a great teacher, had in him the almost over-abundant materials for both." Mr. Lowell dwelt on Coleridge's love of cloadland, and his power "to make the shifting clouds seem what you please ;" on his resemblance to an alchemist ‘. who strips the lead not only from his own roof, but from the parish church itself, to quench the fiery thirst of the alembic." Coleridge, said Mr. Lowell, certainly was a main influence in showing the English mind how it could emancipate itself from the vulgarising tyranny of common-sense. In criticism, Mr. Lowell recognised Coleridge as invaluable. "As Johnson said of Burke, he wound into his subject like a serpent." As he was one of the first to observe closely the phenomena of the clouds, so he was one of the first in noting some of the more occult phenomena of thought and emotion. One reason why he produced so little as a poet was that he was so great a critic. "I have heard of a military engineer who knew so well how a bridge should be built that he could never build one." Mr. Lowell's criticism of "The Ancient Mariner" hit the mark exactly,—" There is no description in it. It is all picture." "The words seem common words enough, but in the order of them, in the choice, variety, and position of the vowel sounds, they become magical. The most decrepit vocable in the language throws away its crutches to dance and sing at his piping." In fact, Mr. Lowell touched on every great quality Coleridge had, except his humour. We doubt whether that humour has ever been adequately recognised.