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shirts there. On asking him to account for | in those days the food of the Blue-coats was this, she found that he had duly obeyed her cruelly insufficient for those who had no commands, and had put on a shirt every friends to supply them." Any one who day, but each above the other. And there cares to see these things sketched off as no were all the shirts, not in the portmanteau, other could sketch them, may turn to Lamb's but on his own back. With all these ec- essay, Christ's Hospital Five-and-Thirty centricities, he was a good and unworldly Years Ago. "To this late hour of my Christian pastor, much beloved and respected by his own people. Though Coleridge was only seven years old when his father was taken away by a sudden death, he remembered him to the last with deep reverence and love. "Oh that I might so pass away, if, like him, I were an Israelite without guile! The image of my fathermy revered, kind, learned, simple-hearted father is a religion to me."
During his childhood, he tells us, he never took part in the plays and games of his brothers, but sought refuge by his mother's side to read his little books and listen to the talk of his elders. If he played at all it was at cutting down nettles with a stick, and fancying them the seven champions of Christendom. He bad, he says, the simplicity and docility of a child, but he never thought or spoke as a child.
But his childhood, such as it was, did not long last. At the age of nine he was removed to a school in the heart of London, Christ's Hospital, "an institution," says Charles Lamb, "to keep those who yet hold up their heads in the world from sinking." The presentation to this charity school, no doubt a great thing for the youngest of so many sons, was obtained through the influence of Judge Buller, formerly one of his father's pupils. "O what a change," writes Coleridge in after years, from home to this city school: depressed, moping, friendless, a poor orphan, half starved!" Of this school Charles Lamb, the school companion, and through life the firm friend of Coleridge, has left two descriptions in his delightful Essays. Everything in the world has, they say, two sides; certainly Christ's Hospital must have had. One cannot imagine any two things more unlike than the picture which Lamb draws of the school in his first essay and that in the second. The first sets forth the look which the school wore to Lamb himself, a London boy, with his family close at hand, ready to welcome him at all hours, and ready to send him daily supplies of additional food, and with influential friends among the trustees, who, if he had wrongs, would soon see them righted. The second shows the stepdame side it turned on Coleridge, an orphan from the country, with no friends at hand, moping, half-starved, "for
life," he represents Coleridge as saying, "I trace impressions left by the recollection of those friendless holidays. The long warm days of summer never return, but they bring with them a gloom from the haunting memory of those whole-day leaves, when, by some strange arrangement, we were turned out for the livelong day upon our own hands, whether we had friends to go to or none. I remember those bathing excursions to the New River. How merrily we would sally forth into the fields, and strip under the first warmth of the sun, and wanton like young dace in the streams, getting us appetites for noon, which those of us that were penniless (our scanty morning crust long since exhausted) had not the means of allaying; the very beauty of the day, and the exercise of the pastime, and the sense of liberty setting a keener edge upon them! How faint and languid, finally, we would return towards nightfall to our desired morsel, half-rejoicing, half-reluctant that the hours of our uneasy liberty had expired." In one of these bathing excursions Coleridge swam the New River in his clothes, and let them dry in the fields on his back. This laid the first seeds of those rheumatic pains and that prolonged bodily suffering which never afterwards left him, and which did so much to frustrate the rich promise of his youth.
In the lower school at Christ's the time was spent in idleness, and little was learnt. But even then Coleridge was a devourer of books, and this appetite was fed by a strange accident, which, though often told, must here be repeated once again. One day as the lower schoolboy walked down the Strand, going with his arms as if in the act of swimming, he touched the pocket of a passer-by. "What, so young and so wicked!" exclaimed the stranger, at the same time seizing the boy for a pickpocket. "I am not a pickpocket; I only thought I was Leander swimming the Hellespont." The capturer, who must have been a man of some feeling, was so struck with the answer, and with the intelligence as well as simplicity of the boy, that instead of handing him over to the police, he subscribed to a library, that thence Coleridge might in future get his fill of books. In a short time he read right through the catalogue and exhausted the library.
say, the only just flogging he ever received. Of this stern scholastic Lamb has left the following portrait :
Coleridge was thus idling his time in the lower school, Middleton, an elder boy, afterwards writer on the Greek article and Bishop of Calcutta, found him one day sitting in a corner and reading Virgil by him- "He had two wigs, both pedantic, but of self, not as a lesson, but for pleasure. Mid- different omen. The one serene, smiling, powdleton reported this to Dr. Bowyer, then dered, betokening a mild day. The other, an head-master of the school, who, on ques-old discoloured, unkempt, angry caxon, denoting tioning the master of the lower school about frequent and bloody execution. Woe to the Coleridge, was told that he was a dull school when he made his morning appearance scholar, could never repeat a single rule of was more common than to see him make a in his "Passy,' or passionate wig. Nothing syntax, but was always ready to give one of headlong entry into the schoolroom from his Henceforth Coleridge was under inner recess or library. and with turbulent eye, the head-master's eye, and soon passed into singling out a lad, roar out, 'Ods my life, sirrah the upper school to be under his immediate (his favourite adjuration), I have a great mind care. Dr. Bowyer was one of the stern old to whip you,' then with as retracting an imdisciplinarians of those days, who had bound- pulse fling back into his lair, and then, after a less faith in the lash. Coleridge was one of cooling relapse of some minutes (during which those precocious boys who might easily have all but the culprit had totally forgotten the conbeen converted into a prodigy, had that text), drive headlong out again, piecing out his been the fashion at the time. But, "thank litany, with the expletory yell, and I will, too.' imperfect sense, as if it had been some devil's Heaven," he said, "I was flogged instead of In his gentler moods he had resort to an inflattered." He was so ordinary looking a genious method, peculiar, for what I have boy, with his great black head, that Bow- heard, to himself, of whipping a boy, and readyer, when he had flogged him, generally ing the Debates at the same time - a paragraph ended with an extra cut, "For you are and a lash between.” Perhaps," such an ugly fellow." When he was fifteen, adds Lamb, "we cannot dismiss him better Coleridge, in order to get rid of school, than with the pious ejaculation of Coleridge wished to be apprenticed to a shoemaker heard that his old master was on his deathbed, (the joke was no doubt Lamb's own) when he and his wife, who had been kind to him. Poor J. B., may all his faults be forgiven, On the day when some of the boys were to and may he be wafted to bliss by little cherub be apprenticed to trades, Crispin appeared boys, all head and wings, with no bottoms to and sued for Coleridge. The head-master, reproach his sublunary infirmities." on hearing the proposal, and Coleridge's assent, hurled the tradesman from the room with such violence, that had this last been litigiously inclined, he might have sued the doctor for assault. And so Coleridge used to joke, "I lost the opportunity of making safeguards, for the understandings of those who will never thank me for what I am trying to do in exercising their reason.”
How much of all this may be Lamb's love of fun one cannot say. Coleridge always spoke of Dr. Bowyer with grateful affection. In his literary life he speaks of having enjoyed the inestimable advantage of a very sensible, though severe master; one who taught him to prefer Demosthenes to Cicero, Homer and Theocritus to Virgil, and Virgil to Ovid; While Coleridge was at school, one of his who accustomed his pupils to compare Lubrothers was attending the London Hos-cretius, Terence, and the purer poems of pital, and from his frequent visits there Catullus, not only with "the Roman poets of the Blue-coat boy imbibed a love of sur- the silver, but even with those of the Augusgery and doctoring, and was for a time set on tan era, and on grounds of plain sense and making this his profession. He devoured universal logic, to see the superiority of the English, Latin, and Greek books of medi- former in the truth and nativeness both of cine voraciously, and had by heart a whole their thoughts and diction." This doctrine Latin medical dictionary. But this dream was wholesome, though rare in those days, gave way, or led on to rage for metaphys- not so common even now, so much so that ics, which set him on a course of abstruse some have supposed that in these and other reading, and finally landed him in Voltaire's lessons with which Coleridge credited Dr. Philosophical Dictionary, after perusing Bowyer, he was but reflecting back on his which, he sported infidel. When this new master from his own after thoughts. turn reached Bowyer's ears, he sent for Coleridge. "So, sirrah! you are an infidel, are you? Then I'll flog your infidelity out of you." So saying, the doctor administered the severest, and, as Coleridge used to
While Coleridge was being thus wholesomely drilled in the great ancient models, his own poetic power began to put forth some buds. Up to the age of fifteen, his school verses were not beyond the mark of
a clever schoolboy. At sixteen, however, | weakness of the full-grown man, we may the genius cropped out. The first ray of it close them with Lamb's description of appears in a short allegory, written at the Coleridge, as he appeared in retrospect of latter age, and entitled "Real and Imagi- Lamb's school companions:nary Time." The opening lines are—
"On the wide level of a mountain's head,
In that short piece, short and slight as it is, there is a real touch of his after spirit and melody.
"Come back to my memory like as thou wert in the dayspring of thy fancies, with hope like a - the dark pillar not fiery column before thee yet turned-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Logician, Metaphysician, Bard! How have I seen the casual passer through the cloisters stand still, entranced with admiration (while he weighed the disproportion between the speech and the garb of the young Mirandula), to hear thee unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the mysteries of Iamblichus or Plotinus; for even then thou waxedst not pale at such philoGreek, or Pindar; while the walls of the old sophie draughts; or reciting Homer in his Grey Friars re-echoed the accents of the inspired charity boy!"
During those years when he was in the upper school, metaphysics and controversial theology struggled some time with poetry for the mastery; but at last, under the combined influence of a first love and of Bowles' poems, he was led clear of the bewildering maze, and poetry for some years was paramount. It may seem strange now that Bowles' sonnets and early poems, which Coleridge then met with for the first time, should have produced on him so keen an impression of novelty. But so it often happens that what was, on its first appearance, quite original, looked back upon in after years, when it has been absorbed into the general taste, seems to lose more than half its freshness. There can be no doubt of the powerful effect that Bowles had on Coleridge's dawning powers; that he opened the young poet's Coleridge entered Jesus College, Cameyes to what was false and meretricious bridge, in February 1791, just a month in the courtly school from Pope to Darwin, after Wordsworth had quitted the Univerand made him feel that here, for the first sity. On neither of the poets did their time in contemporary poetry, natural thought University life leave much impression. For was combined with natural diction-heart neither was that the place and the hour. reconciled with head. To those who care Coleridge for a time, under the influence of for these things, it would be worth while to his elder friend Middleton, was industrious, turn to the first chapter of Coleridge's Lit- read hard, and obtained the prize for the erary Life, and see there the first fermenting Greek Sapphic ode. It was on some subject of his poetic taste and principles. But about slavery, and was better in its thoughts during those last school years, while his than its Greek. Afterwards he tried for the mind was thus expanding, and while his Craven Scholarship, in which contest his existence was a more tolerable, in some re- rivals were Keate, afterwards head-master spects even a happy one, he was suffering of Eton, Bethell, who became an M.P. for much in that body, in which throughout Yorkshire, and Butler, the future head of life he had to endure so much. Full half Shrewsbury School and Bishop of Lichhis time from seventeen to eighteen was field, who won the scholarship. Out of sixpassed in the sick-ward, afflicted with jaun- teen or seventeen competitors, Coleridge dice and rheumatic fever, inherent it may was selected along with these three; but he be in his constitution, but doubtless not less- was not the style of man to come out great ened by those swimmings over the New in University competitions. He had not River in his clothes. But, above these suf- that exactness and readiness which are needferings, which were afterwards so heavily ed for these trials; and he wanted entirely to weigh him down, Coleridge, during his the competitive ardour which is with many early years, had a buoyancy of heart which so powerful an incentive. After this the re enabled him to rise, and to hide them from is no more notice of regular work. His ordinary observers. Having dwelt thus heart was elsewhere-in poetry, with Bowles long on Coleridge's school-days, because for guide; in philosophy, with Hartley, they are very fully recorded, and contain who had belonged to his own college, for as in miniature both the strength and the master; and in politics, which then filled
It is hardly possible to conceive two school times more unlike than this of Coleridge at Christ's, pent into the heart of London city, and that of Wordsworth at Hawkshead, free of Esthwaite Mere, and all the surrounding solitudes. And yet each, as well in habits and teaching as in outward scenery and circumstance, answers strangely to the characters and after lives of the two friends.
regiment, met Coleridge in the street in dragoon dress, stopped him when he would have passed, and informed his friends. After about four months' service he was bought off, returned to Cambridge, stayed there but a short time, and finally left in June, 1794, without taking a degree.
all ardent young minds even to passionate | bach; he'll ride over you." For the groomintoxication. For the French Revolution ing of his horse and other mechanical was then in its first frenzy, promising liber- duties Coleridge was dependent on the ty, virtue, regeneration to the old and out- kindness of his comrades, with whom worn world. Into that vortex of boundless he was a great favourite. Their serhope and wild delirium what high-minded vices he repaid by writing all their letyouth could keep from plunging? Not ters to their wives and sweethearts. At last Coleridge. "In the general conflagration," the following sentence written up in the he writes, "my feelings and imagination did stable under his saddle, "Eheu, quam innot remain unkindled. I should have been fortuni, miserrimum est fuisse felicem," reashamed rather than proud of myself if vealed his real condition to a captain who they had." Pamphlets were pouring from had Latin enough to translate the words, and the press on the great subjects then filling heart enough to feel them. About the same all men's minds; and whenever one appeared time an old Cambridge acquaintance, passfrom the pen of Burke or other man of pow-ing through Reading on his way to join his er, Coleridge, who had read it in the morning, repeated it every word to his friends gathered round their small supper-tables. Presently one Frend, a fellow of Jesus College, being accused of sedition, of defamation of the Church of England, and of holding Unitarian doctrines, was tried by the authorities, condemned, and banished the Then followed what may be called his University. Coleridge sided zealously with Bristol period, including his first friendship Frend, not only from the sympathy which with Southey, their dream of emigration, generous youth always feel for the persecut- their marriage, Coleridge's first attempts at ed, but also because he had himself adopt-authorship, and his many ineffectual plans ed those Unitarian and other principles for for settling what he used to call the Bread which Frend was ejected. Hence would and Cheese Question. On leaving Camcome a growing disaffection, which must have been weakening his attachment to his University, when other circumstances arose, which, in his second year of residence, brought his Cambridge career to a sudden close: The loss of his trusty friend and guide Middleton, who, failing in his final examination, quitted the University without obtaining a fellowship; and the pressure of some college debts, less than £100, incurred through his own inexperience, drove Coleridge into despondency. He went to London, and wandered hopelessly about the streets, and at night sat down on the steps of a house in Chancery Lane, where, being soon surrounded by swarms of beggars, real or feigned, he emptied to them the little money that remained in his pockets. In the morning, seeing an advertisement "Wanted Recruits for the 15th Light Dragoons," he said to himself, "Well, I have hated all my life soldiers and horses; the sooner I cure myself of that the better." He enlisted as Private Comberbach, a name, the truth of which he himself was wont to say, his horse must have fully appreciated. A rare sight it must have been to see Coleridge perched on some hard-set, rough-trotting trooper, and undergoing his first lessons in the riding-school, with the ridingmaster shouting out to the rest of the awkward squad, "Take care of that Comber
bridge he went to Oxford, and there met with Southey, still an undergraduate at Balliol, whose friendship, quickly formed, became one of the main hinges on which Coleridge's after life turned. Their tastes and opinions on religion and politics were then at one, though their characters were widely different. Southey, with far less genius than Coleridge, possessed that firmness of will, that definite aim and practical wisdom, the want of which was the bane of Coleridge's life. Southey's high and pure disposition and consistent conduct, combined with much mental power and literary acquirement, awakened in Coleridge an admiring sense of the duty and dignity of making actions accord with principles, both in word and deed. In after years Southey was to Coleridge a faithful monitor in word, and a friend firm and self-denying in deed. Morally, we must say that he rose as much above Coleridge, as in genius he fell below him. But at their first meeting, pure and high-minded as Southey was, he had not so fixed his views, or so systematically ordered his life, as he soon after did. He too had been stirred at heart, as Coleridge and Wordsworth also were, by the moral earthquake of the French Revolution. Enthusiastically democratic in politics and Unitarian in religion, he at once responded to the day-dream of Pantisocracy, which Coleridge
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
opened to him at Oxford. This was a plan | hemence Pitt, the great minister of the day, of founding a community in America, where and his opponents, the English Jacobins, a band of brothers, cultivated and pure- Coleridge showed in this his earliest, as in minded, were to have all things in com- his latest works, that he was not an animal mon, and selfishness was to be unknown. that could be warranted to run quietly in The common land was to be tilled by the the harness of any party, and that those common toil of the men; the wives, for all who looked to him to do this work were sure were to be married, were to perform all of an upset. Coleridge's next enterprise was · household duties, and abundant leisure was the publication of a weekly miscellany; its to remain over for social intercourse, or to contents were to range over nearly the pursue literature, or in more pensive moods same subjects as those now discussed in the best weeklies, and its aim was to be, as announced in the motto, that "all may know the truth, and that the truth may make us free." But powerful as he would have been as a contributor, Coleridge was not the man to conduct such an undertaking, least of all to do so single-handed. The most notable thing about The Watchman was the tour he made through the Midland county towns with a flaming prospectus, "Knowledge is power," to cry the political atmosphere. One of the most amusing descriptions Coleridge ever wrote is that of his encounter with the Birmingham tallow-chandler, with hair like candle-wicks, and face pinguinitescent, for it was a melting day with him. After Coleridge had harangued the man of dips for half an hour, and run through every note in the whole gamut of eloquence, now reasoning, now declaiming, now indignant, now pathetic, on the state of the world as it is compared with what it should be; at the first pause in the harangue the tallowchandler interposed :
"Soothed sadly by the dirgeful wind
Muse on the sore ills they had left behind."
The banks of Susquehanna were to be this earthly paradise, chosen more for the melody of the name than for any ascertained advantages. Indeed, they hardly seem to have known exactly where it was. Southey soon left Balliol, and the two friends went to Bristol, Southey's native town, there to prepare for carrying out the Pantisocratic dream. Such visions have been not only dreamed since then, but carried out by enthusiastic youths, and the result leaves no reason to regret that Coleridge's and Southey's project never got further than being a dream. Want of money was, as usual, the immediate cause of the failure; everything else had been provided for, but when it came to the point it was found that neither the two leaders, nor any of the other friends who had embarked in the scheme, had money enough to pay their passage to America. Southey was the first to see how matters stood and to recant. At this Coleridge was greatly disgusted, and gave vent to his disappointment in vehement language. The scheme was abandoned early in 1795, and the two young poets, having been for some time in love with two sisters of a Bristol family, were married, Coleridge in October of that year to Sarah Fricker, and Southey six weeks later to her sister Edith. Marriage, of course, brought the money question home to Coleridge more closely than Pantisocracy had done. And the three or four following years were occupied with attempts to solve it. But his ability was not of the money-making order, nor did his habits, natural or acquired, give even such ability as he had a fair chance in the toil for bread. First he tried lecturing to the Bristol folks on the political subjects of the time, and on religious questions. But either the lectures did not pay, or Coleridge did not stick to them steadily, so they were soon given up. and afterwards published as Conciones ad Populum, Coleridge's first prose work. Attacking with equal ve
"And what might the cost be?" "Only Four Pence (0 the ante-climax, the abysmal bathos of that Four Pence!) only four-pence, sir, each number." "That comes to a deal of money at the end of a year; and how much did you say there was to be for the money?" "Thirty-two pages, sir! large octavo, closely printed." Thirty and two pages? Bless Sabbath, that's more than I ever reads, sir, all me, except what I does in a family way on the the year round. I am as great a one as any man in Brummagem, sir! for liberty and truth, and all that sort of things, but as to this (no offence, I hope, sir) I must beg to be excused.”
But notwithstanding this repulse Coleridge returned to Bristol triumphant with above a thousand subscribers' names, and having left on the minds of all who heard his wonderful conversation an impression that survived long after The Watchman with all it contained was forgotten. The first number of The Watchman appeared on the 1st of March, the tenth and last on the 13th of May 1796. From various causes, delay in publishing beyond the fixed day, offence