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which, while it secured his independence of the world, prostrated all his noble powers, and left him, for the last two years of his life, utterly imbecile. Sic est homo !
Let us introduce to the reader this interesting pair, each in propriâ personâ, and as we saw each in his prime.
The appearance and air of Mr. Coleridge were decidedly clerical : but he soon struck you as a king of men. He well personified “Church and State, according to [his] Idea of each."* Without the affectation, or any remarkable professions of seriousness, he sustained, more than any other man we have seen, a serious carriage engagingly. There was a chastened and imperturbable solemnity about him, rising, when he said his best things, (spoke against the philosophy of mere expediency, or asserted the claims of the Eternal Word,) into an unaffected majesty, and the entire command of all present. It was never broken in upon, in our hearing, by the utterance of anything foolish or light. We were never in the company of mortal man to whom such a thing would have seemed so utterly unbecoming, or from whom it would have burst upon one, creating so much surprise.
We do not remember to have seen him laugh. It was too gross an expression of feeling for the keeping and comfort of his presence—(that word comfort, by the way, being one which he would often claim as belonging only to · English hearts and homes.') He was tall, slightly corpulent ; had a head whose indescribable promises of mental excellence made all his friends tolerate Phrenology who did not believe in it; and a forehead of surpassing manly beauty. To see him take off his hat, as the writer has done, and address a kind of Improvisatori Hymn to the Sun, as he walked with him down Highgate Hill to the “Great Metropolis," was no faint image of an Apollo unveiling himself. That forehead was certainly such an outwork of power within, as no one that studied it could forget, or would hope to see well copied by art.
Mr. Coleridge, without attempting any peculiarities of dress or manners, was only like himself in these things. While we knew him, he always wore well-made, black clothes—walked always with a drawing-room gentleness and dignity. Everything about him was rotund, impressive, graceful—down to the silk stocking and plastic shoe of his handsome leg and foot. No boot, with or without the modern disguise of pantaloons, was ever drawn over them. impossible for any such article to be made that would not have been out of keeping—been as clumsy in its appearance there, as a club-foot. After some acquaintance, it would be observed, how much he could engage to his favorite themes the respectful attention of ladies; and that children* were delighted with him. It has been told everywhere, since his death, that men of the highest rank and first attainments in England would gladly assist-might we say, be contentedly the organ blowers ?-at his unrivalled Conversations. We were acquainted with a literary man who had been both in Dr. Johnson's and Coleridge's society. He gave to the latter all the learning, command of language, and impressive power of Johnson, with, what he so much lacked, the suaviter in modo uniform gentleness and sweetness of manner.
* The title, nearly verbatim, of a favorite Tract he published in 1830.
Mr. Southey had exactly the appearance of an elder son of Coleridge's. There was not a difference of three years between them in age, but twenty in apparent vigor. He, too, was tall; of highly finished and conciliatory address; had a noble, but somewhat thin, Roman visage, prominent, penetrating, and very beautiful eyes, and abundance of black, curling hair. Perhaps he was unusually animated at the particular interview with him which we remember. It took place at the house of his brother, a London physician, where he was called out of a party, to confer on the affairs of Coleridge. He was full of zeal to arrange them to advantage, and spoke very rapidly and eloquently of what his early friend could do." There was a singular union about him of the man of conscious talent, great adroitness, and profound deference to the claims of his friend. As he was then a much more popular writer than Coleridge, this last feature of his conversation was the more striking. He said, in effect—and seemed to feel
—You know he is the greatest man amongst us all. Gladly, with such a theme, (and such an advocate,) would we have heard him talk until midnight. He stands now before us, the image of activity, facility, and versatility of mind; of urbanity and perfect good breeding :-welldressed, as a layman; and frequently springing to his feet to enforce his point.
He has given us his own portrait at a little later period, in a way that singularly confirms our sketch :
Robert the Rhymer who lives at the Lakes,
We remember his stepping into a house where some prattlers looked shyly at him and ran. “Ah !" said he to their mother, “ you cannot enter a sheep-meadow, but the lambs will turn a fine neck and mild eyes on you and scamper off, whatever their seniors may do."
He is lean of body and lank of limb;
-On the road from grizzle to gray!
Our friends meet, in 1794, at Bristol. At Oxford they had previously been introduced to each other, but here they began their poetical and public career. Southey was just coming to his majority ; Coleridge, as we have intimated, was two years older, and had not long been discharged from a regiment of horse-dragoons, in which he enlisted in a freak. It might gratify curiosity to learn (we cannot say) whether this fact were at the time known to Southey and his other young friends. Clearly enough they were all just now more daft, as an Edinburgh Reviewer might have said ; more under an, enchanter's spell (which pervaded the master-mind as much as all the rest) with regard to their plans for the future, than any number of equally intelligent young men in England. It will account, in part
, for Southey afterwards considering the early manifestations of Methodism as a disease of the intellect :- he had started in life under clear symptoms of a disease of this kind, in regard to the greatest civil and moral questions.
Perhaps we ought to look back into the late Poet Laureate's life a little further. He was born at Bristol, 12th July, 1774, his father being a linen-draper in moderate circumstances. Some property of the family had accrued to Miss Tyler, his aunt, and with her, in the neighborhood of Bath, he spent the chief part of his childhood slept with her; was compelled to lie in bed of a morning to a late hour, fearful of disturbing her; and with some indulgences, was subject to many privations. On no account must his clothes be soiled, and when he panted to run abroad to Claverton Hill, half a mile across some meadows, it was always "too far for a walk.” “I have not a stronger desire,” he says in after life, “to see the Pyramids, than I had to visit a sham castle there, during the first years
life. There was a sort of rural freshness * Southey's Life, vol. I. p. 33.
about the place.”* But this poor little, pensive specimen of an old maid's child, could only “often take" his - seat upon the stone steps," at the back of his aunt's house, which looked
this way. His chief recreation, at four years of age, was that ..of accompanying this lady to the theatre, with which she had a pecuniary connection.
Southey's early school experience, like that of Cowper, (whom he much resembles in the gentle tone of his mind,) was bitter. A perfect tyrant seems to have had the rule of him for a year at Bristol : then he is removed, by his father, to a boarding-school at Corston, in the neighborhood, where his condition but little improves. In his “Retrospect," written at Oxford, in 1794, he says:
Well I know
At neither of these schools did he learn much: but he is here only another year, and then (in 1782) becomes once more a resident with Miss Tyler, in a new scene, the house built by his grandfather at Bedminster. Here he spends his happiest youthful days. The house and gardens were delightful: our poet gives us a perfect Dutch painting of the fore court; the little hall and its diamond-shaped flag-stones; the parlor, with its black-boarded floor, and the best kitchen, in which the family lived. “ The one which I am now calling to mind," he says, after an interval of forty years, “was a cheerful room, with such an air of country comfort about it, that my little heart was always gladdened when I entered it. The windows opened on the fore court, and were as cheerful and fragrant in the season of flowers, as roses and jessamines could make them.” Here he becomes a votary of Flora ; sincerely loves his aunt, in spite of her oddities; and stays with her, more or less, until he enters Westminster School.
Neither there nor at College do we find any indications of what he was to be. His education altogether was both short and interrupted. He obtains his first Latin, in lessons given three times a week by a Frenchman, at Bristol ; then a little more by teaching it at Corston; he could manage Ovid's Metamorphoses when he went to Westminster, but never seems to have had a regular initiation into the Classics. It is, indeed, surprising to find him build, in after years, so respectable a structure of practical and various learning, on the
slight foundations of his early life. We should tell, however, that he first became an author at Westminster, in a periodical called the Flagellant, of which, through several numbers, he was the chief support; that the Masters brought actions against the publishers, and finding him the author of a flagellation on corporal punishment, compelled him to leave the School. His father contrived to place him at Oxford, with a view to his taking orders ; but his sympathy with the republican principles now (1793) imported from France, and suspicions of his skepticism in religion, obstructed his way within a year. Singularly was he thus drifting into that visionary and unsettled state of mind in which he first found Cole
Shall we go back a few steps with the latter? He was the son of a clergyman, the rector of St. Mary Ottery, in Devonshire, where he was born in October, 1772.. The youngest of a large family, and at nine years of age an orphan, he happily obtained, through some London connections, admission to the Blue-coat School of Christ's Hospital. His early education was thus entirely a city, but a sound, one. We can vividly image his ruddy countenance, glowing above the antique blue serge surtout, which all the youthful hundreds here have been compelled to wear for two centuries : beneath was a blue vest, short yellow breeches, and yellow stockings—the whole encompassed by a black leather girdle. No boys have had abler classical masters than have been found in this School ever since its foundation by Edward VI. Our embryo poet and metaphysician made such progress in the classics that in his 15th year he translated the Hymn of Synesius into English Anacreontics, and already had plunged deeply into metaphysics and theology. “ Nothing else pleased me,” he says. “ History and particular facts lost all interest to my mind. Poetry itself, yea, novels and romances, were insipid.” But the Rev. L. Bowles' (one of the Masters') Sonnets at length awoke his poetical genius.
He gives great credit to Bowyer, the Head Master of the Grammar department, who early moulded his “taste to the preference of Demosthenes to Cicero, of Homer and Theocritus to Virgil, and of Virgil to Ovid." From him he learned also (what he never forgot) “ that in the truly great poet there is a reason assignable, not only for every word, but for the position of every word, and that all poetry has a logic of its own." Mr. B. showed no mercy to phrase, metaphor or image unsupported by a sound sense. They were an abomination to him. “Harp? harp ?” he would