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that the greater part of those, who have occasionally visited Mr. Coleridge, have left him with a feeling akin to the judgment indicated in the above remark. They admire the man more than his works; or they forget the works in the absorbing impression made by the living author. And no wonder. Those who remember him in his more vigorous days, can bear witness to the peculiarity and transcendant power of his conversational excellence. It was unlike anything that could be heard elsewhere : the kind was different, the degree was different, the manner was different. The boundless range of scientific knowledge, the brilliancy and exquisite nicety of illustration, the deep and ready reasoning, the strangeness and immensity of bookish lorewere not all: the dramatic story, the joke, the pun, the festivity must be added, and with these the clerical' looking dress, the thick waving silver hair, the youthful-colored cheek, the indefinable mouth and lips, the quick, yet steady and penetrating greenish grey eye, the slow and continuous enunciation, and the everlasting music of his tones,--all went to make up the image and to constitute the living presence of the man.” _“ Even now, his conversation is characterised by all the essentials of its former excellence; there is the same individuality; the same unexpectedness; the same universal grasp ; nothing is too high, nothing too low, for it; it glances from earth to heaven, from heaven to earth, with a speed and a splendor, an ease and a power, which almost seem inspired.”—“ The effect of an hour with Coleridge is to set you thinking; his words haunt you for a week afterwards; they are spells, brightenings, revelations."
The following anecdote will illustrate what I have said of his Lectures.
“ A very experienced short-hand writer was employed to take down Mr. Coleridge's Lectures on Shakspeare, but the manuscript was almost entirely unintelligible. Yet the Lecturer was, as he always is, slow and measured. The writer—we have some notion it was no worse an artist than Mr. Gurney himself-gave this account of the difficulty : that, with regard to every other speaker whom he had ever heard, however rapid or involved, he could almost always, by long experience in his art, guess the form of the latter part, or apodosis, of the sentence, by the form of the beginning; but that the conclusion of every one of Coleridge's sentences was a surprise to him. He was obliged to listen to the last word.”
But I must stop. The reader who does not already know and yet is desirous of learning, what Coleridge was, what is to be found in his poetry, what may be expected from his posthumous manuscripts, must turn to this article, which is a masterly and profound piece of criticism upon a writer, whose genius no ordinary critic could approach. It is one thing, to describe, or analyse, a poet of the million; another, to take the altitude and depth of a poet in a million.
To GEOFFREY OLDCASTLE, GENT.
Vice is a monster, of such hideous mien,
Behold, yon beast, beside the fallen stool,
To him, confin'd to work and labour sore,
No !-Yesterday a customer has paid
The Kentish Cobbler in his glory sleeps!
Nothing would satisfy Mrs. Simpson, and the Misses Simpson, my two eldest daughters, and Mr. Robert Simpson, my eldest son, and Mrs. Gregory, my wife's grandmother, but that I must take them to the Canterbury races in a phaeton. “ My dear,” said I,
you know I don't care about races, or anything, but the shop."
My love,” said she, “ you know it will be a saving ; for, if we don't
go, we shall have our house crammed with friends, all the bed rooms turned into sitting rooms, and nothing but eating and drinking for three days.”
My love, hold your tongue and be convinced. How was it last year ? Hadn't we the Greens, and the Garsides, and the Sankeys, and the Ringwoods, and Mr. Slater, and Mr. Taplow, and Mrs. Watkins with her seven brats, and I don't know who else besides ? And didn't it cost, I can't tell what, to find them in lemonade, and cakes, and gooseberry wine, besides asking some of them to dinner and tea every day? You know how expensive these things are, and that there's no avoiding them if we stay at home; and yet you must hum and ha about fifteen shillings or a pound for a phaeton."
“ Fifteen shillings or a pound? You forget that we must be out all the three days, or our friends, if we are at home, will be sure to find us out.”
“ Well—and what then ?-It will still be cheaper, to say nothing of the pleasure."
“ Mrs. Simpson-
“ Now, Mr. Simpson, do just hear me before you get into a passion, as you always do, if you haven't everything your own way. I have been talking this thing over with Sophia, and Charlotte, and grandmother, and we are all of one opinion, that it will be pounds and pounds in your pocket. Do you think, Mr. Simpson, I should wish you to do it, if it wasn't for your good ?”
“ But see, Mrs. Simpson-what's to be done about dinner? You know I can't go longer than one o'clock, and that's just the "
“ Weil-and what is so easy as to take a nice, large, cold pie with us, a few bottles of porter, a knife and fork or two, and some plates, and dine in the phaeton ?' Nobody will see us :-and if they did, I shouldn't care, for there's nothing to be ashamed of. I am told, Mr. Bridges who regularly takes his family, always dines upon the Downs."
“ But, who is to drive? I can't; and I don't mean to break my neck by trying.”
“ Let Robert drive-he understands it, for he often drives the Deal van coming home from our country house at Littlebourne.”
“ Well, Mrs. Simpson, I wish it may all turn out as you say, and that none of us may be turned out and get our limbs broken; you may do as you like; but I shall get out, and walk down Bridge Hill, you may depend
And so the thing was settled; for I found the more I talked, the worse came of it. Every objection was met by a ready-prepared answer, which convinced me the matter had been thoroughly settled before-hand between Mrs. Simpson, the Misses Simpson, Mr. Robert Simpson, and Mrs. Gregory, my wife's grandmother.
On Wednesday morning, therefore, the 27th of August, as soon as breakfast was over, we were full of hustle and preparation. Mrs. Simpson had made what she considered an excellent bargain with Mr. Godsmark, by contracting,” as she said, for the three days; whereby, as I was given to understand, she saved as much out of the hire of the phaeton as would pay for the pie and the turnpike each day; from which I further learned, that I was doomed to dine off pie till the races were over.
I said nothing, for I knew it would be of no use—but I soon found that Mrs. Simpson's economy was like that of putting the barrel of strong beer by the side of the barrel of table beer, to save the latter from being drunk out so fast. There was no going to the races in the same clothes as we went to church. New bonnets, new shoes, new gloves, new ribbons, new flowers, new parasols, and new other things, whose names I heard but cannot remember, were decided to be absolutely necessary, because everybody would be there, and being in a carriage, everybody could see what one had on. Besides, they would soon want new shoes, &c., at any rate ; and it was better
to have them on an occasion like this, than for indoors merely, or walking out. My son, too, tried to convince me the seams of his frock-coat were getting white, and beginning to shew their teeth; but buttoning my own coat with a resolute air, I protested there should not be another item added to the bill of Messrs. Snip and Cabbage this year. I have not yet paid for the purchases of my wife and daughters. I'll be bound, however, when I do, I shall find that we might have been hospitable to our friends, at half the expense
it cost to be fine at the races. Having put on my own best clothes the first thing in the morning, I had a good three hours, after breakfast, to spare for the shop, while Mrs. Simpson, and “the ladies,” were “ making their toilet,” as Sophia called it, when I told her to make haste. I gave Sam, the foreman, strict orders not to be gaping at the door, to see the company set off ; and by way of further check, hinted that in all probability we should be back long before the races were
Half-a-dozen times, at least, Mrs. Simpson sent the maid down three pair of stairs, to know whether“ our carriage was at the door; and at last, beginning to fear there was some mistake about the “ contract,”(which I heartily, but silently, prayed might be the case,) my son Robert was despatched to Godsmark's, to fetch it, with a hint that this would save the sixpence which the stable-man would expect for bringing it. While Robert was gone one way, however, the carriage came another; so the destiny of the sixpence was irretrievable.
The pie, porter, &c. being put where they would be handy to get at, we were just about to start, when a serious difficulty suddenly presented itself.Nobody could ride backwards. Mrs. Simpson declared she never rode backwards in her life; Sophia said she rode backwards the last time she went to see her aunt at Dover, and was sick all the way; Charlotte, though she had never ridden backwards, was sure it would make her ill because riding sideways in a van always did : and my wife's grandmother, remembered that the only time she ever rode backwards was when she was a girl, going back to school, and it made her head swim so, she thought she should have tumbled forwards. She remembered, too, that though she kept her eyes shut, whenever she opened them, the trees and hedges seemed to be all running the other way.
What was now to be done? Only three could ride forwards; and only two, if Mrs. Gregory was one; for she is an uncommonly large old woman in that particular respect which makes it so extremely difficult to settle down in a coach that carries six insides, when the seat that is left for the last passenger, happens to be the middle one.
“ Can't Soph ride bodkin?” asked Robert. “ But where's grandmother to ride ?” said Charlotte, as sharp as a needle.
“ I'll tell you how it can be done,” replied her brother. mother get in first, and sit quite at the edge-then ma, and sit back; then Soph, and sit on the edge; then you, and sit back; and you'll all fit, and have plenty of room."
After a little deliberation, to consider whether any more eligible mode presented itself, Mrs. Gregory took her seat upon the edge, when it became immediately manifest, no human contrivance could wedge the remaining three into the space that was left. It was finally arranged, therefore, that Mrs. Simpson should take the other corner, Sophia ride bodkin, and Charlotte try whether riding backwards in a phaeton was as bad as riding sideways in a van. “ If Robert should overturn us," said I, “ you
thrée are safe enough; nothing can shake you out, now you are once in ;" and up I jumped to take my seat by the side of Robert.
I was glad when we got into the New Road, where there is plenty of room; for we were within an ace of being upset by one of the Dover coaches, which came rattling along just in the narrow pass, opposite the Globe tavern. It's a shame the corporation do not buy that house of Mr.
“ Let grand
Beer, and the two adjoining ones, and widen the entrance there into the city. I am sure they might make a very good job of it; and that alone, one would think, might be a sufficient inducement.
I had cautioned my son to drive slow, out of a pretended regard for the poor animal, with such a weight at its tail; but in reality, that I might be the better able to jump down in case of danger. I also kept my eyes steadily fixed upon his ears ; for I had heard, that whenever a horse is going to be vicious, he always lays his ears back before he begins. I had one leg, too, on the edge of the footboard, so that if I perceived his ears moving at all suspiciously, I could have been off in the twinkling of an eye. I must say, however, I never saw a horse carry his ears more prettily. They were as upright as a mile-stone all the way.
“ Do you think he has any tricks ?” said I, while we were waiting for our change at Gutteridge Gate, “ for one's never safe, hardly, with these hacks."
“ No," replied Robert—“Godsniark assured me he has not a vice, and is as gentle as a lamb."
“ I say—he seems getting obstinate—he won't go on.”
And he wouldn't go on: no, not a bit; but began to back, when Robert wanted to get him through the turnpike.
“ Hallooyoung gentleman—which way do you mean to go?" exclained a voice behind us.
I looked round, and there was a waggon, full of people, besides a string of carriages, horsemen, and gigs, all waiting for “our carriage” to move on.
Robert applied the whip, which made matters worse, for the beast began to rear.
« For God's sake don't be violent,” said I. “ Just try and lead him through, will you, if you please," I continued, addressing Baker, the turnpike-man, who took hold of his head, and patted his neck. But he might as well have patted a brick wall, and tried to lead that through. The creature stood just as if he had made up his mind not to go any further; as if, too, he had the sense to know, that he could not have selected a place, or a time, better adapted for making himself disagreeable, than to block up the turnpike on a race day. Luckily, however, he kept his ears bolt upright.
“ Wait a bit,” said I, “I'll manage him-just hold him quiet till I get down.”
I was not long in descending, which was all I wanted; for I was not going to risk being run over, after I had escaped being turned over. Catch me at that, thought I to myself, as soon as I was once more on terra firma.
The people in the rear now began to get more and more clamorous, swearing, bawling, and whooping, for Robert to “ push on,” and “ keep moving.” I wanted him to come down also, but he would not, saying he should be able to manage the ill-conditioned beast in the end. When he whipped, it reared, or tried to back; and when he tugged at the bit, it stood still. At last, one of the by-standers called out, “ You've got the reins under his tail,” which sure enough he had; and the moment the turnpike man set his tail at liberty, off he went as well as ever.
What an engrossing thing self-preservation is ! Till I was out of danger myself, I never once thought of Mrs. Simpson ; but when it was all over, I saw, by her looks, she had been terribly frightened. My daughters did not seem to mind it, and Mrs. Gregory, being very deaf, imagined, (as I afterwards learned,) we had been, all that time, waiting for change.
Robert stopped for me to get up again, which I was half inclined not to do; but I didn't like to appear afraid ; so I resumed my seat on the box. It was bitter cold. Now, however, my whole attention was directed to the horse's tail, instead of his ears; fearful lest the same accident should happen again.
At length we reached the Downs, and “our carriage” drew up in a vacant place, where we could see the sport. After the first race, I began to