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Hartley, whom he represented to be a most remarkable child-a deep thinker in his infancy. He tormented himself in his attempts to solve the problems that would equally torment the full-grown man, if the world and its cares and pleasures did not distract his attention. Hartley, when about five years old, was asked a question about himself being called Hartley. "Which Hartley ?' asked the boy.
Why ! is there more than one Hartley ?' 'Yes,' he replied; there's a deal of Hartleys.' •How so?' "There's PictureHartley (Hazlitt had painted a portrait of him), and ShadowHartley, and there's Echo-Hartley, and there's Catch-mefast-Hartley;' at the same time seizing his own arm with the other hand very eagerly—an action which shows that his mind must have been drawn to reflect on what Kant calls the great and inexplicable mystery, viz., that man should be both his own subject and object, and that these two should
“At the same early age, continued Coleridge, Hartley used to be in agony of thought, puzzling himself about the reality of existence. As when some one said to him, 'It is not now, but it is to be. "But,' said be, 'if it is to be, it is.' Perhaps this confusion of thought lay not merely in the imperfection of language. Hartley, when a child, had no pleasure in things; they made no impression on him till they had undergone a process in his mind, and were become thoughts or feelings. Of his subsequent progress Coleridge said little or nothing.”
Of this incident my father himself gives a somewhat fuller account in a letter to Miss Wordsworth, dated February 9, 1801, which determines my brother's age at the time: four years, four months, and twenty days.
“I had a very long conversation with Hartley about Life, Reality, Pictures, and Thinking, this evening. I wish you
had been with us. Much as you would desire to believe me, I cannot expect that I could communicate to you all that Mrs. C. and I felt from his answers, they were so very sensible, accurate, and well-worded. I am convinced that we are under great obligations to Mr. Jackson, who, I have no doubt, takes every opportunity of making him observe the difference of things, for he pointed out without difficulty that there might be five Hartleys, Real Hartley, Shadow Hartley, Picture Hartley, Looking-glass Hartley, and Echo Hartley: and as to the difference between his shadow and the reflection in the looking-glass, he said that the shadow was black, and he could not see his eyes in it. One thing he said was very curious. I asked him what he did when he thought of anything. He answered, “I look at it and then go to sleep.' "To sleep ?' said I. “You mean that you shut your eyes.' 'Yes,' he replied, 'I shut my eyes, and put my hands so, (covering his eyes) and go to sleep, then I wake again, and away I run ! That of shutting his eyes and covering them was a recipe which I had given him some time ago; but the notion of that state of mind being sleep is very striking; and he meant more, I suspect, than that people when asleep have their eyes shut :-indeed I know it, from the tone and leap up of the voice with which he uttered the word 'wake. To-morrow I am to exert my genius in making a paper balloon, and the idea of carrying up a bit of lighted candle into the clouds makes him almost insane with pleasure. As I have given you Hartley's metaphysics, &c.”
This tendency to metaphysical inquiry, not very uncommon in clever children, though rarely manifested in so striking a manner, did not, however, grow upon him, as it did upon his father, or become characteristic of his mind. Indeed, if I may trust my recollections, he was far more remarkable for the far-fetched fancies, spoken of
in Wordsworth's exquisite poem (prefixed to this memoir), than for any extraordinary reach of thought in the mundus intelligibilis. Seated upon “Jacky's" knee, or standing by “Wilsy's” apron (these were the names by which the friends above-mentioned were familiarly known), the chirp of whose knittingneedles formed an accompaniment to the chirrup of his voice, with flashing eyes, which those who have seen will not easily forget, the child Hartley would pour out his strange speculations, and weave his wild inventions, believing in his own tale; for indeed he had hardly become conscious of a difference between fact and fiction.*
As regards book-knowledge, his early education was interrupted and desultory, and his progress by no means remarkable. His father began to teach him Greek before he had learnt any Latin, when
* In a letter to his mother (1829) he thus alludes to the happiness of this period of his life :—“But Cuthbert is welcome to the shells. I wish I could bequeath to him, along with them, a tithe of the pleasure I have felt in arranging them (not, perhaps, according to the most scientific system of mineralogy or conchology) on dear Wilsy's worm-eaten table, with that beloved check toilet-cover on it. Oh, could I impart but a tithe of the pride with which I used to exhibit these treasures, assigning them names and histories, with the fearless inventiveness of unsuspecting innocence ! Could I disburse from the treasure of my memory but one farthing in the pound of the mighty debt of happiness which I owe to dream-nourished childhood, and pay the div end to the heirs and assignees of child od !”
he was ten years old, and commenced the compilation of a Greek grammar for his use. This fragment, consisting partly of original matter, partly of leaves cut out of a Westminster grammar, with the English written over the Latin, is now in
my possession. It contains some curious attempts at simplification, some interesting philological remarks, and some very eloquent writing on the advantages of classical studies, combining, in a manner very characteristic of my father's mind, milk for the merest babes, with strong meat for men of ripest years and understanding. * Beginning Greek nearly at the same time, and being somewhat more regularly instructed, I was soon sufficiently on a level with my brother to share his lessons, and thus became his class-fellow. His verbal memory was stronger than mine; but his
* The title-page, if so it may be called, of this curious relic, is as follows :—“Hartley Coleridge: from his affectionate Father, S. T. Coleridge. Tuesday, 4th November, 1806. For his Greek exercises.
Σοί δ' εγώ ευφρονέων υποθήσομαι οία περ αύτος
Deoyv. yuwu. 27."
It must therefore have been written immediately after my father's return from Malta, where he had been residing for the recovery of his health,
On the next page is the Greek Alphabet, with a rhythmical enumeration of their names, in Hartley's own pot-hooks,
real superiority lay in his flow of thought and invention, and was shown rather out of school than in it. In arithmetic, for which study he had no aptitude, I soon surpassed him.
which may serve for other very juvenile Grecians, as it served
' Alpha, Beta,
Nu, Xi, Omicron, Pi,
Sigma, Ro, Upsilon, Tau,
Omega, and Phi, and Chi and Psi.
Then follows, in my father's own handwriting, the Grammar; some further account of which, with extracts, will be given in the Appendix. As a monument not merely of overflowing paternal affection, but of patient, laborious pains-taking, in a man of whom far other things have been believed, it has a peculiar value in my eyes.
What the relations of father and son were at that time, may be gathered from the following observations written by the latter, in a fellow volume to the above exercise-book, more than twenty years afterwards :
“On the 4th November, 1806, my dear father presented this book to me, little thinking, I guess, that some pages of it would be still blank in 1830, and still less foreseeing through what dark and miry ways, what dull vicissitudes of ill, my own fancies would lead me before the last leaf was written. High were his hopes of me, for his love was strong, and finding an understanding and creative spirit in me, ready tears, repentance close upon offence, and simple notions of the nature of ill, he never thought the heart could be wrong."