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child-fancier think it worth while to cast his
eye over the note at the bottom of the page.*
Looking to the event, it might seem that this phantasmagoria, however extraordinary, indicated a latent weakness in his mind. But the defect was moral, and brought out by the force of circumstance. The ends which he proposed to himself in after-life were such as he might have reached, if not easily, yet successfully, for they were not more than commensurate with his
but he overlooked the process to contemplate the result, and lived in a perpetual prospective-in "future plans.”
* A spot of waste ground was appropriated to his use. This was divided into kingdoms, and subdivided into pro. vinces, each of the former being assigned to one of his playmates. A canal was to run through the whole, upon which ships were to be built. A tower and armoury, a theatre and “chemistry-house,” (under which mines were expected to be formed,) were to be built, and considered common property. War was to be declared and battles fought between the sovereign powers. Besides the automatic actors alluded to in a previous note, he had a scheme for training cats and even rats for various offices and labours, civil and military. What he craved was reality-to do the thing he dreamed, or to dream of doing it, and for this purpose he must begin with something real, something of his own. Any hint—the slightest symbol-was enough to connect the world of imagination with the world of fact. If I mistake not, this whimsical narrative is not without psychological interest, even in an educational point of view. But how he talked ! and how his hearers, one of them a play-fellow from the town, the Sancho Panza of our Don Quixote, listened and believed !
This account of my brother's childhood would be incomplete, if I did not allude to the pleasing relation in which he stood to his ever-honoured relative, Mr. Southey, in whose “Correspondence" he is frequently mentioned under the playful appellation of Moses, afterwards changed to Job, on account of his impatience.
The following amusing letter has already appeared in the work above alluded to. It is here republished by permission of the Editor :
To HARTLEY COLERIDGE.*
KESWICK, June 13, 1807. NEPHEW JOB,
First, I have to thank you for your letter and your poem; and secondly, to explain why I had not done this
We were a long time without knowing where you were; and, when news came from Miss Barker that you were in London, by the time a letter could have reached you, you were gone : and lastly, Mr. Jackson wrote to Bristol. I will now compose an epistle which will follow you farther west.
Bona Marietta hath had kittens; they were remarkably
*“This playful effusion was addressed to Hartley Coleridge, who is often referred to in the earlier letters by the name of Moses, it being my father's humour to bestow on his little playfellows many and various such names. When those allusions and this letter were selected for publication, my cousin was yet amongst us, and I had pleasantly anticipated his half-serious, half-playful remonstrances for thus bringing his childhood before the public. Now he is among the departed; and those only who knew him intimately, can tell how well-stored and large a mind has gone with him, m ch less how kind a heart and how affectionate
ugly, all taking after their father Thomas, who, there is reason to believe, was either uncle or grandsire to Bona herself—the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, which you will find at the end of the Bible, not being regarded by cats. As I have never been able to persuade this family that catlings, fed for the purpose, and smothered with onions, would be rabbits to all eatable purposes, Bona Marietta's ugly progeny no sooner came into the world than they were sent out of it. The river nymph, Greta, conveyed them to the river god, Derwent; and if neither the eels nor the ladies of the lake have taken a fancy to them on their
Derwent hath consigned them to the Nereids. I fear that if you meet with any of the race of Mrs. Rowe's cat at Ottery, you will forget poor Marietta. Don't bite your arm, Job.
We have been out one evening in the boat Mr. Jackson, Mrs. Wilson, and the children and kindled our fire upon the same place where you drank tea with us last autumn. The boat has been painted, and there is to be a boat-house built for it. Alterations are going on here upon a great scale. The parlour has been transmogrified. That, Hartley, was one of my mother's words; your mother will explain it to you. The masons are at work in my study; the garden is inclosed with a hedge; some trees planted behind it, a few shrubs, and abundance of currant-trees. We must, however, wait till the autumn before all can be done that is intended in the garden. Mr. White, the Belligerent, is settled in the General's house. Find out why I give him that appellation.
a disposition. He has found his last peaceful resting-place (where Dr. Arnold so beautifully expresses a wish that he might lie) 'beneath the yews of Grasmere churchyard, with the Rotha, with its deep and silent pools, passing by;' but his name will long be a " living one' among the hill sides and glens of our rugged country,
stern and wild, Meet nurse for a poetic child.'” Note by the Editor of Southey's Life and Correspondence.
There has been a misfortune in the family. We had a hen with five chickens, and a gleed has carried off four. I have declared war against the gleed, and borrowed a gun; but since the gun has been in the house, he has never made his appearance. Who can have told him of it? Another hen is sitting, and I hope the next brood will be luckier. Mr. Jackson has bought a cow, but he has had no calf since you left him. Edith has taken your place in his house, and talks to Mrs. Wilson by the hour about her Hartley. She grows like a young giantess, and has a disposition to bite her arm, which, you know, is a very foolish trick. Herbert is a fine fellow;
I call him the Boy of Bashan, because he roars like a young bull when he is pleased ; indeed, he promises to inherit his father's vocal powers.
The weather has been very bad; nothing but easterly winds, which have kept everything back. We had one day hotter than had been remembered for fourteen years : the glass was at 85° in the shade; in the sun, in Mr. Calvert's garden, at 118°. The horses of the mail died at Carlisle. I never remember to have felt such heat in England, except one day fourteen years ago, when I chanced to be in the mail coach, and it was necessary to bleed the horses, or they would have died then. In the course of three days, the glass fell 40°, and the wind was so cold and violent, that persons who attempted to cross the Fells beyond Penrith were forced to turn back.
Your friend Dapper, who is, I believe, your god-dog, is in good health ; though he grows every summer graver than the last. This is the natural effect of time, which, as you know, has made me the serious man I am. I hope it will have the same effect upon you and your mother, and that when she returns, she will have left off that evil habit of quizzing me, and calling me names; it is not decorous in a woman of
Remember me to Mr. Poole, and tell him I shall be glad when he turns Laker. He will find tolerable lodgings at the Hill; a boat for fine weather, good stores of books for a rainy
day, and as hearty a shake by the hand on his arrival, as he is likely to meet with between Stowey and Keswick.—Some books of mine will soon be ready for your father. Will he have them sent anywhere ? or will he pick them up himself when he passes through London on his way northward ? Tell him that I am advancing well in “ South America,” and shall have finished a volume by the end of the year. The “ Chronicle of the Cid” is to go to press as soon as I receive some books from Lisbon, which must first be examined.
I am desired to send you as much love has can be inclosed in a letter. I hope it will not be charged double on that account at the post-office; but there is Mrs. Wilson's love, Mr. Jackson's, your aunt Southey's, your aunt Lovell's, and Edith's; with a purr from Bona Marietta, an open-mouthed kiss from Herbert, and three wags of the tail from Dapper. I trust they will all arrive safe, and remain,
Dear Nephew Job,
But it is more than time that I pass on to my brother's school-days. These were passed at Ambleside, under circumstances most favourable, it might be thought, to the development of his peculiar genius, and certainly most conducive to his immediate happiness. Elsewhere he might have had higher advantages in the way of scholarship; for his master, an excellent and in many respects a remarkable man, was a native of the place, and had been educated after the fashion of the north-country, where little attention is paid to the niceties or graces of classical learning, and though possessed of a vigorous understanding, by