« 前へ次へ »
city his mother was a native, on the 19th of September, 1796. The circumstances under which this took place belong to the life of his father, to which this memorial may be considered as an appendix and contribution. For the same reason no account need here be given of his family connexions.
He was an eight months' child, and was born during the absence of his father, who has recorded his feelings both when he heard of his birth, and when he first saw him, in two sonnets,* interesting in themselves, and as the first expression of an affection, which never ceased to regard its object as in some sort an infant still. This affection was returned in kind. To the latest hour of his life, Hartley, in the presence of his father's memory, which was seldom long absent from him, felt as a child, even when reviewing the writings or opinions of his departed sire with the boldest independence of thought.
The singularity of appearance, by which he was distinguished through life, and which, together with the shortness of his stature, (possibly attributable in some measure to his premature birth,) had a marked influence upon his character, was apparent from the first,t though he grew up to be a pretty and engaging child. His father in the
* Poet. Works, vol. i., pp. 251, 252. + See Coleridge's “ Biographia Literaria,” vol. ii., p. 374.
exquisite poem, entitled “Frost at Midnight," * addresses him as his “babe so beautiful.” The lines must be familiar to all the readers of Coleridge's poetry, but they may perhaps be read here. with a new interest.
“Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whether these lines be taken as expressing a purpose or a hope, the prediction which they contain was fulfilled in a manner and to an extent which could not at the time have been anticipated.
In a similar strain his father addresses him the poem entitled “The Nightingale.” *
“That strain again?
The “ lakes and sandy shores ” and “mountain crags," among which Hartley Coleridge's childhood was actually passed, are not visited by the feathered songster of the night and of the woods. But the hope and purpose expressed in the above lines were fully realised in their general meaning. It is more remarkable that Hartley's childhood proved to be in the highest degree susceptible of such influences.
* Poet. Works, vol. i., p. 212.
By nature not less than by circumstances he was indeed the poet-child of a poet-father.
His name, however,—Hartley,-bore evidence to his father's early fondness for a study, which was destined to supersede within a few years what, perhaps, most persons may consider the more genial pursuits of poetry. It was given him in honour of the metaphysician, David Hartley; and had he been baptised in his infancy, he would have borne both names.* His baptism did not, in fact, take place till within the period of his distinct remembrance. . A picture of his infancy has already been pre
* In a letter to Mrs. Poole, dated Nov. 1, 1796, his father thus refers to his monthling:—“David Hartley Coleridge is stout, healthy, and handsome. He is the very miniature of me.”
Again, in a most interesting letter, written after a visit to my father in August 1797, the writer (Mr. Richard Reynell) thus brings us back to the time and place, and persons:—"Coleridge has a fine little boy about nine or ten months old, whom he has named David Hartley—for Hartley and Bishop Berkley are his idols—and he thinks them two of the greatest men that ever lived. This child is a noble healthy-looking fellow, has strong eye-brows, and beautiful eyes. It is a treat, a luxury, to see Coleridge hanging over his infant and talking to it, and fancying what he will be in future days.” The remainder of the letter, which refers to Mr. Wordsworth as well as to my father, and gives a most lively account of both, will appear elsewhere. It has recently been communicated to me by the kindness of Dr. Wreford, of Bristol, the nephew of the writer.
sented, for the sake of the painting and the painter; one anecdote of his earliest childhood * may be acceptable for its own sake. I have heard my mother say that when he was first taken to London, being then a child in arms, and saw the lamps, he exclaimed, “Oh! now I know what the stars are—they are lamps that have been good upon earth, and have gone up into heaven.”
As the greater portion of this memoir will consist of my own reminiscences, it may not be irrelevant to mention that my brother was four years my senior. His sister Sara, the darling of his boyhood, was the youngest of the three by two years. We were all brought to the sacred font together in the parish church of Crosthwaite, near Keswick, in the vale of Derwentwater.
It was in the autumn of the year 1800, shortly before my own birth, that my father came with my mother and brother to reside in that land of lakes and mountains with which a supposed school of
* Horace has told us how, when surprised by sleep in a wood, he was preserved, by favour of the Muses, from vipers and bears, non sine Diis animosus infans. My brother's childhood was not less wonderfully protected. He came in one day with the mark of a horse's hoof on his pinafore, and it was found, on inquiry, that he had been pulling hairs out of a horse's tail, which had pushed him back, as his father firmly believed, with intentional forbearance.