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my worthy master, to which indeed, both on my own and on my brother's account, he has a peculiar title. We were among his earliest scholars; and deeming it, as he said, an honour to be entrusted with the education of Mr. Coleridge's sons, he refused, first for the elder, and afterwards for the younger brother, any pecuniary remuneration. Both of us he regarded with especial kindness, and I believe I may say with some degree of pride; though, with characteristic reserve, he never bestowed a word of commendation on either of us in our hearing.
But the hours which are spent in school, under a master's eye, are not the whole of a schoolboy's life, nor perhaps do they form the most important part of his education. The great poem, so long withheld as a gift, and now at length bequeathed as a legacy to the world by its illustrious author, among the many life-concerning truths, to which it has not merely lent a new charm, but imparted a new power, has shown how much is due to spontaneous growth under favourable circumstances during the hours of boyish freedom. In my brother's case, if we regard the nurture and direction of his poetic faculty, it was all in all; and as, with this encouragement, I have not scrupled to retrace
"The simple ways in which his childhood walk'd,”
I shall hope for pardon if I follow them a little further :
“Those chiefly which first led him to the love
Of rivers, woods, and fields :" a little further,—though perhaps I may be thought already—
"To have lengthen'd out With fond and feeble tongue a tedious tale." I shall not have again to solicit a similar indulgence. Though my brother's life was prolonged almost to the confines of old age, the latter portion was comparatively a blank ;—too like an Australian river, wide at first, a flow of hopeful waters, which speedily contract into a feeble narrow stream, and are lost insensibly in the sand.
It was in the summer of the year 1808, that my brother and myself were placed as day-scholars under the care of the Rev. John Dawes, the excellent man whose character I have attempted to portray, who had just opened a school for a limited number of gentlemen's sons. We were lodged at Clappersgate, a small hamlet beautifully situated at the distance of a mile from the town, this place having been selected on account of its nearness to Old Brathay, the residence of my father's literary friend Charles Lloyd, * whose name will be remem
* “Coleridge and Southey, Lloyd, and Lamb and Co., Tune all your mystic harps, and praise Lepeaux.”
Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin.
bered, as well on his own account, as from his connexion with men of wider and more permanent fame. His sons, four noble lads, were our schoolfellows, and their admirable mother, had we needed it, would have been a mother to us. Domestic supervision, or at least control, we had none; we lived with an elderly woman, the daughter of a Westmoreland statesman, and her son,* a man of some education, originally intended “ for the church,” but now a maltster, who, in a rough simple way, took good care of us, and to whom we became much attached. But our freedom, out of school-hours, was unlimited; our play-place was the hill-side, the river-bank, or the broad bosom of the lake, and our bounds the furthest point to which our inclinations led, or our strength could carry us. Some time afterwards we were joined by two companions, sons of a Liverpool merchant, who had built a house in Grasmere ;—and certain it is that the licence we enjoyed, however perilous it might have been under other circumstances, was never abused during the whole time that it lasted, some eight or nine years, by any one of the party. No harm came of it either to body or mind, but, as I believe, much good to both.
* James Longmire. He had received a Latin-school education, which was to have been carried on with a view to Holy Orders, in a school where he held the place of usher ; but becoming home-sick, and finding himself unable to accommodate himself to new habits, he had returned to his mother's house, and carried on, with her, the business of a maltster. He was a well-meaning and intelligent, but pompous man, and latterly fell into intemperate habits, having to encounter the double temptation of the market and the club, as a tradesman and half-gentleman.
My brother, however, employed his liberty in a very different way from any of his schoolfellows.* He never played. He was indeed incapable of the adroitness and presence of mind required in the most ordinary sports. His uncle used to tell him that he had two left hands. Hence he was much alone, passing his time in reading, walking, dreaming to himself, or talking his dreams to others. One friend he had, a resident in the town, though not a schoolfellow, Robert Jameson, to whom he afterwards addressed a series of beautiful sonnets; but with this exception he had, strictly speaking, no mates, and formed no friendships. He stood apart,--admired and beloved by all, but without intimacy. He could do nothing for or with his schoolfellows,* except to construe their lessons, and to tell them tales.
* As a little boy, he paid the usual penalty of helpless oddity. Though not persecuted with the savagery of which so many sad instances might be collected from the annals of the school-room and the play-yard, he was plagued in a manner and to an extent of which, as we shall see hereafter, he never lost the impression. Far more attention should be given by schoolmasters to this matter than has hitherto been deemed necessary.
He was not deficient in personal courage. When very young he ran into the Greta to save a child from drowning, which he effected by holding its head above water till a passer by was attracted by his cries. The grateful mother, a poor woman, brought him a bag of marbles. She might as well have presented him with the balls of an Indian juggler, for any use that he could make of them.
When older he fought a battle, awkward as he was, with great spirit; and from this time he was treated, on the whole, with respect.
In the latter capacity he stood, I believe, quite alone. Other boys may have displayed more invention, and perhaps greater originality, though none such have come under my observation; but what
* With two of these, however, he afterwards lived on terms not of intimacy only, but of the most affectionate friendship. The first of these, Owen, third son of Mr. Charles Lloyd, on whom a portion of his father's tender spirit and refined intelligence had descended, was curate of Langdale, having returned to the haunts of his boyhood, to be for a while an example of the gentlest piety,—and to die. He did not go to the grave
“Without the meed of some melodious tear.”
The lines to the memory of Owen Lloyd, printed in this collection, will show in what estimation he was held by his poet-friend.
The other survived him—not long. Eminently favoured by Nature in person and intellect, gallant, accomplished, generous, he too had returned to the lakes and mountainstreams which he had frequented when a boy. He brought back with him from a torrid clime the remains of an impetuous spirit, a soldier's graceful bearing, a cultivated mind, and blighted health. Eheu! Herberte.