Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/309

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Coleridge
Coleridge
303

pared by his son to Parson Adams. He edified his congregation by quoting Hebrew in the pulpit. In 1768 he published 'Miscellaneous Dissertations,' arising from the 17th and 18th chapters of the Book of Judges; and in 1772 a 'Critical Latin Grammar,' in which the name 'quale-quare-quidditive' was substituted for the old-fashioned ablative. An advertisement appended states that he took pupils at sixteen guineas a year for boarding and teaching. Many anecdotes were told of his absent-mindedness. He was twice married. He had three daughters by his first wife (Mary Lendon). His second wife, Anne Bowdon (d. 1809), was a sensible woman and a good housekeeper, though not highly educated. He had by her ten children. James, the third son (1760-1836), entered the army, married a lady of fortune, Miss Frances Duke Taylor, and by her was the father of Mr. Justice Coleridge, of Henry Nelson Coleridge, of Edward Coleridge, assistant-master at Eton, of Frances Duke, the wife of Sir John Patteson and mother of Bishop Patteson, and three other children. The fifth and sixth children of John Coleridge, Edward and George, took orders, George (d. 1828, aged 63) afterwards succeeding to his father's school and benefice. The seventh child, Luke Herman, became a surgeon, and died in 1790, aged 25, leaving one son, William Hart, afterwards bishop of Barbados [q. v.] The tenth, Samuel Taylor, was singularly precocious and imaginative. 'I never thought as a child,' he says, 'never had the language of a child.' He read the 'Arabian Nights ' before his fifth birthday (The Friend, 1818, i. 252), and preferred day-dreams to active games (for anecdotes of his infancy see Biog. Lit. 1847, ii. 313-28). His father died 4 Oct. 1781. Sir Francis Buller [q. v.], the judge, a former pupil of the father, obtained for the son a presentation to Christ's Hospital, where the boy was placed 18 July 1782. Here he was protected by Middleton,afterwards bishop of Calcutta, then a 'deputy Grecian,' and became the friend of Charles Lamb. Lamb describes the school in his 'Recollections of Christ's Hospital' and in 'Christ's Hospital Thirty-five years ago,' one of the ' Essays of Elia.' In the last there is the often-cited description of Coleridge as the 'inspired charity-boy,' expounding Plotinus and reciting Homer in the Greek. The 'poor friendless boy' also represents Coleridge (Gillman, Life of Coleridge, p. 13). Middleton found the boy reading Virgil for his pleasure, and spoke of him to the head-master, James Boyer, often called Bowyer (for whom see Trollope, Christ's Hospital, pp. 136-41), a severe but sensible teacher. Boyer flogged pitilessly, but Coleridge was grateful for his shrewd onslaughts upon commonplaces and bombast. Coleridge became a good scholar, and before his fifteenth year had translated the ' eight hymns of Synesius from the Greek into English Anacreontics ' (Biog. Lit. 1817, i. 249). In one of his day-dreams in the street his hands came in contact with a gentleman's clothes. On being challenged as a pickpocket, Coleridge explained that he was Leander swimming the Hellespont. His accuser was not only pacified but paid his subscription to a library ; whither he afterwards 'skulked out' at all risks and read right 'through the catalogue' (Gillman, pp. 17, 21). His brother Luke was now walking the hospitals. Coleridge was seized with a passion for the study of medicine, begged to hold plasters and dressings at operations, and devoured medical books, learning 'Blancard's Latin Medical Dictionary ' almost by heart. From medicine he diverged, ' before his fifteenth year,' into metaphysics. Thomas Taylor's 'Plotinus concerning the Beautiful,' published in 1787, probably fell in his way and affected his speculations (Brandl, S. T. Coleridge, p. 21). Voltaire seduced him into infidelity, out of which he was flogged by Boyer, the 'only just flogging' he ever received (Gillman, p. 24). He was ready to argue with any chance passenger in the streets, and it is doubtless to this phase that Lamb's description of the 'inspired charity-boy' applies. He was recalled from metaphysics to poetry, in which he had already dabbled, by falling in love with Mary Evans, a schoolfellow's sister (Gillman, p. 28 ; Allsop, 1836, ii. 86), and by reading the sonnets of Bowles, first made known to him by Middleton. Within a year and a half he had made over forty transcriptions of Bowles for presents to friends, being too poor to purchase the book. At the same time he incurred permanent injuries to his health by such imprudences as swimming the New River without undressing, and neglecting to change his clothes. The food was both scanty and bad. Half his time between seventeen and eighteen was passed in the sick ward with jaundice and rheumatic fever. He rose to the top of the school, having abandoned a passing fancy for an apprenticeship to a friendly shoemaker (Gillman, p. 21), and left Christ's Hospital on 7 Sept. 1790, He was appointed to an exhibition of 40l. a year in 1791. He was entered as a sizar at Jesus College, Cambridge, on 5 Feb. 1791, and came into residence in the following October, when he became a pensioner (5 Nov. 1791). He matriculated on 26 March 1792. He no doubt came to Jesus to obtain one of the Rustat scholarships, which are confined to the sons