Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/312

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

gregation. He preached during his 'Watchman' tour at Nottingham and Birmingham, submitting to a black coat in the latter place. At Birmingham Coleridge had won the admiration of Charles Lloyd, son of a banker in the town, one of the first of the many friends so fascinated by the extraordinary charm of his conversation that they were willing to contribute to his support rather than see his genius wasted in mere writing for bread. Lloyd now abandoned his bank and came to live with Coleridge at Bristol in a house on Kingsdown. Coleridge's first son, Hartley, so called in his zeal for David Hartley's philosophy, was born 19 Sept. 1796. His other children were Berkeley, born 30 May 1798, died 16 Feb. 1799; Derwent [q. v.], born 14 Sept. 1800; and Sara [q. v.], born 22 Dec. 1802. Various plans for writing in the 'Morning Chronicle,' for tuition in the family of Mrs. Evans (of Darley, near Derby), and other occupations, were contemplated without success in the summer of 1796. Thomas Poole of Nether Stowey, near Bridgewater, whose acquaintance he had made as early as 1794, now found Coleridge a small house at Nether Stowey for 71. a year, and Coleridge, with Lloyd, settled there in the winter of 1796-7. Poole, a man of plain exterior, was engaged in business in a tannery at Nether Stowey. He had acquired much knowledge of literature and economics, and was beloved in the district in spite of his strong political views. He got up a subscription to provide Coleridge with a small annuity, and remained one of his best friends. (A life of Poole is in preparation by Mrs. Sandford of Chester.) Coleridge still dreamed of maintaining himself in part by manual labour. He told Thelwall that he should raise enough corn and vegetables from his acre and a half to keep himself and his wife, and feed a couple of pigs from the refuse. A second edition of Coleridge's poems, with additional poems by Lloyd and Lamb, appeared in the course of 1797. Lamb, with his sister, visited Coleridge in June, and in the same month Coleridge went to see Wordsworth at Racedown in Dorsetshire. They had already met (Memoir prefixed to Poems, 1877, i. xxviii). Soon afterwards the Wordsworths moved to Alfoxden (or Alfoxton), near Nether Stowey, the 'principal inducement' being 'Coleridge's society.' Coleridge had already been struck at Cambridge by the power manifested in Wordsworth's 'Descriptive Sketches.' Both poets had tried their hands at dramatic writing. Wordsworth had written the 'Borderers.' At Stowey Coleridge wrote 'Osorio,' afterwards called 'Remorse.' Cottle (Recollections, i. 167) offered thirty guineas apiece for the 'Borderers' and 'Osorio.' which was declined in the hope of producing them on the stage. Remorse was sent to Sheridan, who took no notice of it. The 'Borderers' was declined. The poets had long conversations, which exposed them to the suspicions of the authorities. Coleridge's avowed principles had made him sufficiently notorious. An intimacy with the agitator Thelwall, who also visited Coleridge here, encouraged the suspicion. In writing to Thelwall (who thought of settling at Stowey) Coleridge expresses serious alarm as to the probable effect upon the 'aristocrats' of such a conjunction of extreme politicians. The discussions with Wordsworth really turned upon the principles of their art. They agreed to combine forces in a volume, where Wordsworth should exemplify the power of giving interest to the commonplace by imaginative treatment, while Coleridge should make the supernatural interesting by the dramatic truth of the emotions aroused. The result was the 'Lyrical Ballads,' published in September 1798. Coleridge's principal contribution was the 'Ancient Mariner.' The circumstances of the composition have been described by Wordsworth (Memoir, i. 105-8). It was planned during a walk across the Quantocks in November 1797. Wordsworth supplied a few lines, and suggested some subsidiary points. The original thought, as he says, was suggested to Coleridge by a dream of his friend Cruikshank. Wordsworth suggested the albatross from a passage lately read by him in Shelvocke's 'Voyages' (1726), where an albatross is shot in hopes of improving the weather. De Quincey (Works, ii. 45) has made a needless charge against Coleridge for denying obligations to Shelvocke, of which he may have been ignorant or which he may have forgotten. In the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for October 1853 it is suggested that Coleridge took some hints from a story told by Paulinus, secretary to St. Ambrose. The only other poems contributed by Coleridge were the 'Nightingale' and two scenes from 'Osorio.' The next edition (1800) included also the poem called 'Love,' or an 'Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladie.' The first parts of 'Christabel' and 'Kubla Khan' were also written in the winter of 1797. Coleridge tells us that he composed from two to three hundred lines of 'Kubla Khan' during a sleep of three hours, and wrote down the fragment now existing (fifty-four lines) upon awaking. He was interrupted by a visitor, and the remainder vanished from his mind. These poems were not published for eighteen years.

The 'Lyrical Ballads,' for which Cottle had given thirty guineas, failed for the time. A year or two later Cottle retired from business,