Born: Marshal Augereau, Duke of Castiglione, Bonapartist general, 1757, Paris; George Colman, the Younger, dramatist and humorous writer, 1762; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, 1772, Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire; George Combe, phrenologist, 1788, Edinburgh.
Died: Julius Cæsar Scaliger, scholar and critic, 1558, Agen on the Garonne; Edmund Waller, poet, 1687, Beaconsfield, near Windsor; James Gronovius, scholar and author, 1716, Leyden; Tobias Smollett, novelist, 1771, Leghorn; Samuel Foote, humorous writer, 1777, Dover; Alexander Runciman, Scottish painter, 1785; Horatio, Lord Nelson, killed in Trafalgar Bay, 1805; John Philpot Curran, celebrated Irish orator, 1817, London; Charles E. Horn, musical composer, 1849, Boston, U. S.
Feast Day: St. Hilarion, abbot, about 371 St. Ursula and her companions, virgins and martyrs, 5th century. St. Fintan, surnamed Munnu, or Mundus, abbot, in Ireland, 634.
This celebrated humorist, whose comic genius procured for him the appellation of the English Aristophanes, and who, by his witty conversation, enjoyed the same pre-eminence in the society of the last, that Sydney Smith did in that of the present century, has nevertheless come now to be nearly forgotten, mainly in consequence of the ephemeral character of much of his writings, which derived a considerable portion of their zest from their stinging personalities, and allusions to events of passing interest.
He was a native of Truro, in Cornwall, where his father held a good position as one of the county magistrates. Having received his primary education at the grammar school of Worcester, he was sent from thence to Oxford, and afterwards entered himself at the Temple, in London, as a law student, but made little or no progress towards qualifying himself for that profession. The whole bent of his mind was in the direction of fun and frolic, and for several years he led the gay and dissipated life of a man about town, till his pecuniary means were wholly exhausted, and it became necessary to look about seriously for some settled mode of support. From a boy, his talent for mimicry had been conspicuous, its first display, it is said, being a recitation at his father's table, during the Christmas holidays, of a supposed decision by the magisterial bench in an affiliation case, in which the justices, including his own parent, were hit off in the most truthful and ludicrous manner. At college, while under the care of the provost, Dr. Gower, his reckless conduct drew down upon him severe lectures from the former, who does not, however, appear to have administered them with much judgment, interlarding his objurgations with many sesquipedalian words and phrases. On such occasions, Foote would appear before his preceptor with a huge folio dictionary under his arm, and on any peculiarly hard word being used, would beg pardon with much formality for interrupting him; turn up his book, as if to find out the meaning of the learned term which had just been uttered; and then closing it, would say with the utmost politeness: 'Very well, sir, now please to go on.' Another of his tricks was setting the bell of the college church ringing at night, by tying a wisp of hay to the bell rope, which hung down low enough to be within reach of some cows that were turned out to graze in a neighbouring lane. The mishap of Dr. Gower and the sexton, who caught hold of the peccant animal, whilst in search of the author of the mischief, and imagined they had made a prisoner of him, provided a rich store of amusement for many days to the denizens of Oxford.
But a life of mirth and pleasantry cannot last for ever, and Foote, having dissipated his fortune, as already mentioned, in London, resolved to turn his talents to account, and with that view tried his fortune on the stage. His first attempt, like Liston, was in tragedy, and he made his appearance in the character of Othello. This, however, was unsuccessful, and a few more impersonations having convinced him of his unfitness for tragedy, he exchanged the buskin for the sock, and gained considerable celebrity by his performance of Lord Foppington in the Relapse, Dick in the Confederacy, and Bayes in the Rehearsal. It then occurred to him to start a performance on his own account, and he accordingly engaged the theatre in the Haymarket, or, as it was then generally termed, the Little Theatre. The following advertisement, in consequence, appeared in the General Advertiser of 22nd April 1747:
At the Theatre, in the Haymarket, this day, will be performed, a Concert of Music, with which will be given gratis, a new entertainment, called the Diversions of the Morning, to which will he added a farce, taken from the Old Bachelor, called the Credulous Husband. Fondlewife by Mr. Foote, with an Epilogue, to be spoken by the B---d---d Coffee house. To begin at 7.
This entertainment went off with great success, but was stopped in consequence of the opposition of Lacy, the patentee of Drury Lane Theatre, who procured an interdict against its repetition on the following day, on the ground of Foote having obtained no licence for the Haymarket theatre. The latter, nowise daunted, issued the following advertisement on 24th April:
On Saturday noon, exactly at 12 o'clock, at the New Theatre, in the Haymarket, Mr. Foote begs the favour of his friends to come and drink a dish of chocolate with him; and 'tis hoped there will be a great deal of comedy and sonic joyous spirits; he will endeavour to make the Morning as diverting as possible. Tickets for the entertainment to lee had at George's Coffee House, Temple Bar, without which no person will be admitted. N.B. Sir Dilbury Diddle will be there, and ,Lady Betty Frisk has absolutely promised.
This announcement attracted a considerable audience, many of whom, however, were rather bemuddled in regard to the promise of chocolate, and seem to have expected that they would be served with that refreshment. Whilst waiting in this dubiety, Mr. Foote came forward and stated that he had some young performers whom he had been drilling for some time back, and that perhaps the company would have no objections to see them go through their lessons till the chocolate could be got ready. The performance then commenced in earnest, was received with immense applause, and regularly continued with the greatest success, the manager's opponents finding it useless to attempt any further objection. He then altered the time of exhibition to the evening, with the following notice:
At the request of several persons who are desirous of spending an hour with Mr. Foote, but find the time inconvenient, instead of chocolate in the morning, Mr. Foote's friends are desired to chink a dish of tea with him at half an hour past 6 in the evening.
The tea proved as popular an entertainment as the chocolate, and money flowed liberally into the coffers of the most. But the death, in 1748, of a relative, who bequeathed him a large sum of money, induced Foote to resume the gay life of a gentleman at large, which he indulged for several years, residing principally, during that period, on the continent. In 1752, he again made his appearance in London, and from time to time was engaged as a comedian at the leading theatres, besides contributing to them various dramatic pieces. He resumed the management of the little theatre in the Haymarket in 1760, and retained it, first as lessee and afterwards as proprietor, till a few months previous to his death. A royal patent was granted to him in 1766, through the interest of the Duke of York, for the representation of dramatic pieces during the summer months, from 14th May to 14th September. For this boon he was indirectly indebted to an unlucky horse accident which had befallen him in the duke's company, and cost him the loss of one of his limbs, necessitating him to use a cork leg for the remainder of his life.
In the eyes of some persons this might appear a judgment for the manner in which he had introduced and ridiculed on the haymarket stage, under the character of Peter Paragraph, Mr. George Faulkner, printer of the Dublin Journal, a worthy man, whose chief peculiarity consisted in having lost a leg. But Foote was perfectly reckless how the laugh was raised, and made no exception in favour of either friends or foes.
Subsequent to this misfortune, the pecuniary circumstances of Foote were greatly improved, and for many years he continued to delight the public with his drolleries, and gather thereby a golden harvest. An unfortunate fracas, however, in which he got involved with the notorious Duchess of Kingston, whom he had introduced into a farce, A Trip to Calais, under the title of Lady Kitty Crocodile, caused him so much annoyance and disquietude, as ultimately to shorten his days. His procedure in this matter is not much to his credit. Though a good deal of obscurity exists in regard to it, it was positively sworn to by the duchess's chaplain in a regular affidavit that Mr. Foote has offered to withdraw the obnoxious piece on receiving the sum of £2000. The lady had interest enough with the lord-chamberlain to get its representation prohibited, though it was after-wards brought out in an altered form as the Capuchin. The vindictive feeling, however, of the duchess, led her, through her emissaries, to get a charge of the most odious nature preferred against Foote, which does not appear to have had the slightest foundation in truth.
He was honourably acquitted, but the shame and distress which he felt at the imputation of such a crime, completely prostrated him. He sank into a most depressed state of health, both of body and mind; and feeling himself unable longer to attend to his professional duties, he disposed of his theatre to Colman, in the spring of 1777. In the autumn of the same year he resolved to try the restorative effects of a visit to France, and on 20th October arrived at the Ship Inn, Dover, on his way to Calais. Here he is said to have given vent to his last flash of merriment. Going into the kitchen to order a particular dish for dinner, he encountered the cook, who, hearing that he was going to France, toasted that for her part she had never been out of her own country. 'Why, Cooky,' said Foote, 'that is very strange, for they tell me upstairs that you have been several times all over Greece.' 'They may say what they like,' she replied, 'but I never was tell miles from Dover in my life.' 'Nay,' rejoined Foote, 'that must be a fib, for I myself have seen you at Spithead.' The other servants now perceived the joke, and a universal roar pervaded the kitchen, Foote presenting them with a crown to drink his health and a prosperous voyage. On this, he was destined never to embark, being seized the next morning with a succession of shivering fits, of which he expired in the course of a few hours, at the age of fifty seven. His body was removed to his house in Suffolk Street, London, and interred in Westminster Abbey.
Respecting Foote's personal character, there is not much to be said. He was one of those beings who seem to be born to be drolls and whose irresistibly comic powers render it almost impossible to contemplate them in a moral or serious light. The following is Dr. Johnson's declaration regarding him, as related to Boswell: 'The first time I was in company with Foote was at Fitzherbert's. Having no good opinion of the fellow, I was resolved not to be pleased; and it is very difficult to please a man against his will. I went on eating my dinner pretty sullenly, affecting not to mind him; but the dog was so very comical, that I was obliged to lay down my knife and fork, throw myself back in my chair, and fairly laugh it out. Sir, he was irresistible.' On another occasion he thus contrasts him with Garrick: 'Garrick, sir, has some delicacy of feeling; it is possible to put him out; you may get the better of him; but Foote is the most incompressible fellow that I ever knew: when you have driven him into a corner, and think you are sure of him, he runs through between your legs or jumps over your head, and makes his escape.' It must be recorded to Foote's credit that he was very generous to his poor friends, authors, actors, and others, by whom he was always surrounded, and was really a man of considerable attainments, being both a good classical scholar and well informed on all subjects of general learning.
The literary merit of his dramatic pieces is far from contemptible, and they teems throughout with passages of the raciest humour. Partly owing, however, to their personalities and allusions to events of the day, the interest in which has passed away, and also, it may be, to a certain freedom and levity of language incompatible with modern tastes, his works are now scarcely ever read or represented on the stage. They are all in the comic or satirical vein; and among them may be mentioned the names of The Author, The Liar, The Minor, The Orators, The Nabob, The Devil on Two Sticks, and The Mayor of Garrot, in the last of which, the character of Jerry Sneak has become proverbial as an embodiment of a henpecked husband.
We shall be readily excused for introducing here a few of the sayings recorded of Foote.
Foote's mother bore a strong resemblance to her son, both in person and disposition. From her he inherited his mirthful, as well as this extravagant propensities. Though she was heiress to a large fortune, her carelessness in pecuniary matters involved her in such embarrassments, that she at last became dependent on the bounty of Samuel, who allowed her a hundred a year. On one occasion she wrote him as follows:
I am in prison for debt; come and assist your loving mother, E. FOOTE.'
To this brief note he replied.
So am I; which prevents his duty being paid to his loving mother by her affectionate son, SAM. FOOTE.
P.S. I have sent my attorney to assist you; in the meantime let us hope for better days.
One little circumstance remains to be stated in connection with Foote's domestic relations. He is generally said to have been married in early life to a Worcester lady, but the union turned out ill assorted, and his wife was never brought forward among his London friends. They had no children, and so little can now be learned of her history, that it has come to be doubted whether he ever entered the married state at all. He used to say, laughingly, in excuse for bachelorhood, that a lady's age was like a hand at picquet, twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven, twenty eight, twenty nine sixty, and that he had no idea of finding himself so unequally matched.
LORD NELSON'S RELICS
One of the most observable characteristics of English society at the present day, and perhaps of society in general, is the desire of obtaining some memorials of those who have achieved greatness, or have obtained notoriety whether good or bad. From the autograph of Shakspeare or Napoleon, down to the rope with which a notorious criminal was hanged, all such relics have their admirers, according to the varieties of taste in those who collect them. Lord Nelson's relics have been especially sought, and have been made the subject, not only of pamphlets and lengthened correspondence, but of actions at law. We may regard as a mental relic that famous saying of Nelson: 'ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN TO DO HIS DUTY!' Sir Harris Nicolas, in his Correspondence and Letters of Nelson, deemed it worth while to ascertain as precisely as he could the circumstances under which those words were uttered.
There are three accounts of the matter one by Mr. James, in his Naval History; one by Captain Blackwood, who commanded the Euryalus at the battle of Trafalgar; and one by Captain Pasco, who had been Nelson's flag-lieutenant in the Victory. Sir Harris Nicolas accepts Pasco's version, because that officer had himself to signal the words by means of flags. His account runs thus: 'His lordship came to me on the poop, and after ordering certain signals to be made, about a quarter to noon he said: ' Mr. Pasco, I wish to say to the fleet, 'England confides that every man will do his duty;' and he added, 'you must be quick, for I have one more to make, which is for close action.' I replied: 'If your lordship will permit me to substitute 'expects,' for confides! the signal will soon be completed, because the word 'expects' is in the vocabulary, whereas the word 'confides' must be spelled?' His lordship replied in haste, and with scenting satisfaction: 'That will do, Pasco; make it directly! 'When it had been answered by a few ships in the van, he ordered me to make the signal for close action.' Captain Blackwood says that the correction suggested by the signal officer was from. 'Nelson expects' to 'England expects;' but Captain Pasco's is accepted as being more probable.
Anything which belonged to Nelson at the critical moments of the battles of the Nile and Trafalgar is highly prized. The coat which he wore on the first of these two occasions has been preserved ever since at Greenwich Hospital. The coat which he wore at the battle of Trafalgar has been the theme of some exciting controversies. It was said by many writers, early in this century, that he put on a full dress uniform coat, the stars and orders of which were so brilliant as to attract the notice of the enemy's musketeers; and that to this he probably owed his death wound. A writer in Notes and Queries, in 1851, described a copy of Harrison's Life of Nelson, which had belonged to Dr. Scott who was the chaplain and friend in whose arms Nelson died on board the Victory. Scott had written numerous manuscript notes on the margin of the copy; one of these, relating to the story of the dress coat, was to the following effect: 'This is wrong. Nelson wore the same coat he did the day before; nor was there the smallest alteration in his dress whatsoever from other days.' He did wear his brilliant stars, however (four arranged diamond wise, on his breast); but they were embroidered on his undress coat, and not fixed on temporarily with clasps, as at the present day. This veritable coat fell into the hands of Lady Hamilton, who pledged it with a London alderman for a sum of money. In 1845, after a quarrel between Sir Harris Nicolas and a curiosity dealer concerning the mode in which the coat was obtained from the widow of the alderman, the late Prince Consort bought the Trafalgar coat and waistcoat for £150, and presented them, to Greenwich Hospital, where they are now reverently preserved.
A bit of bullion fringe from Nelson's epaulet is treasured up as a relic. Mr. Westphal, who was midshipman on hoard the Victory at the battle of Trafalgar, wrote to the United Service Magaeine, thirty seven years afterwards (in 1842), under his higher designation of Sir George Westphal, and gave the following account of one incident on that memorable 21st of October:
When I was carried down wounded, I was placed by the side of his lordship; and his coat was rolled up and put as the substitute for a pillow under my head, which was then bleeding very much from the wound I had received. When the battle was over, and an attempt was made to remove the coat, several of the bunions of the epaulet were found to be so firmly glued. into my hair, by the coagulated blood from my wound, that the bullions four or five of them, were cut off and left in my hair; one of which I have still in my possession.
The coat to which this epaulet belonged was apparently the coat now displayed to visitors at Greenwich Hospital.
The musket ball that killed the hero is in like manner treasured up as a memento. The late Sir William Beattie was, as Mr. Beattie, surgeon on board the Victory. In his Authentic Narrative of the Death, of Lord Nelson, he said:
The ball struck the forepart of his lordship's epaulet, and entered the left shoulder... On removing the ball, a portion of the gold lace, and part of the epaulet, together with a small piece of his lordship's coat, were found firmly attached to it.
Indeed this adhesion was almost as close as if the fragments had been inserted into the metal of the bullet while in a molten state. Captain Hardy caused the bullet to be mounted in crystal and silver as a locket, and presented it to Mr. Beattie. In 1840, this bullet locket was in the possession of the Rev. F. W. Baker, of Bathwick. In 1851, it was stated to be in the possession of the Prince Consort.
It is known that when Nelson died, a miniature of Lady Hamilton was found suspended at his breast, with a lock of her hair at the back, and her initials formed in small pearls. This miniature was sold, many years afterwards, among the effects of Sir Alexander Davidson, who had been private secretary to Nelson at the time of his death. There was also a kind of miniature cenotaph made of the guineas which Nelson had in his pocket when he fell. The 'whereabouts' of these two relics was earnestly inquired for a few years ago in Notes and Queries. One among a small number of finger-rings has been described, containing, instead of a stone, a small bas-relief of Nelson, executed in some dark metal, said to be the bullet that killed him; but this is just the sort of story that 'needs confirmation 'especially if the account of the bullet locket is (as appears to be the case) reliable. The Nelson car, in which the body of the hero had been conveyed to its last resting place in St. Paul's Cathedral, was long retained as a relic. It was at first kept in the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital, and afterwards at the foot of the dome over the chapel; but it became dilapidated, and then it was picked away piecemeal to form relics.
The Nelson relic which became the subject of a lawsuit was the so called Trafalgar Sword; that which the hero wore at his last great battle. In 1846, Lord Saye and Sole gave a hundred guineas for this sword, and presented it to Greenwich Hospital. Sir Harris Nicolas inspected it, and at once wrote to the Times, announcing that the transaction was a fraud, and that the dealer (the same person with whom he had had a dispute in the preceding year) had knowingly deceived the nobleman who had purchased it. It was an undisputed fact that the dealer had bought for £1 that which he sold for a hundred guineas; but he continued to assert that the sword was genuine. Sir Harris asserted, on the contrary, that it was not such a sword as an English admiral was in the habit of wearing in the year 1805; that the scabbard did not belong to the sword; and that Nelson did not wear any sword at all on the day of Trafalgar. Dr. Scott, in the manuscript notes above adverted to, said: 'In this action he had not his sword with him on deck, which in his other actions he had always carried; the sword was left hanging in the admiral's cabin.' Other testimony corroborates this. The curiosity dealer then asserted that this was the sword which Nelson would have carried at Trafalgar, if he had carried. any. A trial for libel arose out of Sir Harris Nicolas's letter to the Times; but the curiosity dealer was twice defeated in it. There was some sort of proof, though indistinct, that the sword had belonged to Nelson; but it was not what it professed to be the Trafalgar Sword.
S. T. COLERIDGE
Coleridge and Southey were brothers- in-law, and it would be scarcely possible to bring together two men of letters whose habits were more dissimilar. Southey wrought at literature with all the regularity of a banker's clerk; his day was duly apportioned among separate tasks, and these it was his delight to fulfill with energy and punctuality. Coleridge, on the other hand, did nothing save under strong external compulsion or extra ordinary internal impulse. Day after day he dawdled away his time in dreaming and in desultory reading, and his genius was spent in grand designs and small performances.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 at Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, of which parish his father was vicar. Samuel was the youngest of a numerous family, and at the age of nine he was left an orphan. To Christ's Hospital, London, he was sent for his education, and there he had Charles Lamb for a school fellow. The man was manifest in the boy: dreamy, solitary, disinclined to the usual amusements of children he was an omnivorous devourer of books. He read straight through a circulating library, folios and all. 'At a very premature age,' he writes, 'even before my fifteenth year, I had bewildered myself in metaphysics and theological controversy. Nothing else pleased me. History and particular facts lost all interest in my mind. Poetry itself, yea novels and romances, became insipid to me.' The perusal of Bowles's Sonnets, however, so charmed him, that his lost tastes were thereby restored. Destitute of ambition, he desired to be apprenticed to a shoe maker; but by the advice and efforts of some friends, who appreciated his talents, he went to Cambridge.
In a fit of despondency, produced, some say, by slighted love, and others by pecuniary difficulties, he left the university, and after wandering about the streets of London until his last penny was gone, he enlisted as a dragoon under the name of Silas Thompson Comberbatch. An officer discovering his classical attainments, elicited his secret, and his friends being communicated with, they purchased his discharge. Shortly after, in the summer of 1794, he met Southey at Oxford, at that time a fervid republican and Unitarian, and an ardent friendship ensued. Together, they planned a communistic colony, to be called a Pantisocracy, and to be settled on the banks of the Susquehanna. Happily, neither of them had any money, and in the delay requisite for earning some, their vision of social bliss was dissipated, and they were preserved from a bootless adventure. On one day in October 1795, Coleridge and Southey married in Bristol sisters of the name of Flicker, penniless as themselves. Cottle, a Bristol book seller, had promised Coleridge a guinea and a half for every hundred lines of poetry he should write, and on the strength of this promise he entered on matrimony. He retired with his bride to a small cottage at Clevedon, rented at £5 a year, and was soon lost in a variety of schemes. He projected the Watchman, a weekly newspaper, and travelled through the manufacturing districts canvassing for subscribers, and preaching wherever he stayed on Sundays in Unitarian chapels.
The Watchman was commenced, but it only reached a tenth number. Rising early one morning, he found the servant lighting the fire with an extraordinary quantity of paper. Remonstrating with her on her wastefulness, 'La, sir,' replied Nanny, why, it's only Watchmen!' From Clevedon he removed to Nether Stowey, at the foot of the Quantock Hills, where he had Wordsworth for a companion, and in that rural retreat he composed most of those pieces which have won for his name an assured place in the register of poets. In 1798, Josiah and Thomas Wedgewood, the potters, provided him with funds to go to Germany to prosecute his studies. After a sojourn there of fourteen months, he returned to England with a renewed passion for metaphysics and theology, and went to live with Southey, who had settled at Keswick. His political and religious opinions about this time underwent a great change; from a Revolutionist he passed into a Conservative, and from a Unitarian into an English Churchman: his politics and theology, however, were both held in a peculiar and philosophic sense, which were very far from being satisfactory to the orthodox. He now sought his livelihood by writing for the newspapers, and by lecturing. He contributed articles to the Morning Post and Courier. He went to Malta, and served for some months as secretary to the governor of the island. He delivered a course of lectures on poetry and the fine arts at the Royal Institution.
He started the Friend, a periodical which ran to twenty seven numbers, and then ceased. The management of a periodical, demanding method and punctuality, was the last thing for a man like Coleridge to succeed with, and to his constitutional indolence he had added the vice of opium eating. The misery and degradation into which this practice led him were unspeakable. His earnings were spent in the purchase of the pernicious drug. His wife and family dwelt with Southey, and subsisted on his bounty. All dependence on his word was lost, and he became little better than a vagabond upon earth. Of his horrible condition he had the keenest sense, but he had no strength to break his bonds. To Cottle, the Bristol bookseller, he wrote in 1814: 'Conceive a poor miserable wretch, who for many years has been attempting to beat off pain by a constant return to the vice that reproduces it. Conceive a spirit in hell, employed in tracing out for others a road to that heaven from which his crimes exclude him! In short, conceive whatever is most wretched, helpless, hopeless, and you will form as tolerable a notion of my state, as it is possible for a good man to have!' Finally, in 1816, he was induced to place himself under the care of Mr. Gilman, a surgeon at Highgate; and on the top of that umbrageous hill, which from the north overlooks London, he found a peaceful and congenial home until his death on the 25th of July 1834.
Mr. and Mrs. Gilman fully appreciated their patient, and to their house resorted pilgrims from far and near, to listen to the wisdom, metaphysical, theological, and literary, for which his repute was high. If writing was irksome, talking was the pastime and delight of Coleridge's life. Give him but a listener appreciative or non appreciative it did not matter, so that he was passive and he would discourse to him by the hour together. 'Did you ever hear me preach?' He once asked Charles Lamb. 'I never heard you do anything else!' was Lamb's frank reply. More than once did Coleridge assert, that with pen in hand he felt a thousand checks and difficulties in the expression of his meaning, but that he never found the smallest hitch or impediment in the fullest utterance of his abstrusest thoughts and most subtle fancies by word of mouth. The effect of his Highgate monologues is variously described by different auditors; by some, they are spoken of as inexpressibly tedious and unintelligible, and by others, as eloquent, profound, and instructive in the highest degree.
Carlyle, in his graphic style, relates:
I have heard Coleridge talk, with eager musical energy, two stricken hours, his face radiant and moist, and communicate no meaning whatsoever to any individual of his hearers. He began anywhere, and nothing could be more copious than his talk. He suffered no interruption, however reverent; hastily putting aside all foreign additions, annotations, or most ingenuous desires for elucidation, as well meant superfluities which would never do. He had knowledge about many things and topics, much curious reading; but, generally, all topics led him, after a pass or two, into the high seas of theosophic philosophy, the hazy infinitude of Kantean transcendentalism. Besides, it was talk not flowing anywhither like a river, but spreading everywhither in inextricable currents and regurgitations like a lake or sea; terribly deficient in definite goal or aim, nay, often in logical intelligibility; what you were to believe or do, on any earthly or heavenly thing, obstinately refusing to appear from it. So that, most times, you felt logically lost; swamped near to drowning in this tide of ingenious vocables, spreading out boundless as if to submerge the world.
Coleridge's irresolution shewed itself in his gait: in walking, he rather shuffled than decisively stepped; and a lady once remarked, he never could fix which side of the garden walk would suit him best, but continually shifted, in cork screw fashion, and kept trying both. His indolence may, in great part, be accounted for by his lymphatic temperament a temperament which, according to the degree of its predominance, indisposes its subject to active exertion. De Quincey, describing Coleridge in 1807, draws an accurate picture of a lymphatic man: 'In height, he might seem to be about five feet eight inches; he was in reality about an inch and a half taller, but his figure was of the order which drowns height. His person was broad and full, and tended even to corpulence; his complexion was fair, though not what painters technically style fair, because it was associated with black hair; his eyes were large and soft in their expression, with a peculiar appearance of haze or dreaminess.' Carlyle, speaking of him when about sixty, confirms the observation:
Brow and head were round, and of massive weight, but the face was flabby and irresolute. The deep eyes, of a light hazel, were as full of sorrow as of inspiration; confused pain looked mildly from them, as in a kind of mild astonishment. The whole figure and air, good and amiable otherwise, might be called flabby and irresolute; expressive of weakness under possibility of strength. He hung loosely on his limbs, with knees bent, and stooping attitude.
Though Coleridge's prose works are irregular and fragmentary, they have not been without considerable influence at home and in the United States; and the party in the Church of England, of which the Rev. F. D. Maurice is the most notable representative, derives its being from his teaching. How far Coleridge's philosophy was original, is a matter of dispute among metaphysicians. It would seem to be beyond question, that to Schelling he was indebted so far as in some cases to be little more than his translator. Sir William Hamilton a competent authority, certainly writing of Coleridge's obligations to the Germans, styles him a literary reaver of the Hercynian brakes.'