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CHAPTER III.

LEAVES THE LAKES ON ACCOUNT OF HIS HEALTH FOR MALTA.—HIS EMPLOY

MENT IN MALTA IN 1805.-GOES TO SYRACUSE AND ROME.--WINTERS AT NAPLES 15TH OF DECEMBER, 1806.

ERIDG

PV

MR. COLERIDGE once met Mrs. Barbauld at an evening party. He had not long been present, and the recognition of mere acquaintanceship over, than, walking across the room, she addressed him in these words :—“So, Mr. Coleridge, I understand you do not consider Unitarians Christians.”. “I hope, Madam,” said he, “that all “ persons born in a Christian country are Chris“ tians, and trust they are under the condition of “ being saved; but I do contend that Unitarianism “ is not Christianity ;to which she replied, “I do not understand the distinction.”

This want of knowledge of the difference, is common to many very clever and very amiable persons of this creed. It is hoped that we are not always to be tried by our speculative opinions, for man is frequently constituted higher and better than the principles he sometimes adopts.

Coleridge frequently observed, “I do not so “ much care for men’s religious opinions,—they “ vary, and are dependant on that which usually “ surrounds them-but I regard with more atten- u. “ tion what men are.He extended his kindness to all he believed to be good, whatever their creed, and when in his power, his aid. When injured, he immediately forgave, as he hoped to be forgiven, * and when reviled and persecuted, he never became persecutor. Of him it may be said, what he himself observed of the pious Baxter, that “ he came a century before his “ time.” The Western world however seems to have better appreciated the works of Coleridge, than most of his countrymen: in some parts of America, his writings are understood and highly valued.

In 1801, he settled at Keswick, in a house, which if not built, was at least finished for him, by a then neighbour (a Mr. Jackson,) and for a time he occupied a part of it. But here his health greatly failed, and he suffered severe rheumatism from the humidity of a lake country, which was the main cause of his leaving Keswick for Malta.

It has been already observed, that when a youth at school, he had, from imprudent bathing,

* Alas! for myself at least I know and feel, that wherever there is a wrong not to be forgiven, there is a grief that admits neither of cure nor comforting.–Private Record, 1806.

become a rheumatic subject, and during the rest of his life, remained liable to most painful affec-' tions of that disorder. ; .

* In 1803, the fear of sudden death induced him to insure his life, that his family might not be left dependant on his friends. In 1804, his rheumatic sufferings increasing, he determined on a change of climate, and accepted an invitation from his friend, Sir John, then Mr. Stoddart, residing at Malta, where he arrived in May. He soon became acquainted with the governor of the island, Sir Alexander Ball, who was greatly attached to Coleridge, and whose character has been so well described by him in The Friend. During a change of secretaries,* Coleridge, at the requesť of Sir Alexander, officiated, pro tempore, as public secretary of that island ; and there was found in him

what at that time was so much required-an able diplomatic writer in this department of correspondence. The dignities of the office he never attempted to support: he was greatly annoyed at what he thought its unnecessary parade, and he petitioned Sir Alexander to be released from the annoyance. There can be no doubt that, to an individual accustomed to public business, his occupation might appear light, and even agreeable; but his health, which was the object of this change, not being much benefited, and the duties of the employment greater than he was equal to, made it for him an arduous one. * He seemed at this time, in addition to his rheumatism, to have been oppressed in his breathing, which oppression crept on him imperceptibly to himself without suspicion of its cause : yet so obvious was it, that it was noticed by others “as laborious ;”+ and continuing to increase, though with little apparent advancement, at length terminated in death.

* It appears that Mr. Alexander Macauley, the secretary, an honest and amiable man, died suddenly, without “moan or motion,” and Coleridge filled his situation till the arrival of a new secretary, appointed and confirmed by the ministers in England.

“Friday afternoon, four o'clock, April 18, 1804. “ The Speedwell dropped anchor in the harbour “ of Malta : one of the finest in the world, the “ buildings surrounding it on all sides, of a neat “ever-new-looking sand-free-stone. Some unfi“nished, and in all, the windows placed back“ ward, looked like Carthage when Æneas visited “it-or a burnt out place.

“Saturday, April 19.-In the after-dinner hour “ walked out with Mr. and Mrs. Stoddart, towards “the Quarantine harbour. One's first feeling is,

* 1805.—“ For months past so incessantly employed in official “ tasks, subscribing, examining, administering oaths, auditing,” &c.

+ April 22, 1804.—“ I was reading when I was taken ill, and “ felt an oppression of my breathing, and convulsive snatching in • my stomach and limbs. Mrs. Ireland noticed this laborious 6 breathing.”

“that it is all strange, very strange; and when “you begin to understand a little of the meaning “ and uses of the massy endless walls and defiles, " then you feel and perceive that it is very won“ derful. A city all of freestone, all the houses “ looking new like Bath; all with flat roofs, the “streets all strait, and at right angles to each “other; but many of them exceedingly steep, “none quite level ; of the steep streets, some, all stepped with a smooth artificial stone, some “ having the footpath on each side in stone steps, “ the middle left for carriages ; lines of fortifica“tion, fosses, bastions, curtains, &c. &c. endless:“ with gardens or bowling-grounds below; for it “is all height and depth-you can walk nowhere “ without having whispers of suicide, toys of des“peration. Expletive cries of Maltese venders “shot up, sudden and violent. The inhabitants “ very dark, almost black ; but straight, clean“limbed, lively, active,-cannot speak in praise “ of their cleanliness—children very fair-women “ from the use of the faldetto, or cloak-hooding “ their heads, as women in England in a shower “ throw over their aprons, and from the use “ of always holding it down to one side of the “ face, all have a continued languishing manner “ of holding their heads one way-picturesque “enough as expressive of a transient emotion, but “shocking and inelegant in all and always. The “ language Arabic, corrupted with Italian, and “ perhaps with others.

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