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sence of an individual mind, had ever known how great a thing the possession of any one simple truth is, and how mean a thing a mere fact is, except as seen in the light of some comprehensive truth—if they had but once experienced the unborrowed complacency, the inward independence, the homebred strength, with which every clear conception of the reason is accompanied,—they would shrink from their own pages as at the remembrance of a crime. For a crime it is (and the man who hesitates in pronouncing it such, must be ignorant of what mankind owe to books, what he himself owes to them in spite of his ignorance) thus to introduce the spirit of vulgar scandal, and personal inquietude into the closet and the library, environing with evil passions the very sanctuaries to which we should flee for refuge from them. For to what do these publications appeal, whether they present themselves as biography or as anonymous criticism, but to the same feelings which the scandal bearers, and time-killers of ordinary life seem to gratify in themselves and their listeners; and both the authors and admirers of such publications, in what respect are they less truants and deserters from their own hearts, and from their appointed task of understanding and amending them, than the most garrulous female chronicler of the goings-on of yesterday in the families of her neighbours and townsfolk?
"As to my own attempt to record the life • and character of the late Sir Alexander Ball, I ' consider myself deterred from all circumstances • not pertaining to his conduct or character as a • public functionary, that involve the names of • the living for good or for evil. Whatever facts • and incidents I relate of a private nature must, • for the most part, concern Sir Alexander Ball ' exclusively, and as an insulated individual. • But I needed not this restraint. It will be • enough for me, as I write, to recollect the form • and character of Sir Alexander Ball himself, to * represent to my own feelings the inward con• tempt with which he would have abstracted his 'mind from worthless anecdotes and petty per*sonalities ; a contempt rising into indignation • if ever an illustrious name were used as a thread 'to string them upon. If this recollection be my • Socratic Demon, to warn and to check me, I
shall, on the other hand, derive encouragement * from the remembrance of the tender patience, • the sweet gentleness, with which he was wont • to tolerate the tediousness of well meaning
men ; and the inexhaustible attention, the un• feigned interest, with which he would listen for • hours, when the conversation appealed to rea*son, and like the bee, made honey, while it murmured.'
“ I have transcribed this passage from the original edition of the Friend, No. 21, and not
from the reprint, where it stands in vol. ii. pp. 303–307; because in the latter, the last paragraph, in itself a beautiful one, and to our present purpose particularly appropriate, is left out. For if Coleridge could imagine the inward con*tempt with which Sir Alexander Ball would . have abstracted his mind from worthless anec• dotes and petty personalities,-a contempt ‘rising into indignation, if ever an illustrious ' name was used as a thread to string them on,' well may those who knew Coleridge conceive the grief, the grief and pity, he would have felt, at seeing eminent powers and knowledge employed in ministering to the wretched love of gossip-retailing paltry anecdotes in dispraise of others, intermingled with outflowings of selfpraise--and creeping into the secret chambers of great men's houses to filch out materials for tattle-at seeing great powers wasting and debasing themselves in such an ignoble taskabove all, at seeing that the person who thus wasted and debased them was a scholar, and a philosopher whose talents he admired, with whom he had lived familiarly, and whom he had honoured with his friendship."*
* In the Quarterly Review for July, 1837, will be found an able article on the “ Literary Remains of S. T. Coleridge,” and on “ Mr. Cottle's Early Recollections,” in which are extracted these very paragraphs from the “ Friend,” but which had been sent to the press before this number appeared.
There is one part of Coleridge's character not to be passed by, although so overlaid by his genius as rarely to be noticed, namely, his love of humour and of wit, of which he possessed so large a share. As punsters, his dear friend Lamb and himself were inimitable. Lamb's puns had oftener more effect, from the impediment in his speech : their force seemed to be increased by the pause of stuttering, and to shoot forth like an arrow from a strong bow-but being never poisoned nor envenomed, they left no pain behind. Coleridge was more humorous than witty in making punsand in repartee, he was, according to modern phraseology, “smart and clever.” Staying a few days with two friends at a farm-house, they agreed to visit a race-course in the neighbourhood. The farmer brought from his stud a horse low in stature, and still lower in flesh-a bridle corresponding in respectability of appearance, with a saddle equally suitable--stirrups once bright, but now deeply discoloured by rust. All this was the contrivance of the farmer, and prudently intended for his safety. He had heard previously of Coleridge's want of skill in riding, and had therefore provided him with a beast not likely to throw him. On this Rosinante the poet mounted, in his accustomed dress, namely, a black coat, black breeches, with black silk stockings and shoes. His friends being trusted with more active steeds, soon outstripped him. Jogging on
leisurely he was met by a long-nosed knowinglooking man, attired in a sporting dress, and an excellent equestrian. Seeing this whimsical horseman in shoes, he writhed, as Coleridge observed, his lithe proboscis, and thus accosted him :“Pray, sir, did you meet a tailor along the road?” “ A tailor?” answered Coleridge; “yes!”—“Do you see, sir ! he rode just such a horse as you ride! and for all the world was just like you!” “Oh! oh!” answered Coleridge, “I did meet a person answering such a description, who told me he had dropped his goose, that if I rode a little farther I should find it; and I guess by the arch-fellow's looks, he must have meant you.”—“ Caught a tartar!” replied the man, and suddenly spurring his horse, left him to pursue his road. At length Coleridge reached the racecourse, when threading his way through the crowd, he arrived at the spot of attraction to which all were hastening. Here he confronted a barouche and four, filled with smart ladies and attendant gentlemen. In it was also seated a baronet of sporting celebrity, steward of the course, and member of the House of Commons, well known as having been bought and sold in several parliaments. The baronet eyed the figure of Coleridge as he slowly passed the door of the barouche, and thus accosted him: “A pretty piece of blood, sir, you have there ?” “Yes !” answered Coleridge.—“Rare paces, I have no