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to be no dish like Coleridge's conversation to feed upon-and no information so varied and so instructive as his own. The orator rolled himself up, as it were, in his chair, and gave the most unrestrained indulgence to his speech, and how fraught with acuteness and originality was that speech, and in what copious and eloquent periods did it flow! The auditors seemed to be rapt in wonder and delight, as one conversation, more profound or clothed in more forcible language than another, fell from his tongue. A great part of the subject discussed at the first time of my meeting Mr. Coleridge, was the connexion between Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. The speaker had been secretary to Sir Alexander Ball, governor of Malta--and a copious field was here afforded for the exercise of his colloquial eloquence. For nearly two hours he spoke with unhesitating and uninterrupted fluency. As I retired homewards (to Kensington), I thought a second Johnson had visited the earth, to make wise the sons of men ; and regretted that I could not exercise the powers of a second Boswell, to record the wisdom and the eloquence which had that evening flowed from the orator's lips. It haunted me as I retired to rest. It drove away slumber: or if I lapsed into sleep, there was Coleridge-his snuffbox, and his 'kerchief before my eyes !-his mildly beaming looks-his occasionally deep tone of voice—and the excited
features of his physiognomy.—The manner of Coleridge was rather emphatic than dogmatic, and thus he was generally and satisfactorily listened to. It might be said of Coleridge, as Cowper has so happily said of Sir Philip Sidney, that he was 'the warbler of poetic prose.'
“ There was always this characteristic feature in his multifarious conversation-it was delicate, reverend, and courteous. The chastest ear could drink in no startling sound ; the most serious believer never had his bosom ruffled by one sceptical or reckless assertion. Coleridge was eminently simple in his manner. Thinking and speaking were his delight; and he would sometimes seem, during the more fervid movements of discourse, to be abstracted from all and every thing around and about him, and to be basking in the sunny warmth of his own radiant imagination.”
The manuscript of The Remorse was sent to Mr. Sheridan, who did not even acknowledge the receipt of the letter which accompanied the drama; he however observed to a friend, that he had received a play from Coleridge, but that there was one extraordinary line in the Cave Scene, drip, drip—which he could not understand : “in short,” said he, “it is all dripping.” This was the only notice he took of the play; but the comment was at length repeated to the author, through the medium of a third party. The theatre falling afterwards into the hands of Lord Byron and Mr. Whitbread, his Lordship sent for Coleridge, was very kind to his brother poet, and requested that the play might be represented : this desire was complied with, and it received his support. Although Mr. Whitbread * did not give it the advantage of a single new scene, yet the popularity of the play was such, that the principal actor, who had performed in it with great success, made choice of it for his benefit-night, and it brought an overflowing house.t
In consequence of the interest Lord Byron took in the success of this tragedy, Coleridge was frequently in his company, and on one occasion, in my presence, his Lordship said, “ Coleridge, there is one passage in your poems, I have parodied fifty times, and I hope to live long enough to parody it five hundred.” That passage I do not remember; but it may strike some reader.
In a letter of Coleridge's to a friend, written April 10th, 1816, he thus speaks of Byron :-“If “ you had seen Lord Byron, you could scarcely “ disbelieve him-so beautiful a countenance I “ scarcely ever saw-his teeth so many stationary “ smiles-his eyes the open portals of the sun“ things of light, and for light-and his forehead “ so ample, and yet so flexible, passing from “ marble smoothness into a hundred wreathes “ and lines and dimples correspondent to the “ feelings and sentiments he is uttering."
* About this time, when party spirit was running high, Coleridge was known to be the author of the following Jeu d’Esprit, “ Dregs half way up and froth half way down, form Whitbread's Entire.”
+ It was Mr. Rae who took it for his benefit, some time after Mr. Coleridge's residence at Highgate.
Coleridge, in the preface to The Remorse, states that the "tragedy was written in the summer " and autumn of the year 1797, at Nether Stowey, “ in the county of Somerset. By whose recom“ mendation, and of the manner in which both “ the play and the author were treated by the re“ commender, let me be permitted to relate : that “ I knew of its having been received only from “ a third person ; that I could procure neither “ answer nor the manuscript; and that but for - an accident, I should have had no copy of the "s work itself. That such treatment would damp “ a young man’s exertions may be easily con“ ceived: there was no need of after-misrepre6 sentation and calumny, as an additional se“ dative.”
Coleridge contributed many pieces to Southey's Omniana, (all marked with an asterisk,) and was engaged in other literary pursuits; he had notwithstanding much bodily suffering. The cause of this was the organic change slowly and gradually taking place in the structure of the heart itself. But it was so masked by other sufferings, though at times creating despondency, and was so generally overpowered by the excitement of animated conversation, as to leave its real cause undiscovered.* Notwithstanding this sad state, he rolled forth volumes from a mind ever active—at times intensely so, -still he required the support of those sympathies which “ free the hollow heart from paining.”
Soon after the performance of The Remorse, he retired with his kind friend, Mr. Morgan, to the village of Calne, partly to be near the Rev. W. L. Bowles, whose sonnets so much attracted his attention in early life. While residing here, he opened a communication with Mr. Gutch, a bookseller, at Bristol, and in consequence, he collected the poems published by the title of The Sibylline Leaves, and also composed the greater part of the Biographia Literaria. Here he likewise dictated to his friend, Mr. Morgan, the Zapolya, which was submitted to Mr. Douglas Kinnaird, who was then the critic for Drury Lane.—Mr. Kinnaird rejected the play, assign
*“My heart, or some part about it, seems breaking, as if a “ weight were suspended from it that stretches it, such is the “ bodily feeling, as far as I can express it by words."--Letter addressed to Mr. Morgan.