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á military air, enquired, “What's your name, sir ?” “ Comberbach,” (the name he had assumed.) “What do you come here for, sir?” as if doubting whether he had any business there. “Sir,” said Coleridge, “ for what most other persons come, to be made a soldier.” “Do you think,” said the general, “ you can run a Frenchman through the body?” “I do not know," replied Coleridge, “as I never tried, but I'll let a Frenchman run me through the body before I'll run away.” “That will do,” said the general ; and Coleridge was turned into the ranks.
The same amiable and benevolent conduct which was so interwoven in his nature, soon made him friends, and his new comrades vied with each other in their endeavours to be useful to him; and being, as before described, rather helpless, he required the assistance of his fellow-soldiers. They cleaned his horse, attended particularly to its heels, and to the accoutrements. At this time he frequently complained of a pain at the pit of his stomach, accompanied with sickness, which totally prevented his stooping, and in consequence he could never arrive at the power of bending his body to rub the heels of his horse, which alone was sufficient to make him dependent on his comrades; but it should be observed that he on his part was ever willing to assist them by being their amanuensis when one was required,
and wrote all their letters to their sweethearts and wives.* It appears that he never advanced beyond the awkward squad, and that the drill-sergeant had little hope of his progress from the necessary warnings he gave to the rest of the troop, even to this same squad to which he belonged ; and, though his awkward maneuvres were well understood, the sergeant would vociferously exclaim, “Take care of that Comberbach, † take care of him, for he will ride over you," and other such complimentary warnings. From the notice that one of his officers took of him, he excited,
* There is another incident which I shall here relate that raised him in the esteem of his comrades. One of them was seized with confluent small-pox, and his life was considered in great danger. The fear of the spread of this had produced such alarm in his quarters, that the sufferer was nearly deserted. Here Coleridge's reading served him; and, having a small quantity of medical knowledge in addition to a large share of kindness, he volunteered his services, and nursed the sick man night and day for six weeks. His patient recovered, to the joy of Coleridge and of his comrades. The man was taken ill during a march, and in consequence of the fears of the persons of the place, he and Coleridge (who had volunteered to remain with him) were put into an out-building, and no communication held with them.-Coleridge remaining the whole time in the same room with the man (who, during part of his illness, was violently delirious) nursing and reading to him, &c.
+ In a published letter to a friend is the following observation : “I sometimes compare my own life with that of Steele (yet oh! how unlike), led to this from having myself also for a brief time borne arms, and written private after my name, or rather another name; for being at a loss when suddenly asked my name, I answered Comberbach, and verily my habits were so little equestrian, that my horse, I doubt not, was of that opinion.”
for a short time, the jealousy of some of his companions. · When in the street, he walked behind this officer as an orderly, but when out of town they walked abreast, and his comrades not understanding how a soldier in the awkward squad merited this distinction, thought it a neglect of themselves, which, for the time, produced some additional discomfort to Coleridge. I believe this officer to have been Capt. Ogle,* who I think visited him in after life at Highgate. It seems that his attention had been drawn to Coleridge in consequence of discovering the following sentence in the stables, written in pencil, “Eheu! quam infortunii miserrimum est fuisse felicem !” but his more immediate discovery arose from a young man who had left Cambridge for the army, and in his road through Reading to join his regiment, met Coleridge in the street in his Dragoon's dress, who was about to pass him, but, said he, “ No, Coleridge, this will not do, we have been seeking you these six months ; I must and will converse with you, and have no hesitation in declaring that I shall immediately inform
* Capt. Nathaniel Ogle sold out of the 15th Dragoons, Nov. 19th, 1794.
Comberbacke enlisted at Reading, Dec. 3rd, 1793, commanded at this time by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Churchill, who was a Major in the regiment at the time Comberbacke was discharged at Hounslow, on the 10th of April, 1794, according to the WarOffice books.
your friends that I have found you.” This led to Coleridge's return to Cambridge. The same story is also related and made the ground work of some scene in a novel, without the names, by his early friend, Charles Lloyd--he who was in'cluded by Canning in the Anti-jacobin with Coleridge, Mr. Southey, and Lamb: He returned to Cambridge, but did not long remain there; and quitted it without taking a degree. : It has been observed, that men of genius move in orbits of their own; and seem deprived of that free will which permits the mere man of talent steadily to pursue the beaten path. Coleridge had very early pictured to himself many of the advantages of mechanical employment, its immunities and exemptions from the sufferings consequent on the laborious exercise of thought; but yet he never shrank from the task apparently allotted to him ; he was made to soar and not to creep; even as a young man, his acquirements were far beyond the age in which he lived. With his amiable qualities, and early love of domestic life, he would have been well content to tread an humbler path, but it was otherwise ordained !
However excellent for the many, the system adopted by our universities wás ill suited for a mind like Coleridge's, and there were some who felt that a College routine was not the kind of education which would best evolve, cultivate,
and bring into training powers so unique. It has been repeated, ad nauseam, that great minds will not descend to the industrious accumulation of those acquirements best suited to fit them for independence. To say that "Coleridge would not condescend would be a calumny,-nay, when his health permitted, he would drudge and work more laboriously at some of the mechanical parts of literature, than any man I ever knew. To speak detractingly of great and good men is frequently the result of malice combined with egotism. Though it would be injustice not to admit that he has had warm admirers and deeply affectionate friends, it is much to be regretted that there have been persons who have strangely maligned Coleridge, and who have attributed to him vices of which he was innocent. Had these vices existed, they would not have found any unfair extenuation in this memoir, nor would they have been passed over without notice. In answer to calumnies at that time in circulation, (and withi sorrow and just indignation it is added that these reports originated with some who called themselves his friends; but, alas ! most false and hypocritical !) the following minute from his notes is quoted: “ My academic adventures and indis“cretions must have seemed un pardonable sins," that is, as they were related by the tale-bearers and gossips of the day. “I mention these,”