« ПредишнаНапред »
being then in common use. Just as the operation was completed, the clock struck nine, the hour at which the bishop punctually breakfasted. Roused, as from a reverie, he instantly left the barber's shop, and in his haste forgetting his wig, appeared at the breakfast table, where the bishop and his party had assembled. The bishop, well acquainted with his absent manners, courteously and playfully requested him to walk into an adjoining room, and give his opinion of a mirror which had arrived from London a few days previously, and which disclosed to his astonished guest the consequences of his haste and forgetfulness. On another occasion he dined with the bishop, who had great pleasure and delight in his society, when the following ludicrous scene took place. The bishop had a maiden daughter, past the meridian of life, who was always glad to see and converse with the “ dear good old man” (his usual appellation), and who was also kind enough to remind him of his little Forgets in society, and rouse him from his absent moods. It not being the fashion in his day for gentlemen to wear braces, his smallclothes, receding from his waistcoat, left a space in his black dress, through which often appeared a portion of his linen. On these occasions, the good lady would draw his attention to this appearance, by saying in an under tone, “ A little to this side, Mr. Coleridge,” or to that, as the adjustment might require. This hint was as instantly attended to as his embarrassed manner, produced by a sense of the kindness,' would permit. On the day above alluded to, his kind friend sat next to him, dressed, as was then the fashion, in a smart party-going muslin apron. Whilst in earnest conversation with his opposite neighbour, on the side next the lady appeared the folds of his shirt, through the hiatus before described, so conspicuously as instantly to tract her notice. The hint was immediately given : “Mr. Coleridge, a little on the side next me;"—and was as instantly acknowledged by the usual reply, “ Thank you, ma'am, thank you," and the hand set to work to replace the shirt; but unfortunately, in his nervous eagerness, he seized on the lady's apron, and appropriated the greater part of it. The appeal of “ Dear Mr. Coleridge, do stop!” only increased his embarrassment, and also his exertions to dispose, as he thought, of his shirt; till the lady, to put a stop to the titter of the visitors, and relieve her own confusion, untied the strings, and thus disengaging herself, left the room, and her friend in possession of her apron.* - Mrs. Coleridge, the mother of my friend, and of whom I have already spoken, had naturally a strong mind. She was an uneducated woman, industriously attentive to her household duties, and devoted to the care of her husband and family. Possessing none, even of the most common female accomplishments of her day, she had neither love nor sympathy for the display of them in others. She disliked, as she would say, “your harpsichord ladies,” and strongly tried to impress on her sons their little value, in their choice of wives. As a clergyman's wife her conduct was exemplary; the father of my friend had a fortune in such a woman, and she found in him, with all his peculiarities, a kind, sweet tempered, engaging husband. She was, I should add, a very good woman, though like Martha, over careful in many things, very ambitious for the advancement of her sons in life, but wanting perhaps that flow of heart which her husband possessed so largely. But “imperfection cleaves to mortality.” Such, as given in this brief sketch, were the parents of the subject of this memoir.*
* In 1809, the above whimsical stories were related to me by a gentleman, born in the town of Ottery, and by marriage closely related to the Rev. John Coleridge. While Coleridge resided at Highgate, he also repeated the stories which had grown up with him from boyhood as here related, himself believing them true; but a near relation has lately assured the writer, that some of these stories are told of another most respectable clergyman, residing at that time in the neighbourhood, and he believes that they properly belong to him. It is commonly remarked that very studious men, either from inattention, or from ignorance of the conventional forms of society, are regardless of what passes before them. Paying, perhaps, too much attention to their inward feelings or thoughts, seemingly day-dreaming—and this may frequently give rise to the stories to be found in many towns besides Ottery. Still, however, thoughtful and contemplative persons are often the quickest observers of the weaknesses of human nature, and yet as they usually make the greatest allowances for every infirmity, they are often impartial judges, and judicious counsellors. The Rev. John Coleridge, though sometimes an absent man, was a most valuable pastor, and on all fitting occasions a good man of business, having conducted several difficult matters of controversy for his parish with great satisfaction to the parties. * Such at least were the recollections of this extraordinary boy of seven years of age.
I have heard Coleridge relate the following anecdote of his father. The old gentleman had to take a short journey on some professional business, which would detain him from home for three or four days: his good wife, in her care and watchfulness, had packed a few things in a small trunk, and gave them in charge to her husband, with strong injunctions that he was to put on a clean shirt every day. On his return home, his wife went to search for his linen, when, to her dismay, it was not in the trunk. A closer search, however, discovered that the vicar had strictly obeyed her injunctions, and had put on daily a clean shirt, but had forgotten to remove the one underneath. This might have been the pleasantest and most portable mode of carrying half a dozen shirts in winter, but not so in the dog-days. As a preacher, he was peculiar: it is said, that the poor idolized, and
looked upon him with great reverence; and when death removed this distinguished and eminent scholar from among them, his successor had little chance of pleasing to the same extent. In their great admiration of him, they would often say, “ How fine he was in his discourse, for he gave us the very words the spirit spoke in,” viz. the Hebrew, with which he frequently indulged them in his sermons, and which seems greatly to have attracted the notice of the agricultural population, who flocked from the neighbourhood, to the town in which he resided. Excited and stimulated by curiosity, this class of persons might attend the church, and in listening for the Hebrew they would perhaps be more attentive, and carry away some useful portions of the English from this amiable and accomplished pastor. · As a schoolmaster his singularities were of the same character, manifesting the same simplicity and honesty of purpose. I have before stated that he wrote a Latin Grammar for the use of his school, and instead of the word ablative, in general use, he compounded three or four Latin words * as explanatory of this case. Whether the mothers were startled at the repetition of these words, and thought of the hardships their sons would have to endure in the acquirement of