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Notices of Books. THE GEOGRAPHICAL WORD-EXPOSITOR. By Edwin Adams, T.C.B.
London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans. 1856. A GEOGRAPHICAL WORD-Expositor is very much needed in our schoolliterature. Mr Adams' little book, though not altogether complete, and perhaps a little perlantic, is a praiseworthy attempt to supply this desideratum. We duly appreciate the laconic form of derivation given in such words as “ Acton, in Middlesex, from the Anglo-Saxon, ac, an onk --ton, a town." But we dislike such English as, Anglesea, signifies the island of the Angles, or English, who came possessed of this island in the reign of Edward I.” We observe, too, several inaccuracies of minor importance, but which should not be allowed to creep into a work of this kind. On the whole, however, the contents are valuable, and indispensable to every one who would wish to understand our geographical nomenclature.
CHRISTIAN BAPTISM. By David Wallace. London: Houlston and
Stoneman. We have neither time, space, nor inclination to enter into the polemics of the rite of Baptism. The great difference we apprehend to be this: The Baptists consider it to be rigidly a matter of fact and principle based on the exclusive authority of the New Testament Scripture, whereas Pædobaptists qualify it by the analogical rite of circumcision in the Old Testament, and adapt it on the principle of expediency to the character of our northern clime. This shows the reason why Pædobaptists admit what is here quoted of so many of them, and are yet consistent in not being Baptists. We know that this but shifts the ground of controversy, and widens the range of battle; but as there is no casus belli, we shall hold our tongue for the present. Mr Wallace, like a skilful general, has carried the war into the enemy's country, and endeavoured to subdue them by setting them against each other. At first sight it does look as if those quoted were on the wrong side, but on a closer test they are found true to their flag. The author, however, disclaims the intention of widening the relations that exist between churches founded on the same Christian principles.
The CLAIMS OF LABOUR ON THE ARISTOCRACY.
By W. B., Workman. Paisley: J. & R. Parlane. Did we notice this pamphlet for its literary ability and method, we might be frequently finding fault, but we look at it with far other feelings. It shows what power and attainment, both in thought and expression, may be developed or assimilated by working men who cultivate self-reliance through the worthy and noble act of educating themselves. Any man may think, and write what he thinks, without despising the work Providence has given him to do—no matter however humble, if it be honest and useful. Were the power of original thinking and writing more cultivated and prevalent, what a change would come over current social opinions !
PRINTED BY THOMAS MURRAY AND SON, GLASGOW,
COLERIDGE AND LAMB.
THERE are three situations in which the character and virtues of a man are usually spoken of in laudatory terms, namely: when his health is proposed after dinner-in his epitaph-and by his biographer, if he have one. Although few are subjected to all these modes of laudation, most persons have, at some time or other in their lives, had their virtues dilated on by some postprandial orator. Many attain the dignity of having an inscription on their tombstone, and a few reach the honour of having a biographer. We propose at present to make some remarks on two of those individuals who have attained the last-mentioned distinction. This is a task which we would hardly presume to enter upon, did we not consider that the impression made on the public mind, by the efforts of their respective biographers, has produced a tendency to overrate the merits of the one, and undervalue the virtues of the other. We must, at the same time, enter our protest against the course so generally pursued by biographers. It seems to be a canon adopted by this class of writers, that the person whose actions they profess to record must, at every sacrifice, be shown as the first and best of his kind. If he has committed great offences, the biographer considers it a duty to soften and extenuate his errors. If he has been distinguished for proficiency in any department of literature, his biographer holds himself bound to place him in the foremost rank, and keep him there against all comers. This feeling of partiality might be pardoned, were not the specious covering woven over the subject so besmeared with gilding, that we lose sight of the man as he lived and moved and had his being Preraphaelism” in biography is the great want of the present day-where the subject shall be delineated with a fidelity and truth that scorns the suppression of those details in which the completion of truth consists, giving us the man, the whole man, and nothing but the man, and leaving the reader to draw a double lesson
to the heart and the head, from the heart and the head of the subject, and by combining these—their merits and demerits—to arrive at something like a just judgment. In connecting this with what has been written of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Charles Lamb, let us not, for the present, be supposed to aim at more than an approach to the kind of biography desiderated; and that rather by contrasting certain salient points in the character of each, than by doing that full justice to either which both of them demand.
The recent publication of another volume of the works of De Quincey-in which considerable space is devoted to a detail of his intercourse with Coleridge,—and Patmore's “Recollections of Charles Lamb,” also recently given to the world—invite us to a consideration of the contrast presented by the very dissimilar lives of these two individuals.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in October, 1772, at the Vicarage of Ottery, St Mary's, in Devonshire. He was early admitted to Christ's Hospital, London, where he continued till he became head scholar or deputy Grecian, and obtained, in virtue of this position, a presentation to Jesus College, Cambridge. He entered this University in his nineteenth year, and continued there for two years. Having become a marked man with his collegiate superiors, from his attachment to the principles of the French Revolution, as these were then understood on this side of the channel, he took French leave of Cambridge and ran off to London. There he soon found himself forlorn and destitute, and being too indolent, or having too little experience to look about him for any means of subsistence, he took the readiest that offered, and enlisted as a private soldier in the 1st, or Elliot's Dragoons. Coleridge soon found a soldier's life to be hard work, and instead of bearing up against the misery and ungenialness of his self-chosen profession with that manly pride which dignifies the lowliest callings—the pride, the principle, the high and noble moral of doing one's dutyinstead of this, he gave vent to his regrets by scratching Latin quotations on the whitewashed walls of the stable. A certain Captain Ogle of the regiment, when making his rounds one morning, found“ Eheu quam unfortunii miserrimum est fuisse felicem written under a saddle. A man with less respect for the classics might have sent the unfortunate Latinist to the guard-house, but the Captain thought fit to make inquiry of the serjeant of the troop, and found that the writer in whitewash was the most awkward soldier in the regiment, and indolent besides; he was so lazy, that he contrived to get his comrades to clean his accoutrements in return for copies of verses he wrote for them, to be fired off with the other artillery of love among their sweethearts. As there was nothing in the articles of war making the advancement of learning an excuse for defacing the stable walls, Coleridge was informed that letters and petitions written there were advertisements unfitted for the barrackyard. Through the influence of Captain Ogle, however, Coleridge was made an hospital nurse, or humble assistant to the regimental surgeon—that being the only official in the regiment who had the slightest use for the dead languages in the execution of his duty.
After four months' service as a soldier, Coleridge, through the influence of his friends, obtained his discharge, and went to Oxford. Southey, who afterwards became his brother-in-law, was then an under-graduate of Baliol College, and, as there were many points of common interest between the young men, they became sworn friends, and on leaving Oxford took up their quarters together in Bristol. There they met with Wordsworth and Lloyd; and, in the midst of this group of talented but untrained minds, Coleridge projected a scheme of living which they called “Pantisocracy."
The party were to found, in some untrodden wild of the western hemisphere, a commonwealth where neither king nor priest was to find entrance—where all things were to be enjoyed in common, and mankind were to become as the lilies of the field," which toil not, neither do they spin." To accomplish this, a colonial exchequer was the one thing needful above all others, and many means were tried to raise it, but all failed. One part of the outfit for this expedition was more easily obtained; so Southey and Lloyd got married to two sisters, and the third Miss Frickers—for that was the name of the family to which these young ladies belonged accepted Coleridge as a suitor, with the view of accompanying her sisters to the promised land as his wife. The contemplated alliance, however, was very near being broken off, for Southey tells us, that after the third sister and Coleridge had been betrothed, the bridegroom went up to London and forgot all about it. Pitying the situation of the disconsolate lady, Southey set out after him. After a long search, Coleridge was found at the “ Cat and Salutation,” in company with Charles Lamb. They were drinking egg flipp and smoking oronocco, debating on Pantisocracy, and speculating on golden days, to come. How would it have grieved the gentle heart of Lamb had he known that every supper eaten by him and Coleridge in the well-sanded parlour of the “ Cat and Salutation,” during that visit to London, was sitting like a nightmare on the bosom of the disconsolate bride!
Marriage, which in most instances forms the step between romance and reality, gave Pantisocracy its death-blow. Southey grew cool on the subject, and a quarrel with Coleridge was the consequence. Married life found Coleridge wanting in determination, and he continued devoid of perseverance and self-reliance. Continual indolence brought continued uneasiness about the means of living. Joseph Cottle, a simple-minded and benevolent bookseller of Bristol, had been unwary enough to advance money to Coleridge in payment of a volume of poems which he had promised to write. Here began that propensity which clung to Coleridge through life, of holding the breaking of an engagement a matter of the slightest consequence to himself or others. Honest Cottle wore out all the usual means of pressing him to proceed with the promised volume; but every day brought some new excuse for delay, in the shape of a plausible promise, till to-morrow and to-morrow became the everlasting song of to-day, and the benevolent bookseller exhausted his patience in waiting for what he had already paid for. In all similar affairs, and they were many, Coleridge had the art of impressing his patrons with the idea of what he could accomplish if his indolence would permit him to burst the cobwebs that sloth spun around him. No man whose name has a place in the dictionary of authors ever traded more on what he promised to perform, or buoyed up his admirers with more glowing hopes. He projected a periodical paper called the “Watchman,” but his incurable want of order and punctuality stopped it at the ninth number. He then became a Unitarian preacher at Taunton, and afterwards at Shrewsbury. This was a green spot in his unhappy life. Here he wrote those fragments of beautiful poetry which constitute his best title to fame. But an unsettled mind led to an unsettled mode of life; he became a kind of intermittent preacher, and delivered lectures at the “Plume of Feathers” in Vine Street, Bristol, and elsewhere, on the “Origin of Evil"_“The Hair Powder Tax," and the “ Corruptions of Christianity.” Impressed with his talents, and a belief in his ability to create a great name in literature, the Messrs Wedgewood, the great potters of Staffordshire, settled upon him an annuity of £150 a year, for the purpose of allowing him to devote his time to the production of some of those great works he contemplated. This beneficence enabled him to visit Germany, which he did, in company with Wordsworth, in 1798. He remained there fourteen months, and returned imbued with that tendency to metaphysical speculation which ever after clouded his intellect. He had left England a republican — he returned a royalist. His family, during his absence in Germany, had been quartered on Southey at Keswick. Coleridge spent a few days with them there on his return to England, but never afterwards enjoyed their society in a home of his own. He left them to be brought up a burden on the precarious earnings of his brother-in-law, a charge which Southey cheerfully and uncomplainingly undertook, and fulfilled for the remainder of his and their lives.
Coleridge had met Sir James Mackintosh at the Wedgewoods', and through his influence obtained an engagement to superintend the literary and political departments of the Morning Post newspaper. He remained six months in London, writing for this newspaper, and drinking egg-flip and smoking oronocco with his friend Charles Lamb, at the “Cat and Salutation,” and other hostelries. He kept Mrs Coleridge amused with accounts of his looking out for a lodging for her, and his friends the Wedgewoods with inflated reports of his industry and the great works he was contemplating. To a mind like that of Coleridge, no situation could be worse suited than the editorship of a newspaper, where readiness and punctuality are the virtues most in esteem. He fled to the country; and after furnishing articles for the paper very irregularly through the post, at last stopt writing altogether, on the plea of ill health. He soon after went to