**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Samuel T. Coleridge
by [?]

But still there were always a few who would doubt and a few who would question; and in the early part of the Eighteenth Century in England the government was being put to severe straits to cope with the difficulty. Lying in the Thames were receiving-ships on which were crowded men and women to be transported. When the ship was full, crowded to her utmost, she sailed away with her living cargo. From Sixteen Hundred Fifty to Seventeen Hundred Fifty, over forty thousand people were sent away for their country’s good. The hangman worked overtime, all prisons were crowded, and the walls of Newgate bulged with men and women, old and young, who were believed to be dangerous to the stability and well-being of the superior class–that is, those who had the right to tax others.

Finally, the enormity of bloodshed and woe involved caused a sort of concession on both sides to be agreed upon. Oppression continued will surely lead to a point where it cures itself, and the superior class in England, with a wise weather-eye, saw the reef on which they were in danger of striking. They heard the breakers, and began to grant concessions–unwillingly of course–concessions wrung from them. The censorship was abolished, reform bills introduced, the rights of free speech and a free press were partially recognized. The clergy, taking the cue, began to preach more love and less damnation; for the pew ever dictates to the pulpit what it shall preach. Thus general relaxation was in order to meet the competition of rival sects and independent preachers that were springing up; for although creeds never change, yet their interpretation does, and liberal sects do their work, not by growing strong, but by making all others more liberal.

Thus the latter part of the Eighteenth Century witnessed a weakening of both sides through compromise. The schools and colleges were pedantic, complacent, smug and self-satisfied; by giving in a few points they had absorbed the radicals, and the political protesters had been bought off with snug places in the excise. Pretended knowledge passed for wisdom, dignity paraded as worth, affectation and hypocrisy patronized virtue. And Coleridge appears upon the scene, a conservative, with a beautiful innocence and an indifference to all pretended authority and asks, “How do you know?”

* * * * *

The number of people who have written their names large in literature, who were the children of clergymen, is no mere coincidence. Tennyson, Addison, Goldsmith, Emerson, Lowell, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Coleridge–you can add to the list to suit. Young people follow example, and the habit of the father in writing out his thoughts causes others of the family to try it, too. Then there is an atmosphere of books in a rectory, and leisure to think, and best of all the income is not so great but that the practise of economy of time and money is duly enforced by necessity. To be launched into a library and learn by absorption is a great blessing.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Seventeen Hundred Seventy-two, the son of the Reverend John Coleridge, of Ottery Saint Mary, a small village of Devonshire. The rector was also a schoolmaster, just as all clergymen were before division of labor forced itself upon us. This worthy clergyman was twice married, his first wife bearing him three children, the second ten. Samuel was the last of the brood–the thirteenth–but his parents were not superstitious.

The youngest in a big family, like the first, is apt to have a deal of love lavished upon him. The question of discipline has proved its own futility, and when a baby comes to parents approaching fifty, depend upon it, that child transforms the household into a monarchy, with himself as tyrant. This may be well and it may not.