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Samuel T. Coleridge
by [?]

Little Samuel Taylor seemed to be aware of his power; he evolved a wondrous precocity and ruled the rectory with a rod of iron. When he was five he propounded questions that shook the orthodoxy of the worthy vicar to its very center.

Yet, remarkable as was the intellect of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the family would not have remained in obscurity without him. In fact, the very brightness of his fame caused the excellence of his brothers to be lost in the shadow. His brother James became the father of Henry Nelson Coleridge, who married his cousin Sara, the daughter of our poet.

To anticipate a little, it is well enough here to say that the daughter of Coleridge was a woman of remarkable excellence, and if you wish to disprove the adage that genius does not transmit itself she is a good example to bring up–even though there is a difference between fact and truth. James Coleridge was also the father of Mr. Justice Coleridge, himself the father of Lord Chief Justice Coleridge.

And since iconoclasm is not out of place in an essay on Coleridge, it can also be stated that when Sara Coleridge married her cousin she did a wise thing. The marriage was a most happy one, and the children of these cousins have shown themselves to be beyond the average. And once, certainly not with his daughter in mind, Coleridge debated the question of consanguinity with Charles Lamb, and proved to his own satisfaction at least that the marriage of cousins was eminently sane, proper, just and right, and fraught with the best results for humanity.

The only indictment that can be brought against the father of Coleridge is that he was a zealous Latin scholar, and proposed that the term “ablative” be abolished as insufficient, and in its stead should be used that of “quale-quare-quiddative case.” He was a simple, amiable, excellent man who did his work the best he could, and was beloved by all the parish. As to the excellence of the established order of things he had no doubts–government and religion were divine institutions and should be upheld by all honest men.

As to the vicar’s wife we know little, but enough of a glance is given into her character through letters to show that she had in her make-up a trace of noble discontent. She was not entirely happy in her surroundings, and the amiable ways of her husband were often an exasperation to her, rather than a pleasure–even amiability can be overdone. He never saw more than a mile from home, but her eyes swept England from Cornwall to Scotland, and few men, even, saw so far as that a hundred years ago. The discontent of Samuel Taylor Coleridge was the heritage of mother to son. When Samuel was nine years of age the father passed away. The widow would have been in sore financial straits had it not been for the older children, and even as it was, strict economy and untiring industry were in order. Out of sympathy, Mr. Justice Buller, who had been a pupil of the Reverend John Coleridge, proposed to secure the youngest boy a scholarship in Christ’s Hospital School, and so we find him entered there, July Eighteenth, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-two. This was a year memorable in the history of America; and the alertness of the charity boy’s intellect is shown in that he was aware of the struggle between England and the Colonies. He discussed the situation with his schoolfellows, and explained that the mother country had made a mistake in exacting too much. His sympathies were with the Colonies, but he thought submission on their part was in order when the stamp-tax was removed and that complete independence was absurd–the Colonies needed some one to protect them.

Such reasoning in a boy of ten years seems strange, especially in view of the fact that a noted professor of pedagogy has recently explained to us that no child under fourteen is capable of independent reasoning.