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> the winter of 1798-9, together with his sister, a lady
whose talents and sprightly amiability of mind have
rendered her worthy of the attachment which, I
believe, has never ceased to subsist between her and her
I have already mentioned my having been at the Lakes in the summer of 1801, when I had the pleasure of spending a day in rambling over the mountains of Cumberland in company with them, Coleridge,
, and a clergyman residing at Keswick, of the
name of Wilkinson, who has published some beautiful views of the scenery in that neighbourhood. We visited most of the romantic scenes within a walk of Grassmere; and, being in her neighbourhood, were careful not to pass by unnoticed the celebrated Mary of Buttermere, whose lovely sparkling eyes, and carefully braided auburn locks, we had a favourable opportunity of admiring.
It was a day to be remembered, although, at one part of it, somewhat, it may be, between the hours of one and two, there was danger of its becoming rather too exclusively intellectual, considering the invigorating effect, upon body as well as mind, of the mountain breezes. We left Keswick in the morning, after an early breakfast, and almost immediately after alighting from our carriage at the door of Mr. Wordsworth's cottage, set out on our pedestrian ramble—Miss Wordsworth being the Diana of our party.
The party from Keswick fully understood from Coleridge, who, as well as ourselves, was supposed to be Wordsworth's visiter for that day, that it was intended we should return to his cottage at Grassmere to dinner. So we continued walking, and talking, and admiring every thing, which was no idle task where there was so much to be admired, till, I confess, the thought at length began to obtrude itself upon me, whether we ought not to be turning our faces homewards. Still there was no sign of any intention of this sort on the part of our host and hostess. At last Coleridge, whether instinctively or not I cannot say, began to make some allusion to the effect of the bracing mountain breeze upon the appetite, upon which hint Wordsworth spoke, and proposed that we should try the hospitality of a farm-house which very opportunely greeted us. Here we luckily found ample means of staying our hunger in an abundant supply of eggs and bacon; and, thus set up, we again proceeded to scale rocks and cross mountain streams, and listen to the tales, and wonders, and appropriate observations of the master spirits of the party,until after a ramble of nine or ten hours we found ourselves again in sight of Wordsworth's cottage, where, without forgetting some intervening obligations to eggs and bacon,
"the song of the kettle"* soon made amends for the deficiency of the less refined music of the jack.
It is somewhat remarkable, that two such devoted friends and kindred philosophers as Coleridge and Wordsworth, after meeting by appointment in London, travelling together to Yarmouth, and from thence proceeding in the same ship to Hamburg, should have separated almost immediately after their arrival on the Continent. Coleridge establishing himself at first, en pension, with the pastor at Ratzeburg, where he remained from September until the middle of January, and then removed to Gottingen; and Wordsworth retiring to Goslar. Wordsworth accompanied by his affectionate sister, and Coleridge by his friend Chester, who Set off with him from Stowey, and never quitted him until after their return to England. This information will not fail of being interesting to those who may have read Coleridge's first letter from Germany, in No. XIV. of the first edition of "The Friend," as it brings to light three of his fellow-passengers who left Yarmouth together with him on Sunday morning, September 16th, 1798, who do not appear in his description of the party on board.
* "A fig for your languages, German and Norse,
Give me but the song of the kettle,
And the poker and tongs, instead of the horse,*
That gallops away with such fury and force
On yon dull dreary plate of black metal."
* In allusion to the arms of Hanover on the closed stoves used, instead of our open and cheerful fire-places, to heat the apartments in the houses of that country.
Among the passengers on board who do make a figure in his grotesque account, besides a little tailor and his wife, of whom he gives a most amusing description, there happened to be another very conspicuous personage, a ridiculously-purse-proud Dane. Now I do not believe thatColeridge was ever led—not even during the reign of partisocracy—to take a decided part in conversation against revealed religion; on the contrary, we find him in his most unguarded moments, still ready to sting the infidel, or turn from him with contempt. But as, at the period of his life in question, he was capable of being as much in character with Fielding or Smollett, as with Spinoza or Berkeley, or those holier and wiser men with whom he eventually coincided in his religious creed; and as, in all his humours, "whether grave or mellow," he knew how to suit himself to his party and the occasion; it is far from surprising that the Dane should have taken a great liking to him. Although frivolous in the extreme, yet, from having amassed riches rapidly in the West Indies, he fancied himself a clever fellow; and, incongruously enough, a great philanthropist and grammarian; the very man in short to be deluded into the vain conceit that he and Coleridge were discoursinf together—" dantes petentesque vicissim." It would seem, however, that he did concede the palm of superiority to Coleridge, and in conformity therewith, after canvassing his various pretensions to some distinguished appellation, dubbed him "Doctor Teology," which the latter modestly ascribes to the cut and colour of his coat, and his corresponding black worsted stockings and large shoes.* Be this as it may, the Dane saw no reason why " Doctor Teology" should not partake of a bottle of generous wine, of which he had an ample supply on board, with himself and friends. To this the Doctor made no objection, and they soon got very merry together. "Certes," Coleridge says, " we were not of the Stoic school, for we drank, and talked, and sung, till we talked and sung altogether; and then we rose and danced on the deck a set of dances, which, in one sense of the word at least, were very intelligibly and appropriately entitled reels. The passengers, who lay in the cabin
* On referring to the original letter, I perceive that this is not quite correctly stated. What Coleridge there really says is, "The Danes had christened me 'Docteur Teology,' and dressed as I was all in black, with large shoes and black worsted stockings, I might certainly have passed very well for a methodist missionary. However, I disclaimed my title. What then may you be? A man of fortune? No! A merchant? No! A merchant's traveller? No! A clerk? No! Un Philosophe, perhaps? It was that time in my life, in which of all possible names and characters I had the greatest disgust to that of 'un Philosophe.' But I was weary of being questioned and rather than be nothing, or at best only the abstract idea of a man, I submitted, by a bow, even to the aspersion implied in the word ' un Philosophe.