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MR. COLERIDGE'S LETTERS ON THE FINE ARTS.
THE Reader has several times heard of Pantisocracy; a scheme perfectly harmless in itself, though obnoxious to insuperable objections. The ingenious devisers of this state of society, gradually withdrew from it their confidence; not in the first instance without a struggle ; but cool reflection presented so many obstacles, that the plan, of itself, as the understanding expanded, gradually dissolved into “ thin air.” A friend had suggested the expediency of first trying the plan in Wales, but even this less exceptionable theatre of experiment was soon abandoned, and sound sense obtained its rightful empire.
It was mentioned (Vol. I. p. 194.) that Mr. Southey was the first to abandon the scheme of American colonization; and that, in confirmation,
towards the conclusion of 1795, he accompanied his uncle, the Rev. Herbert Hill, (Chaplain to the English factory at Lisbon) through some parts of Spain and Portugal; of which occurrence, Mr. S.'s entertaining "Letters” from those countries are the result; bearing testimony to his rapid accumulation of facts, and the accuracy of his observations on persons and things.* Mr. S. having sent me a letter from Corunna, and two others from Lisbon, I shall here (with Mr. S.'s permission) gratify the reader by presenting them for his perusal.
* At the instant Mr. Southey was about to set off on his travels, I observed he had no stick, and lent him a stout holly of my own. In the next year, on his return to Bristol, 66 Here” said Mr. S. (exciting great surprise) “ Here is the holly you were kind enough to lend me !”—I have since then looked with additional respect on my old igneous traveller, and remitted a portion of his accustomed labour. It was a source of some amusement, when, in November of the past year, (1836) Mr. Southey, in his journey to the West, to my great gratification, spent a few days with me, and in talking of Spain and Portugal, I showed him his companion, the Old Holly! Though somewhat bent with age, the servant (after an interval of forty years) was immediately recognized by his master, and with an additional interest, as this stick, he thought, on one occasion had been the means of saving his purse, if not his life, from the sight of so efficient an instrument of defence, having intimidated a Spanish robber.
“Corunna, Dec. 15th, 1795. Indeed my dear friend, it is strange that you are reading a letter from me at this time, and not an account of our Shipwreck. We left Falmouth on Tuesday mid-day; the wind was fair till the next night, so fair that we were within twelve hours' sail of Corunna ; it then turned round, blew a tempest, and continued so till the middle of Saturday. Our dead lights were up fifty hours, and I was in momentary expectation of death. You know what a situation this is. I forgot my sickness, and though I thought much of the next world, thought more of those at Bristol, who would daily expect letters ; daily be disappointed, and at last learn from the newspapers, that the Lauzarotte had never been heard of.
Of all things it is most difficult to understand the optimism of this difference of language; the very beasts of the country do not understand English. Say “poor fellow” to a dog, and he will probably bite you ; the cat will come if you call her “ Meeth-tha,” but “puss” is an outlandish phrase she has not been accustomed to , last night I went to supper to the fleas, and an excellent supper they made ; and the cats serenaded me with their execrable Spanish: to lie all night