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A very old friend of Mr. Coleridge has recently furnished me with the two following anecdotes of Mr. C. which were also new to me.
The inspecting officer of his regiment, on one occasion, was examining the guns of the men, and coming to one piece which was rusty, he called out in an authoritative tone, “Whose rusty gun is this?" when Mr. C. said, “is it very rusty, Sir ?” “Yes, Cumberbatch, it is,” said the officer, sternly. “« Then, Sir,” replied Mr. C. “it must be mine!" The oddity of the reply disarmed the officer, and the poor scholar” escaped without punishment.*
Mr. Coleridge was à remarkably awkward horseman, so much so, as generally to attract notice. Some years after this, he was riding along the turnpike road, in the county of Durham, when a wag, approaching him, noticed his peculiarity, and (quite mistaking his man) thought the
and day. The fatigue, and anxiety, and various inconveniences, involved in the superintendence on this his sorely diseased comrade, almost sickened him of hospital service; so that one or two more such cases would have reconciled him to the ranks, and have made him covet, once more, the holiday play of rubbing down his horse.
* At the time Mr. Coleridge belonged to the 15th Light Dragoons, the men carried carbines, in addition to swords and pistols. More recently, a shorter gun has been substituted, called a fusee.
rider a fine subject for a little sport; when, as he drew near, he thus accosted Mr. C. “ I say, young
meet a tailor on the road?” “Yes,” replied Mr. C. (who was never at a loss for a rejoinder) “I did; and he told me, if I went a little further I should meet a goose !” The assailant was struck dumb, while the traveller jogged on.
Mr. Coleridge, at his next visit, gave me several Epigrams, translated by him from the German, which here follow:
HOARSE Mævius reads his hobbling verse
To all, and at all times,
His voice, as well as rhymes.
Mævius is no ass!
An ass without an ear.
If the guilt of all lying consists in deceit,
Lie on—’tis your duty, sweet youth !
When you cunningly tell us the truth."
“ As Dick and I at Charing Cross were walking,
Whom should we see on t'other side
So I exclaimed—“0, what a lie !"
ON OBSERVING A LADY LICKING HER LAP-DOG.
Thy Lap-dog, Rufa, is a dainty beast;
To see thee lick so dainty clean a beast,
JACK writes his verses with more speed
Than the printer's boy can set ’em;
But only—not so fast as we forget 'em.”
Mr. Coleridge accompanied these Epigrams with the translation of one of LESSING's pieces, where the felicity of the expression, in its English form, will excite in most readers a suspicion, that no High Dutch original, could equal the Poem in its new dress.
I ASK's my love, one happy day,
By what sweet name from Rome or Greece ;
Dorimene, or Lucrece?
Take whatever suits the line :
Only, only, call me thine.
Mr. C. told me that he intended to translate the whole of Lessing. I smiled. Mr. C. understood the symbol, and smiled in return.
The above poem is thus printed in the last edition of 1835, by which the two may be compared, and the reader determine whether he deems the alterations to be improvements.
I ASKED my fair one happy day,
By what sweet name from Rome or Greece:
Arethusa, or Lucrece.
Ah, replied my gentle fair,
Choose thou whatever suits the line ;
Only, only, call me thine.
Some time after this, Mr. Coleridge, finding his health in a declining state, was advised to try a warmer climate, when recollecting that a friend of his, Sir John Stoddart, was the Judge of Malta, he repaired to that island. Here he was introduced to Sir Alexander Ball, the Governor, who happened at that time to be in want of a Secretary, and being greatly pleased with Mr Coleridge, he immediately engaged him in that capacity.*
* Mr. Coleridge sustained one serious loss, on quitting Malta, which he greatly deplored, He had packed in a large case, all his books and MSS. with all the letters received by him during his residence on the island. His directions were, to be forwarded to England, by the first ship; with Bristol, as its ultimate destination.