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being incarcerated in an Italian prison, which would have been the infallible road to death!
In half despair of ever again seeing his family and friends, and under the constant dread of apprehension by the emissaries of the Tuscan government, or French spies; Mr. Coleridge said, he went out one morning, to look at some ruins in the neighbourhood of Leghorn, in a state of despondency, where certainty, however terrible, would have been almost preferable to suspense. While musing on the ravages of time, he turned his eye, and observed, at a little distance, a seafaring looking man, musing, like himself, in silence, on the waste around.
Mr. Coleridge advanced toward him, supposing, or, at least, deeming it possible, that he also might be mourning his captivity, and commenced a discourse with him ; when he found that the stranger was an American captain, whose ship was then in the harbour, and on the point of sailing for England.
This information sent joy into Mr. C.'s heart; but he testified no emotion, determined, he said, to obtain the captain's good will, by showing him all the civilities in his power, as a preliminary to any future service the captain might be disposed to render him, whether the power were united with the disposition or not. This showed adroitness, with great knowledge of human nature; (and more winning and captivating manners than those of Mr. C. when called forth, were never possessed by mortal!) In conformity with this almost forlorn hope, Mr. Coleridge explained to the American captain the history of the ruin ; read to him some of the half defaced Latin and Italian inscriptions, and concluded with extolling General Washington, and predicting the stability of the Union. The right keys, treble and tenor, were touched at the same moment, “Pray, young man,” said the captain, “who are you ?” Mr. C. replied, “I am a poor unfortunate Englishman, with a wife and family at home; but I am afraid I shall never see them more! I have no passport, nor means of escape ; and, to increase my sorrow, I am in daily dread of being thrown into jail, when those I love will not have the last pleasure of knowing that I am dead!"
The captain's heart was touched. He had a wife and family at a distance.
“My young man,” said he, " what is your name?” The reply was, “Samuel Taylor Coleridge.” “Poor young man,” answered the captain. 56 You meet me at this place to-morrow morning, exactly at ten o'clock.” So saying, the
captain withdrew. Mr. C. stood musing on the singular occurrence, in which there was something inexplicable. His discernment of the stranger's character, however, convinced him that there existed no under plot, but still there was a wide space between probability and certainty. On a balance of circumstances, he still thought all fair, and, at the appointed hour, repaired to the interior of the ruins.
No captain was there ; but, in a few minutes he appeared, and, hastening up to Mr. Coleridge, exclaimed, exultingly, “I have got your pass66 How !
What !" said Mr. C. almost overpowered by his feelings.
- Ask me no questions,” replied the captain ; “you are my steward, and you shall sail away with me to-morrow morning!” He continued, (giving him his address) “ You come to my house, to-morrow, early, when I will provide you with a jacket and trowsers, and you shall follow me to the ship with a basket of vegetables.' In short, thus accoutred, he did follow the captain to the ship, the next morning; and in three hours, he fairly sailed out of Leghorn harbour, triumphantly, on his course to England !
As soon as the ship had cleared the port, Mr. Coleridge hastened down to the cabin, and cried, “my dear captain, tell me how you obtained my passport?” Said the captain, very gravely, “Why, I went to the authorities, and swore that you were an American, and my steward!
I swore, also, that I knew your father and mother; that they lived in a red-brick house, about half a' mile out of New York, on the road to Boston !"
It is gratifying to add, that this benevolent little-scrupulous captain refused to accept any thing from Mr. C. for his passage to England; and behaved, in many other respects, with the same uniform kindness. During the voyage, Mr. Coleridge told me, he was attacked with a dangerous illness, when, he said, he thought he should have died,, but for the “good captain," who attended him with the solicitude of a father, Mr. C. also said, had he known what the captain was going to swear, whatever the consequences might have been, he would have prevented him.*
* It was a remarkable quality in Mr. Coleridge's mind, tbat edifices excited little interest in him. On his return from Italy, and after having resided for some time in Rome, I remember his describing to me the state of society; the characters of the Pope snd Cardinals; the gorgeous ceremonies, with the superstitions of the people, but not one word did he utter concerning St. Peter's, the Vatican. or the numerous antiquities of the place. As a further confirmation, I remember to have been with Mr. Coleridge, at York on our journey into Durham, to see Mr. Wordsworth, when, after breakfast at the inn, perceiving Mr. C. engaged, I went out alone, to see the famous York Minster, (being, in the way, detained in a bookseller's shop.) In the mean time, Mr. C. having missed me, he set off in search of his companion. Supposing it probable that I was gone to the Minster, he went up to the door of that magnificent structure, and inquired of the porter, whether such an individual as myself had gone in there. Being answered in the negative, he had no further curiosity, not even looking into the interior, but turned away to pursue his search! so that Mr. C. left York, without beholding, or wishing to behold, the chief attraction of the city, or being at all conscious that he had committed, by his neglect, high treason against all architectural beauty! This deficiency in his regard for edifices, while he was feverishly alive to all the operations of mind, and all intellectual inquiries, formed a striking and singular feature in Mr. Coleridge's mental constitution, worthy of being noticed.