COLE'RIDGE, SAMUEL TAYLOlt, was b. at Ottery St. Mary, in the county of Devon, of which parish his father was vicar, on the 21st Oct. 1772. He was educated at Christ's hospital, and numbered Charles Lamb among his sellool-fellows. Ills acquirements in Greek were extensive; and before his 13th year lie plunged boldly into the sea of meta physics, and swam therein until the day of his death. His industry, if desultory, was great; he read whole libraries. Full of book-knowledge, and without ambition or any practical bent, he was on the point of apprenticing himself to a shoemaker, when his head-master interfered, and rescued to literature and thought his most distinguished scholar. A copy of Mr. Bowles' sonnets falling into his hands at this time, attracted him towards poetry, in which for a time he found rest.
In 1791, C. entered Jesus college, Cambridge. At the university, he displayed no mathematical aptitude; his whole mind was given to classics, and lie obtained a prize for a Greek ode. He did not take a degree. During the second year of his residence at the university, in a fit of despondency, occasioned by an unsuccessful love matter, he quitted Cambridge for London, and enlisted in the 15th dragoons, under the assumed name of Comberbach. He never advanced beyond the awkward squad, and he enjoyed to the close the reputation of being the worst rider in the corps. One of the officers luckily discovered his classical acquirements, and, becoming acquainted with his real history, communicated with his friends, and C. effected his discharge.
On his release, the poet proceeded to Bristol, and, making the acquaintance of cer tain poetic cuthusiasts—Southey was of the number—whose minds were somewhat unsettled by the revolutionary movement in France, he formed a scheme to emigrate to the banks of the Susquehanna, in North America, and there, in pastoral peace and plenty, to bring back the golden age to man. C. found, to his surprise, that before Paradise could be thus regained, money was indispensable; and as of that both he and his friends were absolutely devoid, the dream of " Pantisocracy" had to be given up. About this time, Joseph Cottle, bookseller in Bristol, paid C. 30 guineas for a volume of poems, and, after many delays and the advancement of additional sums, the volume was published. In 1795, lie married Miss Fricker—his friend Southey on the same day wedding another sister—and removed to Nether Stowey, a village in Somersetshire, in which neighbor hood Wordsworth was then staying. It was here, surrounded with beautiful scenery, and in daily communication with the graver and intenscr spirit of his friend, that C.'s principal poems were composed. Here he wrote the Ancient Mariner, and the first part of Ciristabei, the music of which took captive Scott and Byfon, and which was imitated by both with no remarkable success. At this time, C. was in theology a Unitarian, and
preached frequently to congregations of that religious sect. In 1798, he visited Ger many, and studied at GOttingen. On his return to England, he went to reside at the lakes, where Wordsworth and Southey then lived; and then it was that the nickname "lake poets" was applied by the opposition reviews to the trio of friends—a nickname which has long since ceased to be a reproach. In the year in which C. went to live in Cumberland, he published his noble translation of Schiller's Wallenstein. Having formed a connection with the Morning Post, lie contributed to its columns articles on politics and literature. In 1804, he was at Malta, acting as secretary to the gq,vernor, sir Alexander Ball, an appointment he held nearly a year and a half. In 1808,. lie delivered lectures on poetry and the fine arts at the Royal institution, London; and:the year after, he commenced the publication of Time Friend, a serial which did not find much commercial success. By this time, C. had written, if he had not published' his finest poems; and imprudent, without resolution or strong sense of duty, and with a taste for German metaphysics and opium gradually taking possession of him, he left his wife and family with Southey, and went to London, where he resided first with Mr. Basil Montague, and afterwards, and up till the period of his death, with Mr. Gillman at Highgate. Here the rays of his splendid genius shone more and more fitfully through clouds of German metaphysics, and his mental and moral fiber became more and more debilitated by opium. He meditated many theological and philosophical works, whiclr were to "reduce all knowledge into harmony," and many epic poems which were•to be the glory of literature, and never progressed so far ss the first sentence of either. With the subsidence of the writing faculty, the talking faculty developed itself in C. after a. fashion unknown to ancient or modern times. At Mr. Gillman's house, he held weekly conversaziont, discoursing on every subject human and divine for hours; and thither, from all parts of the country, ardent young men came rushing to listen to the-wisdom of the sage, in "linked sweetness" exceedingly "long drawn out." Towards the close of his life, his religious opinions underwent a change, and he became a believer in the trinity. All intellectual pride had ceased, and the most childlike humility had taken its. place. He seemed to be conscious that the greatest powers which for Generations had been granted to any Englishman had been by him miserably wasted. He died at High gate on the 25th Jul}, 1834, in his 62d year.