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LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, was born October the 20th, 1772, at Ottery St. Mary, in Devonshire. His father, the Rev. John Coleridge, was, for many years, vicar of that parish, having been an eminent schoolmaster at South Moulton. He was a person of considerable learning. He assisted Dr. Kennicot in collecting his manuscripts for a Hebrew Bible; he also wrote several learned dissertations for fugitive publications, and an excellent Latin Grammar. He died in 1782, aged 62; much regretted by his family, friends, and parishioners ; by whom he was much beloved and esteemed. He left eleven children, our poet being the youngest.
With so large a family, and but moderate living, his father could not be expected to leave much for the education of his youngest son; therefore, a presentation to Christ's Hospital, London, was procured for him from John Way, Esq., one of the governors; to which excellent school he was admitted on the 18th of July, 1782. Here he soon distinguished himself as a boy of promising talents and eccentric habits. His own account of his master and early studies, given in his Biographia Literaria, is too interesting and important to be omitted. “ At school I enjoyed the inestimable advantage of a very sensible, though at the same time, a very severe master. He * early moulded my taste to the preference of Demosthenes to Cicero, of Homer and Theocritus to Virgil, and again, Virgil to Ovid. He habituated me to compare Lucretius, (in such extracts as I then read,) Terence, and above all, the chaster poems of Catullus, not only with the Roman poets of the, so called, silver and brazen ages; but even those of the Augustan era ; and on grounds of plain sense and universal logic, to see and assert the supe. riority of the former, in the truth and nativeness both of their thoughts and diction. At the same time we were studying the Greek tragic poets, he made us read Shakspeare and Milton as lessons; and they were the lessons, too, which required most time and trouble to bring up, so as to escape his censure. I learnt from him, that poetry, even that of the loftiest, and seemingly that of the wildest odes, had a logic of its own, as severe as that of science; and more difficult, because more subtle, more complex, and dependent on more and more fugitive causes. In the truly great poets,' he would say, ' there is a reason assignable, not only for every word, but for the position of every word ;' and I well remember, that availing himself of the synonymes to the Homer of Didymus, he made us attempt to show, with regard to each, why it would not have answered the same purpose, and wherein consisted the peculiar fitness of the word in the original text.