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were near neighbours. That period was probably the happiest in his life. Free from pecuniary embarrassments, Coleridge was no longer singing like the nightingale with his breast against a thorn. His earnings must have been inconsiderable. He was probably writing for The Morning Chronicle, The Critical Review, and occasionally for The Monthly Magazine. His expenses were small, and Charles Lloyd was there to share them. That domestic partnership must have had its humiliating side ; it certainly had its vexatious accompaniment; but Coleridge does not seem to have complained. With small earnings and small necessities, and the work and the society he loved, he appears to have lived a life of more thorough content than had fallen to his lot before. Charles Lamb and his sister visited him at Stowey, and made the acquaintance of Lloyd. Cottle was with him also. Wordsworth, his sister, Coleridge, and Cottle made one memorable excursion of pleasure. The party set out from Bristol in a gig, well laden with philosophers' viands, a bottle of brandy, a loaf, a piece of cheese, and a bunch of lettuces. On the road they gave something to a beggar, and the sturdy ingrate is suspected of having extracted their cheese while they were gazing at the clouds. They realized their loss at the moment when are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone had been cast."
they drove into the courtyard of the house wherein they intended to dine; and there a more unwonted adventure awaited them. The horse was taken out of the gig and led to the stable. Obviously the harness had to be taken off, but to remove the collar proved to be a perplexing difficulty. Cottle and Wordsworth attempted the task, and both relinquished it as impracticable. Then Coleridge, the ex-dragoon, tried his hand, and soon showed such grooming skill that he almost twisted the horse's neck to strangulation, affirming that it must have grown by dropsy or gout since the collar was put on. At their utmost point of despair, a servant girl came up and said, “La, master, you do not go about the work in the right way; you should do like this," and then she turned the collar upside down, and slipped it off in a moment.
Wordsworth and Coleridge made many excursions over the Quantock Hills. Their occupations being unknown to the peasantry, the rumour became current that they were conspirators meditating an outrage. This blunder went so far that a spy was sent down to watch their movements. One night the fellow got drunk at the inn, and told his errand and history.
In 1798 Cottle published at Bristol the first volume of the “ Lyrical Ballads," containing, as Coleridge's contribution, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "The Foster Mother's Tale," "The Nightingale," and "The Dungeon.” The book was put forth anonymously, and produced no special impression. It was alluded to in The Monthly Review, and in The Critical Review - in the latter by Southey in all probability-but
the chief organs of critical opinion ignored it. The publisher lost by the transaction, and when in the course of the year he disposed of his business to Longmans, of London, he set down the copyright of the joint book at nil. If the poets had been supported by the hope of pecuniary benefit they were of course disappointed. To Coleridge the earnings of a successful book would have been a very material thing. His old embarrassments were beginning to reappear. Charles Lloyd had left his house. The rupture between Lloyd and Coleridge seems to have arisen out of three playful sonnets satirical of the poems of Lloyd, Lamb, and Coleridge, which had appeared in an early number of The Monthly Magazine. The sonnets published pseudonymously were written by Coleridge, and they were undoubtedly intended to ridicule the peculiarities of the three authors who contributed to the “Poems” published in 1797. To satirize himself anonymously was one of Coleridge's best pleasures. He did it again and again. But on this occasion he included two of his friends in his satire, and the result was a breach of friendship. Lloyd took early occasion to leave Coleridge's house, and Lamb, professing to have another cause of anger, addressed to Coleridge a most bitter letter of masked good-will on general topics, not directly dealing with their private relations. The separation from Lloyd must have led to material difficulties. Lamb's letter was, in truth, no less than an atrocious outrage inflicted in punishment of such a playful offence. Coleridge was greatly hurt, and handed the letter to Cottle, saying, “These young visionaries will do each other no good.” Just at that time Lamb went on a visit to Lloyd
at his father's home, and we are told that he had never appeared more cheerful. This was the only estrangement that ever divided Coleridge and Lamb. Probably it did not last long. No doubt both suffered from it. In one notable place Lamb touches with the bitterness of remorse on the freak of passion that had imperilled the love of a lifetime ; and it may be gathered that Coleridge's self-reproach was no less hard to bear. We know that the first part of “Christabel” was written in 1797. Is it possible that the noble passage on divided friends, which occurs in the second part of that poem, was written about 1798, and had a separate existence? The joining up of the allusion to Sir Leoline and Roland is certainly clumsy, and suggests interpolation. Is it not probable that the passage had a personal significance, and that Lamb guessed its bearing? We know that when the wise critics were unanimous in the opinion that “Christabel” was the “best nonsense-poetry ever written,” Lamb was wont to say that the passage in question was enough to redeem it. In later years Lamb attributed the temporary estrangement to Lloyd's tattling. “He (Lloyd) is a sad tattler," he writes to Coleridge in 1820, “but this is under the rose. Twenty years ago he estranged one friend from me quite, whom I have been regretting, but never could regain since. He almost alienated you also from me, or me from you, I don't know which ; but that breach is closed. The dreary sea’ is filled up.”
Uworse than it was in the summer of 1798. He
was twenty-seven years of age, and had now two children. In his first winter at Bristol his prospects had been brighter. He had tried many experiments towards a livelihood, and all had ended in failure. Lectures, poems, The Watchman, the critical reviews,-the result of every attempt had been the same. He was nothing loth to engage in very small literary enterprises, pocketing meantime his pride as a writer. His friend Cottle was no longer in business as a bookseller, and his reputation was not large enough to interest publishers with whom he had no bond of friendship. The tragedy on which he had built some hope of substantial gains had been ignored by Sheridan, and rejected by the manager at Covent Garden. Charles Lloyd had ceased to contribute to the expenses of the household, having set up his childish vanity against the abstract advantages of Coleridge's conversation as a philosopher, and the material advantages of his company as a nurse. Small debts, more humbling than larger embarrassments, debts to his shoemaker, his grocer, to his mother-in-law, and even to