Letters of Hartley Coleridge

By Grace Griggs Evelyn; Earl Griggs Leslie et al. | Go to book overview

of undergraduate society at Merton, where he, no doubt, 'ruled the roost' intellectually.

On the other hand, the old Provost, Dr. Hawkins, was always careful to say that he much admired H.C.'s ability and good qualities, that he took him in hand and warned him, and did his very best to keep him in the straight path, but in vain. He was a born rebel against convention--and could not help showing it.

The final crisis came, he said, when the then Provost, Dr. Copleston, was one day in the College Lodge, a knock was heard at the door, the Porter opened it, and poor H.C. fell prostrate through it. You will, I am sure, see how difficult it would be to keep in a college a don who set so deplorable an example to the undergraduates.

I doubt very much the reality of H.C.'s suspicions of eavesdropping etc., as influencing the College.

Suffice it that H.C.'s portrait is in the Common Room to-day. We have forgotten his shortcomings and remember only the brilliance of his gifts and the pathos of his life.

Many thanks for your book.

Yours truly (Rev. Dr.) L. R. PHELPS.


B

Memorandum by E. COPLESTON, Provost of Oriel--dated June 15, 1820-- recapitulating the charges against Hartley Coleridge and intimating the determination of the Fellows not to admit him at the end of the probationary year, or to extend the period of probation.

Memorandum

Oriel College, June 15. 1820.

Mr. Whately the Dean having informed me that he had heard very disagreeable accounts lately of the conduct of Mr. Coleridge, Probationer Fellow, who has been keeping irregular hours, and had frequently come home late in a state of intoxication we agreed to assemble all the resident Fellows on the 30th of May and to confer upon this subject.

In the mean time accurate enquiries were made of the servants of the College and of his lodging-house--from whom it was learnt that the suspicions of the College were but too well founded-- that he was often guilty of intemperance and came home in a state in which it was not safe to trust him with a candle.

His year of probation being nearly expired, it thus became a matter of serious consideration whether he ought to be admitted Actual Fellow; and upon a careful review of his whole conduct from the commencement of his probationary year, it was the unanimous opinion of myself and of all the resident Fellows that he was not fit to be received permanently into the Society.

-301-

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