Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on 21 October 1772. He was two years younger than Wordsworth, two years older than Robert Southey, and three years older than his first and lifelong friend Charles Lamb; fifteen years younger than William Blake, and three years older than Schelling, whose thought, stemming, as did his own, from that of Kant (who was already forty-eight when Coleridge was born), was at once a parallel, and a source, of his own.

Coleridge told the story of his childhood in a series of letters to his friend Thomas Poole. He was the tenth child of a second marriage--the thirteenth in the family of the Vicar of, and Schoolmaster at, Ottery St. Mary in Devonshire, a share of whose 'learning, good-heartedness, absentness of mind, and excessive ignorance of the world' he inherited. His father died when Coleridge was eight years old; and one of his son's clear memories, was walking home with him one winter evening, and being told

the names of the stars and how Jupiter was a thousand times larger than our world, and that the other twinkling stars were suns that had worlds rolling round them : and when I came home he showed me how they rolled round. I heard him with delight and admiration : but without the least mixture of wonder or incredulity. For from my early reading of fairy tales and genii, etc., etc., my mind had been habituated to the vast

--a respect in which he never changed.

After the death of his father, Coleridge was sent to school in London and did not see his home again for eight years. Habits of bookishness and introspection, begun at Ottery St. Mary in self-defence against elder brothers, were continued for similar reasons when he went to school at Christ's Hospital, until the 'poor friendless boy', as his schoolfellow Lamb described him, made of his weakness his strength and became the centre of an admiring circle. So Lamb remembered him :

Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the day-spring . . .

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