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if they had not. What intelligent Oxford man would barter for any earthly consideration the influence of that most reverend place upon himself? And the Scholars' table at Balliol must have altogether changed from what it was when I was a Scholar, if the discipline there administered to any personal conceit, vanity, or school prejudice a young man might have, was not about the best corrective they could receive.
Herbert Coleridge was placed in both first classes, in the spring of 1852. He never actually graduatedat Oxford; which has been attributed, in a generally goodnatured notice of him published in the Atlas newspaper of 25th May, 1861, to “his usual eccentricity.” As matter of opinion, I have known few persons to whom the term eccentric would have been less applicable. And as matter of fact, he took no degree simply because he could not conveniently afford it. He had inherited a small independent fortune, which, by the rules of the University of Oxford, made him what is there called a Grand Compounder, and would have raised the fees on his Bachelor's degree up to something near 1001. This was a larger sum than at the time he could conveniently spare from his income. But he very much regretted his inability to comply with the regulations of the University, utterly unreasonable as they appear ;1 he maintained his connexion with it by keeping his name upon the books of his College ; he interested himself keenly in all University questions ; and I know intended. if God had spared his life, and he could prudently have found the money, to take his degree, and acquire the right of voting in the Oxford Convocation. The well-informed writer in the Atlas, who ever he may be, will forgive, I am sure, my correcting almost the only mistake of fact I have been able to detect in his notice of my cousin's character.
1 I do not know if it is still the practice of the University ; but in my time I believe the son of a man with 100,0001. a year could take his degree for almost a quarter of the sum which it cost a man who happened to have
When he left Oxford, he chose the Law for his profession, and flung himself into the study of it with his habitual energy. He obtained a certificate of honour in 1853, and in 1854 he was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn. He chose the Court of Chancery, and more especially conveyancing, as the field for his practice. My own practice, lying chiefly in the Courts of Common Law, very seldom gave me the means of testing the extent and character of my cousin's legal knowledge. More than once, however, the opportunity did occur; and, so far as I can form an opinion, I entirely agree with that formed and expressed by others who saw more of him as a lawyer, and are far better qualified to pronounce a judgment; that he was a very sound and accurate lawyer, and an excellent conveyancer. That, if his health had permitted it, he would have had great success at the bar, I do not doubt. While his health lasted, he had that moderate success which is all which the Law generally accords for many years to her most devoted followers. But, as was not unnatural in a somewhat over-confident man, he was a little unreasonably discouraged because success did not come to him so rapidly as he had hoped, perhaps had expected, that it would.
Meanwhile he turned his attention to philology, a subject in which he had always taken great interest, and in which his. large knowledge of languages, his accurate and rapid reading, and his powerful memory fitted him to excel. The facts connected with his philological labours cannot be better stated than in the words of the writer in the Atlas before referred to ; and, as many of them are not within my own knowledge, I will extract a paragraph from his notice.
“In November, 1857, he heard the “ Dean of Westminster read before the “ Philological Society (of which he was “an active member) papers ‘On the De“ficiencies in our English Dictionaries,' “and he was induced to read Sylvester's
and he was ir 6. Du Bartas' for words omitted by
* his hand, he proposed to Mr. FusJ. very high capacity for such studies. To “ Furnivall (Honorary Secretary to the the energy and enthusiasm with which “ Philological Society) that a committee he devoted himself to them, I can bear “ should be formed to make a supple witness. He was always at work, to the 66 ment to these dictionaries ; and of this serious injury, as I could not but think, 66 committee of three he was the secre of his bodily health. When not at his “ tary and chief workman, the other chamber she was working hard at home; “ two being the Dean and Mr. Furnivall. and, even during the short vacation he “ A circular for help in reading books allowed himself, and when away from 56 was issued, and so many volunteers London, books were always with him, “ came forward that a new English dic- and his mind and his pen were always la“ tionary was resolved on; of the lite- bouring. Asmall drawing-room he turned " rary and historical portion of which Mr. into a literary workshop; and there, with “ Coleridge was appointed editor: With the floor, the chairs, and the tables “ the help of numerous coadjutors, covered with books, a large deal frame “ he produced his "Glossarial Index to by his side with its multitude of com" the Printed English Literature of the partments filled full of extracts, he went “ Thirteenth Century'(1859), and a list on working long after he was a dying “ of modern words, A.D. 1861, while man, in such intervals as his determined " all the time he was steadily arranging energy won from the progress of a wast“ the contributions of readers for the ing disease, and as long as his failing “ Dictionary. His papers read before frame could be propped up by pillows " the Philological Society were ‘On the and his fingers had strength to hold a “ Scandinavian Elements in the English pen. “ Language' (exploding Mr. Thomas In the last eighteen months of his “ Wright's assertion that there were no life, when he knew that he was dying, “ Danish words in our language); "On he began and made considerable pro“the verb Ploro and its Compounds; gress in the study of Sanscrit. A book “On the word Culorum ;' On the given him by the Dean of Westminster, " Exclusion of several Words from a but four days before his death, had been “ Dictionary ;' and 'A Report of some read nearly through by him, and con“ Hard Words and Passages in Early tained many careful notes in his hand“ English Writers'- besides two papers, writing. On his writing table, when he “ we believe, in Macmillan's Magazine, died, was an unfinished review of Dr. “ one being a review of Mr. Hensleigh Dasent's “Story of Burnt Njal,” which “ Wedgwood's English Etymology. The he had been writing less than a week “ progress made in the Philological before he died. I was with him twelve " Society's dictionary is stated by him. hours before his death ; and not only “ in a letter to Dean Trench, dated May were his interests as keen, his affections “ 3d, 1860, published in the appendix as warm, and his mind as clear as I ever “ to the second edition of the Dean's saw them, but he had actually done some “ Essays on the Deficiencies in our Dic- literary work only a few minutes before “ tionaries. Before his death he ob- my visit. Consumption, which had " tained from his friend and colleague, brought his frame almost to dissolution, “ Mr. Furnivall, a promise that he would had had no power upon the energies of “ fill his place as editor, so that the his mind. “ work he so desired to complete might I think it was in 1857 that, in com“ not fall to the ground.”
mon with others who loved him, I beOf the extent and value of his .ser- came aware that his lungs were affected. vices to philology, and especially to the He struggled gallantly with his disease ; projected English dictionary, I am not and in 1858, after a bad hæmorrhage, competent to speak; but I have been and with a confirmed cough, in hope of told by those who are competent, that benefiting himself by a few weeks of
spring circuit as marshal, with Sir John Coleridge, his uncle. He returned worse, and he never really rallied, although the progress of his disease was slow. He tried Whitby, Sidmouth, Blackpool, and Hampstead, all equally in vain, giving up very reluctantly, and only a few months before his death, his regular work at Lincoln's Inn, and never giving up, as I have said, such work as he could do at home. I cannot pretend to say whether the south of Europe or Madeira might not have saved his life ; but it was useless to suggest it to him. He clung passionately to his studious habits of life, to his home, to his books, to his friends—to one dearest friend of all, who lives to mourn him, for whose sake chiefly, indeed, he ever left London at all. Supported by her, with his only sister kneeling by his bedside, and while his friend, Mr. H. Burrows, was administering the Blessed Sacrament to them, he fell asleep.
Such was the life and such the death of Herbert Coleridge. His life was uneventful ; and, if measured by the actual results of his labour, he seems to have left but little behind him to justify the strong impression of power and promise he made upon all who knew him well. But all who knew him well received
this impression, and think with a certain sad regret on the unfufilled renown which was all he achieved here. For such only, probably, will these few lines have any serious interest, but they will admit that a cousin's hand has here dealt out to him in very straitened measure the honour he deserved. They, too, will treasure the memory of his warm heart and the affectionate disposition; of his character and temper, softened from any harshness, and refined and purified from any selfishness into considerate and almost tender gentleness, by the affliction which he took as it becomes a Christian to take what it pleases God to send ; of his religion, sincere and deep-thoughtful as might be expected in the grandson and profound admirer of S. T. Coleridge
but remarkably free from pretence or display ; of a man careless, perhaps too careless, about general society and ordinary acquaintance, but giving his whole heart where he gave it at all, and giving it stedfastly. To their kindness I venture to commend this fading record of a common love and a common sorrow. I most sincerely wish it were worthier of both.
I am, sir,
John DUKE COLERIDGE. To the Editor of MacMILLAN'S MAGAZINE.
THE BRISSON S.
BY CECIL HOME.
WITHIN sight of the Landsend, and over looked by bluff Cape Cornwall, with its ambitious ascent from a low contracted neck of green to a high rounded slope widening out into the sea until it is abruptly terminated by rough rockpeaks standing precipitously in the surf, lie two pointed rocks some sixty feet above the waves that dash against them, At low water a narrow ledge of rocks unites the lonely sisters—for “ Sisters" their name of Brissons is said to have signified in the perished tongue of the Cornishman ; but with the swelling tide
the broken waters, rising bleak and desolate more than a mile from the shore, the resort of wild sea-birds, who do well to choose themselves a home offering barely resting place for the foot of man, and sometimes, when tempests have stirred the waters along that dangerous western coast, unapproachable for weeks together.
wild wind stormed on them from the south-west one gloomy morning of January, 1851 ; a black fog gathered round them. A merchant brig on her way to the Spanish main, gale-driven
uniting ledge. The sea dashed mercilessly against her, and almost immediately she was a shapeless confusion of planks and spars floating away piecemeal, never to breast the waves a tidy brig again. But her crew had escaped her fate : nine men and one woman, the master's wife, stood shivering under the tossing spray on the strip of rocks that had been their deadly enemy, and was now for a while their safety. At length the daylight dawned, and they were seen from the shore, and they could see the shore, with a crowd gathering and gathering on it, and knew, as surely as if they had heard, that help for them was the thought and the talk of every man in that great throng. There was hope now.
But in vain; no help could be rendered ; and the waves dashed higher and higher round them, and the ledge sank lower and lower into the foaming waste. It was full morning now, about nine o'clock; nothing had been done, nothing could be done, though more than two thousand were watching their nearing fate. A fierce white wave plunged over them, and they were drawn into the great water-grave. Seven souls gasped into death. The sea threw one man against the smaller Brisson ; it was the master of the lost yessel. He clung to a jutting rock, and clambered into safety. A great billow rolled by him, bearing along his struggling wife; seizing her floating dress he was able to drag her towards him and assist her to gain a footing on the rock. Together they climbed high out of the reach of the waves, and were free from instant peril of death, but that was all.
Meanwhile a Mulatto seaman of the brig had contrived to place himself on a fragment of her wreck. The sea raged against him, and threatened every moment to drive him back among the fatal surges; but he battled calmly with it for his life. With a plank for oar, and a piece of canvass for sail, he guided his raft from the turmoil, and struggled towards the shore. For two or three hours he remained beaten to and fro by
helping him nearer land, the angry billows placing death between, his energy of mind and body remaining unshaken while he steadily pursued his attempt. Five stout fishermen at Sennen cove, a little nook close to the Landsend, watched his fate as they stood among their neighbours, and saw now a possibility of helping him if their boat could but be launched through the breakers. A possibility which, after all, was a bare possibility, beset with danger and difficulty ; but let it be tried. Their boat was launched through the opposing breakers ; she got to sea; now she seemed to disappear; now she rose again; she forced her way towards the undaunted mulatto. Oh ! well done, brave boat Grace ! She comes back triumphant through the raging waters, and lands in safety the rescued seaman and her noble crew. Three cheers for the five brave fishers of Sennen Cove, and their good boat Grace !
The sufferers on the rock have not been forgotten in the interval. On Cape Cornwall the Inspecting-Commander, his officers and men, are looking eagerly towards the Brissons, devising schemes of rescue. Round the storm-beaten Landsend the gallant little cutter he has sent is working her way bravely. Dear little Sylvia, the most beautiful cutter in her Majesty's Revenue Service! So, at least, think I, who have watched her in every dress and in every weather till I grew to look on her as a familiar friend, and, in my child fancies, looking out at her on many a silver summer night as she lay in the bay in sight of my window, felt that, while all around me was sleeping, she and I awake were holding converse together across the quiet waters.
On she came victoriously round the point; and there, in the half hopeless hope that the approach to the rocks, which was impracticable from the Cape Cornwall shore, might be achieved from this less unfavourable quarter, her boat was launched, and her commanding officer with four of his men made the
spoken man he was, who had had his that threatening death must have been own way to make in the service, and drawn very near in heart—of much made it. I should like to see him and love. People said there was unhappiness shake hands with him again, though between them ; she, the piously taught he would hardly recognise me now that daughter of a dissenting minister, had eight years have separated me from the married him, a rough, half-unbelieving child who enjoyed so many and many a man, against the wishes of her friends, long summer day's cruise on board his and found that his ways were not her cutter in the beautiful Mount's Bay. ways, and had a hard life of it, poor soul.
It was a dangerous attempt he made, They said she had gone on that voyage and a fruitless one. Nearing the Brissons with him that her influence might" keep was impossible; it seemed even im- him steady," and so avert the menacing possible that his small boat could live anger of his employers. Whether they in that furious sea. It must have given said truly I do not know; but if so there a sharp pang to the waiters on the rock must have been forgiveness and reeonto see the effort to reach them abandoned, ciliation, one would think, that night in and their would-be preservers turn back the storm"; they two together in the on their way, themselves in deadly peril. sight of God must have repented and On shore there were fears that they forgiven all wrong that each had ever would not make good their return; worked the other. doubtless there were like fears in the No doubt through the long dark hours boat too, and with alarming reason they buoyed each other up with hope. enough. But at length that danger was Did either whisper to the other that overcome, and the bold little crew re- dread which must have been ever gained the Sylvia, having risked their present, that after that miserable night lives in vain.
there might be another and another and And now the short winter day was another, and they should still be there over'; all farther effort must be aban- not they, but two mouldering corpses doned. Darkness began to gather over lying ghastly under the sky in the seathe waters; the crowd melted from the bird's haunt till days of tempest had passed shore; the shore itself began to fade in by, and a calm came too late? Perhaps the night shadows from the eyes of the each seemed not to fear it, not to think hapless prisoners on the Little Brisson. of it, lest the other should be roused to They saw the Sylvia lie to for the the horror of that possibility. They night, taking her place in sight, and spoke no doubt trustfully of their hoisting her colours to bid them hope coming safety; they must wait patiently still, for they were not deserted. It through the blackness; the storm would would be some comfort to them, as they be less by the dawn ; to-morrow would looked out sadly through the gloom' put an end to their fears and their thickening over the fierce tumult of dangers! And the morrow did end the waters that prisoned them without fears and the dangers of both, but not shelter from the pitiless storm, without to both alike-to one for ever. food in their exhaustion, without one When morning broke the fury of the drop of pure water in their fevered waves was somewhat lowered, the wind excitement, on a dreary rock through a veering slightly to the south-east, so long inclement night, to rest a look on that it became possible, not to reach the the friendly vessel that gave them assur- Brissons, but to get nearer to them than ance of human sympathy-promise of could be done the day before. Still this coming efforts for their rescue, if not iniprovement seemed but useless. What certainty of life hope at least.
prospect was there of relieving the It must have been a strange awful sufferers, when, after all the hazard of night for those two; a night of little struggling as near as was feasible, there sleep and much sorrow; doubtless—for must still remain more than a hundred