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gridiron, all soot, grease, and iron! But he was one of the thorough-bred, a true lover of liberty, and (I was informed) had proved to the satisfaction of many, that Mr. Pitt was one of the horns of the second beast in the Revelations, that spoke like a dragon. A person, to whom one of my letters of recommendation had been addressed, was my introducer. It was a new event in my life, my first stroke in the new business I had undertaken of an author, yea, and of an author trading on his own account. My companion, after some imperfect sentences and a multitude of hums and haas, abandoned the cause to his client; and I commenced an harangue of half an hour to Phileleutheros, the tallow-chandler, varying my notes through the whole gamut of eloquence from the ratiocinative to the declamatory, and in the latter, from the pathetic to the indignant. I argued, I described, I promised, I prophesied; and beginning with the captivity of nations, I ended with the near approach of the millenium ; finishing the whole with some of my own verses, describing that glorious state out of the The Religious Musings :
Spring up on freshen'd wings, ambrosial gales ! “My taper man of lights listened with perseverant and praise-worthy patience, though (as I was afterwards told, on complaining of certain gales that were not altogether ambrosial) it was a melting day with him. “And what, Sir, (he said after a short pause) might the cost be ?' • Only four-pence (O! how I felt the anti-climax, and abysmal bathos of that four-pence), only four-pence, Sir, each number, to be published on every eighth day. That comes to a deal of money at the end of the year. And how much did you say there was to be for the money ?' * Thirty-two pages, Sir! large octavo, closely printed.' * Thirty and two pages ? Bless me, except what I does in a family way on the Sabbath, that's more than I ever reads, Sir! all the year round. I am as great a one, as any man in Brummagem, Sir! for liberty and truth and all them sort of things, but as to this (no offence, I hope, Sir) I must beg to be excused !'
“ So ended my first canvass : from causes that I shall presently mention ; I made but one other application in person. This took place at Manchester, to a stately and opulent wholesale dealer in cottons. He took my letter of introduction, and having perused it, measured me from head to foot, and again from foot to head, and then asked if I had any bill or invoice of the thing. I presented my prospectus to him. He rapidly skimmed and hummed over the first side, and still more rapidly the second and concluding page ; crushed it within his fingers and the palm of his hand; he most deliberately and significantly rubbed and smoothed one part against the other; and lastly, putting it into his pocket, turned his back on me with an
over-run with these articles !' and so, without another syllable, retired to his counting-house. And I can truly say, to my unspeakable amusement.
“ This, I have said, was my second and last attempt. On returning, baffled from the first, in which I had vainly essayed to repeat the miracle of Orpheus with the Brummagem patriot, I dined with the tradesman who had introduced me to him. After dinner he importuned me to smoke a pipe with him and two or three illuminati of the same rank. I objected, both because I was engaged
to spend the evening with a minister and his friends, and because I had never smoked except once or twice in my life-time, and then it was herb tobacco mixed with Oronooko. On the assurance, however, that the tobacco was equally mild, and seeing it was of a yellow colour, (not forgetting the lamentable difficulty I have always experienced, in saying No! and in abstaining from what the people about me were doing) I took half a pipe, filling the lower half of the bowl with salt. I was soon, however, compelled to resign it, in consequence of a giddiness and distressful feeling in my eyes, which as I had drunk but a single glass of ale, must, I knew, have been the effect of the tobacco. Soon after, deeming myself recovered, I sallied forth to my engagement, but the walk and the fresh air brought on all the symptoms again, and I scarcely entered the minister's drawing-room, and opened a small packet of letters, which he had received from Bristol for me, ere I sunk back on the sofa in a state of swoon rather than of sleep. Fortunately I had just found time enough to inform him of the confused state of my feelings, and of the occasion. For here and thus I lay, my face like a wall that is white-washed, deathly pale, and with cold drops of perspiration running down it from my forehead, while, one after another, there dropt in the different gentlemen, who had been invited to meet and spend the evening with me, to the number of from fifteen to twenty. As the poison of tobacco acts but for a short time, I at length awoke from insensibility, and looked round on the party, my eyes dazzled by the candles which had been lighted in the interim. By way of relieving my embarrassment one of the gentlemen began the conversation, with ‘Have you seen a paper to day, Mr. Coleridge ?' 'Sir! (I replied, rubbing my eyes) I am far from convinced, that a Christian is permitted to
read either newspapers or any other works of merely political and temporary interest.' This remark so ludicrously inapposite to, or rather, incongruous with the purpose for which I was known to have visited Birmingham, and to assist me in which they were all then met, produced an involuntary and general burst of laughter; and seldom indeed have I passed so many delightful hours as I enjoyed in that room, from the moment of that laugh to an early hour the next morning. Never, perhaps, in so mixed and numerous a party have I since heard conversation sustained with such animation, enriched with such varity of information, and enlivened with such a flow of anecdote. Both then and afterwards they all joined in dissuading me from proceeding with my scheme; assuring me in the most friendly, and yet most flattering expressions, that the employment was neither fit for me, nor I fit for the employment. Yet, if I had determined on persevering in it, they promised to exert themselves to the utmost to procure subscribers, and insisted I should make no more applications in person, but carry on the canvass by proxy. The same hospitable reception, the same dissuasion, and (that failing) the same kind exertions in my behalf, I met with at Manchester, Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield, indeed at every place in which I took up my sojourn. I often recall, with affectionate pleasure, the many respectable men who interested themselves for me, a perfect stranger to them, not a few of whom I can still name among my friends. They will bear witness for me, how opposite, even then, my principles were to those of jacobinism, or even of democracy, and can attest the strict accuracy of the statement which I have left on record in the 10th and 11th numbers of The Friend.
From this rememberable tour I returned with nearly
a thousand names on the subscription list of the Watchman; yet more than half convinced, that prudence dictated the abandonment of the scheme. But for this very reason I persevered in it; for I was at that period of my life so completely bag-ridden by the fear of being influenced by selfish motives, that to know a mode of conduct to be the dictate of prudence, was a sort of presumptive proof to my feelings, that the contrary was the dictate of duty. Accordingly, I commenced the work, which was announced in London by long bills, in letters larger than had ever been seen before, and which (I have been informed, for I did not see them myself) eclipsed the glories even of the lottery puffs. But, alas! the publication of the very first number was delayed beyond the day announced for its appearance. In the second number, an Essay against Fast-days, with a most censurable application of a text from Isaiah for its motto, lost me near five hundred of my subscribers at one blow. In the two following numbers I made enemies of all my jacobin and democratic patrons; for disgusted by their infidelity, and their adoption of French morals with French philosophy ; and perhaps thinking, that charity ought to begin nearest home; instead of abusing the government and the aristocrats chiefly or entirely, as had been expected of me, I levelled my attacks at modern patriotism, and even ventured to declare my belief, that whatever the motives of ministers might have been for the Sedition (or, as it was then the fashion to call them, the Gagging) Bills, yet the bills themselves would produce an effect to be desired by all the true friends of freedom, as far as they should contribute to deter men from openly declaiming on subjects, the principles of which they had never bottomed; and from 'pleading to the poor and ignorant, instead of pleading for them. At the same time I avowed my con