234. To Thomas Poole Address: Mr T. Poole MS. Victoria University Lib. Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 18. This is the fifth and last of the autobiographical letters. [Endorsed Feby 19th 1798] From October 1781 to October 1782. After the death of my father we, of course, changed houses, & I ____________________ 1 Passage in brackets inked out in MS. 2 Coleridge apparently refers again to The Ancient Mariner, though that poem when 'finished' in 1798 had 658 lines. 3 i.e. The Destiny of Nations. 4 Two scenes from Osorio, The Foster-mother's Tale and The Dungeon, appeared in Lyrical Ballads, 1798. 5 No such '3rd Edition' appeared at this time. -387- remained with my mother till the spring of 1782, and was a dayscholar to Parson Warren, my Father's successor-- / He was a booby, I believe; and I used to delight my poor mother by relating little instances of his deficiency in grammar knowlege -- every detraction from his merits seemed an oblation to the memory of my Father, especially as Parson Warren did certainly pulpitize much better. -- Somewhere, I think, about April 1792, [ 1782] Judge Buller, who had been educated by my Father, sent for me, having procured a Christ's Hospital Presentation. -- I accordingly went to London, and was received by my mother's Brother, Mr Bowden, a Tobacconist & (at the same [time]) clerk to an Underwriter. My Uncle lived at the corner of the Stock exchange, & carried on his shop by means of a confidential Servant, who, I suppose, fleeced him most unmercifully. -- He was a widower, & had one daughter who lived with a Miss Cabriere, an old Maid of great sensibilities & a taste for literature -- Betsy Bowden had obtained an unlimited influence over her mind, which she still retains -- Mrs Holt (for this is her name now) was, when I knew her, an ugly & an artful woman & not the kindest of Daughters -- but indeed, my poor Uncle would have wearied the patience & affection of an Euphrasia. -- He was generous as the air & a man of very considerable talents -- but he was a Sot. -- He received me with great affection, and I stayed ten weeks at his house, during which time I went occasionally to Judge Buller's. My Uncle was very proud of me, & used to carry me from Coffee-house to Coffee-house, and Tavern to Tavern, where I drank, & talked & disputed, as if I had been a man -- /. Nothing was more common than for a large party to exclaim in my hearing, that I was a prodigy, &c &c &c -- so that, while I remained at my Uncle's, I was most completely spoilt & pampered, both mind & body. At length the time came, & I donned the Blue coat & yellow stockings, & was sent down to Hertford, a town 20 miles from London, where there are about 800 of the younger Blue coat boys -- At Hertford I was very happy, on the whole; for I had plenty to eat & drink, & pudding & vegetables almost every day. I stayed there six weeks; and then was drafted up to the great school at London, where I arrived in September, 1792 [ 1782] -- and was placed in the second ward, then called Jefferies's ward; & in the under Grammar School. There are twelve Wards, or dormitories, of unequal sizes, beside the Sick Ward, in the great School -- & they contained, all together, 700 boys; of whom I think nearly one third were the Sons of Clergymen. There are 5 Schools, a Mathematical, a Grammar, a drawing, a reading, & a writing School -- all very large Buildings. -- When a boy is admitted, if he read very badly, he is either sent to Hertford or to the Reading- -388- School -- (N.B. Boys are admissible from 7 to 12 years old) -- If he learn to read tolerably well before 9, he is drafted into the lower Grammar-school -- if not, into the writing-school, as having given proof of unfitness for classical attainment. -- If before he is eleven he climbs up to the first form of the lower Grammar-school, he is drafted into the head Grammar School -- if not, at 11 years old he is sent into the writing School, where he continues till 14 or 15 -- and is then either apprenticed, & articled as clerk, or whatever else his turn of mind, or of fortune shall have provided for him. Two or three times a year the Mathematical Master beats up for recruits for the King's boys, as they are called -- and all, who like the navy, are drafted into the Mathematical & Drawing Schools -- where they continue till 16 or 17, & go out as Midshipmen & Schoolmasters in the Navy. -- The Boys, who are drafted into the head Grammar School, remain there till 13 -- & then if not chosen for the university, go into the writing school. Each dormitory has a Nurse, or Matron -- & there is a head Matron to superintend all these Nurses. -- The boys were, when I was admitted, under excessive subordination to each other, according to rank in School -- & every ward was governed by four Monitors, (appointed by the Steward, who was the supreme Governor out of School -- our Temporal Lord) and by four Markers, who wore silver medals, & were appointed by the head Grammar Master, who was our supreme Spiritual Lord. The same boys were commonly both Monitors & Markers -We read in classes on Sundays to our Markers, & were catechized by them, & under their sole authority during prayers, &c -- all other authority was in the monitors; but, as I said, the same boys were ordinarily both the one & the other. -- Our diet was very scanty -- Every morning a bit of dry bread & some bad small beer -- every evening a larger piece of bread, & cheese or butter, whichever we liked -- For dinner -- on Sunday, boiled beef & broth -Monday, Bread & butter, & milk & water -- on Tuesday, roast mutton, Wednesday, bread & butter & rice milk, Thurday, boiled beef & broth -- Friday, boiled mutton & broth -- Saturday, bread & butter, & pease porritch -- Our food was portioned -- & excepting on Wednesdays I never had a belly full. Our appetites were damped never satisfied -- and we had no vegetables. -- S. T. Coleridge -389-