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Coleridge A Soldier

After Coleridge left Cambridge, he came to London, where soon feeling
himself forlorn and destitute, he enlisted as a soldier in the 15th
Elliot's Light Dragoons. "On his arrival at the quarters of the
regiment," says his friend and biographer, Mr. Gilman, "the general of
the district inspected the recruits, and looking hard at Coleridge, with
a military air, inquired 'What's your name, sir?' 'Comberbach!' (the
name he had assumed.) 'What do you come here for, sir?' as if doubting
whether he had any business there. 'Sir,' said Coleridge, 'for what most
other persons come--to be made a soldier.' 'Do you think,' said the
general, 'you can run a Frenchman through the body?' 'I do not know,'
replied Coleridge, 'as I never tried; but I'll let a Frenchman run me
through the body before I'll run away.' 'That will do,' said the
general, and Coleridge was turned in the ranks."

The poet made a poor dragoon, and never advanced beyond the awkward
squad. He wrote letters, however, for all his comrades, and they
attended to his horse and accoutrements. After four months service,
(December 1793 to April 1794), the history and circumstances of
Coleridge became known. He had written under his saddle, on the stable
wall, a Latin sentence (Eheu! quam infortunii miserrimum est fuisse
felicem!) which led to an inquiry on the part of the captain of his
troop, who had more regard for the classics than Ensign Northerton, in
Tom Jones. Coleridge was, accordingly, discharged, and restored to his
family and friends.

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