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The Poets In A Puzzle








Cottle, in his Life of Coleridge, relates the following amusing
incident:--

"I led the horse to the stable, when a fresh perplexity arose. I removed
the harness without difficulty; but, after many strenuous attempts, I
could not remove the collar. In despair, I called for assistance, when
aid soon drew near. Mr. Wordsworth brought his ingenuity into exercise;
but, after several unsuccessful efforts, he relinquished the achievement,
as a thing altogether impracticable. Mr. Coleridge now tried his hand,
but showed no more grooming skill than his predecessors; for, after
twisting the poor horse's neck almost to strangulation and the great
danger of his eyes, he gave up the useless task, pronouncing that the
horse's head must have grown (gout or dropsy?) since the collar was put
on; for he said 'it was a downright impossibility for such a huge os
frontis to pass through so narrow a collar!' Just at this instant, a
servant-girl came near, and, understanding the cause of our consternation,
'La! master,' said she, 'you don't go about the work in the right way.
You should do like this,' when, turning the collar completely upside
down, she slipped it off in a moment, to our great humiliation and
wonderment, each satisfied afresh that there were heights of knowledge
in the world to which we had not yet attained."

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