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Title: Biographia Epistolaris, Volume 1.
Author: Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Biographia Epistolaris, Volume 1." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Jonathan Ingram, Clytie Siddall

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's


comprising 33 letters

and being

the Biographical Supplement of

with additional letters etc., edited by


Vol. 1.

    "On the whole this was surely the mightiest genius since Milton. In
    poetry there is not his like, when he rose to his full power; he was
    a philosopher, the immensity of whose mind cannot be gauged by
    anything he has left behind; a critic, the subtlest and most
    profound of his time. Yet these vast and varied powers flowed away
    in the shifting sands of talk; and what remains is but what the few
    land-locked pools are to the receding ocean which has left them
    casually behind without sensible diminution of its

    Academy, 3d October, 1903.


The work known as the Biographical Supplement of the Biographia
Literaria of S. T. Coleridge, and published with the latter in 1847, was
begun by Henry Nelson Coleridge, and finished after his death by his
widow, Sara Coleridge. The first part, concluding with a letter dated
5th November 1796, is the more valuable portion of the Biographical
Supplement. What follows, written by Sara Coleridge, is more
controversial than biographical and does not continue, like the first
part, to make Coleridge tell his own life by inserting letters in the
narrative. Of 33 letters quoted in the whole work, 30 are contained in
the section written by Henry Nelson Coleridge. Of these 11 were drawn
from Cottle's Early Recollections, seven being letters to Josiah Wade,
four to Joseph Cottle, and the remainder are sixteen letters to Poole,
one to Benjamin Flower, one to Charles E Heath, and one to Henry Martin.

From this I think it is evident that Henry Nelson Coleridge intended
what was published as a Supplement to the Biographia Literaria to be a
Life of Coleridge, either supplementary to the Biographia Literaria or
as an independent narrative, in which most of the letters published by
Cottle in 1837 and unpublished letters to Poole and other correspondents
were to form the chief material. Sara Coleridge, in finishing the
fragment, did not attempt to carry out the original intention of her
husband. A few letters in Cottle were perhaps not acceptable to her
taste, and in rejecting them she perhaps resolved to reject all
remaining letters in Cottle. She thus finished the fragmentary Life of
Coleridge left by her husband in her own way.

But Henry Nelson Coleridge had begun to build on another plan. His
intention was simply to string all Coleridge's letters available on a
slim biographical thread and thus produce a work in which the poet would
have been made to tell his own life. His beginning with the five
Biographical Letters to Thomas Poole is a proof of this. He took these
as his starting point; and, as far as he went, his "Life of Coleridge"
thus constructed is the most reliable of all the early biographies of

This edition of the Biographical Supplement is meant to carry out as far
as possible the original project of its author. The whole of his
narrative has been retained, and also what Sara Coleridge added to his
writing; and all the non-copyright letters of Coleridge available from
other sources have been inserted into the narrative, and additional
biographical matter, explanatory of the letters, has been given. [1] By
this retention of authentic sources I have produced as faithful a
picture of the Poet-Philosopher Coleridge as can be got anywhere, for
Coleridge always paints his own character in his letters. Those desirous
of a fuller picture may peruse, along with this work, the letters
published in the Collection of 1895, the place of which in the narrative
is indicated in footnotes.

[Footnote: What has been added is enclosed in square brackets.]

The letters are drawn from the following sources:

"Biographical Supplement", 1847 ............................................ 33
Cottle's "Reminiscences", 1847 ............................................. 78
The original "Friend", 1809 ................................................. 5
"The Watchman", 1796 ........................................................ 1
Gillman's "Life of Coleridge", 1838 ......................................... 7
Allsop's "Letters, Conversations, etc., of S. T. C"., 1836 (1864) .......... 45
"Essays on his Own Times", 1850 ............................................. 1
"Life and Correspondence of R. Southey", 1850 ............................... 7
Editorials of Poems, etc .................................................... 8
"Literary Remains of S. T. C., 1836, etc" ................................... 3
"Blackwood's Magazine", October, 1821 ....................................... 1
"Fragmentary Remains of Humphry Davy", 1858 ................................ 15
"Macmillan's Magazine", 1864 (Letters to W. Godwin) ......................... 9
Southey's "Life of Andrew Bell", 3 vols., 1844 .............................. 2
"Charles Lamb and the Lloyds", by E. V. Lucas ............................... 3
"Anima Poetae", by E. H. Coleridge, 1895 .................................... 1

The letters of Coleridge have slowly come to light. Coleridge was always
fond of letter-writing, and at several periods of his career he was more
active in letter-writing than at others. He commenced the publication of
his letters himself. The epistolary form was as dear to him in prose as
the ballad or odic form in verse. From his earliest publications we can
see he loved to launch a poem with "A letter to the Editor," or to the
recipient, as preface. The "Mathematical Problem", one of his juvenile
facetiae in rhyme, was thus heralded with a letter addressed to his
brother George explaining the import of the doggerel. His first printed
poem, "To Fortune" (Dykes Campbell's Edition of the "Poems", p. 27), was
also prefaced by a short letter to the editor of the "Morning
Chronicle". Among Coleridge's letters are several of this sort, and each
affords a glimpse into his character. Those with the "Raven" and
"Talleyrand to Lord Grenville" are characteristic specimens of his
drollery and irony.

Coleridge's greatest triumphs in letter-writing were gained in the field
of politics. His two letters to Fox, his letters on the Spaniards, and
those to Judge Fletcher, are his highest specimens of epistolary
eloquence, and constitute him the rival of Rousseau as an advocate of
some great truth in a letter addressed to a public personage. In
clearness of thought and virile precision of language they surpass the
most of anything that Coleridge has written. They never wander from the
point at issue; the evolution of their ideas is perfect, their idiom the
purest mother-English written since the refined vocabulary of Hooker,
Jeremy Taylor, and Harrington was coined.

Besides the political letters, Coleridge published during his lifetime
four important letters of great length written during his sojourn in
Germany. Three of these appeared in the "Friend" of 1809, and indeed
were the finest part of that periodical; and one was first made public
in the "Amulet" of 1829. Six letters published in "Blackwood's Magazine"
of 1820-21, and a few others of less importance, brought up the number
of letters published by Coleridge to 46. The following is a list of them:

7th Nov. 1793, "To Fortune," Ed. "Morning Chronicle"  ................  1
22nd Sept. 1794, Dedication to "Robespierre," to H. Martin ...........  1
1st April 1796, Letter to "Caius Gracchus," "The Watchman" ...........  1
26th Dec. 1796, Dedication to the "Ode to the Departing Year,"
to T. Poole                                                ...........  1
1798, Ed. "Monthly Magazine, re Monody on Chatterton".................  1
1799, Ed. "Morning Post," with the "Raven" ...........................  1
21 Dec. 1799, Ed. "Morning Post," with "Love" ........................  1
10th Jan. 1800, Ed. "Morning Post, Talleyrand to Lord Grenville" .....  1
18th Nov. 1800, "Monthly Review," on "Wallenstein" ...................  1
1834, To George Coleridge, with "Mathematical Problem" ...............  1
Political Letters to the "Morning Post" and "Courier" ................ 21
1809, Letters of Satyrane, etc., in the "Friend" .....................  8
1820-21, Letters to "Blackwood's Magazine" ...........................  6
1829, "The Amulet," "Over the Brocken"  ..............................  1

The "Literary Remains," published in 1836, added .....................  4

Allsop, in his "Letters, Conversations, etc.", gave to the world ..... 46

Cottle followed in 1837, with his "Early Recollections", in which .... 84
letters or fragments of letters made their appearance

Gillman in 1838 published 11 letters or fragments, 4 of which had
already appeared in the works of Allsop and Cottle and in the
"Friend", leaving a contribution of  .................................  7

The "Gentleman's Magazine" followed in 1838
with letters to Daniel Stuart  ........................................17

Cottle, in 1847, re-cast his "Early Recollections", and called his
work "Reminiscences of Coleridge and Southey", and added the
splendid Wedgwood series of 19 letters, and a few others of less
importance, in all  ...................................................25

The "Biographical Supplement" to the 1847 edition of the "Biographia
Literaria" contained 33 letters, 11 of which were from Cottle;
leaving a contribution of  ............................................22

In 1850, Coleridge's "Essays on his Own Times", consisting of his
magazine and newspaper articles, contained in the Preface (p. 91),
a fragment of a letter to Poole  .......................................1

Making  ..............................................................252

published up to 1850 by Coleridge himself and his three early
biographers; and these continued to be quoted and alluded to by writers
on Coleridge until 1895, when Mr. E. H. Coleridge gave to the world a
collection of 260 letters.

Meantime, numerous biographies, memoirs, and magazines continued to
throw in a contribution now and then. The following, as far as I have
been able to ascertain, is the number of letters or fragments of letters
contributed by the various works enumerated:

1836-8, Lockhart's "Life of Sir Walter Scott"                1
1841,   "Life of Charles Mathews"                            1
 "      "The Mirror", Letter to George Dyer                  1
1844,   Southey's "Life of Dr. Andrew Bell"                  5
1847,   "Memoir of Carey" (Translator of Dante)              1
1848,   "Memoir of William Collins, R.A."                    1
1849,   "Life and Correspondence of R. Southey"              7
1851,   "Memoirs of W. Wordsworth"                           8
1858,   "Fragmentary Remains of Sir H. Davy"                15
1860,   "Autobiography of C. R. Leslie"                      1
1864,   "Macmillan's Magazine" (Letters to Win. Godwin)      9
1869,   "H. Crabb Robinson's Diary"                          5
1870,   "Westminster Review" (Letters to Dr. Brabant)       11
1871,   Meteyard's "Group of Englishmen"                     2
1873,   Sara Coleridge's "Memoirs"                           1
1874,   "Lippincott's Magazine"                             10
1876,   "Life of William Godwin", by C. Regan Paul (16,
        less 7 of those which appeared in "Macmillan's
        Magazine", 1864)                                     9
1878,   "Fraser's Magazine" (letters to Matilda Betham)      5
1880,   Macmillan's Edition of "Coleridge's Poems"           1
1882,   "Journals of Caroline Fox"                           1
1884,   "Life of Alaric Watts"                               5
1886,   Brandl's "Life of Coleridge"                        10
1887,   "Memorials of Coleorton"                            20
1888,   "Thomas Poole and his Friends" (Mrs. Sandford)      75
1889,   Professor Knight's "Life of Wordsworth"             12
1889,   "Rogers and his Contemporaries"                      1
1890,   "Memoir of John Murray"                              4
1891,   "De Quincey Memorials"                               4
1893,   "Life of Washington Allston" (Flagg)                 4
"       "Friends' Quarterly Magazine"                        1
"       "Illustrated London News"                           19
1893,   J. Dykes Campbell's Edition of "Coleridge's Poems"   8
1894,   "   "      "         Life of Coleridge" (fragments) 36
1894,  "The Athenaeum" (3 letters to Wrangham)               3
1895,  "Letters" of S. T. Coleridge (edited by E. H.
       Coleridge)                                          174
"      "Anima Poetae" (E. H. C.), Letter to J. Tobin.        1
"      "The Gillmans of Highgate" (A. W. Gillman)            3
"      "Athenaeum" of 18 May, 1895                           1
1897,  "William Blackwood and his Sons", by Mrs. Oliphant    6
1898,  "Charles Lamb and the Lloyds" (E. V. Lucas)           3
1899,  "J. H. Frere and his Friends"                         7
1903,  "Tom Wedgwood", by R. B. Litchfield                   1
1907,  "Christabel", edited by E. H. Coleridge               1
1910,  "The Bookman", May                                    1

                                                        Total 747

Besides these there are privately printed letters and letters not yet
published to be taken account of. The chief collection of these is
"Letters from the Lake Poets" (edited by E. H. Coleridge), containing 87
letters to Daniel Stuart, some of which are republished in the
"Letters", 1895. The remainder of letters not published, from the
information given by Mr. E. H. Coleridge in his Preface, I make out to
be about 300.

Nor does this exhaust the list of letters written by Coleridge. In
Ainger's Collection of the Letters of Charles Lamb are 62 letters by
Lamb to Coleridge, most of which are in answer to letters received. We
may therefore estimate the letters of Coleridge to Lamb at not less than
62. In Dorothy Wordsworth's "Grasmere Journal" there are no less than 32
letters to the Wordsworths[1] mentioned as having been received during
the period 1800-1803, not represented among the letters in Professor
Knight's "Life of Wordsworth". The total number of letters known to have
been written by Coleridge is therefore between 1,100 and 1,200. Other
correspondents of Coleridge not appearing among the recipients of
letters in publications are probably as follows:

V. Le Grice.

Sam. Le Grice.

T. F. Middleton.

Robert Allen.

Robert Lovell.

Ch. Lloyd, Jr.

John Cruickshank.

Dr. Beddoes.

Edmund Irving.

Mr. Clarkson.

Mrs. Clarkson (except one small fragment in "Diary of H. C. Robinson").

[Footnote 1:
The letters to Lamb and Miss Wordsworth do not now exist.]

The letters of Coleridge, taken as a whole, are one of the most
important contributions to English Letter-writing. They are gradually
coming to light, and with every letter or group of letters put forth,
the character and intellectual development of Coleridge is becoming
clearer. His poems and prose works, great as these are, are not
comprehensible without a study of his letters, which join together the
"insulated fragments" of that grand scheme of truth which he called his
"System" ("Table Talk", 12th Sept. 1831, and 26th June 1834).
Coleridge, in his letters, has written his own life, for his life, after
all, was a life of thought, and his finest thoughts and his most
ambitious aspirations are given expression to in his letters to his
numerous friends; and the true biography of Coleridge is that in which
his letters are made the main source of the narrative. A Biographia
Epistolaris is what we want of such a man.

Coleridge's letters are often bizarre in construction and quite
regardless of the conventions of style, and abound in the most curious
freaks of emphasis and imagery. They resemble the letters of Cowper in
that they were not written for publication; and, like Cowper's, they
have a character of their own. But they far surpass the epistles of the
poet of Olney in spiritual vision and intellectuality. The eighteenth
century, from Pope and Swift down to Cowper, is extremely
 rich in
letter-writing. Bolingbroke, Lord Chesterfield, Lady Mary Wortley
Montagu, Gray, Mason, Johnson, Beattie, Burns, and Gibbon, among
literary personages, have contributed to the great Epistolick Art, as
Dr. Johnson called it; and this list does not include the letters of the
politicians, Horace Walpole, Junius, and others. The eighteenth century,
in fact, was a letter-writing age; and while the bulk of the poetry of
its 300 poets, with the exception of a few masterpieces of monumental
quality, has gradually gone out of fashion, its letters have risen into
greater repute. Even among the poets whose verse is still read there is
a hesitation in public opinion as to whether the verses or letters are
superior. There are readers not a few who would not scruple to place
Cowper's letters above his poems, who believe that Gray's letters are
much more akin to the modern spirit than the "Elegy" and the "Ode
to Eton College", and who think that Swift's fly-leaves to his
friends will outlive the fame of "Gulliver" and the "Tale of a

Coleridge, who stands between the eighteenth and the nineteenth
centuries, was, like the poets of the former age, a multiform
letter-writer. He was often seized with letter-writing when unable to
write poetry or execute those unpublished masterpieces in the
composition of some of which he was engaged.

Coleridge's letters are of the utmost importance as a part of the
literature of the opening of the nineteenth century. It is in the
letters that we see better than elsewhere the germs of the speculations
which afterwards came to fruition between 1817 and 1850, when the
poetical and critical principles of the Lake School gradually took the
place of the Classicism of the eighteenth century, and the theology of
Broad Churchism began to displace the old theology, and the school of
Paley in Evidences and Locke in Philosophy gave way before the inroad of

As the record of the phases of an intellectual development the letters
of Coleridge stand very high; and, indeed, I do not know anything equal
to them except it be the "Journal of Amiel".

The resemblance between Coleridge and Amiel is very striking. Both
valetudinarians and barely understood by the friends with whom they came
into contact, they took refuge in the inner shrine of introspection, and
clothed the most abstruse ideas in the most beautiful forms of language
and imagery that is only not poetry because it is not verse. While one
wrote the story of his own intellectual development in secret and
retained the record of it hidden from all eyes, the other scattered his
to the winds in the shape of letters, which thus, widely distributed,
kept his secret until they were gathered together by later hands. The
letters of Coleridge as a collection is one of the most engaging
psychological studies of the history of an individual mind.

The text of the letters in the present volume is reproduced from the
original sources, the "Biographical Supplement", Cottle, Gillman,
Allsop, and the "Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey". Fuller
texts of some of the letters will be found in "Letters of S. T. C." of
1895, Litchfield's "Tom Wedgwood", and other recent publications. One of
the objects of the present work is to preserve the text of the letters
as presented in these authentic sources of the life of Coleridge.

Letters Nos. 44, 45, and 46, from "Charles Lamb and the Lloyds", by Mr.
E. V. Lucas (Smith, Elder and Co.); No. 130 from "Anima Poetae" (W.
Heinemann), are printed here by arrangement with the poet's grandson,
Ernest Hartley Coleridge, Esq., to whom my sincere thanks are also due
for his kindness in reading the proofs. Mr. Coleridge, of course, is not
responsible for any of the opinions expressed in this work; but he has
taken great pains in putting me right regarding certain views of others
who had written on Coleridge, and also on some of the mistakes made by
Henry Nelson Coleridge and Sara Coleridge, who had insufficient data on
the matters on which they wrote, and definite information on which,
indeed, could not be ascertainable in 1847. Coming from Mr.
Coleridge--the chief living authority on the life, letters, and
published and unpublished writings of S. T. Coleridge--the corrections
in the footnotes and elsewhere may be taken as authoritative; and I have
to acknowledge my indebtedness to him accordingly,



31st January, 1911.


"Early Years and Late Reflections". By Clement Carlyon, M.D. 4 vols.

"Letters, Conversations, and Recollections of S. T. Coleridge". With a
Preface by the Editor. Moxon, 1836. 2 vols. Second Edition. By Thomas
Allsop. 1858. Third Edition, 1864.

"Early Recollections, chiefly relating to the late S. T. Coleridge
during his long residence in Bristol". By Joseph Cottle. 2 vols. 1837.

"The Letters of Charles Lamb with a Sketch of his Life". By Sir Thomas
Noon Talfourd, 1837; and "Final Memorials", 1848.

"Reminiscences of S. T. Coleridge and Robert Southey". By Joseph Cottle.
1847. 1 vol.

"Biographia Literaria, or Biographical Sketches of my Literary Life and
Opinions". By S. T. Coleridge. Second Edition, prepared for publication
in part by the late H. N. Coleridge: completed and published by his
widow. 2 vols. 1847.

"The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey". 6 vols. 1849-1850.

"Essays on his own Times". By Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Edited by his
daughter. London: William Pickering. 3 vols. 1850.

"Memoirs of William Wordsworth". By Christopher Wordsworth, D.D. 2 vols.

"The Complete Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge". New York: Harper and
Brothers. 7 vols. 1853.

"Oxford and Cambridge Essays". Professor Hort on Coleridge. 1856.

"Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey". 4 vols. 1856.

"Fragmentary Remains, literary and scientific, of Sir Humphry Davy,
Bart." Edited by his brother, John Davy, M.D. 1858.

"Dissertations and Discussions". John Stuart Mill. 4 vols. 1859-1875.

"Autobiographical Recollections by the late Charles Robert Leslie, R.A."
Edited by Tom Taylor. 2 vols. 1860.

"Beaten Paths". By T. Colley Grattan 2 vols. 1862.

"Studies in Poetry and Philosophy". By J. C. Shairp. 1868.

"Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson".
Selected and Edited by Thomas Sadler, Ph.D. 3 vols. 1869.

"A Group of Englishmen (1795-1815) being records of the younger
Wedgwoods and their Friends". By Eliza Meteyard, 1 vol. 1871.

"Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge", 1 vol. 1873.

"Life of William Godwin". By C. Kegan Paul. 2 vols. 1876.

"Journals and Letters of Caroline Fox". 2 vols. 1884.

"Life and Works of William Wordsworth". By William Knight, LL.D. 11
vols. 1882-1889.

"Prose Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge". Bohn Library. 6 vols. (various

"Memorials of Coleorton". Edited by William Knight, University of St.
Andrews. 2 vols. 1887.

"The Letters of Charles Lamb". Edited by Alfred Ainger. 2 vols. 1888.

"Thomas Poole and his Friends". By Mrs. Henry Sandford. 2 vols. 1888.

"Appreciations". By Walter Pater. 1889.

"De Quincey Memorials". Edited by Alexander H. Japp, LL.D., F.R.S.E. 2
vols. 1891.

"Posthumous Works of De Quincey". Edited by Alexander H. Japp, LL.D.,
F.R.S.E. Vol. II. 1893.

"The Life of Washington Allston". By Jared B. Flagg. 1893.

"The Works of Thomas De Quincey". Edited by Professor Masson. Vols.
I-III. 1896.

"Illustrated London News", 1893. Letters of S. T. C. edited by E. H.

"Anima Poetae: From the unpublished note-books of Samuel Taylor
Coleridge". Edited by Ernest Hartley Coleridge. 1895.

"The Gillmans of Highgate". By Alexander W. Gillman. 1895.

"Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge". Edited by Ernest Hartley
Coleridge. 2 vols. 1895. (Referred to in present volume as "Letters".}

"The Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth". Edited by William Knight. 2 vols.

"The Early Life of William Wordsworth", 1770-1798, "A Study of the
Prelude". By Emile Legouis; translated by J. W. Matthews. 1897.

"Charles Lamb and the Lloyds". Edited by E. V. Lucas. 1898.

"Bibliography of S. T. Coleridge". R. Heine Shepherd and Colonel
Prideaux. 1900.

"The German Influence on Coleridge". By John Louis Haney. 1902.

"A Bibliography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge". By John Louis Haney. 1903.

"Tom Wedgwood, the First Photographer". By R. B. Litchfield. 1903.

"Christabel, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; illustrated by a Facsimile of
the Manuscript and by Textual and other notes". By Ernest Hartley
Coleridge, Hon. F.R.S.L. Published under the direction of the Royal
Society of Literature: London, Henry Frowde. 1907. (The Facsimile is
that of the MS. presented by Coleridge to Sarah Hutchinson.)


John Thomas Cox. Memoir prefixed to Edition of the Poems of S. T.
Coleridge. 1836.

Life of Coleridge prefixed to Edition of the Poems by Milner and
Sowerby. (No date.)

James Gillman. "Life of S. T. Coleridge". Vol. I. 1838.

Biographical Supplement to the Second Edition of the "Biographia
Literaria". By Henry Nelson Coleridge and Sara Coleridge. 1847.

F. Freiligrath. Memoir to the "Tauchnitz Edition" of the Poems of S. T.
Coleridge. 1860.

E. H. Norton. Poetical and Dramatic Works, with Life of the Author. 3
vols. Boston, 1864.

Derwent Coleridge, Introductory Essay to Poems of S. T. C. Moxon and
Sons. 1870.

W. M. Rossetti. Critical Memoir to the Edition of Poems of S. T. C. in
Moxon's "Popular Poets." 1872.

William Bell Scott. Introduction to Edition of the Poems in "Routledge's

Memoir prefixed to the Edition of the Poems of S. T. C. in "Lansdown"
Poets. F. Warne and Co. 1878.

R. Herne Shepherd. Life of S. T. C. prefixed to Macmillan's Edition of
the Poems of S. T. C. 4 vols. 1877-1880.

Memoir prefixed to the "Landscape Edition" of the Poems of S. T.
Coleridge. Edinburgh, 1881.

"Life of S. T. Coleridge". By H. Traill, "English Men of Letters
Series." 1884.

Thomas Ashe. "Life of S. T. Coleridge" prefixed to the "Aldine Edition"
of the Poems of S. T. C. 2 vols. 1885.

Professor Alois Brandl, Prague. "Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the English
Romantic School". English Edition by Lady Eastlake. 1887.

"The Life of S. T. Coleridge". By Hall Caine. "Great Writers Series."

Introductory Memoir by J. Dykes Campbell, prefixed to "Poetical Works of
S. T. C." Macmillan. 1893.

"Samuel Taylor Coleridge". A narrative of the events of his Life. By
James Dykes Campbell. 1894.

"Coleridge". Bell's "Miniature Series of Great Writers." By Richard
Garnett. 1904.

"La Vie d'un Poete--Coleridge". Par Joseph Aynard. Paris, 1907.


Algernon C. Swinburne. "Christabel and the Lyrical and Imaginative Poems
of S. T. Coleridge" (Sampson Low, and Co.). 1869.

Joseph Skipsey. Prefatory Notice to the "Canterbury Edition" of
Coleridge's Poems (Walter Scott).

Stopford A. Brooke. Introduction to the Golden Book of Coleridge (Dent
and Co.).

Andrew Lang. Introduction to Poems of S. T. C. (Longmans).

Richard Garnett. "The Poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge". The "Muses"
Library (Lawrence and Bullen, now Routledge). 1888.

"Coleridge's Select Poems". Edited by Andrew J. George, M. A. (Heath,

"Poems". Edited by E. H. Coleridge (Heinemann).

"Poems". Edited by Alice Meynell. "Red Letter Library" (Blackie).

"Poems of S. T. C." Edited by Professor Knight (Newnes).

"Poems of Coleridge", selected and arranged. Edited by Arthur Symons
(Methuen and Co.).

"The Poems of Coleridge". Illustrated by Gerald Metcalfe. With an
Introduction by E. Hartley Coleridge (John Lane). 1907.

"The Poems of S. T. Coleridge". "The World's Classics" (Frowde). Edited
by T. Quiller-Couch. 1908.

"Poems of Coleridge". "The Golden Poets." With an Introduction by
Professor Edward Dowden, LL.D. (Caxton Publishing Company).


1865. Article in the "North British Review" for December of this year.

1903. "From Ottery to Highgate, the story of the childhood and later
years of Samuel Taylor Coleridge". By Wilfred Brown (Coleberd and Co.,
Ltd., Ottery St. Mary).



CHAPTER I. EARLY YEARS                                    I, 3
 Letter 1. To Thomas Poole.                -- Feby. 1797     5
        2.    "                            -- Mch.  1797     7
        3.    "                             9 Oct.  1797    11
        4.    "                            16 Oct.  1797    15
        5.    "                            19 Feby. 1798    19

 Letter 6. To George Coleridge.            31 Mch.  1791    29
        7.    Robert Southey.               6 July, 1794    34
        8.    Henry Martin.                22 July, 1794    35
        9.    Southey.                      6 Sept. 1794    42
       10.    "                            18 Sept. 1794    43
       11.    Charles Heath.               -- --    1794    44
       12.    Henry Martin.                22 Sept. 1794    46
       13.    Southey.                     -- Dec.  1794    47

CHAPTER III. "THE WATCHMAN"                                 50
Letter 14. To Thomas Poole.                 7 Oct.  1795    50
       15.    Joseph Cottle.               -- Dec.  1795    52
       16.    "                             1 Jany. 1796    52
       17.    Josiah Wade.                 -- Jany. 1796    55
       18.    "                            -- --    1796    55
       19.    "                            -- --    1796    56
       20.    "                            -- --    1796    58
       21.    "                             7 Jany. 1796    59
       22.    "                            -- Jany. 1796    60
       23.    Cottle.                      -- Feby. 1796    62
       24.    "                            -- --    1796    62
       25.    "                            22 Feby. 1796    63
       26.    Poole.                       30 Mch.  1796    65
       27.    Benjamin Flower.             1 April, 1796
       28.    Caius Gracchus.              1 April, 1796
       29.    Poole.                      11 April, 1796
       30.    Cottle.                     15 April, 1796
       31.      "                         -- April, 1796
       32.      "                         -- April, 1796
       33.    Poole.                         6 May, 1796
       34.      "                           12 May, 1796
       35.      "                           29 May, 1796
       36.      "                           4 July, 1796
       37.      "                           -- Aug. 1796
       38.    Wade.                        -- Sept. 1796
       39.    Poole.                       24 Sept. 1796
       40.    Charles Lamb.                29 Sept. 1796
       41.    Cottle.                       18 Oct. 1796
       42.    Poole.                         1 Nov. 1796
       43.      "                            5 Nov. 1796
       44.    Charles Lloyd, Senr.          15 Oct. 1796
       45.      "                           14 Nov. 1796
       46.      "                            4 Dec. 1796
       47.    Poole.                        26 Dec. 1796


Letter 48. To Cottle.                         Jany. 1797
       49.      "                           3 Jany. 1797
       50.      "                          10 Jany. 1797
       51.      "                             Jany. 1797
       52.      "                             Jany. --
       53.      "                             Jany. --
       54.      "                     Feby. or Mch. 1797
       55.      "                              May, 1797
       56.      "                                  -- --
       57.      "                                  -- --
       58.     Wade.                               -- --
       59.     Cottle.                             -- --
       60.      "                          -- June, 1797
       61.      "                           8 June, 1797
       62.      "                               29 -- --
       63.      "                        3-17 July, 1797
       64.     Wade.                    17-20 July, 1797
Letter 65. To  Cottle.				        --Sept. 1797
	   66. 	    "				            3 Sept. 1797
	   67. 	    "				        10-15 Sept. 1797
	   68. 	    "				            28 Nov. 1797
	   69. 	    "				             2 Dec. 1797
	   70. 	    "				            --Jany. 1798
	   71. 	   Wedgwood.			        --Jany. 1798
	   72. 	   Cottle.				       24 Jany. 1798
	   73. 	   the Editor, "Monthly Mag."   --Jany. 1798


Letter 74. To  Cottle. 			            18 Feb. 1798
	   75. 	   the Editor, "Morning Post."  10 Mch. 1798
	   76. 	   Cottle.				         8 Mch. 1798
	   77. 	   Wade.				        21 Mch. 1798
	   78. 	   Cottle.				   Mch. or Apl. 1798
	   79. 	     "				          14 April, 1798
	   80.  	 "				           --April, 1798
	   81. 	     "				             --May, 1798
	   82. 	   Mrs. Coleridge.			   14 Jany. 1799
	   83. 	     "				          23 April, 1799


Letter 84. To  Mrs. Coleridge.  		    17 May, 1799


Letter 85. To  Josiah Wedgwood.		        21 May, 1799
	   86. 	   "the Editor, Morning Post."  21 Dec. 1799
	   87. 	     "				           10 Jany. 1800
	   88. 	   Thomas Wedgwood.		        --Jany. 1800
	   89. 	   Josiah Wedgwood.		        --Feby. 1800
	   90.  	Thomas Poole.			     --Mch. 1800


Letter 91. To  William Godwin.  		    21 May, 1800
	   92. 	   Humphry Davy.  			    --June, 1800
	   93. 	   Josiah Wedgwood.  		   24 July, 1800
	   94. 	   Davy.  				       25 July, 1800
	   95.	   Godwin. 			           22 Sept. 1800
	   96.     Davy.  				         9 Oct. 1800
	   97. 	   Godwin.  			        13 Oct. 1800
	   98.     Davy. 				        18 Oct. 1800
	   99.	   Josiah Wedgwood.              1 Nov. 1800
	  100.		  "			                12 Nov. 1800
	  101.	   the Editor, "Monthly Review."18 Nov. 1800
	  102.	   Davy. 				         2 Dec. 1800
	  103.		  "			                3 Feby. 1801
	  104.	   Wade. 				       6 March, 1801
	  105.	   Godwin. 			          25 March, 1801



Letter 106. To Southey. 			      13 April, 1801
	   107.	   Davy. 				         4 May, 1801
	   108.		 "			                20 May, 1801
	   109.	   Godwin.				       23 June, 1801
	   110.	   Davy. 				        31 Oct. 1801
	   111.	   Thos. Wedgwood. 		        20 Oct. 1802
	   112.		 "			                 3 Nov. 1802
	   113.		 "			                9 Jany. l803
	   114.      "			               14 Jany. 1803
	   115.		 "			               10 Feby. 1803
	   116.		 "                         10 Feby. 1803
	   117.		 "			               17 Feby. 1803
	   118.		 "			               17 Feby. 1803
	   119.	   Godwin. 			            4 June, 1803
	   120.		 "			               10 July, 1803
	   121.	   Southey.			           -- July, 1803
	   122.	   Thos. Wedgwood. 		       16 Sept. 1803
	   123.	   Miss Cruikshank.		        --  --  1803
	   124.	   Thos. Wedgwood.			   -- Jany. 1804
	   125.		 "			               28 Jany. 1804
	   126.	   Davy. 				         6 Mch. 1804
	   127.	   Sarah Hutchinson.		  10 March, 1804
	   128.    Wedgwood.			      24 March, 1804
	   129.    Davy.				      25 March, 1804





[1772 to 1791]

  While here, thou fed'st upon etherial beams,
  As if thou had'st not a terrestrial birth;--
  Beyond material objects was thy sight;
  In the clouds woven was thy lucid robe!
  "Ah! who can tell how little for this sphere
  That frame was fitted of empyreal fire!" [1]

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was the youngest child of the Reverend John
Coleridge, Chaplain-Priest and Vicar of the parish of Ottery St. Mary,
in the county of Devon, and Master of the Free Grammar, or King's
School, as it is called, founded by Henry VIII in that town. His
mother's maiden name was Ann Bowdon. He was born at Ottery on the 21st
of October 1772, "about eleven o'clock in the forenoon," as his father,
the Vicar, has, with rather unusual particularity, entered it in the

John Coleridge, who was born in 1719, and finished his education at
Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge,[2] was a country clergyman and
schoolmaster of no ordinary kind. He was a good Greek and Latin scholar,
a profound Hebraist, and, according to the measure of his day, an
accomplished mathematician. He was on terms of literary friendship with
Samuel Badcock, and, by his knowledge of Hebrew, rendered material
assistance to Dr. Kennicott, in his well known critical works. Some
curious papers on theological and antiquarian subjects appear with his
signature in the early numbers of "The Gentleman's Magazine", between
the years 1745 and 1780; almost all of which have been inserted in the
interesting volumes of Selections made several years ago from that work.
In 1768 he published miscellaneous Dissertations arising from the 17th
and 18th chapters of the Book of Judges; in which a very learned and
ingenious attempt is made to relieve the character of Micah from the
charge of idolatry ordinarily brought against it; and in 1772 appeared a
"Critical Latin Grammar", which his son called "his best work," and
which is not wholly unknown even now to the inquisitive by the proposed
substitution of the terms "prior, possessive, attributive, posterior,
interjective, and quale-quare-quidditive," for the vulgar names of the
cases. This little Grammar, however, deserves a philologer's perusal,
and is indeed in many respects a very valuable work in its kind. He also
published a Latin Exercise book, and a Sermon. His school was
celebrated, and most of the country gentlemen of that generation,
belonging to the south and east parts of Devon, had been his pupils.
Judge Buller was one. The amiable character and personal eccentricities
of this excellent man are not yet forgotten amongst some of the elders
of the parish and neighbourhood, and the latter, as is usual in such
cases, have been greatly exaggerated. He died suddenly in the month of
October 1781, after riding to Ottery from Plymouth, to which latter
place he had gone for the purpose of embarking his son Francis, as a
midshipman, for India. Many years afterwards, in 1797, S. T. Coleridge
commenced a series of Letters to his friend Thomas Poole, of Nether
Stowey, in the county of Somerset, in which he proposed to give an
account of his life up to that time. Five only were written, and
unfortunately they stop short of his residence at Cambridge. This series
will properly find a place here.

[Footnote 1: From a Sonnet To Coleridge by Sir Egerton Brydges--written
16th Feb. 1837. S. C.]

[Footnote 2: He was matriculated at Sidney a sizar on the 18th of March
1748, but does not appear to have taken any degree at the University. S.


My Dear Poole,

I could inform the dullest author how he might write an interesting
book. Let him relate the events of his own life with honesty, not
disguising the feelings that accompanied them. I never yet read even a
Methodist's "Experience" in the Gospel Magazine without receiving
instruction and amusement; and I should almost despair of that man who
could peruse the Life of John Woolman without an amelioration of heart.
As to my Life, it has all the charms of variety,--high life and low
life, vices and virtues, great folly and some wisdom. However, what I am
depends on what I have been; and you, my best friend, have a right to
the narration. To me the task will be a useful one. It will renew and
deepen my reflections on the past; and it will perhaps make you behold
with no unforgiving or impatient eye those weaknesses and defects in my
character, which so many untoward circumstances have concurred in
planting there.

My family on my Mother's side can be traced up, I know not how far. The
Bowdons inherited a good farm and house thereon in the Exmoor country,
in the reign of Elizabeth, as I have been told; and to my knowledge they
have inherited nothing better since that time. My Grandfather was in the
reign of George I a considerable woollen trader in Southmolton; so that
I suppose, when the time comes, I shall be allowed to pass as a
"Sans-culotte" without much opposition. My Father received a better
education than the rest of his family in consequence of his own
exertions, not of his superiour advantages. When he was not quite
sixteen years of age, my grandfather, by a series of misfortunes, was
reduced to great distress. My Father received the half of his last crown
and his blessing, and walked off to seek his fortune. After he had
proceeded a few miles, he sate him down on the side of the road, so
overwhelmed with painful thoughts that he wept audibly. A gentleman
passed by who knew him, and, inquiring into his sorrow, took him home
and gave him the means of maintaining himself by placing him in a
school. At this time he commenced being a severe and ardent student. He
married his first wife, by whom he had three daughters, all now alive.
While his first wife lived, having scraped up money enough, he at the
age of twenty walked to Cambridge, entered himself at Sidney College,
distinguished himself in Hebrew and Mathematics, and might have had a
fellowship if he had not been married. He returned and settled as a
schoolmaster in Southmolton where his wife died. In 1760 he was
appointed Chaplain-Priest and Master of the School at Ottery St. Mary,
and removed to that place; and in August, 1760, Mr. Buller, the father
of the present Judge, procured for him the living from Lord Chancellor
Bathurst. By my Mother, his second wife, he had ten children, of whom I
am the youngest, born October 20th,[1] 1772.

These facts I received from my Mother; but I am utterly unable to fill
them up by any further particulars of times, or places, or names. Here I
shall conclude my first Letter, because I cannot pledge myself for the
accuracy of the accounts, and I will not therefore mingle it with that
for the truth of which, in the minutest parts, I shall hold myself
responsible. You must regard this Letter as a first chapter devoted to
dim traditions of times too remote to be pierced by the eye of

Yours affectionately, S. T. COLERIDGE.

Feb. 1797. Monday.

[Footnote 1: A mistake, should be October 21st.]


My Dear Poole,

My Father (Vicar of, and Schoolmaster at, Ottery St. Mary, Devon) was a
good mathematician, and well versed in the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew
languages. He published, or rather attempted to publish, several
works;--1st, Miscellaneous Dissertations arising from the 17th and 18th
chapters of the Book of Judges; 2d, "Sententiae Excerptcae" for the use
of his own School; and 3d, his best work, a Critical Latin Grammar, in
the Preface to which he proposes a bold innovation in the names of the
cases. My Father's new nomenclature was not likely to become popular,
although it must be allowed to be both sonorous and expressive. "Exempli
gratia", he calls the ablative case "the quare-quale-quidditive case!"
He made the world his confidant with respect to his learning and
ingenuity, and the world seems to have kept the secret very faithfully.
His various works, uncut, unthumbed, were preserved free from all
pollution in the family archives, where they may still be for anything
that I know. This piece of good luck promises to be hereditary; for all
"my" compositions have the same amiable home-staying propensity. The
truth is, my Father was not a first-rate genius; he was, however, a
first-rate Christian, which is much better. I need not detain you with
his character. In learning, goodheartedness, absentness of mind, and
excessive ignorance of the world, he was a perfect Parson Adams.

 My Mother was an admirable economist, and managed exclusively. My
 eldest brother's name was John. He was a Captain in the East India
 Company's service; a successful officer and a brave one, as I have
 heard. He died in India in 1786. My second brother William went to
 Pembroke College, Oxford. He died a clergyman in 1780, just on the eve
 of his intended marriage. My brother James has been in the army since
 the age of fifteen, and has married a woman of fortune, one of the old
 Duke family of Otterton in Devon. Edward, the wit of the family, went
 to Pembroke College, and is now a clergyman. George also went to
 Pembroke. He is in orders likewise, and now has the same School, a very
 flourishing one, which my Father had. He is a man of reflective mind
 and elegant talent. He possesses learning in a greater degree than any
 of the family, excepting myself. His manners are grave, and hued over
 with a tender sadness. In his moral character he approaches every way
 nearer to perfection than any man I ever yet knew. He is worth us all.
 Luke Herman was a surgeon, a severe student, and a good man. He died in
 1790, leaving one child, a lovely boy still alive. [1] My only sister,
 Ann, died at twenty-one, a little after my brother Luke:--

Rest, gentle Shade! and wait thy Maker's will; Then rise unchang'd, and
be an angel still!

Francis Syndercombe went out to India as a midshipman under Admiral
Graves. He accidentally met his brother John on board ship abroad, who
took him ashore, and procured him a commission in the Company's army. He
died in 1792, aged twenty-one, a Lieutenant, in consequence of a fever
brought on by excessive fatigue at and after the siege of Seringapatam,
and the storming of a hill fort, during all which his conduct had been
so gallant that his Commanding Officer particularly noticed him, and
presented him with a gold watch, which my Mother now has. All my
brothers are remarkably handsome; but they were as inferiour to Francis
as I am to them. He went by the name of "the handsome Coleridge." The
tenth and last child was Samuel Taylor, the subject and author of these

From October 1772 to October 1773. Baptized Samuel Taylor, my
Godfather's name being Samuel Taylor, Esquire. I had another called
Evans, and two Godmothers, both named Munday.

From October 1773 to October 1774. In this year I was carelessly left by
my nurse, ran to the fire, and pulled out a live coal, and burned myself
dreadfully. While my hand was being drest by Mr. Young, I spoke for the
first time, (so my Mother informs me) and said, "nasty Dr. Young!" The
snatching at fire, and the circumstance of my first words expressing
hatred to professional men--are they at all ominous? This year I went to
school. My Schoolmistress, the very image of Shenstone's, was named Old
Dame Key. She was nearly related to Sir Joshua Reynolds.

From October 1774 to 1775. I was inoculated; which I mention, because I
distinctly remember it, and that my eyes were bound; at which I
manifested so much obstinate indignation, that at last they removed the
bandage, and unaffrighted I looked at the lancet, and suffered the
scratch. At the close of this year I could read a chapter in the Bible.

Here I shall end, because the remaining years of my life all assisted to
form my particular mind;--the first three years had nothing in them that
seems to relate to it.

God bless you and your sincere S. T. COLERIDGE.

Sunday, March, 1797.

[Footnote 1: William Hart Coleridge, Bishop of Barbadoes and the Leeward

(He was appointed to that See in 1824, retired from it in 1842; and
afterwards accepted the Wardenship of St. Augustine's College,
Canterbury. S. C.) [He died in 1849.] ]

 A letter from Francis S. Coleridge to his sister has been preserved in
 the family, in which a particular account is given of the chance
 meeting of the two brothers in India, mentioned shortly in the
 preceding Letter. There is something so touching and romantic in the
 incident that the Reader will, it is hoped, pardon the insertion of the
 original narrative here.

 Dear Nancy,

 You are very right, I have neglected my absent friends, but do not
 think I have forgot them, and indeed it would be ungrateful in me if I
 did not write to them.

 You may be sure, Nancy, I thank Providence for bringing about that
 meeting, which has been the cause of all my good fortune and happiness,
 which I now in fulness enjoy. It was an affectionate meeting, and I
 will inform you of the particulars. There was in our ship one Captain
 Mordaunt, who had been in India before, when we came to Bombay. Finding
 a number of his friends there he went often ashore. The day before the
 Fleet sailed he desired one Captain Welsh to go aboard with him, who
 was an intimate friend of your brother's. "I will," said Welsh, "and
 will write a note to Coleridge to go with us." Upon this Captain
 Mordaunt, recollecting me, said there was a young midshipman, a
 favourite of Captain Hicks, of that name on board. Upon that they
 agreed to inform my brother of it, which they did soon after, and all
 three came on board. I was then in the lower deck, and, though you
 won't believe it, I was sitting upon a gun and thinking of my brother,
 that is, whether I should ever see or hear anything of him; when seeing
 a Lieutenant, who had been sent to inform me of my brother's being on
 board, I got up off the gun: but instead of telling me about my
 brother, he told me that Captain Hicks was very angry with me and
 wanted to see me. Captain Hicks had always been a Father to me, and
 loved me as if I had been his own child. I therefore went up shaking
 like an aspen leaf to the Lieutenant's apartments, when a Gentleman
 took hold of my hand. I did not mind him at first, but looked round for
 the Captain; but the Gentleman still holding my hand, I looked, and
 what was my surprise, when I saw him too full to speak and his eyes
 full of tears. Whether crying is catching I know not, but I began a
 crying too, though I did not know the reason, till he caught me in his
 arms, and told me he was my brother, and then I found I was paying
 nature her tribute, for I believe I never cried so much in my life.
 There is a saying in Robinson Crusoe, I remember very well,
 viz.--sudden joy like grief confounds at first. We directly went ashore
 having got my discharge, and having took a most affectionate leave of
 Captain Hicks, I left the ship for good and all.

My situation in the army is that I am one of the oldest Ensigns, and
before you get this must in all probability be a Lieutenant. How many
changes there have been in my life, and what lucky ones they have been,
and how young I am still! I must be seven years older before I can
properly style myself a man, and what a number of officers do I command,
who are old enough to be my Father already!


October 9th, 1797.

My Dearest Poole,

From March to October--a long silence! But it is possible that I may
have been preparing materials for future Letters, and the time cannot be
considered as altogether subtracted from you.

From October 1775 to October 1778. These three years I continued at the
Reading School, because I was too little to be trusted among my Father's
schoolboys. After break-fast I had a halfpenny given me, with which I
bought three cakes at the baker's shop close by the school of my old
mistress; and these were my dinner every day except Saturday and Sunday,
when I used to dine at home, and wallowed in a beef and pudding dinner.
I am remarkably fond of beans and bacon: and this fondness I attribute
to my Father's giving me a penny for having eaten a large quantity of
beans on Saturday. For the other boys did not like them, and, as it was
an economic food, my Father thought my attachment to it ought to be
encouraged. He was very fond of me, and I was my Mother's darling: in
consequence whereof I was very miserable. For Molly, who had nursed my
brother Francis, and was immoderately fond of him, hated me because my
Mother took more notice of me than of Frank; and Frank hated me because
my Mother gave me now and then a bit of cake when he had none,--quite
forgetting that for one bit of cake which I had and he had not, he had
twenty sops in the pan, and pieces of bread and butter with sugar on
them from Molly, from whom I received only thumps and ill names.

So I became fretful, and timorous, and a tell-tale; and the schoolboys
drove me from play, and were always tormenting me. And hence I took no
pleasure in boyish sports, but read incessantly. I read through all
gilt-cover little books that could be had at that time, and likewise all
the uncovered tales of Tom Hickathrift, Jack the Giant Killer, and the
like. And I used to lie by the wall, and mope; and my spirits used to
come upon me suddenly, and in a flood;--and then I was accustomed to run
up and down the churchyard, and act over again all I had been reading on
the docks, the nettles, and the rank grass. At six years of age I
remember to have read Belisarius, Robinson Crusoe, and Philip Quarles;
and then I found the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, one tale of which,
(the tale of a man who was compelled to seek for a pure virgin,) made so
deep an impression on me, (I had read it in the evening while my mother
was at her needle,) that I was haunted by spectres, whenever I was in
the dark: and I distinctly recollect the anxious and fearful eagerness,
with which I used to watch the window where the book lay, and when the
sun came upon it, I would seize it, carry it by the wall, and bask, and
read. My father found out the effect which these books had produced, and
burned them.

So I became a dreamer, and acquired an indisposition to all bodily
activity; and I was fretful, and inordinately passionate; and as I could
not play at anything, and was slothful, I was despised and hated by the
boys: and because I could read and spell, and had, I may truly say, a
memory and understanding forced into almost unnatural ripeness, I was
flattered and wondered at by all the old women. And so I became very
vain, and despised most of the boys that were at all near my own age,
and before I was eight years old I was a "character". Sensibility,
imagination, vanity, sloth, and feelings of deep and bitter contempt for
almost all who traversed the orbit of my understanding, were even then
prominent and manifest.

From October 1778 to 1779. That which I began to be from three to six, I
continued to be from six to nine. In this year I was admitted into the
Grammar School, and soon outstripped all of my age. I had a dangerous
putrid fever this year. My brother George lay ill of the same fever in
the next room. My poor brother, Francis, I remember, stole up in spite
of orders to the contrary, and sat by my bedside, and read Pope's Homer
to me. Frank had a violent love of beating me; but whenever that was
superseded by any humour or circumstances, he was always very fond of
me, and used to regard me with a strange mixture of admiration and
contempt. Strange it was not, for he hated books, and loved climbing,
fighting, playing, and robbing orchards, to distraction. My Mother
relates a story of me, which I repeat here, because it must be reckoned
as my first piece of wit.--During my fever, I asked why Lady Northcote,
our neighbour, did not come and see me. My Mother said she was afraid of
catching the fever. I was piqued, and answered, "Ah! Mamma! the four
Angels round my bed a'n't afraid of catching it!" I suppose you know the
old prayer:--

          Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
          Bless the bed that I lie on!--
          Four good Angels round me spread,
          Two at my feet and two at my head.

This "prayer" I said nightly, and most firmly believed the truth of it.
Frequently have I, (half-awake and half-asleep; my body diseased, and
fevered by my imagination,)--seen armies of ugly things bursting in upon
me, and these four Angels keeping them off.

In my next I shall carry on my life to my Father's death.

God bless you, my dear Poole,

And your affectionate, S.T. COLERIDGE.

In a note written in after life Mr. Coleridge speaks of this period of
his life in the following terms:

"Being the youngest child, I possibly inherited the weakly state of
health of my Father, who died, at the age of sixty-two, before I had
reached my ninth year; and from certain jealousies of old Molly, my
brother Frank's dotingly fond nurse--and if ever child by beauty and
loveliness deserved to be doted on, my brother Francis was that
child--and by the infusion of her jealousies into my brother's mind, I
was in earliest childhood huffed away from the enjoyments of muscular
activity in play, to take refuge at my Mother's side on my little stool,
to read my little book, and to listen to the talk of my elders. I was
driven from life in motion to life in thought and sensation. I never
played except by myself, and then only acted over what I had been
reading or fancying, or half one, half the other, with a stick cutting
down weeds and nettles, as one of the "Seven Champions of Christendom."
Alas! I had all the simplicity, all the docility of the little child,
but none of the child's habits. I never thought as a child, never had
the language of a child." [1]

[Footnote 1: Gillman's "Life of Coleridge", p. 10.]


Dear Poole,

From October 1779 to 1781. I had asked my Mother one evening to cut my
cheese entire, so that I might toast it. This was no easy matter, it
being a "crumbly" cheese. My Mother however did it. I went into the
garden for something or other, and in the mean time my brother Frank
minced my cheese, to "disappoint the favourite." I returned, saw the
exploit, and in an agony of passion flew at Frank. He pretended to have
been seriously hurt by my blow, flung himself on the ground, and there
lay with outstretched limbs. I hung over him mourning and in a great
fright; he leaped up, and with a horse-laugh gave me a severe blow in
the face. I seized a knife, and was running at him, when my Mother came
in and took me by the arm. I expected a flogging, and, struggling from
her, I ran away to a little hill or slope, at the bottom of which the
Otter flows, about a mile from Ottery. There I staid; my rage died away,
but my obstinacy vanquished my fears, and taking out a shilling book,
which had at the end morning and evening prayers, I very devoutly
repeated them--thinking at the same time with a gloomy inward
satisfaction--how miserable my Mother must be! I distinctly remember my
feelings, when I saw a Mr. Vaughan pass over the bridge at about a
furlong's distance, and how I watched the calves in the fields beyond
the river. It grew dark, and I fell asleep. It was towards the end of
October, and it proved a stormy night. I felt the cold in my sleep, and
dreamed that I was pulling the blanket over me, and actually pulled over
me a dry thorn-bush which lay on the ground near me. In my sleep I had
rolled from the top of the hill till within three yards of the river,
which flowed by the unfenced edge of the bottom. I awoke several times,
and finding myself wet, and cold, and stiff, closed my eyes again that I
might forget it.

In the meantime my Mother waited about half an hour, expecting my return
when the "sulks" had evaporated. I not returning, she sent into the
churchyard, and round the town. Not found! Several men and all the boys
were sent out to ramble about and seek me. In vain! My Mother was almost
distracted; and at ten o'clock at night I was 'cried' by the crier
in Ottery, and in two villages near it, with a reward offered for me. No
one went to bed;--indeed I believe half the town were up all the night.
To return to myself. About five in the morning, or a little after, I was
broad awake, and attempted to get up, and walk; but I could not move. I
saw the shepherds and workmen at a distance, and cried, but so faintly,
that it was impossible to hear me thirty yards off. And there I might
have lain and died;--for I was now almost given over, the ponds and even
the river, near which I was lying, having been dragged. But
providentially Sir Stafford Northcote, who had been out all night,
resolved to make one other trial, and came so near that he heard me
crying. He carried me in his arms for nearly a quarter of a mile, when
we met my father and Sir Stafford Northcote's servants. I remember, and
never shall forget, my Father's face as he looked upon me while I lay in
the servant's arms--so calm, and the tears stealing down his face; for I
was the child of his old age. My Mother, as you, may suppose, was
outrageous with joy. Meantime in rushed a young lady, crying out--"I
hope you'll whip him, Mrs. Coleridge." This woman still lives at Ottery;
and neither philosophy nor religion has been able to conquer the
antipathy which I feel towards her, whenever I see her. I was put to
bed, and recovered in a day or so. But I was certainly injured; for I
was weakly and subject to ague for many years after.

My Father--who had so little parental ambition in him, that, but for my
Mother's pride and spirit, he would certainly have brought up his other
sons to trades--had nevertheless resolved that I should be a parson. I
read every book that came in my way without distinction; and my Father
was fond of me, and used to take me on his knee, and hold long
conversations with me. I remember, when eight years old, walking with
him one winter evening from a farmer's house, a mile from Ottery; and he
then told me the names of the stars, and how Jupiter was a thousand
times larger than our world, and that the other twinkling stars were
suns that had worlds rolling round them; and when I came home, he showed
me how they rolled round. I heard him with a profound delight and
admiration, but without the least mixture of wonder or incredulity. For
from my early reading of fairy tales and about genii, and the like, my
mind had been habituated "to the Vast"; and I never regarded "my senses"
in any way as the "criteria" of my belief. I regulated all my creeds by
my conceptions, not by my sight, even at that age. Ought children to be
permitted to read romances, and stories of giants, magicians, and genii?
I know all that has been said against it; but I have formed my faith in
the affirmative. I know no other way of giving the mind a love of the
Great and the Whole. Those who have been led to the same truths step by
step, through the constant testimony of their senses, seem to me to want
a sense which I possess. They contemplate nothing but parts, and all
parts are necessarily little, and the universe to them is but a mass of
little things. It is true, the mind may become credulous and prone to
superstition by the former method;--but are not the experimentalists
credulous even to madness in believing any absurdity, rather than
believe the grandest truths, if they have not the testimony of their own
senses in their favour? I have known some who have been rationally
educated, as it is styled. They were marked by a microscopic acuteness;
but when they looked at great things, all became a blank, and they saw
nothing, and denied that anything could be seen, and uniformly put the
negative of a power for the possession of a power, and called the want
of imagination, judgment, and the never being moved to rapture,

Towards the latter end of September 1781, my Father went to Plymouth
with my brother Francis, who was to go out as midshipman under Admiral
Graves, who was a friend of my Father's. He settled Frank as he wished,
and returned on the 4th of October, 1781. He arrived at Exeter about six
o'clock, and was pressed to take a bed there by the friendly family of
the Harts; but he refused; and to avoid their entreaties he told them
that he had never been superstitious, but that the night before he had
had a dream, which had made a deep impression on him. He dreamed that
Death had appeared to him, as he is commonly painted, and had touched
him with his dart. Well, he returned home; and all his family, I
excepted, were up. He told my Mother his dream; but he was in high
health and good spirits; and there was a bowl of punch made, and my
Father gave a long and particular account of his travel, and that he had
placed Frank under a religious Captain, and so forth. At length he went
to bed, very well and in high spirits. A short time after he had lain
down, he complained of a pain in his bowels, to which he was subject,
from wind. My Mother got him some peppermint water, which he took, and
after a pause, he said, "I am much better now, my dear!"--and lay down
again. In a minute my Mother heard a noise in his throat, and spoke to
him, but he did not answer; and she spoke repeatedly in vain. Her shriek
awaked me, and I said--"Papa is dead!" I did not know my Father's
return; but I knew that he was expected. How I came to think of his
death, I cannot tell; but so it was. Dead he was. Some said it was gout
in the heart;--probably it was a fit of apoplexy. He was an Israelite
without guile, simple, generous, and, taking some Scripture texts in
their literal sense, he was conscientiously indifferent to the good and
the evil of this world. God love you and


He was buried at Ottery on the 10th of October 1781. "O! that I might so
pass away," said Coleridge, thirty years afterwards, "if, like him, I
were an Israelite without guile! The image of my Father, very reverend,
kind, learned, simple-hearted Father is a religion to me."

At his Father's death Coleridge was nearly nine years old. He continued
with his Mother at Ottery till the spring of 1782, when he was sent to
London to wait the appointed time for admission into Christ's Hospital,
to which a presentation had been procured from Mr. John Way through the
influence of his father's old pupil Sir Francis Buller. Ten weeks he
lived in London with an Uncle, and was entered in the books on the 8th
of July 1782.


From October 1781 to October 1782. After the death of my Father, we, of
course, changed houses, and I remained with my Mother till the spring of
1782, and was a day scholar to Parson Warren, my Father's successor. He
was not very deep, I believe; and I used to delight my poor Mother by
relating little instances of his deficiency in grammar knowledge--every
detraction from his merits seeming an oblation to the memory of my
Father, especially as Warren did certainly "pulpitize" much better.
Somewhere I think about April 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 and
entertained by my Mother's brother, Mr. Bowdon. He was generous as the
air, and a man of very considerable talents, but he was fond, as others
have been, of his bottle. He received me with great affection, and I
staid ten weeks at his house, during which I went occasionally to Judge
Buller's. My Uncle was very proud of me, and used to carry me from
coffee-house to coffee-house, and tavern to tavern, where I drank, and
talked, and 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,
and so forth; so that while I remained at my Uncle's, I was most
completely spoilt and pampered, both mind and body.

At length the time came, and I donned the blue coat and yellow
stockings, and was sent down to Hertford, a town twenty miles from
London, where there are about three hundred of the younger Blue-coat
boys. At Hertford I was very happy on the whole, for I had plenty to eat
and drink, and we had pudding and vegetables almost every day. I
remained there six weeks, and then was drafted up to the great school in
London, where I arrived in September, 1782, and was placed in the second
ward, then called Jefferies' Ward, and in the Under Grammar School.
There are twelve wards, or dormitories, of unequal sizes, beside the
sick ward, in the great school; and they contained altogether seven
hundred boys, of whom I think nearly one-third were the sons of
clergymen. There are five schools,--mathematical, grammar, drawing,
reading, and writing--all very large buildings. When a boy is admitted,
if he reads very badly, he is either sent to Hertford, or to the reading
school. Boys are admissible from seven to twelve years of age. If he
learns to read tolerably well before nine, he is drafted into the Lower
Grammar School, if not, into the Writing School, as having given proof
of unfitness for classical studies. 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 eleven years of age, he is sent into the
Writing School, where he continues till fourteen or fifteen, and is then
either apprenticed or articled as a 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 and Drawing Schools, where they continue till sixteen or
seventeen years of age, and go out as midshipmen, and schoolmasters in
the Navy. The boys who are drafted into the Head Grammar School, remain
there till thirteen; and then, if not chosen for the University, go into
the Writing School.

Each dormitory has a nurse or matron, and 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; and
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, and were appointed by the Head Grammar
Master, who was our supreme spiritual lord. The same boys were commonly
both Monitors and Markers. We read in classes on Sundays to our Markers,
and were catechised by them, and under their sole authority during
prayers, etc. All other authority was in the Monitors; but, as I said,
the same boys were ordinarily both the one and the other. Our diet was
very scanty. Every morning a bit of dry bread and some bad small beer.
Every evening a larger piece of bread, and cheese or butter, whichever
we liked. For dinner,--on Sunday, boiled beef and broth; Monday, bread
and butter, and milk and water; Tuesday, roast mutton; Wednesday, bread
and butter, and rice milk; Thursday, boiled beef and broth; Friday,
boiled mutton and broth; Saturday, bread and butter, and pease-porridge.
Our food was portioned; and, excepting on Wednesdays, I never had a
belly full. Our appetites were damped, never satisfied; and we had no
vegetables. [1]

[Footnote 1: The above five letters are I-V of Mr. E. H. Coleridge's
"Letters of S. T. C". Letter VI is dated 1785; Letter VII of "Letters"
is dated "before 1790."]


"O! what a change!" he writes in another note; "depressed, moping,
friendless, poor orphan, half starved; at that time the portion of food
to the Blue-coats was cruelly insufficient for those who had no friends
to supply them." And he afterwards says:--"When I was first plucked up
and transplanted from my birth-place and family, at the death of my dear
Father, whose revered image has ever survived in my mind to make me know
what the emotions and affections of a son are, and how ill a father's
place is likely to be supplied by any other relation, Providence, (it
has often occurred to me,) gave me the first intimation that it was my
lot, and that it was best for me, to make or find my way of life a
detached individual, a "terrae filius", who was to ask love or service
of no one on any more specific relation than that of being a man, and as
such to take my chance for the free charities of humanity."

Coleridge continued eight years at Christ's Hospital. It was a very
curious and important part of his life, giving him Bowyer for his
teacher, and Lamb for his friend. [1]

[Footnote 1: A few particulars of this "most remarkable and amiable
man," the well-known author of "Essays of Elia, Rosamund Gray, Poems",
and other works, will interest most readers of the "Biographia".

He was born on the 18th of February, 1775, in the Inner Temple; died
27th December, 1834, about five months after his friend Coleridge, who
continued in habits of intimacy with him from their first acquaintance
till his death in July of the same year. In "one of the most exquisite
of all the Essays of Elia," "The Old Benchers of the Middle Temple"
("Works", vol. ii, p. 188), Lamb has given the characters of his father,
and of his father's master, Samuel Salt. The few touches descriptive of
this gentleman's "unrelenting bachelorhood"--which appears in the sequel
to have been a persistent mourner-hood--and the forty years' hopeless
passion of mild Susan P.--which very permanence redeems and almost
dignifies, is in the author's sweetest vein of mingled humour and
pathos, wherein the latter, as the stronger ingredient, predominates.

Mr. Lamb never married, for, as is recorded in the Memoir, "on the death
of his parents, he felt himself called upon by duty to repay to his
sister [a] the solicitude with which she had watched over his infancy. To
her, from the age of twenty-one he devoted his existence, seeking
thenceforth no connection which could interfere with her supremacy in
his affections, or impair his ability to sustain and to comfort her."

  [[Sub-footnote a: "A word Timidly uttered, for she "lives", the meek,
  The self-restraining, the ever kind."

  From Mr. Wordsworth's memorial poem to her brother. P. W. V. P. 333.]]

Mr. Coleridge speaks of Miss Lamb, to whom he continued greatly
attached, in these verses, addressed to her brother:

  "Cheerily, dear Charles!
  Thou thy best friend shall cherish many a year;
  Such warm presages feel I of high hope!
  For not uninterested the dear maid
  I've viewed--her soul affectionate yet wise,
  Her polished wit as mild as lambent glories
  That play around a sainted infant's head."

(See the single volume of Coleridge's Poems, p. 28.)

Mr. Lamb has himself described his dear and only sister, whose proper
name is Mary Anne, under the title of "Cousin Bridget," in the Essay
called "Mackery End", a continuation of that entitled "My Relations", in
which he has drawn the portrait of his elder brother. "Bridget Elia," so
he commences the former, "has been my housekeeper for many a long year.
I have obligations to Bridget, extending beyond the period of memory. We
house together, old bachelor and maid, in a sort of double singleness;
with such tolerable comfort upon the whole, that I, for one, find in
myself no sort of disposition to go out upon the mountains, with the
rash king's offspring, to bewail my celibacy."--("Works", vol. ii, p.
171.) He describes her intellectual tastes in this essay, but does not
refer to her literary abilities. She wrote "Mrs. Leicester's School",
which Mr. C. used warmly to praise for delicacy of taste and tenderness
of feeling.

Miss Lamb still survives, in the words of Mr. Talfourd, "to mourn the
severance of a life-long association, as free from every alloy of
selfishness, as remarkable for moral beauty, as this world ever
witnessed in brother and sister. "I have felt desirous to place in
relief, as far as might be, such an interesting union--to show how blest
a fraternal marriage may be, and what sufficient helpmates a brother and
sister have been to each other. Marriages of this kind would perhaps be
more frequent but for the want of some pledge or solid warranty of
continuance equivalent to that which rivets wedlock between husband and
wife. Without the vow and the bond, formal or virtual, no society, from
the least to the greatest, will hold together. Many persons are so
constituted that they cannot feel rest or satisfaction of spirit without
a single supreme object of tender affection, in whose heart they are
conscious of holding a like supremacy,--who has common hopes, loves, and
interests with themselves. Without this the breezes do not refresh nor
the sunbeams gladden them. A "share" in ever so many kind hearts does
not suffice to their happiness; they must have the whole of one, as no
one else has any part of it, whatever love of another kind that heart
may still reserve for others. There is no reason why a brother and
sister might not be to each other this second-self--this dearer
half--though such an attachment is beyond mere fraternal love, and must
have something in it "of choice and election," superadded to the natural
tie: but it is seldom found to exist, because the durable cement is
wanting--the sense of security and permanence, without which the body of
affection cannot be consolidated, nor the heart commit itself to its
whole capacity of emotion. I believe that many a brother and sister
spend their days in uncongenial wedlock, or in a restless faintly
expectant-singlehood, who might form a "comfortable couple" could they
but make up their minds early to take each other for better for worse.

Two other poems of Mr. C. besides the one in which his sister is
mentioned, are addressed to Mr. Lamb--"This Lime-tree-bower my Prison",
and the lines "To a Friend, who had declared his intention of writing no
more Poetry".--("Poetical Works", i, p. 201 and p. 205.) In a letter to
the author ("Ainger", i, p. 121), Lamb inveighs against the soft epithet
applied to him in the first of these. He hoped his ""virtues" had done
"sucking""--and declared such praise fit only to be a "cordial to some
greensick sonnetteer."

  "Yes! they wander on
  In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
  My "gentle-hearted" Charles! for thou hast pined
  And hungered after nature, many a year,
  In the great city pent, winning thy way
  With sad yet patient soul through evil and pain
  And strange calamity."

In the next poem he is called "wild-eyed boy." The two epithets,
"wild-eyed" and "gentle-hearted," will recall Charles Lamb to the minds
of all who knew him personally. Mr. Talfourd seems to think that the
special delight in the country, ascribed to him by my father, was a
distinction scarcely merited. I rather imagine that his indifference to
it was a sort of "mock apparel" in which it was his humour at times to
invest himself. I have been told that, when visiting the Lakes, he took
as much delight in the natural beauties of the region as might be
expected from a man of his taste and sensibility. [b]

  [[Sub-footnote b:

  "Thou wert a scorner of the field, my Friend,
  But more in show than truth."

  From Mr. W.'s poem "To a good man of most dear memory", quoted in p.

Mr. Coleridge's expression, recorded in the "Table Talk", that he
"looked on the degraded men and things around him like moonshine on a
dunghill, that shines and takes no pollution," partly alludes to that
tolerance of moral evil, both in men and books, which was so much
remarked in Charles Lamb, and was, in so good a man, really remarkable.
His toleration of it in books is conspicuous in the view he takes of the
writings of Congreve and Wycherley, in his essay on the artificial
comedy of the last century ("Works", vol. ii, p. 322), and in many of
his other literary criticisms. His toleration of it in men--at least his
faculty of merging some kinds and degrees of it in concomitant good, or
even beholding certain errors rather as objects of interest, or of a
meditative pity and tenderness, than of pure aversion and condemnation,
Mr. Talfourd has feelingly described in his "Memoir" (vol. ii, p.
326-9), "Not only to opposite opinions," he says, "and devious habits of
thought was Lamb indulgent; he discovered the soul of goodness in things
evil so vividly, that the surrounding evil disappeared from his mental
vision." This characteristic of his mind is not to be identified with
the idolizing propensity common to many ardent and imaginative spirits.
He "not only loved his friends in spite of their errors," as Mr.
Talfourd observes, "but loved them, "errors and all";" which implies
that he was not unconscious of their existence. He saw the failings as
plainly as any one else, nay, fixed his gentle but discerning eye upon
them; whereas the idolizers behold certain objects in a bedarkening
blaze of light, or rather of light-confounding brightness, the
multiplied and heightened reflection of whatever is best in them, to the
obscurity or transmutation of all their defects. Whence it necessarily
follows that the world presents itself to their eyes divided, like a
chess-board, into black and white compartments--a moral and intellectual
chequer-work; not that they love to make darkness, but that they
luxuriate too eagerly in light: and their "over-muchness" toward some
men involves an over-littleness towards others, whom they involuntarily
contrast, in all their poor and peccant reality, with gorgeous
idealisms. The larger half of mankind is exiled for them into a
hemisphere of shadow, as dim, cold, and negative as the unlit portion of
the crescent moon. Lamb's general tendency, though he too could warmly
admire, was in a different direction; he was ever introducing streaks
and gleams of light into darkness, rather than drowning certain objects
in floods of it; and this, I think, proceeded in him from indulgence
toward human nature rather than from indifference to evil. To his friend
the disposition to exalt and glorify co-existed, in a very remarkable
manner, with a power of severe analysis of character and poignant
exhibition of it,--a power which few possess without exercising it some
time or other to their own sorrow and injury. The consequence to Mr.
Coleridge was that he sometimes seemed untrue to himself, when he had
but brought forward, one after another, perfectly real and sincere moods
of his mind.

In his fine poem commemorating the deaths of several poets, Mr.
Wordsworth thus joins my father's name with that of his almost life-long

  "Nor has the rolling year twice measured,
  From sign to sign, its steadfast course,
  Since every mortal power of Coleridge
  Was frozen at its marvellous source;
  The rapt One of the godlike forehead,
  The heaven-eyed creature sleeps in earth;
  And Lamb, the frolic and the gentle,
  Has vanished from his lonely hearth."

S. C. Footnote 1 ends: main text resumes:]

Numerous retrospective notices by himself and others exist of this
period; but none of his really boyish letters have been preserved. The
exquisite Essay intitled, "Christ's Hospital five and thirty years
ago", by Lamb, is principally founded on that delightful writer's
recollections of the boy Coleridge, and that boy's own subsequent
descriptions of his school days. Coleridge is Lamb's "poor friendless
boy."--"My parents and those who should care for me, were far away.
Those few acquaintances of theirs, which they could reckon upon being
kind to me in the great city, after a little forced notice, which they
had the grace to take of me on my first arrival in town, soon grew tired
of my holiday visits. They seemed to them to recur too often, though I
thought them few enough; and, one after another, they all failed me, and
I felt myself alone among six hundred playmates. O the cruelty of
separating a poor lad from his early homestead! The yearnings which I
used to have toward it in those unfledged years! How, in my dreams would
my native town, far in the west, come back with its church, its trees,
and faces! How I would wake weeping, and in the anguish of my heart
exclaim upon sweet "Calne in Wiltshire!""

Yet it must not be supposed that Coleridge was an unhappy boy. He was
naturally of a joyous temperament, and in one amusement, swimming, he
excelled and took singular delight. Indeed he believed, and probably
with truth, that his health was seriously injured by his excess in
bathing, coupled with such tricks as swimming across the New River in
his clothes, and drying them on his back, and the like. But reading was
a perpetual feast to him. "From eight to fourteen," he writes, "I was a
playless day-dreamer, a "helluo librorum", my appetite for which was
indulged by a singular incident: a stranger, who was struck by my
conversation, made me free of a circulating library in King Street,
Cheapside."--"Here," he proceeds, "I read through the catalogue, folios
and all, whether I understood them, or did not understand them, running
all risks in skulking out to get the two volumes which I was entitled to
have daily. Conceive what I must have been at fourteen; I was in a
continual low fever. My whole being was, with eyes closed to every
object of present sense, to crumple myself up in a sunny comer, and
read, read, read,--fancy myself on Robinson Crusoe's island, finding a
mountain of plum-cake, and eating a room for myself, and then eating it
into the shapes of tables and chairs--hunger and fancy!"--"My talents
and superiority," he continues, "made me for ever at the head in my
routine of study, though utterly without the desire to be so; without a
spark of ambition; and as to emulation, it had no meaning for me; but
the difference between me and my form-fellows, in our lessons and
exercises, bore no proportion to the measureless difference between me
and them in the wide, wild, wilderness of useless, unarranged book
knowledge and book thoughts. Thank Heaven! it was not the age for
getting up prodigies; but at twelve or fourteen I should have made as
pretty a juvenile prodigy as was ever emasculated and ruined by fond and
idle wonderment. Thank Heaven! I was flogged instead of being flattered.
However, as I climbed up the school, my lot was somewhat alleviated."



(1791 to 1795)

  Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the day-spring of thy
  fancies, with Hope like a fiery column before thee--the dark pillar
  not yet turned--Samuel Taylor Coleridge--Logician, Metaphysician,

S. T. Coleridge entered at Jesus College, Cambridge, the 5th of
February, 1791. [He did not go into residence till October 1791.]

The poems he wrote about this time and during his first vacation at
College are rather conventional, and give few indications of his future
deft handling of verse. His "Mathematical Problem" sent to his brother
George, is a piece of droll nonsense, but the letter accompanying it is
much better than the verse. It reads as follows:


Dear Brother,

I have often been surprised that Mathematics, the quintessence of Truth,
should have found admirers so few and so languid. Frequent consideration
and minute scrutiny have at length unravelled the cause; viz. that
though Reason is feasted, Imagination is starved; whilst Reason is
luxuriating in its proper Paradise, Imagination is wearily travelling on
a dreary desert. To assist Reason by the stimulus of Imagination is the
design of the following production. In the execution of it much may be
objectionable. The verse (particularly in the introduction of the ode)
may be accused of unwarrantable liberties, but they are liberties
equally homogeneal with the exactness of Mathematical disquisition, and
the boldness of Pindaric daring. I have three strong champions to defend
me against the attacks of Criticism: the Novelty, the Difficulty, and
the Utility of the work. I may justly plume myself that I first have
drawn the nymph Mathesis from the visionary caves of abstracted idea,
and caused her to unite with Harmony. The first-born of this Union I now
present to you; with interested motives indeed--as I expect to receive
in return the more valuable offspring of your Muse.

Thine ever S. T. C.

Christ's Hospital, March 31, 1791. [1]

[Footnote 1: Letters VIII-XXXI follow No. 6 of our collection.]

The piece of doggerel, to which this epistle is a preface, will be found
in vol. ii, p. 386, of the Aldine Edition of Coleridge's Poems.

Coleridge's brother George also wrote verses, and "Mathematical Problem"
is just one of the cantrips in verse that passed between the brothers.]

He gained Sir William Browne's gold medal for the Greek Ode in the
summer of that year. It was on the Slave Trade. The poetic force and
originality of this Ode were, as he said himself, much beyond the
language in which they were conveyed. In the winter of 1792-3 he stood
for the University (Craven) Scholarship with Dr. Keate, the late
head-master of Eton, Mr. Bethell (of Yorkshire) and Bishop Butler, who
was the successful candidate. In 1793 he wrote without success for the
Greek Ode on Astronomy, the prize for which was gained by Dr. Keate. The
original is not known to exist, but the reader may see what is probably
a very free version of it by Mr. Southey in his Minor Poems. ("Poetical
Works", vol. ii, p. 170.) "Coleridge"--says a schoolfellow [1] of his
who followed him to Cambridge in 1792, "was very studious, but his
reading was desultory and capricious. He took little exercise merely for
the sake of exercise: but he was ready at any time to unbend his mind in
conversation; and, for the sake of this, his room, (the ground-floor
room on the right hand of the staircase facing the great gate,) was a
constant rendezvous of conversation-loving friends. I will not call them
loungers, for they did not call to kill time, but to enjoy it. What
evenings have I spent in those rooms! What little suppers, or "sizings",
as they were called, have I enjoyed; when Aeschylus, and Plato, and
Thucydides were pushed aside, with a pile of lexicons and the like, to
discuss the pamphlets of the day. Ever and anon a pamphlet issued from
the pen of Burke. There was no need of having the book before
us;--Coleridge had read it in the morning, and in the evening he would
repeat whole pages "verbatim"."--"College Reminiscences, Gentleman's
Mag"., Dec. 1834.

[Footnote 1: C. V. Le Grice.]

In May and June, 1793, Frend's trial took place in the Vice-
Chancellor's Court, and in the Court of Delegates, at Cambridge. Frend
was a Fellow of Jesus, and a slight acquaintance had existed between
him and Coleridge, who however soon became his partizan. Mr. C. used
to relate a remarkable incident, which is thus preserved by Mr.
Gillman:--"The trial was observed by Coleridge to be going against
Frend, when some observation or speech was made in his favour;--a
dying hope thrown out, as it appeared, to Coleridge, who in the midst
of the Senate House, whilst sitting on one of the benches, extended
his hands and clapped them. The Proctor in a loud voice demanded who
had committed this indecorum. Silence ensued. The Proctor, in an
elevated tone, said to a young man sitting near Coleridge, "Twas you,
Sir!' The reply was as prompt as the accusation; for, immediately
holding out the stump of his right arm, it appeared that he had lost
his hand;--'I would, Sir,' said he, 'that I had the power!' That no
innocent person should incur blame, Coleridge went directly afterwards
to the Proctor, who told him that he saw him clap his hands, but fixed
on this person, who he knew had not the power. 'You have had,' said
he, 'a narrow escape.'"--"Life of S. T. C"., i, p. 55.

Coleridge passed the summer of 1793 at Ottery, and whilst there wrote
his "Songs of the Pixies" ("Poetical Works", i, p. 13), and some other
little pieces. He returned to Cambridge in October, but, in the
following month, in a moment of despondency and vexation of spirit,
occasioned principally by some debts not amounting to £100 he suddenly
left his college and went to London. In a few days he was reduced to
want, and observing a recruiting advertisement he resolved to get bread
and overcome a prejudice at the same time by becoming a soldier. He
accordingly applied to the sergeant, and after some delay was marched
down to Reading, where he regularly enlisted as a private in the 15th
Light Dragoons on the 3d of December, 1793. He kept his initials under
the names of Silas Tomkyn Comberbacke. "I sometimes," he writes in a
letter, "compare my own life with that of Steele, (yet O! how
unlike!)--led to this from having myself also for a brief time borne
arms, and written 'private' after my name, or rather another name; for,
being at a loss when suddenly asked my name, I answered "Cumberback",
and verily my habits were so little equestrian, that my horse, I doubt
not, was of that opinion." Coleridge continued four months a light
dragoon, during which time he saw and suffered much. He rode his horse
ill, and groomed him worse; but he made amends by nursing the sick, and
writing letters for the sound. His education was detected by one of his
officers, Captain Nathaniel Ogle, who observed the words,--"Eheu! quam
infortunii miserrimum est fuisse felicem!"--freshly written in pencil on
the stable-wall or door, and ascertained that Comberbacke was the
writer. But the termination of his military career was brought about by
a chance recognition in the street: his family was apprized of his
situation, and after some difficulty he was duly discharged on the both
of April, 1794, at Hounslow.

Coleridge now returned to Cambridge, and remained there till the
commencement of the summer vacation. But the adventures of the preceding
six months had broken the continuity of his academic life, and given
birth to new views of future exertion. His acquaintance with Frend had
materially contributed to his adoption of the system called
Unitarianism, which he now openly professed, and this alone made it
imperative on his conscience to decline availing himself of any
advantages dependent on his entering into holy orders, or subscribing
the Articles of the English Church. He lived, nevertheless, to see and
renounce his error, and to leave on record his deep and solemn faith in
the catholic doctrine of Trinal Unity, and the Redemption of man through
the sacrifice of Christ, both God and Man. Indeed his Unitarianism, such
as it was, was not of the ordinary quality. "I can truly say"--were
Coleridge's words in after life--"that I never falsified the Scripture.
I always told the Unitarians that their interpretations of the Scripture
were intolerable upon any principles of sound criticism; and that if
they were to offer to construe the will of a neighbour as they did that
of their Maker, they would be scouted out of society. I said then
plainly and openly that it was clear enough that John and Paul were not
Unitarians. But at that time I had a strong sense of the repugnancy of
the doctrine of vicarious atonement to the moral being, and I thought
nothing could counterbalance that. 'What care I,' I said, 'for the
Platonisms of John, or the Rabbinisms of Paul?--My conscience revolts!'
That was the ground of my Unitarianism."--"Table Talk", Bohn Library
edition, p. 290.

At the commencement of the Long Vacation, in June, 1794, Coleridge went
to Oxford on a visit to an old school-fellow, intending probably to
proceed afterwards to his mother at Ottery. But an accidental
introduction to Robert Southey, then an under-graduate at Balliol
College, first delayed, and ultimately prevented, the completion of this
design, and became, in its consequences, the hinge on which a large part
of Coleridge's after life was destined to turn.

The first letter to Southey was written from Gloucester on 6th July
1794, and it shows the degree of intimacy on which the two
undergraduates stood at this time. They had met only about a month
before, for Southey writes on 12th June to his friend Grosvenor Bedford:
"Allen is with us daily and his friend from Cambridge, Coleridge, whose
poems you will oblige me by subscribing to, either at Hookam's or
Edward's. He is of most uncommon merit, of the strongest genius, the
clearest judgment, the best heart. My friend he already is, and must
hereafter be yours," ("Life and Correspondence of Southey", i, 210). The
poems mentioned were a projected volume of "Imitations from Modern Latin
Poets", of which an ode after Casimir is the only relic. Coleridge's
first letter to Southey reads as follows:


6 July 1794.

You are averse to gratitudinarian flourishes, else would I talk about
hospitality, attention, &c. &c.; however, as I must not thank you, I
will thank my stars. Verily, Southey, I like not Oxford, nor the
inhabitants of it. I would say thou art a nightingale among owls; but
thou art so songless and heavy towards night that I will rather liken
thee to the matin lark, thy "nest" is in a blighted cornfield, where the
sleepy poppy nods its red-cowled head, and the weak-eyed mole plies his
dark work; but thy soaring is even unto heaven. Or let me add (for my
appetite for similes is truly canine at this moment), that as the
Italian nobles their new-fashioned doors, so thou dost make the
adamantine gate of Democracy turn on its golden hinges to most sweet
music. [1]

[Footnote 1: Letter XXXII gives the full text of No. 7. Letter XXXIII is dated
15 July, 1794.]

For the next fifteen months Coleridge and Southey were close companions,
Coleridge being the elder by two years.

Upon the present occasion, however, he left Oxford with an acquaintance,
Mr. Hucks, for a pedestrian tour in Wales. [2] Two other friends,
Brookes and Berdmore, joined them in the course of their ramble; and at
Caernarvon Mr. Coleridge wrote the following letter to Mr. Martin, of
Jesus College.

[Footnote 2: It is to this tour that he refers in the "Table Talk", p.
88.--"I took the thought of "grinning for joy" in that poem ("The
Ancient Mariner") from my companion (Berdmore's) remark to me, when we
had climbed to the top of Penmaenmaur, and were nearly dead with thirst.
We could not speak from the constriction, till we found a little puddle
under a stone. He said to me,--'You grinned like an idiot.' He had done
the same."]


July 22d, 1794.

Dear Martin,

From Oxford to Gloucester,+ to Ross,+ to Hereford, to Leominster, to
Bishop's Castle,+ to Montgomery, to Welshpool, Llanvelling,+ Llangunnog,
Bala,+ Druid House,+ Llangollin, Wrexham,++ Ruthin, Denbigh,+ St. Asaph,
Holywell,+ Rudland, Abergeley,+ Aberconway,+ Abber,+ over a ferry to
Beaumaris+ (Anglesea), Amlock,+ Copper Mines, Gwindu, Moeldon, over a
ferry to Caernarvon, have I journeyed, now philosophizing with Hucks, 1
now melancholizing by myself, or else indulging those daydreams of
fancy, that make realities more gloomy. To whatever place I have affixed
the mark +, there we slept. The first part of our tour was intensely
hot--the roads, white and dazzling, seemed to undulate with heat--and
the country, bare and unhedged, presenting nothing but stone fences,
dreary to the eye and scorching to the touch. At Ross we took up our
quarters at the King's Arms, once the house of Mr. Kyrle, the celebrated
Man of Ross. I gave the window-shutter a few verses, Which I shall add
to the end of the letter. The walk from Llangunnog to Bala over the
mountains was most wild and romantic; there are immense and rugged
clefts in the mountains, which in winter must form cataracts most
tremendous; now there is just enough sun-glittering water dashed down
over them to soothe, not disturb the ear. I climbed up a precipice on
which was a large thorn-tree, and slept by the side of one of them near
two hours.

At Bala I was apprehensive that I had caught the itch from a Welsh
democrat, who was charmed with my sentiments; he bruised my hand with a
grasp of ardour, and I trembled lest some discontented citizens of the
"animalcular" republic might have emigrated. Shortly after, in came a
clergyman well dressed, and with him four other gentlemen. I was asked
for a public character; I gave Dr. Priestley. The clergyman whispered
his neighbour, who it seems is the apothecary of the
parish--"Republicans!" Accordingly when the doctor, as they call
apothecaries, was to have given a name, "I gives a sentiment, gemmen!
may all republicans be "gull"oteened!" Up starts the democrat; "May all
fools be gulloteened, and then you will be the first!" Fool, rogue,
traitor, liar, &c. flew in each other's faces in hailstorms of
vociferation. This is nothing in Wales--they make if necessary
vent-holes for the sulphureous fumes of their temper! I endeavoured to
calm the tempest by observing that however different our political
opinions might be, the appearance of a clergyman assured me that we were
all Christians, though I found it rather difficult to reconcile the last
sentiment with the spirit of Christianity! "Pho!" quoth the clergyman;
"Christianity! Why we a'nt at "church" now, are we? The gentleman's
sentiment was a very good one, because it shows him to be sincere in his
principles." Welsh politics, however, could not prevail over Welsh
hospitality; they all shook hands with me (except the parson), and said
I was an open-speaking, honest-hearted fellow, though I was a bit of a

On our road from Bala to Druid House, we met Brookes and Berdmore. Our
rival pedestrians, a "Gemini" of Powells, were vigorously marching
onward, in a postchaise! Berdmore had been ill. We were not a little
glad to see each other. Llangollen is a village most romantically
situated; but the weather was so intensely hot that we saw only what was
to be admired--we could not admire.

At Wrexham the tower is most magnificent; and in the church is a white
marble monument of Lady Middleton, superior, "mea quidem sententia", to
anything in Westminster Abbey. It had entirely escaped my memory, that
Wrexham was the residence of a Miss E. Evans, a young lady with whom in
happier days I had been in habits of fraternal correspondence; she lives
with her grandmother. As I was standing at the window of the inn, she
passed by, and with her, to my utter astonishment, her sister, Mary
Evans, "quam afflictim et perdite amabam",--yea, even to anguish. They
both started, and gave a short cry, almost a faint shriek; I sickened,
and well nigh fainted, but instantly retired. Had I appeared to
recognise her, my fortitude would not have supported me:

  Vivit, sed mihi non vivit--nova forte marita.
  Ah, dolor! alterius nunc a cervice pependit.
  Vos, malefida valete accensae insomnia mentis,
  Littora amata valete; vale ah! formosa Maria.

Hucks informed me that the two sisters walked by the window four or five
times, as if anxiously. Doubtless they think themselves deceived by some
face strikingly like me. God bless her! Her image is in the sanctuary of
my bosom, and never can it be torn from thence, but by the strings that
grapple my heart to life! This circumstance made me quite ill. I had
been wandering among the wild-wood scenery and terrible graces of the
Welsh mountains to wear away, not to revive, the images of the
past;--but love is a local anguish; I am fifty miles distant, and am not
half so miserable.

At Denbigh is the finest ruined castle in the kingdom; it surpassed
everything I could have conceived. I wandered there two hours in a still
evening, feeding upon melancholy. Two well dressed young men were
roaming there. "I will play my flute here," said the first; "it will
have a romantic effect." "Bless thee, man of genius and sensibility," I
silently exclaimed. He sate down amid the most awful part of the ruins;
the moon just began to make her rays pre-dominant over the lingering
daylight; I preattuned my feelings to emotion;--and the romantic youth
instantly struck up the sadly pleasing tunes of "Miss Carey"--"The
British Lion is my sign--A roaring trade I drive on", &c.

Three miles from Denbigh, on the road to St. Asaph, is a fine bridge
with one arch of great, great grandeur. Stand at a little distance, and
through it you see the woods waving on the hill-bank of the river in a
most lovely point of view.

A "beautiful" prospect is always more picturesque when seen at some
little distance through an arch. I have frequently thought of Michael
Taylor's way of viewing a landscape between his thighs. Under the arch
was the most perfect echo I ever heard. Hucks sang "Sweet Echo" with
great effect.

At Holywell I bathed in the famous St. Winifred's Well. It is an
excellent cold bath. At Rudland is a fine ruined castle. Abergeley is a
large village on the sea-coast. Walking on the sea sands I was surprised
to see a number of fine women bathing promiscuously with men and boys
perfectly naked. Doubtless the citadels of their chastity are so
impregnably strong, that they need not the ornamental bulwarks of
modesty; but, seriously speaking, where sexual distinctions are least
observed, men and women live together in the greatest purity.
Concealment sets the imagination a-working, and as it were,
"cantharadizes" our desires.

Just before I quitted Cambridge, I met a countryman with a strange
walking-stick, five feet in length. I eagerly bought it, and a most
faithful servant it has proved to me. My sudden affection for it has
mellowed into settled friendship. On the morning of our leaving
Abergeley, just before our final departure, I looked for my stick in the
place in which I had left it over night. It was gone. I alarmed the
house; no one knew any thing of it. In the flurry of anxiety I sent for
the Crier of the town, and gave him the following to cry about the town
and the beach, which he did with a gravity for which I am indebted to
his stupidity.

"Missing from the Bee Inn, Abergeley, a curious walking-stick. On one
side it displays the head of an eagle, the eyes of which represent
rising suns, and the ears Turkish crescents; on the other side is the
portrait of the owner in wood-work. Beneath the head of the eagle is a
Welsh wig, and around the neck of the stick is a Queen Elizabeth's ruff
in tin. All down it waves the line of beauty in very ugly carving. If
any gentleman (or lady) has fallen in love with the above described
stick, and secretly carried off the same, he (or she) is hereby
earnestly admonished to conquer a passion, the continuance of which must
prove fatal to his (or her) honesty. And if the said stick has slipped
into such gentleman's (or lady's) hand through inadvertence, he (or she)
is required to rectify the mistake with all convenient speed. God save
the king."

Abergeley is a fashionable Welsh watering place, and so singular a
proclamation excited no small crowd on the beach, among the rest a lame
old gentleman, in whose hands was descried my dear stick. The old
gentleman, who lodged at our inn, felt great confusion, and walked
homewards, the solemn Crier before him, and a various cavalcade behind
him. I kept the muscles of my face in tolerable subjection. He made his
lameness an apology for borrowing my stick, supposed he should have
returned before I had wanted it, &c. &c. Thus it ended, except that a
very handsome young lady put her head out of a coach-window, and begged
my permission to have the bill which I had delivered to the Crier. I
acceded to the request with a compliment, that lighted up a blush on her
cheek, and a smile on her lip.

We passed over a ferry to Aberconway. We had scarcely left the boat ere
we descried Brookes and Berdmore, with whom we have joined parties, nor
do we mean to separate. Our tour through Anglesea to Caernarvon has been
repaid by scarcely one object worth seeing. To-morrow we visit Snowdon.
Brookes, Berdmore, and myself, at the imminent hazard of our lives,
scaled the very summit of Penmaenmaur. It was a most dreadful
expedition. I will give you the account in some future letter.

I sent for Bowles's Works while at Oxford. How was I shocked! Every
omission and every alteration disgusted taste, and mangled sensibility.
Surely some Oxford toad had been squatting at the poet's ear, and
spitting into it the cold venom of dulness. It is not Bowles; he is
still the same, (the added poems will prove it) descriptive, dignified,
tender, sublime. The sonnets added are exquisite. Abba Thule has marked
beauties, and the little poem at Southampton is a diamond; in whatever
light you place it, it reflects beauty and splendour. The "Shakespeare"
is sadly unequal to the rest. Yet in whose poems, except those of
Bowles, would it not have been excellent? Direct to me, to be left at
the Post Office, Bristol, and tell me everything about yourself, how you
have spent the vacation, &c.

Believe me, with gratitude and fraternal friendship,

Your obliged S. T. COLERIDGE.

[Footnote 1: Long portions of this letter appear in a letter to Southey
of 15 September 1794. See "Letters", p. 74.]

[Footnote 2: Hucks published, in 1795, an account of the holiday
entitled "Tour in North Wales".]

On his return from this excursion Coleridge went, by appointment, to
Bristol for the purpose of meeting Southey, whose person and
conversation had excited in him the most lively admiration. This was at
the end of August or beginning of September. Southey, whose mother then
lived at Bath, came over to Bristol accordingly to receive his new
friend, who had left as deep an impression on him, and in that city
introduced Coleridge to Robert Lovell, a young Quaker, then recently
married to Mary Fricker, and residing in the Old Market. After a short
stay at Bristol, where he first saw Sarah Fricker, Mrs. Lovell's elder
sister, Coleridge accompanied Southey on his return to Bath. There he
remained for some weeks, principally engaged in making love, and in
maturing, with his friend, the plan, which he had for some time
cherished, of a social community to be established in America upon what
he termed a pantisocratical basis.

Much discussion has taken place regarding the origin of Pantisocracy,
most writers on the subject attributing the scheme to Coleridge. A
perusal of the letters of Southey, however, leads to a different
conclusion. Southey was enamoured during his stay at Oxford with Plato,
and especially with the "Republic" of the Greek philosopher; and he
frequently quotes from the work or refers to its principles in his
correspondence with Grosvenor and Horace W. Bedford between 11th
November 1793 and 12th June 1794. Before his meeting with Southey no
trace of ideal Republicanism appears in the letters of Coleridge. His
leaning notwithstanding this was already towards Republicanism, and the
friendship struck up between him and Southey was a natural consequence
of flint coming into contact with steel. The next two letters, to
Southey, indicate the fiery nature of the young Republicans.


6 Sept. 1794.

The day after my arrival I finished the first act: I transcribed it. The
next morning Franklin (of Pembroke Coll. Cam., a "ci-devant Grecian" of
our school--so we call the first boys) called on me, and persuaded me to
go with him and breakfast with Dyer, author of "The Complaints of the
Poor, A Subscription", &c. &c. I went; explained our system. He was
enraptured; pronounced it impregnable. He is intimate with Dr.
Priestley, and doubts not that the Doctor will join us. He showed me
some poetry, and I showed him part of the first act, which I happened to
have about me. He liked it hugely; it was "a nail that would drive...."
Every night I meet a most intelligent young man, who has spent the last
five years of his life in America, and is lately come from thence as an
agent to sell land. He was of our school. I had been kind to him: he
remembers it, and comes regularly every evening to "benefit by
conversation," he says. He says £2,000 will do; that he doubts not we
can contract for our passage under £400; that we shall buy the land a
great deal cheaper when we arrive at America than we could do in
England; "or why," he adds, "am I sent over here?" That twelve men may
"easily" clear 300 acres in four or five months; and that, for 600
dollars, a thousand acres may be cleared, and houses built on them. He
recommends the Susquehanna, from its excessive beauty and its security
from hostile Indians. Every possible assistance will be given us; we may
get credit for the land for ten years or more, as we settle upon. That
literary characters make "money" there: &c. &c. He never saw a "bison"
in his life, but has heard of them: they are quite backwards. The
mosquitos are not so bad as our gnats; and, after you have been there a
little while, they don't trouble you much.


18 Sept. 1794.

Since I quitted this room what and how important events have been
evolved! America! Southey! Miss Fricker!... Pantisocracy! Oh! I shall
have such a scheme of it! My head, my heart, are all alive. I have drawn
up my arguments in battle array: they shall have the "tactician"
excellence of the mathematician, with the enthusiasm of the poet. The
head shall be the mass; the heart, the fiery spirit that fills, informs
and agitates the whole. SHAD GOES WITH US: HE IS MY BROTHER!! I am
longing to be with you: make Edith my sister. Surely, Southey, we shall
be frendotatoi meta frendous--most friendly where all are friends. She
must, therefore, be more emphatically my sister.... C----, the most
excellent, the most Pantisocratic of aristocrats, has been laughing at
me. Up I arose, terrible is reasoning. He fled from me, because "he
would not answer for his own sanity, sitting so near a madman of
genius." He told me that the strength of my imagination had intoxicated
my reason, and that the acuteness of my reason had given a directing
influ-* *ence to my imagination. Four months ago the remark would not
have been more elegant than just: now it is nothing. [1]

[Footnote 1: This letter is given in full in "Letters", No. XXXIV.]

These letters show that Pantisocracy was now the all absorbing topic.

The following letter written at this time by Coleridge to Mr. Charles
Heath, of Monmouth, is a curious evidence of his earnestness upon this




Your brother has introduced my name to you; I shall therefore offer no
apology for this letter. A small but liberalized party have formed a
scheme of emigration on the principles of an abolition of individual
property. Of their political creed, and the arguments by which they
support and elucidate it they are preparing a few copies--not as meaning
to publish them, but for private distribution. In this work they will
have endeavoured to prove the exclusive justice of the system and its
practicability; nor will they have omitted to sketch out the code of
contracts necessary for the internal regulation of the Society; all of
which will of course be submitted to the improvements and approbation of
each component member. As soon as the work is printed, one or more
copies shall be transmitted to you. Of the characters of the individuals
who compose the party I find it embarrassing to speak; yet, vanity
apart, I may assert with truth that they have each a sufficient strength
of head to make the virtues of the heart respectable, and that they are
all highly charged with that enthusiasm which results from strong
perceptions of moral rectitude, called into life and action by ardent
feelings. With regard to pecuniary matters it is found necessary, if
twelve men with their families emigrate on this system, that £2,000
should be the aggregate of their contributions--but infer not from hence
that each man's "quota" is to be settled with the littleness of
arithmetical accuracy. No; all will strain every nerve; and then, I
trust, the surplus money of some will supply the deficiencies of others.
The "minutiae" of topographical information we are daily endeavouring to
acquire; at present our plan is, to settle at a distance, but at a
convenient distance, from Cooper's Town on the banks of the Susquehanna.
This, however, will be the object of future investigation. For the time
of emigration we have fixed on next March. In the course of the winter
those of us whose bodies, from habits of sedentary study or academic
indolence, have not acquired their full tone and strength, intend to
learn the theory and practice of agriculture and carpentry, according as
situation and circumstances make one or the other convenient.

Your fellow Citizen, S. T. COLERIDGE. [Footnote: Letter XXXV is dated 19
Sept. 1794.]

[Footnote 1: One of the Pantisocrats.]

The members of the society at that time were Coleridge himself, Southey,
Lovell, and George Burnett, a Somersetshire youth and fellow collegian
with Southey. Toward the beginning of September, Coleridge left Bath and
went, for the last time, as a student, to Cambridge, apparently with the
view of taking his degree of B.A. after the ensuing Christmas. Here he
published "The Fall of Robespierre" ("Lit. Remains", i, p.
1), of which the first act was written by himself, and the second and
third by Mr. Southey, and the particulars of the origin and authorship
of which may be found stated in an extract from a letter of Mr.
Southey's there printed. The dedication to Mr. Martin is dated at Jesus
College, 22nd of September 1794.

[The following is the Dedication:]


Dear Sir,

Accept as a small testimony of my grateful attachment, the following
Dramatic Poem, in which I have endeavoured to detail, in an interesting
form, the fall of a man whose great bad actions have cast a disastrous
lustre on his name. In the execution of the work, as intricacy of plot
could not have been attempted without a gross violation of recent facts,
it has been my sole aim to imitate the impassioned and highly figurative
language of the French Orators, and to develop the characters of the
chief actors on a vast stage of horrors.

Yours fraternally, S. T. COLERIDGE.

Jesus College, September 22, 1794.

[Note: Letters XXXVI-XLII follow No. 12.]

This dedicatory letter is no doubt an apology for a play destitute of
dramatic art. The declamatory speeches may be an intentional imitation
of the harangues of the Revolutionaries, but they are more likely to be
the product of the inflation of youth. The redeeming feature of the play
is the beautiful little lyric, "Domestic Peace", which is in rhythm
an imitation of Collins' "How Sleep the Brave".

The scheme of Pantisocracy was not much further forward at the close of
1794 than it had been in the summer; and Southey had been advised to try
it in Wales instead of on the banks of the Susquehanna. Coleridge writes
in December:

--Dec. 1794.

For God's sake, my dear fellow, tell me what we are to gain by taking a
Welsh farm? Remember the principles and proposed consequences of
Pantisocracy, and reflect in what degree they are attainable by
Coleridge, Southey, Lovell, Burnett, and Co., some five men _going
partners_ together! In the next place, supposing that we have found
the preponderating utility of our aspheterising in Wales, let us by our
speedy and united inquiries discover the sum of money necessary. Whether
such a farm with so very large a house is to be procured without
launching our frail and unpiloted bark on a rough sea of anxieties? How
much money will be necessary for "furnishing" so large a house? How much
necessary for the maintenance of so large a family--eighteen people--for
a year at least?]

[Note: Letters XLIII gives the full text of this Letter 13. Letters
XLIV-L follow 13.]

In January 1795, he was to return--and then with Spring breezes to
repair to the banks of the Susquehanna! But his fate withstood;--he took
no degree, nor ever crossed the Atlantic. Michaelmas Term, 1794, was the
last he kept at Cambridge; the vacation following was passed in London
with Charles Lamb, and in the beginning of 1795 he returned with Southey
to Bristol, and there commenced man.

The whole spring and summer of this year he devoted to public Lectures
at Bristol, making in the intervals several excursions in Somersetshire,
one memorial of which remains in the "Lines composed while climbing
Brockley Combe". It was in one of these excursions that Mr. Coleridge
and Mr.Wordsworth first met at the house of Mr. Pinney. [1] The first
six of those Lectures constituted a course presenting a comparative view
of the Civil War under Charles I and the French Revolution. Three of
them, or probably the substance of four or five, were published at
Bristol in the latter end of 1795, the first two together, with the
title of "Conciones ad Populum", and the third with that of "The Plot
Discovered". The eloquent passage in conclusion of the first of these
Addresses was written by Mr. Southey. The tone throughout them all is
vehemently hostile to the policy of the great minister of that day; but
it is equally opposed to the spirit and maxims of Jacobinism. It was
late in life that, after a reperusal of these "Conciones", Coleridge
wrote on a blank page of one of them the following words:--"Except the
two or three pages involving the doctrine of philosophical necessity and
Unitarianism, I see little or nothing in these outbursts of my youthful
zeal to retract; and with the exception of some flame-coloured epithets
applied to persons, as to Mr. Pitt and others, or rather to
personifications--(for such they really were to me)--as little to

Another course of six Lectures followed, "On Revealed Religion, its
corruptions, and its political views". The Prospectus states--"that
these Lectures are intended for two classes of men, Christians and
Infidels;--the former, that they may be able to "give a reason for the
hope that is in them";--the latter, that they may not determine against
Christianity from arguments applicable to its corruptions only." Nothing
remains of these Addresses, nor of two detached Lectures on the Slave
Trade and the Hair Powder Tax, which were delivered in the interval
between the two principal courses. They were all very popular amongst
the opponents of the Governments; and those on religion in particular
were highly applauded by his Unitarian auditors, amongst whom Dr. and
Mrs. Estlin and Mr. Hort were always remembered by Coleridge with regard
and esteem.

The Transatlantic scheme, though still a favourite subject of
conversation, was now in effect abandoned by these young Pantisocrats.
Mr. C. was married at St. Mary Redcliff Church to Sarah Fricker on the
4th of October, 1795, and went to reside in a cottage at Clevedon on the
Bristol Channel; and six weeks afterwards Mr. Southey was also married
to Edith Fricker, and left Bristol on the same day on his route to
Portugal. At Clevedon Mr. and Mrs. Coleridge resided with one of Mrs.
C.'s unmarried sisters and Burnett until the beginning of December.

[Footnote 1: This statement of H. N. Coleridge, and a remark by
Wordsworth in a letter to Wrangham of November 20th, 1795, are the only
evidence on which rests the belief that Coleridge and Wordsworth met
before 1797. The letter is quoted in the "Athenaeum" of December 8th,
1894. See also Letter LXXXI, to Estlin, May 1798.]


(1795 to 1796)

Ah! quiet dell! dear cot, and mount sublime!
I was constrained to quit you. Was it right,
While my unnumbered brethren toiled and bled,
That I should dream away th' entrusted hours
On rose-leaf beds pampering the coward heart
With feelings all too delicate for use?
       *       *       *       *       *
I therefore go, and join head, heart and hand
Active and firm, to fight the bloodless fight
Of science, freedom, and the truth in Christ.

Coleridge had in the course of the summer of 1795 become acquainted with
that excellent and remarkable man, the late Thomas Poole of Nether
Stowey, Somerset. In a letter written to him on the 7th of October, C.
speaks of the prospect from his cottage, and of his future plans in the
following way:


My Dear Sir,

God bless you-or rather God be praised for that he has blessed you! On
Sunday morning I was married at St. Mary's, Redcliff--from Chatterton's
church. The thought gave a tinge of melancholy to the solemn joy which I
felt, united to the woman, whom I love best of all created beings. We
are settled, nay, quite domesticated, at Clevedon,--our comfortable
cot! * * * The prospect around is perhaps more various than any in the
kingdom: mine eye gluttonizes. The sea, the distant islands, the
opposite coast!--I shall assuredly write rhymes, let the nine Muses
prevent it if they can. * * * I have given up all thoughts of the
Magazine for various reasons. It is a thing of monthly anxiety and
quotidian bustle. To publish a Magazine for one year would be nonsense,
and, if I pursue what I mean to pursue, my school-plan, I could not
publish it for more than one year. In the course of half a year I mean
to return to Cambridge--having previously taken my name off from the
University's control--and, hiring lodgings there for myself and wife,
finish my great work of "Imitations" in two volumes. My former
works may, I hope, prove somewhat of genius and of erudition; this will
be better; it will show great industry and manly consistency. At the end
of it I shall publish proposals for a School. * * * My next letter will
be long and full of something;--this is inanity and egotism. * * Believe
me, dear Poole, your affectionate and mindful--friend, shall I so soon
have to say? Believe me my heart prompts it. [1] S. T. COLERIDGE!

In spite of this letter Coleridge had not abandoned the project of
starting a magazine. His school-plan, as well as a project to become
tutor to the sons of the Earl of Buchan at Edinburgh (see Letter to
George Dyer, "Bookman" for May 1910), came to nothing. A meeting
was held among his chief friends "one evening," says Cottle, "at the
Rummer Tavern, to determine on the size, price, and time of publishing,
with all other preliminaries essential to the launching this first-rate
vessel on the mighty deep. Having heard of the circumstance the next
day, I rather wondered at not having also been requested to attend, and
while ruminating on the subject, I received from Mr. C. the following

[Footnote 1: Letter LI is our No. 14. LII is dated 13 November 1795.]


(--Dec. 1795).

My dear Friend,

I am fearful that you felt hurt at my not mentioning to you the proposed
"Watchman", and from my not requesting you to attend the meeting.
My dear friend, my reasons were these. All who met were expected to
become subscribers to a fund; I knew there would be enough without you,
and I knew, and felt, how much money had been drawn from you lately.

God Almighty love you!

S. T. C.

"It is unknown," says Cottle, "when the following letter was received
(although quite certain that it was not the evening in which Mr.
Coleridge wrote his "Ode to the Departing Year"), and it is printed
in this place at something of an uncertainty." The probable date is 1
January 1796.


January 1st (1796).

My dear Cottle,

I have been forced to disappoint not only you, but Dr. Beddoes, on an
affair of some importance. Last night I was induced by strong and joint
solicitation, to go to a cardclub to which Mr. Morgan belongs, and,
after the playing was over, to sup, and spend the remainder of the
night: having made a previous compact, that I should not drink; however
just on the verge of twelve, I was desired to drink only one wine glass
of punch, in honour of the departing year; and, after twelve, one other
in honour of the new year. Though the glasses were very small, yet such
was the effect produced during my sleep, that I awoke unwell, and in
about twenty minutes after had a relapse of my bilious complaint. I am
just now recovered, and with care, I doubt not, shall be as well as ever
to-morrow. If I do not see you then, it will be from some relapse, which
I have no reason, thank heaven, to anticipate.

Yours affectionately,


[The Mr. Morgan referred to in the above letter was John James Morgan
with whom Coleridge afterwards lived in London, at Hammersmith, and at
Calne. Dr. Beddoes was the founder of the Pneumatic Institution, and the
friend of the Wedgwoods and Humphry Davy; and it was he who was
instrumental in introducing Coleridge to these acquaintances.]

The monthly anxiety of a Magazine justly alarmed Coleridge on the 7th of
October; yet in the December following he courageously engaged to
conduct a weekly political Miscellany. This was _The Watchman_, of
which the following Prospectus was in that month printed and circulated.

"To supply at once the places of a Review, Newspaper, and Annual

"On Tuesday, the ist of March, 1796, will be published No. 1. price
fourpence, of a Miscellany, to be continued every eighth day, under the
name of "The Watchman", by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This Miscellany
will be comprised in two sheets, or thirty-two pages, closely printed in
8vo; the type, long primer. Its contents, 1:--A history of the domestic
and foreign policy of the preceding days. 2:--The speeches in both
Houses of Parliament; and, during the recess, select parliamentary
speeches from the commencement of the reign of Charles I. to the present
æra, with notes historical and biographical. 3:--Original essays and
poetry. 4:--Review of interesting and important publications. Its
advantages, 1. There being no advertisements, a greater quantity of
original matter will be given, and the speeches in Parliament will be
less abridged. 2. From its form it may be bound up at the end of a year,
and become an Annual Register. 3. This last circumstance may induce men
of letters to prefer this Miscellany to more perishable publications as
the vehicle of their effusions. 4. Whenever the Ministerial and
Opposition prints differ in their accounts of occurrences, etc. such
difference will always be faithfully stated."

Mr. C. went to Bristol in the beginning of December for the purpose of
arranging the preliminaries of this undertaking, and at the close of
the month he set off upon the tour mentioned in Chapter X of the
"Biographia Literaria", to collect subscribers. It will be
remembered that he was at this time a professed Unitarian; and the
project of becoming a minister of that persuasion seems to have passed
through his head. He had previously preached, for the first time, two
sermons at Mr. Jardine's Chapel in Bath, the subjects being the Corn
Laws and the Hair Powder Tax. He appeared in the pulpit in a blue coat
and white waistcoat, and, according to Mr. Cottle's testimony, who was
present, Coleridge delivered himself languidly, and disappointed every
one. But there is no doubt that he subsequently preached upon many
occasions with very remarkable effect. The following extracts are from
letters written by Mr. C. in the month of January, 1796, during his tour
to his early and lasting friend, Mr. Josiah Wade of Bristol, and may
serve as a commentary on parts of the accounts given of the same tour in
the Biographia Literaria.


Worcester, January, 1796.

My dear Wade,

We were five in number, and twenty-five in quantity. The moment I
entered the coach, I stumbled on a huge projection, which might be
called a belly with the same propriety that you might name Mount Atlas a
mole-hill. Heavens! that a man should be unconscionable enough to enter
a stage coach, who would want elbow room if he were walking on Salisbury

The said citizen was a most violent aristocrat, but a pleasant humorous
fellow in other respects, and remarkably well informed in agricultural
science; so that the time passed pleasantly enough. We arrived at
Worcester at half-past two: I, of course, dined at the inn, where I met
Mr. Stevens. After dinner I christianized myself, that is, washed and
changed, and marched in finery and clean linen to High Street. With
regard to business, there is no chance of doing anything at Worcester.
The aristocrats are so numerous, and the influence of the clergy is so
extensive, that Mr. Barr thinks no bookseller will venture to publish
"The Watchman". ***


P.S.--I hope and trust the young citizeness is well, and also Mrs. Wade.
Give my love to the latter, and a kiss for me to Miss Bratinella.


Birmingham, January, 1796.

My dear Friend,

*** My exertions here have been incessant, for in whatever company I go,
I am obliged to be the figurante of the circle. Yesterday I preached
twice, and, indeed, performed the whole service, morning and afternoon.
There were about 1,400 persons present, and my sermons, (great part
extempore,) were preciously peppered with politics. I have here at least
double the number of subscribers I had expected. * * *

[It was at Birmingham that Coleridge met the Tallow Chandler whom he has
immortalized in his "Biographia Literaria". The sketch of the "taperman
of lights" is one of the masterpieces of English humour.]


Nottingham, January, 1796.

My dear Friend,

You will perceive by this letter I have changed my route. From
Birmingham on Friday last (four o'clock in the morning), I proceeded to
Derby, stayed there till Monday morning, and am now at Nottingham. From
Nottingham I go to Sheffield; from Sheffield to Manchester; from
Manchester to Liverpool; from Liverpool to London; from London to
Bristol. Ah, what a weary way! My poor crazy ark has been tossed to and
fro on an ocean of business, and I long for the Mount Ararat on which it
is to rest. At Birmingham I was extremely unwell; a violent cold in my
head and limbs confined me for two days. Business succeeded very
well;--about a hundred subscribers I think.

At Derby, also, I succeeded tolerably well. Mr. (Joseph) Strutt, the
successor of Sir Richard Arkwright, tells me I may count on forty or
fifty in Derby. Derby is full of curiosities;--the cotton and silk
mills; Wright the painter, and Dr. Darwin,[l] the every thing
but Christian. Dr. Darwin possesses, perhaps, a greater range of
knowledge than any other man in Europe, and is the most inventive of
philosophical men. He thinks in a new train on all subjects but
religion. He bantered me on the subject of religion. I heard all his
arguments, and told him it was infinitely consoling to me, to find that
the arguments of so great a man, adduced against the existence of a God,
and the evidences of revealed religion, were such as had startled me at
fifteen, but had become the objects of my smile at twenty. Not one new
objection--not even an ingenious one! He boasted "that he had never read
one book in favour of such stuff, but that he had read all the works of

What would you think, Mr. Wade, of a man who, having abused and
ridiculed you, should openly declare that he had heard all that your
enemies had to say against you, but had scorned to inquire the truth
from any one of your friends? Would you think him an honest man? I am
sure you would not. Yet such are all the Infidels whom I have known.
They talk of a subject, yet are proud to confess themselves profoundly
ignorant of it. Dr. Darwin would have been ashamed to reject Hutton's
theory of the Earth without having minutely examined it;--yet what is
it to us, how the earth was made, a thing impossible to be known? This
system the Doctor did not reject without having severely studied it;
but all at once he makes up his mind on such important subjects, as
whether we be the outcasts of a blind idiot called Nature,[2] or the
children of an All wise and Infinitely Good God!--whether we spend a
few miserable years on this earth, and then sink into a clod of the
valley; or endure the anxieties of mortal life, only to fit us for the
enjoyment of immortal happiness! These subjects are unworthy a
philosopher's investigation! He deems that there is a certain self-
evidence in Infidelity, and becomes an Atheist by intuition. Well did
St. Paul say, "ye have an evil heart of unbelief".

* * * What lovely children Mr. Barr of Worcester has! After church, in
the evening, they sat round and sang hymns so sweetly that they
overpowered me. It was with great difficulty that I abstained from
weeping aloud; and the infant in Mrs. B.'s arms leaned forward, and
stretched his little arms, and stared, and smiled. It seemed a picture
of heaven, where the different Orders of the blessed join different
voices in one melodious hallelujah; and the babe looked like a young
spirit just that moment arrived in heaven, startled at the seraphic
songs, and seized at once with wonder and rapture. * * *

From your affectionate friend,


[Footnote 1: Erasmus Darwin, 1731-1802.]

[Footnote 2: See poem, "Human Life", written about 1815.]


Sheffield, January, 1796.

My very dear Friend,

I arrived at this place late last night by the mail from Nottingham,
where I have been treated with kindness and friendship, of which I can
give you but a faint idea. I preached a charity sermon there last
Sunday. I preached in coloured clothes. With regard to the gown at
Birmingham (of which you inquire), I suffered myself to be
over-persuaded. First of all, my sermon being of so political a
tendency, had I worn my blue coat, it would have impugned Edwards. They
would have said, he had stuck a political lecturer in his pulpit.
Secondly, the society is of all sorts,--Socinians, Arians, Trinitarians,
etc., and I must have shocked a multitude of prejudices. And thirdly,
there is a difference between an inn and a place of residence. In the
first, your example is of little consequence; in a single instance only,
it ceases to operate as example; and my refusal would have been imputed
to affectation, or an unaccommodating spirit.

Assuredly I would not do it in a place where I intended to preach often.
And even in the vestry at Birmingham, when they at last persuaded me, I
told them I was acting against my better knowledge, and should possibly
feel uneasy afterwards. So these accounts of the matter you must
consider as reasons and palliations, concluding, "I plead guilty, my
Lord!" Indeed I want firmness; I perceive I do. I have that within me
which makes it difficult to say, No, repeatedly to a number of persons
who seem uneasy and anxious. * * *

My kind remembrances to Mrs. Wade. God bless her and you, and (like a
bad shilling slipped in between two guineas), your faithful and
affectionate friend, S. T. COLERIDGE.

[Note 1: Letter LIII is our 19.]


Manchester, January 7, 1796. My dear Friend,

I arrived at Manchester last night from Sheffield, to which place I
shall only send about thirty numbers. I might have succeeded there, at
least equally well with the former towns, but I should injure the sale
of the "Iris", the editor of which paper, (a very amiable and
ingenious young man of the name of James Montgomery)[1] is now in prison
for a libel on a bloody-minded magistrate there. Of course I declined
publicly advertising or disposing of "The Watch man" in that town.

This morning I called on Mr. -------- with H.'s letter. Mr. ---------
received me as a rider, and treated me with insolence that was really
amusing from its novelty. "Overstocked with these articles. "---------"
People always setting up some new thing or other. "---------" I read the
"Star" and another paper: what could I want with this paper, which
is nothing more?"--"Well, well, I'll consider of it." To these
entertaining "bons mots" I returned the following repartee--"Good
morning, Sir." * * *

God bless you, S. T. C.

[Footnote 1: The Poet, 1771-1854.]

Mr. C. went to Liverpool and was as successful there as elsewhere
generally in procuring subscribers to "The Watchman". The late Dr.
Crompton found him out, and became his friend and patron. His exertions,
however, at Liverpool were suddenly stopped by news of the critical
state of Mrs. C.'s health, and a pressing request that he would
immediately return to Bristol, whither Mrs. C. had now gone from
Clevedon. Coleridge accordingly gave up his plan of visiting London, and
left Liverpool on his homeward trip. From Lichfield he wrote to Mr. Wade
the following letter:


Lichfield, January, 1796.

My dear Friend,

* * * I have succeeded very well here at Lichfield. Belcher, bookseller,
Birmingham; Sutton, Nottingham; Pritchard, Derby; and Thomson,
Manchester; are the publishers. In every number of "The Watchman" there
will be printed these words, "Published in Bristol by the Author, S. T.
Coleridge, and sold, etc."

I verily believe no poor fellow's idea-pot ever bubbled up so vehemently
with fears, doubts, and difficulties, as mine does at present. Heaven
grant it may not boil over, and put out the fire! I am almost heartless.
My past life seems to me like a dream, a feverish dream--all one gloomy
huddle of strange actions and dim-discovered motives;--friendships lost
by indolence, and happiness murdered by mismanaged sensibility. The
present hour I seem in a quick-set hedge of embarrassments. For shame! I
ought not to mistrust God; but, indeed, to hope is far more difficult
than to fear. Bulls have horns, lions have talons:

The fox and statesman subtle wiles ensure,
The cit and polecat stink and are secure;
Toads with their venom, doctors with their drug,
The priest and hedgehog in their robes are snug.
Oh, Nature! cruel step-mother and hard
To thy poor naked, fenceless child, the bard!
No horns but those by luckless Hymen worn,
And those, alas! not Amalthaea's horn!
With naked feelings, and with aching pride,
He bears the unbroken blast on every side;
Vampire booksellers drain him to the heart,
And scorpion critics cureless venom dart.

    S. T. C.

Coleridge on his return to Bristol resided for a short time on Redcliff
Hill, in a house occupied by Mrs. C.'s mother. He had procured upwards
of a thousand subscribers' names to "The Watchman", and had certainly
some ground for confidence in his future success. His tour had been a
triumph; and the impression made by his personal demeanour and
extraordinary eloquence was unprecedented, and such as was never effaced
from the recollection of those who met with him at this period. He seems
to have employed the interval between his arrival in Bristol and the 1st
of March--the day fixed for the appearance of "The Watchman"--in
preparing for that work, and also in getting ready the materials of his
first volume of poems, the copyright of which was purchased by Mr.
Cottle for thirty guineas. Coleridge was a student all his life; he was
very rarely indeed idle in the common sense of the term; but he was
constitutionally indolent, averse from continuous exertion externally
directed, and consequently the victim of a procrastinating habit, the
occasion of innumerable distresses to himself and of endless solicitude
to his friends, and which materially impaired, though it could not
destroy, the operation and influence of his wonderful abilities. Hence,
also, the fits of deep melancholy which from time to time seized his
whole soul, during which he seemed an imprisoned man without hope of
liberty. In February, 1796, whilst his volume was in the press, he wrote
the following letter to Mr. Cottle:


My dear Cottle,

I have this night and to-morrow for you, being alone, and my spirits
calm. I shall consult my poetic honour, and of course your interest,
more by staying at home than by drinking tea with you. I should be happy
to see my poems out even by next week, and I shall continue in stirrups,
that is, shall not dismount my Pegasus, till Monday morning, at which
time you will have to thank God for having done with your affectionate
friend always, but author evanescent,

S. T. C.

[The last letter is one of many short notes to Cottle explaining why he
was not making progress with the proposed volume of Poems. The next is
the concluding letter of the series, still apologizing for the delay.


Stowey, (--Feb. 1796.)

My dear Cottle,

I feel it much, and very uncomfortable, that, loving you as a brother,
and feeling pleasure in pouring out my heart to you, I should so seldom
be able to write a letter to you, unconnected with business, and
uncontaminated with excuses and apologies. I give every moment I can
spare from my garden and the Reviews (i.e.) from my potatoes and meat to
the poem ("Religious Musings"), but I go on slowly, for I torture the
poem and myself with corrections; and what I write in an hour, I
sometimes take two or three days in correcting. You may depend on it,
the poem and prefaces will take up exactly the number of pages I
mentioned, and I am extremely anxious to have the work as perfect as
possible, and which I cannot do, if it be finished immediately. The
"Religious Musings" I have altered monstrously, since I read them to you
and received your criticisms. I shall send them to you in my next. The
Sonnets I will send you with the "Musings". God love you!

From your affectionate friend,


Shortly afterwards, mistaking the object of a message from Mr. Cottle
for an application for "copy" for the press, Coleridge wrote the
following letter with reference to the painful subject:


Redcliff Hill, February 22, 1796.

My dear Sir,

It is my duty and business to thank God for all his dispensations, and
to believe them the best possible; but, indeed, I think I should have
been more thankful, if He had made me a journeyman shoemaker, instead of
an author by trade. I have left my friends; I have left plenty; I have
left that ease which would have secured a literary immortality, and have
enabled me to give to the public works conceived in moments of
inspiration, and polished with leisurely solicitude; and, alas! for what
have I left them? For--who deserted me in the hour of distress, and for
a scheme of virtue impracticable and romantic! So I am forced to write
for bread--write the flights of poetic enthusiasm, when every minute I
am hearing a groan from my wife! Groans, and complaints, and sickness!
The present hour I am in a quick-set hedge of embarrassment, and,
whichever way I turn, a thorn runs into me. The future is cloud and
thick darkness. Poverty, perhaps, and the thin faces of them that want
bread looking up to me! Nor is this all. My happiest moments for
composition are broken in upon by the reflection that I must make haste.
"I am too late." "I am already months behind." "I have received my pay
beforehand."----O wayward and desultory spirit of Genius, ill can'st
thou brook a taskmaster! The tenderest touch from the hand of obligation
wounds thee like a scourge of scorpions!

I have been composing in the fields this morning, and came home to write
down the first rude sheet of my Preface, when I heard that your man had
brought a note from you. I have not seen it, but I guess its contents. I
am writing as fast as I can. Depend on it, you shall not be out of
pocket for me. I feel what I owe you, and, independently of this, I love
you as a friend,--indeed so much that I regret, seriously regret, that
you have been my copyholder.

If I have written petulantly, forgive me. God knows I am sore all over.
God bless you! and believe me that, setting gratitude aside, I love and
esteem you, and have your interest at heart full as much as my own.


On the 1st of March, 1796, "The Watchman" was published; it ended with
the tenth number on the 13th of May following. In March Mr. C. removed
to a house in Oxford Street in Kingsdown, and thence wrote the following
letter to Mr. Poole:

[1: Letter LIV is our 25.]


30th March, 1796.

My dear Poole,

For the neglect in the transmission of "The Watchman", you must blame
George Burnett, who undertook the business. I however will myself see it
sent this week with the preceding Numbers. I am greatly obliged to you
for your communication--(on the Slave Trade in No. V);--it appears in
this Number. I am anxious to receive more from you, and likewise to know
what you dislike in "The Watchman", and what you like, but particularly
the former. You have not given me your opinion of "The Plot Discovered".

Since you last saw me, I have been well nigh distracted. The repeated
and most injurious blunders of my printer out of doors, and Mrs.
Coleridge's danger at home--added to the gloomy prospect of so many
mouths to open and shut, like puppets, as I move the string in the
eating and drinking way;--but why complain to you? Misery is an article
with which every market is so glutted that it can answer no one's
purpose to export it.

I have received many abusive letters, post-paid, thanks to the friendly
malignants! But I am perfectly callous to disapprobation, except when it
tends to lessen profit. Then indeed I am all one tremble of sensibility,
marriage having taught me the wonderful uses of that vulgar commodity,
yclept Bread. "The Watchman" succeeds so as to yield a
"bread-and-cheesish" profit. Mrs. Coleridge is recovering apace, and
deeply regrets that she was deprived of the pleasure of seeing you. We
are in our new house, where there is a bed at your service whenever you
will please to delight us with a visit. Surely in Spring you might force
a few days into a sojourning with us.

Dear Poole, you have borne yourself towards me most kindly with respect
to my epistolary ingratitude. But I know that you forbade yourself to
feel resentment towards me, because you had previously made my neglect
ingratitude. A generous temper endures a great deal from one whom it has
obliged deeply.

My poems are finished. I will send you two copies the moment they are
published. In No. III of "The Watchman" there are a few lines entitled,
"The Hour when we shall meet again" ("Dim Hour! that sleep'st on
pillowing clouds afar"), which I think you will like. I have received
two or three letters from different "Anonymi", requesting me to give
more poetry. One of them writes thus:--

"Sir, I detest your principles; your prose I think very
so so; but your poetry is so beautiful that I take in your
"Watchman" solely on account of it. In justice therefore
to me and some others of my stamp, I entreat you to give us
more verse, and less democratic scurrility. Your Admirer,--not

Have you read over Dr. Lardner on the Logos? It is I think, scarcely
possible to read it, and not be convinced. I find that "The Watchman"
comes more easy to me, so that I shall begin about my Christian Lectures
(meaning a publication of the course given in the preceding year). I
will immediately order for you, unless you immediately countermand it,
Count Rumford's Essays; in No. V of "The Watchman" you will see why.
(That number contained a critique on the Essays.) I have enclosed Dr.
Beddoes's late pamphlets; neither of them as yet published. The Doctor
sent them to me.... My dutiful love to your excellent Mother, whom,
believe me, I think of frequently and with a pang of affection. God
bless you. I'll try and contrive to scribble a line and half every time
the man goes with "The Watchman" to you.

N.B. The Essay on Fasting I am ashamed of--(in No. II of "The
Watchman");--but it is one of my misfortunes that I am obliged to
publish ex tempore as well as compose. God bless you.


[Footnote 1: Letter LV is our 26.]

Two days afterwards Mr. Coleridge wrote to Mr. B. Flower, then the
editor of the "Cambridge Intelligencer", with whom he had been
acquainted at the University:


April 1, 1796.

Dear Sir,

I transmitted to you by Mr. B---- a copy of my "Conciones ad Populum",
and of an Address against the Bills (meaning "The Plot Discovered"). I
have taken the liberty of enclosing ten of each, carriage paid, which
you may perhaps have an opportunity of disposing of for me;--if not,
give them away. The one is an eighteen-penny affair;--the other
ninepence. I have likewise enclosed the Numbers which have been hitherto
published of "The Watchman";--some of the Poetry may perhaps be
serviceable to you in your paper. That sonnet on the rejection of Mr.
Wilberforce's Bill in your Chronicle the week before last was written by
Southey, author of "Joan of Arc", a year and a half ago, and sent to me
per letter;-how it appeared with the late signature, let the plagiarist
answer.... I have sent a copy of my Poems--(they were not yet
published):--will you send them to Lunn and Deighton, and ask of them
whether they would choose to have their names on the title page as
publishers; and would you permit me to have yours? Robinson and, I
believe, Cadell, will be the London publishers. Be so kind as to send an
immediate answer.

Please to present one of each of my pamphlets to Mr. Hall--(the late
Robert Hall, the Baptist). I wish I could reach the perfection of his
style. I think his style the best in the English language; if he have a
rival, it is Mrs. Barbauld.

You have, of course, seen Bishop Watson's Apology for the Bible. It is a
complete confutation of Paine; but that was no difficult matter. The
most formidable Infidel is Lessing, the author of "Emilia Galotti";--I
ought to have written, "was", for he is dead. His book is not yet
translated, and is entitled, in German, "Fragments of an Anonymous
Author". It unites the wit of Voltaire with the subtlety of Hume and the
profound erudition of "our" Lardner. I had some thoughts of translating
it with an Answer, but gave it up, lest men, whose tempers and hearts
incline them to disbelief, should get hold of it; and, though the
answers are satisfactory to my own mind, they may not be equally so to
the minds of others.

I suppose you have heard that I am married. I was married on the 4th of

I rest all my poetical credit on the "Religious Musings". Farewell; with
high esteem, yours sincerely,


Benjamin Flower, the editor of the "Cambridge Intelligencer", printed
the first published version of the "Monody on Chatterton" in his Edition
of the Rowley Poems, 1794. He was also to have been the publisher of the
"Imitations of the Latin Poets", of which Coleridge spoke so often at
this time. Our next letter is from "The Watchman" of 1 April, in answer
to a correspondent. Godwin, whom Coleridge had hailed in one of his
sonnets in the "Morning Chronicle" (10 January, 1795) as one formed to
"illume a sunless world" by his "Political Justice" (1793), is here
attacked with some virulence. In after years Coleridge held a better
opinion of Godwin and wrote some of his finest letters to him.


You have attacked me because I ventured to disapprove of Mr. Godwin's
Works: I notice your attack because it affords me an opportunity of
expressing more fully my sentiments respecting those principles.--I must
not however wholly pass over the former part of your letter. The
sentence "implicating them with party and calumniating opinions," is so
inaccurately worded, that I must "guess" at your meaning. In my first
essay I stated that literary works were generally reviewed by personal
friends or private enemies of the Authors. This I "know" to be fact; and
does the spirit of meekness forbid us to tell the truth? The passage in
my Review of Mr. Burke's late pamphlet, you have wilfully misquoted:
"with respect to the work in question," is an addition of your own. That
work in question I myself considered as mere declamation; and
"therefore" deemed it wofully inferior to the former production of the
venerable Fanatic.--In what manner I could add to my numerous "ideal"
trophies by quoting a beautiful passage from the pages which I was
reviewing, I am ignorant. Perhaps the spirit of vanity lurked in the use
of the word ""I""--"ere "I" begin the task of blame." It is pleasant to
observe with what absurd anxiety this little monosyllable is avoided.
Sometimes "the present writer" appears as its substitute: sometimes the
modest author adopts the style of royalty, swelling and multiplying
himself into "We"; and sometimes to escape the egotistic phrases of "in
my opinion," or, "as I think," he utters dogmas, and positively
asserts--"exempli gratia": ""It is" a work, which, etc." You deem me
inconsistent, because, having written in praise of the metaphysician, I
afterwards appear to condemn the essay on political justice. Would an
eulogist of medical men be inconsistent, if he should write against
vendors of (what he deemed) poisons? Without even the formality of a
"since" or a "for" or a "because," you make an unqualified assertion,
that this essay will be allowed by all, except the prejudiced, to be a
deep, metaphysical work, though abstruse, etc. etc. Caius Gracchus must
have been little accustomed to abstruse disquisitions, if he deem Mr.
Godwin's work abstruse:--A chief (and certainly not a small) merit is
its perspicuous and "popular" language. My chapter on modern patriotism
is that which has irritated you. You condemn me as prejudiced--O this
enlightened age! when it can be seriously charged against an essayist,
that he is prejudiced in favour of gratitude, conjugal fidelity, filial
affection, and the belief of God and a hereafter!!

  Of smart pretty fellows in Bristol are numbers, some
  Who so modish are grown, that they think plain sense cumbersome;
  And lest they should seem to be queer or ridiculous,
  They affect to believe neither God nor "old Nicholas"![1]

I do consider Mr. Godwin's principles as vicious; and his book as a
pander to sensuality. Once I thought otherwise--nay, even addressed a
complimentary sonnet to the author, in the "Morning Chronicle", of which
I confess with much moral and poetical contrition, that the lines and
the subject were equally bad. I have since "studied" his work; and long
before you had sent me your contemptuous challenge, had been preparing
an examination of it, which will shortly appear in "The Watchman" in a
series of essays. You deem me an "enthusiast"--an enthusiast, I presume,
because I am not quite convinced with yourself and Mr. Godwin that mind
will be omnipotent over matter, that a plough will go into the field and
perform its labour without the presence of the agriculturist, that man
may be immortal in this life, and that death is an act of the
will!!!--You conclude with wishing that "The Watchman" "for the future
may be conducted with less prejudice and greater liberality:"--I ought
to be considered in two characters--as editor of the Miscellany, and as
a frequent contributor. In the latter I contribute what I believe to be
the truth; let him who thinks it error, contribute likewise, that where
the poison is, there the antidote may be. In my former, that is, as the
editor, I leave to the public the business of canvassing the nature of
the principles, and assume to myself the power of admitting or rejecting
any communications according to my best judgment of their style and
ingenuity. The Miscellany is open to all "ingenious" men whatever their
opinions may be, whether they be the disciples of Filmer, of Locke, of
Paley, or of Godwin. One word more of "the spirit of meekness." I meant
by this profession to declare my intention of attacking things without
expressing malignity to persons. I am young; and may occasionally write
with the intemperance of a young man's zeal. Let me borrow an apology
from the great and excellent Dr. Hartley, who of all men least needed
it. "I can truly say, that my free and unreserved manner of speaking has
flowed from the sincerity and earnestness of my heart." But I will not
undertake to justify all that I have said. Some things may be too hasty
and censorious; or however, be unbecoming my age and station. I heartily
wish that I could have observed the true medium. For want of candour is
not less an offence against the Gospel of Christ, than false shame and
want of courage in his cause.


[Footnote 1: The lines are by Coleridge.]


11th April, 1796.

My dear, very dear Friend,

I have sent the 5th, 6th, and part of the 7th Number--all as yet
printed. Your censures are all right: I wish your praises were equally
so. The Essay on Fasts I am ashamed of. It was conceived in the spirit,
and clothed in the harsh scoffing, of an Infidel. You wish to have one
long essay;--so should I wish; but so do not my subscribers wish. I feel
the perplexities of my undertaking increase daily. In London and Bristol
"The Watchman" is read for its original matter,--the news and debates
barely tolerated. The people of Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham,
etc., take it as a newspaper, and regard the essays and poems as
intruders unwished for and unwelcome. In short, each subscriber, instead
of regarding himself as a point in the circumference entitled to some
one diverging ray, considers me as the circumference, and himself as
the centre to which all the rays ought to converge. To tell you the
truth, I do not think "The Watchman" will succeed. Hitherto I have
scarcely sold enough to pay the expenses;--no wonder, when I tell you
that on the 200 which Parsons in Paternoster Row sells weekly, he gains
eight shillings more than I do. Nay, I am convinced that at the end of
the half year he will have cleared considerably more by his 200 than I
by the proprietorship of the whole work.

Colson has been indefatigable in my service, and writes with such zeal
for my interests, and such warmth of sorrow for my sufferings, as if he
wrote with fire and tears. God bless him! I wish above all things to
realize a school. I could be well content to plod from morning to night,
if only I could secure a secure competence; but to toil incessantly for
uncertain bread weighs me down to earth.

Your Night-dream has been greatly admired. Dr. Beddoes spoke in high
commendation of it. Your thoughts on Elections I will insert whenever
Parliament is dissolved. I will insert them as the opinions of a
sensible correspondent, entering my individual protest against giving a
vote in any way or for any person. If you had an estate in the swamps of
Essex, you could not prudently send an aguish man there to be your
manager,--he would be unfit for it;--you could not honestly send a hale
hearty man there, for the situation would to a moral certainty give him
the ague. So with the Parliament:--I will not send a rogue there; and I
would not send an honest man, for it is twenty to one that he will
become a rogue.

Count Rumford's "Essays" you shall have by the next parcel. I thank you
for your kind permission with respect to books. I have sent down to you
"Elegiac Stanzas" by Bowles; they were given to me, but are altogether
unworthy of Bowles. I have sent you Beddoes's Essay on the merits of
William Pitt; you may either keep it, and I will get another for myself
on your account, or if you see nothing in it to library-ize it, send it
me back next Thursday, or whenever you have read it. My own "Poems" you
will welcome. I pin all my poetical credit on the "Religious Musings".
In the poem you so much admired in "The Watchman", for "Now life and
joy," read "New life and joy." (From "The Hour when we shall meet
again".) "Chatterton" shall appear modernized. Dr. Beddoes intends, I
believe, to give a course of Chemistry in a most "elementary"
manner,--the price, two guineas. I wish, ardently wish, you could
possibly attend them, and live with me. My house is most beautifully
situated; an excellent room and bed are at your service. If you had any
scruple about putting me to additional expense, you should pay me seven
shillings a week, and I should gain by you.

Mrs. Coleridge is remarkably well, and sends her kind love. Pray, my
dear, dear Poole, do not neglect to write to me every week. Your
critique on "Joan of Arc" and the "Religious Musings" I expect. Your
dear mother I long to see. Tell her I love her with filial
respectfulness. Excellent woman! Farewell; God bless you and your
grateful and affectionate


Mr. C.'s first volume of poems was published by Mr. Cottle in the
beginning of April, 1796, and his sense of the kind conduct of the
latter to him throughout the whole affair was expressed in the following
manner on a blank leaf in a copy of the work:


Dear Cottle,

On the blank leaf of my Poems I can most appropriately write my
acknowledgments to you for your too disinterested conduct in the
purchase of them. Indeed, if ever they should acquire a name and
character, it might be truly said the world owed them to you. Had it not
been for you, none perhaps of them would have been published, and some
not written.

Your obliged and affectionate friend,


Bristol, April 15, 1796.

[Another project of Coleridge to earn a small sum to tide over financial
difficulties was to "Rumfordise" the cities of England. Coleridge
reviewed Rumford's Essays in "The Watchman" of 2nd April. Count Rumford
(Count of the Holy Roman Empire), had cleared certain cities of Austria
of beggars and vagabonds, and had established garden cities for the
soldiery practising agricultural pursuits and engaging in remunerative
occupations during their non-attendance at drill. What part of the
"Rumfordising" Coleridge proposed to apply to his native country does
not appear from the letter.]


(Apl. 1796.)

My ever dear Cottle,

Since I last conversed with you on the subject, I have been thinking
over again the plan I suggested to you, concerning the application of
Count Rumford's plan to the city of Bristol. I have arranged in my mind
the manner, and matter of the Pamphlet, which would be three sheets, and
might be priced at one shilling.

  Addressed to the Inhabitants of Bristol,
  on a subject of importance,
  (unconnected with Politics.)

  BY S. T. C.

Now I have by me the history of Birmingham, and the history of
Manchester. By observing the names, revenues, and expenditures of their
different charities, I could easily alter the calculations of the
"Bristol Address", and, at a trifling expense, and a few variations, the
same work might be sent to Manchester and Birmingham. "Considerations
addressed to the inhabitants of Birmingham", etc. I could so order it,
that by writing to a particular friend, at both places, the pamphlet
should be thought to have been written at each place, as it certainly
would be "for" each place. I think therefore 750 might be printed in
all. Now will you undertake this? either to print it and divide the
profits, or (which indeed I should prefer) would you give me three
guineas, for the copyright? I would give you the first sheet on
Thursday, the second on the Monday following, the third on the Thursday
following. To each pamphlet I would annex the alterations to be made,
when the press was stopped at 250.

God love you!

S. T. C.

Cottle says regarding this project, "I presented Mr. C. with the three
guineas, but forbore the publication."]


(April) 1796.

My ever dear Cottle,

I will wait on you this evening at nine o'clock, till which hour I am on
"Watch." Your Wednesday's invitation I of course accept, but I am rather
sorry that you should add this expense to former liberalities.

Two editions of my "Poems" would barely repay you. Is it not possible to
get 25 or 30 of the "Poems" ready by to-morrow, as Parsons, of
Paternoster Row, has written to me pressingly about them? "People are
perpetually asking after them. All admire the poetry in the "Watchman","
he says. I can send them with 100 of the first number, which he has
written for. I think if you were to send half a dozen "Joans of Arc"
(4to £1 1s. 0d.) on sale or return, it would not be amiss. To all the
places in the North we will send my "Poems", my "Conciones", and the
"Joans of Arc" together, "per" waggon. You shall pay the carriage for
the London and Birmingham parcels; I for the Sheffield, Derby,
Nottingham, Manchester, and Liverpool.

With regard to the "Poems" I mean to give away, I wish to make it a
common interest; that is, I will give away a sheet full of Sonnets.
One to Mrs. Barbauld; one to Wakefield; one to Dr. Beddoes; one to
Wrangham--a college acquaintance of mine,--an admirer of me, and a
pitier of my principles;--one to George Augustus Pollen, Esq.; one to
C. Lamb; one to Wordsworth; one to my brother George, and one to Dr. Parr.
These Sonnets I mean to write on the blank leaf, respectively, of each
copy. * * * * God bless you, and


"The Sonnets," says Mr. Cottle, "never arrived." [But a pamphlet of 16
pages, containing 28 Sonnets, was printed, the only extant copy of which
is in the Dyce Collection. "Poems", 1893, p. 544.]


6th May, 1796.

My very dear Friend,

The heart is a little relieved, when vexation converts itself into
anger. But from this privilege I am utterly precluded by my own
epistolary sins and negligences. Yet in very troth thou must be a
hard-hearted fellow to let me trot for four weeks together every
Thursday to the Bear Inn--to receive no letter. I have sometimes thought
that Milton the carrier did not deliver my last parcel, but he assures
me he did.

This morning I received a truly fraternal letter from your brother
Richard of Sherborne, containing good and acceptable advice. He deems my
"Religious Musings" "too metaphysical for common readers." I answer--the
poem was not written for common readers. In so miscellaneous a
collection as I have presented to the Public, "singula cuique" should be
the motto. There are, however, instances of vicious affectation in the
phraseology of that poem;--"unshudder'd, unaghasted", for example. ("Not
in the poem now".) Good writing is produced more effectually by rapidly
glancing the language as it already exists than by a hasty recourse to
the mint of invention. The "Religious Musings" has more mind than the
Introduction of B. II. of "Joan of Arc", ("Destiny of Nations", Poet. W.
I. p. 98) but its versification is not equally rich. It has more
passages of sublimity, but it has not that diffused air of severe
dignity which characterizes my epic slice. Have I estimated my own
performances rightly? ...

With regard to my own affairs they are as bad as the most rampant
philo-despot could wish in the moment of cursing. After No. XII I shall
cease to cry the state of the political atmosphere. It is not pleasant,
Thomas Poole, to have worked fourteen weeks for nothing--for nothing;
nay, to have given to the Public in addition to that toil, £45. When I
began the Watchman I had £40 worth of paper given to me; yet with this I
shall not have received a farthing at the end of the quarter. To be sure
I have been somewhat fleeced and over-reached by my London publisher. In
short, my tradesmen's bills for "The Watchman", including what paper I
have bought since the seventh number, the printing, etc., amount exactly
to £5 more than the whole of my receipts. "O Watchman, thou hast watched
in vain!"--said the Prophet Ezekiel, when, I suppose, he was taking a
prophetic glimpse of my sorrow-sallowed cheeks.

My plans are reduced to two;--the first unpracticable,--the second not
likely to succeed.

Plan 1. I am studying German, and in about six weeks shall be able to
read that language with tolerable fluency. Now I have some thoughts of
making a proposal to Robinson, the great London bookseller, of
translating all the works of Schiller, which would make a portly quarto,
on condition that he should pay my journey and my wife's to and from
Jena, a cheap German University where Schiller resides, and allow me two
guineas each quarto sheet, which would maintain me. If I could realize
this scheme, I should there study chemistry and anatomy, and bring over
with me all the works of Semler and Michaelis, the German theologians,
and of Kant, the great German metaphysician. On my return I would
commence a school for either young men at £105 each, proposing to
perfect them in the following studies in this order:--1. Man as an
Animal;--including the complete knowledge of anatomy, chemistry,
mechanics, and optics:--2. Man as an intellectual Being;--including the
ancient metaphysics, the system of Locke and Hartley--of the Scotch
philosophers--and the new Kantean system:--3. Man as a Religious
Being;--including an historic summary of all religions, and of the
arguments for and against natural and revealed religion. Then proceeding
from the individual to the aggregate of individuals, and disregarding
all chronology, except that of mind, I should perfect them: 1--in the
history of savage tribes; 2--of semi-barbarous nations; 3--of nations
emerging from semi-barbarism; 4--of civilized states; 5--of luxurious
states; 6--of revolutionary states; 7--of colonies. During these studies
I should intermix the knowledge of languages, and instruct my scholars
in "belles lettres", and the principles of composition.

Now, seriously, do you think that one of my scholars, thus perfected,
would make a better senator than perhaps any one member in either of our
Houses?--Bright bubbles of the age--ebullient brain! Gracious Heaven!
that a scheme so big with advantage to this kingdom--therefore to
Europe--therefore to the world--should be demolishable by one
monosyllable from a bookseller's mouth!

My second plan is to become a Dissenting Minister, and adjure politics
and casual literature. Preaching for hire is not right; because it must
prove a strong temptation to continue to profess what I may have ceased
to believe, "if ever" maturer judgment with wider and deeper reading
should lessen or destroy my faith in Christianity. But though not right
in itself, it may become right by the greater wrongness of the only
alternative--the remaining in neediness and uncertainty. That in the one
case I should be exposed to temptation is a mere contingency; that under
necessitous circumstances I am exposed to great and frequent temptations
is a melancholy certainty.

Write, my dear Poole! or I will crimp all the rampant Billingsgate of
Burke to abuse you. Count Rumford is being reprinted.

God bless you and


On Friday, the 13th of May, 1796, the tenth and last number of "The
Watchman" appeared--the Author having wisely accelerated the termination
of a hopeless undertaking, the plan of which was as injudicious as the
execution of it by him for any length of time impracticable. Of the 324
pages, of which "The Watchman" consists, not more than a hundred contain
original matter by Coleridge, and this is perhaps more remarkable as a
test of the marvellous spring of his mind almost immediately afterwards
than for any very striking merit of its own. Still, however, the nascent
philosopher may be discovered in parts; and the Essay on the Slave
Trade, in the fourth number, may be justly distinguished as comprising a
perfect summary of the arguments applicable on either side of that

In the meantime Mr. Poole had been engaged in circulating a proposal
amongst a few common friends for purchasing a small annuity and
presenting it to Mr. Coleridge. The plan was not in fact carried into
execution;[1] but it was communicated to Mr. C. by Mr. Poole, and the
following letter refers to it:--

[Footnote 1: An error. A subscription annuity of £35 or £40 was
collected and paid to Coleridge in 1796 and 1797.]


12th May, 1796.

Poole! The Spirit, who counts the throbbings of the solitary heart,
knows that what my feelings ought to be, such they are. If it were in my
power to give you anything, which I have not already given, I should be
oppressed by the letter now before me. But no! I feel myself rich in
being poor; and because I have nothing to bestow, I know how much I have
bestowed. Perhaps I shall not make myself intelligible; but the strong
and unmixed affection which I bear to you seems to exclude all emotions
of gratitude, and renders even the principle of esteem latent and inert.
Its presence is not perceptible, though its absence could not be

Concerning the scheme itself I am undetermined. Not that I am ashamed to
receive;--God forbid! I will make every possible exertion; my industry
shall be at least commensurate with my learning and talents;--if these
do not procure for me and mine the necessary comforts of life, I can
receive as I would bestow, and, in either case--receiving or
bestowing--be equally grateful to my Almighty Benefactor. I am
undetermined therefore--not because I receive with pain and reluctance,
but--because I suspect that you attribute to others your own enthusiasm
of benevolence; as if the sun should say--"With how rich a purple those
opposite windows are burning!" But with God's permission I shall talk
with you on this subject. By the last page of No. X, you will perceive
that I have this day dropped "The Watchman". On Monday morning I will go
"per" caravan to Bridgewater, where, if you have a horse of tolerable
meekness unemployed, you will let him meet me.

I should blame you for the exaggerated terms in which you have spoken of
me in the Proposal, did I not perceive the motive. You wished to make it
appear an offering--not a favour--and in excess of delicacy have, I
fear, fallen into some grossness of flattery.

God bless you, my dear, very dear Friend. The widow is calm, and amused
with her beautiful infant. [1] We are all become more religious than we
were. God be ever praised for all things! Mrs. Coleridge begs her kind
love to you. To your dear Mother my filial respects.


[Footnote 1: Mrs. Robert Lovell, whose husband had been carried off by a
fever, about two years after his marriage with my Aunt. S. C.]

[Footnote 2: Letter LVI is our 34. LVII is dated 13 May, 1796.]

The visit to Mr. Poole at Stowey was paid, and Mr. C. returned to
Bristol on the 20th of May, 1796. On his way back he wrote the following
letter to Mr. Poole from Bridgewater:--


29th May, 1796.

My dear Poole,

This said caravan does not leave Bridgewater till nine. In the
market-place stand the hustings. I mounted, and pacing the boards, mused
on bribery, false swearing, and other foibles of election times. I have
wandered too by the river Parret, which looks as filthy as if all the
parrots in the House of Commons had been washing their consciences
therein. Dear Gutter of Stowey! Were I transported to Italian plains,
and lying by the side of a streamlet which murmured through an orange
grove, I would think of thee, dear Gutter of Stowey, and wish that I
were poring on thee!

So much by way of rant. I have eaten three eggs, swallowed sundries of
tea and bread and butter, purely for the purpose of amusing myself, and
I have seen the horse fed. When at Cross, where I shall dine, I shall
think of your happy dinner celebrated under the auspices of humble
independence, supported by brotherly love. I am writing, you understand,
for no worldly purpose but that of avoiding anxious thoughts. Apropos of
honey-pie:--Caligula or Heliogabalus,[1] (I forget which,) had a dish of
nightingales' tongues served up. What think you of the stings of bees?
God bless you. My filial love to your mother, and fraternity to your
sister. Tell Ellen Cruikshanks, that in my next parcel to you I will
send my Haleswood Poem to her. Heaven protect her, and you, and Sara,
and your Mother, and--like a bad shilling passed off in a handful of
guineas--your affectionate friend and brother,


P.S. Don't forget to send by Milton my old clothes and linen that once
was clean--a pretty "periphrasis" that![2]

[Footnote 1: Elagabalus.]

[Footnote 2: Letter LVIII is our 35. LIX is dated 22 June 1796.]

The month of June, 1796, was spent in Bristol, and some negotiation took
place as to Mr. C.'s settling in Nottingham, the particulars of which
the Editor is unable to state. On the 4th of July Mr. Coleridge writes
to Mr. Poole.


4th July, 1796.

My very dear Poole,

Do not attribute it to indolence that I have not written to you.
Suspense has been the real cause of my silence. Day after day I have
confidently expected some decisive letter, and as often have been
disappointed. "Certainly I shall have one to-morrow noon, and then I
will write." Thus I contemplated the time of my silence in its small
component parts, forgetful into what a sum total they were swelling. As
I have heard nothing from Nottingham notwithstanding I have written a
pressing letter, I have, by the advice of Cottle and Dr. Beddoes,
accepted a proposal of Mr. Perry's, the editor of the "Morning
Chronicle",--accepted it with a heavy and reluctant heart. On Thursday
Perry was at Bristol for a few hours, just time enough to attend the
dying moments of his associate in the editorship, Mr. Grey, whom Dr.
Beddoes attended. Perry desired Dr. B. to inform me that, if I would
come up to London and write for him, he would make me a regular
compensation adequate to the maintenance of myself and Mrs. Coleridge,
and requested an immediate answer by the post. Mr. Estlin, and
Charles Danvers, and Mr. Wade are or were all out of town;--I had no one
to advise with except Dr. Beddoes and Cottle. Dr. B. thinks it a good
opening on account of Grey's death; but I rather think that the
intention is to employ me as a mere hackney without any share of the
profits. However, as I am doing nothing, and in the prospect of doing
nothing settled, I was afraid to give way to the "omenings" of my heart;
and accordingly I accepted his proposal in general terms, requesting a
line from him expressing the particulars both of my proposed occupation
and stipend. This I shall receive to-morrow, I suppose; and if I do, I
think of hiring a horse for a couple of days, and galloping down to you
to have all your advice, which indeed, if it should be for rejecting the
proposals, I might receive by post; but if for finally accepting them,
we could not interchange letters in a time sufficiently short for
Perry's needs, and so he might procure another person possibly. At all
events I should not like to leave this part of England--perhaps for
ever--without seeing you once more. I am very sad about it, for I love
Bristol, and I do not love London; and besides, local and temporary
politics have become my aversion. They narrow the understanding, and at
least acidulate the heart; but those two giants, yclept Bread and
Cheese, bend me into compliance. I must do something. If I go, farewell,
Philosophy! farewell, the Muse! farewell, my literary Fame!

My "Poems" have been reviewed. The "Monthly" has cataracted panegyric on
me; the "Critical" cascaded it, and the "Analytical" dribbled it with
civility. As to the "British Critic", they durst not condemn, and they
would not praise--so contented themselves with commending me as a
"poet", and allowed me "tenderness of sentiment and elegance of
fiction." I am so anxious and uneasy that I really cannot write any
further. My kind and fraternal love to your Sister, and my filial
respects to your dear Mother, and believe me to be in my head, heart,
and soul, yours most sincerely.


The Editor can find no further trace of the proposed connection with the
"Morning Chronicle"; but almost immediately after the date of the
preceding letter, Mr. Coleridge received an invitation from Mrs. Evans,
then of Barley, near Derby, to visit her with a view to his undertaking
the education of her sons. He and Mrs. C. accordingly went to Barley,
where the matter was arranged to the satisfaction of both parties; and
Mr. C. returned to Bristol alone with the intention of visiting his
Mother and Brother at Ottery before leaving the south of England for
what promised to be a long absence. But this project, like others, ended
in nothing. The other guardians of Mrs. E.'s sons considered a public
education proper for them, and the announcement of this resolution to
Mr. C. at Bristol stopped his further progress, and recalled him to
Darley. After a stay of some ten days, he left Darley with Mrs. C., and
visited Mr. Thomas Hawkes at Mosely, near Birmingham, and thence he
wrote to Mr. Poole--


August, 1796.

My beloved Friend,

I was at Matlock, the place monodized by Bowles, when your letter
arrived at Darley, and I did not receive it till near a week afterwards.
My very dear Poole, I wrote to you the whole truth. After the first
moment I was perfectly composed, and from that moment to the present
have continued calm and lighthearted. I had just quitted you, and I felt
myself rich in your love and esteem; and you do not know how rich I feel
myself. O ever found the same, and trusted and beloved!

The last sentences of your letter affected me more than I can well
describe. Words and phrases which might perhaps have adequately
expressed my feelings, the cold-blooded children of this world have
anticipated and exhausted in their unmeaning gabble of flattery. I use
common expressions, but they do not convey common feelings. My heart has
thanked you. I preached on Faith yesterday. I said that Faith was
infinitely better than Good Works, as the cause is greater than the
effect,--as a fruitful tree is better than its fruits, and as a friendly
heart is of far higher value than the kindnesses which it naturally and
necessarily prompts. It is for that friendly heart that I now have
thanked you, and which I so eagerly accept; for with regard to
settlement, I am likely to be better off now than before, as I shall
proceed to tell you.

I arrived at Darley on the Sunday.... Monday I spent at Darley. On the
Tuesday Mrs. Coleridge, Miss Willett, and I went in Mrs. Evans's
carriage to Matlock, where we stayed till Saturday.... Sunday we spent
at Darley, and on Monday Sara, Mrs. Evans, and myself visited Oakover, a
seat famous for a few first-rates of Raffael and Titian; thence to Ilam,
a quiet vale hung round with wood, beautiful beyond expression, and
thence to Dovedale, a place beyond expression tremendously sublime.
Here, in a cavern at the head of a divine little fountain, we dined on
cold meat, and returned to Darley, quite worn out with the succession of
sweet sensations. On Tuesday we were employed in packing up, and on
Wednesday we were to have set off.... But on the Wednesday Dr. Crompton,
who had just returned from Liverpool, called on me, and made me the
following proposal:--that if I would take a house in Derby and open a
day-school, confining my number to twelve scholars, he would send three
of his children on these terms--till my number should be completed, he
would allow me £100 a year for them;--when the number should be
complete, he would give £21 a year for each of them:--the children to be
with me from nine to twelve, and from two to five--the last two hours to
be employed with their writing or drawing-master, who would be paid by
the parents. He has no doubt but that I shall complete my number almost
instantly. Now 12 x 20 guineas = £252, and my mornings and evenings at
my own disposal = good things. So I accepted the offer, it being
understood that if anything better offered, I should accept it. There
was not a house to be got in Derby; but I engaged with a man for a house
now building, and which is to be completed by the 8th of October, for
£12 a year, and the landlord to pay all the taxes except the Poor Rates.
The landlord is rather an intelligent fellow, and has promised me to
Rumfordize the chimneys. The plan is to commence in November; the
intermediate time I spend at Bristol, at which place I shall arrive, by
the blessing of God, on Monday night next. This week I spend with Mr.
Hawkes, at Mosely, near Birmingham; in whose shrubbery I now write. I
arrived here on Friday, having left Derby on Friday. I preached here

If Sara will let me, I shall see you for a few days in the course of a
month. Direct your next letter to S. T. C., Oxford Street, Bristol. My
love to your dear Mother and Sister, and believe me affectionately your
ever faithful friend,


I shall write to my Mother and Brothers to-morrow.

At the same time Mr. C. wrote to Mr. Wade in terms similar to the above,
adding that at Matlock the time was completely filled up with seeing the
country, eating, concerts, etc.


(--Sept. 1796.)

"I was the first fiddle;--not in the concerts--but every where else, and
the company would not spare me twenty minutes together. Sunday I
dedicated to the drawing up my sketch of education, which I meant to
publish, to try to get a school!" He speaks of "the thrice lovely valley
of Ilam; a vale hung with beautiful woods all round, except just at its
entrance, where, as you stand at the other end of the valley, you see a
bare bleak mountain standing as it were to guard the entrance. It is
without exception the most beautiful place I ever visited." ... He
concludes:--"I have seen a letter from Mr. William Roscoe, author of the
"Life of Lorenzo the Magnificent"; a work in two 4to volumes (of which
the whole first edition sold in a month); it was addressed to Mr.
Edwards, the minister here, and entirely related to me. Of me and my
compositions he writes in terms of high admiration, and concludes by
desiring Mr. Edwards to let him know my situation and prospects, and
saying that if I would come and settle at Liverpool, he thought a
comfortable situation might be procured for me. This day Edwards will
write to him."

Whilst at Birmingham, on "The Watchman" tour, Mr. C. had been introduced
to Mr. Charles Lloyd, the eldest son of Mr. Lloyd, an eminent banker of
that place. At Mosely they met again, and the result of an intercourse
for a few days together was an ardent desire on the part of Lloyd to
domesticate himself permanently with a man whose conversation was to him
a revelation from Heaven. Nothing, however, was settled on this
occasion, and Mr. and Mrs. C. returned to Bristol in the beginning of
September. On the 24th of September he writes to Mr. Poole:--


24th September, 1796.

My dear, very dear Poole,

The heart thoroughly penetrated with the flame of virtuous friendship is
in a state of glory; but lest it should be exalted above measure, there
is given to it a thorn in the flesh. I mean that where the friendship of
any person forms an essential part of a man's happiness, he will at
times be pestered with the little jealousies and solicitudes of imbecile
humanity. Since we last parted I have been gloomily dreaming that you
did not leave me so affectionately as you were wont to do. Pardon this
littleness of heart, and do not think the worse of me for it. Indeed my
soul seems so mantled and wrapped round with your love and esteem, that
even a dream of losing but the smallest fragment of it makes me shiver,
as if some tender part of my nature were left uncovered and in

Last week I received a letter from Lloyd, informing me that his parents
had given their joyful concurrence to his residence with me, but that,
if it were possible that I could be absent from home for three or four
days, his father wished particularly to see me. I consulted Mrs.
Coleridge, who advised me to go.... Accordingly on Saturday night I went
by the mail to Birmingham, and was introduced to the father, who is a
mild man, very liberal in his ideas, and in religion an allegorizing
Quaker.[1] I mean that all the apparently irrational parts of his sect
he allegorizes into significations, which for the most part you or I
might assent to. We became well acquainted, and he expressed himself
thankful to Heaven, "that his son was about to be with me." He said he
would write to me concerning money matters, after his son had been some
time under my roof.

On Tuesday morning I was surprised by a letter from Mr. Maurice, our
medical attendant, informing me that Mrs. C. was delivered on Monday,
19th September, 1796, half-past two in the morning, of a son, and that
both she and the child were uncommonly well. I was quite annihilated
with the suddenness of the information, and retired to my room to
address myself to my Maker, but I could only offer up to Him the silence
of stupified feelings. I hastened home, and Charles Lloyd returned with
me. When I first saw the child, I did not feel that thrill and
overflowing of affection which I expected. I looked on it with a
melancholy gaze; my mind was intensely contemplative, and my heart only
sad. But when two hours after, I saw it at the bosom of its mother--on
her arm--and her eye tearful and watching its little features--then I
was thrilled and melted, and gave it the kiss of a Father. * * * * The
baby seems strong, and the old nurse has over-persuaded my wife to
discover a likeness to me in its face,--no great compliment to me; for
in truth I have seen handsomer babies in my lifetime. Its name is
David Hartley Coleridge. I hope that ere he be a man, if God destines
him for continuance in this life, his head will be convinced of, and his
heart saturated with, the truths so ably supported by that great master
of Christian Philosophy.

Charles Lloyd wins upon me hourly; his heart is uncommonly pure, his
affections delicate, and his benevolence enlivened, but not sicklied, by
sensibility. He is assuredly a man of great genius; but it must be in a
"tete-a-tete" with one whom he loves and esteems that his colloquial
powers open:--and this arises not from reserve or want of simplicity,
but from having been placed in situations, where for years together he
met with no congenial minds, and where the contrariety of his thoughts
and notions to the thoughts and notions of those around him induced the
necessity of habitually suppressing his feelings. His joy and gratitude
to Heaven for the circumstance of his domestication with me, I can
scarcely describe to you; and I believe his fixed plans are of being
always with me. His father told me, that if he saw that his son had
formed habits of severe economy, he should not insist upon his adopting
any profession; as then his fair share of his (the father's) wealth
would be sufficient for him.

My dearest Poole, can you conveniently receive Lloyd and me in the
course of a week? I have much, very much, to say to you, and to consult
with you about; for my heart is heavy respecting Derby; and my feelings
are so dim and huddled, that though I can, I am sure, communicate them
to you by my looks and broken sentences, I scarcely know how to convey
them in a letter. C. Lloyd also wishes much to know you personally. I
shall write on the other side of the paper two of his sonnets, composed
by him in one evening at Birmingham. The latter of them alludes to the
conviction of the truth of Christianity, which he had received from me.
Let me hear from you by post immediately, and give my kind love to your
sister and dear mother, and likewise my love to that young man with the
soul-beaming face, which I recollect much better than I do his name.
("Mr. Thomas Ward of Over Stowey".) God bless you, my dear friend, and
believe me with deep affection yours,


[Footnote 1: The relationship of Coleridge and the Lloyds is told fully
in "Charles Lamb and the Lloyds", by E. V. Lucas, 1898.]

[Footnote 2: Letter LX is our 39.]

The reader of Coleridge's Poems will remember the beautiful lines "To a
young friend, on his proposing to domesticate with the Author". They
were written at this time and addressed to Lloyd; and it may be easily
conceived what a deep impression of delight they would make on a mind
and temperament so refined and enthusiastic as his. The Sonnet "To a
Friend who asked how I felt when the Nurse first presented my infant to
me"--is the metrical version of a passage in the foregoing letter. A
short time before the birth of little Hartley C., Mr. Southey had
returned to Bristol from Portugal, and was in lodgings nearly opposite
to Mr. Coleridge's house in Oxford Street. There had been a quarrel
between them on the occasion of the abandonment of the American scheme,
which was first announced by Mr. Southey, and he and Coleridge had
ceased to have any intercourse. But a year's absence had dissipated all
angry feelings, and after Mr. C.'s return from Birmingham in the end of
September, Southey took the first step, and sent over a slip of paper
with a word or two of conciliation.[1] This was immediately followed by
an interview, and in an hour's time these two extraordinary youths were
arm in arm again. They were indeed of essentially opposite tempers,
powers, and habits; yet each well knew and appreciated the
other,--perhaps even the more deeply from the contrast between them.
Circumstances separated them in after life; but Mr. Coleridge recorded
his testimony to Southey's character in the "Biographia Literaria", and
in his Will referred to it as expressive of his latest convictions.

[In Ainger's "Letters of Charles Lamb" will be found a series of letters
by Lamb to Coleridge on various matters, literary and domestic, which
affords a good insight into the doings of Coleridge at this time. The
following beautiful letter by Coleridge was written on the occasion of
the death of Lamb's mother.

[Footnote 1: The paper contained a sentence in English from Schiller's
Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa. "Fiesko! Fiesko! du Sumst einen Platz in
meiner Brust, den das Menschengeschlecht, dreifach genommen, nicht mehr
besetzen wird". "Fiesco! Fiesco! thou leavest a void in my bosom, which
the human race, thrice told, will never fill up." Act V, Sc. 16. S. C.]


(29 Sept. 1796.)

Your letter, my friend, struck me with a mighty horror. It rushed upon
me and stupified my feelings. You bid me write you a religious letter; I
am not a man who would attempt to insult the greatness of your anguish
by any other consolation. Heaven knows that in the easiest fortunes
there is much dissatisfaction and weariness of spirit; much that calls
for the exercise of patience and resignation; but in storms, like these,
that shake the dwelling and make the heart tremble, there is no middle
way between despair and the yielding up of the whole spirit unto the
guidance of faith. And surely it is a matter of joy, that your faith in
Jesus has been preserved; the Comforter that should relieve you is not
far from you. But as you are a Christian, in the name of that Saviour,
who was filled with bitterness and made drunken with wormwood, I conjure
you to have recourse in frequent prayer to "his God and your God," [2]
the God of mercies, and father of all comfort. Your poor father is, I
hope, almost senseless of the calamity; the unconscious instrument of
Divine Providence knows it not, and your mother is in heaven. It is
sweet to be roused from a frightful dream by the song of birds, and the
gladsome rays of the morning. Ah, how infinitely more sweet to be
awakened from the blackness and amazement of a sudden horror, by the
glories of God manifest, and the hallelujahs of angels.

As to what regards yourself, I approve altogether of your abandoning
what you justly call vanities. I look upon you as a man, called by
sorrow and anguish and a strange desolation of hopes into quietness, and
a soul set apart and made peculiar to God; we cannot arrive at any
portion of heavenly bliss without in some measure imitating Christ. And
they arrive at the largest inheritance who imitate the most difficult
parts of his character, and bowed down and crushed under foot, cry in
fulness of faith, "Father, thy will be done."

I wish above measure to have you for a little while here--no visitants
shall blow on the nakedness of your feelings--you shall be quiet, and
your spirit may be healed. I see no possible objection, unless your
father's helplessness prevent you, and unless you are necessary to him.
If this be not the case, I charge you write me that you will come.

I charge you, my dearest friend, not to dare to encourage gloom or
despair--you are a temporary sharer in human miseries, that you may be
an eternal partaker of the Divine Nature. I charge you, if by any means
it be possible, come to me.

I remain, your affectionate,


Of the next letter Cottle says:--"A second edition of Mr. Coleridge's
poems being demanded, I was under no obligation, the copyright being
mine, in publishing a second edition, to make Mr. Coleridge any payment,
alterations or additions being optional with him; but in his
circumstances, and to show that my desire was to consider Mr. C. even
more than myself, I promised him, on the sale of the second edition of
500, twenty guineas. The following was his reply: (not viewing the
subject quite in the right light; but this was of little consequence)."

[Footnote 1: The letter to which this is an answer is No. VIII of Canon
Ainger's "Letters of Lamb".]

[Footnote 2: "Vide" St. John, ch. xx, ver. 17.]

[Footnote 3: Letter LXI is our 40.]


Stowey, Oct. 18th, 1796.

My dear Cottle,

I have no mercenary feelings, I verily believe; but I hate bartering at
any time, and with any person; with you it is absolutely intolerable. I
clearly perceive that by giving me twenty guineas, on the sale of the
second edition, you will get little or nothing by the additional poems,
unless they should be sufficiently popular to reach a third edition,
which soars above our[1] wildest expectations. The only advantage you
can derive therefore from the purchase of them on such terms, is,
simply, that my poetry is more likely to sell when the whole may be had
in one volume, price 5 shillings., than when it is scattered in two
volumes; the one 4 shillings., the other possibly 3 shillings. In short,
you will get nothing directly, but only indirectly, from the probable
circumstance, that these additional poems added to the former, will give
a more rapid sale to the second edition than could otherwise be
expected, and cause it possibly to be reviewed at large. Add to this,
that by omitting every thing political, I widen the sphere of my
readers. So much for you. Now for myself. You must see, Cottle, that
whatever money I should receive from you, would result from the
circumstances that would give me the same, or more--if I published them
on my own account. I mean the sale of the poems. I can therefore have no
motive to make such conditions with you, except the wish to omit poems
unworthy of me, and the circumstance that our separate properties would
aid each other by the union; and whatever advantage this might be to me,
it would, of course, be equally so to you. The only difference between
my publishing the poems on my own account, and yielding them up to you;
the only difference, I say, independent of the above stated differences,
is, that, in one case, I retain the property for ever, in the other
case, I lose it after two editions.

However, I am not solicitous to have any thing omitted, except the
sonnet to Lord Stanhope and the ludicrous poem;[1] only I should like to
publish the best pieces together, and those of secondary splendour, at
the end of the volume, and think this is the best quietus of the whole

Yours affectionately,


[Footnote 1: "my" in "Early Recollections".]

[Footnote 2: "Written before Supper".]

On the 1st of November, 1796, Coleridge wrote the following letter to
his friend:


November 1, 1796.

My beloved Poole,

Many "causes" have concurred to prevent my writing to you, but all
together they do not amount to a "reason". I have seen a narrow-necked
bottle, so full of water, that when turned up side down not a drop has
fallen out--something like this has been the case with me. My heart has
been full, yea, crammed with anxieties about my residence near you. I so
ardently desire it, that any disappointment would chill all my
faculties, like the fingers of death. And entertaining wishes so
irrationally strong, I necessarily have "day"-mair dreams that something
will prevent it--so that since I quitted you, I have been gloomy as the
month which even now has begun to lower and rave on us. I verily
believe, or rather I have no doubt that I should have written to you
within the period of my promise, if I had not pledged myself for a
certain gift of my Muse to poor Tommy: and alas! she has been too "sunk
on the ground in dimmest heaviness" to permit me to trifle. Yet
intending it hourly I deferred my letter "a la mode" the procrastinator!
Ah! me, I wonder not that the hours fly so sweetly by me--for they pass
unfreighted with the duties which they came to demand!

* * * I wrote a long letter to Dr. Crompton, and received from him a
very kind letter, which I will send you in the parcel I am about to
convey by Milton.

My "Poems" are come to a second edition, that is the first edition is
sold. I shall alter the lines of the "Joan of Arc", and make "one" poem
entitled "Progress of European Liberty, a Vision";--the first line
"Auspicious Reverence! hush all meaner song," etc. and begin the volume
with it. Then the "Chatterton,--Pixies' Parlour,--Effusions 27 and
28--To a young Ass--Tell me on what holy ground--The Sigh--Epitaph on an
Infant--The Man of Ross--Spring in a Village--Edmund--Lines with a poem
on the French Revolution"--Seven Sonnets, namely, those at pp. 45, 59,
60, 61, 64, 65, 66--"Shurton Bars--My pensive Sara--Low was our pretty
Cot--Religious Musings";--these in the order I have placed them. Then
another title-page with "Juvenilia" on it, and an advertisement
signifying that the Poems were retained by the desire of some friends,
but that they are to be considered as being in the Author's own opinion
of very inferiour merit. In this sheet will be "Absence--La
Fayette--Genevieve--Kosciusko--Autumnal Moon--To the
Nightingale--Imitation of Spenser--A Poem written in early youth". All
the others will be finally and totally omitted. It is strange that in
the "Sonnet to Schiller" I should have written--"that hour I would have
wished to 'die'--Lest--aught more mean might stamp me 'mortal';"--the
bull never struck me till Charles Lloyd mentioned it. The sense is
evident enough, but the word is ridiculously ambiguous.

Lloyd is a very good fellow, and most certainly a young man of great
genius. He desires his kindest love to you. I will write again by
Milton, for I really can write no more now--I am so depressed. But I
will fill up the letter with poetry of mine, or Lloyd's, or Southey's.
Is your Sister married? May the Almighty bless her!--may he enable her
to make all her new friends as pure, and mild, and amiable as
herself!--I pray in the fervency of my soul. Is your dear Mother well?
My filial respects to her. Remember me to Ward. David Hartley Coleridge
is stout, healthy, and handsome. He is the very miniature of me. Your
grateful and affectionate friend and brother,


Speaking of lines by Mr. Southey, called "Inscription for the Cenotaph
at Ermenonville",[1] written in his letter, Mr. C. says, "This is
beautiful, but instead of Ermenonville and Rousseau put Valchiusa and
Petrarch. I do not particularly admire Rousseau. Bishop Taylor, old
Baxter, David Hartley, and the Bishop of Cloyne are my men."

The following Sonnet, transcribed in the foregoing Letter, has not been
printed. "It puts in," he says, "no claim to poetry, but it is a most
faithful picture of my feelings on a very interesting event." See the
Letter to Mr. Poole of 24th September, 1796. This Sonnet shows in a
remarkable way how little the Unitarianism, which Mr. C. professed at
this time, operated on his fundamental "feelings" as a catholic

  "On receiving a Letter informing me of the birth of a Son."

  When they did greet me Father, sudden awe
  Weigh'd down my spirit: I retir'd and knelt
  Seeking the throne of grace, but inly felt
  No heavenly visitation upwards draw
  My feeble mind, nor cheering ray impart.
  Ah me! before the Eternal Sire I brought
  Th' unquiet silence of confused thought
  And hopeless feelings: my o'erwhelmed heart
  Trembled, and vacant tears stream'd down my face.
  And now once more, O Lord! to thee I bend,
  Lover of souls! and groan for future grace,
  That, ere my babe youth's perilous maze have trod,
  Thy overshadowing Spirit may descend,
  And he be born again, a child of God!

It was not till the summer of 1797 that the second edition Of Mr. C.'s
Poems actually appeared, before which time he had seen occasion to make
many alterations in the proposed arrangement of, and had added some of
his most beautiful compositions to, the collection. It is curious,
however, that he never varied the diction of the Sonnet to Schiller in
the particular to which he refers in the preceding Letter. [2]

[Footnote 1: Afterwards included among the "Minor Poems" of Mr. S.--S. C.]

[Footnote 2: See Dykes-Campbell's edition of Coleridge's "Poems", p.


5, November, 1796.

Thanks, my heart's warm thanks to you, my beloved Friend, for your
tender letter! Indeed I did not deserve so kind a one; but by this time
you have received my last. To live in a beautiful country, and to enure
myself as much as possible to the labours of the field, have been for
this year past my dream of the day, my sigh at midnight. But to enjoy
these blessings near you, to see you daily, to tell you all my thoughts
in their first birth, and to hear yours, to be mingling identities with
you, as it were!--the vision-weaving Fancy has indeed often pictured
such things, but Hope never dared whisper a promise. Disappointment!
Disappointment! dash not from my trembling hand this bowl, which almost
touches my lips. Envy me not this immortal draught, and I will forgive
thee all thy persecutions! Forgive thee! Impious! I will bless thee,
black-vested minister of Optimism, stern pioneer of happiness! Thou hast
been the cloud before me from the day that I left the flesh-pots of
Egypt, and was led through the way of a wilderness--the cloud that had
been guiding me to a land flowing with milk and honey--the milk of
innocence, the honey of friendship!

I wanted such a letter as yours, for I am very unwell. On Wednesday
night I was seized with an intolerable pain from my right temple to the
tip of my right shoulder, including my right eye, cheek, jaw, and that
side of the throat. I was nearly frantic, and ran about the house almost
naked, endeavouring by every means to excite sensation in different
parts of my body, and so to weaken the enemy by creating a division. It
continued from one in the morning till half-past five, and left me pale
and fainty. It came on fitfully, but not so violently, several times on
Thursday, and began severer threats towards night; but I took between 60
and 70 drops of laudanum, and sopped the Cerberus just as his mouth
began to open. On Friday it only niggled, as if the Chief had departed,
as from a conquered place, and merely left a small garrison behind, or
as if he had evacuated the Corsica, and a few straggling pains only
remained. But this morning he returned in full force, and his name is
Legion. Giant-Fiend of a hundred hands, with a shower of arrowy
death-pangs he transpierced me, and then he became a Wolf and lay
gnawing my bones!--I am not mad, most noble Festus! but in sober sadness
I have suffered this day more bodily pain than I had before a conception
of. My right cheek has certainly been placed with admirable exactness
under the focus of some invisible burning-glass, which concentrated all
the rays of a Tartarean sun. My medical attendant decides it to be
altogether nervous, and that it originates either in severe application,
or excessive anxiety.

My beloved Poole, in excessive anxiety I believe it might originate. I
have a blister under my right ear, and I take 25 drops of laudanum every
five hours, the ease and spirits gained by which have enabled me to
write to you this flighty, but not exaggerating, account. With a gloomy
wantonness of imagination I had been coquetting with the hideous
possibles of disappointment. I drank fears like wormwood--yea--made
myself drunken with bitterness; for my ever-shaping and distrustful mind
still mingled gall-drops, till out of the cup of Hope I almost poisoned
myself with Despair.

Your letter is dated 2. November; I wrote to you on the 1st. Your Sister
was married on that day; and on that day I several times felt my heart
overflowed with such tendernesses for her, as made me repeatedly
ejaculate prayers in her behalf. Such things are strange. It may be
superstition to think about such correspondences; but it is a
superstition which softens the heart and leads to no evil. We will call
on your dear Sister as soon as I am quite well, and in the mean time I
will write a few lines to her.

I am anxious beyond measure to be in the country as soon as possible. I
would it were possible to get a temporary residence till Adscombe is
ready for us. I wish we could have three rooms in William Poole's large
house for the winter. Will you try to look out for a fit servant for
us,--simple of heart, physiognomically handsome, and scientific in
vaccimulgence. That last word is a new one, but soft in sound, and full
of expression. Vaccimulgence! I am pleased with the word. Write to me
all things about yourself; where I cannot advise, I can console; and
communication, which doubles joy, halves sorrow.

Tell me whether you think it at all possible to make any terms with
----.[1] You know, I would not wish to touch with the edge of the nail
of my great toe the line which should be but half a barley-corn out of
the circle of the most trembling delicacy! I will write to Cruikshank
tomorrow, if God permit me. God bless and protect you Friend! Brother!
Beloved! Sara's best love and Lloyd's. David Hartley is well. My filial
love to your dear Mother. Love to Ward. Little Tommy! I often think of
thee! S. T. COLERIDGE.[2]

[Footnote 1: William Poole.]

[Footnote 2: Letter LXII is our 43. Letters LXIII-LXX follow.]

Charles Lloyd, spoken of in a letter of my father's in the last chapter
as "a young man of great genius," was born Feb. 12th, 1775, died at
Versailles Jan. 15th, 1839. He published sonnets and other poems in
conjunction with my Father and Mr. Lamb, in 1797, and these and Mr.
Lamb's were published together, apart from my Father's, the year
afterwards. "While Lamb," says Sergeant Talfourd, "was enjoying habits
of the closest intimacy with Coleridge in London, he was introduced by
him to a young poet whose name has often been associated with his--
Charles Lloyd--the son of a wealthy banker at Birmingham, who had
recently cast off the trammels of the Society of Friends, and, smitten
with the love of poetry, had become a student at the University of
Cambridge. There he had been attracted to Coleridge by the fascination
of his discourse; and, having been admitted to his regard, was
introduced by him to Lamb. Lloyd was endeared both to Lamb and
Coleridge by a very amiable disposition and a pensive cast of thought;
but his intellect had little resemblance to that of either. He wrote,
indeed, pleasing verses and with great facility,--a facility fatal to
excellence; but his mind was chiefly remarkable for the fine power of
analysis which distinguishes his "London", and other of his later
compositions. In this power of discriminating and distinguishing--
carried to a pitch almost of painfulness--Lloyd has scarcely ever been
equalled, and his poems, though rugged in point of versification, will
be found by those who will read them with the calm attention they
require, replete with critical and moral suggestions of the highest

Besides three or four volumes of poetry Mr. Lloyd wrote novels:--"Edmund
Oliver", published soon after he became acquainted with my Father, and
"Isabel" of later date. After his marriage he settled at the lakes. "At
Brathay," (the beautiful river Brathay near Ambleside,) says Mr. De
Quincey, "lived Charles Lloyd, and he could not in candour be considered
a common man. He was somewhat too Rousseauish, but he had in
conversation very extraordinary powers for analysis of a certain kind,
applied to the philosophy of manners, and the most delicate 'nuances' of
social life; and his Translations of Alfieri together with his own
poems, shew him to have been an accomplished scholar."

My Mother has often told me how amiable Mr. Lloyd was as a youth; how
kind to her little Hartley; how well content with cottage accommodation;
how painfully sensitive in all that related to the affections. I
remember him myself, as he was in middle life, when he and his excellent
wife were most friendly to my brothers, who were school-fellows with
their sons. I did not at that time fully appreciate Mr. Lloyd's
intellectual character, but was deeply impressed by the exceeding
refinement and sensibility marked in his countenance and manners,--(for
he was a gentleman of the old school without its formality,)--by the
fluent elegance of his discourse, and, above all, by the eloquent
pathos, with which he described his painful mental experiences and wild
waking dreams, caused by a deranged state of the nervous system. _Le
ciel nous vend toujours les biens qu'il nous prodigue_. Nervous
derangement is a dear price to pay even for genius and sensibility. Too
often, even if not the direct effect of these privileges, it is the
accompanying drawback; hypochondria may almost be called the
intellectual man's malady.

"The Duke D'Ormond", which was written 24 years before its publication
in 1822, that is in 1798, soon after Mr, Lloyd's residence at Stowey,
has great merit as a dramatic poem, in the delineation of character and
states of mind; the plot is forced and unnatural; not only that, but
what is worse, in point of effect, it is tediously subjective; and we
feel the actions of the piece to be improbable while the feelings are
true to nature; yet there is tragic effect in the scenes of the
'denouement'. I understand what it was in Mr. Lloyd's mind which Mr. De
Quincey calls 'Rousseauish'. He dwelt a good deal on the temptations to
which human nature is subject, when passions, not in themselves
unworthy, become, from circumstances, sins if indulged, and the source
of sin and misery; but the effect of this piece is altogether favourable
to virtue, and to the parent and nurse of virtue, a pious conviction of
the moral government of the world. The play contains an 'anatomy' of
passion, not a 'picture' of it in a concrete form, such as the works of
Richardson and of Rousseau present, a picture fitted to excite
'feelings' of baneful effect upon the mind, rather than to awaken
'thought', which counteracts all such mischief. Indeed I think no man
would have sought my Father's daily society who was not predominantly
given to reflection. What is very striking in this play is the character
of the heroine, whose earnest and scrupulous devotion to her mother
occasions the partial estrangement of her lover, d'Ormond, and, in its
consequences, an overwhelming misery, which overturns her reason and
causes her death, and thus, through remorse, works the conversion of
those guilty persons of the drama, who have been slaves to passion, but
are not all "enslaved, nor wholly vile." Strong is the contrast which
this play presents, in its exhibition of the female character, with that
of the celebrated French and German writers, who have treated similar
subjects. Men write,--I have heard a painter say, men even paint,--as
they feel and as they are. Goethe's Margaret has been thought equal to
Shakespeare's Ophelia and Desdemona; in some respects it is so; but it
is like a pot of sweet ointment into which some tainting matter has
fallen. I think no Englishman of Goethe's genius and sensibility would
have described a maiden, whom it was his intention to represent, though
frail on one point, yet lovely and gentle-hearted, as capable of being
induced to give her poor old mother a sleeping potion. "It will do her
no harm." But the risk!--affection gives the wisdom of the serpent
where there would else be but the simplicity of the dove. A true
Englishman would have felt that such an act, so bold and undaughterly,
blighted at once the lily flower, making it "put on darkness" and "fall
into the portion of weeds and out-worn faces." In Mr. Lloyd's youthful
drama even the dissipated Marchioness, who tempts and yields to
temptation, is made to play a noble part in the end, won back from sin
by generous feeling and strong sense: and the description of Julia
Villeneuve's tender care of her mother is so characteristic of the
author, that I cannot help quoting a part of it here, though it is not
among the powerful parts of the play.

Describing how her aged parent's extreme infirmity rendered her
incapable, without a sacrifice, of leaving the small dwelling to which
she had been accustomed, and how this had prevented her even from
hinting her lover's proposal for their union, Julia says,

                           "Though blind
She loved this little spot. A happy wife
There lived she with her lord. It was a home
In which an only brother, long since dead,
And I, were educated: 'twas to her
As the whole world. Its scanty garden plot,
The hum of bees hived there, which still she heard
On a warm summer's day, the scent of flowers,
The honey-suckle which trailed around its porch,
Its orchard, field, and trees, her universe!--
I knew she could not long be spared to me.
Her sufferings, when alleviated best,
Were most acute: and I could best perform
That sacred task. I wished to lengthen out,--
By consecrating to her every moment,--
Her being to myself! etc."

                         "Could I leave her?--
I might have seen her,--such was D'Ormond's plea--
Each day. But who her evening hours could cheer?
Her long and solitary evening hours?--
Talk her, or haply sing her, to her sleep?
Read to her? Smooth her pillow? Lastly make
Morning seem morning with a daughter's welcome?
For morning's light ne'er visited her eyes!--
Well! I refused to quit her! D'Ormond grew
Absent, reserved, nay splenetic and petulant!
He left the Province, nor has he once sent
A kind enquiry so t' alleviate
His heavy absence."

"Beritola" is Italian in form, as much as Wieland's "Oberon",
but the spirit is that of the Englishman, Charles Lloyd; it contains the
same vivid descriptions of mental suffering, the same reflective display
of the lover's passion, the same sentiments of deep domestic tenderness,
uttered as from the heart and with a special air of reality, as "The
Duke D'Ormond" and the author's productions in general. The
versification is rather better than that of his earlier poems, but the
want of ease and harmony in the flow of the verse is a prevailing defect
in Mr. Lloyd's poetry, and often makes it appear prosaic, even where the
thought is not so. This pathetic sonnet is one of a very interesting
set, on the death of Priscilla Farmer, the author's maternal
grandmother, included in the joint volume:

  "Oh, She was almost speechless! nor could hold
  Awakening converse with me! (I shall bless
  No more the modulated tenderness
  Of that dear voice!) Alas, 'twas shrunk and cold
  Her honour'd face! yet, when I sought to speak,
  Through her half-open'd eyelids She did send
  Faint looks, that said, 'I would be yet thy friend!'
  And (O my chok'd breast!) e'en on that shrunk cheek
  I saw one slow tear roll! my hand She took,
  Placing it on her heart--I heard her sigh
  'Tis too, too much!' 'Twas Love's last agony!
  I tore me from Her! 'Twas her latest look,
  Her latest accents--Oh my heart, retain
  That look, those accents, till we meet again!"
                                    S. C.

Meantime Coleridge had written to Charles Lloyd's father three letters
about his son, highly interesting as glimpses of his own character.
These letters were first published in "Charles Lamb and the Lloyds", by
E. V. Lucas. They are as follows:


Dear Sir,

As the father of Charles Lloyd you are of course in some measure
interested in any alteration of my schemes of life; and I feel it a kind
of Duty to give you my reasons for any such alteration. I have declined
my Derby connection, and determined to retire once for all and utterly
from cities and towns: and am about to take a cottage and half a dozen
acres of land in an enchanting Situation about eight miles from
Bridgewater. My reasons are--that I have cause to believe my Health would
be materially impaired by residing in a town, and by the close
confinement and anxieties incident to the education of children; that as
my days would be dedicated to Dr. Crompton's children, and my evenings
to a course of study with my admirable young friend, I should have
scarcely a snatch of time for literary occupation; and, above all,
because I am anxious that my children should be bred up from earliest
infancy in the simplicity of peasants, their food, dress, and habits
completely rustic. I never shall, and I never will, have any fortune to
leave them: I will leave them therefore hearts that desire little, heads
that know how little is to be desired, and hands and arms accustomed to
earn that little. I am peculiarly delighted with the 2ist verse of the
4th chapter of Tobit, "And fear not, my son! that we are made poor: for
thou hast much wealth, if thou fear God, and depart from all sin and do
that which is pleasing in His sight." Indeed, if I live in cities, my
children (if it please the All-good to preserve the one I have, and to
give me more), my children, I say, will necessarily become acquainted
with politicians and politics--a set of men and a kind of study which I
deem highly unfavourable to all Christian graces. I have myself erred
greatly in this respect; but, I trust, I have now seen my error. I have
accordingly snapped my squeaking baby-trumpet of sedition, and have hung
up its fragments in the chamber of Penitences.

Your son and I are happy in our connection--our opinions and feelings
are as nearly alike as we can expect: and I rely upon the goodness of
the All-good that we shall proceed to make each other better and wiser.
Charles Lloyd is greatly averse from the common run of society--and so
am I--but in a city I could scarcely avoid it. And this, too, has aided
my decision in favour of my rustic scheme. We shall reside near a very
dear friend of mine, a man versed from childhood in the toils of the
Garden and the Field, and from whom I shall receive every addition to my
comfort which an earthly friend and adviser can give.

My Wife requests to be remembered to you, if the word "remember" can be
properly used. You will mention my respects to your Wife and your
children, and believe that I am with no mean esteem and regard

Your Friend,


Saturday, 15th Oct., 1796.


Dear Sir,

I received your letter, and thank you for that interest which you take
in my welfare. The reasons which you urge against my present plan are
mostly well-founded; but they would apply equally against any other
scheme of life which 'my' Conscience would permit me to adopt. I
might have a situation as a Unitarian minister, I might have lucrative
offices as an active Politician; but on both of these the Voice within
puts a firm and unwavering negative. Nothing remains for me but
schoolmastership in a large town or my present plan. To the success of
both, and indeed even to my 'subsisting' in either, health and the
possession of my faculties are necessary Requisites. While I possess
these Requisites, 'I know', I can maintain myself and family in the
COUNTRY; the task of educating children suits not the activity of my
mind, and the anxieties and confinement incident to it, added to the
living in a town or city, would to a moral certainty ruin that Health
and those faculties which, as I said before, are necessary to my gaining
my livelihood in 'any' way. Undoubtedly, without fortune, or trade,
or profession it is 'impossible' that I should be in any situation
in which I must not be dependent on my own health and exertions for the
bread of my family. I do not regret it--it will make me 'feel' my
dependence on the Almighty, and it will prevent my affections from being
made earthly altogether. I praise God in all things, and feel that to
His grace alone it is owing that I am 'enabled' to praise Him in
all things. You think my scheme 'monastic rather than Christian'.
Can he be deemed monastic who is married, and employed in rearing his
children?--who 'personally' preaches the truth to his friends and
neighbours, and who endeavours to instruct tho' Absent by the Press? In
what line of Life could I be more 'actively' employed? and what
titles, that are dear and venerable, are there which I shall not
possess, God permit my present resolutions to be realised? Shall I not
be an Agriculturist, an Husband, a Father, and a 'Priest' after the
order of 'Peace'? an 'hireless' Priest? "Christianity teaches
us to let our lights shine before men." It does so--but it likewise bids
us say, Our Father, lead us not [into] temptation! which how can he say
with a safe conscience who voluntarily places himself in those
circumstances in which, if he believe Christ, he must acknowledge that
it would be easier for a Camel to go thro' the eye of a needle than for
HIM to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? Does not that man 'mock'
God who daily prays against temptations, yet daily places himself in the
midst of the most formidable? I meant to have written a few lines only
respecting myself, because I have much and weighty matter to write
concerning my friend, Charles Lloyd; but I have been seduced into many
words from the importance of the general truths on which I build my

While your Son remains with me, he will, of course, be acquiring that
knowledge and those powers of Intellect which are necessary as the
'foundation' of excellence in all professions, rather than the
immediate science of 'any'. 'Languages' will engross one or
two hours in every day: the 'elements' of Chemistry, Geometry,
Mechanics, and Optics the remaining hours of study. After tolerable
proficiency in these, we shall proceed to the study of 'Man' and of
'Men'--I mean, Metaphysics and History--and finally, to a thorough
examination of the Jewish and Christian Dispensations, their doctrines
and evidences: an examination necessary for all men, but peculiarly so
to your son, if he be destined for a medical man. A Physician who should
be even a Theist, still more a 'Christian', would be a rarity
indeed. I do not know 'one'--and I know a 'great many'
Physicians. They are 'shallow' Animals: having always employed
their minds about Body and Gut, they imagine that in the whole system of
things there is nothing but Gut and Body. * * *

I hope your Health is confirmed, and that your Wife and children are
well. Present my well-wishes. You are blessed with children who are
'pure in Heart'--add to this Health, Competence, Social Affections,
and Employment, and you have a complete idea of Human Happiness.

Believe me,

With esteem and friendly-heartedness,

Your obliged


Monday, November 14th (1796).


Dear Sir,

I think it my duty to acquaint you with the nature of my connection with
your Son. If he be to stay with me, I can neither be his tutor or
fellow-student, nor in any way impart a regular system of knowledge. My
'days' I shall devote to the acquirement of 'practical'
husbandry and horticulture, that as "to beg I am ashamed," I may at
least be able "to dig": and my evenings will be fully employed in
fulfilling my engagements with the 'Critical Review' and 'New
Monthly Magazine'. If, therefore, your Son occupy a room in my
cottage, he will be there merely as a Lodger and Friend; and the only
money I shall 'receive' from him will be the sum which his
'board' and 'lodging' will cost 'me', and which, by an
accurate calculation, I find will amount to half a guinea a week,
'exclusive' of his washing, porter, cyder, spirits, in short any
potation beyond table-beer--these he must provide himself with. I shall
keep no servant.

I must add that Charles Lloyd must 'furnish' his own bed-room. It
is not in my power to do it myself without running into debt; from which
may heaven amid its most angry dispensations preserve me!

When I mentioned the circumstances which rendered my literary engagement
impracticable, when, I say, I first mentioned them to Charles Lloyd, and
described the severe process of simplification which I had determined to
adopt, I never dreamt that he would have desired to continue with me:
and when at length he did manifest such a desire, I dissuaded him from
it. But his feelings became vehement, and in the present state of his
health it would have been as little prudent as humane in me to have
given an absolute refusal.

Will you permit me, Sir! to write of Charles Lloyd with freedom? I do
not think he ever will endure, whatever might be the consequences, to
practise as a physician, or to undertake any commercial employment. What
weight your authority might have, I know not: I doubt not he would
struggle to submit to it--but would he 'succeed' in any attempt to
which his temper, feelings, and principles are inimical? * * * What then
remains? I know of nothing but agriculture. If his attachment to it
'should' prove permanent, and he really acquired the steady
dispositions of a practical farmer, I think you could wish nothing
better for him than to see him married, and settled 'near you' as a
farmer. I love him, and do not think he will be well or happy till he is
married and settled.

I have written plainly and decisively, my dear Sir! I wish to avoid not
only evil, but the 'appearances' of evil. This is a world of
calumnies! Yea! there is an imposthume in the large tongue of this world
ever ready to break, and it is well to prevent the contents from being
sputtered into one's face. My Wife thanks you for your kind inquiries
respecting her. She and our Infant are well--only the latter has met
with a little accident--a burn, which is doing well.

To Mrs. Lloyd and all your children present my remembrances, and believe
me in all esteem and friendliness, Yours sincerely, S. T. COLERIDGE. [1]
Sunday, December 4, 1796.

[Footnote 1: To this letter Mr. Lloyd seems to have returned the
question, How could Coleridge live without companions? The answer came
quickly, as we learn from a letter from Coleridge to Poole
{'Letters', I, p. 186}, in which he mentions Mr. Lloyd's query and
quotes his own characteristic reply: "I shall have six companions: My
Sara, my babe, my own shaping and disquisitive mind, my books, my
beloved friend Thomas Poole, and lastly, Nature looking at me with a
thousand looks of beauty, and speaking to me in a thousand melodies of
love. If I were capable of being tired with all these, I should then
detect a vice in my nature, and would fly to habitual solitude to
eradicate it." Coleridge's letter to Mr. Lloyd, containing this passage,
seems to have been lost. Note by E. V. Lucas.]

The 'Ode to the Departing Year,' Coleridge tells us, was written on
24th, 25th, and 26th December, 1796. It was first printed in the
'Cambridge Intelligencer' of 31st December, and then republished, along
with the 'Lines to a Young Man who abandoned himself to a Causeless
Melancholy' (probably Charles Lloyd), in quarto form of 16 pages. It was
then prefaced by the following letter:


My dear Friend,

Soon after the commencement of this month, the editor of the 'Cambridge
Intelligencer' (a newspaper conducted with so much ability, and such
unmixed and fearless zeal for the interests of piety and freedom, that I
cannot but think my poetry honoured by being permitted to appear in it)
requested me, by letter, to furnish him with some lines for the last day
of this year. I promised him that I would make the attempt; but almost
immediately after, a rheumatic complaint seized on my head, and
continued to prevent the possibility of poetic composition till within
the last three days. So in the course of the last three days the
following Ode was produced. In general, when an author informs the
public that his production was struck off in a great hurry, he offers an
insult, not an excuse. But I trust that the present case is an
exception, and that the peculiar circumstances which obliged me to write
with such unusual rapidity give a propriety to my professions of it:
"nec nunc eam apud te jacto, sed et ceteris indico; ne quis asperiore
limae carmen examinet, et a confuso scriptum et quod frigidum erat ni
statim traderem." (I avail myself of the words of Statius, and hope that
I shall likewise be able to say of any weightier publication, what 'he'
has declared of his Thebaid, that it had been tortured with a laborious

For me to discuss the 'literary' merits of this hasty composition were
idle and presumptuous. If it be found to possess that impetuosity of
transition, and that precipitation of fancy and feeling, which are the
'essential' excellencies of the sublimer Ode, its deficiency in less
important respects will be easily pardoned by those from whom alone
praise could give me pleasure: and whose minuter criticisms will be
disarmed by the reflection, that these lines were conceived "not in the
soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of Academic Groves,
but amidst inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow."[1]
I am more anxious lest the 'moral' spirit of the Ode should be mistaken.
You, I am sure, will not fail to recollect that among the ancients, the
Bard and the Prophet were one and the same character; and you 'know'
that although I prophesy curses, I pray fervently for blessings.
Farewell, Brother of my Soul!

   --O ever found the same
  And trusted and beloved!

Never without an emotion of honest pride do I subscribe myself

Your grateful and affectionate friend, S. T. COLERIDGE.

[Bristol, December 26, 1796.]

[Footnote 1: From the Preface to the first Edition of Johnson's
_Dictionary of the English Language._]



(From Mr. Wordsworth's Stanzas written in my Pocket-copy of
Thomson's 'Castle of Indolence'.)

  With him there often walked in friendly guise,
  Or lay upon the moss by brook or tree,
  A noticeable Man with large grey eyes,
  And a pale face that seemed undoubtedly
  As if a blooming face it ought to be;
  Heavy his low-hung lip did oft appear,
  Deprest by weight of musing Phantasy;
  Profound his forehead was, though not severe;
  Yet some did think that he had little business here:

  Sweet heaven forefend! his was a lawful right:
  Noisy he was, and gamesome as a boy;
  His limbs would toss about him with delight,
  Like branches when strong winds the trees annoy.
  Nor lacked his calmer hours device or toy
  To banish listlessness and irksome care;
  He would have taught you how you might employ
  Yourself; and many did to him repair,--
  And certes not in vain; he had inventions rare.

For Josiah Wade, the gentleman to whom the letters, placed at the
beginning of the last chapter, were written, the fine portrait of Mr.
Coleridge by Allston, (nearly full length, in oils,) was painted at Rome
in 1806,[1]--I believe in the spring of that year. Mr. Allston himself
spoke of it, as in his opinion faithfully representing his friend's
features and expression, such as they commonly appeared. His
countenance, he added, in his high poetic mood, was quite beyond the
painter's art: "it was indeed "spirit made visible"."

Mr. Coleridge was thirty-three years old when this portrait was painted,
but it would be taken for that of a man of forty. The youthful, even
boyish look, which the original retained for some years after boyhood,
must rather suddenly have given place, to a premature appearance, first
of middle-agedness, then of old age, at least in his general aspect,
though in some points of personal appearance,--his fair smooth skin and
"large grey eyes," "at once the clearest and the deepest"--so a friend
lately described them to me,--"that I ever saw," he grew not old to the
last. Sergeant Talfourd thus speaks of what he was at three or four and
forty. "Lamb used to say that he was inferior to what he had been in his
youth; but I can scarcely believe it; at least there is nothing in his
early writing which gives any idea of the richness of his mind so
lavishly poured out at this time in his happiest moods. Although he
looked much older than he was, his hair being silvered all over, and his
person tending to corpulency, there was about him no trace of bodily
sickness or mental decay, but rather an air of voluptuous repose. His
benignity of manner placed his auditors entirely at their ease; and
inclined them to listen delighted to the sweet low tone in which he
began to discourse on some high theme. At first his tones were
conversational: he seemed to dally with the shallows of the subject and
with fantastic images which bordered it: but gradually the thought grew
deeper, and the voice deepened with the thought; the stream gathering
strength, seemed to bear along with it all things which opposed its
progress, and blended them with its current; and stretching away among
regions tinted with etherial colours, was lost at airy distance in the
horizon of fancy. Coleridge was sometimes induced to repeat portions of
'Christabel', then enshrined in manuscript from eyes profane, and gave a
bewitching effect to its wizard lines. But more peculiar in its beauty
than this was his recitation of 'Kubla Khan'. As he repeated the

  A damsel with a dulcimer
  In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid,
  And on her dulcimer she played
  Singing of Mount Abora!

--his voice seemed to mount and melt into air, as the images grew more
visionary, and the suggested associations more remote."[2]

Mr. De Quincey thus describes him at thirty-four, in the summer season
of 1807, about a year and a half after the date of Mr. Allston's

"I had received directions for finding out the house where Coleridge was
visiting; and in riding down a main street of Bridgewater, I noticed a
gateway corresponding to the description given me. Under this was
standing, and gazing about him, a man whom I shall describe. In height
he might seem to be above five feet eight: (he was in reality about an
inch and a half taller;) his person was broad and full, and tended even
to corpulence: his complexion was fair, though not what painters
technically style fair, because it was associated with black hair: his
eyes were large and soft in their expression: and it was from the
peculiar appearance of haze or dreaminess, which mixed with their light,
that I recognised my object. This was Coleridge. I examined him
steadfastly for a minute or more: and it struck me that he saw neither
myself nor any object in the street.

He was in a deep reverie, for I had dismounted, made two or three
trifling arrangements at an inn door, and advanced close to him, before
he had apparently become conscious of my presence. The sound of my
voice, announcing my own name, first awoke him; he started, and for a
moment, seemed at a loss to understand my purpose or his own situation;
for he repeated rapidly a number of words which had no relation to
either of us. There was no 'mauvaise honte' in his manner, but simple
perplexity, and an apparent difficulty in recovering his position among
daylight realities. This little scene over, he received me with a
kindness of manner so marked that it might be called gracious.

Coleridge led me to a drawing room and rang the bell for refreshments,
and omitted no point of a courteous reception. He told me that there
would be a very large dinner party on that day, which perhaps might be
disagreeable to a perfect stranger; but, if not, he could assure me of a
most hospitable welcome from the family. I was too anxious to see him,
under all aspects, to think of declining this invitation. And these
little points of business being settled, Coleridge, like some great
river, the Orellana, or the St. Lawrence, that had been checked and
fretted by rocks or thwarting islands, and suddenly recovers its volume
of waters, and its mighty music, swept, at once, as if returning to his
natural business, into a continuous strain of eloquent dissertation,
certainly the most novel, the most finely illustrated, and traversing
the most spacious fields of thought, by transitions, the most just and
logical, that it was possible to conceive."

I will now present him as he appeared to William Hazlitt in the February
of 1798, when he was little more than five and twenty.

"It was in January, 1798, that I rose one morning before daylight, to
walk ten miles in the mud, to hear this celebrated person preach. Never,
the longest day I have to live, shall I have such another walk as this
cold, raw, comfortless one, in the winter of the year 1798. 'Il y a des
impressions que ni le temps ni les circonstances peuvent effacer.
Dusse-je vivre des siecles entiers, le doux temps de majeunesse ne pent
renatre pour moi, ni s'effacer jamais dans ma memoire.' When I got
there, the organ was playing the hundredth psalm, and when it was done,
Mr. Coleridge rose and gave out his text. "He departed again into a
mountain 'himself alone'." As he gave out this text his voice 'rose like
a stream of rich distilled perfumes;' and when he came to the two last
words, which he pronounced loud, deep, and distinct, it seemed to me,
who was then young, as if the sounds had echoed from the bottom of the
human heart, and as if that prayer might have floated in solemn silence
through the universe. The idea of St. John came into my mind, of one
crying in the wilderness, who had his loins girt about, and whose food
was locusts, and wild honey. The preacher then launched into his
subject, like an eagle dallying with the wind. The sermon was upon peace
and war--upon church and state--not their alliance, but their
separation--on the spirit of the world, and the spirit of Christianity,
not as the same, but as opposed to one another. He talked of those who
had inscribed the cross of Christ on banners dripping with human gore.
He made a poetical and pastoral excursion,--and to shew the fatal
effects of war, drew a striking contrast between the simple shepherd
boy, driving his team afield, or sitting under the hawthorn, piping to
his flock, as though he should never be old, and the same poor country
lad, crimped, kidnapped, brought into town, made drunk at an alehouse,
turned into a wretched drummer-boy, with his hair sticking on end with
powder and pomatum, a long cue at his back, and tricked out in the
finery of the profession of blood.

  Such were the notes our once loved poet sung:

and for myself, I could not have been more delighted if I had heard the
music of the spheres. Poetry and Philosophy had met together, Truth and
Genius had embraced, under the eye and with the sanction of Religion.
This was even beyond my hopes. I returned home well satisfied. The sun
that was still labouring pale and wan through the sky, obscured by thick
mists, seemed an emblem of the 'good cause'; and the cold dank drops of
dew, that hung half melted on the beard of the thistle, had something
genial and refreshing in them." [3]

  A glowing dawn was his, but noon's full blaze
  Of 'perfect day' ne'er fill'd his heav'n with radiance.
  Scarce were the flow'rets on their stems upraised
  When sudden shadows cast an evening gloom
  O'er those bright skies!--yet still those skies were lovely;
  The roses of the morn yet lingered there
  When stars began to peep,--nor yet exhaled
  Fresh dew-drops glittered near the glowworm's lamp,
  And many a snatch of lark-like melody
  Birds of the shade trilled forth'mid plaintive warbling.

The principal portraits of Coleridge are, besides the one by Allston
referred to by Sara Coleridge, engraved by Samuel Cousins, one by Peter
Vandyke, painted in 1795; one by Hancock, drawn in 1796; another by
Allston, unfinished, painted in Rome; one by C. R. Leslie, taken before
1819, one by T. Phillips, belonging to Mr. John Murray, engraved for the
frontispiece of Murray's edition of the 'Table Talk'; another by
Phillips, in the possession of William Rennell Coleridge, of Salston,
Ottery St. Mary; and a crayon sketch by George Dawe, now at The
Chanter's House. These portraits have often been engraved for
biographies and editions of Coleridge's 'Poems'. Vandyke's portrait
appears in Brandl's Life and Dykes-Campbell's edition of the 'Poems';
Hancock's in the Aldine edition of the 'Poems'; and Leslie's in the Bohn
Library 'Friend' and in E. H. Coleridge's 'Letters of S. T. C'.
Allston's portrait of 1814 is given in Flagg's 'Life of Allston'. The
two best reproductions of Vandyke's and Hancock's portraits are to be
found in Cottle's 'Early Recollections'.

A small portrait in oils (three replicas), taken by a Bristol artist,
'circ.' 1798, engraved for Moxon's edition of 1863.

A portrait in oils by James Northcote, taken in 1804 for Sir G.
Beaumont, engraved in mezzotint by William Say.

A portrait in oils taken at the Argyll Baths, 'circ.' 1828 (see
'Letters', 1895, ii, 758).

A pencil sketch of S. T. C., et. 61, by J. Kayser (see 'Letters', ii,

[Bust by Spurzheim. Bust by Hamo Thornycroft, Westminster Abbey.]

[Footnote 1: An error of Sara Coleridge. This portrait was painted for
Wade in Bristol, 1814: and is now in the National Portrait Gallery
(Flagg's 'Life of Allston', pp. 105-7). The portrait of 1806 was given
to Allston's niece, Miss R. Charlotte Dana, Boston.]

[Footnote 2: Talfourd's full description is found in "Final Memorials of
Ch. Lamb", last chapter.]

[Footnote 3: Hazlitt's full description is found in 'Essays of William
Hazlitt', Camelot Series, pp. 18-38.]



  Learning, power, and time,
  (Too much of all) thus wasting in vain war
  Of fervid colloquy. "Sickness,'tis true,
  'Whole years of weary days, besieged him close,
  Even to the gates and inlets of his life!'
  But it is true, no less, that strenuous, firm,
  And with a natural gladness, he maintained
  The citadel unconquered, and in joy
  Was strong to follow the delightful Muse."

With the letter of Nov. 5, [1] the biographical sketch left by Mr.
Coleridge's late Editor comes to an end, and at the present time I can
carry it no further than to add, that in January, 1797, my Father
removed with his wife and child, the latter then four months' old, to a
cottage at Stowey, which was his home for three years; that from that
home, in company with Mr. and Miss Wordsworth, he went, in September,
1798, to Germany, and that he spent fourteen months in that country,
during which period the Letters called Satyrane's were written.

[Footnote 1: No. 43. Sara Coleridge now continues the narrative for ten

Cottle, in his 'Reminiscences', says Mr. Coleridge sent him the
following letter from Stowey:


(January, 1797.)

Dear Cottle,

I write under great agony of mind, Charles Lloyd being very ill. He has
been seized with his fits three times in the space of seven days: and
just as I was in bed last night, I was called up again; and from twelve
o'clock at night, to five this morning, he remained in one continued
state of agonized delirium. What with bodily toil, exerted in repressing
his frantic struggles, and what with the feelings of agony for his
sufferings, you may suppose that I have forced myself from bed, with
aching temples, and a feeble frame.* * *

We offer petitions, not as supposing we influence the Immutable; but
because to petition the Supreme Being, is the way most suited to our
nature, to stir up the benevolent affections in our hearts. Christ
positively commands it, and in St. Paul you will find unnumbered
instances of prayer for individual blessings; for kings, rulers, etc.
etc. We indeed should all join to our petitions: "But thy will be done,
Omniscient, All-loving Immortal God!"

Believe [1] me to have towards you, the inward and spiritual gratitude
and affection, though I am not always an adept in the outward and
visible signs.

God bless you,

S. T. C.

[Footnote 1: "My respects to your good mother, and to your father and
believe me," etc.--"Early Recollections".]

The next letter refers to the second edition of the poems, and must have
been written early in January, 1797.


(3 January, 1797.)

My dear Cottle,

If you delay the press it will give me the opportunity I so much wish,
of sending my "Visions of the Maid of Arc" to Wordsworth, who lives [1]
not above twenty miles from this place; and to Charles Lamb, whose taste
and judgment, I see reason to think more correct and philosophical than
my own, which yet I place pretty high. * * *

We arrived safe. Our house is set to rights. We are all--wife,
bratling, and self, remarkably well. Mrs. Coleridge likes Stowey, and
loves Thomas Poole and his mother, who love her. A communication has
been made from our orchard into T. Poole's garden, and from thence to
Cruikshank's, a friend of mine, and a young married man, whose wife is
very amiable, and she and Sara are already on the most cordial terms;
from all this you will conclude we are happy. By-the-bye, what a
delightful poem, is Southey's "Musings on a Landscape of Caspar
Poussin". I love it almost better than his "Hymn to the Penates". In his
volume of poems, the following, namely,

"The Six Sonnets on the Slave Trade.--The Ode to the Genius of
Africa.--To my own Miniature Picture.--The Eight Inscriptions.--Elinor,
Botany-bay Eclogue.--Frederick", ditto.--"The Ten Sonnets". (pp.
107-116.) "On the death of an Old Spaniel.--The Soldier's Wife,
Dactylics,--The Widow, Sapphics.--The Chapel Bell.--The Race of

All these Poems are worthy the Author of "Joan of Arc". And

"The Musings on a Landscape", etc. and "The Hymn to the Penates",

deserve to have been published after "Joan of Arc", as proofs of
progressive genius.

God bless you,

S. T. C.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Wordsworth lived at Racedown, before he removed to
Allfoxden. (Cottle.)] [The dates of Letters 49 and 50 are determined by
that of a letter from Lamb to Coleridge of 5th January 1797 ("Ainger",
i, 57). Letter 49 implies that Coleridge was now acquainted with
Wordsworth. A letter from Mrs. Wordsworth to Sara Coleridge of 7th Nov.
1845 (Knight's "Life of Wordsworth", i, iii) gives the date of the first
meeting of the poets as "about the year 1795." Professor Knight thinks
this should be 1796. In the letter of Wordsworth to Wrangham, referred
to in Note to Letter 13, Wordsworth does not say that he knew Coleridge
personally. Letter 49 is the only trustworthy "contemporary" evidence on
the subject.]

After receiving Lamb's answer of 5th January, in which Lamb criticises
unfavourably the "Joan of Arc" lines ("Ainger", i, 57), Coleridge writes:


(10 January 1797).

My dear Cottle,

The lines which I added to my lines in the "Joan of Arc", have been so
little approved by Charles Lamb, to whom I sent them, that although I
differ from him in opinion, I have not heart to finish the poem.

"Mr. Coleridge in the same letter," says Cottle, "thus refers to his
"Ode to the Departing Year"."

* * * So much for an "Ode", which some people think superior to the
"Bard" of Gray, and which others think a rant of turgid obscurity; and
the latter are the more numerous class. It is not obscure. My "Religious
Musings" I know are, but not this "Ode".

Coleridge, in 1797, as in 1796, was invariably behind time with his
"copy" for the second edition. He thus writes Cottle:


(Jany 1797).

My dear Cottle,

* * * On Thursday morning, by Milton, the Stowey carrier, I shall send
you a parcel, containing the book of my Poems interleaved, with the
alterations, and likewise the prefaces, which I shall send to you, for
your criticisms. * * *


Stowey, Friday Morning (1797).

My dear Cottle.

* * * If you do not like the following verses, or if you do not think
them worthy of an edition in which I profess to give nothing but my
choicest fish, picked, gutted, and cleaned, please to get some one to
write them out and send them, with my compliments to the editor of the
"New Monthly Magazine". But if you think as well of them as I do (most
probably from parental dotage for my last born) let them immediately
follow "The Kiss".

God love you,

S. T. C.



Maiden! that with sullen brow,
 Sitt'st behind those virgins gay;
Like a scorched, and mildew'd bough,
 Leafless mid the blooms of May.

Inly gnawing, thy distresses
 Mock those starts of wanton glee;
And thy inmost soul confesses
 Chaste Affection's majesty.

Loathing thy polluted lot,
 Hie thee, Maiden! hie thee hence!
Seek thy weeping mother's cot,
 With a wiser innocence!

Mute the Lavrac [1] and forlorn
 While she moults those firstling plumes
That had skimm'd the tender corn,
 Or the bean-field's od'rous blooms;

Soon with renovating wing,
 Shall she dare a loftier flight,
Upwards to the day-star sing,
 And embathe in heavenly light.


Myrtle Leaf, that, ill besped,
 Pinest in the gladsome ray,
Soiled beneath the common tread,
 Far from thy protecting spray;

When the scythes-man o'er his sheaf,
 Caroll'd in the yellow vale,
Sad, I saw thee, heedless leaf,
 Love the dalliance of the gale.

Lightly didst thou, poor fond thing!
 Heave and flutter to his sighs
While the flatterer on his wing,
 Woo'd, and whisper'd thee to rise.

Gaily from thy mother stalk
 Wert thou danced and wafted high;
Soon on this unsheltered walk,
 Flung to fade, and rot, and die!

[Footnote 1: The Skylark.]

Cottle subjected the two poems to severe criticism, and Coleridge


Wednesday morning, 10 o'clock.

(January, 1797.)

My dearest Cottle,

* * * "Ill besped" is indeed a sad blotch; but after having tried at
least a hundred ways, before I sent the Poem to you, and often since, I
find it incurable. This first Poem is but a so so composition. I wonder
I could have been so blinded by the ardour of recent composition, as to
see anything in it.

Your remarks are "perfectly just" on the "Allegorical lines", except
that, in this district, corn is as often cut with a scythe, as with a
hook. However, for ""Scythes-man"" read "Rustic". For ""poor fond
thing"," read "foolish thing", and for ""flung to fade, and rot, and
die"," read "flung to wither and to die".

*       *       *       *       *

Milton (the carrier) waits impatiently.

S. T. C. [1]

[Footnote 1: Letters LXXI-LXXII follow Letter 53.]

Only the second poem was included in the second edition. The next
letter, which contains an unrealized prophecy regarding Southey, speaks
of the joint partnership of the volume of 1797.


Stowey,--(Feby. or Mch. 1797.)

My dear Cottle,

* * * Public affairs are in strange confusion. I am afraid that I shall
prove, at least, as good a Prophet as Bard. Oh, doom'd to fall, my
country! enslaved and vile! But may God make me a foreboder of evils
never to come!

I have heard from Sheridan, desiring me to write a tragedy. I have no
genius that way; Robert Southey has. I think highly of his "Joan of
Arc", and cannot help prophesying that he will be known to posterity, as
Shakspeare's great grandson. I think he will write a tragedy or

Charles Lloyd has given me his Poems, which I give to you, on condition
that you print them in this Volume, after Charles Lamb's Poems; the
title page, "Poems, by S. T. Coleridge. Second Edition: to which are
added Poems, by C. Lamb, and C. Lloyd". C. Lamb's poems will occupy
about forty pages; C. Lloyd's at least one hundred, although only his
choice fish.

P.S. I like your "Lines on Savage".

God bless you,


During his stay at Stowey, Coleridge remained a subscriber to Catcott's
Library, Bristol; and the following letter to the librarian is worth


Stowey, May, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

I have sent a curious letter to George Catcott. He has altogether made
me pay five shillings! for postage, by his letters sent all the way to
Stowey, requiring me to return books to the Bristol Library. * * * *

"Mr. Catcott,

"I beg your acceptance of all the enclosed letters. You must not think
lightly of the present, as they cost me, who am a very poor man, five

"With respect to the "Bruck. Hist. Crit." although by accident they were
registered on the 23d of March, yet they were not removed from the
Library for a fortnight after; and when I received your first letter, I
had had the books just three weeks. Our learned and ingenious Committee
may read through two quartos, that is, one thousand and four hundred
pages of close printed Latin and Greek, in three weeks, for aught I know
to the contrary. I pretend to no such intenseness of application, or
rapidity of genius.

"I must beg you to inform me, by Mr. Cottle, what length of time is
allowed by the rules and customs of our institution for each book.
Whether their contents, as well as their size, are consulted, in
apportioning the time; or whether, customarily, any time at all is
apportioned, except when the Committee, in individual cases, choose to
deem it proper. I subscribe to your library, Mr. Catcott, not to read
novels, or books of quick reading and easy digestion, but to get books
which I cannot get elsewhere,--books of massy knowledge; and as I have
few books of my own, I read with a common-place book, so that if I be
not allowed a longer period of time for the perusal of such books, I
must contrive to get rid of my subscription, which would be a thing
perfectly useless, except so far as it gives me an opportunity of
reading your little expensive notes and letters.

"Yours in Christian fellowship,


Whether Coleridge had given Southey the opportunity to try his skill at
the drama or not does not appear; but the following letter to Cottle
shows that he had addressed himself to the task of composing a tragedy,
evidently "Osorio".


Stowey, May, 1797.

My dearest Cottle,

I love and respect you as a brother, and my memory deceives me woefully,
if I have not evidenced, by the animated tone of my conversation when we
have been tete-a-tete, how much your conversation interested me. But
when last in Bristol, the day I meant to devote to you, was such a day
of sadness, I could do nothing. On the Saturday, the Sunday, and ten
days after my arrival at Stowey, I felt a depression too dreadful to be

  So much I felt my genial spirits droop,
  My hopes all flat; Nature within me seemed
  In all her functions, weary of herself,

Wordsworth's [1] conversation aroused me somewhat, but even now I am not
the man I have been, and I think I never shall. A sort of calm
hopelessness diffuses itself over my heart. Indeed every mode of life
which has promised me bread and cheese, has been, one after another,
torn away from me, but God remains. I have no immediate pecuniary
distress, having received ten pounds from Lloyd. I employ myself now on
a book of morals in answer to Godwin, and on my tragedy...

There are some poets who write too much at their ease, from the facility
with which they please themselves. They do not often enough

           Feel their burdened breast
  Heaving beneath incumbent Deity.

So that to posterity their wreaths will look unseemly. Here, perhaps, an
everlasting Amaranth, and, close by its side, some weed of an hour,
sere, yellow, and shapeless. Their very beauties will lose half their
effect, from the bad company they keep. They rely too much on story and
event, to the neglect of those lofty imaginings that are peculiar to,
and definite of the Poet.

The story of Milton might be told in two pages. It is this which
distinguishes an epic poem from a romance in metre. Observe the march of
Milton; his severe application; his laborious polish; his deep
metaphysical researches; his prayer to God before he began his great
work; all that could lift and swell his intellect, became his daily

I should not think of devoting less than twenty years to an epic poem.
Ten years to collect materials and warm my mind with universal science.
I would be a tolerable Mathematician. I would thoroughly understand
Mechanics; Hydrostatics; Optics and Astronomy; Botany; Metallurgy;
Fossilism; Chemistry; Geology; Anatomy; Medicine; then the mind of man;
then the minds of men, in all Travels, Voyages, and Histories. So I
would spend ten years; the next five in the composition of the poem, and
the five last in the correction of it. So would I write, haply not
unhearing of that divine and nightly-whispering voice, which speaks to
mighty minds, of predestinated garlands, starry and unwithering.

God love you.


P.S. David Hartley is well and grows. Sara is well, and desires a
sister's love to you.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Wordsworth at this time resided at Allfoxden House, two
or three miles from Stowey.--[Note by Cottle.]]

"The following letter of Mr. C," says Cottle, "was in answer to a
request for some long-promised copy, and for which the printer


Stowey (May), 1797.

My dear, dear Cottle,

Have patience, and everything shall be done. I think now entirely of
your brother:[1] in two days I will think entirely for you. By Wednesday
next you shall have Lloyd's other Poems, with all Lamb's, etc. etc. * * *

S. T. C.

"A little before this time," says Cottle, "a singular occurrence
happened to Mr. C. during a pedestrian excursion into Somersetshire, as
detailed in the following letter to Mr. Wade."

[Footnote 1: My brother, when at Cambridge, had written a Latin poem for
the prize: the subject, "Italia, Vastata," and sent it to Mr. Coleridge,
with whom he was on friendly terms, in MS. requesting the favour of his
remarks; and this he did about six weeks before it was necessary to
deliver it in. Mr. C. in an immediate letter, expressed his approbation
of the Poem, and cheerfully undertook the task; but with a little of his
procrastination, he returned the MS. with his remarks, just one day
after it was too late to deliver the poem in!--[Note by Cottle.]]


(May, 1797.)

My dear friend,

I am here after a most tiresome journey; in the course of which, a woman
asked me if I knew one Coleridge, of Bristol. I answered, I had heard of
him. "Do you know, (quoth she) that that vile jacobin villain drew away
a young man of our parish, one Burnett," etc. and in this strain did the
woman continue for near an hour; heaping on me every name of abuse that
the parish of Billingsgate could supply. I listened very particularly;
appeared to approve all she said, exclaiming, "dear me!" two or three
times, and, in fine, so completely won the woman's heart by my
civilities, that I had not courage enough to undeceive her. * * *


P.S. You are a good prophet. Oh, into what a state have the scoundrels
brought this devoted kingdom. If the House of Commons would but melt
down their faces, it would greatly assist the copper currency--we should
have brass enough.

Coleridge, like all the Return-to-Nature poets of the eighteenth
century, Thomson, Cowper, Burns, and others, was given to that
humanitarian regard for the lower creatures which brought forth such
poems as Burns's "Address to a Mouse" and Coleridge's own lines to a
"Young Ass". The following letter to Cottle is an amusing sample of that
humanitarianism. George Burnett, one of the pantisocrats, occasionally
resided with Coleridge, and during the latter's temporary absence from
Stowey had taken ill. On reaching Stowey, Coleridge wrote to Cottle.


Stowey (May, 1797).

My dear friend,

I found George Burnett ill enough, heaven knows, Yellow Jaundice--the
introductory symptoms very violent. I return to Bristol on Thursday, and
shall not leave till "all be done".

Remind Mrs. Coleridge of the kittens, and tell her that George's brandy
is just what smuggled spirits might be expected to be, execrable! The
smack of it remains in my mouth, and I believe will keep me most
horribly temperate for half a century. He (Burnett) was bit, but I
caught the Brandiphobia.[1] (obliterations * * * * * * *

--scratched out, well knowing that you never allow such things to pass,
uncensured. A good joke, and it slipped out most impromptu--ishly.)

The mice play the very devil with us. It irks me to set a trap. By all
the whiskers of all the pussies that have mewed plaintively, or
amorously, since the days of Whittington, it is not fair. 'Tis telling a
lie. 'Tis as if you said, "Here is a bit of toasted cheese; come little
mice! I invite you!" when, oh, foul breach of the rites of hospitality!
I mean to assassinate my too credulous guests! No, I cannot set a trap,
but I should vastly like to make a Pitt--fall. (Smoke the Pun!) But
concerning the mice, advise thou, lest there be famine in the land. Such
a year of scarcity! Inconsiderate mice! Well, well, so the world wags.

Farewell, S. T. C.

P.S. A mad dog ran through our village, and bit several dogs. I have
desired the farmers to be attentive, and tomorrow shall give them, in
writing, the first symptoms of madness in a dog.

I wish my pockets were as yellow as George's Phiz!

[Footnote 1: It appears that Mr. Burnett had been prevailed upon by
smugglers to buy some prime cheap brandy, but which Mr. Coleridge
affirmed to be a compound of Hellebore, kitchen grease, and Assafoetida!
or something as bad.--[Cottle's note.]]

The next letter must belong to the end of May or beginning of June.
Cottle's note shows that the second edition of the poems was now


Stowey (June), 1797.

My dear Cottle,

I deeply regret, that my anxieties and my slothfulness, acting in a
combined ratio, prevented me from finishing my "Progress of Liberty, or
Visions of the Maid of Orleans", with that Poem at the head of the
volume, with the "Ode" in the middle, and the "Religious Musings" at the
end. * * *

In the "Lines on the Man of Ross", immediately after these lines,

  He heard the widow's heaven-breathed prayer of praise,
  He mark'd the shelter'd orphan's tearful gaze.

Please to add these two lines.

  And o'er the portion'd maiden's snowy cheek,
  Bade bridal love suffuse its blushes meek.

And for the line,

  Beneath this roof, if thy cheer'd moments pass.

I should be glad to substitute this,

  If near this roof thy wine-cheer'd moments pass.

"These emendations," Cottle adds, "came too late for admission in the
second edition; nor have they appeared in the last edition. They will
remain therefore for insertion in any future edition of Mr. Coleridge's

The exact date on which Coleridge and Wordsworth met in the year 1796
has not been ascertained; but Coleridge speaks in the next letter as if
he was now well acquainted with Wordsworth. Coleridge had been at
Taunton early in June ('Letters, 220). On the 8th of June he wrote
to Cottle.


(8th) June, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

I am sojourning for a few days at Racedown, Dorset, the mansion of our
friend Wordsworth; who presents his kindest respects to you. * * *

Wordsworth admires my tragedy, which gives me great hopes. Wordsworth
has written a tragedy himself. I speak with heartfelt sincerity, and I
think, unblinded judgment, when I tell you that I feel myself a little
man by his side, and yet I do not think myself a less man than I
formerly thought myself. His drama is absolutely wonderful. You know I
do not commonly speak in such abrupt and unmingled phrases, and
therefore will the more readily believe me. There are, in the piece,
those profound touches of the human heart, which I find three or four
times in the 'Robbers' of Schiller, and often in Shakespeare, but
in Wordsworth there are no inequalities. * * *

God bless you, and eke [1]


[Footnote 1:  The reader will have observed a peculiarity in most of Mr.
Coleridge's conclusions to his letters. He generally says, "God bless
you, and, or eke, S. T. C." so as to involve a compound

[Footnote 2: Letter LXXIII is our 61.]

Shakespeare evidently occupied an important place in Coleridge's mind
even at this early date. His discovery of rivals to the prince of
English dramatists in his friends Southey and Wordsworth only indicates
how largely Shakespeare already bulked in his view of the dramatic art.

The next letter to Cottle is of a milder type, and leads up to an
interesting meeting, famous in the lives of Lamb, Coleridge, and


Stowey, June 29th, 1797.

My very dear Cottle,

***Charles Lamb will probably be here in about a fortnight. Could you
not contrive to put yourself in a Bridgwater coach, and T. Poole would
fetch you in a one-horse chaise to Stowey. What delight would it not
give us. ***

Still more interesting is the often quoted letter describing Dorothy


Stowey (3-17 July), 1797.

My dear Cottle,

Wordsworth and his exquisite sister are with me. She is a woman indeed!
in mind I mean, and heart; for her person is such, that if you expected
to see a pretty woman, you would think her rather ordinary; if you
expected to see an ordinary woman, you would think her pretty! but her
manners are simple, ardent, impressive. In every motion, her most
innocent soul outbeams so brightly, that who saw would say,

  Guilt was a thing impossible in her.

Her information various. Her eye watchful in minutest observation of
nature; and her taste, a perfect electrometer. It bends, protrudes, and
draws in, at subtlest beauties, and most recondite faults.

She and W. desire their kindest respects to you.

Give my love to your brother Amos. I condole with him in the loss of the
prize, but it is the fortune of war. The finest Greek Poem I ever wrote
lost the prize, and that which gained it was contemptible. An Ode may
sometimes be too bad for the prize, but very often too good.

Your ever affectionate friend.

S. T. C.[1]

[Footnote 1: Letter LXXIV follows 63.]

Dorothy Wordsworth's description of Coleridge whom she met now for the
first time is as follows: "You had a great loss," she wrote to a friend,
"in not seeing Coleridge. He is a wonderful man. His conversation teems
with soul, mind, and spirit. Then he is so benevolent, so good tempered
and cheerful, and, like William, interests himself so much about every
little trifle. At first I thought him very plain, that is, for about
three minutes. He is pale, thin, has a wide mouth, thick lips, and not
very good teeth, longish, loose-growing, half curling, rough, black
hair. But if you hear him speak for five minutes you think no more of
them. His eye is large and full, and not very dark, but grey, such an
eye as would receive from a heavy soul the dullest expression; but it
speaks every emotion of his animated mind: it has more of 'the poet's
eye in a fine frenzy rolling' than I ever witnessed. He has fine dark
eyebrows, and an overhanging forehead.

"The first thing that was read after he came was William's new poem,
"The Ruined Cottage", with which he was much delighted; and after tea he
repeated to us two acts and a half of his tragedy, "Osorio". The next
morning William read his tragedy, "The Borderers"." (Knight's "Life of
Wordsworth", i, 111-112.)

The line Coleridge quotes in his description of Dorothy:

  Guilt is a thing impossible in her

occurs in the additional verses Coleridge had written to the "Joan of
Arc" lines sent to Lamb.

John Thelwall, one of the sturdy democrats of the time who had made no
small commotion with his Revolutionary principles, had also visited
Coleridge at Stowey in the summer of 1797. Coleridge had corresponded
with him before knowing him personally ("Letters", 202), chiefly about
politics, religion and books. Coleridge thus describes Thelwall to Wade.


Stowey (17-20 July), 1797.

My very dear friend,

* * * John Thelwall is a very warm-hearted, honest man; and disagreeing
as we do, on almost every point of religion, of morals, of politics, and
philosophy, we like each other uncommonly well. He is a great favorite
with Sara. Energetic activity of mind and of heart, is his master
feature. He is prompt to conceive, and still prompter to execute; but I
think he is deficient in that patience of mind which can look intensely
and frequently at the same subject. He believes and disbelieves with
impassioned confidence. I wish to see him doubting, and doubting. He is
intrepid, eloquent, and honest. Perhaps, the only acting democrat that
is honest, for the patriots are ragged cattle; a most execrable herd.
Arrogant because they are ignorant, and boastful of the strength of
reason, because they have never tried it enough to know its weakness.
Oh! my poor country! The clouds cover thee. There is not one spot of
clear blue in the whole heaven!

My love to all whom you love, and believe me, with brotherly affection,
with esteem and gratitude, and every warm emotion of the heart,

Your faithful


The next letter closes the visit of Thelwall.


Stowey, Sept. 1797.

My very dear Cottle,

Your illness afflicts me, and unless I receive a full account of you by
Milton, I shall be very uneasy, so do not fail to write.

Herbert Croft is in Exeter gaol! This is unlucky. Poor devil! He must
now be unpeppered. We are all well. Wordsworth is well. Hartley sends a
grin to you? He has another tooth!

In the wagon, there was brought from Bath, a trunk, in order to be
forwarded to Stowey, directed, "S. T. Coleridge, Stowey, near
Bridgwater." This, we suppose, arrived in Bristol on Tuesday or
Wednesday, last week. It belonged to Thelwall. If it be not forwarded to
Stowey, let it be stopped, and not sent.

Give my kind love to your brother Robert, and "ax" him to put on his
hat, and run, without delay to the inn, or place, by whatever bird,
beast, fish, or man distinguished, where Parson's Bath wagon sets up.

From your truly affectionate friend,


In the beginning of September Coleridge was meditating a visit to his
favourite Bowles, whom, in spite of his youthful admiration, he had not
seen since he first saw him in Salisbury when a mere boy. ("Letters",


(3 Sept., 1797.)

I shall now stick close to my tragedy (called "Osorio"), and when I have
finished it, shall walk to Shaftesbury to spend a few days with Bowles.
From thence I go to Salisbury, and thence to Christchurch, to see

"This letter," Cottle says, "as was usual, has no date, but a letter
from Wordsworth determines about the time when Mr. C. had nearly
finished his Tragedy."

September 13, 1797.

"* * * Coleridge is gone over to Bowles with his Tragedy, which he has
finished to the middle of the 5th Act. He set off a week ago."

J. Dykes Campbell in his Life of Coleridge asserts that the Tragedy of
"Osorio" was sent to Drury Lane "without much hope that it would be
accepted."[1] This, however, is inaccurate. The play was not sent;
Coleridge went to London with it, for he writes to Cottle in the
beginning of September:

[Footnote 1: "Life", p. 78.]


London (10-15 Sept.) 1797.

Dear Cottle,

If Mrs. Coleridge be in Bristol, pray desire her to write to me
immediately, and I beg you, the moment you receive this letter, to send
to No. 17, Newfoundland Street, to know whether she be there. I have
written to Stowey, but if she be in Bristol, beg her to write to me of
it by return of post, that I may immediately send down some

cash for her travelling expenses, etc. We shall reside in London for the
next four months.

God bless you, Cottle, I love you,


P. S. The volume (second edition, Coleridge, Lloyd, and Lamb) is a most
beautiful one. You have determined that the three Bards shall walk up
Parnassus, in their best bib and tucker. [l]

Coleridge's beautiful Sonnet to W. Linley, Sheridan's brother-in-law and
secretary, is dated 12 September, 1797, and Coleridge must have been in
London from about that date to 3 December, with perhaps an interval of
return between. The sonnet is dated from Donhead, in Wilts, whither
Coleridge had probably gone on a visit from London. Wordsworth's play
was presented to Covent Garden. An undated letter of Coleridge to
Cottle, which must have been written about the end of November, informs
us that it was through Coleridge the play was tried at Covent Garden.

[Footnote 1: Letters LXXV-LXXVII follow 67.]


(28 Nov. 1797.)

I have procured for Wordsworth's tragedy, an introduction to Harris, the
manager of Covent Garden, who has promised to read it attentively, and
give his answer immediately; and if he accepts it, to put it in
preparation without an hour's delay.

A letter by Dorothy Wordsworth of 20th November[1] confirms the fact
that "The Borderers" was sent to Covent Garden. Both plays were
rejected, that of Coleridge on account of the obscurity of the last
three acts; and Coleridge wrote to Cottle his feelings on the occasion.

[Footnote 1: Knight's "Life of Wordsworth", i, 127.]


(2 Dec. 1797.)

Dear Cottle,

I have heard nothing of my Tragedy, except some silly remarks of
Kemble's, to whom a friend showed it; it does not appear to me that
there is a shadow of probability that it will be accepted. It gave me no
pain, and great pleasure, in finding that it gave me no pain.

I had rather hoped than believed that I was possessed of so much
philosophical capability. Sheridan most certainly has not used me with
common justice. The proposal came from himself, and although this
circumstance did not bind him to accept the tragedy, it certainly bound
him to every, and that the earliest, attention to it. I suppose it is
snugly in his green bag, if it have not emigrated to the kitchen.

I sent to the "Monthly Magazine" (1797), three mock Sonnets, in ridicule
of my own Poems, and Charles Lloyd's, and Lamb's, etc. etc. exposing
that affectation of unaffectedness, of jumping and misplaced accent, in
common-place epithets, flat lines forced into poetry by italics,
(signifying how well and mouthishly the author would read them) puny
pathos, etc. etc. The instances were almost all taken from myself, and
Lloyd, and Lamb.

I signed them 'Nehemiah Higginbotham.' I think they may do good to our
young Bards.

God love you,

S. T. C.

P. S. I am translating the "Oberon" of Wieland; it is a difficult
language, and I can translate at least as fast as I can construe. I have
made also a very considerable proficiency in the French language, and
study it daily, and daily study the German; so that I am not, and have
not been idle. * * *

Coleridge had been introduced through Poole to the Wedgwoods; and
hearing that Coleridge was in need of funds, Tom Wedgwood offered
Coleridge £100, sending an order for the amount. Coleridge was now
meditating entering the Unitarian ministry, and was perplexed whether to
remain with Poetry or enter the pulpit. He writes to Cottle on the


Stowey (January, 1798.)

My very dear friend,

This last fortnight has been very eventful. I received one hundred
pounds from Josiah Wedgwood, in order to prevent the necessity of my
going into the ministry. I have received an invitation from Shrewsbury,
to be minister there; and after fluctuations of mind, which have for
nights together robbed me of sleep, and I am afraid of health, I have at
length returned the order to Mr. Wedgwood, with a long letter,
explanatory of my conduct, and accepted the Shrewsbury invitation. * *

The next letter Cottle says refers to the Wedgwood Pension, but may be
about the rejection of the £100.[l]

[Footnote 1: See Litchfield's "Tom Wedgwood", pp. 54-56.]


Shrewsbury, Friday night, (--January), 1798.

My dear sir,

I have this moment received your letter, and have scarcely more than a
moment to answer it by return of post.

If kindly feeling can be repaid by kindly feeling, I am not your debtor.
I would wish to express the same thing which is big at my heart, but I
know not how to do it without indelicacy. As much abstracted from
personal feeling as possible, I honor and esteem you for that which you
have done.

I must of necessity stay here till the close of Sunday next. On Monday
morning I shall leave it, and on Tuesday will be with you at Cote-House.

Very affectionately yours,


T. Wedgwood, Esq.

[Footnote 1: Not in "Early Recollections".]

The next letter refers to the offer of the Pension of £150 a year, which
the Wedgwoods conferred on Coleridge.


(24 January, 1798).

My very dear Cottle,

The moment I received Mr. T. Wedgwood's letter, I accepted his offer.
How a contrary report could arise, I cannot guess....

I hope to see you at the close of next week. I have been respectfully
and kindly treated at Shrewsbury. I am well, and now, and ever,

Your grateful and affectionate friend,


[Footnote 1: Letter LXXVIII follows 72.]

The next letter is an amusing one coming from Coleridge. It is an
apology for the "Monody on the Death of Chatterton", which he wished to
discard from the second edition of his poems, but which Cottle insisted
on retaining among the poet's "choice fish, picked, gutted, and


January 1798.


I hope this letter may arrive time enough to answer its purpose. I
cannot help considering myself as having been placed in a very
ridiculous light by the gentlemen who have remarked, answered, and
rejoined concerning my "Monody on Chatterton". I have not seen the
compositions of my competitors (unless indeed the exquisite poem of
Warton's, entitled "The Suicide", refer to this subject), but this I
know, that my own is a very poor one. It was a school exercise, somewhat
altered; and it would have been omitted in the last edition of my poems
but for the request of my friend Mr. Cottle, whose property those poems
are. If it be not in your intention to exhibit my name on any future
month, you will accept my best thanks, and not publish this letter. But
if Crito and the Alphabet-men should continue to communicate on this
subject, and you should think it proper for reasons best known to
yourself to publish their communications, then I depend on your kindness
for the insertion of my letter; by which it is possible those your
correspondents may be induced to expend their remarks, whether
panegyrical or vituperative, on nobler game than on a poem which was, in
truth, the first effort of a young man, all whose poems a candid critic
will only consider as first efforts.

Yours, with due respect,



Coleridge, even at this date, shows signs of a Catholicism in literary
taste beyond the average man of his time; but it is an Intellectual
Hospitality to all sorts and conditions of minds and men rather than a
wide or deep enlightenment.

He already manifested a tendency to read the most abstruse and
out-of-the-way books. He commissioned Thelwall to purchase for him
Iamblichus, Proclus, Sidonius Apollinaris, Plotinus, Ficino; and he read
Dupuis' huge "Origine de tous les Cultes", a fantastic work tracing the
genesis of all religions to the worship of the stars ("Letters", 181-2).
This love of recondite lore remained with him through life; but it was
his meeting with William and Dorothy Wordsworth that helped most at this
juncture to develop the possibilities within him. Wordsworth was one of
those who are lofty rather than wide, but who, by their self
concentration, act as a healthy corrective to the over-diffusiveness of
the Shakespearian type of mind.)



Cottle's acquaintance with Coleridge led to his making friends with
Wordsworth, and in his "Early Recollections" and "Reminiscences", the
Bristol bookseller tells a few amusing tales about the poets. The
following is the best:

"A visit to Mr. Coleridge, at Stowey, in the year 1797, had been the
means of my introduction to Mr. Wordsworth. Soon after our acquaintance
had commenced, Mr. W. happened to be in Bristol, and asked me to spend a
day or two with him at Allfoxden. I consented, and drove him down in a
gig. We called for Mr. Coleridge, Miss Wordsworth, and the servant, at
Stowey, and they walked, while we rode on to Mr. W.'s house at
Allfoxden, distant two or three miles, where we purposed to dine. A
London alderman would smile at our prepation, or bill of fare. It
consisted of philosophers' viands; namely, a bottle of brandy, a noble
loaf, and a stout piece of cheese; and as there were plenty of lettuces
in the garden, with all these comforts we calculated on doing very well.

"Our fond hopes, however, were somewhat damped, by finding, that our
'stout piece of cheese' had vanished! A sturdy "rat" of a beggar, whom
we had relieved on the road, with his olfactories all alive, no doubt,
"smelt" our cheese, and while we were gazing at the magnificent clouds,
contrived to abstract our treasure! Cruel tramp! An ill return for our
pence! We both wished the rind might not choke him! The mournful fact
was ascertained a little before we drove into the courtyard of the
house. Mr. Coleridge bore the loss with great fortitude, observing, that
we should never starve with a loaf of bread and a bottle of brandy. He
now, with the dexterity of an adept, admired by his friends around,
unbuckled the horse, and, putting down the shafts with a jerk, as a
triumphant conclusion of his work, lo! the bottle of brandy that had
been placed most carefully behind us on the seat, from the force of
gravity, suddenly rolled down, and before we could arrest this
spirituous avalanche, pitching right on the stones, was dashed to
pieces. We all beheld the spectacle, silent and petrified! We might have
collected the broken fragments of glass, but the brandy; that was gone!
clean gone!

"One little untoward thing often follows another, and while the rest
stood musing, chained to the place, regaling themselves with the Cognac
effluvium, and all miserably chagrined, 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 get off the collar. In
despair, I called for assistance, when aid soon drew near. Mr.
Wordsworth first 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 to 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 the servant girl
came near, and understanding the cause of our consternation, 'La,
Master,' said she, 'you do not go about the work in the right way. You
should do like as 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.

"We were now summoned to dinner, and a dinner it was, such as every
"blind" and starving man in the three kingdoms would have rejoiced to
"behold". At the top of the table stood a superb brown loaf. The centre
dish presented a pile of the true coss lettuces, and at the bottom
appeared an empty plate, where the 'stout piece of cheese' "ought" to
have stood! (cruel mendicant!) and though the brandy was 'clean gone,'
yet its place was well, if not "better" supplied by an abundance of fine
sparkling Castalian champagne! A happy thought at this time started into
one of our minds, that some condiment would render the lettuces a little
more palatable, when an individual in the company, recollected a
question, once propounded by the most patient of men, 'How can that
which is unsavoury be eaten without "salt"?' and asked for a little of
that valuable culinary article. 'Indeed, sir,' Betty replied, 'I quite
forgot to buy salt.' A general laugh followed the announcement, in which
our host heartily joined. This was nothing. We had plenty of other good
things, and while crunching our succulents, and munching our crusts, we
pitied the far worse condition of those, perchance as hungry as
ourselves, who were forced to dine, off aether alone. For our next meal,
the mile-off village furnished all that could be desired, and these
trifling incidents present the sum and the result of half the little
passing disasters of life.

"The "Lyrical Ballads" were published about Midsummer, 1798. In
September of the same year, Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth left
England for Germany, and I quitted the business of a bookseller. Had I
not once been such, this book would never have appeared."

The reference in the following letter to a ballad of 340 lines has never
been explained by any biographer of Coleridge. The "Ancient Mariner" in
its first form extended to 658 lines. Some have surmised that the "Three
Graves" is meant; but this poem was 318 lines as published in 1809-1817.


Feb. 18, 1798.

My dear Cottle,

I have finished my Ballad, it is 340 lines; I am going on with my
"Visions": altogether (for I shall print two scenes of my Tragedy, as
fragments) I can add 1500 lines; now what do you advise? Shall I add my
Tragedy, and so make a second volume? or shall I pursue my first
intention of inserting 1500 in the third edition? If you should advise a
second volume, should you wish, "i.e.", find it convenient, to be the
purchaser? I ask this question, because I wish you to know the true
state of my present circumstances. I have received nothing yet from the
Wedgwoods, and my money is utterly expended.

A friend of mine wanted five guineas for a little while, which I
borrowed of Poole, as for myself, I do not like therefore to apply to
him. Mr. Estlin has some little money I believe in his hands, but I
received from him before I went to Shrewsbury, fifteen pounds, and I
believe that this was an anticipation of the five guinea presents, which
my friends would have made in March. But (this affair of the Messrs.
Wedgwoods turning out) the money in Mr. Estlin's hand must go towards
repaying him that sum which he suffered me to anticipate. Meantime I owe
Biggs £5, which is heavy on my thoughts, and Mrs. F. has not been paid
her last quarter which is still heavier. As to myself, I can continue to
go on here, but this £10 I must pay somehow, that is £5 to Biggs, and £5
to Mrs. F....

God bless you,


P.S. This week I purpose offering myself to the Bridgwater Socinian
congregation, as assistant minister, without any salary, directly, or
indirectly; but of this say not a word to any one, unless you see Mr.

Coleridge sent his poem of the "Raven" to the "Morning Post" at this
time with the following curious letter to the Editor. The poem appeared
in the paper of 10th March.


10 March, 1798.


I am not absolutely certain that the following poem was written by
Edmund Spenser, and found by an angler buried in a fishing-box:

  Under the foot of Mole, that Mountain hoar,
  Mid the green alders, by the Mulla's shore;

but a learned Antiquarian of my acquaintance has given it as his opinion
that it resembles Spenser's minor poems as nearly as "Vortigern" and
"Rowena" the Tragedies of William Shakespeare. This poem must be read in
recitative, in the same manner as the "AEgloga Secunda" of the
"Shepherd's Calendar".


"The Latin motto," Cottle says, "prefixed to the second edition of Mr.
C.'s poems, puzzled everybody to know from what author it was derived.
One and another inquired of me, to no purpose, and expressed a wish that
Mr. C. had been clearer in his citation, as 'no one could understand
it.' On my naming this to Mr. Coleridge, he laughed heartily, and said,
"It was all a hoax. Not meeting," said he, "with a suitable motto, I
invented one, and with references purposely obscure, as will be
explained in the next letter."


March 8th, 1798.

My dear Cottle,

I have been confined to my bed for some days, through a fever occasioned
by the stump of a tooth, which baffled chirurgical efforts to eject, and
which, by affecting my eye, affected my stomach, and through that my
whole frame. I am better, but still weak, in consequence of such long
sleeplessness and wearying pains; weak, very weak. I thank you, my dear
friend, for your late kindness, and in a few weeks will either repay you
in money, or by verses, as you like. With regard to Lloyd's verses, it
is curious that I should be applied to, "to be persuaded to resign," and
in hopes that I might "consent to give up" (unknown by whom) a number of
poems which were published at the earnest request of the author, who
assured me, that the circumstance was of "no trivial import to his

Times change and people change; but let us keep our souls in quietness!
I have no objection to any disposal of Lloyd's poems except that of
their being republished with mine. The motto which I had
prefixed--"Duplex, etc." from Groscollias, has placed me in a ridiculous
situation, but it was a foolish and presumptuous start of
affectionateness, and I am not unwilling to incur the punishment due to
my folly. By past experiences we build up our moral being. The Giant
Wordsworth--God love him! When I speak in the terms of admiration due to
his intellect, I fear lest these terms should keep out of sight the
amiableness of his manners. He has written near twelve hundred lines of
a blank verse, [1] superior, I hesitate not to aver, to anything in our
language which any way resembles it. God bless you,


[Footnote 1: "The Ruined Cottage", or "Tale of Margaret", afterwards
incorporated in the "Excursion".]

[Footnote 2: Letter LXXIX is our 76, which see for full text.]


March 21st, 1798.

My very dear friend,

I have even now returned from a little excursion that I have taken for
the confirmation of my health, which had suffered a rude assault from
the anguish of the stump of a tooth which had baffled the attempts of
our surgeon here, and which confined me to my bed. I suffered much from
the disease, and more from the doctor; rather than again put my mouth
into his hands, I would put my hands into a lion's mouth. I am happy to
hear of, and should be most happy to see, the plumpness and progression
of your dear boy; but--yes, my dear Wade, it must be a but, much as I
hate the word but. Well,--but I cannot attend the chemical lectures. I
have many reasons, but the greatest, or at least the most ostensible
reason, is, that I cannot leave Mrs. C. at that time; our house is an
uncomfortable one; our surgeon may be, for aught I know, a lineal
descendant of Esculapius himself, but if so, in the repeated transfusion
of life from father to son, through so many generations, the wit and
knowledge, being subtle spirits, have evaporated....

Ever your grateful and affectionate friend,



(Mch. or Apl. 1798.)

My dear Cottle,

I regret that aught should have disturbed our tranquillity; respecting
Lloyd, I am willing to believe myself in part mistaken, and so let all
things be as before. I have no wish respecting these poems, either for
or against re-publication with mine. As to the third edition, if there
be occasion for it immediately, it must be published with some
alterations, but no additions or omissions. The "Pixies", "Chatterton",
and some dozen others, shall be printed at the end of the volume, under
the title of Juvenile Poems, and in this case I will send you the volume
immediately. But if there be no occasion for the volume to go to press
for ten weeks, at the expiration of that time, I would make it a volume
worthy of me, and omit utterly near one-half of the present volume--a
sacrifice to pitch black oblivion.

Whichever be the case, I will repay you the money you have paid for me,
in money, and in a few weeks; or if you should prefer the latter
proposal, "i.e.", the not sending me to the press for ten weeks, I
should insist on considering the additions, however large, as my payment
to you for the omissions, which, indeed, would be but strict justice.

I am requested by Wordsworth, to put to you the following questions.
What could you, conveniently and prudently, and what would you give
for--first, our two Tragedies, with small prefaces, containing an
analysis of our principal characters? Exclusive of the prefaces, the
tragedies are, together, five thousand lines; which, in printing, from
the dialogue form, and directions respecting actors and scenery, are at
least equal to six thousand. To be delivered to you within a week of the
date of your answer to this letter; and the money which you offer, to be
paid to us at the end of four months from the same date; none to be paid
before, all to be paid then.

Second.--Wordsworth's "Salisbury Plain", and "Tale of a Woman"; which
two poems, with a few others which he will add, and the notes, will make
a volume. This to be delivered to you within three weeks of the date of
your answer, and the money to be paid as before, at the end of four
months from the present date.

Do not, my dearest Cottle, harass yourself about the imagined great
merit of the compositions, or be reluctant to offer what you can
prudently offer, from an idea that the poems are worth more. But
calculate what you can do, with reference simply to yourself, and answer
as speedily as you can; and believe me your sincere, grateful, and
affectionate friend and brother,


Cottle offered thirty guineas each to Wordsworth and Coleridge for their
tragedies; but this offer, says Cottle, "after some hesitation was
declined from the hope of introducing one or both on the stage." Cottle
received the following letter soon after:


(14 Apl., 1798.)

My dear Cottle,

I never involved you in bickering, and never suspected you, in any one
action of your life, of practising guile against any human being, except

Your letter supplied only one in a link of circumstances, that informed
me of some things, and perhaps deceived me in others. I shall write
to-day to Lloyd. I do not think I shall come to Bristol for these
lectures of which you speak.[1] I ardently wish for the knowledge, but
Mrs. Coleridge is within a month of her confinement, and I cannot, I
ought not to leave her; especially as her surgeon is not a John Hunter,
nor my house likely to perish from a plethora of comforts. Besides,
there are other things that might disturb that evenness of benevolent
feeling, which I wish to cultivate.

I am much better, and at present at Allfoxden, and my new and tender
health is all over me like a voluptuous feeling. God bless you,


[Footnote 1: "Chemical Lectures," by Dr. Beddoes, delivered at the Red
Lodge [Cottle].]

The origin of the volume of lyrical ballads is best told in Cottle's own

"Wordsworth," says Cottle, on his introduction by Coleridge at Stowey,
"read me many of his Lyrical Pieces, when I immediately perceived in
them extraordinary merit, and advised him to publish them, expressing a
belief that they would be well received. I further said he should be at
no risk; that I would give him the same sum which I had given to Mr.
Coleridge and to Mr. Southey, and that it would be a gratifying
circumstance to me, to have been the publisher of the first volumes of
three such poets as Southey, Coleridge, and Wordsworth; such a
distinction might never again occur to a Provincial bookseller.

"To the idea of publishing he expressed a strong objection, and after
several interviews, I left him, with an earnest wish that he would
reconsider his determination.

"Soon after Mr. Wordsworth sent me the following letter.

'Allfoxden, 12th April, 1798.

'My dear Cottle,

'...You will be pleased to hear that I have gone on very rapidly adding
to my stock of poetry. Do come and let me read it to you, under the old
trees in the park. We have a little more than two months to stay in this
place. Within these four days the season has advanced with greater
rapidity than I ever remember, and the country becomes almost every hour
more lovely. God bless you,

'Your affectionate friend,


"A little time after, I received an invitation from Mr. Coleridge to pay
himself and Mr. Wordsworth another visit. At about the same time, I
received the following corroborative invitation from Mr. Wordsworth.

'Dear Cottle,

'We look for you with great impatience. We will never forgive you if you
do not come. I say nothing of the "Salisbury Plain" till I see you. I am
determined to finish it, and equally so that you shall publish.

'I have lately been busy about another plan, which I do not wish to
mention till I see you; let this be very, very soon, and stay a week if
possible; as much longer as you can. God bless you, dear Cottle,

'Yours sincerely,


'Allfoxden, 9th May, 1798.'

"The following letter also on this subject, was received from Mr.


(April, 1798.)

My dear Cottle,

Neither Wordsworth nor myself could have been otherwise than
uncomfortable, if any but yourself had received from us the first offer
of our Tragedies, and of the volume of Wordsworth's Poems. At the same
time, we did not expect that you could with prudence and propriety,
advance such a sum as we should want at the time we specified. In short,
we both regard the publication of our Tragedies as an evil. It is not
impossible but that in happier times, they may be brought on the stage:
and to throw away this chance for a mere trifle, would be to make the
present moment act fraudulently and usuriously towards the future time.

My Tragedy employed and strained all my thoughts and faculties for six
or seven months; Wordsworth consumed far more time, and far more
thought, and far more genius. We consider the publication of them an
evil on any terms; but our thoughts were bent on a plan for the
accomplishment of which, a certain sum of money was necessary, (the
whole) at that particular time, and in order to this we resolved,
although reluctantly, to part with our Tragedies: that is, if we could
obtain thirty guineas for each, and at less than thirty guineas
Wordsworth will not part with the copyright of his volume of Poems. We
shall offer the Tragedies to no one, for we have determined to procure
the money some other way. If you choose the volume of Poems, at the
price mentioned, to be paid at the time specified, "i.e." thirty
guineas, to be paid sometime in the last fortnight of July, you may have
them; but remember, my dear fellow! I write to you now merely as a
bookseller, and intreat you, in your answer, to consider yourself only;
as to us, although money is necessary to our plan, (that of visiting
Germany) yet the plan is not necessary to our happiness; and if it were,
W. could sell his Poems for that sum to someone else, or we could
procure the money without selling the Poems. So I entreat you, again and
again, in your answer, which must be immediate, consider yourself only.

Wordsworth has been caballed against "so long and so loudly", that he
has found it impossible to prevail on the tenant of the Allfoxden
estate, to let him the house, after their first agreement is expired, so
he must quit it at Midsummer. Whether we shall be able to procure him a
house and furniture near Stowey, we know not, and yet we must: for the
hills, and the woods, and the streams, and the sea, and the shores would
break forth into reproaches against us, if we did not strain every
nerve, to keep their poet among them. Without joking, and in serious
sadness, Poole and I cannot endure to think of losing him.

At all events, come down, Cottle, as soon as you can, but before
Midsummer, and we will procure a horse easy as thy own soul, and we will
go on a roam to Linton and Linmouth, which, if thou comest in May, will
be in all their pride of woods and waterfalls, not to speak of its
august cliffs, and the green ocean, and the vast Valley of Stones, all
which live disdainful of the seasons, or accept new honours only from
the winter's snow. At all events come down, and cease not to believe me
much and affectionately your friend.


[Footnote 1: Letters LXXX-LXXXV follow letter 80.]

"In consequence of these conjoint invitations, I spent a week with Mr.
C. and Mr. W. at Allfoxden house, and during this time, (beside the
reading of MS. poems) they took me to Linmouth, and Linton, and the
Valley of Stones....

"At this interview it was determined, that the volume should be
published under the title of "Lyrical Ballads" on the terms stipulated
in a former letter: that this volume should not contain the poem of
"Salisbury Plain", but only an extract from it; that it should not
contain the poem of "Peter Bell", but consist rather of sundry shorter
poems, and, for the most part, of pieces more recently written. I had
recommended two volumes, but one was fixed on, and that to be published
anonymously. It was to be begun immediately, and with the "Ancient
Mariner"; which poem I brought with me to Bristol. A day or two after I
received the following:"


(May, 1798.)

My dear Cottle,

You know what I think of a letter, how impossible it is to argue in it.
You must therefore take simple statements, and in a week or two, I shall
see you, and endeavour to reason with you.

Wordsworth and I have duly weighed your proposal, and this is an answer.
He would not object to the publishing of "Peter Bell" or the "Salisbury
Plain", singly; but to the publishing of his poems in two volumes, he is
decisively repugnant and oppugnant.

He deems that they would want variety, etc., etc. If this apply in his
case, it applies with ten-fold more force to mine. We deem that the
volumes offered to you, are, to a certain degree, one work in kind,
though not in degree, as an ode is one work; and that our different
poems are, as stanzas, good, relatively rather than absolutely: mark
you, I say in kind, though not in degree. As to the Tragedy, when I
consider it in reference to Shakespeare's, and to "one" other Tragedy,
it seems a poor thing, and I care little what becomes of it. When I
consider it in comparison with modern dramatists, it rises: and I think
it too bad to be published, too good to be squandered. I think of
breaking it up; the planks are sound, and I will build a new ship of the
old materials.

The dedication to the Wedgwoods, which you recommend, would be
indelicate and unmeaning. If, after four or five years, I shall have
finished some work of importance, which could not have been written, but
in an unanxious seclusion, to them I will dedicate it; for the public
will have owed the work to them who gave me the power of that unanxious

As to anonymous publications, depend on it, you are deceived.
Wordsworth's name is nothing to a large number of persons; mine stinks.
The "Essay on Man", the "Botanic Garden", the "Pleasures of Memory", and
many other most popular works, were published anonymously. However, I
waive all reasoning, and simply state it as an unaltered opinion, that
you should proceed as before, with the "Ancient Mariner".

The picture shall be sent.[1] For your love gifts and bookloans accept
our hearty love. The "Joan of Arc" is a divine book; it opens lovelily.
I hope that you will take off some half dozen of our "Poems" on great
paper, even as the "Joan of Arc".

Cottle, my dear Cottle, I meant to have written you an Essay on the
Metaphysics of Typography, but I have not time. Take a few hints,
without the abstruse reasons for them, with which I mean to favour you.
18 lines in a page, the line closely printed, certainly more closely
printed than those of the "Joan";[2] ("Oh, by all means, closer, "W.
Wordsworth"") equal ink, and large margins; that is beauty; it may even,
under your immediate care, mingle the sublime! And now, my dear Cottle,
may God love you and me, who am, with most unauthorish feelings,

Your true friend,


P.S.--I walked to Linton the day after you left us, and returned on
Saturday. I walked in one day, and returned in one.[3]

[Footnote 1: A portrait of Mr. Wordsworth, correctly and beautifully
executed, by an artist then at Stowey; now in my possession. [Cottle's

[Footnote 2: "Joan of Arc", 4to first edition, had twenty lines in a
page. [Cottle.]]

[Footnote 3: Letters LXXXVI-XCII follow 81.]

Coleridge has given his account of the origin of the "Lyrical Ballads"
in the fourteenth chapter of the "Biographia Literaria", and
Wordsworth's account is found in the Fenwick Note to "We are Seven".

An estrangement with Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd at this time took
place which has been the subject of many surmises as to its origin among
the biographers of Coleridge. The coldness with Lamb passed off by the
beginning of 1800 when Charles wrote to Coleridge in his customary
humorous vein; but Lloyd was not so soon taken back to favour. Southey
joined the cabal against Coleridge and encouraged the estrangement; but
he too was on friendly terms with Coleridge in the autumn of 1799.

On the l4th May Coleridge's second child was born, named Berkeley, after
the idealist philosopher who had now displaced Hartley, who had been in
the ascendant when the first child was born.

With the adoption of Berkeley as his pet philosopher, we can understand
Coleridge's determination to visit Germany. He had heard rumours of the
Kantean Philosophy, and wished to acquire thoroughly a knowledge of the
language of the Germans principally to be able to read Kant in the
original. This project Coleridge speaks of as early as 6th May, 1796
(Letter 33); but it was only now when he enjoyed the support of the
Wedgwoods that he could afford to put it into execution. The volume of
"Lyrical Ballads" was published in the early part of the autumn of 1798;
and along with William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge set sail from
Yarmouth. John Chester, a resident of Stowey, also accompanied them.

Coleridge arrived at Cuxhaven on 19th September, from which place he
wrote Mrs. Coleridge an account of the voyage and his first impressions
of Germany. This account is more fully given in the "Letters of
Satyrane" in the "Biographia Literaria". He took up his quarters at
Ratzeburg, staying with the pastor of that town; while Wordsworth and
his sister went to Goslar. From Ratzeburg Coleridge repaired to
Gšttingen on 12th February, 1799, to attend lectures at the University.
He worked hard while in Göttingen to acquire a knowledge of the
literature of Germany, and made himself proficient in the dialects as
well as of classical German. He met two of the Parrys, brothers of the
Arctic explorer, at Gšttingen; and, later, Clement Carlyon, an
Englishman from Pembroke College, joined the group. Carlyon afterwards
in later life, in his "Early Years and Late Reflections", depicted
Coleridge as the life and soul of the party, incessantly talking,
discussing, and philosophizing, and diving into his pocket German
Dictionary for the right word. Carlyon devotes 270 pages of the first
volume of his book to Coleridge.

Berkeley Coleridge died in February, and the news depressed Coleridge
and threw his studies for some time into disorder; but the Wordsworths
visited him at Gšttingen, and they had some talk about the future place
of their abode in England. The Wordsworths were desirous of staying in
the North of England; but Coleridge at this time had resolved to remain
at Stowey, to be near Poole, in whom he felt his "anchor", as he
expressed it. (J. Dykes-Campbell's "Life", chap, v.)

Coleridge during his stay in Germany wrote a good many letters to his
wife, to Poole, and the Wedgwoods. We can quote only two fragments from
those to his wife, and the long one, "Over the Brocken".


14 Jany., 1799.

The whole Lake of Ratzeburg is one mass of thick transparent ice--a
spotless Mirror of nine miles in extent! The lowness of the Hills, which
rise from the shores of the Lake, preclude the awful sublimity of Alpine
scenery, yet compensate for the want of it by beauties, of which this
very lowness is a necessary condition. Yester-morning I saw the lesser
Lake completely hidden by Mist; but the moment the Sun peeped over the
Hill, the mist broke in the middle, and in a few seconds stood divided,
leaving a broad road all across the Lake; and between these two Walls of
mist the sunlight "burnt" upon the ice, forming a road of golden fire,
intolerably bright! and the mist-walls themselves partook of the blaze
in a multitude of shining colours. This is our second Frost. About a
month ago, before the Thaw came on, there was a storm of wind; during
the whole night, such were the thunders and howlings of the breaking
ice, that they have left a conviction on my mind, that there are Sounds
more sublime than any Sight "can" be, more absolutely suspending the
power of comparison, and more utterly absorbing the mind's
self-consciousness in its total attention to the object working upon it.
Part of the ice which the vehemence of the wind had shattered, was
driven shore-ward and froze anew. On the evening of the next day, at
sun-set, the shattered ice thus frozen, appeared of a deep blue, and in
shape like an agitated sea; beyond this, the water, that ran up between
the great Islands of ice which had preserved their masses entire and
smooth, shone of a yellow green; but all these scattered Ice-islands,
themselves, were of an intensely bright blood colour--they seemed blood
and light in union! On some of the largest of these Islands, the
Fishermen stood pulling out their immense Nets through the holes made in
the ice for this purpose, and the Men, their Net-Poles, and their huge
Nets, were a part of the glory; say rather, it appeared as if the rich
crimson light had shaped itself into these forms, figures, and
attitudes, to make a glorious vision in mockery of earthly things.

The lower Lake is now all alive with Skaters, and with Ladies driven
onward by them in their ice cars. Mercury, surely, was the first maker
of Skates, and the wings at his feet are symbols of the invention. In
skating there are three pleasing circumstances: the infinitely subtle
particles of Ice, which the Skate cuts up, and which creep and run
before the Skate like a low mist, and in sun-rise or sun-set become
coloured; second, the shadow of the Skater in the water seen through the
transparent Ice; and third, the melancholy undulating sound from the
Skate, not without variety; and when very many are skating together, the
sounds and the noises give an impulse to the icy Trees, and the woods
all round the Lake "tinkle"![1]

[Footnote 1: Letter XCIII repeats 82, XCIV-XCVI follow.]


Ratzeburg, 23 April, 1799.

There is a Christmas custom here which pleased and interested me.--The
Children make little presents to their Parents, and to each other; and
the Parents to the Children. For three or four months before Christmas
the Girls are all busy, and the Boys save up their pocket-money, to make
or purchase these presents. What the Present is to be is cautiously kept
secret, and the Girls have a world of contrivances to conceal it--such
as working when they are out on visits and the others are not with them;
getting up in the morning before day-light, etc. Then on the evening
before Christmas day one of the Parlours is lighted up by the Children,
into which the Parents must not go: a great yew bough is fastened on the
Table at a little distance from the wall, a multitude of little Tapers
are fastened in the bough, but not so as to burn it till they are nearly
burnt out, and coloured paper, etc. hangs and flutters from the
twigs.--Under this Bough the Children lay out in great order the
presents they mean for their Parents, still concealing in their pockets
what they intend for each other. Then the Parents are introduced--and
each presents his little Gift--and then bring out the rest one by one
from their pockets, and present them with kisses and embraces.--Where I
witnessed this scene, there were eight or nine Children, and the eldest
Daughter and the Mother wept aloud for joy and tenderness; and the tears
ran down the face of the Father, and he clasped all his Children so
tight to his breast--it seemed as if he did it to stifle the sob that
was rising within him.--I was very much affected.--The Shadow of the
Bough and its appendages on the wall, and arching over on the Ceiling,
made a pretty Picture--and then the raptures of the "very" little Ones,
when at last the twigs and their needles began to take fire and
"snap"--O it was a delight for them!--On the next day, in the great
Parlour, the Parents lay out on the table the Presents for the Children:
a scene of more sober joy succeeds, as on this day, after an old custom,
the Mother says privately to each of her Daughters, and the Father to
his Sons, that which he has observed most praise-worthy and that which
was most faulty in their conduct.--Formerly, and still in all the
smaller Towns and Villages throughout North Germany, these Presents were
sent by all the Parents to some one Fellow who in high Buskins, a white
Robe, a Mask, and an enormous flax Wig, personates Knecht Rupert, i.e.
the Servant Rupert. On Christmas Night he goes round to every House and
says, that Jesus Christ, his Master, sent him thither--the Parents and
elder Children receive him with great pomp of reverence, while the
little ones are most terribly frightened--He then enquires for the
Children, and according to the character which he hears from the Parent,
he gives them the intended Present, as if they came out of Heaven from
Jesus Christ.--Or, if they should have been bad Children, he gives the
Parents a Rod, and in the name of his Master, recommends them to use it
frequently.--About seven or eight years old the Children are let into
the secret, and it is curious how faithfully they keep it![1]

["Over the Brocken" must occupy a chapter of itself.]

[Footnote 1: Letter XCVII repeats 83, XCVIII follows.]



Coleridge called the letters from Germany which he published in "The
Friend" of 1809 the "Letters of Satyrane". He was fond of masquerading
under the name of this allegorical personage of the "Faery Queen"; and
in his "Tombless Epitaph" he described himself as Idolocrastes Satyrane.
Under this disguise he looked upon himself as the spokesman of the Idea
of the Omnipresence of the Deity. In order to appreciate the following
beautiful letter, one of the finest Coleridge ever wrote, the reader
should peruse Coleridge's "Aeolian Harp", "Lines written on leaving a
Place of Retirement", "The Lime-Tree Bower", and Wordsworth's "Tintern
Abbey". Wordsworth's sonnet, "It is a beauteous evening", and
Coleridge's own "Hymn before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni", also
belong to the same feeling for the God of Nature, but they were composed
after the letter "Over the Brocken".

Clement Carlyon, who is the chief authority for the life of Coleridge
during his stay at Gšttingen, gives a lively account of the ascent of
the Brocken, which took place on Whit Sunday, 12th May 1799. The party
visited the "magic circle of stones where the fairies assembled," and
halted for the first time at the village of Satzfeld, a romantic
village, "a bright moonlight at night, and the nightingale heard."
Coleridge was in high spirits, and kept talking all the way, discoursing
on his favourite topics. Sublimity was defined as a "suspension of the
powers of comparison"; "no animal but man can be struck with wonder";
Shakespeare owed his success largely to the cheering breath of popular
applause, the enthusiastic gale of admiration. The English Divines were
applauded by Coleridge, Jeremy Taylor prominently; and a play by Hans
Sachs was preferred to a play of Kotzebue; from which he launched into a
discourse on Miracle plays. Coleridge's conversation was peppered with
puns, some of which Carlyon quotes.

Carlyon also notices that their course up the mountain was impeded by
stunted firs; and he describes the dancing party of peasants with whom
Coleridge was so much taken. The party returned to Gottingen on 18th
May. Coleridge had written the day before to his wife.


Clausthal, 17 May 1799.

Through roads no way rememberable, we came to Gieloldshausen, over a
bridge, on which was a mitred statue with a great crucifix in its arms.
The village, long and ugly; but the church, like most Catholic churches,
interesting; and this being Whitsun Eve, all were crowding to it, with
their mass-books and rosaries, the little babies commonly with coral
crosses hanging on the breast. Here we took a guide, left the village,
ascended a hill, and now the woods rose up before us in a verdure which
surprised us like a sorcery. The spring had burst forth with the
suddenness of a Russian summer. As we left Gottingen there were buds,
and here and there a tree half green; but here were woods in full
foliage, distinguished from summer only by the exquisite freshness of
their tender green. We entered the wood through a beautiful mossy path;
the moon above us blending with the evening light, and every now and
then a nightingale would invite the others to sing, and some or other
commonly answered, and said, as we suppose, "It is yet somewhat too
early!" for the song was not continued. We came to a square piece of
greenery, completely walled on all four sides by the beeches; again
entered the wood, and having travelled about a mile, emerged from it
into a grand plain--mountains in the distance, but ever by our road the
skirts of the green woods. A very rapid river ran by our side; and now
the nightingales were all singing, and the tender verdure grew paler in
the moonlight, only the smooth parts of the river were still deeply
purpled with the reflections from the fiery light in the west. So
surrounded and so impressed, we arrived at Prele, a dear little cluster
of houses in the middle of a semicircle of woody hills; the area of the
semicircle scarcely broader than the breadth of the village.

*       *       *       *       *

We afterwards ascended another hill, from the top of which a large plain
opened before us with villages. A little village, Neuhoff, lay at the
foot of it: we reached it, and then turned up through a valley on the
left hand. The hills on both sides the valley were prettily wooded, and
a rapid lively river ran through it. So we went for about two miles, and
almost at the end of the valley, or rather of its first turning, we
found the village of Lauterberg. Just at the entrance of the village,
two streams come out from two deep and woody coombs, close by each
other, meet, and run into a third deep woody coomb opposite; before you
a wild hill, which seems the end and barrier of the valley; on the right
hand, low hills, now green with corn, and now wooded; and on the left a
most majestic hill indeed--the effect of whose simple outline painting
could not give, and how poor a thing are words! We pass through this
neat little town--the majestic hill on the left hand soaring over the
houses, and at every interspace you see the whole of it--its beeches,
its firs, its rocks, its scattered cottages, and the one neat little
pastor's house at the foot, embosomed in fruit-trees all in blossom, the
noisy coomb-brook dashing close by it. We leave the valley, or rather,
the first turning on the left, following a stream; and so the vale winds
on, the river still at the foot of the woody hills, with every now and
then other smaller valleys on right and left crossing our vale, and ever
before you the woody hills running like groves one into another. We
turned and turned, and entering the fourth curve of the vale, we found
all at once that we had been ascending. The verdure vanished! All the
beech trees were leafless, and so were the silver birches, whose boughs
always, winter and summer, hang so elegantly. But low down in the
valley, and in little companies on each bank of the river, a multitude
of green conical fir trees, with herds of cattle wandering about, almost
every one with a cylindrical bell around its neck, of no inconsiderable
size, and as they moved--scattered over the narrow vale, and up among
the trees on the hill--the noise was like that of a great city in the
stillness of a sabbath morning, when the bells all at once are ringing
for church. The whole was a melancholy and romantic scene, that was
quite new to me. Again we turned, passed three smelting houses, which we
visited; a scene of terrible beauty is a furnace of boiling metal,
darting, every moment blue, green, and scarlet lightning, like serpents'
tongues!--and now we ascended a steep hill, on the top of which was St.
Andrias Berg, a town built wholly of wood.

We descended again, to ascend far higher; and now we came to a most
beautiful road, which winded on the breast of the hill, from whence we
looked down into a deep valley, or huge basin, full of pines and firs;
the opposite hills full of pines and frs; and the hill above us, on
whose breast we were winding, likewise full of pines and firs. The
valley, or basin, on our right hand, into which we looked down, is
called the Wald Rauschenbach, that is, the Valley of the Roaring Brook;
and roar it did, indeed, most solemnly!

The road on which we walked was weedy with infant fir-trees, an inch or
two high; and now, on our left hand, came before us a most tremendous
precipice of yellow and black rock, called the Rehberg, that is, the
Mountain of the Roe. Now again is nothing but firs and pines above,
below, around us! How awful is the deep unison of their undividable
murmur; what a one thing it is--it is a sound that impresses the dim
notion of the Omnipresent! In various parts of the deep vale below us,
we beheld little dancing waterfalls gleaming through the branches, and
now, on our left hand, from the very summit of the hill above us, a
powerful stream flung itself down, leaping and foaming, and now
concealed, and now not concealed, and now half concealed by the
fir-trees, till, towards the road, it became a visible sheet of water,
within whose immediate neighbourhood no pine could have permanent
abiding place. The snow lay every where on the sides of the roads, and
glimmered in company with the waterfall foam, snow patches and
waterbreaks glimmering through the branches in the hill above, the deep
basin below, and the hill opposite. Over the high opposite hills, so
dark in their pine forests, a far higher round barren stony mountain
looked in upon the prospect from a distant country. Through this scenery
we passed on, till our road was crossed by a second waterfall, or
rather, aggregation of little dancing waterfalls, one by the side of the
other for a considerable breadth, and all came at once out of the dark
wood above, and rolled over the mossy rock fragments, little firs,
growing in islets, scattered among them. The same scenery continued till
we came to the Oder Seich, a lake, half made by man, and half by nature.
It is two miles in length, and but a few hundred yards in breadth, and
winds between banks, or rather through walls, of pine trees. It has the
appearance of a most calm and majestic river. It crosses the road, goes
into a wood, and there at once plunges itself down into a most
magnificent cascade, and runs into the vale, to which it gives the name
of the "Vale of the Roaring Brook." We descended into the vale, and
stood at the bottom of the cascade, and climbed up again by its side.
The rocks over which it plunged were unusually wild in their shape,
giving fantastic resemblances of men and animals, and the fir-boughs by
the side were kept almost in a swing, which unruly motion contrasted
well with the stern quietness of the huge forest-sea every where else.

*       *       *       *       *

In nature all things are individual, but a word is but an arbitrary
character for a whole class of things; so that the same description may
in almost all cases be applied to twenty different appearances; and in
addition to the difficulty of the thing itself, I neither am, nor ever
was, a good hand at description. I see what I write, but, alas! I cannot
write what I see. From the Oder Seich we entered a second wood; and now
the snow met us in large masses, and we walked for two miles knee-deep
in it, with an inexpressible fatigue, till we came to the mount called
Little Brocken; here even the firs deserted us, or only now and then a
patch of them, wind-shorn, no higher than one's knee, matted and
cowering to the ground, like our thorn bushes on the highest sea-hills.
The soil was plashy and boggy; we descended and came to the foot of the
Great Brocken without a river--the highest mountain in all the north of
Germany, and the seat of innumerable superstitions. On the first of May
all the witches dance here at midnight; and those who go may see their
own ghosts walking up and down, with a little billet on the back, giving
the names of those who had wished them there; for "I wish you on the top
of the Brocken," is a common curse throughout the whole empire. Well, we
ascended--the soil boggy--and at last reached the height, which is 573
toises [1] above the level of the sea. We visited the Blocksberg, a sort of
bowling-green, enclosed by huge stones, something like those at
Stonehenge, and this is the witches' ball-room; thence proceeded to the
house on the hill, where we dined; and now we descended. In the evening
about seven we arrived at Elbingerode. At the inn they brought us an
album, or stammbuch, requesting that we would write our names, and
something or other as a remembrance that we had been there. I wrote the
following lines, which contain a true account of my journey from the
Brocken to Elbingerode.

  I stood on Brocken's sovran height, and saw
  Woods crowding upon woods, hills over hills;
  A surging scene, and only limited
  By the blue distance. Wearily my way
  Downward I dragged, through fir groves evermore
  Where bright green moss moved in sepulchral forms,
  Speckled with sunshine; and, but seldom heard,
  The sweet bird's song become a hollow sound;
  And the gale murmuring indivisibly,
  Reserved its solemn murmur, more distinct
  From many a note of many a waterbreak,
  And the brook's chatter; on whose islet stones
  The dingy kidling, with its tinkling bell,
  Leapt frolicksome, or old romantic goat
  Sat, his white beard slow waving. I moved on
  With low and languid thought, for I had found
  That grandest scenes have but imperfect charms
  Where the eye vainly wanders, nor beholds
  One spot with which the heart associates
  Holy remembrances of child or friend,
  Or gentle maid, our first and early love,
  Or father, or the venerable name
  Of our adored country. O thou Queen,
  Thou delegated Deity of Earth,
  O "dear, dear" England! how my longing eyes
  Turned westward, shaping in the steady clouds
  Thy sands and high white cliffs! Sweet native isle,
  This heart was proud, yea, mine eyes swam with tears
  To think of thee; and all the goodly view
  From sovran Brocken, woods and woody hills
  Floated away, like a departing dream,
  Feeble and dim. Stranger, these impulses
  Blame thou not lightly; nor will I profane,
  With hasty judgment or injurious doubt,
  That man's sublimer spirit, who can feel
  That God is every where, the God who framed
  Mankind to be one mighty brotherhood,
  Himself our Father, and the world our home.

We left Elbingerode, May 14th, and travelled for half a mile through a
wild country, of bleak stony hills by our side, with several caverns, or
rather mouths of caverns, visible in their breasts; and now we came to
Rubilland,--Oh, it was a lovely scene! Our road was at the foot of low
hills, and here were a few neat cottages; behind us were high hills,
with a few scattered firs, and flocks of goats visible on the topmost
crags. On our right hand a fine shallow river about thirty yards broad,
and beyond the river a crescent hill clothed with firs, that rise one
above another, like spectators in an amphitheatre. We advanced a little
farther,--the crags behind us ceased to be visible, and now the whole
was one and complete. All that could be seen was the cottages at the
foot of the low green hill, (cottages embosomed in fruit trees in
blossom,) the stream, and the little crescent of firs. I lingered here,
and unwillingly lost sight of it for a little while. The firs were so
beautiful, and the masses of rocks, walls, and obelisks started up among
them in the very places where, if they had not been, a painter with a
poet's feeling would have imagined them. Crossed the river (its name
Bodi), entered the sweet wood, and came to the mouth of the cavern, with
the man who shews it. It was a huge place, eight hundred feet in length,
and more in depth, of many different apartments; and the only thing that
distinguished it from other caverns was, that the guide, who was really
a character, had the talent of finding out and seeing uncommon
likenesses in the different forms of the stalactite. Here was a
nun;--this was Solomon's temple;--that was a Roman Catholic
Chapel;--here was a lion's claw, nothing but flesh and blood wanting to
make it completely a claw! This was an organ, and had all the notes of
an organ, etc. etc. etc.; but, alas! with all possible straining of my
eyes, ears, and imagination, I could see nothing but common stalactite,
and heard nothing but the dull ding of common cavern stones. One thing
was really striking;--a huge cone of stalactite hung from the roof of
the largest apartment, and, on being struck, gave perfectly the sound of
a death-bell. I was behind, and heard it repeatedly at some distance,
and the effect was very much in the fairy kind,--gnomes, and things
unseen, that toll mock death-bells for mock funerals. After this, a
little clear well and a black stream pleased me the most; and multiplied
by fifty, and coloured ad libitum, might be well enough to read of in a
novel or poem. We returned, and now before the inn, on the green plat
around the Maypole, the villagers were celebrating Whit-Tuesday. This
Maypole is hung as usual with garlands on the top, and, in these
garlands, spoons, and other little valuables, are placed. The high
smooth round pole is then well greased; and now he who can climb up to
the top may have what he can get,--a very laughable scene as you may
suppose, of awkwardness and agility, and failures on the very brink of
success. Now began a dance. The women danced very well, and, in general,
I have observed throughout Germany that the women in the lower ranks
degenerate far less from the ideal of a woman, than the men from that of
man. The dances were reels and waltzes; but chiefly the latter. This
dance is, in the higher circles, sufficiently voluptuous; but here the
emotions of it were far more faithful interpreters of the passion,
which, doubtless, the dance was intended to shadow; yet, ever after the
giddy round and round is over, they walked to music, the woman laying
her arm, with confident affection, on the man's shoulders, or around his
neck. The first couple at the waltzing was a very fine tall girl, of two
or three and twenty, in the full bloom and growth of limb and feature,
and a fellow with huge whiskers, a long tail, and woollen night-cap; he
was a soldier, and from the more than usual glances of the girl, I
presumed was her lover. He was, beyond compare, the gallant and the
dancer of the party. Next came two boors: one of whom, in the whole
contour of his face and person, and, above all, in the laughably
would-be frolicksome kick out of his heel, irresistibly reminded me of
Shakespeare's Slender, and the other of his Dogberry. Oh! two such
faces, and two such postures! O that I were an Hogarth! What an enviable
gift it is to have a genius in painting! Their partners were pretty
lasses, not so tall as the former, and danced uncommonly light and airy.
The fourth couple was a sweet girl of about seventeen, delicately
slender, and very prettily dressed, with a full-blown rose in the white
ribbon that went round her head, and confined her reddish-brown hair;
and her partner waltzed with a pipe in his mouth, smoking all the while;
and during the whole of this voluptuous dance, his countenance was a
fair personification of true German phlegm. After these, but, I suppose,
not actually belonging to the party, a little ragged girl and ragged
boy, with his stockings about his heels, waltzed and danced;--waltzing
and dancing in the rear most entertainingly. But what most pleased me,
was a little girl of about three or four years old, certainly not more
than four, who had been put to watch a little babe, of not more than a
year old (for one of our party had asked), and who was just beginning to
run away, the girl teaching him to walk, and who was so animated by the
music, that she began to waltz with him, and the two babes whirled round
and round, hugging and kissing each other, as if the music had made them
mad. There were two fiddles and a bass viol. The fiddlers,--above all,
the bass violer,--most Hogarthian phizzes! God love them! I felt far
more affection for them than towards any other set of human beings I
have met with since I have been in Germany, I suppose because they
looked so happy!

[Footnote 1: marked with an asterisk in the proofing (not the original
text), but not explained further.]



On the 21st May, Coleridge wrote the following letter in which he
informs Josiah Wedgwood what he had done in Germany, and what he
expected to do with the knowledge which he had acquired there.


May 21st, 1799. Gottingen.

My dear sir,

I have lying by my side six huge letters, with your name on each of
them, and all, excepting one, have been written for these three months.
About this time Mr. Hamilton, by whom I send this and the little parcel
for my wife, was, as it were, setting off for England; and I seized the
opportunity of sending them by him, as without any mock-modesty I really
thought that the expense of the postage to me and to you would be more
than their worth. Day after day, and week after week, was Hamilton
going, and still delayed. And now that it is absolutely settled that he
goes to-morrow, it is likewise absolutely settled that I shall go this
day three weeks, and I have therefore sent only this and the picture by
him, but the letters I will now take myself, for I should not like them
to be lost, as they comprise the only subject on which I have had an
opportunity of making myself thoroughly informed, and if I carry them
myself, I can carry them without danger of their being seized at
Yarmouth, as all my letters were, yours to ---- excepted, which were,
luckily, not sealed. Before I left England, I had read the book of which
you speak. [1] I must confess that it appeared to me exceedingly
illogical. Godwin's and Condorcet's extravagancies were not worth
confuting; and yet I thought that the Essay on "Population" had not
confuted them. Professor Wallace, Derham, and a number of German
statistic and physico-theological writers had taken the same ground,
namely, that population increases in a geometrical, but the accessional
nutriment only in arithmetical ratio--and that vice and misery, the
natural consequences of this order of things, were intended by
providence as the counterpoise. I have here no means of procuring so
obscure a book, as Rudgard's; but to the best of my recollection, at the
time that the Fifth Monarchy enthusiasts created so great a sensation in
England, under the Protectorate, and the beginning of Charles the
Second's reign, Rudgard, or Rutgard (I am not positive even of the name)
wrote an Essay to the same purpose, in which he asserted, that if war,
pestilence, vice, and poverty, were wholly removed, the world could not
exist two hundred years, etc. Seiffmilts, [2] in his great work
concerning the divine order and regularity in the destiny of the human
race, has a chapter entitled a confutation of this idea; I read it with
great eagerness, and found therein that this idea militated against the
glory and goodness of God, and must therefore be false,--but further
confutation found I none!--This book of Seiffmilts has a prodigious
character throughout Germany; and never methinks did a work less deserve
it. It is in three huge octavos, and wholly on the general laws that
regulate the population of the human species--but is throughout most
unphilosophical, and the tables, which he has collected with great
industry, prove nothing. My objections to the Essay on Population you
will find in my sixth letter at large--but do not, my dear sir, suppose
that because unconvinced by this essay, I am therefore convinced of the
contrary. No, God knows, I am sufficiently sceptical, and in truth more
than sceptical, concerning the possibility of universal plenty and
wisdom; but my doubts rest on other grounds. I had some conversation
with you before I left England, on this subject; and from that time I
had purposed to myself to examine as thoroughly as it was possible for
me, the important question. Is the march of the human race progressive,
or in cycles? But more of this when we meet.

What have I done in Germany? I have learned the language, both high and
low German, I can read both, and speak the former so fluently, that it
must be a fortune for a German to be in my company, that is, I have
words enough and phrases enough, and I arrange them tolerably; but my
pronunciation is hideous. 2ndly, I can read the oldest German, the
Frankish, and the Swabian. 3rdly. I have attended the lectures on
Physiology, Anatomy, and Natural History, with regularity, and have
endeavoured to understand these subjects. 4thly, I have read and made
collections for a history of the "Belles Lettres," in Germany, before
the time of Lessing: and 5thly, very large collections for a "Life of
Lessing"; to which I was led by the miserably bad and unsatisfactory
biographies that have been hitherto given, and by my personal
acquaintance with two of Lessing's friends. Soon after I came into
Germany, I made up my mind fully not to publish anything concerning my
Travels, as people call them; yet I soon perceived that with all
possible economy, my expenses would be greater than I could justify,
unless I did something that would to a moral certainty repay them. I
chose the "Life of Lessing" for the reasons above assigned, and because
it would give me an opportunity of conveying under a better name than my
own ever will be, opinions which I deem of the highest importance.
Accordingly, my main business at Gottingen has been to read all the
numerous controversies in which Lessing was engaged, and the works of
all those German poets before the time of Lessing, which I could not
afford to buy. For these last four months, with the exception of last
week, in which I visited the Hartz, I have worked harder than I trust in
God Almighty I shall ever have occasion to work again: this endless
transcription is such a body-and-soul-wearying purgatory. I shall have
bought thirty pounds' worth of books, chiefly metaphysics, and with a
view to the one work, to which I hope to dedicate in silence, the prime
of my life; but I believe and indeed doubt not, that before Christmas I
shall have repaid myself. [3]

I never, to the best of my recollection, felt the fear of death but
once; that was yesterday when I delivered the picture to Hamilton. I
felt, and shivered as I felt it, that I should not like to die by land
or water before I see my wife and the little one; that I hope yet
remains to me. But it was an idle sort of feeling, and I should not like
to have it again. Poole half mentioned, in a hasty way, a circumstance
that depressed my spirits for many days:--that you and Thomas were on
the point of settling near Stowey, but had abandoned it. "God Almighty!
what a dream of happiness it held out to me!" writes Poole. I felt
disappointment without having had hope.

In about a month I hope to see you. Till then may heaven bless and
preserve us! Believe me, my dear sir, with every feeling of love,
esteem, and gratitude,

Your affectionate friend,


(Josiah Wedgwood, Esq.) [4]

[Footnote l: Malthas on Population, 1798.]

[Footnote 2: Should be Syssmilch.]

[Footnote 3: Cottle here omits a part of this letter about pecuniary

[Footnote 4: Letters XCIX-CIII follow Letter 85.]

It is interesting to compare this letter with that to Poole of 6th May
1796; it will be seen that Coleridge thus carried out his project of
three years before. He had been able to convince the Wedgwoods of the
desirability of introducing a knowledge of the German philosophy into
England to refute the philosophy of Hume and expose the shallowness of
the metaphysics of Locke and the Paley School of Theology. Tom Wedgwood
was himself a philosopher, and saw in Coleridge the champion of a new
basis of faith, and hence the friendship between them, and the support
of the Wedgwoods to Coleridge in carrying out his self-education.

Coleridge returned to England about a month after the Wordsworths, in
July, 1799, and he reached Stowey before the 29th, when he wrote to
Southey, and the two worked in concert for the publication of an annual
started as the 'Annual Anthology', of which two volumes appeared,
one in 1799 and one in 1800, Coleridge contributing some of his poems to
the latter. 'The Devil's Thoughts', a conjoint squib which caused
some sensation was sent to the 'Morning Post' on 6th September.

Coleridge spent a part of the Autumn of 1799 at Ottery St. Mary visiting
his mother and brothers. Coleridge then went to Southey at Exeter, and
they visited the ash dells round about Dartmoor together
('Letters', 305). Coleridge also saw Josiah Wedgwood at his seat of
Upcott on his way home; and on 15th October we find him back at Stowey
('Letters', 307). Still later he went north to see Wordsworth who
was staying at Sockburn on the Tees with the Hutchinsons. Cottle
accompanied them as far as Greta Bridge, where John Wordsworth joined
their company. Coleridge and William and John Wordsworth then went on
tour to the Lake District, visiting Grasmere, when Wordsworth made
arrangements to take a house at Townend (now known as Dove Cottage), and
came back to Sockburn (Knight's 'Life of Wordsworth', chap. xii).
It was at Sockburn that Coleridge first met Sarah Hutchinson; and here
it is conjectured he wrote his beautiful poem 'Love', which
appeared in its first form in the 'Morning Post', on 21st December
1799, prefaced with the following letter.


21 December, 1799.


The following poem is the introduction to a somewhat longer one, for
which I shall solicit insertion on your next open day. The use of the
old ballad word 'Ladie' for Lady, is the only piece of obsoleteness
in it; and as it is professedly a tale of ancient times, I trust that
"the affectionate lovers of venerable antiquity," (as Cambden says) will
grant me their pardon, and perhaps may be induced to admit a force and
propriety in it. A heavier objection may be adduced against the Author,
that in these times of fear and expectation, when novelties
'explode' around us in all directions, he should presume to offer
to the public a silly tale of old-fashioned love; and five years ago, I
own, I should have allowed and felt the force of this objection. But,
alas! explosion has succeeded explosion so rapidly that novelty itself
ceases to appear new; and it is possible that now, even a simple story
wholly unspiced with politics or personality, may find some attention
amid the hubbub of Revolutions, as to those who have remained a long
time by the falls of Niagara, the lowest whispering becomes distinctly


[Footnote 1: Letter CIV follows 86.]

This was followed on 10th January 1800 by the political verses
'Talleyrand to Lord Grenville', heralded by a letter as good as, if
not better than, the verses.


10 January, 1800.

Mr. Editor,

An unmetrical letter from Talleyrand to Lord Grenville has already
appeared, and from an authority too high to be questioned: otherwise I
could adduce some arguments for the exclusive authenticity of the
following metrical epistle. The very epithet which the wise ancients
used, "'aurea carmina'" might have been supposed likely to have
determined the choice of the French minister in favour of verse; and the
rather when we recollect that this phrase of "golden verses" is applied
emphatically to the works of that philosopher who imposed 'silence'
on all with whom he had to deal. Besides, is it not somewhat improbable
that Talleyrand should have preferred prose to rhyme, when the latter
alone 'has got the chink'? Is it not likewise curious that in our
official answer no notice whatever is taken of the Chief Consul,
Bonaparte, as if there had been no such person existing; notwithstanding
that his existence is pretty generally admitted, nay that some have been
so rash as to believe that he has created as great a sensation in the
world as Lord Grenville, or even the Duke of Portland? But the Minister
of Foreign Affairs, Talleyrand, 'is' acknowledged, which, in our
opinion, could not have happened had he written only that insignificant
prose letter, which seems to precede Bonaparte's, as in old romances a
dwarf always ran before to proclaim the advent or arrival of knight or
giant. That Talleyrand's character and practices more resemble those of
some 'regular' Governments than Bonaparte's I admit; but this of
itself does not appear a satisfactory explanation. However, let the
letter speak for itself. The second line is supererogative in syllables,
whether from the oscitancy of the transcriber, or from the trepidation
which might have overpowered the modest Frenchman, on finding himself in
the act of writing to so 'great' a man, I shall not dare to
determine. A few notes are added by,

Your servant,


P.S.--As mottoes are now fashionable, especially if taken from out of
the way books, you may prefix, if you please, the following lines from
Sidonius Apollinaris:

  Saxa, et robora, corneasque fibras
  Mollit dulciloquiâ canorus arte!

Coleridge had arrived in London in the end of November (Dyke-Campbell's
'Life', 105); and Mrs. Coleridge and Hartley were also at 21,
Buckingham Street, Strand, on 9th December ('Letters', 318). He was now
a regular contributor to the 'Morning Post', Stuart, the proprietor
paying all expenses ('Letters', 310),[1] Coleridge, too, had made the
acquaintance of Godwin ('Letters', p. 316), whom he had castigated in
the 'Watchman', and who, he says, "is no great things in intellects;
but in heart and manner he is all the better for having been the
husband of Mary Wollstonecraft" ('Letters', 316). He began a
correspondence with Godwin, and of the eighteen letters by Coleridge to
him we are enabled to give nine. Lamb was the means of drawing
Coleridge and Godwin together, and in Lamb's letters of this period
('Ainger', i, 111, 113, 115), we find glimpses of Coleridge while
engaged on his translation of 'Wallenstein'.

While in London Coleridge did not neglect his friends elsewhere; we
have interesting letters to the Wedgwoods, Poole, and Southey. The next
three letters are from London.

[Footnote 1: For an account of Coleridge as a journalist see Mr. H. D.
Traill's 'Life of Coleridge', p. 79.]


21, Buckingham Street, Strand, January, 1800.

My dear sir,

I am sitting by a fire in a rug great coat. Your room is doubtless to a
greater degree air tight than mine, or your notions of Tartarus would
veer round to the Greenlander's creed. It is most barbarously cold, and
you, I fear, can shield yourself from it, only by perpetual
imprisonment. If any place in the southern climates were in a state of
real quiet, and likely to continue so, should you feel no inclination to
migrate? Poor Southey, from over great industry, as I suspect, the
industry too of solitary composition, has reduced himself to a terrible
state of weakness, and is determined to leave this country as soon as he
has finished the poem on which he is now employed. 'Tis a melancholy
thing that so young a man, and one whose life has ever been so simple
and self-denying * * *

O, for a peace, and the south of France! I could almost wish for a
Bourbon king, if it were only that Sieyes and Buonaparte might finish
their career in the old orthodox way of hanging. Thank God, "I have my
health perfectly", and I am working hard; yet the present state of human
affairs presses on me for days together, so as to deprive me of all my
cheerfulness. It is probable that a man's private and personal
connexions and interests ought to be uppermost in his daily and hourly
thoughts, and that the dedication of much hope and fear to subjects
which are perhaps disproportionate to our faculties and powers, is a
disease. But I have had this disease so long, and my early education was
so undomestic, that I know not how to get rid of it; or even to wish to
get rid of it. Life were so flat a thing without enthusiasm, that if for
a moment it leaves me, I have a sort of stomach sensation attached to
all my thoughts, "like those which succeed to the pleasurable operations
of a dose of opium".

Now I make up my mind to a sort of heroism in believing the
progressiveness of all nature, during the present melancholy state of
humanity, and on this subject "I am now writing"; and no work on which I
ever employed myself makes me so happy while I am writing.

I shall remain in London till April. The expenses of my last year made
it necessary for me to exert my industry, and many other good ends are
answered at the same time. Where I next settle I shall continue, and
that must be in a state of retirement and rustication. It is therefore
good for me to have a run of society, and that various and consisting of
marked characters. Likewise, by being obliged to write without much
elaboration, I shall greatly improve myself in naturalness and facility
of style, and the particular subjects on which I write for money are
nearly connected with my future schemes. My mornings I give to
compilations which I am sure cannot be wholly useless, and for which, by
the beginning of April I shall have earned nearly £150. My evenings to
the "Theatres", as I am to conduct a sort of Dramaturgy or series of
Essays on the Drama, both its general principles, and likewise in
reference to the present state of the English Theatres. This I shall
publish in the "Morning Post". My attendance on the theatres costs me
nothing, and Stuart, the Editor, covers my expenses in London. Two
mornings, and one whole day, I dedicate to these Essays on the possible
progressiveness of man, and on the principles of population. In April I
retire to my greater works,--"The Life of Lessing". My German chests are
arrived, but I have them not yet, but expect them from Stowey daily;
when they come I shall send a letter.

I have seen a good deal of Godwin, who has just published a Novel. I
like him for thinking so well of Davy. He talks of him every where as
the most extraordinary of human beings he had ever met with. I cannot
say that, for I know "one" whom I feel to be the superior, but I never
met with so extraordinary a "young man". I have likewise dined with
Horne Tooke. He is a clear-headed old man, as every man must needs be
who attends to the real import of words, but there is a sort of
charlatanry in his manner that did not please me. He makes such a
mystery out of plain and palpable things, and never tells you any thing
without first exciting, and detaining your curiosity. But it were a bad
heart that could not pardon worse faults than these in the author of
"The Diversions of Purley".

Believe me, my dear sir, with much affection



Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.

[Footnote 1: Letter CV follows our No. 88.]


21, Buckingham Street, Feb. 1800.

My dear sir,

Your brother's health (Mr. Thomas Wedgwood) outweighs all other
considerations. Beyond a doubt he has made himself acquainted with the
degree of heat which he is to experience there (the West Indies). The
only objections that I see are so obvious, that it is idle in me to
mention them: the total want of men with whose pursuits your brother can
have a fellow feeling: the length and difficulty of the return, in case
of a disappointment; and the necessity of sea-voyages to almost every
change of scenery. I will not think of the yellow fever; that I hope is
quite out of all probability. Believe me, my dear friend, I have some
difficulty in suppressing all that is within me of affection and grief.
God knows my heart, wherever your brother is, I shall follow him in
spirit; follow him with my thoughts and most affectionate wishes.

I read your letter, and did as you desired me. ---- [1] is very cool to
me. Whether I have still any of the leaven of the "Citizen," and
visionary about me--too much for his present zeal, or whether he is
incapable of attending * * * * As to his views, he is now gone to
Cambridge to canvass for a Fellowship in Trinity Hall. Mackintosh has
kindly written to Dr. Lawrence, who is very intimate with the Master,
and he has other interest. He is also trying hard, and in expectation of
a Commissionership of Bankruptcy, and means to pursue the law with all
ardour and steadiness. As to the state of his mind, it is that which it
was and will be. God love him! He has a most incurable forehead. ---- [2]
called on him and looking on his table, saw by accident a letter
directed to himself.

Said he, "Why ---- [3] what letter is this for me? and from ----." [4]
"Yes I have had it some time."
"Why did you not give it me?"
"Oh, it wants some explanation first. You must not read it now, for I
can't give you the explanation now."
And ----,[5] who you know is a right easy-natured man, has not been able
to get his own letter from him to this hour! Of his success at
Cambridge, Caldwell, is doubtful, or more than doubtful. * * *

So much of ----.[6] All that I know, and all I suspect that is to be
known. A kind, gentlemanly, affectionate hearted man, possessed of an
absolute talent for industry. Would to God, he had never heard of

I have been three times to the House of Commons; each time earlier than
the former; and each time hideously crowded. The two first days the
debate was put off. Yesterday I went at a quarter before eight, and
remained till three this morning, and then sat writing and correcting
other men's writing till eight--a good twenty four hours of unpleasant
activity! I have not felt myself sleepy yet. Pitt and Fox completely
answered my pre-formed ideas of them. The elegance and high finish of
Pitt's periods, even in the most sudden replies, is "curious," but that
is all. He argues but so so, and does not reason at all. Nothing is
rememberable of what he says. Fox possesses all the full and overflowing
eloquence of a man of clear head, clear heart, and impetuous feelings.
He is to my mind a great orator; all the rest that spoke were mere
creatures. I could make a better speech myself than any that I heard,
except Pitt and Fox. I reported that part of Pitt's which I have
enclosed in brackets, not that I report ex-officio, but my curiosity
having led me there, I did Stuart a service by taking a few notes.

I work from morning to night, but in a few weeks I shall have completed
my purpose, and then adieu to London for ever. We newspaper scribes are
true galley-slaves. When the high winds of events blow loud and frequent
then the sails are hoisted, or the ship drives on of itself. When all is
calm and sunshine then to our oars. Yet it is not unflattering to a
man's vanity to reflect that what he writes at twelve at night, will
before twelve hours are over, have perhaps, five or six thousand
readers! To trace a happy phrase, good image, or new argument, running
through the town and sliding into all the papers. Few wine merchants can
boast of creating more sensation. Then to hear a favourite and
often-urged argument, repeated almost in your own particular phrases, in
the House of Commons; and, quietly in the silent self-complacence of
your own heart, chuckle over the plagiarism, as if you were monopolist
of all good reasons. But seriously, considering that I have newspapered
it merely as means of subsistence, while I was doing other things, I
have been very lucky. "The New Constitution; The Proposal for Peace; The
Irish Union;" etc. etc.; they are important in themselves, and excellent
vehicles for general truths. I am not ashamed of what I have written.

I desired Poole to send you all the papers antecedent to your own; I
think you will like the different analyses of the French constitution. I
have attended Mackintosh's lectures regularly; he was so kind as to send
me a ticket, and I have not failed to profit by it.

I remain, with grateful and most affectionate esteem,

Your faithful friend


Josiah Wedgwood, Esq.[7]

[Footnote 1: Basil Montagu.]

[Footnote 2: John Pinney.]

[Footnote 3: Montagu.]

[Footnote 4: Wordsworth.]

[Footnote 5: Pinney.]

[Footnote 6: Montagu.]

[Footnote 7: Letters CVI-CIX follow 89.]


March, 1800.

If I had the least love of money I could make almost sure of £2,000 a
year, for Stuart has offered me half shares in the two papers, the
"Morning Post" and "Courier", if I would devote myself with him to them.
But I told him that I would not give up the country, and the lazy
reading of old folios for two thousand times two thousand pound--in
short that beyond £250 a year I considered money as a real evil.--

I think there are but two good ways of writing--one for immediate and
wide impression, though transitory--the other for permanence. Newspapers
are the first--the best one can do is the second. That middle class of
translating books is neither the one nor the other. When I have settled
myself "clear", I shall write nothing for money but for the newspaper.
You of course will not hint a word of Stuart's offer to me. He has
behaved with abundant honour and generosity.



Coleridge had determined not to live in London; his engagement with
Stuart he regarded as only a temporary shift to clear off some debt
which he had incurred in his visit to Germany. After a short stay with
Lamb ("Ainger", i, 113), and a tour to the North to see Wordsworth (J.
Dykes Campbell's "Life", 113), he returned to Stowey, writing to Godwin
on 21st May.


Wednesday, May 21, 1800.

Dear Godwin,

I received your letter this morning, and had I not, still I am almost
confident that I should have written to you before the end of the week.
Hitherto the translation of the "Wallenstein" has prevented me, not that
it engrossed my time, but that it wasted and depressed my spirits, and
left a sense of wearisomeness and disgust which unfitted me for anything
but sleeping or immediate society. I say this because I ought to have
written to you first; yet, as I am not behind you in affectionate
esteem, so I would not be thought to lag in those outward and visible
signs that both show and verify the inward spiritual grace. Believe me,
you recur to my thoughts frequently, and never without pleasure, never
without my making out of the past a little day-dream for the future. I
left Wordsworth on the 4th of this month; if I cannot procure a suitable
house at Stowey I return to Cumberland and settle at Keswick, in a house
of such prospect that if, according to you and Hume, impressions
constitute our being, I shall have a tendency to become a god, so
sublime and beautiful will be the series of my visual existence. But,
whether I continue here or migrate thither, I shall be in a beautiful
country, and have house-room and heart-room for you, and you must come
and write your next work at my house. My dear Godwin! I remember you
with so much pleasure, and our conversations so distinctly, that, I
doubt not, we have been mutually benefited; but as to your poetic and
physiopathic feelings, I more than suspect that dear little Fanny and
Mary have had more to do in that business than I. Hartley sends his love
to Mary. [1] "What, and not to Fanny?" "Yes, and to Fanny, but I'll
'have' Mary." He often talks about them.

My poor Lamb, how cruelly afflictions crowd upon him! I am glad that you
think of him as I think: he has an affectionate heart, a mind "sui
generis"; his taste acts so as to appear like the unmechanic simplicity
of an instinct; in brief, he is worth an hundred men of mere talents.
Conversation with the latter tribe is like the use of leaden bells--one
wearies by exercise. Lamb every now and then "irradiates", and the beam,
though single and fine as a hair, yet is rich with colours, and I both
see and feel it. In Bristol I was much with Davy, almost all day. He
always talks of you with great affection, and defends you with a
friendly zeal. If I settle at Keswick he will be with me in the fall of
the year, and so must you: and let me tell you, Godwin, that four such
men as you, I, Davy, and Wordsworth, do not meet together in one house
every day in the year--I mean four men so distinct with so many
sympathies. I received yesterday a letter from Southey. He arrived at
Lisbon after a prosperous voyage, on the last day of April; his letter
to me is dated May-Day. He girds up his loins for a great history of
Portugal, which will be translated into Portuguese in the first year of
the Lusitanian Republic.

Have you seen Mrs. Robinson [2] lately--how is she? Remember me in the
kindest and most respectful phrases to her. I wish I knew the
particulars of her complaint; for Davy has discovered a perfectly new
acid by which he has restored the use of limbs to persons who had lost
it for many years (one woman nine years), in cases of supposed
rheumatism. At all events, Davy says, it can do no harm in Mrs.
Robinson's case, and, if she will try it, he will make up a little
parcel and write her a letter of instructions, etc. Tell her, and it is
the truth, that Davy is exceedingly delighted with the two poems in the

N.B. Did you get my attempt at a tragedy from Mrs. Robinson?

To Mrs. Smith I am about to write a letter, with a book; be so kind as
to inform me of her direction.

Mrs. Inchbald I do not like at all; every time I recollect her I like
her less. That segment of a look at the corner of her eye--O God in
heaven! it is so cold and cunning. Through worlds of wildernesses I
would run away from that look, that "heart-picking" look! 'Tis
marvellous to me that you can like that woman.

I shall remain here about ten days for certain. If you have leisure and
inclination in that time, write; if not, I will write to you where I am
going, or at all events whither I am gone.

God bless you, and

Your sincerely affectionate


Mr. T. Poole's,

N[ether] Stowey, Bridgwater.

Sara desires to be remembered kindly to you, and sends a kiss to Fanny,
and "dear meek little Mary."

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Shelley.]

[Footnote 2: The celebrated Perdita. She died in the following

Next month Coleridge wrote to Davy.


Saturday Morning, Mr. T. Poole's, Nether Stowey, Somerset.

My dear Davy,

I received a very kind letter from Godwin, in which he says that he
never thinks of you but with a brother's feeling of love and
expectation. Indeed, I am sure he does not.

I think of translating Blumenbach's Manual of Natural History: it is
very well written, and would, I think, be useful both to students, as an
admirable direction to their studies, and to others it would supply a
general knowledge of the subject. I will state the contents of the book:
1. Of the naturalia in general, and their divisions into three kingdoms.
2. Of organised bodies in general. 3. Of animals in general. 4. Of the
mammalia. 5. Birds. 6. Amphibious. 7. Fishes. 8. Insects. 9. Worms. 10.
Plants. 11. Of minerals in general. 12. Of stones and earthy fossils.
13. Of mineral salts. 14. Combustible minerals. 15. Of metals. 16.
Petrifactions. At the end there is an alphabetical index, so that it is
at once a natural history and a dictionary of natural history. To each
animal, etc., all the European names are given, with of course the
scientific characteristics. I have the last edition, "i.e.", that of
April, 1799. Now, I wish to know from you, whether there is in English
already any work of one volume (this would make 800 pages), that renders
this useless. In short, should I be right in advising Longman to
undertake it? Answer me as soon as you conveniently can. Blumenbach has
been no very great discoverer, though he has done some respectable
things in that way, but he is a man of enormous knowledge, and has an
"arranging" head. Ask Beddoes, if you do not know. When you have
leisure, you would do me a great service, if you would briefly state
your metaphysical system of impressions, ideas, pleasures, and pains,
the laws that govern them, and the reasons which induce you to consider
them as essentially distinct from each other. My motive for this request
is the following:--As soon as I "settle", I shall read Spinoza and
Leibnitz, and I particularly wish to know wherein they agree with, and
wherein differ from you. If you will do this, I promise you to send you
the result, and with it my own creed.

God bless you!


Blumenbach's book contains references to all the best writers on each
subject. My friend, T. Poole, begs me to ask what, in your opinion, are
the parts or properties in the oak which tan skins? and is cold water a
complete menstruum for these parts or properties? I understand from
Poole that nothing is so little understood as the chemical theory of
tan, though nothing is of more importance in the circle of manufactures;
in other words, does oak bark give out to cold water all those of its
parts which tan?

Coleridge and his family at last settled down at Greta Hall in July,
1800, and he thus writes to Josiah Wedgwood of the event.


July 24, 1800.

My dear sir,

I find your letter on my arrival at Grasmere, namely, dated on the 29th
of June, since which time to the present, with the exception of the last
few days, I have been more unwell than I have ever been since I left
school. For many days I was forced to keep my bed, and when released
from that incarceration, I suffered most grievously from a brace of
swollen eyelids, and a head into which, on the least agitation, the
blood was felt as rushing in and flowing back again, like the raking of
the tide on a coast of loose stones. However, thank God, I am now coming
about again.

That Tom receives such pleasure from natural scenery strikes me as it
does you. The total incapability which I have found in myself to
associate any but the most languid feelings, with the God-like objects
which have surrounded me, and the nauseous efforts to impress my
admiration into the service of nature, has given me a sympathy with his
former state of health, which I never before could have had. I wish,
from the bottom of my soul, that he may be enjoying similar pleasures
with those which I am now enjoying with all that newness of sensation;
that voluptuous correspondence of the blood and flesh about me with
breeze and sun-heat, which makes convalescence more than repay one for

I parted from Poole with pain and dejection, for him, and for myself in
him. I should have given Stowey a decided preference for a residence. It
was likewise so conveniently situated, that I was in the way of almost
all whom I love and esteem. But there was no suitable house, and no
prospect of a suitable house.

* * * These things would have weighed as nothing, could I have remained
at Stowey, but now they come upon me to diminish my regret. Add to this,
Poole's determination to spend a year or two on the continent, in case
of a peace and his mother's death. God in heaven bless her! I am sure
she will not live long. This is the first day of my arrival at Keswick.
My house is roomy, situated on an eminence, a furlong from the town;
before it an enormous garden, more than two-thirds of which is rented as
a garden for sale articles; but the walks are ours. Completely behind
the house are shrubberies, and a declivity planted with flourishing
trees of ten or fifteen years' growth, at the bottom of which is a most
delightful shaded walk, by the river Greta, a quarter of a mile in
length. The room in which I sit commands from one window the
Bassenthwaite lake, woods, and mountains. From the opposite, the
Derwentwater and fantastic mountains of Borrowdale. Straight before is a
wilderness of mountains, catching and streaming lights and shadows at
all times. Behind the house, and entering into all our views, is

My acquaintances here are pleasant, and at some distance is Sir Guilfred
Lawson's seat, with a very large and expensive library, to which I have
every reason to hope that I shall have free access. But when I have been
settled here a few days longer, I will write you a minute account of my
situation. Wordsworth lives twelve miles distant. In about a year's time
he will probably settle at Keswick likewise. It is no small advantage
here, that for two-thirds of the year we are in complete retirement. The
other third is alive and swarms with tourists of all shapes, and sizes,
and characters. It is the very place I would recommend to a novelist or
farce writer. Besides, at that time of the year there is always hope
that a friend may be among the number and miscellaneous crowd, whom this
place attracts. So much for Keswick.

Have you seen my translation of "Wallenstein". It is a dull heavy play,
but I entertain hopes that you will think the language for the greater
part, natural, and good common sense English; to which excellence, if I
can lay fair claim in any work of poetry or prose, I shall be a very
singular writer, at least. I am now working at my "Introduction of the
Life of Lessing", which I trust will be in the press before Christmas,
that is, the "Introduction", which will be published first. God bless


Josiah Wedgwood, Esq.

To Davy Coleridge wrote on the succeeding day.


Keswick, Friday Evening, July 25, 1800.

My dear Davy

Work hard, and if success do not dance up like the bubbles in the salt
(with the spirit lamp under it), may the Devil and his dam take success!
My dear fellow! from the window before me there is a great "camp" of
mountains. Giants seem to have pitched their tents there. Each mountain
is a giant's tent, and how the light streams from them. Davy! I "ache"
for you to be with us.

W. Wordsworth is such a lazy fellow, that I bemire myself by making
promises for him: the moment I received your letter, I wrote to him. He
will, I hope, write immediately to Biggs and Cottle. At all events,
those poems must not as yet be delivered up to them, because that
beautiful poem, "The Brothers", which I read to you in Paul Street, I
neglected to deliver to you, and that must begin the volume. I trust,
however, that I have invoked the sleeping bard with a spell so potent,
that he will awake and deliver up that sword of Argantyr, which is to
rive the enchanter "Gaudyverse" from his crown to his foot.

What did you think of that case I translated for you from the German?
That I was a well-meaning sutor who had ultra-crepidated[1] with more
zeal than wisdom!! I give myself credit for that word "ultra-
crepidated," it started up in my brain like a creation. I write to
Tobin by this post. Godwin is gone Irelandward, on a visit to Curran,
says the "Morning Post"; to Grattan, writes C. Lamb.

We drank tea the night before I left Grasmere, on the island in that
lovely lake; our kettle swung over the fire, hanging from the branch of
a fir-tree, and I lay and saw the woods, and mountains, and lake all
trembling, and as it were idealized through the suble smoke, which rose
up from the clear, red embers of the fir-apples which we had collected:
afterwards we made a glorious bonfire on the margin, by some elder
bushes, whose twigs heaved and sobbed in the uprushing column of smoke,
and the image of the bonfire, and of us that danced round it, ruddy,
laughing faces in the twilight; the image of this in a lake, smooth as
that sea, to whose waves the Son of God had said, "Peace!" May God, and
all his sons, love you as I do.


Sara desires her kind remembrances. Hartley is a spirit that dances on
an aspen leaf; the air that yonder sallowfaced and yawning tourist is
breathing, is to my babe a perpetual nitrous oxide. Never was more
joyous creature born. Pain with him is so wholly transubstantiated by
the joys that had rolled on before, and rushed on after, that oftentimes
five minutes after his mother has whipt him, he has gone up and asked
her to whip him again.[2]

[Footnote 1: "Ne sutor ultra crepidam."]

[Footnote 2: Letter CX follows No. 94.]

Coleridge was now as enamoured of the Lake District as he had been of
Stowey. On 22nd September he wrote to Godwin.


Monday, Sept. 22, 1800.

Dear Godwin,

I received your letter, and with it the enclosed note,[1] which shall be
punctually re-delivered to you on the first of October.

Your tragedy [2] to be exhibited at Christmas! I have, indeed, merely
read through your letter; so it is not strange that my heart continues
beating out of time. Indeed, indeed Godwin, such a stream of hope and
fear rushed in on me, as I read the sentence, as you would not permit
yourself to feel! If there be anything yet undreamt of in our
philosophy; if it be, or if it be possible, that thought can impel
thought out of the usual limit of a man's own skull and heart; if the
cluster of ideas which constitute an identity, do ever connect and unite
into a greater whole; if feelings could ever propagate themselves
without the servile ministrations of undulating air or reflected light;
I seem to feel within myself a strength and a power of desire that might
dart a modifying, commanding impulse on a whole theatre. What does all
this mean? Alas! that sober sense should know no other way to construe
all this, than by the tame phrase, I wish you success! That which Lamb
informed you is founded on truth. Mr. Sheridan sent, through the medium
of Stuart, a request to Wordsworth to present a tragedy to his stage;
and to me a declaration, that the failure of my piece was owing to my
obstinacy in refusing any alteration. I laughed and Wordsworth smiled;
but my tragedy will remain at Keswick, and Wordsworth's is not likely to
emigrate from Grasmere. Wordsworth's drama is, in its present state, not
fit for the stage, and he is not well enough to submit to the drudgery
of making it so. Mine is fit for nothing, except to excite in the minds
of good men the hope "that the young man is likely to do better." In the
first moments I thought of re-writing it, and sent to Lamb for the copy
with this intent. I read an Act, and altered my opinion, and with it my

Your feelings respecting Baptism are, I suppose, much like mine! At
times I dwell on Man with such reverence, resolve all his follies into
such grand primary laws of intellect, and in such wise so contemplate
them as ever-varying incarnations of the Eternal Life--that the Llama's
dung-pellet, or the cow-tail which the dying Brahmin clutches
convulsively, become sanctified and sublime by the feelings which
cluster round them. In that mood I exclaim, my boys shall be christened!
But then another fit of moody philosophy attacks me. I look at my
doted-on Hartley--he moves, he lives, he finds impulses from within and
from without, he is the darling of the sun and of the breeze. Nature
seems to bless him as a thing of her own. He looks at the clouds, the
mountains, the living beings of the earth, and vaults and jubilates!
Solemn looks and solemn words have been hitherto connected in his mind
with great and magnificent objects only: with lightning, with thunder,
with the waterfall blazing in the sunset. Then I say, shall I suffer him
to see grave countenances and hear grave accents, while his face is
sprinkled? Shall I be grave myself, and tell a lie to him? Or shall I
laugh, and teach him to insult the feelings of his fellow men? Besides,
are we not all in this present hour, fainting beneath the duty of Hope?
From such thoughts I stand up, and vow a book of severe analysis, in
which I shall tell "all" I believe to be truth in the nakedest language
in which it can be told.

My wife is now quite comfortable. Surely you might come and spend the
very next four weeks, not without advantage to both of us. The very
glory of the place is coming on; the local genius is just arraying
himself in his higher attributes. But, above all, I press it because my
mind has been busied with speculations that are closely connected with
those pursuits that have hitherto constituted your utility and
importance: and, ardently as I wish you success on the stage, I yet
cannot frame myself to the thought that you should cease to appear as a
bold moral thinker. I wish you to write a book on the power of words,
and the processes by which human feelings form affinities with them--in
short, I wish you to "philosophize" Horne Tooke's system, and to solve
the great questions--whether there be reason to hold that an action
bearing the semblance of predesigning consciousness may yet be simply
organic, and whether a series of such actions are possible--and close on
the heels of this question would follow the old, "Is logic the essence
of thinking?"--in other words, "Is thinking possible without arbitrary
signs? or how far is the word arbitrary a misnomer? are not words, etc.,
parts and germinations of the plant, and what is the law of their
growth?" In something of this order I would endeavour to destroy the old
antithesis of Words and Things, elevating, as it were, Words into
Things, and living things too. All the nonsense of vibrations, etc., you
would, of course, dismiss.

If what I have here written appear nonsense to you, or common sense in a
harlequinade of "outre" expressions, suspend your judgment till we see
each other.

Yours sincerely,


I was in the country when "Wallenstein" was published. Longman sent me
down half-a-dozen--the carriage back the book was not worth.

[Footnote 1: A loan often pounds.]

[Footnote 2: "Antonio."]

Coleridge had asked Godwin to stand godfather to his child, which
compliment Godwin declined. Hence the passage in the above letter on

Davy now occupied a large part of Coleridge's attention. On 9th October
he wrote:


Thursday night, October 9, 1800.

My dear Davy,

I was right glad, glad with a "stagger" of the heart, to see your
writing again. Many a moment have I had all my France and England
curiosity suspended and lost, looking in the advertisement front column
of the "Morning Post Gazetteer", for "Mr. Davy's Galvanic habitudes of
charcoal. ..." Upon my soul, I believe there is not a letter in those
words round which a world of imagery does not circumvolve; your room,
the garden, the cold bath, the moonlight rocks, Barristed, Moore, and
simple-looking Frere, and dreams of wonderful things attached to your
name--and Skiddaw, and Glaramara, and Eagle Crag, and you, and
Wordsworth, and me, on the top of them! I pray you do write to me
immediately, and tell me what you mean by the possibility of your
assuming a new occupation; [1] have you been successful to the extent of
your expectations in your late chemical inquiries?

In your poem,[2] "impressive" is used for "impressible" or passive, is
it not? If so, it is not English; life "diffusive" likewise is not
English. The last stanza introduces "confusion" into my mind, and
despondency--and has besides been so often said by the materialists,
etc., that it is not worth repeating. If the poem had ended more
originally, in short, but for the last stanza, I will venture to affirm
that there were never so many lines which so uninterruptedly combined
natural and beautiful words with strict philosophic truths, "i.e.",
scientifically philosophic. Of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth,
and seventh stanzas, I am doubtful which is the most beautiful. Do not
imagine that I cling to a fond love of future identity, but the thought
which you have expressed in the last stanzas might be more grandly, and
therefore more consolingly exemplified. I had forgot to say that
sameness and identity are words too etymologically the same to be placed
so close to each other.

As to myself, I am doing little worthy the relation. I write for Stuart
in the "Morning Post", and I am compelled by the god Pecunia, which was
one name of the supreme Jupiter, to give a volume of letters from
Germany, which will be a decent "lounge" book, and not an atom more. The
"Christabel" was running up to 1,300 lines, and was so much admired by
Wordsworth, that he thought it indelicate to print two volumes with his
name, in which so much of another man's was included; and which was of
more consequence, the poem was in direct opposition to the very purpose
for which the lyrical ballads were published, viz., an experiment to see
how far those passions which alone give any value to extraordinary
incidents were capable of interesting in and for themselves in the
incidents of common life. We mean to publish the "Christabel",
therefore, with a long blank-verse poem of Wordsworth's, entitled "The
Pedlar".[3] I assure you I think very differently of "Christabel". I
would rather have written "Ruth", and "Nature's Lady",[4] than a million
such poems. But why do I calumniate my own spirit by saying I would
rather? God knows it is as delightful to me that they "are" written. I
"know" that at present, and I "hope" that it "will" be so; my mind has
"disciplined" itself into a willing exertion of its powers, without any
reference to their comparative value.

I cannot speak favourably of W.'s health, but indeed he has not done
common justice to Dr. Beddoes's kind prescriptions. I saw his
countenance darken, and all his hopes vanish, when he saw the
"prescriptions"--his "scepticism" concerning medicines! nay, it is not
enough "scepticism"! Yet, now that peas and beans are over, I have hopes
that he will in good earnest make a fair and full trial. I rejoice with
sincere joy at Beddoes's recovery.

Wordsworth is fearful you have been much teazed by the printers on his
account, but you can sympathise with him. The works which I gird myself
up to attack as soon as money concerns will permit me, are the "Life of
Lessing", and the "Essay on Poetry". The latter is still more at my
heart than the former: its title would be an essay on the elements of
poetry--it would in reality be a "disguised" system of morals and

When you write, and do write soon, tell me how I can get your essay on
the nitrous oxide. If you desired Johnson to have one sent to
Lackington's, to be placed in Mr. Crosthwaite's monthly parcel for
Keswick, I should receive it. Are your galvanic discoveries important?
What do they lead to? All this is "ultra crepidation", but would to
heaven I had as much knowledge as I have sympathy! My wife and children
are well; the baby was dying some weeks ago, so the good people would
have it baptized; his name is Derwent Coleridge, so called from the
river, for fronting our house the Greta runs into the Derwent. Had it
been a girl, the name should have been Greta. By the by, Greta, or
rather Grieta, is exactly the Cocytus of the Greeks; the word, literally
rendered in modern English, is, "The loud Lamenter;" to griet, in the
Cambrian dialect, signifying to roar aloud for grief or pain, and it
does "roar" with a vengeance!

I will say nothing about Spring--a thirsty man tries to think of
anything but the stream when he knows it to be ten miles off!

God bless you! Your most affectionate


Another letter to Godwin at this time indicates that Coleridge was still
expecting to be able to finish "Christabel", which as a completed poem,
Coleridge, as we have already seen, calculated would run up to 1,300

[Footnote 1: No doubt the leaving of the Pneumatic for the Royal

[Footnote 2: That entitled, "Written after Recovery from a Dangerous
Illness." It is to be found in the "Memoirs of his Life", vol. i, p.
390. Coleridge's critical remarks apply to it as it was first written;
the words objected to are not to be found in it in its corrected printed

[Footnote 1: A name changed to "The Excursion".]

[Footnote 2: "Three years she grew in sun and shower."]

[Footnote 5: Letter CXI is our 96.]


Monday, Oct. 13, 1800.

Dear Godwin,

I have been myself too frequently a grievous delinquent in the article
of letter-writing to feel any inclination to reproach my friends when,
peradventure, they have been long silent. But, this out of the question,
I did not expect a speedier answer; for I had anticipated the
circumstances which you assign as the causes of your delay.

An attempt to finish a poem of mine for insertion in the second volume
of the "Lyrical Ballads", has thrown me so fearfully back in my bread
and beef occupations, that I shall scarcely be able to justify myself in
putting you to the expense of the few lines which I may be able to
scrawl in the present paper--but some parts in your letter interested me
deeply, and I wished to tell you so. First, then, you know Kemble, and I
do not. But my conjectural judgments concerning his character lead me to
persuade an absolute passive obedience to his opinion, and this, too,
because I would leave to every man his own trade. "Your" trade has been,
in the present instance, "first" to furnish a wise pleasure to your
fellow-beings in general, and, "secondly", to give Mr. Kemble and his
associates the power of delighting that part of your fellow-beings
assembled in a theatre. As to what relates to the first point, I should
be sorry indeed if greater men than Mr. Kemble could induce you to alter
a "but" to a "yet" contrary to your own convictions. Above all things,
an author ought to be sincere to the public; and, when William Godwin
stands in the title-page, it implies that W. G. approves that which
follows. Besides, the mind and finer feelings are blunted by such
obsequiousness. But in the theatre it is Godwin and Co. "ex professo". I
should regard it in almost the same light as if I had written a song for
Haydn to compose and Mara to sing; I know, indeed, what is poetry, but I
do not know so well as he and she what will suit his notes or her voice.
That actors and managers are often wrong is true, but still their trade
is "their" trade, and the presumption is in favour of their being right.
For the press, I should wish you to be solicitously nice; because you
are to exhibit before a larger and more respectable multitude than a
theatre presents to you, and in a new part, that of a poet employing his
philosophical knowledge practically. If it be possible, come, therefore,
and let us discuss every page and every line.

Now for something which, I would fain believe, is still more important,
namely, the propriety of your future philosophical speculations. Your
second objection, derived from the present "ebb" of opinion, will be
best answered by the fact that Mackintosh and his followers have the
"flow". This is greatly in your favour, for mankind are at present gross
reasoners. They reason in a perpetual antithesis; Mackintosh is an
oracle, and Godwin therefore a fool. Now it is morally impossible that
Mackintosh and the sophists of his school can retain this opinion. You
may well exclaim with Job, "O that my adversary would write a book!"
When he publishes, it will be all over with him, and then the minds of
men will incline strongly to those who would point out in intellectual
perceptions a source of moral progressiveness. Every man in his heart is
in favour of your general principles. A party of dough-baked democrats
of fortune were weary of being dissevered from their fellow rich men.
They want to say something in defence of turning round. Mackintosh puts
that something into their mouths, and for awhile they will admire and
be-praise him. In a little while these men will have fallen back into
the ranks from which they had stepped out, and life is too melancholy a
thing for men in general for the doctrine of unprogressiveness to remain
popular. Men cannot long retain their faith in the Heaven "above" the
blue sky, but a Heaven they will have, and he who reasons best on the
side of the universal wish will be the most popular philosopher. As to
your first objection, that you are a logician, let me say that your
habits are analytic, but that you have not read enough of travels,
voyages, and biography--especially men's lives of themselves--and you
have too soon submitted your notions to other men's censures in
conversation. A man should nurse his opinions in privacy and
self-fondness for a long time, and seek for sympathy and love, not for
detection or censure. Dismiss, my dear fellow, your theory of Collision
of Ideas, and take up that of Mutual Propulsion. I wish to write more,
and state to you a lucrative job, which would, I think, be eminently
serviceable to your own mind, and which you would have every opportunity
of doing here. I now express a serious wish that you would come and look
out for a house. Did Stuart remit you £10. on my account?


I would gladly write any verses, but to a prologue or epilogue I am
absolutely incompetent.

Coleridge was a tremendous walker and hill climber. The following letter
narrates a curious adventure in a storm among the mountains.


October 18, 1800.

My dear Davy,

Our mountains northward end in the mountain Carrock--one huge, steep,
enormous bulk of stones, desolately variegated with the heath plant; at
its foot runs the river Calder, and a narrow vale between it and the
mountain Bowscale, so narrow, that in its greatest width it is not more
than a furlong. But that narrow vale is "so" green, "so" beautiful,
there are moods in which a man might weep to look at it, On this
mountain Carrock, at the summit of which are the remains of a vast Druid
circle of stones, I was wandering, when a thick cloud came on, and
wrapped me in such darkness, that I could not see ten yards before me,
and with the cloud a storm of wind and hail, the like of which I had
never before seen and felt. At the very summit is a cone of stones,
built by the shepherds, and called the Carrock Man. Such cones are on
the tops of almost all our mountains, and they are all called "men". At
the bottom of the Carrock Man I seated myself for shelter, but the wind
became so fearful and tyrannous, that I was apprehensive some of the
stones might topple down upon me, so I groped my way farther down and
came to three rocks, placed on this wise 1/3\2*** each one supported by
the other like a child's house of cards, and in the hollow and screen
which they made, I sate for a long while sheltered, as if I had been in
my own study in which I am now writing: there I sate with a total
feeling worshipping the power and "eternal link" of energy. The darkness
vanished as by enchantment; far off, far, far off to the south, the
mountains of Glaramara and Great Gable and their family appeared
distinct, in deepest, sablest "blue". I rose, and behind me was a
rainbow bright as the brightest. I descended by the side of a torrent,
and passed, or rather crawled (for I was forced to descend on all
fours), by many a naked waterfall, till fatigued and hungry (and with a
finger almost broken, and which remains swelled to the size of two
fingers), I reached the narrow vale, and the single house nestled in ash
and sycamores. I entered to claim the universal hospitality of this
country; but instead of the life and comfort usual in these lonely
houses, I saw dirt, and every appearance of misery--a pale woman sitting
by a peat fire. I asked her for bread and milk, and she sent a small
child to fetch it, but did not rise herself. I ate very heartily of the
black, sour bread, and drank a bowl of milk, and asked her to permit me
to pay her. "Nay," says she, "we are not so scant as that--you are right
welcome; but do you know any help for the rheumatics, for I have been so
long ailing that I am almost fain to die?" So I advised her to eat a
great deal of mustard, having seen in an advertisement something about
essence of mustard curing the most obstinate cases of rheumatism. But do
write me, and tell me some cure for the rheumatism; it is in her
shoulders, and the small of her back chiefly. I wish much to go off with
some bottles of stuff to the poor creature. I should walk the ten miles
as ten yards. With love and honour,

My dear Davy, yours,


[Footnote 1: Letter CXII is our 98.]

The next letter relates how Coleridge wrote the Second Part of
"Christabel", which had been composed before 4th October (Dorothy
Wordsworth's "Journals", i, 51).


Keswick, Nov. 1, 1800.

My dear Sir,

I would fain believe that the experiment which your brother has made in
the West Indies is not wholly a discouraging one. If a warm climate did
nothing but only prevented him from getting worse, it surely evidenced
some power; and perhaps a climate equally favourable in a country of
more various interest, Italy, or the South of France, may tempt your
brother to make a longer trial. If (disciplining myself into silent
cheerfulness) I could be of any comfort to him by being his companion
and attendant, for two or three months, on the supposition that he
should wish to travel, and was at a loss for a companion more fit, I
would go with him with a willing affection. You will easily see, my dear
friend, that I say this only to increase the range of your brother's
choice--for even in choosing there is some pleasure.

There happen frequently little odd coincidences in time, that recall
momentary faith in the notion of sympathies acting in absence. I heard
of your brother's return, for the first time, on Monday last, the day on
which your letter is dated, from Stoddart. Had it rained on my naked
skin I could not have felt more strangely. The 300 or 400 miles that are
between us seemed converted into a moral distance; and I knew that the
whole of this silence I was myself accountable for; for I ended my last
letter by promising to follow it with a second and longer one, before
you could answer the first. But immediately on my arrival in this
country I undertook to finish a poem which I had begun, entitled
"Christabel", for a second volume of the "Lyrical Ballads". I tried to
perform my promise, but the deep unutterable disgust which I had
suffered in the translation of the accursed "Wallenstein", seemed to
have stricken me with barrenness; for I tried and tried, and nothing
would come of it. I desisted with a deeper dejection than I am willing
to remember. The wind from the Skiddaw and Borrowdale was often as loud
as wind need be, and many a walk in the clouds in the mountains did I
take; but all would not do, till one day I dined out at the house of a
neighbouring clergyman, and some how or other drank so much wine, that I
found some effort and dexterity requisite to balance myself on the
hither edge of sobriety. The next day my verse-making faculties returned
to me, and I proceeded successfully, till my poem grew so long, and in
Wordsworth's opinion so impressive, that he rejected it from his volume,
as disproportionate both in size and merit, and as discordant in its
character. In the mean time I had gotten myself entangled in the old
sorites of the old sophist,--procrastination. I had suffered my
necessary businesses to accumulate so terribly, that I neglected to
write to any one, till the pain I suffered from not writing made me
waste as many hours in dreaming about it as would have sufficed for the
letter writing of half a life. But there is something beside time
requisite for the writing of a letter--at least with me. My situation
here is indeed a delightful situation; but I feel what I have lost--feel
it deeply--it recurs more often and more painfully than I had
anticipated, indeed so much so, that I scarcely ever feel myself
impelled, that is to say, pleasurably impelled to write to Poole. I used
to feel myself more at home in his great windy parlour than in my own
cottage. We were well suited to each other--my animal spirits corrected
his inclination to melancholy; and there was something both in his
understanding and in his affections, so healthy and manly, that my mind
freshened in his company, and my ideas and habits of thinking acquired
day after day more of substance and reality. Indeed, indeed, my dear,
sir, with tears in my eyes, and with all my heart and soul, I wish it
were as easy for us all to meet as it was when you lived at Upcott. Yet
when I revise the step I have taken, I know not how I could have acted
otherwise than I did act. Everything I promised myself in this country
has answered far beyond my expectation. The room in which I write
commands six distinct landscapes--the two lakes, the vale, the river and
mountains, and mists, and clouds and sunshine, make endless
combinations, as if heaven and earth were for ever talking to each
other. Often when in a deep study, I have walked to the window and
remained there looking without seeing; all at once the lake of Keswick
and the fantastic mountains of Borrowdale, at the head of it, have
entered into my mind, with a suddenness as if I had been snatched out of
Cheapside and placed for the first time, in the spot where I stood--and
that is a delightful feeling--these fits and trances of novelty received
from a long known object. The river Greta flows behind our house,
roaring like an untamed son of the hills, then winds round and glides
away in the front, so that we live in a peninsula. But besides this
etherial eye-feeding we have very substantial conveniences. We are close
to the town, where we have respectable and neighbourly acquaintance, and
a most sensible and truly excellent medical man. Our garden is part of a
large nursery garden, which is the same to us and as private as if the
whole had been our own, and thus too we have delightful walks without
passing our garden gates. My landlord who lives in the sister house, for
the two houses are built so as to look like one great one, is a modest
and kind man, of a singular character. By the severest economy he raised
himself from a carrier into the possession of a comfortable
independence. He was always very fond of reading, and has collected
nearly 500 volumes, of our most esteemed modern writers, such as Gibbon,
Hume, Johnson, etc. etc. His habits of economy and simplicity, remain
with him, and yet so very disinterested a man I scarcely ever knew.
Lately, when I wished to settle with him about the rent of our house, he
appeared much affected, told me that my living near him, and the having
so much of Hartley's company were great comforts to him and his
housekeeper, that he had no children to provide for, and did not mean to
marry; and in short, that he did not want any rent at all from me. This
of course I laughed him out of; but he absolutely refused to receive any
rent for the first half-year, under the pretext that the house was not
completely furnished. Hartley quite lives at the house, and it is as you
may suppose, no small joy to my wife to have a good affectionate
motherly woman divided from her only by a wall. Eighteen miles from our
house lives Sir Guilfred Lawson, who has a princely library, chiefly of
natural history--a kind and generous, but weak and ostentatious sort of
man, who has been abundantly civil to me. Among other raree shows, he
keeps a wild beast or two, with some eagles, etc. The master of the
beasts at the Exeter 'Change, sent him down a large bear,--with it a
long letter of directions, concerning the food, etc. of the animal, and
many solicitations respecting other agreeable quadrupeds which he was
desirous to send to the baronet, at a moderate price, and concluding in
this manner: "and remain your honour's most devoted humble servant, J.P.
Permit me, sir Guilfred, to send you a buffalo and a rhinoceros." As
neat a postscript as I ever heard--the tradesmanlike coolness with which
these pretty little animals occurred to him just at the finishing of his
letter! You will in three weeks see the letters on the 'Rise and
Condition of the German Boors'. I found it convenient to make up a
volume out of my journey, etc. in North Germany--and the letters (your
name of course erased) are in the printer's hands. I was so weary of
transcribing and composing, that when I found those more carefully
written than the rest, I even sent them off as they were.

*       *       *       *       *

My littlest one is a very stout boy indeed. He is christened by the name
of "Derwent,"--a sort of sneaking affection you see for the poetical and
novellish, which I disguised to myself under the show, that my brothers
had so many children Johns, Jameses, Georges, etc. etc., that a handsome
Christian-like name was not to be had except by encroaching on the names
of my little nephews. If you are at Gunville at Christmas, I hold out
hopes to myself that I shall be able to pass a week with you there. I
mentioned to you at Upcott a kind of comedy that I had committed to
writing in part. This is in the wind.

Wordsworth's second vol. of the 'Lyrical Ballads' will, I hope, and
almost believe, afford you as unmingled pleasure as is in the nature of
a collection of very various poems to afford to one individual mind.
Sheridan has sent to him too--requests him to write a tragedy for Drury
Lane. But W. will not be diverted by anything from the prosecution of
his great work.

Southey's 'Thalaba', in twelve books, is going to the press.

Remember me with great affection to your brother, and present my kindest
respects to Mrs. Wedgwood. Your late governess wanted one thing, which
where there is health is I think indispensable in the moral character of
a young person--a light and cheerful heart. She interested me a good
deal. She appears to me to have been injured by going out of the common
way without any of that imagination, which if it be a Jack o' Lanthorn
to lead us out of our way, is however, at the same time a torch to light
us whither we are going. A whole essay might be written on the danger of
thinking without images. God bless you, my dear sir, and him who is with
grateful and affectionate esteem,

Yours ever,


Josiah Wedgwood.

Coleridge was still in money difficulties, and the following letter is
chiefly about his indebtedness to the Wedgwoods.


November 12, 1800.

My dear sir,

I received your kind letter, with the £20. My eyes are in such a state
of inflammation that I might as well write blindfold, they are so
blood-red. I have had leeches twice, and have now a blister behind my
right ear. How I caught the cold, in the first instance, I can scarcely
guess; but I improved it to its present glorious state, by taking long
walks all the mornings, spite of the wind, and writing late at night,
while my eyes were weak.

I have made some rather curious observations on the rising up of spectra
in the eye, in its inflamed state, and their influence on ideas, etc.,
but I cannot see to make myself intelligible to you. Present my kindest
remembrance to Mrs. W. and your brother. Pray did you ever pay any
particular attention to the first time of your little ones smiling and
laughing? Both I and Mrs. C. have carefully watched our little one, and
noticed down all the circumstances, under which he smiled, and under
which he laughed, for the first six times, nor have we remitted our
attention; but I have not been able to derive the least confirmation of
Hartley's or Darwin's Theory. You say most truly, my dear sir, that a
pursuit is necessary. Pursuit, for even praiseworthy employment, merely
for good, or general good, is not sufficient for happiness, nor fit for

I have not at present made out how I stand in pecuniary ways, but I
believe that I have anticipated on the next year to the amount of Thirty
or Forty pounds, probably more. God bless you, my dear sir, and your

Affectionate friend,


Josiah Wedgwood, Esq.

The publication of the "Wallenstein" had brought on Coleridge the odium
of being an advocate of the German Theatre, at this time identified with
the melo-dramatic sentimentalism of Kotzbue and his school. English
opinion did not then discriminate between a Schiller and a Kotzebue. The
following curious disclaimer appeared in the "Monthly Review" on 18th
November 1800.


Greta Hall, Keswick,

Nov. 18, 1800.

In the review of my translation of Schiller's "Wallenstein" ("Rev". for
October), I am numbered among the partisans of the German theatre. As I
am confident there is no passage in my preface or notes from which such
an opinion can be legitimately formed, and as the truth would not have
been exceeded if the direct contrary had been affirmed, I claim it of
your justice that in your Answers to Correspondents you would remove
this misrepresentation. The mere circumstance of translating a
manuscript play is not even evidence that I admired that one play, much
less that I am a general admirer of the plays in that language.

I remain, etc.,


During the latter half of 1800 Dorothy Wordsworth's "Journal" contains
many entries showing that Coleridge and the Wordsworths were in frequent
communication with each other. Coleridge thought nothing of traversing
the dozen miles between Keswick and Dove Cottage by the highway, or over
the hill passes. Wordsworth and Dorothy, too, went often to Keswick, and
occasionally stayed with the Coleridges ("Grasmere Journals", i, 43-60).

Amid these literary and poetic meetings between the poets and their
families, other correspondents were not forgotten by Coleridge. The
following two letters to Davy indicate that the poets were taking some
interest in science.


Greta Hall, Tuesday night, December 2, 1800.

My dear Davy,

By an accident I did not receive your letter till this evening. I would
that you had added to the account of your indisposition the probable
causes of it. It has left me anxious whether or no you have not exposed
yourself to unwholesome influences in your chemical pursuits. There are
"few" beings both of hope and performance, but few who combine the "are"
and the "will be." For God's sake, therefore, my dear fellow, do not rip
open the bird that lays the golden eggs. I have not received your book.
I read yesterday a sort of medical review about it. I suppose Longman
will send it to me when he sends down the "Lyrical Ballads" to
Wordsworth. I am solicitous to read the latter part. Did there appear to
you any remote analogy between the case I translated from the German
Magazine and the effects produced by your gas? Did Carlisle[1] ever
communicate to you, or has he in any way published his facts concerning
"pain", which he mentioned when we were with him? It is a subject which
"exceedingly interests" me. I want to read something by somebody
expressly on "pain", if only to give an "arrangement" to my own
thoughts, though if it were well treated, I have little doubt it would
revolutionize them. For the last month I have been trembling on through
sands and swamps of evil and bodily grievance. My eyes have been
inflamed to a degree that rendered reading and writing scarcely
possible; and strange as it seems, the act of metre composition, as I
lay in bed, perceptibly affected them, and my voluntary ideas were every
minute passing, more or less transformed into vivid spectra. I had
leeches repeatedly applied to my temples, and a blister behind my
ear--and my eyes are now my own, but in the place where the blister was,
six small but excruciating boils have appeared, and harass me almost
beyond endurance. In the meantime my darling Hartley has been taken with
a stomach illness, which has ended in the yellow jaundice; and this
greatly alarms me. So much for the doleful! Amid all these changes, and
humiliations, and fears, the sense of the Eternal abides in me, and
preserves unsubdued my cheerful faith, that all I endure is full of

At times, indeed, I would fain be somewhat of a more tangible utility
than I am; but so I suppose it is with all of us--one while cheerful,
stirring, feeling in resistance nothing but a joy and a stimulus;
another while drowsy, self-distrusting, prone to rest, loathing our own
self-promises, withering our own hopes--our hopes, the vitality and
cohesion of our being!

I purpose to have 'Christabel' published by itself--this I publish
with confidence--but my travels in Germany come from me now with mortal
pangs. Nothing but the most pressing necessity could have induced
me--and even now I hesitate and tremble. Be so good as to have all that
is printed of 'Christabel' sent to me per post.

Wordsworth has nearly finished the concluding poem. It is of a mild,
unimposing character, but full of beauties to those short-necked men who
have their hearts sufficiently near their heads--the relative distance
of which (according to citizen Tourder, the French translator of
Spallanzani) determines the sagacity or stupidity of all bipeds and

There is a deep blue cloud over the heavens; the lake, and the vale, and
the mountains, are all in darkness; only the 'summits' of all the
mountains in long ridges, covered with snow, are bright to a dazzling
excess. A glorious scene! Hartley was in my arms the other evening,
looking at the sky; he saw the moon glide into a large cloud. Shortly
after, at another part of the cloud, several stars sailed in. Says he,
"Pretty creatures! they are going in to see after their mother moon."

Remember me kindly to King. Write as often as you can; but above all
things, my loved and honoured dear fellow, do not give up the idea of
letting me and Skiddaw see you.

God love you!


Tobin writes me that Thompson [2] has made some lucrative discovery. Do
you know aught about it? Have you seen T. Wedgwood since his return? [3]

[Footnote 1: Afterwards Sir Antony, a distinguished surgeon.]

[Footnote 2: The late Mr. James Thompson, of Clitheroe.]

[Footnote 3: Letter CXIII is our 102; CXIV follows 102]


February 3, 1801.

My dear Davy--

I can scarcely reconcile it to my conscience to make you pay postage for
another letter. O, what a fine unveiling of modern politics it would be
if there were published a minute detail of all the sums received by
Government from the Post establishment, and of all the outlets in which
the sums so received flowed out again; and, on the other hand, all the
domestic affections that had been stifled, all the intellectual progress
that would have been, but is not, on account of the heavy tax, etc.,
etc. The letters of a nation ought to be paid for as an article of
national expense. Well! but I did not take up this paper to flourish
away in splenetic politics. A gentleman resident here, his name Calvert,
an idle, good-hearted, and ingenious man, has a great desire to commence
fellow-student with me and Wordsworth in chemistry. He is an intimate
friend of Wordsworth's, and he has proposed to W. to take a house which
he (Calvert) has nearly built, called Windy Brow, in a delicious
situation, scarce half a mile from Greta Hall, the residence of S. T.
Coleridge, Esq., and so for him (Calvert) to live with them, 'i.e.',
Wordsworth and his sister. In this case he means to build a little
laboratory, etc. Wordsworth has not quite decided, but is strongly
inclined to adopt the scheme, because he and his sister have before
lived with Calvert on the same footing, and are much attached to him:
because my health is so precarious and so much injured by wet, and his
health, too, is like little potatoes, no great things, and therefore
Grasmere ("thirteen" miles from Keswick) is too great a distance for us
to enjoy each other's society, without inconvenience, as much as it
would be profitable for us both: and likewise because he feels it more
necessary for him to have some intellectual pursuit less closely
connected with deep passion than poetry, and is of course desirous, too,
not to be so wholly ignorant of knowledge so exceedingly important.
However, whether Wordsworth come or no, Calvert and I have determined to
begin and go on. Calvert is a man of sense and some originality, and is
besides what is well called a handy man. He is a good practical
mechanic, etc., and is desirous to lay out any sum of money that is
necessary. You know how long, how ardently I have wished to initiate
myself in Chemical science, both for its own sake, and in no small
degree likewise, my beloved friend, that I may be able to sympathize
with all that you do and think. Sympathize blindly with it all I do even
"now", God knows! from the very middle of my heart's heart, but I would
fain sympathize with you in the light of knowledge. This opportunity is
exceedingly precious to me, as on my own account I could not afford the
least additional expense, having been already, by long and successive
illnesses, thrown behindhand, so much, that for the next four or five
months, I fear, let me work as hard as I can, I shall not be able to do
what my heart within me "burns" to do, that is, to "concenter" my free
mind to the affinities of the feelings with words and ideas under the
title of "Concerning Poetry, and the nature of the Pleasures derived
from it". I have faith that I do understand the subject, and I am sure
that if I write what I ought to do on it, the work would supersede all
the books of metaphysics, and all the books of morals too. To whom shall
a young man utter "his pride", if not to a young man whom he loves?

I beg you, therefore, my dear Davy, to write to me a long letter when
you are at leisure, informing me:--Firstly, What books it will be well
for me and Calvert to purchase. Secondly, Directions for a convenient
little laboratory. Thirdly, To what amount apparatus would run in
expense, and whether or no you would be so good as to superintend its
making at Bristol. Fourthly, Give me your advice how to "begin". And,
fifthly, and lastly, and mostly, do send a "drop" of hope to my parched
tongue, that you will, if you can, come and visit me in the spring.
Indeed, indeed, you ought to see this country, this beautiful country,
and then the joy you would send into me!

The shape of this paper will convince you with what eagerness I began
this letter; I really did not see that it was not a sheet.

I have been 'thinking' vigorously during my illness, so that I cannot
say that my long, long wakeful nights have been all lost to me. The
subject of my meditations has been the relations of thoughts to
things--in the language of Hume, of ideas to impressions. I may be truly
described in the words of Descartes: I have been "res cogitans, id est,
dubitans, affirmans, negans, pauca intelligens, multa ignorans, volens,
nolens, imaginans etiam, et sentiens." I please myself with believing
that you will receive no small pleasure from the result of these
broodings, although I expect in you (in some points) a determined
opponent, but I say of my mind in this respect: "Manet imperterritus
ille hostem magnanimum opperiens, et mole sua stat." Every poor fellow
has his proud hour sometimes, and this I suppose is mine.

I am better in every respect than I was, but am still 'very feeble'. The
weather has been woefully against me for the last fortnight, having
rained here almost incessantly. I take quantities of bark, but the
effect is (to express myself with the dignity of science) "x" = 0000000,
and I shall not gather strength, or that little suffusion of bloom which
belongs to my healthy state, till I can walk out.

God bless you, my dear Davy! and

Your ever affectionate friend,


P.S.--An electrical machine, and a number of little nicknacks connected
with it, Mr. Calvert has.--"Write".[1]

[Footnote l: Letter CXV is our 103.]

Josiah Wade, the early Bristol friend of Coleridge, who probably was one
of the three friends who assisted him with funds to start 'The
Watchman', was now intending to travel in Germany. He applied to
Coleridge for advice regarding the mode of travelling, and Coleridge
tendered his counsel in the following characteristic epistle.


March 6, 1801.

My very dear friend,

I have even now received your letter. My habits of thinking and feeling,
have not hitherto inclined me to personify commerce in any such shape,
so as to tempt me to turn pagan, and offer vows to the goddess of our
isle. But when I read that sentence in your letter, "The time will come
I trust, when I shall be able to pitch my tent in your neighbourhood," I
was most potently commanded [1] to a breach of the second
commandment, and on my knees, to entreat the said goddess to touch your
bank notes and guineas with her magical multiplying wand. I could offer
such a prayer for you, with a better conscience than for most men,
because I know that you have never lost that healthy common sense, which
regards money only as the means of independence, and that you would
sooner than most men cry out, enough! enough! To see one's children
secured against want, is doubtless a delightful thing; but to wish to
see them begin the world as rich men, is unwise to ourselves, for it
permits no close of our labours, and is pernicious to them; for it
leaves no motive to their exertions, none of those sympathies with the
industrious and the poor, which form at once the true relish and proper
antidote of wealth.

*     *     * Is not March rather a perilous month for the voyage from
Yarmouth to Hamburg? Danger there is very little, in the packets, but I
know what inconvenience rough weather brings with it; not from my own
feelings, for I am never sea-sick, but always in exceeding high spirits
on board ship, but from what I see in others. But you are an old sailor.
At Hamburg I have not a shadow of acquaintance. My letters of
introduction produced for me, with one exception, viz., Klopstock, the
brother of the poet, no real service, but merely distant and
ostentatious civility. And Klopstock will by this time have forgotten my
name, which indeed he never properly knew, for I could speak only
English and Latin, and he only French and German. At Ratzeburg, 35
English miles N.E. from Hamburg, on the road to Lubec, I resided four
months; and I should hope, was not unbeloved by more than one family,
but this is out of your route. At Gottingen I stayed near five months,
but here I knew only students, who will have left the place by this
time, and the high learned professors, only one of whom could speak
English; and they are so wholly engaged in their academical occupations,
that they would be of no service to you. Other acquaintance in Germany I
have none, and connexion I never had any. For though I was much
entreated by some of the Literati to correspond with them, yet my
natural laziness, with the little value I attach to literary men, as
literary men, and with my aversion from those letters which are to be
made up of studied sense, and unfelt compliments, combined to prevent me
from availing myself of the offer. Herein, and in similar instances,
with English authors of repute, I have ill consulted the growth of my
reputation and fame. But I have cheerful and confident hopes of myself.
If I can hereafter do good to my fellow-creatures as a poet, and as a
metaphysician, they will know it; and any other fame than this, I
consider as a serious evil, that would only take me from out the number
and sympathy of ordinary men, to make a coxcomb of me.

As to the inns or hotels at Hamburg, I should recommend you to some
German inn. Wordsworth and I were at the "Der Wilde Man," and dirty as
it was, I could not find any inn in Germany very much cleaner, except at
Lubec. But if you go to an English inn, for heaven's sake, avoid the
"Shakspeare," at Altona, and the "King of England," at Hamburg. They are
houses of plunder rather than entertainment. "The Duke of York" hotel,
kept by Seaman, has a better reputation, and thither I would advise you
to repair; and I advise you to pay your bill every morning at breakfast
time: it is the only way to escape imposition. What the Hamburg
merchants may be I know not, but the tradesmen are knaves. Scoundrels,
with yellow-white phizzes, that bring disgrace on the complexion of a
bad tallow candle. Now as to carriage, I know scarcely what to advise;
only make up your mind to the very worst vehicles, with the very worst
horses, drawn by the very worst postillions, over the very worst roads,
and halting two hours at each time they change horses, at the very worst
inns; and you have a fair, unexaggerated picture of travelling in North
Germany. The cheapest way is the best; go by the common post wagons, or
stage coaches. What are called extraordinaries, or post-chaises, are
little wicker carts, uncovered, with moveable benches or forms in them,
execrable in every respect. And if you buy a vehicle at Hamburg, you can
get none decent under thirty or forty guineas, and very probably it will
break to pieces on the infernal roads. The canal boats are delightful,
but the porters everywhere in the United Provinces, are an impudent,
abominable, and dishonest race. You must carry as little luggage as you
well can with you, in the canal boats, and when you land, get
recommended to an inn beforehand, and bargain with the porters first of
all, and never lose sight of them, or you may never see your portmanteau
or baggage again.

My Sarah desires her love to you and yours. God bless your dear little
ones! Make haste and get rich, dear friend! and bring up the little
creatures to be playfellows and school-fellows with my little ones!

Again and again, sea serve you, wind speed you, all things turn out good
to you! God bless you,


John Stoddart, a friend of Coleridge, visited him while at Keswick in
the month of October, 1800, and saw the Wordsworths at Grasmere (Dorothy
Wordsworth's 'Journal', i, 55)--It was then that Stoddart obtained a
copy of 'Christabel', and read it shortly afterwards [3] to Sir Walter
Scott, then busy with his 'Border Minstrelsy'. The beauty of
'Christabel' touched Sir Walter's romantic imagination, and echoes of
the poem are discernible in the 'Lay of the Last Minstrel' and the
'Bridal of Tryermain'.

But Coleridge, in spite of many attempts, could not complete the piece,
and had to give up the endeavour. In a letter to Godwin of 25th March
1801, Coleridge thus laments what was practically the end of his career
as a poet:

[Footnote 1: "Tempted," E.R., ii, 18.]

[Footnote 2: Letters CXVI-CXVII follow 104.]

[Footnote 3: In 1802.]


Wednesday, March 25, 1801.

Dear Godwin,

I fear your tragedy [1] will find me in a very unfit state of mind to
sit in judgment on it. I have been during the last three months
undergoing a process of intellectual exsiccation. During my long illness
I had compelled into hours of delight many a sleepless painful hour of
darkness by chasing down metaphysical game, and since then I have
continued the hunt, till I found myself, unaware, at the root of pure
mathematics, and up that tall smooth tree, whose few poor branches are
all at the very summit, am I climbing by pure adhesive strength of arms
and thighs, still slipping down, still renewing my ascent. You would not
know me! All sounds of similitude keep at such a distance from each
other in my mind, that I have forgotten how to make a rhyme. I look at
the mountains (that visible God Almighty that looks in at all my
windows)--I look at the mountains only for the curves of their outlines;
the stars, as I behold them, form themselves into triangles; and my
hands are scarred with scratches from a cat, whose back I was rubbing in
the dark in order to see whether the sparks from it were refrangible by
a prism. The Poet is dead in me; my imagination (or rather the Somewhat
that had been imaginative) lies like a cold snuff on the circular rim of
a brass candlestick, without even a stink of tallow to remind you that
it was once clothed and mitred with flame. That is past by. I was once a
volume of gold leaf, rising and riding on every breath of Fancy, but I
have beaten myself back into weight and density, and now I sink in
quicksilver and remain squat and square on the earth amid the hurricane
that makes oaks and straws join in one dance, fifty yards high in the

However I will do what I can. Taste and feeling have I none, but what I
have, give I unto thee. But I repeat that I am unfit to decide on any
but works of severe logic.

I write now to beg that, if you have not sent your tragedy, you may
remember to send 'Antonio' with it, which I have not yet seen, and
likewise my Campbell's 'Pleasures of Hope', which Wordsworth wishes to

Have you seen the second volume of the 'Lyrical Ballads', and the
preface prefixed to the first? I should judge of a man's heart and
intellect precisely according to the degree and intensity of the
admiration with which he read these poems. Perhaps, instead of heart I
should have said Taste; but, when I think of 'The Brothers', of 'Ruth',
and of 'Michael', I recur to the expression and am enforced to say
heart. If I die, and the booksellers will give you anything for ray
life, be sure to say, "Wordsworth descended on him like the [Greek:
Gnothi seauton] from heaven; by showing to him what true poetry was, he
made him know that he himself was no Poet."

In your next letter you will, perhaps, give me some hints respecting
your prose plans.

God bless you, and


Greta Hall, Keswick.

P.S.--What is a fair price--what might an author of reputation fairly
ask from a bookseller, for one edition, of a thousand copies, of a
five-shilling book?

[I congratulate you on the settlement of Davy in London. I hope that his
enchanting manners will not draw too many idlers about him, to harass
and vex his mornings.]

[Footnote: 1 This tragedy was entitled Abbas.]



I will write for "The Permanent", or not at all." (Letter to Sir G.
Beaumont, "Coleorton Memorials", ii, 162.) "Woe is me! that at 46 I am
under the necessity of appearing as a lecturer, and obliged to regard
every hour given to "The Permanent", whether as poet or philosopher, an
hour stolen from others as well as from my own maintenance." (Letter to
Mudford, Brandl's "Life of Coleridge", p. 359.)

*       *       *       *       *

The conventional view of Coleridge that opium killed the poet in him
does not commend itself to the scientific consciousness. Opium has the
tendency to stimulate rather than to deaden the poetic imagination, as
the history of De Quincey can testify; and one of Coleridge's most
imaginative pieces, "Kubla Khan", is said to have been occasioned by an
overdose of the drug.

The poet in Coleridge was extinguished by a very different thing than
opium. Coleridge's poetic faculty was suspended by the loss of hope and
also by the growth of his intellect, by the development of his reasoning
and philosophic powers, and by the multiplication of the interests which
appealed to him, and the many problems which presented themselves for
his solution. He was, constitutionally, the most comprehensive mind of a
new age, and just because he was its greatest thinker he was perplexed
and attracted by the majority of the problems which arose around him,
and which he himself helped to raise. Poetry, the poetry of the Romantic
Movement, in which he far excelled all his contemporaries, was no longer
capable of grappling with the philosophic, theological, political and
social questions now on the horizon or which Coleridge felt would soon,
by the development of international affinities, be on the horizon of the
English mind. Hence Coleridge's thirst for the new lore of the German
philosophy, which seemed to him to supply a want in the Intellectualism
of his native country.

In spite of this, Coleridge knew that in being deserted by the poetic
spirit, he was leaving a high artistic realm for one of lesser glory;
and hence his letter to Godwin of 25th March 1801, and, later on, his
dirge over himself in "Dejection".

Coleridge, in choosing to follow Wordsworth to the Lake District in
preference to remaining at Nether Stowey with Poole, had experienced
some contrition, for Poole, after all, was a more profound appreciator
of his many-sidedness and the Cervantean vein of his character than
Wordsworth, who appreciated Coleridge only from that side of him which
resembled himself.

Tom Poole regretted, like others, that Coleridge had no permanent
calling, or could not fix upon an undertaking worthy of his powers.
Poole looked upon Coleridge's devotion to journalism while he was
engaged upon the "Morning Post" as a "turning aside of his powers from
higher ends" ("T. Poole and his Friends", ii, 2), and wished him to give
himself up to something more "permanently" useful to society ("T. Poole
and his Friends", ii, 3). The correspondence of Coleridge and Poole from
1800 onwards, often turns upon the subject ("T. Poole and his Friends",
ii, 66, 68, 122, 177, 187, 205, 226, 247); and Coleridge admitted a
"distracting manifoldness" in his objects and attainments ("T. Poole and
his Friends", ii, 122). "You," said Coleridge, "are nobly employed--most
worthy of you. "You" are made to endear yourself to mankind as an
immediate benefactor: I must throw my bread on the waters" ("T. Poole
and his Friends", ii, 122).

While engaged in these argumentations with his best friend, Coleridge
was striving to think out in his deep philosophic and musing mind many
problems of the time; and there arose in his imagination the Idea of the
Permanent. He was henceforth no longer the Poet of Romanticism, whose
significance he had exhausted, but the philosopher of the Permanent,
which presented itself as a splendid possibility in all departments of
human knowledge and activity. In his prose works and letters we find a
continual reference to what Coleridge now calls "The Permanent"--the
permanent principles of Morals, Philosophy, and Religion, and of the
permanent principles of criticism as applied to Poetry and the Fine
Arts. Everything is now adjusted by Coleridge to this idea. Art, morals,
religion, and politics are tried by its standard, to find if they are
founded in the permanent principles of human nature.

It is in the light of this Idea, the ideal of Coleridge's later life,
that we must judge Coleridge and weigh him. To continue to see in opium
the sole or even the principal cause of his failure, is to misjudge him
altogether. To compare him with others of different powers who
accomplished more in one direction in the matter of literary output,
with Sir Walter Scott or Byron, for instance, is misleading. It is the
man of profound genius, who in his own time, is feeling on all sides
into the Future, who is least likely to give forth "finished
productions," as they are called, in which the subjects of which they
treat are often exhausted, and please the ear of the Present. Coleridge
is such a man of genius; nearly all his works are fragmentary,
unfinished, suggestive rather than "complete," just because they verge
upon that Transcendentalism which he was the first to make audible to
English ears in his day. Ill health, and opium in conjunction with ill
health, contributed no doubt to enfeeble his utterance; but to assert
that opium was the cause or the main cause of Coleridge's inability to
do what he wanted himself to do, or what his friends and contemporaries
expected him to do, is a gross perversion of the facts of the case.
Coleridge's inability arose from his multiplicity of motive, his
visionary faculty of seeing in the light of a new principle a host of
problems rise up on all sides, all claiming recognition and solution.
"That is the disease of my mind--it is comprehensive in its conceptions,
and wastes itself in the contemplations of the many things which it
might do." (Letter to Poole, 4th January 1799, "Letters", p. 270). A
greater than Coleridge had felt this tendency before him, and created
as its embodiment "Hamlet"; and Coleridge has been called the Hamlet of



On 13th April 1801 Coleridge wrote to Southey the
following letter, and Southey replied in cordial terms,
from which it will be gathered a reconciliation had been
made since the Lloyd and Lamb quarrel. [1]

[Footnote 1: See "Letters", vol. i, 304.]


Greta Hall, Keswick; April 13. 1801.

My dear Southey,

I received your kind letter on the evening before last, and I trust that
this will arrive at Bristol just in time to rejoice with them that
rejoice. Alas! you will have found the dear old place sadly "minus"ed by
the removal of Davy. It is one of the evils of long silence, that when
one recommences the correspondence, one has so much to say that one can
say nothing. I have enough, with what I have seen, and with what I have
done, and with what I have suffered, and with what I have heard,
exclusive of all that I hope and all that I intend--I have enough to
pass away a great deal of time with, were you on a desert isle, and I
your "Friday". But at present I purpose to speak only of myself
relatively to Keswick and to you.

Our house stands on a low hill, the whole front of which is one field
and an enormous garden, nine-tenths of which is a nursery garden. Behind
the house is an orchard, and a small wood on a steep slope, at the foot
of which flows the river Greta, which winds round and catches the
evening lights in the front of the house. In front we have a giant's
camp--an encamped army of tent-like mountains, which by an inverted arch
gives a view of another vale. On our right the lovely vale and the
wedge-shaped lake of Bassenthwaite; and on our left Derwentwater and
Lodore full in view, and the fantastic mountains of Borrodale. Behind us
the massy Skiddaw, smooth, green, high, with two chasms and a tentlike
ridge in the larger. A fairer scene you have not seen in all your
wanderings. Without going from our own grounds we have all that can
please a human being. As to books, my landlord, who dwells next door,[1]
has a very respectable library, which he has put with mine; histories,
encyclopaedias, and all the modern gentry. But then I can have, when I
choose, free access to the princely library of Sir Guilfred Lawson,
which contains the noblest collection of travels and natural history of,
perhaps, any private library in England; besides this, there is the
Cathedral library of Carlisle, from whence I can have any books sent to
me that I wish; in short, I may truly say that I command all the
libraries in the county. ...

Our neighbour is a truly good and affectionate man, a father to my
children, and a friend to me. He was offered fifty guineas for the house
in which we are to live, but he preferred me for a tenant at
twenty-five; and yet the whole of his income does not exceed, I believe,
£200 a year. A more truly disinterested man I never met with; severely
frugal, yet almost carelessly generous; and yet he got all his money as
a common carrier[2], by hard labour, and by pennies.  He is one instance
among many in this country of the salutary effect of the love of
knowledge--he was from a boy a lover of learning. The house is full
twice as large as we want; it hath more rooms in it than Allfoxden; you
might have a bed-room, parlour, study, etc., etc., and there would
always be rooms to spare for your or my visitors. In short, for
situation and convenience,--and when I mention the name of Wordsworth,
for society of men of intellect,--I know no place in which you and Edith
would find yourselves so well suited.

S. T. C.

[Footnote 1: Greta Hall was at this time divided into two houses, which
were afterwards thrown together.]

[Footnote 2: This person, whose name was Jackson, was the "master" in
Wordsworth's poem of 'The Waggoner', the circumstances of which are
accurately correct.]

The remainder of this letter, as well as another of later date, was
filled with a most gloomy account of his own health, to which Southey
refers in the commencement of his reply.


Bristol, July 11, 1801.

Yesterday I arrived, and found your letters; they did depress me, but I
have since reasoned or dreamt myself into more cheerful anticipations. I
have persuaded myself that your complaint is gouty; that good living is
necessary, and a good climate. I also move to the south; at least so it
appears: and if my present prospects ripen, we may yet live under one
roof. ...

You may have seen a translation of "Persius", by Drummond, an M.P. This
man is going ambassador, first to Palermo and then to Constantinople: if
a married man can go as his secretary, it is probable that I shall
accompany him. I daily expect to know. It is a scheme of Wynn's to
settle me in the south, and I am returned to look about me. My salary
will be small--a very trifle; but after a few years I look on to
something better, and have fixed my mind on a consulship. Now, if we go,
you must join us as soon as we are housed, and it will be marvellous if
we regret England. I shall have so little to do, that my time may be
considered as wholly my own: our joint amusements will easily supply us
with all expenses. So no more of the Azores; for we will see the Great
Turk, and visit Greece, and walk up the Pyramids, and ride camels in
Arabia. I have dreamt of nothing else these five weeks. As yet every
thing is so uncertain, for I have received no letter since we landed,
that nothing can be said of our intermediate movements. If we are not
embarked too soon, we will set off as early as possible for Cumberland,
unless you should think, as we do, that Mahomet had better come to the
mountain; that change of all externals may benefit you; and that bad as
Bristol weather is, it is yet infinitely preferable to northern cold and
damp. Meet we must, and will.

You know your old Poems are a third time in the press; why not set forth
a second volume? * * * Your "Christabel", your "Three Graces",[1] which
I remember as the very consummation of poetry. I must spur you to
something, to the assertion of your supremacy; if you have not enough to
muster, I will aid you in any way--manufacture skeletons that you may
clothe with flesh, blood, and beauty; write my best, or what shall be
bad enough to be popular;--we will even make plays "a-la-mode"
Robespierre. * * * Drop all task-work, it is ever unprofitable; the same
time, and one twentieth part of the labour, would produce treble
emolument. For "Thalaba" I received £115; it was just twelve months'
"intermitting" work, and the after-editions are my own. ...

I feel here as a stranger; somewhat of Leonard's feeling. God bless
Wordsworth for that poem![2] What tie have I to England? My London
friends? There, indeed, I have friends. But if you and yours were with
me, eating dates in a garden at Constantinople, you might assert that we
were in the best of all possible places; and I should answer, Amen: and
if our wives rebelled, we would send for the chief of the black eunuchs,
and sell them to the Seraglio. Then should Moses [3] learn Arabic, and we
would know whether there was anything in the language or not. We would
drink Cyprus wine and Mocha coffee, and smoke more tranquilly than ever
we did in the Ship in Small Street.

Time and absence make strange work with our affections; but mine are
ever returning to rest upon you. I have other and dear friends, but none
with whom the whole of my being is intimate--with whom every thought and
feeling can amalgamate. Oh! I have yet such dreams! Is it quite clear
that you and I were not meant for some better star, and dropped, by
mistake, into this world of pounds, shillings, and pence? ...

God bless you!


[Footnote 1: "The Three Graves".]

[Footnote 2: "The Brothers" is the title of this poem.]

[Footnote 3: Hartley Coleridge.]


July 25.

In about ten days we shall be ready to set forward for Keswick; where,
if it were not for the rains, and the fogs, and the frosts, I should,
probably, be content to winter; but the climate deters me. It is
uncertain when I may be sent abroad, or where, except that the south of
Europe is my choice. The appointment hardly doubtful, and the probable
destination Palermo or Naples. We will talk of the future, and dream of
it, on the lake side. * * * I may calculate upon the next six months at
my own disposal; so we will climb Skiddaw this year, and scale Etna the
next; and Sicilian air will keep us alive till Davy has found out the
immortalising elixir, or till we are very well satisfied to do without
it, and be immortalised after the manner of our fathers. My pocket-book
contains more plans than will ever be filled up; but whatever becomes of
those plans, this, at least, is feasible. * * * Poor H----, he has
literally killed himself by the law: which, I believe, kills more than
any disease that takes its place in the bills of mortality. Blackstone
is a needful book, and my Coke is a borrowed one; but I have one law
book whereof to make an auto-da-fe; and burnt he shall be: but whether
to perform that ceremony, with fitting libations, at home, or fling him
down the crater of Etna directly to the Devil, is worth considering at

I must work at Keswick; the more willingly, because with the hope,
hereafter, the necessity will cease. My Portuguese materials must lie
dead, and this embarrasses me. It is impossible to publish any thing
about that country now, because I must one day return there,--to their
libraries and archives; otherwise I have excellent stuff for a little
volume; and could soon set forth a first vol. of my History, either
civil or literary. In these labours I have incurred a heavy and serious
expense. I shall write to Hamilton, and review again, if he chooses to
employ me. * * * It was Cottle who told me that your Poems were
reprint"ing" in a "third" edition: this cannot allude to the "Lyrical
Ballads", because of the number and the participle present. * * * I am
bitterly angry to see one new poem [1] smuggled into the world in the
"Lyrical Ballads", where the 750 purchasers of the first can never get
at it. At Falmouth I bought Thomas Dermody's "Poems", for old
acquaintance sake; alas! the boy wrote better than the man! * * * Pye's
"Alfred" (to distinguish him from Alfred the pious [2]) I have not yet
inspected; nor the wilful murder of Bonaparte, by Anna Matilda; nor the
high treason committed by Sir James Bland Burgess, Baronet, against our
lion-hearted Richard. Davy is fallen stark mad with a play, called the
"Conspiracy of Gowrie", which is by Rough; an imitation of "Gebir", with
some poetry; but miserably and hopelessly deficient in all else: every
character reasoning, and metaphorising, and metaphysicking the reader
most nauseously. By the by, there is a great analogy between hock,
laver, pork pie, and the "Lyrical Ballads",--all have a "flavour", not
beloved by those who require a taste, and utterly unpleasant to
dram-drinkers, whose diseased palates can only feel pepper and brandy. I
know not whether Wordsworth will forgive the stimulant tale of
"Thalaba",--'tis a turtle soup, highly seasoned, but with a flavour of
its own predominant. His are sparagrass (it ought to be spelt so) and
artichokes, good with plain butter, and wholesome.

I look on "Madoc" with hopeful displeasure; probably it must be
corrected, and published now; this coming into the world at seven months
is a bad way; with a Doctor Slop of a printer's devil standing ready for
the forced birth, and frightening one into an abortion. * * * Is there
an emigrant at Keswick, who may make me talk and write French? And I
must sit at my almost forgotten Italian, and read German with you; and
we must read Tasso together.

God bless you!


R. S.

[Footnote 1: Coleridge's poem of "Love".]

[Footnote 2: This alludes to Mr. Cottle's "Alfred".]

The next two letters to Davy indicate that Coleridge's health was now of
the worst, and that he was thinking seriously of emigrating for some


Monday, May 4, 1801.

My dear Davy,

I heard from Tobin the day before yesterday--nay, it was Friday. From
him I learn that you are giving lectures on galvanism. Would to God I
were one of your auditors! My motive muscles tingled and contracted at
the news, as if you had bared them, and were 'zincifying' their
life-mocking fibres.

When you have leisure and impulse--perfect leisure and a complete
impulse--write to me, but only then. For though there does not exist a
man on earth who yields me greater pleasure by writing to me, yet I have
neither pain nor disquietude from your silence. I have a deep faith in
the guardianship of Nature over you--of the Great Being whom you are
manifesting. Heaven bless you, my dear Davy!

I have been rendered uneasy by an account of the Lisbon packet's
non-arrival, lest Southey should have been on board it. Have you heard
from him lately?

It would seem affectation to write to you and say nothing of my health;
but in truth I am weary of giving useless pain. Yesterday I should have
been incapable of writing you this scrawl, and to-morrow I may be as
bad. "'Sinking, sinking, sinking!' I feel that I am 'sinking'." My
medical attendant says that it is irregular gout, with nephritic
symptoms. 'Gout', in a young man of twenty-nine!! Swollen knees, and
knotty fingers, a loathing stomach, and a dizzy head. Trust me, friend,
I am at times an object of moral disgust to my own mind! But that this
long illness has impoverished me, I should immediately go to St.
Miguels, one of the Azores--the baths and the delicious climate might
restore me--and if it were possible, I would afterwards send over for my
wife and children, and settle there for a few years; it is exceedingly
cheap. On this supposition Wordsworth and his sister have with generous
friendship offered to settle there with me--and happily our dear Southey
would come too. But of this I pray you, my dear fellow, do not say a
syllable to any human being, for the scheme, from the present state of
my circumstances, is rather the thing of a "wish" than of a "hope".

If you write to me, pray in a couple of sentences tell me whether
Herschell's thermometric "spectrum" (in the "Philos. Trans.") will lead
to any revolution in the chemical philosophy. As far as "words" go, I
have become a formidable chemist--having got by heart a prodigious
quantity of terms, etc., to which I attach "some" ideas, very scanty in
number, I assure you, and right meagre in their individual persons. That
which must discourage me in it is, that I find all "power" of vital
attributes to depend on modes of "arrangement", and that chemistry
throws not even a distant rushlight glimmer upon this subject. The
"reasoning", likewise, is always unsatisfactory to me. I am perpetually
saying, probably there are many agents hitherto undiscovered. This
cannot be reasoning: we must have a deep conviction that all the "terms"
have been exhausted. This is saying no more than that (with Dr.
Beddoes's leave) chemistry can never possess the same kind of certainty
with the mathematics--in truth, it is saying nothing. I grow, however,
exceedingly interested in the subject.

God love you, my dear friend! From Tobin's account, I fear that I must
give up a very sweet vision--that of seeing you this summer. The summer
after, my ghost perhaps may be a gas.

Yours affectionately,


[Footnote 1: Letter CXVIII follows No. 107.]


Greta Hall, Keswick, May 20, 1801.

My dear Davy,

Though we of the north must forego you, yet I shall rejoice when I
receive a letter from you from Cornwall. I must believe that you have
made some important discoveries in galvanism, and connected the facts
with other more interesting ones, or I should be puzzled to conceive how
that subject could furnish matter for more than one lecture. If I
recollect aright, you have identified it with electricity, and that
indeed is a wide field. I shall dismiss my 'British Critic' and take in
'Nicholson's Journal', and then I shall know something about you. I am
sometimes apprehensive that my passion for science is scarcely true and
genuine--it is but 'Davyism'! that is, I fear that I am more delighted
at 'your' having discovered facts than at the facts having been

My health is better. I am indeed eager to believe that I am really
beginning to recover, though I have had so many short recoveries
followed by severe relapses, that I am at times almost afraid to hope.
But cheerful thoughts come with genial sensations; and hope is itself no
mean medicine.

I am anxious respecting Robert Southey. Why is he not in England?
Remember me kindly to Tobin. As soon as I have anything to communicate I
will write to him. But, alas! sickness turns large districts of time
into dreary uniformity of sandy desolation. Alas, for Egypt--and Menou!
However, I trust the 'English' will keep it, if they take it, and
something will be gained to the cause of human nature.

Heaven bless you!


The next letter to Godwin renews his complaints about health.


Greta Hall, Keswick.

Dear Godwin,

I have had, during the last three weeks, such numerous interruptions of
my "uninterrupted rural retirement," such a succession of visitors, both
indigenous and exotic, that verily I wanted both the time and composure
necessary to answer your letter of the first of June--at present I am
writing to you from my bed. For, in consequence of a very sudden change
in the weather from intense heat to a raw and scathing chillness, my
bodily health has suffered a relapse as severe as it was unexpected....

I have not yet received either "Antonio", or your pamphlet, in answer to
Dr. Parr and the Scotch gentleman [1] (who is to be professor of morals
to the young nabobs at Calcutta, with an establishment of £3,000 a
year!). Stuart was so kind as to send me Fenwick's review of it in a
paper called the "Albion", and Mr. Longman has informed me that, by your
orders, the pamphlet itself has been left for me at his house. The
extracts which I saw pleased me much, with the exception of the
introduction, which is incorrectly and clumsily worded. But, indeed, I
have often observed that, whatever you write, the first page is always
the worst in the book. I wish that instead of six days you had employed
six months, and instead of a half-crown pamphlet, had given us a good
half-guinea octavo. But you may yet do this. It strikes me, that both in
this work, and in the second edition of the "Political Justice", your
retractations have been more injudicious than the assertions or dogmas
retracted. But this is no fit subject for a mere letter. If I had time,
which I have not, I would write two or three sheets for your sole
inspection, entitled "History of the Errors and Blunders of the Literary
Life of William Godwin". To the world it would appear a paradox to say
that you are at all too persuadable, but you yourself know it to be the

I shall send back your manuscript on Friday, with my criticisms. You say
in your last, "How I wish you were here!" When I see how little I have
written of what I could have talked, I feel with you that a letter is
but "a mockery" to a full and ardent mind. In truth I feel this so
forcibly that, if I could be certain that I should remain in this
country, I should press you to come down, and finish the whole in my
house. But, if I can by any means raise the moneys, I shall go in the
first vessel that leaves Liverpool for the Azores (St. Michael's, to
wit), and these sail at the end of July. Unless I can escape one English
winter and spring I have not any rational prospect of recovery. You
"cannot help regarding uninterrupted rural retirement as a principal
cause" of my ill health. My ill health commenced at Liverpool, in the
shape of blood-shot eyes and swollen eyelids, while I was in the daily
habit of visiting the Liverpool literati--these, on my settling at
Keswick, were followed by large boils in my neck and shoulders; these,
by a violent rheumatic fever; this, by a distressing and tedious
hydrocele; and, since then, by irregular gout, which promises at this
moment to ripen into a legitimate fit. What uninterrupted rural
retirement can have had to do in the production of these outward and
visible evils, I cannot guess; what share it has had in consoling me
under them, I know with a tranquil mind and feel with a grateful heart.
O that you had now before your eyes the delicious picture of lake, and
river, and bridge, and cottage, and spacious field with its pathway, and
woody hill with its spring verdure, and mountain with the snow yet
lingering in fantastic patches upon it, even the same which I had from
my sick bed, even without raising my head from the pillow! O God! all
but dear and lovely things seemed to be known to my imagination only as
words; even the forms which struck terror into me in my fever-dreams
were still forms of beauty. Before my last seizure I bent down to pick
something from the ground, and when I raised my head, I said to Miss
Wordsworth, "I am sure, Rotha, that I am going to be ill;" for as I bent
my head there came a distinct, vivid spectrum upon my eyes; it was one
little picture--a rock, with birches and ferns on it, a cottage backed
by it, and a small stream. Were I a painter I would give an outward
existence to this, but it will always live in my memory.

By-the-bye, our rural retirement has been honoured by the company of Mr.
Sharp, and the poet Rogers; the latter, though not a man of very
vigorous intellect, won a good deal both on myself and Wordsworth, for
what he said evidently came from his own feelings, and was the result of
his own observation.

My love to your dear little one. I begin to feel my knee preparing to
make ready for the reception of the Lady Arthritis. God bless you and


Tuesday Evening, June 23, 1801. [2]

[Footnote 1: Mackintosh]

[Footnote 2: Letters CXIX-CXXII follow No. 109.]

Coleridge, for want of funds, was unable for the present to carry out
his project of going abroad, and the next letter to Davy tells us that
he had resolved to go to London instead, and write for the daily papers


Greta Hall, Keswick, Cumberland, October 31, 1801.

My dear Davy,

I do not know by what fatality it has happened, but so it is; that I
have thought more often of you, and I may say, "yearned" after your
society more for the last three months than I ever before did, and yet I
have not written to you. But you know that I honour you, and that I love
whom I honour. Love and esteem with me have no dividual being; and
wherever this is not the case, I suspect there must be some lurking
moral superstition which nature gets the better of; and that the real
meaning of the phrase "I love him though I cannot esteem him," is--I
esteem him, but not according to my system of esteem. But you, my dear
fellow, 'all' men love and esteem--which is the only suspicious part of
your character--at least according to the 5th chapter of St.
Matthew.--God bless you.

And now for the business of this letter. 'If I can', I leave this place
so as to be in London on Wednesday, the 11th of next month; in London I
shall stay a fortnight; but as I am in feeble health, and have a perfect
'phobia' of inns and coffee-houses, I should rejoice if you or Southey
should be able to offer me a bed-room for the fortnight aforesaid. From
London I move southward. Now for the italicized words 'if I can'. The
cryptical and implicit import of which is--I have a damned thorn in my
leg, which the surgeon has not been yet able to extract--and but that I
have metaphysicized most successfully on 'Pain', in consequence of the
accident, by the Great Scatterer of Thoughts, I should have been half
mad. But as it is I have borne it 'like a woman', which, I believe, to
be two or three degrees at least beyond a 'stoic'. A suppuration is
going on, and I endure in hope.

I have redirected some of Southey's letters to you, taking it for
granted that you will see him immediately on his arrival in town; he
left us yesterday afternoon. Let me hear from you, if it be only to say
what I know already, that you will be glad to see me. O, dear friend,
thou one of the two human beings of whom I dare hope with a hope, that
elevates my own heart. O bless you!


[Footnote 1: Letters CXXIII-CXXXI follow No. 110.]

Sir Humphry Davy's description of Coleridge at this date is well known,
and we must quote it; "Coleridge has left London for Keswick. During his
stay in town I saw him seldomer than usual; when I did see him, it was
generally in the midst of large companies, where he is the image of
power and activity. His eloquence is unimpaired: perhaps it is softer
and stronger. His will is less than ever commensurate with his ability.
Brilliant images of greatness float upon his mind, like images of the
morning clouds on the waters. Their forms are changed by the motions of
the waves, they are agitated by every breeze, and modified by every
sunbeam. He talked in the course of an hour of beginning three works; he
recited the poem of 'Christabel' unfinished, and as I had before heard
it. What talent does he not waste in forming visions, sublime, but
unconnected with the real world! I have looked to his efforts, as to the
efforts of a creating being; but as yet he has not laid the foundation
for the new world of intellectual forms" ('Fragmentary Remains', p. 74).

Southey had now returned from Portugal, and was also in London
('Southey's Letters', i, 183). It was not till September, 1803, that
Southey came to Keswick ('Southey's Letters', i, 229-31). During the
interval Coleridge had written various things for the 'Morning Post',
the most outstanding contributions being the two powerful letters to Fox
of 4th and 9th November 1802, written on the occasion of that statesman
going to Paris and paying court to Napoleon. The next eight letters to
Thomas Wedgwood give the best impression of Coleridge between October
1802 and February 1803.

Letter 111 To Thomas Wedgwood

Keswick, Oct. 20, 1802.

My dear sir,

This is my birthday, my thirtieth. It will not appear wonderful to you,
when I tell you, that before the arrival of your letter, I had been
thinking with a great weight of different feelings, concerning you, and
your dear brother, for I have good reason to believe, that I should not
now have been alive, if in addition to other miseries, I had had
immediate poverty pressing upon me. I will never again remain silent so
long. It has not been altogether indolence, or my habit of
procrastination which have [1] kept me from writing, but an eager
wish,--I may truly say, a thirst of spirit, to have something honourable
to tell you of myself.

At present I must be content to tell you something cheerful. My health
is very much better. I am stronger in every respect, and am not injured
by study, or the act of sitting at my writing desk; but my eyes suffer
if at any time I have been intemperate in the use of candle-light. This
account supposes another, namely, that my mind is calm, and more at
ease. My dear sir, when I was last with you at Stowey, my heart was
often full, and I could scarcely keep from communicating to you the tale
of my distresses, but could I add to your depression, when you were low?
or how interrupt, or cast a shade on your good spirits, that were so
rare, and so precious to you? ...

I found no comfort but in the driest speculations;--in the 'Ode to
Dejection', which you were pleased with. These lines, in the original,
followed the line "My shaping spirit of imagination,"--

  For not to think of what I needs must feel,
  But to be still and patient, all I can,
  And haply by abstruse research to steal
  From my own nature all the natural man;
  This was my sole resource, my only plan
  And that which suits a part infests the whole,
  And now is almost grown the temper [2] of my soul.

I give you these lines for the spirit, and not for the poetry. ...

But better days are arrived, and are still to come, I have had
Visitations of Hope--that I may yet be something of which those who love
me may be proud.

I cannot write that without recalling dear Poole. I have heard twice,
and written twice, and I fear by a strange fatality, one of the letters
will have missed him. Leslie [3] was here some time ago. I was very much
pleased with him. And now I will tell you what I am doing. I dedicate
three days in the week to the 'Morning Post', and shall hereafter write,
for the far greater part, such things as will be of as permanent
interest as any thing I can hope to write; and you will shortly see a
little essay of mine, justifying the writing in a newspaper.

My comparison of the French with the Roman Empire was very favourably
received. The poetry which I have sent is merely the emptying out of my
desk. The epigrams are wretched indeed, but they answered Stuart's
purpose, better than better things. I ought not to have given any
signature to them whatsoever. I never dreamt of acknowledging either
them, or the 'Ode to the Rain'. As to feeble expressions, and unpolished
lines--there is the rub! Indeed, my dear sir, I do value your opinion
very highly. I think your judgment on the sentiment, the imagery, the
flow of a poem, decisive; at least, if it differed from my own, and if
after frequent consideration mine remained different, it would leave me
at least perplexed. For you are a perfect electrometer in these
things--but in point of poetic diction, I am not so well satisfied that
you do not require a certain aloofness from the language of real life,
which I think deadly to poetry.

Very soon however I shall present you from the press with my opinions
full on the subject of style, both in prose and verse; and I am
confident of one thing, that I shall convince you that I have thought
much and patiently on the subject, and that I understand the whole
strength of my antagonist's cause. For I am now busy on the subject, and
shall in a very few weeks go to press with a volume on the prose
writings of Hall, Milton, and Taylor; and shall immediately follow it up
with an essay on the writings of Dr. Johnson and Gibbon, and in these
two volumes I flatter myself I shall present a fair history of English
Prose. If my life and health remain, and I do but write half as much,
and as regularly as I have done during the last six weeks, this will be
finished by January next; and I shall then put together my
memorandum-book on the subject of Poetry. In both I have endeavoured
sedulously to state the facts and the differences clearly and
accurately; and my reasons for the preference of one style to another
are secondary to this.

Of this be assured, that I will never give any thing to the world in
'propria persona' in my own name which I have not tormented with the
file. I sometimes suspect that my foul copy would often appear to
general readers more polished than my fair copy. Many of the feeble and
colloquial expressions have been industriously substituted for others
which struck me as artificial, and not standing the test; as being
neither the language of passion, nor distinct conceptions. Dear sir,
indulge me with looking still further on in my literary life.

I have, since my twentieth year, meditated an heroic poem on the 'Siege
of Jerusalem', by Titus. This is the pride and the stronghold of my
hope, but I never think of it except in my best moods. The work to which
I dedicate the ensuing years of my life, is one which highly pleased
Leslie, in prospective, and my paper will not let me prattle to you
about it. I have written what you more wished me to write, all about

Our climate (in the north) is inclement, and our houses not as compact
as they might be, but it is a stirring climate, and the worse the
weather, the more unceasingly entertaining are my study windows, and the
month that is to come is the glory of the year with us. A very warm
bed-room I can promise you, and one at the same time which commands the
finest lake and mountain view. If Leslie could not go abroad with you,
and I could in any way mould my manners and habits to suit you, I should
of all things like to be your companion. Good nature, an affectionate
disposition, and so thorough a sympathy with the nature of your
complaint, that I should feel no pain, not the most momentary, at being
told by you what your feelings require at the time in which they
required it; this I should bring with me. But I need not say that you
may say to me,--"You don't suit me," without inflicting the least
mortification. Of course this letter is for your brother, as for you;
but I shall write to him soon. God bless you,


Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.

[Footnote 1: 'Sic.']

[Footnote 2: Cottle prints "temple," an error.]

[Footnote 3: The eminent Edinburg Professor. For three years the private
tutor of Mr. T. Wedgwood (Cottle). [For further information regarding
John, aftwards Sir John, Leslie (1766-1832) see 'Tom Wedgwood' by


Keswick, November 3, 1802.

Dear Wedgwood,

It is now two hours since I received your letter; and after the
necessary consultation, Mrs. Coleridge herself is fully of opinion that
to lose time is merely to lose spirits. Accordingly I have resolved not
to look the children in the face, (the parting from whom is the
downright bitter in the thing) but to go to London by to-morrow's mail.
Of course I shall be in London, God permitting, on Saturday morning. I
shall rest that day, and the next, and proceed to Bristol by the Monday
night's mail. At Bristol I will go to "Cote-House"[1] At all events,
barring serious illness, serious fractures, and the et cetera of serious
unforeseens, I shall be at Bristol, Tuesday noon, November 9.

You are aware that my whole knowledge of French does not extend beyond
the power of limping slowly, not without a dictionary crutch, through an
easy French book: and that as to pronunciation, all my organs of speech,
from the bottom of the Larynx to the edge of my lips, are utterly and
naturally anti-Gallican. If only I shall have been any comfort, any
alleviation to you I shall feel myself at ease--and whether you go
abroad or no, while I remain with you, it will greatly contribute to my
comfort, if I know you will have no hesitation, nor pain, in telling me
what you wish me to do, or not to do.

I regard it among the blessings of my life, that I have never lived
among men whom I regarded as my artificial superiors: that all the
respect I have at any time paid, has been wholly to supposed goodness,
or talent. The consequence has been that I have no alarms of pride; no
"cheval de frise" of independence. I have always lived among equals. It
never occurs to me, even for a moment, that I am otherwise. If I have
quarrelled with men, it has been as brothers or as school-fellows
quarrel. How little any man can give me, or take from me, save in
matters of kindness and esteem, is not so much a thought or conviction
with me, or even a distinct feeling, as it is my very nature. Much as I
dislike all formal declarations of this kind, I have deemed it well to
say this. I have as strong feelings of gratitude as any man. Shame upon
me if in the sickness and the sorrow which I have had, and which have
been kept unaggravated and supportable by your kindness, and your
brother's (Mr. Josiah Wedgwood) shame upon me if I did not feel a
kindness, not unmixed with reverence towards you both. But yet I never
should have had my present impulses to be with you, and this confidence,
that I may become an occasional comfort to you, if, independently of all
gratitude, I did not thoroughly esteem you; and if I did not appear to
myself to understand the nature of your sufferings; and within the last
year, in some slight degree to have felt myself, something of the same.

Forgive me, my dear sir, if I have said too much. It is better to write
it than to say it, and I am anxious in the event of our travelling
together that you should yourself be at ease with me, even as you would
with a younger brother, to whom, from his childhood you had been in the
habit of saying, "Do this Col." or "don't do that." All good be with


Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.[2]

[Footnote: 1 Westbury, near Bristol, the then residence of Mr. John

[Footnote 2: Letters CXXXII-CXXXIV follow 112.]


Keswick, January 9, 1803.

My dear Wedgwood,

I send you two letters, one from your dear sister, the second from
Sharp, by which you will see at what short notice I must be off, if I go
to the "Canaries", If your last plan continue in full force, I have not
even the phantom of a wish thitherward struggling, but if aught have
happened to you, in the things without, or in the world within, to
induce you to change the place, or the plan, relatively to me, I think I
could raise the money. But I would a thousand-fold rather go with you
whithersoever you go. I shall be anxious to hear how you have gone on
since I left you. You should decide in favour of a better climate
somewhere or other. The best scheme I can think of, is to go to some
part of Italy or Sicily, which we both liked. I would look out for two
houses. Wordsworth and his family would take the one, and I the other,
and then you might have a home either with me, or if you thought of Mr.
and Mrs. Luff, under this modification, one of your own; and in either
case you would have neighbours, and so return to England when the home
sickness pressed heavy upon you, and back to Italy when it was abated,
and the climate of England began to poison your comforts. So you would
have abroad in a genial climate, certain comforts of society among
simple and enlightened men and women; and I should be an alleviation of
the pang which you will necessarily feel, as often as you quit your own

I know no better plan: for travelling in search of objects is at best a
dreary business, and whatever excitement it might have had, you must
have exhausted it. God bless you, my dear friend. I write with dim eyes,
for indeed, indeed, my heart is very full of affectionate sorrowful
thoughts toward you.

I write with difficulty, with all the fingers but one of my right hand
very much swollen. Before I was half up the "Kirkstone" mountain, the
storm had wetted me through and through, and before I reached the top it
was so wild and outrageous, that it would have been unmanly to have
suffered the poor woman (guide) to continue pushing on, up against such
a torrent of wind and rain: so I dismounted and sent her home with the
storm in her back. I am no novice in mountain mischiefs, but such a
storm as this was, I never witnessed, combining the intensity of the
cold, with the violence of the wind and rain. The rain drops were pelted
or slung against my face by the gusts, just like splinters of flint, and
I felt as if every drop cut my flesh. My hands were all shrivelled up
like a washer-woman's, and so benumbed that I was obliged to carry my
stick under my arm. O, it was a wild business! Such hurry skurry of
clouds, such volleys of sound! In spite of the wet and the cold, I
should have had some pleasure in it, but for two vexations; first, an
almost intolerable pain came into my right eye, a smarting and burning
pain; and secondly, in consequence of riding with such cold water under
my seat, extremely uneasy and burthensome feelings attacked my groin, so
that, what with the pain from the one, and the alarm from the other, I
had "no enjoyment at all"!

Just at the brow of the hill I met a man dismounted, who could not sit
on horse-back. He seemed quite scared by the uproar, and said to me,
with much feeling, "O sir, it is a perilous buffeting, but it is worse
for you than for me, for I have it at my back." However I got safely
over, and immediately all was calm and breathless, as if it was some
mighty fountain put on the summit of Kirkstone, that shot forth its
volcano of air, and precipitated huge streams of invisible lava down the
road to Patterdale.

I went on to Grasmere. [1] I was not at all unwell, when I arrived
there, though wet of course to the skin. My right eye had nothing the
matter with it, either to the sight of others, or to my own feelings,
but I had a bad night, with distressful dreams, chiefly about my eye;
and waking often in the dark I thought it was the effect of mere
recollection, but it appeared in the morning that my right eye was
blood-shot, and the lid swollen. That morning however I walked home, and
before I reached Keswick, my eye was quite well, but "I felt unwell all
over". Yesterday I continued unusually unwell all over me till eight
o'clock in the evening. I took no "laudanum or opium", but at eight
o'clock, unable to bear the stomach uneasiness and achings of my limbs,
I took two large tea-spoons full of Ether in a wine glass of camphorated
gum-water, and a third teaspoon full at ten o'clock, and I received
complete relief; my body calmed; my sleep placid; but when I awoke in
the morning, my right hand, with three of the fingers, was swollen and
inflamed. The swelling in the hand is gone down, and of two of the
fingers somewhat abated, but the middle finger is still twice its
natural size, so that I write with difficulty. This has been a very
rough attack, but though I am much weakened by it, and look sickly and
haggard, yet I am not out of heart. Such a 'bout'; such a "periless
buffetting," was enough to have hurt the health of a strong man. Few
constitutions can bear to be long wet through in intense cold. I fear it
will tire you to death to read this prolix scrawled story.

Affectionately dear Friend, Yours ever,


[Footnote 1: The then residence of Mr. Wordsworth. [Cottle.]]

[Footnote 2: Letter CXXXV is our No. 110.]


Friday night, Jan. 14, 1803

Dear Friend,

I was glad at heart to receive your letter, and still more gladdened by
the reading of it. The exceeding kindness which it breathed was
literally medicinal to me, and I firmly believe, cured me of a nervous
rheumatic affection, the acid and the oil, very completely at
Patterdale; but by the time it came to Keswick, the oil was all atop.

You ask me, "Why, in the name of goodness, I did not return when I saw
the state of the weather?" The true reason is simple, though it may be
somewhat strange. The thought never once entered my head. The cause of
this I suppose to be, that (I do not remember it at least) I never once
in my whole life turned back in fear of the weather. Prudence is a
plant, of which I no doubt possess some valuable specimens, but they are
always in my hothouse, never out of the glasses, and least of all things
would endure the climate of the mountains. In simple earnestness, I
never find myself alone, within the embracement of rocks and hills, a
traveller up an alpine road, but my spirit careers, drives, and eddies,
like a leaf in autumn; a wild activity of thoughts, imaginations,
feelings, and impulses of motion rises up from within me; a sort of
bottom wind, that blows to no point of the compass, comes from I know
not whence, but agitates the whole of me; my whole being is filled with
waves that roll and stumble, one this way, and one that way, like things
that have no common master. I think that my soul must have pre-existed
in the body of a chamois chaser. The simple image of the old object has
been obliterated, but the feelings, and impulsive habits, and incipient
actions, are in me, and the old scenery awakens them.

The further I ascend from animated nature, from men, and cattle, and the
common birds of the woods and fields, the greater becomes in me the
intensity of the feeling of life. Life seems to me then an universal
spirit, that neither has, nor can have an opposite. "God is everywhere,"
I have exclaimed, and works everywhere, and where is there room for
death? In these moments it has been my creed, that death exists only
because ideas exist; that life is limitless sensation; that death is a
child of the organic senses, chiefly of the sight; that feelings die by
flowing into the mould of the intellect becoming ideas, and that ideas
passing forth into action, reinstate themselves again in the world of
life. And I do believe that truth lies in these loose generalizations. I
do not think it possible that any bodily pains could eat out the love of
joy, that is so substantially part of me, towards hills, and rocks, and
steep waters; and I have had some trial.

On Monday night I had an attack in my stomach and right side, which in
pain, and the length of its continuance appeared to me by far the
severest I ever had. About one o'clock the pain passed out of my
stomach, like lightning from a cloud, into the extremities of my right
foot. My toe swelled and throbbed, and I was in a state of delicious
ease, which the pain in my toe did not seem at all to interfere with. On
Tuesday I was uncommonly well all the morning, and ate an excellent
dinner; but playing too long and too rompingly with Hartley and Derwent,
I was very unwell that evening. On Wednesday I was well, and after
dinner wrapped myself up warm, and walked with Sarah Hutchinson, to
Lodore. I never beheld anything more impressive than the wild outline of
the black masses of mountain over Lodore, and so on to the gorge of
Borrowdale. Even through the bare twigs of a grove of birch trees,
through which the road passes; and on emerging from the grove a red
planet, so very red that I never saw a star so red, being clear and
bright at the same time. It seemed to have sky behind it. It started, as
it were from the heavens, like an eye-ball of fire. I wished aloud at
that moment that you had been with me.

The walk appears to have done me good, but I had a wretched night;
shocking pains in my head, occiput, and teeth, and found in the morning
that I had two blood-shot eyes. But almost immediately after the receipt
and perusal of your letter the pains left me, and I am bettered to this
hour; and am now indeed as well as usual saving that my left eye is very
much blood-shot. It is a sort of duty with me, to be particular
respecting facts that relate to my health. I have retained a good sound
appetite through the whole of it, without any craving after exhilarants
or narcotics, and I have got well as in a moment. Rapid recovery is
constitutional with me; but the former circumstances, I can with
certainty refer to the system of diet, abstinence from vegetables, wine,
spirits, and beer, which I have adopted by your advice.

I have no dread or anxiety respecting any fatigue which either of us is
likely to undergo, even in continental travelling. Many a healthy man
would have been laid up with such a bout of thorough wet, and intense
cold at the same time, as I had at Kirkstone. Would to God that also for
your sake I were a stronger man, but I have strong wishes to be with
you. I love your society, and receiving much comfort from you, and
believing likewise that I receive much improvement, I find a delight
very great, my dear friend! indeed it is, when I have reason to imagine
that I am in return an alleviation to your destinies, and a comfort to
you. I have no fears and am ready to leave home at a two days' warning.
For myself I should say two hours, but bustle and hurry might disorder
Mrs. Coleridge. She and the three children are quite well.[1]

I grieve that there is a lowering in politics. The 'Moniteur' contains
almost daily some bitter abuse of our minister and parliament, and in
London there is great anxiety and omening. I have dreaded war from the
time that the disastrous fortunes of the expedition to Saint Domingo,
under Le Clerc, was known in France. Write me one or two lines, as few
as you like.

I remain, my dear Wedgwood, with most affectionate esteem, and grateful

Your sincere friend,


Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.

[Footnote 1: Sara had been born 23rd December 1802.]


Nether Stowey, Feb. 10, 1803.

Dear Wedgwood,

Last night Poole and I fully expected a few lines from you. When the
newspaper came in, without your letter, we felt as if a dull neighbour
had been ushered in after a knock at the door which had made us rise up
and start forward to welcome some long absent friend. Indeed in Poole's
case, this simile is less over-swollen than in mine, for in contempt of
my convictions and assurance to the contrary, Poole, passing off the
Brummagem coin of his wishes for sterling reasons, had persuaded himself
fully that he should see you in 'propria persona'. The truth is, we had
no right to expect a letter from you, and I should have attributed your
not writing to your having nothing to write, to your bodily dislike of
writing, or, though with reluctance, to low spirits, but that I have
been haunted with the fear that your sister is worse, and that you are
at Cote-House, in the mournful office of comforter to your brother. God
keep us from idle dreams. Life has enough of real pains.

I wrote to Captain Wordsworth to get me some Bang. The captain in an
affectionate letter answers me: "The Bang if possible shall be sent. If
any country ship arrives I shall certainly get it. We have not got
anything of the kind in our China ships." If you would rather wait till
it can be brought by Captain Wordsworth himself from China, give me a
line that I may write and tell him. We shall hope for a letter from you
to-night. I need not say, dear Wedgwood, how anxious I am to hear the
particulars of your health and spirits.

Poole's account of his conversations, etc., in France, are very
interesting and instructive. If your inclination lead you hither you
would be very comfortable here. But I am ready at an hour's warning;
ready in heart and mind, as well as in body and moveables.

I am, dear Wedgwood, most truly yours,


Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.


Stowey, Feb. 10, 1803.

My dear Wedgwood,

With regard to myself and my accompanying you, let me say thus much. My
health is not worse than it was in the North; indeed it is much better.
I have no fears. But if you fear that, my health being what you know it
to be, the inconveniences of my being with you will be greater than the
advantages; (I feel no reluctance in telling you so) [1] it is so
entirely an affair of spirits and feeling that the conclusion must be
made by you, not in your reason, but purely in your spirit and feeling.
Sorry indeed should I be to know that you had gone abroad with one, to
whom you were comparatively indifferent. Sorry if there should be no one
with you, who could with fellow-feeling and general like-mindedness,
yield you sympathy in your sunshiny moments. Dear Wedgwood, my heart
swells within me as it were. I have no other wish to accompany you than
what arises immediately from my personal attachment, and a deep sense in
my own heart, that let us be as dejected as we will, a week together
cannot pass in which a mind like yours would not feel the want of
affection, or be wholly torpid to its pleasurable influences. I cannot
bear to think of your going abroad with a mere travelling companion;
with one at all influenced by salary, or personal conveniences. You will
not suspect me of flattering you, but indeed dear Wedgwood, you are too
good and too valuable a man to deserve to receive attendance from a
hireling, even for a month together, in your present state.

If I do not go with you, I shall stay in England only such time as may
be necessary for me to raise the travelling money, and go immediately to
the south of France. I shall probably cross the Pyrenees to Bilboa, see
the country of Biscay, and cross the north of Spain to Perpignan, and so
on to the north of Italy, and pass my next winter at Nice. I have every
reason to believe that I can live, even as a traveller, as cheap as I
can in England. God bless you. I will repeat no professions, even in the
superscription of a letter. You know me, and that it is my serious,
simple wish, that in everything respecting me, you would think
altogether of yourself, and nothing of me, and be assured that no
resolve of yours, however suddenly adopted, or however nakedly
communicated, will give me any pain, any at least arising from my own

Yours ever,


Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.

P. S. Perhaps Leslie will go with you.

[Footnote 1: Should be "Feel no reluctance in telling me so."]


Poole's, Feb. 17, 1803.

My dear Wedgwood,

I do not know that I have anything to say that justifies me in troubling
you with the postage and perusal of this scrawl. I received a short and
kind letter from Josiah last night. He is named the sheriff. Poole, who
has received a very kind invitation from your brother John, in a letter
of last Monday, and which was repeated in last night's letter, goes with
me, I hope in the full persuasion that you will be there (at Cote-House)
before he be under the necessity of returning home. Poole is a very,
very good man, I like even his incorrigibility in little faults and
deficiencies. It looks like a wise determination of nature to let well

Are you not laying out a scheme which will throw your travelling in
Italy, into an unpleasant and unwholesome part of the year? From all I
can gather, you ought to leave this country at the first of April at the
latest. But no doubt you know these things better than I. If I do not go
with you, it is very probable we shall meet somewhere or other. At all
events you will know where I am, and I can come to you if you wish it.
And if I go with you, there will be this advantage, that you may drop me
where you like, if you should meet any Frenchman, Italian, or Swiss,
whom you liked, and who would be pleasant and profitable to you. But
this we can discuss at Gunville.

As to ----,[1] I never doubted that he means to fulfil his engagements
with you, but he is one of those weak moralled men, with whom the
meaning to do a thing means nothing. He promises with ninety parts out
of a hundred of his whole heart, but there is always a speck of cold at
the core that transubstantiates the whole resolve into a lie.

I remain in comfortable health,--warm rooms, an old friend, and
tranquillity, are specifics for my complaints. With all my ups and downs
I have a deal of joyous feeling, and I would with gladness give a good
part of it to you, my dear friend. God grant that spring may come to you
with healing on her wings.

God bless you, my dear Wedgwood. I remain with most affectionate esteem,
and regular attachment, and good wishes.

Yours ever,


Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.

P. S. If Southey should send a couple of bottles, one of the red
sulphate, and one of the compound acids for me, will you be so good as
to bring them with you?

[Footnote 1: Mackintosh.]


Stowey, Feb. 17, 1803.

My dear Wedgwood,

Last night I received a four ounce parcel letter, by the post, which
Poole and I concluded was the mistake or carelessness of the servant,
who had put the letter into the post office, instead of the coach
office. I should have been indignant, if dear Poole had not set me
laughing. On opening it, it contained my letter from Gunville, and a
small parcel of "Bang," from Purkis. I will transcribe the parts of his
letter which relate to it.

Brentford, Feb. 7, 1803.

My dear Coleridge,

I thank you for your letter, and am happy to be the means of obliging
you. Immediately on the receipt of yours, I wrote to Sir Joseph Banks,
who I verily believe is one of the most excellent and useful men of this
country, requesting a small quantity of Bang, and saying it was for the
use of Mr. T. Wedgwood. I yesterday received the parcel which I now
send, accompanied with a very kind letter, and as part of it will be
interesting to you and your friend, I will transcribe it. "The Bang you
ask for is the powder of the leaves of a kind of hemp that grows in the
hot climates. It is prepared, and I believe used, in all parts of the
east, from Morocco to China. In Europe it is found to act very
differently on different constitutions. Some it elevates in the extreme;
others it renders torpid, and scarcely observant of any evil that may
befal them. In Barbary it is always taken, if it can be procured, by
criminals condemned to suffer amputation, and it is said, to enable
those miserables to bear the rough operations of an unfeeling
executioner, more than we Europeans can the keen knife of our most
skilful chirurgeons. This it may be necessary to have said to my friend
Mr. T. Wedgwood, whom I respect much, as his virtues deserve, and I know
them well. I send a small quantity only as I possess but little. If
however, it is found to agree, I will instantly forward the whole of my
stock, and write without delay to Barbary, from whence it came, for

Sir Joseph adds, in a postscript: "It seems almost beyond a doubt, that
the Nepenthe was a preparation of the Bang, known to the Ancients."

Now I had better take the small parcel with me to Gunville; if I send it
by the post, besides the heavy expense, I cannot rely on the Stowey
carriers, who are a brace of as careless and dishonest rogues as ever
had claims on that article of the hemp and timber trade, called the
gallows. Indeed I verily believe that if all Stowey, Ward excepted, does
not go to hell, it will be by the supererogation of Poole's sense of

We will have a fair trial of Bang. Do bring down some of the Hyoscyamine
pills, and I will give a fair trial of Opium, Henbane, and Nepenthe.
By-the-bye I always considered Homer's account of the Nepenthe as a
'Banging' lie.

God bless you, my dear friend, and


[Footnote 1: Letter CXXXVI follows 118.]

The last four letters were written from Stowey, whither Coleridge had
gone on a visit to Poole.

During the same period some events had taken place which changed the
aspect of things. He had become acquainted with William Sotheby, the
poet, translator of Homer and Wieland, to whom he communicated in long
letters his views on Wordsworth's theory of poetic diction, indicating a
widening divergence from his brother poet. He had also made for the
satisfaction of Sotheby a translation in blank verse of Gessner's 'Erste
Schiffer', which has been lost ('Letters', 369-401). He had likewise
paraphrased one of Gessner's Idylls, published as the 'Picture of The
Lover's Resolution', in the 'Morning Post' of 6th September 1802.
'Dejection, an Ode', the 'Hymn before Sunrise', and the beautiful
dramatic fragment, the 'Night Scene', are the last products of
Coleridge's chilled poetic imagination. A third edition (1803) of the
Early Poems was issued under the superintendence of Lamb ('Ainger', i,
199-206). He had made a second tour in Wales in company with Tom
Wedgwood in November and December 1802 ('Letters', 410-417) returning to
find that Sara had been born on 23rd December 1802. In August 1803
Coleridge went on tour to Scotland with the Wordsworths ('Letters', 451,
and Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Journal'). It is impossible for us to give all
the correspondence of this busy, mental period, but on 4th June 1803,
Coleridge writes to Godwin.


Saturday Night, June 4, 1803.

Greta Hall, Keswick.

My dear Godwin,

I trust that my dear friend, C. Lamb, will have informed you how
seriously ill I have been. I arrived at Keswick on Good Friday, caught
the influenza, have struggled on in a series of convalescence and
relapse, the disease still assuming new shapes and symptoms; and, though
I am certainly better than at any former period of the disease, and more
steadily convalescent, yet it is not mere 'low spirits' that makes me
doubt whether I shall ever wholly surmount the effects of it. I owe,
then, explanation to you, for I quitted town, with strong feelings of
affectionate esteem towards you, and a firm resolution to write to you
within a short time after my arrival at my home. During my illness I was
exceedingly affected by the thought that month had glided away after
month, and year after year, and still had found and left me only
'preparing' for the experiments which are to ascertain whether the hopes
of those who have hoped proudly of me have been auspicious omens or mere
delusions; and the anxiety to realize something, and finish something,
has, no doubt, in some measure retarded my recovery. I am now, however,
ready to go to the press with a work which I consider as introductory to
a 'system', though to the public it will appear altogether a thing by
itself. I write now to ask your advice respecting the time and manner of
its publication, and the choice of a publisher, I entitle it

'Organum Vera Organum, or an Instrument of Practical Reasoning in the
Business of Real Life'; [1] to which will be prefixed,
1. A familiar introduction to the common system of Logic, namely, that
of Aristotle and the Schools.
2. A concise and simple, yet full statement of the Aristotelian Logic,
with reference annexed to the authors, and the name and page of the work
to which each part may be traced, so that it may be at once seen what is
Aristotle's, what Porphyry's, what the addition of the Greek
Commentators, and what of the Schoolmen.
3. An outline of the History of Logic in general,
  1st Chapter. The Origin of Philosophy in general, and of Logic 'speciatim'.
  2d Chap. Of the Eleatic and Megaric Logic.
  3d Chap. of the Platonic Logic.
  4th Chap, of Aristotle, containing a fair account of the "*[Greek:
  Orhganon]--of which Dr. Reid, in 'Kaimes' Sketches of Man', has given
  a most false, and not only erroneous, but calumnious statement--in as
  far as the account had not been anticipated in the second part of my
  work, namely, the concise and simple, yet full, etc. etc.
  5th Chap. A philosophical examination of the truth and of the value of
  the Aristotelian System of Logic, including all the after-additions to
  6th Chap. On the characteristic merits and demerits of Aristotle and
  Plato as philosophers in general, and an attempt to explain the fact
  of the vast influence of the former during so many ages; and of the
  influence of Plato's works on the restoration of the Belles Lettres,
  and on the Reformation.
  7th Chap. Raymund Lully.
  8th Chap. Peter Ramus.
  9th Chap. Lord Bacon, or the Verulamian Logic. both Chap. Examination
  of the same, and comparison of it with the Logic of Plato (in which I
  attempt to make it probable that, though considered by Bacon himself
  as the antithesis and the antidote of Plato, it is 'bona fide' the
  same, and that Plato has been misunderstood).[2]
  10th Chap. Descartes,
  11th Chap. Condillac, and a philosophical examination of 'his' logic,
  'i.e.' the logic which he basely purloined from Hartley.
Then follows my own 'Organum Vera Organum', which consists of a
*[Greek: Eustaema] of all 'possible' modes of true, probable, and false
reasoning, arranged philosophically, 'i.e.' on a strict analysis of
those operations and passions of the mind in which they originate, or by
which they act; with one or more striking instances annexed to each,
from authors of high estimation, and to each instance of false
reasoning, the manner in which the sophistry is to be detected, and the
words in which it may be exposed.

The whole will conclude with considerations of the value of the work, or
its practical utility in scientific investigations (especially the first
part, which contains the strictly demonstrative reasonings, and the
analysis of all the acts and passions of the mind which may be employed
to the discovery of truth) in the arts of healing, especially in those
parts that contain a catalogue, etc. of probable reasoning; lastly, to
the senate, the pulpit, and our law courts, to whom the whole--but
especially the latter three-fourths of the work, on the probable and the
false--will be useful, and finally instructive, how to form a
commonplace book by the aid of this Instrument, so as to read with
practical advantage, and (supposing average talents) to 'ensure' a
facility and rapidity in proving and in computing. I have thus amply
detailed the contents of my work, which has not been the labour of one
year or of two, but the result of many years' meditations, and of very
various reading. The size of the work will, printed at thirty lines a
page, form one volume octavo, 500 pages to the volume; and I shall be
ready with the first half of the work for the printer at a fortnight's
notice. Now, my dear friend, give me your thoughts on the subject: would
you have me to offer it to the booksellers, or, by the assistance of my
friends, print and publish on my own account? If the former, would you
advise me to sell the copyright at once, or only one or more editions?
Can you give me a general notion what terms I have a right to insist on
in either case? And, lastly, to whom would you advise me to apply?
Phillips is a pushing man, and a book is sure to have fair play if it be
his 'property'; and it could not be other than pleasant to me to have
the same publisher with yourself, 'but'----. Now if there be anything of
impatience, that whether truth and justice ought to follow that "'but'"
you will inform me. It is not my habit to go to work so seriously about
matters of pecuniary business; but my ill health makes my life more than
ordinarily uncertain, and I have a wife and three little ones. If your
judgment leads you to advise me to offer it to Phillips, would you take
the trouble of talking with him on the subject, and give him your real
opinion, whatever it may be, of the work and of the powers of the

When this book is fairly off my hands, I shall, if I live and have
sufficient health, set seriously to work in arranging what I have
already written, and in pushing forward my studies and my investigations
relative to the 'omne scibile' of human nature--'what' we are, and 'how
we become' what we are; so as to solve the two grand problems--how,
being acted upon, we shall act; how, acting, we shall be acted upon. But
between me and this work there may be death.

I hope your wife and little ones are well. I have had a sick family. At
one time every individual--master, mistress, children, and
servants--were all laid up in bed, and we were waited on by persons
hired from the town for the week. But now all are well, I only excepted.
If you find my paper smell, or my style savour of scholastic quiddity,
you must attribute it to the infectious quality of the folio on which I
am writing--namely, 'Scotus Erigena de Divisione Naturae', the
forerunner, by some centuries, of the schoolmen. I cherish all kinds of
honourable feelings towards you; and I am, dear Godwin,

Yours most sincerely,


[Footnote 1 Extant in MS. See 'Athenaeum', 26th October 1895.]

[Footnote 2: See the 'Friend', Bohn Library, pp. 319-345.]

You know the high character and present scarcity of 'Tuckers Light of
Nature'. "I have found in this writer" (says Paley, in his preface to his
'Moral and Political Philosophy') "more original thinking and
observation upon the several subjects he has taken in hand than in any
other, not to say in all others put together". His talent also for
illustration is unrivalled. But his thoughts are diffused through a
long, various, and irregular work. And a friend of mine, every way
calculated by his taste and private studies for such a work,[1] is
willing to abridge and systematize that work from eight to two
volumes--in the words of Paley, "to dispose into method, to collect into
heads and articles, and to exhibit in more compact and tangible masses,
what in that otherwise excellent performance is spread over too much
surface." I would prefix to it an essay containing the whole substance
of the first volume of Hartley; entirely defecated from all the
corpuscular hypothesis, with more illustrations. I give my name to the
essay. Likewise I will revise every sheet of the abridgment. I should
think the character of the work, and the above quotations from so high
an authority (with the present public, I mean) as Paley, would ensure
its success. If you will read or transcribe, and send this to Mr.
Phillips, or to any other publisher (Longman and Rees excepted) you
would greatly oblige me; that is to say, my dear Godwin, you would
essentially serve a young man of profound genius and original mind, who
wishes to get his 'Sabine' subsistence by some employment from the
booksellers, while he is employing the remainder of his time in nursing
up his genius for the destiny which he believes appurtenant to it. "Qui
cito facit, bis facit." Impose any task on me in return. [2]

[Footnote 1: Hazlitt. The abridgment was made, and published in 1807.]

[Footnote 2: Letter CXXXVII follows 119.]

Godwin published his 'Life of Chaucer' in 1803. The next letter refers
to this work.


Friday, July 10, 1803.

Greta Hall.

My dear Godwin,

Your letter has this moment reached me, and found me writing for Stuart,
to whom I am under a positive engagement to produce three essays by the
beginning of next week. To promise, therefore, to do what I could not do
would be worse than idle; and to attempt to do what I could not do well,
from distraction of mind, would be trifling with my time and your
patience. If I could convey to you any tolerably distinct notion of the
state of my spirits of late, and the train or the sort of my ideas
consequent on that state, you would feel instantly that my
non-performance of the promise is matter of 'regret' with me indeed, but
not of 'compunction'. It was my full intention to have prepared
immediately a second volume of poems for the press; but, though the
poems are all either written or composed, excepting only the conclusion
of one poem (equal to four days' common work) and a few corrections, and
though I had the most pressing motives for sending them off, yet after
many attempts I was obliged to give up the very hope--the attempts acted
so perniciously on my disorder.

Wordsworth, too, wished, and in a very particular manner expressed the
wish, that I should write to him at large on a poetic subject, which he
has at present 'sub malleo ardentem et ignitum'. I made the attempt, but
I could not command my recollections. It seemed a dream that I had ever
'thought' on poetry, or had ever written it, so remote were my trains of
ideas from composition or criticism on composition. These two instances
will, in some manner, explain my non-performance; but, indeed, I have
been very ill, and that I have done anything in any way is a subject of
wonder to myself, and of no causeless self-complacency. Yet I am anxious
to do something which may convince you of my sincerity by zeal: and, if
you think that it will be of any service to you, I will send down for
the work; I will instantly give it a perusal 'con amore'; and partly by
my reverential love of Chaucer, and partly from my affectionate esteem
for his biographer (the summer, too, bringing increase of health with
it), I doubt not that my old mind will recur to me; and I will forthwith
write a series of letters, containing a critique on Chaucer, and on the
'Life of Chaucer', by W. Godwin, and publish them, with my name, either
at once in a small volume, or in the 'Morning Post' in the first
instance, and republish them afterwards.

The great thing to be done is to present Chaucer stripped of all his
adventitious matter, his translations, etc.; to analyse his own real
productions, to deduce his province and his rank; then to compare him
with his contemporaries, or with immediate prede- and suc- cessors, first
as an Englishman, and secondly as a European; then with Spenser and with
Shakespeare, between whom he seems to stand mid-way, with, however, a
manner of his own which belongs to neither, with a manner and an
excellence; lastly, to compare Dante and Chaucer, and inclusively
Spenser and Shakespere, with the ancients, to abstract the
characteristic differences, and to develop the causes of such
differences. (For instance, in all the writings of the ancients I
recollect nothing that, strictly examined, can be called humour; yet
Chaucer abounds with it, and Dante, too, though in a very different way.
Thus, too, the passion for personifications and, "me judice", strong,
sharp, practical good sense, which I feel to constitute a strikingly
characteristic difference in favour of the "feudal" poets.) As to
information, I could give you a critical sketch of poems, written by
contemporaries of Chaucer, in Germany; an epic to compare with his
"Palamon", and tales with his Tales, descriptive and fanciful poems with
those of the same kind in our own poet. In short, a Life of Chaucer
ought, in the work itself, and in the appendices of the work, to make
the poet explain his age, and to make the age both explain the poet, and
evince the superiority of the poet over his age. I think that the
publication of such a work would do "your" work some little service, in
more ways than one. It would occasion, necessarily, a double review of
it in all the Reviews; and there is a large class of fashionable men who
have been pleased of late to take me into high favour, and among whom
even my name might have some influence, and my praises of you weight.
But let me hear from you on the subject.

Now for my own business. As soon as you possibly can do something
respecting the abridgment of Tucker,[1] do so; you will, on my honour,
be doing "good", in the best sense of the word! Of course I cannot wish
you to do anything till after the 24th, unless it should be "put" in
your way to read that part of the letter to Phillips.

As to my own work, let me correct one or two conceptions of yours
respecting it. I could, no doubt, induce my friends to publish the work
for me, but I am possessed of facts that deter me. I know that the
booksellers not only do not encourage, but that they use unjustifiable
artifices to injure works published on the authors' own account. It
never answered, as far as I can find, in any instance. And even the sale
of a first edition is not without objections on this score--to this,
however, I should certainly adhere, and it is my resolution. But I must
do something immediately. Now, if I knew that any bookseller would
purchase the first edition of this work, as numerous as he pleased, I
should put the work out of hand at once, "totus in illo". But it was
never my intention to send one single sheet to the press till the whole
was "bona fide" ready for the printer--that is, both written, and fairly
written. The work is half written "out", and the materials of the other
half are all in paper, or rather on papers. I should not expect one
farthing till the work was delivered entire; and I would deliver it at
once, if it were wished. But, if I cannot engage with a bookseller for
this, I must do something else "first", which I should be sorry for.
Your division of the sorts of works acceptable to booksellers is just,
and what has been always my own notion or rather knowledge; but, though
I detailed the whole of the contents of my work so fully to you, I did
not mean to lay any stress with the bookseller on the first half, but
simply state it as preceded by a familiar introduction, and critical
history of logic. On the work itself I meant to lay all the stress, as a
work really in request, and non-existent, either well or ill-done, and
to put the work in the "same class" with "Guthrie" and books of
practical instruction--for the universities, classes of scholars,
lawyers, etc. etc. Its profitable sale will greatly depend on the
pushing of the booksellers, and on its being considered as a "practical"
book, "Organum vere Organum", a book by which the reader is to acquire
not only knowledge, but likewise "power". I fear that it may extend to
seven hundred pages; and would it be better to publish the Introduction
of History separately, either after or before? God bless you, and all
belonging to you, and your Chaucer. All happiness to you and your wife.

Ever yours, S. T. C.

P.S. If you read to Phillips any part of my letter respecting my own
work, or rather detailed it to him, you would lay all the stress on the

[Footnote 1: Godwin exerted himself actively in the matter, as appears
by the correspondence of Charles Lamb.]

The ambitious scheme of the letters to Godwin did not exhaust
Coleridge's projects at this season. To Southey he wrote:


Keswick, July, 1803.

My dear Southey,

... I write now to propose a scheme, or rather a rude outline of a
scheme, of your grand work. What harm can a proposal do? If it be no
pain to you to reject it, it will be none to me to have it rejected. I
would have the work entitled "Bibliotheca Britannica", or an History of
British Literature, bibliographical, biographical, and critical. The two
"last" volumes I would have to be a chronological catalogue of all
noticeable or extant books; the others, be the number six or eight, to
consist entirely of separate treatises, each giving a critical
biblio-biographical history of some one subject. I will, with great
pleasure, join you in learning Welsh and Erse: and you, I, Turner, and
Owen, might dedicate ourselves for the first half year to a complete
history of all Welsh, Saxon, and Erse books that are not translations,
that are the native growth of Britain. If the Spanish neutrality
continues, I will go in October or November to Biscay, and throw light
on the Basque.

Let the next volume contain the history of "English" poetry and poets,
in which I would include all prose truly poetical. The first half of the
second volume should be dedicated to great single names, Chaucer and
Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton and Taylor, Dryden and Pope; the poetry of
witty logic,--Swift, Fielding, Richardson, Sterne: I write "par hasard",
but I mean to say all great names as have either formed epochs in our
taste, or such, at least, as are representative; and the great object to
be in each instance to determine, first, the true merits and demerits of
the "books"; secondly, what of these belong to the age--what to the
author "quasi peculium". The second half of the second volume should be
a history of poetry and romances, everywhere interspersed with
biography, but more flowing, more consecutive, more bibliographical,
chronological, and complete. The third volume I would have dedicated to
English prose, considered as to style, as to eloquence, as to general
impressiveness; a history of styles and manners, their causes, their
birth-places and parentage, their analysis.

These three volumes would be so generally interesting, so exceedingly
entertaining, that you might bid fair for a sale of the work at large.
Then let the fourth volume take up the history of metaphysics, theology,
medicine, alchemy, common, canon, and Roman law, from Alfred to Henry
VII.; in other words, a history of the dark ages in Great Britain. The
fifth volume--carry on metaphysics and ethics to the present day in the
first half; the second half, comprise the theology of all the reformers.
In the fourth volume there would be a grand article on the philosophy of
the theology of the Roman Catholic religion. In this (fifth volume),
under different names,--Hooker, Baxter, Biddle, and Fox,--the spirit of
the theology of all the other parts of Christianity. The sixth and
seventh volumes must comprise all the articles you can get, on all the
separate arts and sciences that have been treated of in books since the
Reformation; and, by this time, the book, if it answered at all, would
have gained so high a reputation, that you need not fear having whom you
liked to write the different articles--medicine, surgery, chemistry,
etc., etc., navigation, travellers, voyagers, etc., etc. If I go into
Scotland, shall I engage Walter Scott to write the history of Scottish
poets? Tell me, however, what you think of the plan. It would have one
prodigious advantage: whatever accident stopped the work, would only
prevent the future good, not mar the past; each volume would be a great
and valuable work "per se". Then each volume would awaken a new
interest, a new set of readers, who would buy the past volumes of
course; then it would allow you ample time and opportunities for the
slavery of the catalogue volumes, which should be at the same time an
index to the work, which would be, in very truth, a pandect of
knowledge, alive and swarming with human life, feeling, incident. By the
bye, what a strange abuse has been made of the word encyclopaedia! It
signifies, properly, grammar, logic, rhetoric, and ethics and
metaphysics, which last, explaining the ultimate principles of
grammar--log., rhet., and eth.--formed a circle of knowledge. * * * To
call a huge unconnected miscellany of the "omne scibile", in an
arrangement determined by the accident of initial letters, an
encyclopaedia, is the impudent ignorance of your Presbyterian bookmakers.
Good night!

God bless you! S. T. C.

[Footnote 1: Southey's biographer says regarding this scheme: "Soon
after the date of the letter, my father paid a short visit to London,
the chief purpose of which was to negotiate with Messrs. Longman and
Rees respecting 'the management of a "Bibliotheca Britannica" upon a
very extensive scale, to be arranged chronologically, and made a
readable book by biography, criticism, and connecting chapters, to be
published like the Cyclopaedia in parts.'"]


Bristol, Aug. 3, 1803.

Dear Coleridge,

I meant to have written sooner; but those little units of interruption
and preventions, which sum up to as ugly an aggregate as the items in a
lawyer's bill, have come in the way. ...

Your plan is too good, too gigantic, quite beyond my powers. If you had
my tolerable state of health, and that love of steady and productive
employment which is now grown into a necessary habit with me, if you
were to execute and would execute it, it would be, beyond all doubt, the
most valuable work of any age or any country; but I cannot fill up such
an outline. No man can better feel where he fails than I do; and to rely
upon you for whole quartos! Dear Coleridge, the smile that comes with
that thought is a very melancholy one; and if Edith saw me now, she
would think my eyes were weak again, when, in truth, the humour that
covers them springs from another cause.

For my own comfort, and credit, and peace of mind, I must have a plan
which I know myself strong enough to execute. I can take author by
author as they come in their series, and give his life and an account of
his works quite as well as ever it has yet been done. I can write
connecting paragraphs and chapters shortly and pertinently, in my way;
and in this way the labour of all my associates can be more easily
arranged. ... And, after all, this is really nearer the actual design
of what I purport by a bibliotheca than yours would be,--a book of
reference, a work in which it may be seen what has been written upon
every subject in the British language: this has elsewhere been done in
the dictionary form; whatever we get better than that form--"ponemus
lucro". [1]

[Footnote 1: Letter CXXXVIII is our 121. CXXXIX-CXLII follow 121.]

To Thomas Wedgwood Coleridge, on his return from the Scotch tour, wrote:


Keswick, September 16, 1803.

My dear Wedgwood,

I reached home on yesterday noon. William Hazlitt, is a thinking,
observant, original man; of great power as a painter of
character-portraits, and far more in the manner of the old painters than
any living artist, but the objects must be before him. He has no
imaginative memory; so much for his intellectuals. His manners are to
ninety-nine in one hundred singularly repulsive; brow-hanging;
shoe-contemplating--strange. Sharp seemed to like him, but Sharp saw
him only for half an hour, and that walking. He is, I verily believe,
kindly-natured: is very fond of, attentive to, and patient with
children, but he is jealous, gloomy, and of an irritable pride. With all
this there is much good in him. He is disinterested; an enthusiastic
lover of the great men who have been before us. He says things that are
his own, in a way of his own: and though from habitual shyness, and the
outside of bear skin, at least of misanthropy, he is strangely confused
and dark in his conversation, and delivers himself of almost all his
conceptions with a "Forceps", yet he "says" more than any man I ever
knew (you yourself only excepted) of that which is his own, in a way of
his own; and often times when he has warmed his mind, and the juice is
come out, and spread over his spirits, he will gallop for half an hour
together, with real eloquence. He sends well-feathered thoughts straight
forward to the mark with a twang of the bow-string. If you could
recommend him as a portrait painter, I should be glad. To be your
companion, he is, in my opinion utterly unfit. His own health is fitful.

I have written as I ought to do: to you most freely. You know me, both
head and heart, and I will make what deductions your reasons may dictate
to me. I can think of no other person (for your travelling
companion)--what wonder? For the last years, I have been shy of all new

  To live beloved is all I need,
  And when I love, I love indeed.

I never had any ambition, and now, I trust I have almost as little

For five months past my mind has been strangely shut up. I have taken
the paper with the intention to write to you many times, but it has been
one blank feeling;--one blank idealess feeling. I had nothing to
say;--could say nothing. How dearly I love you, my very dreams make
known to me. I will not trouble you with the gloomy tale of my health.
When I am awake, by patience, employment, effort of mind, and walking, I
can keep the Fiend at arm's length, but the night is my Hell!--sleep my
tormenting Angel. Three nights out of four, I fall asleep, struggling to
lie awake, and my frequent night-screams have almost made me a nuisance
in my own house. Dreams with me are no shadows, but the very calamities
of my life. * * *

In the hope of drawing the gout, if gout it should be, into my feet, I
walked previously to my getting into the coach at Perth, 263 miles, in
eight days, with no unpleasant fatigue; and if I could do you any
service by coming to town, and there were no coaches, I would undertake
to be with you, on foot in seven days. I must have strength somewhere.
My head is indefatigably strong: my limbs too are strong: but acid or
not acid, gout or not gout, something there is in my stomach. * * *

To diversify this dusky letter, I will write an "Epitaph", which I
composed in my sleep for myself while dreaming that I was dying. To the
best of my recollection I have not altered a word.

  Here sleeps at length poor Col. and without screaming
  Who died, as he had always lived, a dreaming:
  Shot dead, while sleeping, by the gout within,
  Alone, and all unknown, at E'nbro' in an Inn.

It was Tuesday night last, at the Black Bull, Edinburgh. Yours, dear
Wedgwood, gratefully, and

Most affectionately,


Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.

The character of Hazlitt in this letter is as good as anything in La
Bruyere. The next letter (without date in Cottle's "Reminiscences", but
which must be 1803) is to Miss Cruikshank, of Nether Stowey. The
Penelope referred to is Penelope Poole, the cousin of Tom Poole.


(No date, supposed to be 1803.[1])

My dear Miss Cruikshank,

With the kindest intentions, I fear you have done me some little
disservice, in borrowing the first edition of my poems from Miss B--. I
never held any principles indeed, of which, considering my age, I have
reason to be ashamed. The whole of my public life may be comprised in
eight or nine months of my 22nd year; and the whole of my political sins
during that time, consisted in forming a plan of taking a large farm in
common, in America, with other young men of my age. A wild notion
indeed, but very harmless.

As to my principles, they were, at all times, decidedly anti-jacobin and
anti-revolutionary, and my American scheme is a proof of this. Indeed at
that time, I seriously held the doctrine of passive obedience, though a
violent enemy of the first war. Afterwards, and for the last ten years
of my life, I have been fighting incessantly in the good cause, against
French ambition, and French principles; and I had Mr. Addington's
suffrage, as to the good produced by my Essays, written in the "Morning
Post", in the interval of the peace of Amiens, and the second war,
together with my two letters to Mr. Fox. [2]

Of my former errors, I should be no more ashamed, than of my change of
body, natural to increase of age; but in that first edition, there was
inserted (without my consent!) a Sonnet to Lord Stanhope, in direct
contradiction, equally, to my "then", as to my present principles. A
Sonnet written by me in ridicule and mockery of the bloated style of
French jacobinical declamation, and inserted by Biggs, (the fool of a
printer,) in order forsooth, that he might send the book, and a letter
to Earl Stanhope; who, to prove that he was not mad in all things,
treated both book and letter with silent contempt. I have therefore sent
Mr. Poole's second edition, and if it be in your power, I could wish you
to read the "dedication to my brother," at the beginning, to Lady E.
Perceval, to obtain whose esteem, so far at least as not to be
confounded with the herd of vulgar mob flatterers, I am not ashamed to
confess myself solicitous.

I would I could be with you, and your visitors. Penelope, you know, is
very high in my esteem. With true warmth of heart, she joins more
strength of understanding; and, to steady principle, more variety of
accomplishments, than it has often been my lot to meet with among the
fairer sex. When I praise one woman to another I always mean a
compliment to both. My tenderest regards to your dear mother, whom I
really long to spend a few hours with, and believe me with sincere good

Yours, etc.,


[Footnote 1: Dated "1807" in "Early Recollections".]

[Footnote 2: It appears from Sir James Macintosh's Life, published by
his son, that a diminution of respect towards Sir James was entertained
by Mr. Fox, arising from the above two letters of Mr. Coleridge, which
appeared in the "Morning Post". Some enemy of Sir James had informed Mr.
Fox that these two letters were written by Macintosh, and which
exceedingly wounded his mind. Before the error could be corrected, Mr.
Fox died. This occurrence was deplored by Sir James, in a way that
showed his deep feeling of regret, but which, as might be supposed, did
not prevent him from bearing the amplest testimony to the social worth
and surpassing talents of that great statesman. Mr. Coleridge's Bristol
friends will remember that once Mr. Fox was idolized by him as the
paragon of political excellence; and Mr. Pitt depressed in the same
proportion. [Note by Cottle.]]

[Footnote 3: Letter CXLIII follows 123.]

In the beginning of 1804 we find Coleridge in London, whither Poole,
too, had gone to superintend the compilation of an Abstract on the
condition of the Poor Laws.


16, Abingdon Street, Westminster, Jan. 1804.

My dear friend,

Some divines hold, that with God to think, and to create, are one and
the same act. If to think, and even to compose had been the same as to
write with me, I should have written as much too much as I have written
too little. The whole truth of the matter is, that I have been very,
very ill. Your letter remained four days unread, I was so ill. What
effect it had upon me I cannot express by words. It lay under my pillow
day after day. I should have written forty times, but as it often and
often happens with me, my heart was too full, and I had so much to say
that I said nothing. I never received a delight that lasted longer upon
me--"Brooded on my mind and made it pregnant," than (from) the six last
sentences of your last letter,--which I cannot apologize for not having
answered, for I should be casting calumnies against myself; for, for the
last six or seven weeks, I have both thought and felt more concerning
you, and relating to you, than of all other men put together.

Somehow or other, whatever plan I determined to adopt, my fancy,
good-natured pander of our wishes, always linked you on to it; or I made
it your plan, and linked myself on. I left my home, December 20, 1803,
intending to stay a day and a half at Grasmere, and then to walk to
Kendal, whither I had sent all my clothes and viatica; from thence to go
to London, and to see whether or no I could arrange my pecuniary
matters, so as leaving Mrs. Coleridge all that was necessary to her
comforts, to go myself to Madeira, having a persuasion, strong as the
life within me, that one winter spent in a really warm, genial climate,
would completely restore me. Wordsworth had, as I may truly say, forced
on me a hundred pounds, in the event of my going to Madeira; and Stuart
had kindly offered to befriend me. During the days and affrightful
nights of my disease, when my limbs were swollen, and my stomach refused
to retain the food--taken in in sorrow, then I looked with pleasure on
the scheme: but as soon as dry frosty weather came, or the rains and
damps passed off, and I was filled with elastic health, from crown to
sole, then the thought of the weight of pecuniary obligation from so
many people reconciled me; but I have broken off my story.

I stayed at Grasmere (Mr. Wordsworth's) a month; three fourths of the
time bed-ridden;--and deeply do I feel the enthusiastic kindness of
Wordsworth's wife and sister, who sat up by me, one or the other, in
order to awaken me at the first symptoms of distressful feeling; and
even when they went to rest, continued often and often to weep and watch
for me even in their dreams. I left them January the 14th, and have
spent a very pleasant week at Dr. Crompton's, at Liverpool, and arrived
in London, at Poole's lodgings, last night at eight o'clock.

Though my right hand is so much swollen that I can scarcely keep my pen
steady between my thumb and finger, yet my stomach is easy, and my
breathing comfortable, and I am eager to hope all good things of my
health. That gained, I have a cheering, and I trust prideless confidence
that I shall make an active, and perseverant use of the faculties and
requirements that have been entrusted to my keeping, and a fair trial of
their height, depth, and width. Indeed I look back on the last four
months with honest pride, seeing how much I have done, with what steady
attachment of mind to the same subject, and under what vexations and
sorrows, from without, and amid what incessant sufferings. So much of
myself. When I know more, I will tell you more.

I find you are still at Cote-house. Poole tells me you talk of Jamaica
as a summer excursion. If it were not for the voyage, I would that you
would go to Madeira, for from the hour I get on board the vessel, to the
time that I once more feel England beneath my feet, I am as certain as
past and present experience can make me, that I shall be in health, in
high health; and then I am sure, not only that I should be a comfort to
you, but that I should be so without diminution of my activity, or
professional usefulness. Briefly, dear Wedgwood! I truly and at heart
love you, and of course it must add to my deeper and moral happiness to
be with you, if I can be either assistance or alleviation. If I find
myself so well that I defer my Madeira plan, I shall then go forthwith
to Devonshire to see my aged mother, once more before she dies, and stay
two or three months with my brothers. But, wherever I am, I never suffer
a day, (except when I am travelling) to pass without doing something.

Poole made me promise that I would leave one side for him. God bless
him! He looks so worshipful in his office, among his clerks, that it
would give you a few minutes' good spirits to look in upon him. Pray you
as soon as you can command your pen, give me half a score lines, and now
that I am loose, say whether or no I can be any good to you.


[Footnote 1: Letters CXLIV-CXLVI follow 124.]


16, Abingdon Street, Westminster, Jan. 28, 1804.

My dear friend,

It is idle for me to say to you, that my heart and very soul ache with
the dull pain of one struck down and stunned. I write to you, for my
letter cannot give you unmixed pain, and I would fain say a few words to
dissuade you. What good can possibly come of your plan? Will not the
very chairs and furniture of your room be shortly more, far more
intolerable to you than new and changing objects! more insufferable
reflectors of pain and weariness of spirit? Oh, most certainly they
will! You must hope, my dearest Wedgwood; you must act as if you hoped.
Despair itself has but that advice to give you. Have you ever thought of
trying large doses of opium, a hot climate, keeping your body open by
grapes, and the fruits of the climate? Is it possible that by drinking
freely, you might at last produce the gout, and that a violent pain and
inflammation in the extremities might produce new trains of motion and
feeling in your stomach, and the organs connected with the stomach,
known and unknown? Worse than what you have decreed for yourself cannot
well happen. Say but a word and I will come to you, will be with you,
will go with you to Malta, to Madeira, to Jamaica, or (if the climate,
of which, and its strange effects, I have heard wonders, true or not) to

At all events, and at the worst even, if you do attempt to realize the
scheme of going to and remaining at Gunville, for God's sake, my dear
dear friend, do keep up a correspondence with one or more; or if it were
possible for you, with several. I know by a little what your sufferings
are, and that to shut the eyes, and stop up the ears, is to give one's
self up to storm and darkness, and the lurid forms and horrors of a
dream. I scarce know why it is; a feeling I have, and which I can hardly
understand. I could not endure to live if I had not a firm faith that
the life within you will pass forth out of the furnace, for that you
have borne what you have borne, and so acted beneath such
pressure--constitutes you an awful moral being. I am not ashamed to pray
aloud for you.

Your most affectionate friend,


[Footnote 1: Letters CXLVII-CXLIX follow 125.]

These letters on the Pains of Sleep are followed by one to Davy on the
non-sympathy of the well with the sick.


Tuesday morning, 7, Barnard's Inn, Holborn. [1]

My dear Davy,

I trusted my cause last Sunday, I fear, to an unsympathizing agent. To
Mr. Tuffin I can scarcely think myself bound to make a direct apology,
as my promise was wholly conditional. This I did, not only from general
foresight, but from the possibility of hearing from you, that you had
not been able to untie your former engagement. To you, therefore, I owe
the apology: and on you I expressly and earnestly desired Tobin to call
and to explain for me, that I had been in an utterly incompatible state
of bodily feeling the whole evening at Mr. Renny's; that I was much hurt
by the walk home through the wet; instantly on my return here had an attack
in my bowels; that this had not wholly left me, and therefore that I
could not come, unless the weather altered. By which I did not mean
merely its 'holding up' (though even this it did not do at four o'clock
at Barnard's Inn, the sleety rain was still falling, though slightly),
but the drying up of the rawness and dampness, which would infallibly
have diseased me, before I had reached the Institution--not to mention
the effect of sitting a long evening in damp clothes and shoes on an
invalid, scarcely recovered from a diarrhoea. I have thought it fit to
explain at large, both as a mark of respect to you, and because I have
very unjustly acquired a character for breaking engagements, entirely
from the non-sympathy of the well with the sick, the robust with the
weakly. It must be difficult for most men to conceive the extreme
reluctance with which I go at all into 'company', and the unceasing
depression which I am struggling up against during the whole time I am
in it, which too often makes me drink more 'during dinner' than I ought
to do, and as often forces me into efforts of almost obtrusive
conversation, 'acting' the opposite of my real state of mind in order to
arrive at a medium, as we roll paper the opposite way in order to
smoothe it.

Be so good as to tell me what hour you expect Mr. Sotheby on Thursday.

I am, my dear Davy, with sincere and affectionate esteem, yours ever,


[Footnote 1: The twopenny post-mark is that of 6th March, 1804.]

Amid these letters, complaining of ill health and full of apologies for
broken engagements, Coleridge could write genuine literary criticisms of
the first order. The following letter addressed to Sarah Hutchinson is
his opinion of Sir Thomas Browne. He had presented her with a copy of
'Religio Medici' with copious annotations (see 'Athenaeum', 30 May 1896,
p. 714).


March 10th, 1804,

Sat. night, 12 o'clock.

My dear----

Sir Thomas Browne is among my first favorites, rich in various
knowledge, exuberant in conceptions and conceits, contemplative,
imaginative; often truly great and magnificent in his style and diction,
though doubtless too often big, stiff, and hyperlatinistic: thus I might
without admixture of falsehood, describe Sir T. Browne and my
description would have only this fault, that it would be equally, or
almost equally, applicable to half a dozen other writers, from the
beginning of the reign of Elizabeth to the end of Charles II. He is
indeed all this; and what he has more than all this peculiar to himself,
I seem to convey to my own mind in some measure by saying,--that he is a
quiet and sublime enthusiast with a strong tinge of the fantast,--the
humourist constantly mingling with, and flashing across, the
philosopher, as the darting colours in shot silk play upon the main dye.
In short, he has brains in his head which is all the more interesting
for a little twist in the brains. He sometimes reminds the reader of
Montaigne, but from no other than the general circumstances of an
egotism common to both; which in Montaigne is too often a mere amusing
gossip, a chit-chat story of whims and peculiarities that lead to
nothing,--but which in Sir Thomas Browne is always the result of a
feeling heart conjoined with a mind of active curiosity,--the natural
and becoming egotism of a man, who, loving other men as himself, gains
the habit, and the privilege of talking about himself as familiarly as
about other men. Fond of the curious, and a hunter of oddities and
strangenesses, while he conceived himself, with quaint and humourous
gravity a useful inquirer into physical truth and fundamental
science,--he loved to contemplate and discuss his own thoughts and
feelings, because he found by comparison with other men's, that they too
were curiosities, and so with a perfectly graceful and interesting ease
he put them too into his museum and cabinet of varieties. In very truth
he was not mistaken:--so completely does he see every thing in a light
of his own, reading nature neither by sun, moon, nor candle light, but
by the light of the faery glory around his own head; so that you might
say that nature had granted to him in perpetuity a patent and monopoly
for all his thoughts. Read his "Hydriotaphia" above all:--and in
addition to the peculiarity, the exclusive Sir-Thomas-Browne-ness of all
the fancies and modes of illustration, wonder at and admire his
entireness in every subject, which is before him--he is "totus in illo";
he follows it; he never wanders from it,--and he has no occasion to
wander;--for whatever happens to be his subject, he metamorphoses all
nature into it. In that "Hydriotaphia" or Treatise on some Urns dug up
in Norfolk--how earthy, how redolent of graves and sepulchres is every
line! You have now dark mould, now a thigh-bone, now a scull, then a bit
of mouldered coffin! a fragment of an old tombstone with moss in its
"hic jacet";--a ghost or a winding sheet--or the echo of a funeral psalm
wafted on a November wind! and the gayest thing you shall meet with
shall be a silver nail or gilt "Anno Domini" from a perished coffin top.
The very same remark applies in the same force to the interesting,
though the far less interesting, Treatise on the Quincuncial Plantations
of the Ancients. There is the same attention to oddities, to the
remotenesses and "minutiae" of vegetable terms,--the same entireness of
subject. You have quincunxes in heaven above, quincunxes in earth below,
and quincunxes in the water beneath the earth; quincunxes in deity,
quincunxes in the mind of man, quincunxes in bones, in the optic nerves,
in roots of trees, in leaves, in petals, in every thing. In short, first
turn to the last leaf of this volume, and read out aloud to yourself the
last seven paragraphs of Chap. V. beginning with the words "More
considerables," etc. But it is time for me to be in bed, in the words of
Sir Thomas, which will serve you, my dear, as a fair specimen of his
manner.--"But the quincunx of heaven--(the Hyades or five stars about
the horizon at midnight at that time)--runs low, and 'tis time we close
the five ports of knowledge: we are unwilling to spin out our waking
thoughts into the phantasmes of sleep, which often continueth
precogitations,--making tables of cobwebbes, and wildernesses of
handsome groves. To keep our eyes open longer were but to act our
Antipodes. The huntsmen are up in America, and they are already past
their first sleep in Persia." Think you, my dear Friend, that there ever
was such a reason given before for going to bed at midnight;--to wit,
that if we did not, we should be acting the part of our Antipodes! And
then "the huntsmen are up in America."--What life, what fancy!--Does the
whimsical knight give us thus a dish of strong green tea, and call it an
opiate! I trust that you are quietly asleep--

  And that all the stars hang bright above your dwelling,
  Silent as tho' they watched the sleeping earth! [1]


[Footnote 1: From 'Dejection: An Ode', the "Lady" of the later version
of which was Sarah Hutchinson. See Knight's 'Life of Wordsworth', ii.

Coleridge now wrote to Tom Wedgwood of his determination to go to Malta.
Stoddart, his old friend, had invited him thither.


(24) March, 1804.

My dear friend,

Though fearful of breaking in upon you after what you have written to
me, I could not have left England without having written both to you and
your brother, at the very moment I received a note from Sharp, informing
me that I must instantly secure a place in the Portsmouth mail for
Tuesday, and if I could not, that I must do so in the light coach for
Tuesday's early coach.

I am agitated by many things, and only write now because you desired an
answer by return of post. I have been dangerously ill, but the illness
is going about, and not connected with my immediate ill health, however
it may be with my general constitution. It was the cholera-morbus. But
for a series of the merest accidents I should have been seized in the
streets, in a bitter east wind, with cold rain; at all events have
walked through it struggling. It was Sunday-night.

I have suffered it at Tobin's; Tobin sleeping out at Woolwich. No fire,
no wine or spirits, or medicine of any kind, and no person being within
call, but luckily, perhaps the occasion would better suit the word
providentially, Tuffin, calling, took me home with him. * * * I tremble
at every loud sound I myself utter. But this is rather a history of the
past than of the present. I have only enough for memento, and already on
Wednesday I consider myself in clear sunshine, without the shadow of the
wings of the destroying angel.

What else relates to myself, I will write on Monday. Would to heaven you
were going with me to Malta, if it were but for the voyage! With all
other things I could make the passage with an unwavering mind. But
without cheerings of hope. Let me mention one thing; Lord Cadogan was
brought to absolute despair, and hatred of life, by a stomach complaint,
being now an old man. The symptoms, as stated to me, were strikingly
like yours, excepting the nervous difference of the two characters; the
flittering fever, etc. He was advised to reduce lean beef to a pure
jelly, by Papin's digester, with as little water as could secure it from
burning, and of this to take half a wine glass 10 or 14 times a day.
This and nothing else. He did so. Sir George Beaumont saw, within a few
weeks a letter from himself to Lord St. Asaph, in which he relates the
circumstance of his perseverence in it, and rapid amelioration, and
final recovery. "I am now," he says, "in real good health; as good, and
in as cheerful spirits as I ever was when a young man."

May God bless you, even here,


Before Coleridge left for Malta, Humphry Davy wrote the following
beautiful letter to Coleridge, and Coleridge replied in a letter equally
beautiful in its self-portraiture.

Royal Institution, Twelve o'clock, Monday.

My dear Coleridge,

My mind is disturbed, and my body harassed by many labours; yet I cannot
suffer you to depart, without endeavouring to express to you some of the
unbroken and higher feelings of my spirit, which have you at once for
their cause and object.

Years have passed since we first met; and your presence, and
recollections in regard to you, have afforded me continued sources of
enjoyment. Some of the better feelings of my nature have been elevated
by your converse; and thoughts which you have nursed, have been to me an
eternal source of consolation.

In whatever part of the world you are, you will often live with me, not
as a fleeting idea, but as a recollection possessed of creative
energy,--as an imagination winged with fire, inspiring and rejoicing.

You must not live much longer without giving to all men the proof of
power, which those who know you feel in admiration. Perhaps at a
distance from the applauding and censuring murmurs of the world, you
will be best able to execute those great works which are justly expected
from you: you are to be the historian of the philosophy of feeling. Do
not in any way dissipate your noble nature! Do not give up your

May you soon recover perfect health--the health of strength and
happiness! May you soon return to us, confirmed in all the powers
essential to the exertion of genius. You were born for your country, and
your native land must be the scene of your activity. I shall expect the
time when your spirit, bursting through the clouds of ill health, will
appear to all men, not as an uncertain and brilliant flame, but as a
fair and permanent light, fixed, though constantly in motion,--as a sun
which gives its fire, not only to its attendant planets, but which sends
beams from all its parts into all worlds.

May blessings attend you, my dear friend! Do not forget me: we live for
different ends, and with different habits and pursuits; but our feelings
with regard to each other have, I believe, never altered. They must
continue; they can have no natural death; and, I trust, they can never
be destroyed by fortune, chance, or accident.



Sunday, March 25, 1804.

My dear Davy,

I returned from Mr. Northcote's, having been diseased by the change of
weather too grievously to permit me to continue sitting, for in those
moods of body brisk motion alone can prevent me from falling into
distempered sleep. I came in meditating a letter to you, or rather the
writing of the letter, which I had meditated yesterday, even while you
were yet sitting with us. But it would be the merest confusion of my
mind to force it into activity at present. Yours of this morning must
have sunken down first, and must have found its abiding resting-place.
O, dear friend! blessed are the moments, and if not moments of
"humility", yet as distant from whatever is opposite to humility, as
humility itself, when I am able to hope of myself as you have dared hope
of and for me. Alas! they are neither many nor of quick recurrence.
There "is" a something, an essential something, wanting in me. I feel
it, I "know" it--though what it is, I can but guess. I have read
somewhere, that in the tropical climates there are annuals as lofty and
of as an ample girth as forest trees:--So by a very dim likeness I seem
to myself to distinguish Power from Strength--and to have only the
former. But of this I will speak again: for if it be no reality, if it
be no more than a disease of my mind, it is yet deeply rooted and of
long standing, and requires help from one who loves me in the light of
knowledge. I have written these lines with a compelled understanding, my
feelings otherwhere at work--and I fear, unwell as I am, to indulge my
[1] deep emotion, however ennobled or endeared. Dear Davy! I have always
loved, always honoured, always had faith in you, in every part of my
being that lies below the surface; and whatever changes may have now and
then "rippled" even upon the surface, have been only jealousies
concerning you in behalf of all men, and fears from exceeding great
hope. I cannot be prevented from uttering and manifesting the strongest
convictions and best feelings of my nature by the incident, that they of
whom I think so highly, esteem me in return, and entertain reciprocal
hopes. No! I would to God, I thought it myself even as you think of me,

So far had I written, my dear Davy, yesterday afternoon, with all my
faculties beclouded, writing mostly about myself--but, Heaven knows!
thinking wholly about you. I am too sad, too much dejected to write what
I could wish. Of course I shall see you this evening here at a quarter
after nine. When I mentioned it to Sir George, "Too late," said he; "no,
if it were twelve o'clock, it would be better than his not coming." They
are really kind and good [Sir George and Lady Beaumont]. Sir George is a
remarkably 'sensible' man, which I mention, because it 'is'
somewhat REMARKABLE in a painter of genius, who is at the same time a
man of rank and an exceedingly amusing companion.

I am still but very indifferent--but that is so old a story that it
affects me but little. To see 'you' look so very unwell on
Saturday, was a new thing to me, and I want a word something short of
affright, and a little beyond anxiety, to express the feeling that
haunted me in consequence.

I trust that I shall have time, and the greater spirit, to write to you
from Portsmouth, a part at least of what is in and upon me in my more
genial moments.

But always I am and shall be, my dear Davy, with hope, and esteem, and
affection, the aggregate of many Davys,

Your sincere friend,


[Footnote 1: Perhaps "any" is the right word here.]

[Footnote 2: Letter CL follows, 129.]

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