Biographia Epistolaris, Volume 1.
Coleridge, ed. Turnbull

Part 2 out of 6

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 L2,000 will do; that he doubts not we
can contract for our passage under L400; 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 L2,000
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
aera, 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 L1 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, L45. When I
began the Watchman I had L40 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 L5 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 L105 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 L35 or L40 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 L100 a year for them;--when the number should be
complete, he would give L21 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 = L252, 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
L12 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.]


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