Biographia Epistolaris, Volume 1.
Coleridge, ed. Turnbull

Part 3 out of 6


Stowey, Oct. 18th, 1796.

My dear Cottle,

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

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

Yours affectionately,


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

[Footnote 2: "Written before Supper".]

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


November 1, 1796.

My beloved Poole,

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


5, November, 1796.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 1: William Poole.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dear Sir,

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

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

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

Your Friend,


Saturday, 15th Oct., 1796.


Dear Sir,

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

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

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

Believe me,

With esteem and friendly-heartedness,

Your obliged


Monday, November 14th (1796).


Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My dear Friend,

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

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

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

Never without an emotion of honest pride do I subscribe myself

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

[Bristol, December 26, 1796.]

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such were the notes our once loved poet sung:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


(January, 1797.)

Dear Cottle,

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

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

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

God bless you,

S. T. C.

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

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


(3 January, 1797.)

My dear Cottle,

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you,

S. T. C.

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

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


(10 January 1797).

My dear Cottle,

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

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

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

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


(Jany 1797).

My dear Cottle,

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


Stowey, Friday Morning (1797).

My dear Cottle.

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

God love you,

S. T. C.



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

[Footnote 1: The Skylark.]

Cottle subjected the two poems to severe criticism, and Coleridge


Wednesday morning, 10 o'clock.

(January, 1797.)

My dearest Cottle,

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

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

* * * * *

Milton (the carrier) waits impatiently.

S. T. C. [1]

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

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


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

My dear Cottle,

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

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

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

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

God bless you,


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


Stowey, May, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

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

"Mr. Catcott,

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

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

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

"Yours in Christian fellowship,


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


Stowey, May, 1797.

My dearest Cottle,

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

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

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

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

Feel their burdened breast
Heaving beneath incumbent Deity.

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

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

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

God love you.


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

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

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


Stowey (May), 1797.

My dear, dear Cottle,

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

S. T. C.

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

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


(May, 1797.)

My dear friend,

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


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

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


Stowey (May, 1797).

My dear friend,

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

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

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

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

Farewell, S. T. C.

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

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

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

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


Stowey (June), 1797.

My dear Cottle,

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

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

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

Please to add these two lines.

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

And for the line,

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

I should be glad to substitute this,

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

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

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


(8th) June, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

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

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

God bless you, and eke [1]


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

[Footnote 2: Letter LXXIII is our 61.]

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

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


Stowey, June 29th, 1797.

My very dear Cottle,

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

Still more interesting is the often quoted letter describing Dorothy


Stowey (3-17 July), 1797.

My dear Cottle,

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

Guilt was a thing impossible in her.

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

She and W. desire their kindest respects to you.

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

Your ever affectionate friend.

S. T. C.[1]

[Footnote 1: Letter LXXIV follows 63.]

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

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

The line Coleridge quotes in his description of Dorothy:

Guilt is a thing impossible in her

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

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


Stowey (17-20 July), 1797.

My very dear friend,

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

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

Your faithful


The next letter closes the visit of Thelwall.


Stowey, Sept. 1797.

My very dear Cottle,

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

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

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

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

From your truly affectionate friend,


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


(3 Sept., 1797.)

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

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

September 13, 1797.

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

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

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


London (10-15 Sept.) 1797.

Dear Cottle,

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

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

God bless you, Cottle, I love you,


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

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

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


(28 Nov. 1797.)

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

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

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


(2 Dec. 1797.)

Dear Cottle,

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

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

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

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

God love you,

S. T. C.

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

Coleridge had been introduced through Poole to the Wedgwoods; and
hearing that Coleridge was in need of funds, Tom Wedgwood offered
Coleridge L100, sending an order for the amount. Coleridge was now
meditating entering the Unitarian ministry, and was perplexed whether to
remain with Poetry or enter the pulpit. He writes to Cottle on the


Stowey (January, 1798.)

My very dear friend,

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

The next letter Cottle says refers to the Wedgwood Pension, but may be
about the rejection of the L100.[l]

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


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

My dear sir,

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

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

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

Very affectionately yours,


T. Wedgwood, Esq.

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

The next letter refers to the offer of the Pension of L150 a year, which
the Wedgwoods conferred on Coleridge.


(24 January, 1798).

My very dear Cottle,

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

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

Your grateful and affectionate friend,


[Footnote 1: Letter LXXVIII follows 72.]

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


January 1798.


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

Yours, with due respect,



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


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