Biographia Epistolaris, Volume 1.
Coleridge, ed. Turnbull
Part 6 out of 6
LETTER 116. TO THOMAS WEDGWOOD.
Stowey, Feb. 10, 1803.
My dear Wedgwood,
With regard to myself and my accompanying you, let me say thus much. My
health is not worse than it was in the North; indeed it is much better.
I have no fears. But if you fear that, my health being what you know it
to be, the inconveniences of my being with you will be greater than the
advantages; (I feel no reluctance in telling you so)  it is so
entirely an affair of spirits and feeling that the conclusion must be
made by you, not in your reason, but purely in your spirit and feeling.
Sorry indeed should I be to know that you had gone abroad with one, to
whom you were comparatively indifferent. Sorry if there should be no one
with you, who could with fellow-feeling and general like-mindedness,
yield you sympathy in your sunshiny moments. Dear Wedgwood, my heart
swells within me as it were. I have no other wish to accompany you than
what arises immediately from my personal attachment, and a deep sense in
my own heart, that let us be as dejected as we will, a week together
cannot pass in which a mind like yours would not feel the want of
affection, or be wholly torpid to its pleasurable influences. I cannot
bear to think of your going abroad with a mere travelling companion;
with one at all influenced by salary, or personal conveniences. You will
not suspect me of flattering you, but indeed dear Wedgwood, you are too
good and too valuable a man to deserve to receive attendance from a
hireling, even for a month together, in your present state.
If I do not go with you, I shall stay in England only such time as may
be necessary for me to raise the travelling money, and go immediately to
the south of France. I shall probably cross the Pyrenees to Bilboa, see
the country of Biscay, and cross the north of Spain to Perpignan, and so
on to the north of Italy, and pass my next winter at Nice. I have every
reason to believe that I can live, even as a traveller, as cheap as I
can in England. God bless you. I will repeat no professions, even in the
superscription of a letter. You know me, and that it is my serious,
simple wish, that in everything respecting me, you would think
altogether of yourself, and nothing of me, and be assured that no
resolve of yours, however suddenly adopted, or however nakedly
communicated, will give me any pain, any at least arising from my own
S. T. COLERIDGE.
Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.
P. S. Perhaps Leslie will go with you.
[Footnote 1: Should be "Feel no reluctance in telling me so."]
LETTER 117. TO THOMAS WEDGWOOD.
Poole's, Feb. 17, 1803.
My dear Wedgwood,
I do not know that I have anything to say that justifies me in troubling
you with the postage and perusal of this scrawl. I received a short and
kind letter from Josiah last night. He is named the sheriff. Poole, who
has received a very kind invitation from your brother John, in a letter
of last Monday, and which was repeated in last night's letter, goes with
me, I hope in the full persuasion that you will be there (at Cote-House)
before he be under the necessity of returning home. Poole is a very,
very good man, I like even his incorrigibility in little faults and
deficiencies. It looks like a wise determination of nature to let well
Are you not laying out a scheme which will throw your travelling in
Italy, into an unpleasant and unwholesome part of the year? From all I
can gather, you ought to leave this country at the first of April at the
latest. But no doubt you know these things better than I. If I do not go
with you, it is very probable we shall meet somewhere or other. At all
events you will know where I am, and I can come to you if you wish it.
And if I go with you, there will be this advantage, that you may drop me
where you like, if you should meet any Frenchman, Italian, or Swiss,
whom you liked, and who would be pleasant and profitable to you. But
this we can discuss at Gunville.
As to ----, I never doubted that he means to fulfil his engagements
with you, but he is one of those weak moralled men, with whom the
meaning to do a thing means nothing. He promises with ninety parts out
of a hundred of his whole heart, but there is always a speck of cold at
the core that transubstantiates the whole resolve into a lie.
I remain in comfortable health,--warm rooms, an old friend, and
tranquillity, are specifics for my complaints. With all my ups and downs
I have a deal of joyous feeling, and I would with gladness give a good
part of it to you, my dear friend. God grant that spring may come to you
with healing on her wings.
God bless you, my dear Wedgwood. I remain with most affectionate esteem,
and regular attachment, and good wishes.
S. T. COLERIDGE.
Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.
P. S. If Southey should send a couple of bottles, one of the red
sulphate, and one of the compound acids for me, will you be so good as
to bring them with you?
[Footnote 1: Mackintosh.]
LETTER 118. TO THOMAS WEDGWOOD.
Stowey, Feb. 17, 1803.
My dear Wedgwood,
Last night I received a four ounce parcel letter, by the post, which
Poole and I concluded was the mistake or carelessness of the servant,
who had put the letter into the post office, instead of the coach
office. I should have been indignant, if dear Poole had not set me
laughing. On opening it, it contained my letter from Gunville, and a
small parcel of "Bang," from Purkis. I will transcribe the parts of his
letter which relate to it.
Brentford, Feb. 7, 1803.
My dear Coleridge,
I thank you for your letter, and am happy to be the means of obliging
you. Immediately on the receipt of yours, I wrote to Sir Joseph Banks,
who I verily believe is one of the most excellent and useful men of this
country, requesting a small quantity of Bang, and saying it was for the
use of Mr. T. Wedgwood. I yesterday received the parcel which I now
send, accompanied with a very kind letter, and as part of it will be
interesting to you and your friend, I will transcribe it. "The Bang you
ask for is the powder of the leaves of a kind of hemp that grows in the
hot climates. It is prepared, and I believe used, in all parts of the
east, from Morocco to China. In Europe it is found to act very
differently on different constitutions. Some it elevates in the extreme;
others it renders torpid, and scarcely observant of any evil that may
befal them. In Barbary it is always taken, if it can be procured, by
criminals condemned to suffer amputation, and it is said, to enable
those miserables to bear the rough operations of an unfeeling
executioner, more than we Europeans can the keen knife of our most
skilful chirurgeons. This it may be necessary to have said to my friend
Mr. T. Wedgwood, whom I respect much, as his virtues deserve, and I know
them well. I send a small quantity only as I possess but little. If
however, it is found to agree, I will instantly forward the whole of my
stock, and write without delay to Barbary, from whence it came, for
Sir Joseph adds, in a postscript: "It seems almost beyond a doubt, that
the Nepenthe was a preparation of the Bang, known to the Ancients."
Now I had better take the small parcel with me to Gunville; if I send it
by the post, besides the heavy expense, I cannot rely on the Stowey
carriers, who are a brace of as careless and dishonest rogues as ever
had claims on that article of the hemp and timber trade, called the
gallows. Indeed I verily believe that if all Stowey, Ward excepted, does
not go to hell, it will be by the supererogation of Poole's sense of
We will have a fair trial of Bang. Do bring down some of the Hyoscyamine
pills, and I will give a fair trial of Opium, Henbane, and Nepenthe.
By-the-bye I always considered Homer's account of the Nepenthe as a
God bless you, my dear friend, and
S.T. COLERIDGE. 
[Footnote 1: Letter CXXXVI follows 118.]
The last four letters were written from Stowey, whither Coleridge had
gone on a visit to Poole.
During the same period some events had taken place which changed the
aspect of things. He had become acquainted with William Sotheby, the
poet, translator of Homer and Wieland, to whom he communicated in long
letters his views on Wordsworth's theory of poetic diction, indicating a
widening divergence from his brother poet. He had also made for the
satisfaction of Sotheby a translation in blank verse of Gessner's 'Erste
Schiffer', which has been lost ('Letters', 369-401). He had likewise
paraphrased one of Gessner's Idylls, published as the 'Picture of The
Lover's Resolution', in the 'Morning Post' of 6th September 1802.
'Dejection, an Ode', the 'Hymn before Sunrise', and the beautiful
dramatic fragment, the 'Night Scene', are the last products of
Coleridge's chilled poetic imagination. A third edition (1803) of the
Early Poems was issued under the superintendence of Lamb ('Ainger', i,
199-206). He had made a second tour in Wales in company with Tom
Wedgwood in November and December 1802 ('Letters', 410-417) returning to
find that Sara had been born on 23rd December 1802. In August 1803
Coleridge went on tour to Scotland with the Wordsworths ('Letters', 451,
and Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Journal'). It is impossible for us to give all
the correspondence of this busy, mental period, but on 4th June 1803,
Coleridge writes to Godwin.
LETTER 119. To GODWIN
Saturday Night, June 4, 1803.
Greta Hall, Keswick.
My dear Godwin,
I trust that my dear friend, C. Lamb, will have informed you how
seriously ill I have been. I arrived at Keswick on Good Friday, caught
the influenza, have struggled on in a series of convalescence and
relapse, the disease still assuming new shapes and symptoms; and, though
I am certainly better than at any former period of the disease, and more
steadily convalescent, yet it is not mere 'low spirits' that makes me
doubt whether I shall ever wholly surmount the effects of it. I owe,
then, explanation to you, for I quitted town, with strong feelings of
affectionate esteem towards you, and a firm resolution to write to you
within a short time after my arrival at my home. During my illness I was
exceedingly affected by the thought that month had glided away after
month, and year after year, and still had found and left me only
'preparing' for the experiments which are to ascertain whether the hopes
of those who have hoped proudly of me have been auspicious omens or mere
delusions; and the anxiety to realize something, and finish something,
has, no doubt, in some measure retarded my recovery. I am now, however,
ready to go to the press with a work which I consider as introductory to
a 'system', though to the public it will appear altogether a thing by
itself. I write now to ask your advice respecting the time and manner of
its publication, and the choice of a publisher, I entitle it
'Organum Vera Organum, or an Instrument of Practical Reasoning in the
Business of Real Life';  to which will be prefixed,
1. A familiar introduction to the common system of Logic, namely, that
of Aristotle and the Schools.
2. A concise and simple, yet full statement of the Aristotelian Logic,
with reference annexed to the authors, and the name and page of the work
to which each part may be traced, so that it may be at once seen what is
Aristotle's, what Porphyry's, what the addition of the Greek
Commentators, and what of the Schoolmen.
3. An outline of the History of Logic in general,
1st Chapter. The Origin of Philosophy in general, and of Logic 'speciatim'.
2d Chap. Of the Eleatic and Megaric Logic.
3d Chap. of the Platonic Logic.
4th Chap, of Aristotle, containing a fair account of the "*[Greek:
Orhganon]--of which Dr. Reid, in 'Kaimes' Sketches of Man', has given
a most false, and not only erroneous, but calumnious statement--in as
far as the account had not been anticipated in the second part of my
work, namely, the concise and simple, yet full, etc. etc.
5th Chap. A philosophical examination of the truth and of the value of
the Aristotelian System of Logic, including all the after-additions to
6th Chap. On the characteristic merits and demerits of Aristotle and
Plato as philosophers in general, and an attempt to explain the fact
of the vast influence of the former during so many ages; and of the
influence of Plato's works on the restoration of the Belles Lettres,
and on the Reformation.
7th Chap. Raymund Lully.
8th Chap. Peter Ramus.
9th Chap. Lord Bacon, or the Verulamian Logic. both Chap. Examination
of the same, and comparison of it with the Logic of Plato (in which I
attempt to make it probable that, though considered by Bacon himself
as the antithesis and the antidote of Plato, it is 'bona fide' the
same, and that Plato has been misunderstood).
10th Chap. Descartes,
11th Chap. Condillac, and a philosophical examination of 'his' logic,
'i.e.' the logic which he basely purloined from Hartley.
Then follows my own 'Organum Vera Organum', which consists of a
*[Greek: Eustaema] of all 'possible' modes of true, probable, and false
reasoning, arranged philosophically, 'i.e.' on a strict analysis of
those operations and passions of the mind in which they originate, or by
which they act; with one or more striking instances annexed to each,
from authors of high estimation, and to each instance of false
reasoning, the manner in which the sophistry is to be detected, and the
words in which it may be exposed.
The whole will conclude with considerations of the value of the work, or
its practical utility in scientific investigations (especially the first
part, which contains the strictly demonstrative reasonings, and the
analysis of all the acts and passions of the mind which may be employed
to the discovery of truth) in the arts of healing, especially in those
parts that contain a catalogue, etc. of probable reasoning; lastly, to
the senate, the pulpit, and our law courts, to whom the whole--but
especially the latter three-fourths of the work, on the probable and the
false--will be useful, and finally instructive, how to form a
commonplace book by the aid of this Instrument, so as to read with
practical advantage, and (supposing average talents) to 'ensure' a
facility and rapidity in proving and in computing. I have thus amply
detailed the contents of my work, which has not been the labour of one
year or of two, but the result of many years' meditations, and of very
various reading. The size of the work will, printed at thirty lines a
page, form one volume octavo, 500 pages to the volume; and I shall be
ready with the first half of the work for the printer at a fortnight's
notice. Now, my dear friend, give me your thoughts on the subject: would
you have me to offer it to the booksellers, or, by the assistance of my
friends, print and publish on my own account? If the former, would you
advise me to sell the copyright at once, or only one or more editions?
Can you give me a general notion what terms I have a right to insist on
in either case? And, lastly, to whom would you advise me to apply?
Phillips is a pushing man, and a book is sure to have fair play if it be
his 'property'; and it could not be other than pleasant to me to have
the same publisher with yourself, 'but'----. Now if there be anything of
impatience, that whether truth and justice ought to follow that "'but'"
you will inform me. It is not my habit to go to work so seriously about
matters of pecuniary business; but my ill health makes my life more than
ordinarily uncertain, and I have a wife and three little ones. If your
judgment leads you to advise me to offer it to Phillips, would you take
the trouble of talking with him on the subject, and give him your real
opinion, whatever it may be, of the work and of the powers of the
When this book is fairly off my hands, I shall, if I live and have
sufficient health, set seriously to work in arranging what I have
already written, and in pushing forward my studies and my investigations
relative to the 'omne scibile' of human nature--'what' we are, and 'how
we become' what we are; so as to solve the two grand problems--how,
being acted upon, we shall act; how, acting, we shall be acted upon. But
between me and this work there may be death.
I hope your wife and little ones are well. I have had a sick family. At
one time every individual--master, mistress, children, and
servants--were all laid up in bed, and we were waited on by persons
hired from the town for the week. But now all are well, I only excepted.
If you find my paper smell, or my style savour of scholastic quiddity,
you must attribute it to the infectious quality of the folio on which I
am writing--namely, 'Scotus Erigena de Divisione Naturae', the
forerunner, by some centuries, of the schoolmen. I cherish all kinds of
honourable feelings towards you; and I am, dear Godwin,
Yours most sincerely,
S. T. COLERIDGE.
[Footnote 1 Extant in MS. See 'Athenaeum', 26th October 1895.]
[Footnote 2: See the 'Friend', Bohn Library, pp. 319-345.]
You know the high character and present scarcity of 'Tuckers Light of
Nature'. "I have found in this writer" (says Paley, in his preface to his
'Moral and Political Philosophy') "more original thinking and
observation upon the several subjects he has taken in hand than in any
other, not to say in all others put together". His talent also for
illustration is unrivalled. But his thoughts are diffused through a
long, various, and irregular work. And a friend of mine, every way
calculated by his taste and private studies for such a work, is
willing to abridge and systematize that work from eight to two
volumes--in the words of Paley, "to dispose into method, to collect into
heads and articles, and to exhibit in more compact and tangible masses,
what in that otherwise excellent performance is spread over too much
surface." I would prefix to it an essay containing the whole substance
of the first volume of Hartley; entirely defecated from all the
corpuscular hypothesis, with more illustrations. I give my name to the
essay. Likewise I will revise every sheet of the abridgment. I should
think the character of the work, and the above quotations from so high
an authority (with the present public, I mean) as Paley, would ensure
its success. If you will read or transcribe, and send this to Mr.
Phillips, or to any other publisher (Longman and Rees excepted) you
would greatly oblige me; that is to say, my dear Godwin, you would
essentially serve a young man of profound genius and original mind, who
wishes to get his 'Sabine' subsistence by some employment from the
booksellers, while he is employing the remainder of his time in nursing
up his genius for the destiny which he believes appurtenant to it. "Qui
cito facit, bis facit." Impose any task on me in return. 
[Footnote 1: Hazlitt. The abridgment was made, and published in 1807.]
[Footnote 2: Letter CXXXVII follows 119.]
Godwin published his 'Life of Chaucer' in 1803. The next letter refers
to this work.
LETTER 120. TO GODWIN
Friday, July 10, 1803.
My dear Godwin,
Your letter has this moment reached me, and found me writing for Stuart,
to whom I am under a positive engagement to produce three essays by the
beginning of next week. To promise, therefore, to do what I could not do
would be worse than idle; and to attempt to do what I could not do well,
from distraction of mind, would be trifling with my time and your
patience. If I could convey to you any tolerably distinct notion of the
state of my spirits of late, and the train or the sort of my ideas
consequent on that state, you would feel instantly that my
non-performance of the promise is matter of 'regret' with me indeed, but
not of 'compunction'. It was my full intention to have prepared
immediately a second volume of poems for the press; but, though the
poems are all either written or composed, excepting only the conclusion
of one poem (equal to four days' common work) and a few corrections, and
though I had the most pressing motives for sending them off, yet after
many attempts I was obliged to give up the very hope--the attempts acted
so perniciously on my disorder.
Wordsworth, too, wished, and in a very particular manner expressed the
wish, that I should write to him at large on a poetic subject, which he
has at present 'sub malleo ardentem et ignitum'. I made the attempt, but
I could not command my recollections. It seemed a dream that I had ever
'thought' on poetry, or had ever written it, so remote were my trains of
ideas from composition or criticism on composition. These two instances
will, in some manner, explain my non-performance; but, indeed, I have
been very ill, and that I have done anything in any way is a subject of
wonder to myself, and of no causeless self-complacency. Yet I am anxious
to do something which may convince you of my sincerity by zeal: and, if
you think that it will be of any service to you, I will send down for
the work; I will instantly give it a perusal 'con amore'; and partly by
my reverential love of Chaucer, and partly from my affectionate esteem
for his biographer (the summer, too, bringing increase of health with
it), I doubt not that my old mind will recur to me; and I will forthwith
write a series of letters, containing a critique on Chaucer, and on the
'Life of Chaucer', by W. Godwin, and publish them, with my name, either
at once in a small volume, or in the 'Morning Post' in the first
instance, and republish them afterwards.
The great thing to be done is to present Chaucer stripped of all his
adventitious matter, his translations, etc.; to analyse his own real
productions, to deduce his province and his rank; then to compare him
with his contemporaries, or with immediate prede- and suc- cessors, first
as an Englishman, and secondly as a European; then with Spenser and with
Shakespeare, between whom he seems to stand mid-way, with, however, a
manner of his own which belongs to neither, with a manner and an
excellence; lastly, to compare Dante and Chaucer, and inclusively
Spenser and Shakespere, with the ancients, to abstract the
characteristic differences, and to develop the causes of such
differences. (For instance, in all the writings of the ancients I
recollect nothing that, strictly examined, can be called humour; yet
Chaucer abounds with it, and Dante, too, though in a very different way.
Thus, too, the passion for personifications and, "me judice", strong,
sharp, practical good sense, which I feel to constitute a strikingly
characteristic difference in favour of the "feudal" poets.) As to
information, I could give you a critical sketch of poems, written by
contemporaries of Chaucer, in Germany; an epic to compare with his
"Palamon", and tales with his Tales, descriptive and fanciful poems with
those of the same kind in our own poet. In short, a Life of Chaucer
ought, in the work itself, and in the appendices of the work, to make
the poet explain his age, and to make the age both explain the poet, and
evince the superiority of the poet over his age. I think that the
publication of such a work would do "your" work some little service, in
more ways than one. It would occasion, necessarily, a double review of
it in all the Reviews; and there is a large class of fashionable men who
have been pleased of late to take me into high favour, and among whom
even my name might have some influence, and my praises of you weight.
But let me hear from you on the subject.
Now for my own business. As soon as you possibly can do something
respecting the abridgment of Tucker, do so; you will, on my honour,
be doing "good", in the best sense of the word! Of course I cannot wish
you to do anything till after the 24th, unless it should be "put" in
your way to read that part of the letter to Phillips.
As to my own work, let me correct one or two conceptions of yours
respecting it. I could, no doubt, induce my friends to publish the work
for me, but I am possessed of facts that deter me. I know that the
booksellers not only do not encourage, but that they use unjustifiable
artifices to injure works published on the authors' own account. It
never answered, as far as I can find, in any instance. And even the sale
of a first edition is not without objections on this score--to this,
however, I should certainly adhere, and it is my resolution. But I must
do something immediately. Now, if I knew that any bookseller would
purchase the first edition of this work, as numerous as he pleased, I
should put the work out of hand at once, "totus in illo". But it was
never my intention to send one single sheet to the press till the whole
was "bona fide" ready for the printer--that is, both written, and fairly
written. The work is half written "out", and the materials of the other
half are all in paper, or rather on papers. I should not expect one
farthing till the work was delivered entire; and I would deliver it at
once, if it were wished. But, if I cannot engage with a bookseller for
this, I must do something else "first", which I should be sorry for.
Your division of the sorts of works acceptable to booksellers is just,
and what has been always my own notion or rather knowledge; but, though
I detailed the whole of the contents of my work so fully to you, I did
not mean to lay any stress with the bookseller on the first half, but
simply state it as preceded by a familiar introduction, and critical
history of logic. On the work itself I meant to lay all the stress, as a
work really in request, and non-existent, either well or ill-done, and
to put the work in the "same class" with "Guthrie" and books of
practical instruction--for the universities, classes of scholars,
lawyers, etc. etc. Its profitable sale will greatly depend on the
pushing of the booksellers, and on its being considered as a "practical"
book, "Organum vere Organum", a book by which the reader is to acquire
not only knowledge, but likewise "power". I fear that it may extend to
seven hundred pages; and would it be better to publish the Introduction
of History separately, either after or before? God bless you, and all
belonging to you, and your Chaucer. All happiness to you and your wife.
Ever yours, S. T. C.
P.S. If you read to Phillips any part of my letter respecting my own
work, or rather detailed it to him, you would lay all the stress on the
[Footnote 1: Godwin exerted himself actively in the matter, as appears
by the correspondence of Charles Lamb.]
The ambitious scheme of the letters to Godwin did not exhaust
Coleridge's projects at this season. To Southey he wrote:
LETTER 121. To SOUTHEY 
Keswick, July, 1803.
My dear Southey,
... I write now to propose a scheme, or rather a rude outline of a
scheme, of your grand work. What harm can a proposal do? If it be no
pain to you to reject it, it will be none to me to have it rejected. I
would have the work entitled "Bibliotheca Britannica", or an History of
British Literature, bibliographical, biographical, and critical. The two
"last" volumes I would have to be a chronological catalogue of all
noticeable or extant books; the others, be the number six or eight, to
consist entirely of separate treatises, each giving a critical
biblio-biographical history of some one subject. I will, with great
pleasure, join you in learning Welsh and Erse: and you, I, Turner, and
Owen, might dedicate ourselves for the first half year to a complete
history of all Welsh, Saxon, and Erse books that are not translations,
that are the native growth of Britain. If the Spanish neutrality
continues, I will go in October or November to Biscay, and throw light
on the Basque.
Let the next volume contain the history of "English" poetry and poets,
in which I would include all prose truly poetical. The first half of the
second volume should be dedicated to great single names, Chaucer and
Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton and Taylor, Dryden and Pope; the poetry of
witty logic,--Swift, Fielding, Richardson, Sterne: I write "par hasard",
but I mean to say all great names as have either formed epochs in our
taste, or such, at least, as are representative; and the great object to
be in each instance to determine, first, the true merits and demerits of
the "books"; secondly, what of these belong to the age--what to the
author "quasi peculium". The second half of the second volume should be
a history of poetry and romances, everywhere interspersed with
biography, but more flowing, more consecutive, more bibliographical,
chronological, and complete. The third volume I would have dedicated to
English prose, considered as to style, as to eloquence, as to general
impressiveness; a history of styles and manners, their causes, their
birth-places and parentage, their analysis.
These three volumes would be so generally interesting, so exceedingly
entertaining, that you might bid fair for a sale of the work at large.
Then let the fourth volume take up the history of metaphysics, theology,
medicine, alchemy, common, canon, and Roman law, from Alfred to Henry
VII.; in other words, a history of the dark ages in Great Britain. The
fifth volume--carry on metaphysics and ethics to the present day in the
first half; the second half, comprise the theology of all the reformers.
In the fourth volume there would be a grand article on the philosophy of
the theology of the Roman Catholic religion. In this (fifth volume),
under different names,--Hooker, Baxter, Biddle, and Fox,--the spirit of
the theology of all the other parts of Christianity. The sixth and
seventh volumes must comprise all the articles you can get, on all the
separate arts and sciences that have been treated of in books since the
Reformation; and, by this time, the book, if it answered at all, would
have gained so high a reputation, that you need not fear having whom you
liked to write the different articles--medicine, surgery, chemistry,
etc., etc., navigation, travellers, voyagers, etc., etc. If I go into
Scotland, shall I engage Walter Scott to write the history of Scottish
poets? Tell me, however, what you think of the plan. It would have one
prodigious advantage: whatever accident stopped the work, would only
prevent the future good, not mar the past; each volume would be a great
and valuable work "per se". Then each volume would awaken a new
interest, a new set of readers, who would buy the past volumes of
course; then it would allow you ample time and opportunities for the
slavery of the catalogue volumes, which should be at the same time an
index to the work, which would be, in very truth, a pandect of
knowledge, alive and swarming with human life, feeling, incident. By the
bye, what a strange abuse has been made of the word encyclopaedia! It
signifies, properly, grammar, logic, rhetoric, and ethics and
metaphysics, which last, explaining the ultimate principles of
grammar--log., rhet., and eth.--formed a circle of knowledge. * * * To
call a huge unconnected miscellany of the "omne scibile", in an
arrangement determined by the accident of initial letters, an
encyclopaedia, is the impudent ignorance of your Presbyterian bookmakers.
God bless you! S. T. C.
[Footnote 1: Southey's biographer says regarding this scheme: "Soon
after the date of the letter, my father paid a short visit to London,
the chief purpose of which was to negotiate with Messrs. Longman and
Rees respecting 'the management of a "Bibliotheca Britannica" upon a
very extensive scale, to be arranged chronologically, and made a
readable book by biography, criticism, and connecting chapters, to be
published like the Cyclopaedia in parts.'"]
SOUTHEY TO S. T. COLERIDGE, ESQ.
Bristol, Aug. 3, 1803.
I meant to have written sooner; but those little units of interruption
and preventions, which sum up to as ugly an aggregate as the items in a
lawyer's bill, have come in the way. ...
Your plan is too good, too gigantic, quite beyond my powers. If you had
my tolerable state of health, and that love of steady and productive
employment which is now grown into a necessary habit with me, if you
were to execute and would execute it, it would be, beyond all doubt, the
most valuable work of any age or any country; but I cannot fill up such
an outline. No man can better feel where he fails than I do; and to rely
upon you for whole quartos! Dear Coleridge, the smile that comes with
that thought is a very melancholy one; and if Edith saw me now, she
would think my eyes were weak again, when, in truth, the humour that
covers them springs from another cause.
For my own comfort, and credit, and peace of mind, I must have a plan
which I know myself strong enough to execute. I can take author by
author as they come in their series, and give his life and an account of
his works quite as well as ever it has yet been done. I can write
connecting paragraphs and chapters shortly and pertinently, in my way;
and in this way the labour of all my associates can be more easily
arranged. ... And, after all, this is really nearer the actual design
of what I purport by a bibliotheca than yours would be,--a book of
reference, a work in which it may be seen what has been written upon
every subject in the British language: this has elsewhere been done in
the dictionary form; whatever we get better than that form--"ponemus
[Footnote 1: Letter CXXXVIII is our 121. CXXXIX-CXLII follow 121.]
To Thomas Wedgwood Coleridge, on his return from the Scotch tour, wrote:
LETTER 122. To THOMAS WEDGWOOD
Keswick, September 16, 1803.
My dear Wedgwood,
I reached home on yesterday noon. William Hazlitt, is a thinking,
observant, original man; of great power as a painter of
character-portraits, and far more in the manner of the old painters than
any living artist, but the objects must be before him. He has no
imaginative memory; so much for his intellectuals. His manners are to
ninety-nine in one hundred singularly repulsive; brow-hanging;
shoe-contemplating--strange. Sharp seemed to like him, but Sharp saw
him only for half an hour, and that walking. He is, I verily believe,
kindly-natured: is very fond of, attentive to, and patient with
children, but he is jealous, gloomy, and of an irritable pride. With all
this there is much good in him. He is disinterested; an enthusiastic
lover of the great men who have been before us. He says things that are
his own, in a way of his own: and though from habitual shyness, and the
outside of bear skin, at least of misanthropy, he is strangely confused
and dark in his conversation, and delivers himself of almost all his
conceptions with a "Forceps", yet he "says" more than any man I ever
knew (you yourself only excepted) of that which is his own, in a way of
his own; and often times when he has warmed his mind, and the juice is
come out, and spread over his spirits, he will gallop for half an hour
together, with real eloquence. He sends well-feathered thoughts straight
forward to the mark with a twang of the bow-string. If you could
recommend him as a portrait painter, I should be glad. To be your
companion, he is, in my opinion utterly unfit. His own health is fitful.
I have written as I ought to do: to you most freely. You know me, both
head and heart, and I will make what deductions your reasons may dictate
to me. I can think of no other person (for your travelling
companion)--what wonder? For the last years, I have been shy of all new
To live beloved is all I need,
And when I love, I love indeed.
I never had any ambition, and now, I trust I have almost as little
For five months past my mind has been strangely shut up. I have taken
the paper with the intention to write to you many times, but it has been
one blank feeling;--one blank idealess feeling. I had nothing to
say;--could say nothing. How dearly I love you, my very dreams make
known to me. I will not trouble you with the gloomy tale of my health.
When I am awake, by patience, employment, effort of mind, and walking, I
can keep the Fiend at arm's length, but the night is my Hell!--sleep my
tormenting Angel. Three nights out of four, I fall asleep, struggling to
lie awake, and my frequent night-screams have almost made me a nuisance
in my own house. Dreams with me are no shadows, but the very calamities
of my life. * * *
In the hope of drawing the gout, if gout it should be, into my feet, I
walked previously to my getting into the coach at Perth, 263 miles, in
eight days, with no unpleasant fatigue; and if I could do you any
service by coming to town, and there were no coaches, I would undertake
to be with you, on foot in seven days. I must have strength somewhere.
My head is indefatigably strong: my limbs too are strong: but acid or
not acid, gout or not gout, something there is in my stomach. * * *
To diversify this dusky letter, I will write an "Epitaph", which I
composed in my sleep for myself while dreaming that I was dying. To the
best of my recollection I have not altered a word.
Here sleeps at length poor Col. and without screaming
Who died, as he had always lived, a dreaming:
Shot dead, while sleeping, by the gout within,
Alone, and all unknown, at E'nbro' in an Inn.
It was Tuesday night last, at the Black Bull, Edinburgh. Yours, dear
Wedgwood, gratefully, and
S. T. COLERIDGE.
Thomas Wedgwood, Esq.
The character of Hazlitt in this letter is as good as anything in La
Bruyere. The next letter (without date in Cottle's "Reminiscences", but
which must be 1803) is to Miss Cruikshank, of Nether Stowey. The
Penelope referred to is Penelope Poole, the cousin of Tom Poole.
LETTER 123. To MISS CRUIKSHANK
(No date, supposed to be 1803.)
My dear Miss Cruikshank,
With the kindest intentions, I fear you have done me some little
disservice, in borrowing the first edition of my poems from Miss B--. I
never held any principles indeed, of which, considering my age, I have
reason to be ashamed. The whole of my public life may be comprised in
eight or nine months of my 22nd year; and the whole of my political sins
during that time, consisted in forming a plan of taking a large farm in
common, in America, with other young men of my age. A wild notion
indeed, but very harmless.
As to my principles, they were, at all times, decidedly anti-jacobin and
anti-revolutionary, and my American scheme is a proof of this. Indeed at
that time, I seriously held the doctrine of passive obedience, though a
violent enemy of the first war. Afterwards, and for the last ten years
of my life, I have been fighting incessantly in the good cause, against
French ambition, and French principles; and I had Mr. Addington's
suffrage, as to the good produced by my Essays, written in the "Morning
Post", in the interval of the peace of Amiens, and the second war,
together with my two letters to Mr. Fox. 
Of my former errors, I should be no more ashamed, than of my change of
body, natural to increase of age; but in that first edition, there was
inserted (without my consent!) a Sonnet to Lord Stanhope, in direct
contradiction, equally, to my "then", as to my present principles. A
Sonnet written by me in ridicule and mockery of the bloated style of
French jacobinical declamation, and inserted by Biggs, (the fool of a
printer,) in order forsooth, that he might send the book, and a letter
to Earl Stanhope; who, to prove that he was not mad in all things,
treated both book and letter with silent contempt. I have therefore sent
Mr. Poole's second edition, and if it be in your power, I could wish you
to read the "dedication to my brother," at the beginning, to Lady E.
Perceval, to obtain whose esteem, so far at least as not to be
confounded with the herd of vulgar mob flatterers, I am not ashamed to
confess myself solicitous.
I would I could be with you, and your visitors. Penelope, you know, is
very high in my esteem. With true warmth of heart, she joins more
strength of understanding; and, to steady principle, more variety of
accomplishments, than it has often been my lot to meet with among the
fairer sex. When I praise one woman to another I always mean a
compliment to both. My tenderest regards to your dear mother, whom I
really long to spend a few hours with, and believe me with sincere good
S. T. COLERIDGE 
[Footnote 1: Dated "1807" in "Early Recollections".]
[Footnote 2: It appears from Sir James Macintosh's Life, published by
his son, that a diminution of respect towards Sir James was entertained
by Mr. Fox, arising from the above two letters of Mr. Coleridge, which
appeared in the "Morning Post". Some enemy of Sir James had informed Mr.
Fox that these two letters were written by Macintosh, and which
exceedingly wounded his mind. Before the error could be corrected, Mr.
Fox died. This occurrence was deplored by Sir James, in a way that
showed his deep feeling of regret, but which, as might be supposed, did
not prevent him from bearing the amplest testimony to the social worth
and surpassing talents of that great statesman. Mr. Coleridge's Bristol
friends will remember that once Mr. Fox was idolized by him as the
paragon of political excellence; and Mr. Pitt depressed in the same
proportion. [Note by Cottle.]]
[Footnote 3: Letter CXLIII follows 123.]
In the beginning of 1804 we find Coleridge in London, whither Poole,
too, had gone to superintend the compilation of an Abstract on the
condition of the Poor Laws.
LETTER 124. TO THOMAS WEDGWOOD
16, Abingdon Street, Westminster, Jan. 1804.
My dear friend,
Some divines hold, that with God to think, and to create, are one and
the same act. If to think, and even to compose had been the same as to
write with me, I should have written as much too much as I have written
too little. The whole truth of the matter is, that I have been very,
very ill. Your letter remained four days unread, I was so ill. What
effect it had upon me I cannot express by words. It lay under my pillow
day after day. I should have written forty times, but as it often and
often happens with me, my heart was too full, and I had so much to say
that I said nothing. I never received a delight that lasted longer upon
me--"Brooded on my mind and made it pregnant," than (from) the six last
sentences of your last letter,--which I cannot apologize for not having
answered, for I should be casting calumnies against myself; for, for the
last six or seven weeks, I have both thought and felt more concerning
you, and relating to you, than of all other men put together.
Somehow or other, whatever plan I determined to adopt, my fancy,
good-natured pander of our wishes, always linked you on to it; or I made
it your plan, and linked myself on. I left my home, December 20, 1803,
intending to stay a day and a half at Grasmere, and then to walk to
Kendal, whither I had sent all my clothes and viatica; from thence to go
to London, and to see whether or no I could arrange my pecuniary
matters, so as leaving Mrs. Coleridge all that was necessary to her
comforts, to go myself to Madeira, having a persuasion, strong as the
life within me, that one winter spent in a really warm, genial climate,
would completely restore me. Wordsworth had, as I may truly say, forced
on me a hundred pounds, in the event of my going to Madeira; and Stuart
had kindly offered to befriend me. During the days and affrightful
nights of my disease, when my limbs were swollen, and my stomach refused
to retain the food--taken in in sorrow, then I looked with pleasure on
the scheme: but as soon as dry frosty weather came, or the rains and
damps passed off, and I was filled with elastic health, from crown to
sole, then the thought of the weight of pecuniary obligation from so
many people reconciled me; but I have broken off my story.
I stayed at Grasmere (Mr. Wordsworth's) a month; three fourths of the
time bed-ridden;--and deeply do I feel the enthusiastic kindness of
Wordsworth's wife and sister, who sat up by me, one or the other, in
order to awaken me at the first symptoms of distressful feeling; and
even when they went to rest, continued often and often to weep and watch
for me even in their dreams. I left them January the 14th, and have
spent a very pleasant week at Dr. Crompton's, at Liverpool, and arrived
in London, at Poole's lodgings, last night at eight o'clock.
Though my right hand is so much swollen that I can scarcely keep my pen
steady between my thumb and finger, yet my stomach is easy, and my
breathing comfortable, and I am eager to hope all good things of my
health. That gained, I have a cheering, and I trust prideless confidence
that I shall make an active, and perseverant use of the faculties and
requirements that have been entrusted to my keeping, and a fair trial of
their height, depth, and width. Indeed I look back on the last four
months with honest pride, seeing how much I have done, with what steady
attachment of mind to the same subject, and under what vexations and
sorrows, from without, and amid what incessant sufferings. So much of
myself. When I know more, I will tell you more.
I find you are still at Cote-house. Poole tells me you talk of Jamaica
as a summer excursion. If it were not for the voyage, I would that you
would go to Madeira, for from the hour I get on board the vessel, to the
time that I once more feel England beneath my feet, I am as certain as
past and present experience can make me, that I shall be in health, in
high health; and then I am sure, not only that I should be a comfort to
you, but that I should be so without diminution of my activity, or
professional usefulness. Briefly, dear Wedgwood! I truly and at heart
love you, and of course it must add to my deeper and moral happiness to
be with you, if I can be either assistance or alleviation. If I find
myself so well that I defer my Madeira plan, I shall then go forthwith
to Devonshire to see my aged mother, once more before she dies, and stay
two or three months with my brothers. But, wherever I am, I never suffer
a day, (except when I am travelling) to pass without doing something.
Poole made me promise that I would leave one side for him. God bless
him! He looks so worshipful in his office, among his clerks, that it
would give you a few minutes' good spirits to look in upon him. Pray you
as soon as you can command your pen, give me half a score lines, and now
that I am loose, say whether or no I can be any good to you.
S. T. COLERIDGE. 
[Footnote 1: Letters CXLIV-CXLVI follow 124.]
LETTER 125. TO THOMAS WEDGWOOD
16, Abingdon Street, Westminster, Jan. 28, 1804.
My dear friend,
It is idle for me to say to you, that my heart and very soul ache with
the dull pain of one struck down and stunned. I write to you, for my
letter cannot give you unmixed pain, and I would fain say a few words to
dissuade you. What good can possibly come of your plan? Will not the
very chairs and furniture of your room be shortly more, far more
intolerable to you than new and changing objects! more insufferable
reflectors of pain and weariness of spirit? Oh, most certainly they
will! You must hope, my dearest Wedgwood; you must act as if you hoped.
Despair itself has but that advice to give you. Have you ever thought of
trying large doses of opium, a hot climate, keeping your body open by
grapes, and the fruits of the climate? Is it possible that by drinking
freely, you might at last produce the gout, and that a violent pain and
inflammation in the extremities might produce new trains of motion and
feeling in your stomach, and the organs connected with the stomach,
known and unknown? Worse than what you have decreed for yourself cannot
well happen. Say but a word and I will come to you, will be with you,
will go with you to Malta, to Madeira, to Jamaica, or (if the climate,
of which, and its strange effects, I have heard wonders, true or not) to
At all events, and at the worst even, if you do attempt to realize the
scheme of going to and remaining at Gunville, for God's sake, my dear
dear friend, do keep up a correspondence with one or more; or if it were
possible for you, with several. I know by a little what your sufferings
are, and that to shut the eyes, and stop up the ears, is to give one's
self up to storm and darkness, and the lurid forms and horrors of a
dream. I scarce know why it is; a feeling I have, and which I can hardly
understand. I could not endure to live if I had not a firm faith that
the life within you will pass forth out of the furnace, for that you
have borne what you have borne, and so acted beneath such
pressure--constitutes you an awful moral being. I am not ashamed to pray
aloud for you.
Your most affectionate friend,
S. T. COLERIDGE. 
[Footnote 1: Letters CXLVII-CXLIX follow 125.]
These letters on the Pains of Sleep are followed by one to Davy on the
non-sympathy of the well with the sick.
LETTER 126. TO DAVY
Tuesday morning, 7, Barnard's Inn, Holborn. 
My dear Davy,
I trusted my cause last Sunday, I fear, to an unsympathizing agent. To
Mr. Tuffin I can scarcely think myself bound to make a direct apology,
as my promise was wholly conditional. This I did, not only from general
foresight, but from the possibility of hearing from you, that you had
not been able to untie your former engagement. To you, therefore, I owe
the apology: and on you I expressly and earnestly desired Tobin to call
and to explain for me, that I had been in an utterly incompatible state
of bodily feeling the whole evening at Mr. Renny's; that I was much hurt
by the walk home through the wet; instantly on my return here had an attack
in my bowels; that this had not wholly left me, and therefore that I
could not come, unless the weather altered. By which I did not mean
merely its 'holding up' (though even this it did not do at four o'clock
at Barnard's Inn, the sleety rain was still falling, though slightly),
but the drying up of the rawness and dampness, which would infallibly
have diseased me, before I had reached the Institution--not to mention
the effect of sitting a long evening in damp clothes and shoes on an
invalid, scarcely recovered from a diarrhoea. I have thought it fit to
explain at large, both as a mark of respect to you, and because I have
very unjustly acquired a character for breaking engagements, entirely
from the non-sympathy of the well with the sick, the robust with the
weakly. It must be difficult for most men to conceive the extreme
reluctance with which I go at all into 'company', and the unceasing
depression which I am struggling up against during the whole time I am
in it, which too often makes me drink more 'during dinner' than I ought
to do, and as often forces me into efforts of almost obtrusive
conversation, 'acting' the opposite of my real state of mind in order to
arrive at a medium, as we roll paper the opposite way in order to
Be so good as to tell me what hour you expect Mr. Sotheby on Thursday.
I am, my dear Davy, with sincere and affectionate esteem, yours ever,
S. T. COLERIDGE.
[Footnote 1: The twopenny post-mark is that of 6th March, 1804.]
Amid these letters, complaining of ill health and full of apologies for
broken engagements, Coleridge could write genuine literary criticisms of
the first order. The following letter addressed to Sarah Hutchinson is
his opinion of Sir Thomas Browne. He had presented her with a copy of
'Religio Medici' with copious annotations (see 'Athenaeum', 30 May 1896,
LETTER 127. TO SARAH HUTCHINSON
March 10th, 1804,
Sat. night, 12 o'clock.
Sir Thomas Browne is among my first favorites, rich in various
knowledge, exuberant in conceptions and conceits, contemplative,
imaginative; often truly great and magnificent in his style and diction,
though doubtless too often big, stiff, and hyperlatinistic: thus I might
without admixture of falsehood, describe Sir T. Browne and my
description would have only this fault, that it would be equally, or
almost equally, applicable to half a dozen other writers, from the
beginning of the reign of Elizabeth to the end of Charles II. He is
indeed all this; and what he has more than all this peculiar to himself,
I seem to convey to my own mind in some measure by saying,--that he is a
quiet and sublime enthusiast with a strong tinge of the fantast,--the
humourist constantly mingling with, and flashing across, the
philosopher, as the darting colours in shot silk play upon the main dye.
In short, he has brains in his head which is all the more interesting
for a little twist in the brains. He sometimes reminds the reader of
Montaigne, but from no other than the general circumstances of an
egotism common to both; which in Montaigne is too often a mere amusing
gossip, a chit-chat story of whims and peculiarities that lead to
nothing,--but which in Sir Thomas Browne is always the result of a
feeling heart conjoined with a mind of active curiosity,--the natural
and becoming egotism of a man, who, loving other men as himself, gains
the habit, and the privilege of talking about himself as familiarly as
about other men. Fond of the curious, and a hunter of oddities and
strangenesses, while he conceived himself, with quaint and humourous
gravity a useful inquirer into physical truth and fundamental
science,--he loved to contemplate and discuss his own thoughts and
feelings, because he found by comparison with other men's, that they too
were curiosities, and so with a perfectly graceful and interesting ease
he put them too into his museum and cabinet of varieties. In very truth
he was not mistaken:--so completely does he see every thing in a light
of his own, reading nature neither by sun, moon, nor candle light, but
by the light of the faery glory around his own head; so that you might
say that nature had granted to him in perpetuity a patent and monopoly
for all his thoughts. Read his "Hydriotaphia" above all:--and in
addition to the peculiarity, the exclusive Sir-Thomas-Browne-ness of all
the fancies and modes of illustration, wonder at and admire his
entireness in every subject, which is before him--he is "totus in illo";
he follows it; he never wanders from it,--and he has no occasion to
wander;--for whatever happens to be his subject, he metamorphoses all
nature into it. In that "Hydriotaphia" or Treatise on some Urns dug up
in Norfolk--how earthy, how redolent of graves and sepulchres is every
line! You have now dark mould, now a thigh-bone, now a scull, then a bit
of mouldered coffin! a fragment of an old tombstone with moss in its
"hic jacet";--a ghost or a winding sheet--or the echo of a funeral psalm
wafted on a November wind! and the gayest thing you shall meet with
shall be a silver nail or gilt "Anno Domini" from a perished coffin top.
The very same remark applies in the same force to the interesting,
though the far less interesting, Treatise on the Quincuncial Plantations
of the Ancients. There is the same attention to oddities, to the
remotenesses and "minutiae" of vegetable terms,--the same entireness of
subject. You have quincunxes in heaven above, quincunxes in earth below,
and quincunxes in the water beneath the earth; quincunxes in deity,
quincunxes in the mind of man, quincunxes in bones, in the optic nerves,
in roots of trees, in leaves, in petals, in every thing. In short, first
turn to the last leaf of this volume, and read out aloud to yourself the
last seven paragraphs of Chap. V. beginning with the words "More
considerables," etc. But it is time for me to be in bed, in the words of
Sir Thomas, which will serve you, my dear, as a fair specimen of his
manner.--"But the quincunx of heaven--(the Hyades or five stars about
the horizon at midnight at that time)--runs low, and 'tis time we close
the five ports of knowledge: we are unwilling to spin out our waking
thoughts into the phantasmes of sleep, which often continueth
precogitations,--making tables of cobwebbes, and wildernesses of
handsome groves. To keep our eyes open longer were but to act our
Antipodes. The huntsmen are up in America, and they are already past
their first sleep in Persia." Think you, my dear Friend, that there ever
was such a reason given before for going to bed at midnight;--to wit,
that if we did not, we should be acting the part of our Antipodes! And
then "the huntsmen are up in America."--What life, what fancy!--Does the
whimsical knight give us thus a dish of strong green tea, and call it an
opiate! I trust that you are quietly asleep--
And that all the stars hang bright above your dwelling,
Silent as tho' they watched the sleeping earth! 
S. T. COLERIDGE.
[Footnote 1: From 'Dejection: An Ode', the "Lady" of the later version
of which was Sarah Hutchinson. See Knight's 'Life of Wordsworth', ii.
Coleridge now wrote to Tom Wedgwood of his determination to go to Malta.
Stoddart, his old friend, had invited him thither.
LETTER 128. TO THOMAS WEDGWOOD
(24) March, 1804.
My dear friend,
Though fearful of breaking in upon you after what you have written to
me, I could not have left England without having written both to you and
your brother, at the very moment I received a note from Sharp, informing
me that I must instantly secure a place in the Portsmouth mail for
Tuesday, and if I could not, that I must do so in the light coach for
Tuesday's early coach.
I am agitated by many things, and only write now because you desired an
answer by return of post. I have been dangerously ill, but the illness
is going about, and not connected with my immediate ill health, however
it may be with my general constitution. It was the cholera-morbus. But
for a series of the merest accidents I should have been seized in the
streets, in a bitter east wind, with cold rain; at all events have
walked through it struggling. It was Sunday-night.
I have suffered it at Tobin's; Tobin sleeping out at Woolwich. No fire,
no wine or spirits, or medicine of any kind, and no person being within
call, but luckily, perhaps the occasion would better suit the word
providentially, Tuffin, calling, took me home with him. * * * I tremble
at every loud sound I myself utter. But this is rather a history of the
past than of the present. I have only enough for memento, and already on
Wednesday I consider myself in clear sunshine, without the shadow of the
wings of the destroying angel.
What else relates to myself, I will write on Monday. Would to heaven you
were going with me to Malta, if it were but for the voyage! With all
other things I could make the passage with an unwavering mind. But
without cheerings of hope. Let me mention one thing; Lord Cadogan was
brought to absolute despair, and hatred of life, by a stomach complaint,
being now an old man. The symptoms, as stated to me, were strikingly
like yours, excepting the nervous difference of the two characters; the
flittering fever, etc. He was advised to reduce lean beef to a pure
jelly, by Papin's digester, with as little water as could secure it from
burning, and of this to take half a wine glass 10 or 14 times a day.
This and nothing else. He did so. Sir George Beaumont saw, within a few
weeks a letter from himself to Lord St. Asaph, in which he relates the
circumstance of his perseverence in it, and rapid amelioration, and
final recovery. "I am now," he says, "in real good health; as good, and
in as cheerful spirits as I ever was when a young man."
May God bless you, even here,
S. T. COLERIDGE.
Before Coleridge left for Malta, Humphry Davy wrote the following
beautiful letter to Coleridge, and Coleridge replied in a letter equally
beautiful in its self-portraiture.
Royal Institution, Twelve o'clock, Monday.
My dear Coleridge,
My mind is disturbed, and my body harassed by many labours; yet I cannot
suffer you to depart, without endeavouring to express to you some of the
unbroken and higher feelings of my spirit, which have you at once for
their cause and object.
Years have passed since we first met; and your presence, and
recollections in regard to you, have afforded me continued sources of
enjoyment. Some of the better feelings of my nature have been elevated
by your converse; and thoughts which you have nursed, have been to me an
eternal source of consolation.
In whatever part of the world you are, you will often live with me, not
as a fleeting idea, but as a recollection possessed of creative
energy,--as an imagination winged with fire, inspiring and rejoicing.
You must not live much longer without giving to all men the proof of
power, which those who know you feel in admiration. Perhaps at a
distance from the applauding and censuring murmurs of the world, you
will be best able to execute those great works which are justly expected
from you: you are to be the historian of the philosophy of feeling. Do
not in any way dissipate your noble nature! Do not give up your
May you soon recover perfect health--the health of strength and
happiness! May you soon return to us, confirmed in all the powers
essential to the exertion of genius. You were born for your country, and
your native land must be the scene of your activity. I shall expect the
time when your spirit, bursting through the clouds of ill health, will
appear to all men, not as an uncertain and brilliant flame, but as a
fair and permanent light, fixed, though constantly in motion,--as a sun
which gives its fire, not only to its attendant planets, but which sends
beams from all its parts into all worlds.
May blessings attend you, my dear friend! Do not forget me: we live for
different ends, and with different habits and pursuits; but our feelings
with regard to each other have, I believe, never altered. They must
continue; they can have no natural death; and, I trust, they can never
be destroyed by fortune, chance, or accident.
LETTER 129. TO DAVY
Sunday, March 25, 1804.
My dear Davy,
I returned from Mr. Northcote's, having been diseased by the change of
weather too grievously to permit me to continue sitting, for in those
moods of body brisk motion alone can prevent me from falling into
distempered sleep. I came in meditating a letter to you, or rather the
writing of the letter, which I had meditated yesterday, even while you
were yet sitting with us. But it would be the merest confusion of my
mind to force it into activity at present. Yours of this morning must
have sunken down first, and must have found its abiding resting-place.
O, dear friend! blessed are the moments, and if not moments of
"humility", yet as distant from whatever is opposite to humility, as
humility itself, when I am able to hope of myself as you have dared hope
of and for me. Alas! they are neither many nor of quick recurrence.
There "is" a something, an essential something, wanting in me. I feel
it, I "know" it--though what it is, I can but guess. I have read
somewhere, that in the tropical climates there are annuals as lofty and
of as an ample girth as forest trees:--So by a very dim likeness I seem
to myself to distinguish Power from Strength--and to have only the
former. But of this I will speak again: for if it be no reality, if it
be no more than a disease of my mind, it is yet deeply rooted and of
long standing, and requires help from one who loves me in the light of
knowledge. I have written these lines with a compelled understanding, my
feelings otherwhere at work--and I fear, unwell as I am, to indulge my
 deep emotion, however ennobled or endeared. Dear Davy! I have always
loved, always honoured, always had faith in you, in every part of my
being that lies below the surface; and whatever changes may have now and
then "rippled" even upon the surface, have been only jealousies
concerning you in behalf of all men, and fears from exceeding great
hope. I cannot be prevented from uttering and manifesting the strongest
convictions and best feelings of my nature by the incident, that they of
whom I think so highly, esteem me in return, and entertain reciprocal
hopes. No! I would to God, I thought it myself even as you think of me,
So far had I written, my dear Davy, yesterday afternoon, with all my
faculties beclouded, writing mostly about myself--but, Heaven knows!
thinking wholly about you. I am too sad, too much dejected to write what
I could wish. Of course I shall see you this evening here at a quarter
after nine. When I mentioned it to Sir George, "Too late," said he; "no,
if it were twelve o'clock, it would be better than his not coming." They
are really kind and good [Sir George and Lady Beaumont]. Sir George is a
remarkably 'sensible' man, which I mention, because it 'is'
somewhat REMARKABLE in a painter of genius, who is at the same time a
man of rank and an exceedingly amusing companion.
I am still but very indifferent--but that is so old a story that it
affects me but little. To see 'you' look so very unwell on
Saturday, was a new thing to me, and I want a word something short of
affright, and a little beyond anxiety, to express the feeling that
haunted me in consequence.
I trust that I shall have time, and the greater spirit, to write to you
from Portsmouth, a part at least of what is in and upon me in my more
But always I am and shall be, my dear Davy, with hope, and esteem, and
affection, the aggregate of many Davys,
Your sincere friend,
S. T. COLERIDGE. 
[Footnote 1: Perhaps "any" is the right word here.]
[Footnote 2: Letter CL follows, 129.]
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