Part 3 out of 9
Seek thy weeping mother's cot,
With a wiser innocence.
Thou hast known deceit and folly,
Thou hast felt that vice is woe;
With a musing melancholy,
Inly armed, go, maiden! go.
Mother, sage of self dominion,
Firm thy steps, O melancholy!
The strongest plume in wisdom's pinion
Is the memory of past folly.
Mute the sky-lark and forlorn
While she moults the firstling plumes,
That had skimm'd the tender corn,
Or the bean-field's odorous blooms.
Soon with renovated wing,
Shall she dare a loftier flight,
Upward to the day-star spring,
And embathe in heavenly light.
ON AN UNFORTUNATE WOMAN,
Whom The Author Had Known In The Days Of Her Innocence.
(_With Mr. Coleridge's last corrections_.)
Myrtle-leaf that ill-besped,
Pinest in the gladsome ray;
Soiled beneath the common tread,
Far from thy protecting spray!
When the partridge o'er the sheaf
Whirred along the yellow vale,
Sad I saw thee, heedless leaf!
Love the dalliance of the gale.
Lightly didst thou, foolish thing!
Heave and flutter to his sighs,
While the flatterer on his wing,
Woo'd and whispered thee to rise.
Gaily from thy mother stalk
Wert thou danced and wafted high--
Soon upon this sheltered walk,
Flung to fade, to rot, and die.
Mr. Coleridge having requested me to decide concerning the introduction
into his volume of the two preceding Poems, I approved of the second,
with certain alterations, (which was accordingly printed,) and rejected
the first, for the reasons assigned in the following letter. This letter
is introduced for the sake of Mr. C.'s reply, and to exhibit the candid
and untenacious quality of his mind. As a mark of Mr. Coleridge's
solicitude to obtain the observations of another, without surrendering
his own ultimate judgment, he always encouraged my remarks on his
compositions. When about to send the second edition of his Poems to the
press, he thus wrote to me.
"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
This is mentioned as an apology for the freedom of the remarks I then
took, for it was always my principle not to spare a friend through
mistaken kindness;--however much I might spare myself.
You have referred your two last Poems to my judgment. I do not think your
first, 'Maiden! that with sullen brow,' admissible, without a little more
of your nice picking.
The first verse is happy, but two objections apply to the second. To my
ear, (perhaps too fastidious) 'inly,' and 'inmost,' are too closely
allied for the same stanza; but the first line presents a more serious
objection, in containing a transition verb, (or rather a participle, with
the same government) without an objective:
'Inly gnawing, thy distresses
Mock those starts of sudden glee.'
Gnawing what? surely not distresses; though the bar of a comma can hardly
keep them apart. In order to give it any decent meaning, a tortuous
ellipsis is necessary; to pursue which, gives the reader too much toil.
Rejecting the first horse in the team, the three last are beautiful
To the last line in the third stanza, I rather object; 'With a wiser
innocence.' The meaning, it appears to me, would be more definite and in
character, if you were to say, as you do not represent her utterly
debased, 'With thy wreck of innocence.' The apostrophe to the 'Weeping
mother's cot,' is then impressive. In the fourth stanza, why do you
introduce the old word 'Lavrac' a word requiring an explanatory note? Why
not say at once, sky-lark? A short poem, _you_ know better than _I_,
should be smooth as oil, and lucid as glass. The two last stanzas, with
their associates, will require a few of your delicate touches, before you
mount them on the nautilus which is to bear them buoyant round the world.
These two last stanzas, about the 'Lavrac' though good in themselves,
(with the exception of one line, which I will not point out, its
roughness absolutely reminds one of 'Bowling-green Lane!') appear to me
to be awkward appendages. The illustration is too much extended. It is
laboured; far-fetched. It is an infelicitous attempt to blend sportive
fancy with fact that has touched the heart, and which, in this its
sobered mood, shrinks from all idle play of imagination. The transition
is too abrupt from truth to fancy. This simile of two stanzas, also, out
of five, is a tail disproportioned to the size of so small a body:--A
thought elongated, ramified, attenuated, till its tendril convolutions
have almost escaped from their parent stem. I would recommend you to let
this Lavrac fly clean away, and to conclude the Poem with the third
affecting stanza, unless you can continue the same train of feeling. This
you might readily effect, by urging the 'unfortunate' in seeking her
'weeping mother's cot' to cheer that mother by moral renovation.
I now come to the second Poem, 'Allegorical lines.' This poem has sound
materials, but it wants some of your hard tinkering. Pardon my
unceremonious language. I do not like that affected old word,
'ill-besped' in the first line. To ascribe human feelings to a leaf, as
you have done through the whole Poem, notwithstanding your authority, as
I conceive, offensively violates reason. There is no analogy; no
conceivable bond of union between thought and inanimate things, and it is
about as rational as though, in sober reasoning, you were to make the
polished shoe remonstrate with its wearer, in being soiled so soon after
it had received its lustre. It is the utmost stretch of human concession,
to grant thought and language to living things;--birds, beasts, and
fishes; rights which the old fablers have rendered inalienable, as
vehicles of instruction; but here, as I should think, the liberty ends.
It is always a pity when sense and poetry cannot go together. They are
excellent arm-in-arm companions, but quarrelsome neighbours, when a stile
separates them. The first line in the second stanza I do not like.
'When the scythesman o'er his sheaf.'
Two objections apply to this line. The word scythesman, for a short poem,
is insufferably rough; and furthermore requires the inhalation of a good
breath, before it can be pronounced; besides which, as the second
objection, by connecting sheaves with scythesman, it shows that the
scythe is cutting wheat, whereas, wheat is cut with a hook or sickle. If
my agricultural knowledge be correct, barley and oats are cut with a
scythe, but these grains are not put into sheaves. Had you not better
substitute rustic, for scythesman?
The first line in the third stanza is not happy. The spondee, in a
compound word, sometimes gives a favourable emphasis; but to my taste,
rarely, when it is formed of a double epithet. It has the appearance of
labour, like tugging against a hill. Would not 'foolish' be simpler and
better than 'poor fond?' I have one other objection, and that,
unfortunately, is in the last line.
'Flung to fade, and rot, and die!'
Surely, if it rots, it must die, or have died.
Query. 'Flung to wither and to die.'
I am astonished at my own temerity. This is reversing the order of
things; the pupil correcting his master. But, candidly speaking, I do
think these two poems the most defective of any I ever saw of yours,
which, usually, have been remarkably free from all angles on which the
race of snarlers can lay hold.
From, &c. &c.,
Mr. Coleridge's reply to the preceding letter.
"Wednesday morning, 10 o'clock.
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 '_Scythesman_' 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."
Having once inquired of Mr. Coleridge something respecting a nicety in
hexameters, he asked for a sheet of paper, and wrote the following. These
hexameters appear in the last edition of Mr. C.'s Poems, though in a less
correct form, and without the condensed and well-expressed preliminary
remarks. Two new lines are here also added.
"The Hexameter consists of six feet, or twelve times. These feet, in the
Latin and Greek languages, were always either dactyls, or spondees; the
time of a dactyl, being only that of a spondee. In modern languages,
however, metre being regulated by the emphasis, or intonation of the
syllables, and not by the position of the letters, spondees can scarcely
exist, except in compound words, as dark-red. Our dissyllables are for
the most part, either iambics, as desire; or trochees, as languid. These
therefore, but chiefly the latter, we must admit, instead of spondees.
The four first feet of each line may be dissyllable feet, or dactyls, or
both commingled, as best suits the melody, and requisite variety; but the
two last feet must, with rare exceptions, be uniformly, the former a
dactyl, the latter a dissyllable. The amphimacer may, in English, be
substituted for the dactyl, occasionally.
Oh, what a life is the eye! What a fine and inscrutable essence!
He that is utterly blind, nor glimpses the fire that warms him;
He that never beheld the swelling breast of his mother,
He that smiled at the bosom, the babe that smiles in its slumber,
Even to him it exists. It moves, and stirs in its prison;
Lives with a separate life, and "Is it a spirit?" he murmurs,
Sure it has thoughts of its own, and to see is only a language.
ANOTHER SPECIMEN, DESCRIBING HEXAMETERS IN HEXAMETERS.
Strongly it tilts us along, o'er leaping and limitless billows,
Nothing before, and nothing behind, but the sky and the ocean.
In the Hexameter rises the fountain's silvery column
In the Pentameter still, falling melodious down.
* * * * *
THE ENGLISH DUODECASYLLABLE.
This consists of two dactyls, and three trochees; the two dactyls first;
and the trochees following.
Hear, my beloved! an old Milesian story;
High and embosomed in congregated laurels,
Glimmered a temple, upon a breezy headland
In the dim distance, amid the skyey billows,
Rose a fair island; the God of flocks had blest it:
From the dim shores of this bleak resounding island,
Oft in the moon-light a little boat came floating,
Came to the sea-cave beneath the breezy headland,
Where between myrtles a path-way stole in mazes,
Up to the groves of the high embosomed temple.
There in a thicket of consecrated roses,
Oft did a Priestess, as lovely as a vision,
Pouring her soul to the son of Cytherea,
Pray him to hover around the light canoe boat,
And with invisible pilotage to guide it
Over the dusky waves, till the nightly sailor
Shiv'ring with ecstacy sank upon her bosom.
Now, by the immortals! he was a beauteous stripling,
Worthy to dream the sweet dream of young Endymion."
In the last edition of Mr. Coleridge's poems, (3 vols., 1835) there is a
poem, called "The Destiny of Nations, a Vision;"--a sounding title, with
which the contents but ill accord. No note conveys information to the
reader, what was the origin of this poem; nor does any argument show its
object, or train of thought. Who the maid is, no one can tell, and if
there be a vision respecting the destiny of nations, it is nearly as
confused and incoherent as a true vision of the night; exciting in the
mind some such undefined wonderment, as must have accompanied the descent
of one of Peter Wilkins' winged Aerials.
The reader may here be informed, that the Second book of Mr. Southey's
"Joan of Arc," to line 452, as acknowledged, was written by Mr.
Coleridge, with the intermixture of 97 lines, written by Mr. Southey, in
which there are noble sentiments, expressed in the loftiest poetical
diction; and in which also there is a tutelary spirit introduced to
instruct and counsel the Maid of Orleans. In the second edition of "Joan
of Arc," Mr. Southey omitted the whole of these lines, and intimated to
Mr. C. his intention so to do, as early as the autumn of 1795. I advised
Mr. Coleridge, from the intrinsic merit of the lines, to print them in
the second edition of his poems. To this he assented, but observed, that
he must greatly extend them.
Some considerable time after, he read me the poem in its enlarged state,
calling it "The Progress of Liberty, or the Visions of the Maid of
Orleans." After hearing it read, I at once told him, it was all very
fine, but what it was all about, I could not tell: that it wanted, I
thought, an obvious design, a definite purpose, a cohesion of parts, so
as to make it more of a whole, instead of its being, as it then was,
profuse, but detached splendour, and exhibiting in the management,
nothing like construction. Thus improved, I told him the poem would be
worthy of him. Mr. C. was evidently partial to the lines, and said, "I
shall consider of what you say, and speak again about them."
Amongst my papers I find two or three notes from Mr. C. on this subject,
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 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...."
In a succeeding letter Mr. Coleridge says,
"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, thus refers to his "Ode to the Departing
"... 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.'"
Mr. C. still retained a peculiar regard for these lines of the "Visions"
and once meant to remodel the whole, as will appear from the following
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 portioned 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 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 Poems.
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,
S. T. Coleridge."
In a letter received from Mr. Coleridge soon after, he says, "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 Southey."
This letter, as was usual, has no date, but a letter from Mr. 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."
Mr. Coleridge, in the summer of 1797 presented me with an extract from
his "Osorio," which is here given to the reader, from Mr. C.'s own
Now blessings on the man, whoe'er he be,
That joined your names with mine! O my sweet lady
As often as I think of those dear times,
When you two little ones would stand, at eve,
On each side of my chair, and make me learn
All you had learnt in the day, and how to talk
In gentle phrase, then bid me sing to you--
'Tis more like heaven to come than what _has_ been.
O my dear mother! this strange man has left us,
Troubled with wilder fancies than the moon
Breeds in the love-sick maid who gazes at it,
Till lost in inward vision, with wet eye
She gazes idly!--But that _entrance_, Mother!
Can no one hear? It is a perilous tale!
My husband's father told it me,
Poor Old Leoni--Angels rest his soul!
He was a woodman, and could fell and saw
With lusty arm. You know that huge round beam
Which props the hanging wall of the old Chapel.
Beneath that tree, while yet it was a tree
He found a baby wrapt in mosses, lined
With thistle beards, and such small locks of wool
As hang on brambles. Well, he brought him home,
And reared him at the then Lord Velez' cost.
And so the babe grew up a pretty boy,
A pretty boy but most unteachable--
And never learnt a prayer nor told a bead,
But knew the names of birds, and mocked their notes,
And whistled, as he were a bird himself.
And all the autumn 'twas his only play
To get the seeds of wild flowers and to plant them
With earth and water on the stumps of trees.
A Friar who gathered simples in the wood,
A grey-haired man--he loved this little boy,
The boy loved him--and, when the Friar taught him,
He soon could write with the pen; and from that time
Lived chiefly at the Convent or the Castle.
So he became a very learned man.
But O! poor youth!--he read, and read, and read,
'Till his brain turned--and ere his twentieth year,
He had unlawful thoughts of many things:
And though he prayed, he never loved to pray
With holy men, nor in a holy place--
But yet his speech, it was so soft and sweet,
The late Lord Velez ne'er was wearied with him.
And once as by the north side of the Chapel
They stood together, chained in deep discourse,
The earth heaved under them with such a groan,
That the wall tottered, and had well-nigh fallen
Right on their heads. My Lord was sorely frightened:
A fever seized the youth; and he made confession
Of all the heretical and lawless talk
Which brought this judgment: so the youth was seized,
And cast into that hole. My husband's father
Sobbed like a child--it almost broke his heart:
And once, as he was working in the cellar,
He heard a voice distinctly; 'twas the youth's,
Who sung a doleful song about green fields,
How sweet it were on lake or wild savannah
To hunt for food, and be a naked man,
And wander up and down at liberty.
He always doated on the youth, and now
His love grew desperate; and defying death,
He made that cunning _entrance_ I described:
And the young man escaped.
'Tis a sweet tale:
Such as would lull a listening child to sleep,
His rosy face besoiled with unwiped tears.
And what became of him?
He went on ship-board
With those bold voyagers, who made discovery
Of golden lands: Leoni's younger brother
Went likewise, and when he returned to Spain,
He told Leoni, that the poor mad youth,
Soon after they arrived in that new world,
In spite of his dissuasion, seized a boat,
And all alone set sail by silent moonlight,
Up a great river, great as any sea,
And ne'er was heard of more: but 'tis supposed,
He lived and died among the savage men.
The following letter of Mr. C. was in answer to a request for some
long-promised copy, and for which the printer importuned.
My dear, dear Cottle,
Have patience, and everything shall be done. I think now entirely of your
brother: in two days I will think entirely for you. By Wednesday next
you shall have Lloyd's other Poems, with all Lamb's, &c. &c....
S. T. C."
A little before this time, a singular occurrence happened to Mr. C.
during a pedestrian excursion into Somersetshire, as detailed in the
following letter to Mr. Wade.
"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 Burnet' &c. 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....
S. T. Coleridge.
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
To refer now to another subject. Robert Burns had died in 1796. Finding
that his family had little more than their father's fame to support them,
I consulted with Mr. Coleridge, whether it would not be possible to add
to the fund then being raised, by promoting a subscription in Bristol, in
furtherance of such design. It being deemed feasible, while Mr. C.
undertook to write a Poem on the subject for a Bristol paper, I sent the
following advertisement to the same vehicle.
TO THE CITIZENS OF BRISTOL.
It will doubtless afford much pleasure to the liberal portion of the
inhabitants of this city, to understand that a subscription has been
set on foot in different parts of the kingdom, for the wife and five
small children of poor Burns, the Scotch poet. There has already been
At Dumfries (where the Bard lived) L104 12 0
At Edinburgh ... ... ... 64 16 0
At Liverpool ... ... ... 67 10 0
Whoever, in Bristol, from their admiration of departed genius, may
wish to contribute, in rescuing from distress the family of Robert
Burns, will be pleased to leave their donations with Mr. Cottle,
High-Street. Mr. Nichol, of Pall-Mall, London, will publicly
acknowledge the receipt of all monies subscribed in this city.
The sum we transmitted to the general fund, did credit to the liberality
Mr. Coleridge had often, in the keenest terms, expressed his contemptuous
indignation at the Scotch patrons of the poet, in making him an
exciseman! so that something biting was expected.
The Poem was entitled, "To a Friend, who had declared his intention of
writing no more Poetry." In reading the Poem immediately after it was
written, the rasping force which Mr. C. gave to the following concluding
lines was inimitable.
"Is thy Burns dead?
And shall he die unwept, and sink to earth,
Without the meed of one melodious tear?
Thy Burns, and nature's own beloved Bard,
Who to 'the illustrious of his native land,'
So properly did look for patronage.
Ghost of Maecenas! hide thy blushing face!
They took him from the sickle and the plough--
To guage ale firkins!
O, for shame return!
On a bleak rock, midway the Aonian Mount,
There stands a lone and melancholy tree,
Whose aged branches to the midnight blast
Make solemn music, pluck its darkest bough,
Ere yet th' unwholesome night dew be exhaled,
And weeping, wreath it round thy Poet's tomb:
Then in the outskirts, where pollutions grow,
Pick stinking henbane, and the dusky flowers
Of night-shade, or its red and tempting fruit;
These, with stopped nostril, and glove-guarded hand,
Knit in nice intertexture, so to twine
Th' illustrious brow of Scotch Nobility!"
If Mr. C.'s nature had been less benevolent, and he had given full vent
to the irascible and satirical, the restrained elements of which abounded
in his spirit, he would have obtained the least enviable of all kinds of
pre-eminence, and have become the undisputed modern Juvenal.
Mr. George Burnet resided sometimes with his relations, sometimes with
Mr. Coleridge, at Stowey. Mr. and Mrs. C. happened to be now in Bristol,
when the former was summoned home on account of Burnet's sudden and
serious illness. On reaching Stowey, Mr. C. sent me the following letter.
My dear friend,
I found George Burnet 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 (Burnet) was bit, but I caught the
Brandiphobia. [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 to-morrow shall give them, in
writing, the first symptoms of madness in a dog.
I wish my pockets were as yellow as George's phiz!"
The preceding letter is about a fair example of that playful and
ebullient imagination for which Mr. Coleridge, at this time, was
distinguished. Subjects high and low received the same embellishment.
Figure crowded on figure, and image on image, in new and perpetual
He was once reprobating the introduction of all bull and bear similes
into poetry. "Well," I replied, "whatever your antipathies may be to
bulls and bears, you have no objection to wolves." "Yes," he answered, "I
equally abominate the whole tribe of lion, bull, bear, boar, and wolf
similes. They are more thread-bare than a beggar's cast-off coat. From
their rapid transition from hand to hand, they are now more hot and
sweaty than halfpence on a market day. I would as soon meet a wolf in the
open field, as in a friend's poem." I then rejoined, "Your objection,
once at least, to wolf similes, was not quite so strong, seeing you
prevailed on Mr. Southey to throw into the first book of "Joan of Arc," a
five-line flaming wolf simile of yours. One could almost see the wolf
leap, he was so fierce!" "Ah" said Mr. C. "but the discredit rests on
him, not on me."
The simile, in question, if not a new subject, is at least, perhaps, as
energetically expressed as any five lines in Mr. Coleridge's writings.
As who, through many a summer night serene
Had hover'd round the fold with coward wish;
Horrid with brumal ice, the fiercer wolf,
From his bleak mountain and his den of snows
Leaps terrible and mocks the shepherd's spear.
Book 1. L. 47.
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 Shakspeare, but in Wordsworth there
are no inequalities....
God bless you, and eke,
S. T. Coleridge."
Respecting this tragedy of Mr. W.'s, parts of which I afterwards heard
with the highest admiration, Mr. Coleridge in a succeeding letter gave me
the following information. "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.
This tragedy may or may not have been deemed suitable for the stage.
Should the latter prove the case, and the closet be its element, the
public after these intimations, will importunately urge Mr. W. to a
publication of this dramatic piece, so calculated still to augment his
There is a peculiar pleasure in recording the favorable sentiments which
one poet and man of genius entertains of another, I therefore state that
Mr. Coleridge says, in a letter received from him March 8th, 1798, "The
Giant Wordsworth-God love him! When I speak in the terms of admiration
due to his intellect, I fear lest these terms should keep out of sight
the amiableness of his manners. He has written near twelve hundred lines
of blank verse, superior, I hesitate not to aver, to any thing in our
language which any way resembles it."
And in a letter received from Mr. Coleridge, 1807, he says--speaking of
his friend Mr. W. "He is one, whom God knows, I love and honour as far
beyond myself, as both morally and intellectually he is above me."
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.
Your ever affectionate friend.
S. T. C."
"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 Parsons's Bath wagon sets up.
From your truly affectionate friend,
S. T. Coleridge."
A letter, written, at this time, by Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Wade, more
particularly refers to Mr. Thelwall's visit at Stowey.
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,
S. T. Coleridge."
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, &c. We shall reside in London for the next four
months. God bless you, Cottle, I love you,
S. T. Coleridge."
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.
"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
It was not convenient at this time to accept Mr. C.'s invitation, but
going to Stowey two or three weeks afterwards, I learnt how pleasantly
the interview had been between Charles Lamb and himself. It is
delightful, even at the present moment, to recal the images connected
with my then visit to Stowey, (which those can best understand, who, like
myself, have escaped from severe duties to a brief season of happy
recreation). Mr. Coleridge welcomed me with the warmest cordiality. He
talked with affection of his old school-fellow, Lamb, who had so recently
left him; regretted he had not an opportunity of introducing me to one
whom he so highly valued. Mr. C. took peculiar delight in assuring me (at
least, at that time) how happy he was; exhibiting successively, his
house, his garden, his orchard, laden with fruit; and also the
contrivances he had made to unite his two neighbours' domains with his
After the grand circuit had been accomplished, by hospitable contrivance,
we approached the "Jasmine harbour," when to our gratifying surprise, we
found the tripod table laden with delicious bread and cheese, surmounted
by a brown mug of true Taunton ale. We instinctively took our seats; and
there must have been some downright witchery in the provisions which
surpassed all of its kind; nothing like it on the wide terrene, and one
glass of the Taunton, settled it to an axiom. While the dappled sun-beams
played on our table, through the umbrageous canopy, the very birds seemed
to participate in our felicities, and poured forth their selectest
anthems. As we sat in our sylvan hall of splendour, a company of the
happiest mortals, (T. Poole, C. Lloyd, S. T. Coleridge, and J. C.) the
bright-blue heavens; the sporting insects; the balmy zephyrs; the
feathered choristers; the sympathy of friends, all augmented the
pleasurable to the highest point this side the celestial! Every
interstice of our hearts being filled with happiness, as a consequence,
there was no room for sorrow, exorcised as it now was, and hovering
around at unapproachable distance. With our spirits thus entranced,
though we might weep at other moments, yet joyance so filled all within
and without, that, if, at this juncture, tidings had been brought us,
that an irruption of the ocean had swallowed up all our brethren of
Pekin; from the pre-occupation of our minds, "poor things," would have
been our only reply, with anguish put off till the morrow. While thus
elevated in the universal current of our feelings, Mrs. Coleridge
approached, with her fine Hartley; we all smiled, but the father's eye
beamed transcendental joy! "But, all things have an end." Yet, pleasant
it is for memory to treasure up in her choicest depository, a few such
scenes, (these sunny spots in existence!) on which the spirit may repose,
when the rough, adverse winds shake and disfigure all besides.
Although so familiar with the name and character of Charles Lamb, through
the medium of S. T. Coleridge, yet my intercourse (with the exception of
one casual visit) commenced with him in the year 1802, during a residence
of many months in London, when we often met. After this period, from my
residing permanently in Bristol, our acquaintance was intermitted, till
1819, when he requested the loan of a portrait, for the purpose expressed
in the following letter.
It is so long since I have seen or heard from you, that I fear that you
will consider a request I have to make, as impertinent. About three years
since, when I was in Bristol, I made an effort to see you, by calling at
Brunswick Square, but you were from home. The request I have to make, is,
that you would very much oblige me, if you have any small portrait of
yourself, by allowing me to have it copied, to accompany a selection, of
the likenesses of 'Living Bards,' which a most particular friend of mine
is making. If you have no objection, and would oblige me by transmitting
such portrait, I will answer for taking the greatest care of it, and for
its safe return. I hope you will pardon the liberty,
From an old friend and well wisher,
In consequence of this application, I sent Charles Lamb a portrait, by
Branwhite, and enclosed for his acceptance, the second part of my
"Messiah." When the portrait was returned, it was accompanied with the
following letter, containing a few judicious remarks, such as might have
been expected from one whose judgment Mr. Coleridge so highly estimated.
My friend, whom you have obliged by the loan of your picture, has had it
very nicely copied (and a very spirited drawing it is; so every one
thinks who has seen it.) The copy is not much inferior to yours, done by
a daughter of Joseph's, R. A.
I accompany the picture with my warm thanks, both for that, and your
better favour the 'Messiah' which I assure you I have read through with
great pleasure. The verses have great sweetness, and a New Testament
plainness about them which affected me very much. I could just wish that
in page 63, you had omitted the lines 71 and 72, and had ended the period
The willowy brook was there, but that sweet sound--
When to be heard again on earthly ground!"
Two very sweet lines, and the sense perfect.
And in page 154, line 68,
He spake, 'I come, ordain'd a world to save,
To be baptis'd by thee in Jordan's wave."
These words are hardly borne out by the story, and seem scarce accordant
with the modesty with which our Lord came to take his common portion
among the baptismal candidates. They also anticipate the beauty of John's
recognition of the Messiah, and the subsequent confirmation by the Voice
You will excuse the remarks of an old brother bard, whose career, though
long since pretty well stopped, was coeval in its beginning with your
own, and who is sorry his lot has been always to be so distant from you.
It is not likely that C. L. will see Bristol again, but if J. C. should
ever visit London, he will be a most welcome visitor to C. L. My sister
joins in cordial remembrances.
Dear sir, Yours truly,
Having always entertained for Charles Lamb a very kind feeling,
independently of my admiration of his wit and genius, I requested his
acceptance of my poem of the "Fall of Cambria," to which he sent the
following characteristic reply.
"London, India House, May 26, 1829.
My dear Sir,
I am quite ashamed of not having acknowledged your kind present earlier,
but that unknown something which was never yet discovered, though so
often speculated upon, which stands in the way of lazy folks' answering
letters, has presented its usual obstacle. It is not forgetfulness, nor
disrespect, nor incivility, but terribly like all these bad things.
I have been in my time a great Epistolatory scribbler, but the passion,
and with it the facility, at length wears out, and it must be pumped up
again by the heavy machinery of duty or gratitude, when it should run
free. I have read your 'Fall of Cambria' with as much pleasure as I did
your 'Messiah.' Your Cambrian Poem I shall be tempted to repeat oftenest,
as human poems take me in a mood more frequently congenial than divine.
The character of Llewellyn pleases me more than anything else perhaps;
and then some of the Lyrical pieces are fine varieties.
It was quite a mistake that I could dislike anything you should write
against Lord Byron, for I have a thorough aversion to his character, and
a very moderate admiration of his genius; he is great in so little a way.
To be a poet is to be the man; not a petty portion of occasional low
passion worked up into a permanent form of humanity. Shakspeare has
thrust such rubbishly feelings into a corner--the dark dusky heart of Don
John, in the 'Much Ado about Nothing.' The fact is, I have not seen your
'Expostulatory Epistle' to him. I was not aware, till your question, that
it was out. I shall inquire and get it forthwith.
Southey is in town, whom I have seen slightly. Wordsworth expected, whom
I hope to see much of. I write with accelerated motion, for I have two or
three bothering clerks and brokers about me, who always press in
proportion as you seem to be doing something that is not business. I
could exclaim a little profanely, but I think you do not like swearing.
I conclude, begging you to consider that I feel myself much obliged by
your kindness, and shall be most happy at any and at all times to hear
Dear Sir, yours truly,
Mr. Coleridge, in the second edition of his poems, transferred some of
the poems which appeared in the first, to a supplement, and, amongst
others, some verses addressed to myself, with the following notice.
"The first in order of these verses which I have thus endeavoured to
reprieve from immediate oblivion, was originally addressed "To the Author
of Poems published anonymously at Bristol." A second edition of these
poems has lately appeared with the author's name prefixed: (Joseph
Cottle) and I could not refuse myself the gratification of seeing the
name of that man amongst my poems, without whose kindness, they would
probably have remained unpublished; and to whom I know myself greatly,
and variously obliged, as a poet, a man, and a Christian.
LINES ADDRESSED TO JOSEPH COTTLE.
My honor'd friend! whose verse concise, yet clear,
Tunes to smooth melody unconquer'd sense,
May your fame fadeless live, "as never seer"
The ivy wreathes yon oak, whose broad defence
Embow'rs me from noon's sultry influence!
For like that nameless riv'let stealing by,
Your modest verse to musing quiet dear
Is rich with tints heaven-borrow'd, the charm'd eye
Shall gaze undazzled there, and love the soften'd sky.
Circling the base of the poetic mount
A stream there is, which rolls in lazy flow;
Its cold-black waters from oblivion's fount;
The vapour poison'd birds that fly too low,
Fall with dead swoop, and to the bottom go.
Escaped that heavy stream on pinion fleet,
Beneath the mountain's lofty frowning brow,
Ere aught of perilous ascent you meet,
A mead of mildest charm delays the unlab'ring feet.
Not there the cloud-climb rock, sublime and vast,
That like some giant king, o'er-glooms the hill;
Nor there the pine-grove to the midnight blast
Makes solemn music! But the unceasing rill
To the soft wren or lark's descending trill
Murmurs sweet under-song 'mid jasmine bowers.
In this same pleasant meadow at your will,
I ween, you wander'd--there collecting flow'rs
Of sober tint, and herbs of medicinal powers!
There for the monarch-murder'd soldier's tomb
You wove the unfinish'd wreath of saddest hues,
And to that holier chaplet added bloom
Besprinkling it with Jordan's cleansing dews.
But lo! your Henderson awakes the Muse--
His spirit beckon'd from the mountain's height!
You left the plain and soar'd mid richer views!
So nature mourn'd, when sank the first day's light,
With stars, unseen before, spangling her robe of night!
Still soar my friend those richer views among,
Strong, rapid, fervent, flashing fancy's beam!
Virtue and truth shall love your gentler song:
But Poesy demands th' impassion'd theme:
Wak'd by heaven's silent dews at Eve's mild gleam
What balmy sweets Pomona breathes around?
But if the vex'd air rush a stormy stream,
Or autumn's shrill gust moan in plaintive sound
With fruits and flowers she loads the tempest honor'd ground."
While the first edition of Mr. Coleridge's poems was in the press, I
received from him the following letter.
"My dear Sir,
... There is a beautiful little poetic epistle of Sara's, which I mean to
print here. What if her epistle to you were likewise printed, so as to
have two of her poems? It is remarkably elegant, and would do honour to
any volume of poems."
The first epistle I never received. The second was printed in the first
edition of Mr. C.'s poems, and in no other. On account of its merit it is
"THE PRODUCTION OF A YOUNG LADY, ADDRESSED TO HER FRIEND, J.
* * * * *
She had lost her thimble, and her complaint being accidentally
overheard by her friend, he immediately sent her four others to take
her choice from.
* * * * *
As oft mine eye, with careless glance,
Has gallop'd o'er some old romance,
Of speaking birds, and steeds with wings,
Giants and dwarfs, and fiends, and kings:
Beyond the rest, with more attentive care,
I've loved to read of elfin-favor'd fair--
How if she longed for aught beneath the sky,
And suffered to escape one votive sigh,
Wafted along on viewless pinions airy,
It kid itself obsequious at her feet:
Such things I thought we might not hope to meet,
Save in the dear delicious land of fairy!
But now (by proof I know it well)
There's still some peril in free wishing--
Politeness is a licensed spell,
And you, dear sir, the arch-magician.
You much perplexed me by the various set:
They were indeed an elegant quartette!
My mind went to and fro, and wavered long;
At length I've chosen (Samuel thinks me wrong)
That around whose azure brim,
Silver figures seem to swim,
Like fleece-white clouds, that on the skyey blue,
Waked by no breeze, the self-same shapes retain;
Or ocean nymphs, with limbs of snowy hue,
Slow floating o'er the calm cerulean plain.
Just such a one, mon cher ami
(The finger-shield of industry,)
The inventive gods, I deem, to Pallas gave,
What time the vain Arachne, madly brave,
Challenged the blue-eyed virgin of the sky
A duel in embroidered work to try.
And hence the thimbled finger of grave Pallas,
To th' erring needle's point was more than callous.
But, ah, the poor Arachne! she, unarmed,
Blund'ring, through hasty eagerness, alarmed
With all a rival's hopes, a mortal's fears,
Still miss'd the stitch, and stained the web with tears.
Unnumbered punctures, small, yet sore,
Full fretfully the maiden bore,
Till she her lily finger found
Crimson'd with many a tiny wound,
And to her eyes, suffused with watery woe,
Her flower-embroidered web danced dim, I wist,
Like blossom'd shrubs, in a quick-moving mist;
Till vanquish'd, the despairing maid sank low.
O, Bard! whom sure no common muse inspires,
I heard your verse that glows with vestal fires;
And I from unwatch'd needle's erring point
Had surely suffered on each finger joint,
Those wounds, which erst did poor Arachne meet;
While he, the much-loved object of my choice,
(My bosom thrilling with enthusiast heat)
Pour'd on my ear, with deep impressive voice,
How the great Prophet of the desert stood,
And preach'd of penitence by Jordan's flood:
On war; or else the legendary lays,
In simplest measures hymn'd to Alla's praise;
Or what the Bard from his heart's inmost stores,
O'er his friend's grave in loftier numbers pours:
Yes, Bard polite! you but obey'd the laws
Of justice, when the thimble you had sent;
What wounds your thought-bewildering muse might cause,
'Tis well, your finger-shielding gifts prevent.
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, &c. &c. 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, &c. &c. 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
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....
ATTEMPTED IN THE MANNER OP CONTEMPORARY WRITERS.
* * * * *
Pensive, at eve, on the hard world I mus'd,
And my poor heart was sad: so at the moon
I gazed, and sigh'd, and sigh'd! for ah! how soon
Eve darkens into night! Mine eye perus'd
With tearful vacancy the dampy grass,
Which wept and glitter'd in the paly ray:
And I did pause me on my lonely way,
And muse me on those wretched ones, who pass
O'er the black heath of sorrow. But alas!
Most of MYSELF I thought: when it befel
That the sooth SPIRIT of the breezy wood
Breath'd in mine ear--"All this is very well;
But much of _one_ thing is for _no-thing_ good."
Ah! my poor heart's inexplicable swell!
O! I do love thee, meek simplicity!
For of thy lays, the lulling simpleness
Goes to my heart, and soothes each small distress,
Distress, though small, yet haply great to me!
'Tis true, on lady fortune's gentlest pad,
I amble on; yet, though I know not why,
So sad I am!--but should a friend and I
Grow cool and miff, oh, I am very sad!
And then with sonnets, and with sympathy.
My dreamy bosom's mystic woes I pall;
Now of my false friend 'plaining plaintively,
Now raving at mankind in gener-al
But whether sad or fierce, 'tis simple all,
All very simple, meek SIMPLICITY!
ON A RUINED HOUSE WHICH JACK BUILT.
And this reft house is that, the which he built,
Lamented Jack! and here his malt he piled,
Cautious in vain! These rats that squeak'd so wild,
Squeak, not unconscious of their fathers' guilt.
Did ye not see her gleaming through the glade?
Belike 'twas she, the Maiden all forlorn.
What though she milk no cow with crumpled horn,
Yet, aye she haunts the dale where erst she stray'd:
And, aye beside her stalks her amorous knight!
Still on his thighs his wonted brogues are worn,
And through those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn,
His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white;
As when through broken clouds, at night's high moon.
Peeps in fair fragments forth--the full-orb'd harvest moon!
The moralist rightly says, "There is nothing permanent in this uncertain
world;" and even most friendships do not partake of the "Munition of
Alas! the spirit of impartiality now compels me to record, that the
inseparable Trio; even the three "Groscolliases" themselves, had, somehow
or other, been touched with the negative magnet, and their particles, in
opposition, flew off "as far as from hence to the utmost pole." I never
rightly understood the cause of this dissension, but shrewdly suspected
that that unwelcome and insidious intruder, Mr. Nehemiah Higginbotham,
had no inconsiderable share in it.
Mr. C. even determined in his third projected edition, (1798) that the
production of his two late friends should be excluded. The three next
letters refer to this unpleasant affair. It is hardly necessary to add,
that the difference was of short continuance.
The Latin motto, prefixed to the second edition of Mr. C.'s poems,
puzzled everybody to know from what author it was derived. One and
another inquired of me, to no purpose, and expressed a wish that Mr. C.
had been clearer in his citation, as "no one could understand it." On my
naming this to Mr. Coleridge, he laughed heartily, and said, "It was all
a hoax." "Not meeting" said he, "with a suitable motto, I invented one,
and with references purposely obscure," as will be explained in the next
"March 8th, 1798.
My dear Cottle,
I have been confined to my bed for some days, through a fever occasioned
by the stump of a tooth, which baffled chirurgical efforts to eject, and
which, by affecting my eye, affected my stomach, and through that my
whole frame. I am better, but still weak, in consequence of such long
sleeplessness and wearying pains; weak, very weak. I thank you, my dear
friend, for your late kindness, and in a few weeks will either repay you
in money, or by verses, as you like. "With regard to Lloyd's verses, it
is curious that I should be applied to, 'to be persuaded to resign' and
in hopes that I might 'consent to give up' (unknown by whom) a number of
poems which were published at the earnest request of the author, who
assured me, that the circumstance was of 'no trivial import to his
Times change and people change; but let us keep our souls in quietness! I
have no objection to any disposal of Lloyd's poems except that of their
being republished with mine. The motto which I had prefixed--"Duplex,
&c." from Groscollias, has placed me in a ridiculous situation, but it
was a foolish and presumptuous start of affectionateness, and I am not
unwilling to incur the punishment due to my folly. By past experiences we
build up our moral being. God bless you,
S. T. Coleridge."
A reference to this "stump of a tooth." was more particularly made, in
the following letter to Mr. Wade.
"March 21st, 1798.
My very dear friend,
I have even now returned from a little excursion that I have taken for
the confirmation of my health, which had suffered a rude assault from the
anguish of the stump of a tooth which had baffled the attempts of our
surgeon here, and which confined me to my bed. I suffered much from the
disease, and more from the doctor; rather than again put my mouth into
his hands, I would put my hands into a lion's mouth. I am happy to hear
of, and should be most happy to see, the plumpness and progression of
your dear boy; but-yes, my dear Wade, it must be a but, much as I hate
the word but. Well,--but I cannot attend the chemical lectures. I have
many reasons, but the greatest, or at least the most ostensible reason,
is, that I cannot leave Mrs. C. at that time; our house is an
uncomfortable one; our surgeon may be, for aught I know, a lineal
descendant of Esculapius himself, but if so, in the repeated transfusion
of life from father to son, through so many generations, the wit and
knowledge, being subtle spirits, have evaporated....
Ever your grateful and affectionate friend,
S. T. Coleridge."
My dear Cottle,
I regret that aught should have disturbed our tranquillity; respecting
Lloyd, I am willing to believe myself in part mistaken, and so let all
things be as before. I have no wish respecting these poems, either for or
against re-publication with mine. As to the third edition, if there be
occasion for it immediately, it must be published with some alterations,
but no additions or omissions. The Pixies, Chatterton, and some dozen
others, shall be printed at the end of the volume, under the title of
Juvenile Poems, and in this case I will send you the volume immediately.
But if there be no occasion for the volume to go to press for ten weeks,
at the expiration of that time, I would make it a volume worthy of me,
and omit utterly near one-half of the present volume--a sacrifice to
pitch black oblivion.
Whichever be the case, I will repay you the money you have paid for me,
in money, and in a few weeks; or if you should prefer the latter
proposal, i. e. the not sending me to the press for ten weeks, I should
insist on considering the additions, however large, as my payment to you
for the omissions, which, indeed, would be but strict justice.
I am requested by Wordsworth, to put to you the following questions. What
could you, conveniently and prudently, and what would you give
for--first, our two Tragedies, with small prefaces, containing an
analysis of our principal characters? Exclusive of the prefaces, the
tragedies are, together, five thousand lines; which, in printing, from
the dialogue form, and directions respecting actors and scenery, are at
least equal to six thousand. To be delivered to you within a week of the
date of your answer to this letter; and the money which you offer, to be
paid to us at the end of four months from the same date; none to be paid
before, all to be paid then.
Second.--Wordsworth's 'Salisbury Plain,' and 'Tale of a Woman'; which two
poems, with a few others which he will add, and the notes, will make a
volume. This to be delivered to you within three weeks of the date of
your answer, and the money to be paid as before, at the end of four
months from the present date.
Do not, my dearest Cottle, harass yourself about the imagined great merit
of the compositions, or be reluctant to offer what you can prudently
offer, from an idea that the poems are worth more. But calculate what you
can do, with reference simply to yourself, and answer as speedily as you
can; and believe me your sincere, grateful, and affectionate friend and
S. T. Coleridge."
I offered Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth, thirty guineas each, as
proposed, for their two tragedies; but which, after some hesitation, was
declined, from the hope of introducing one, or both, on the stage. The
volume of Poems was left for some future arrangement.
"My dear Cottle,
I never involved you in the bickering, and never suspected you, in any
one action of your life, of practising guile against any human being,
Your letter supplied only one in a link of circumstances, that informed
me of some things, and perhaps deceived me in others. I shall write
to-day to Lloyd. I do not think I shall come to Bristol for these
lectures of which you speak. I ardently wish for the knowledge, but
Mrs. Coleridge is within a month of her confinement, and I cannot, I
ought not to leave her; especially as her surgeon is not a John Hunter,
nor my house likely to perish from a plethora of comforts. Besides, there
are other things that might disturb that evenness of benevolent feeling,
which I wish to cultivate.
I am much better, and at present at Allfoxden, and my new and tender
health is all over me like a voluptuous feeling. God bless you,
S. T. Coleridge."
When the before noticed dissension occurred, Charles Lamb and Charles
Lloyd, between whom a strong friendship had latterly sprung up, became
alienated from Mr. Coleridge, and cherished something of an indignant
feeling. Strange as it may appear, C. Lamb determined to desert the
inglorious ground of neutrality, and to commence active operations
against his late friend; but the arrows were taken from his own peculiar
armoury; tipped, not with iron, but wit. He sent Mr. Coleridge the
following letter. Mr. Coleridge gave me this letter, saying, "These young
visionaries will do each other no good." The following is Charles Lamb's
letter to Mr. C.
"THESES QUAEDAM THEOLOGICAE.
1st. Whether God loves a lying angel better than a true man?
2nd. Whether the archangel Uriel could affirm an untruth, and if he
could, whether he would?
3rd. Whether honesty be an angelic virtue, or not rather to be
reckoned among those qualities which the school-men term 'Virtutes
4th. Whether the higher order of Seraphim illuminati ever sneer?
5th. Whether pure intelligences can love?
6th. Whether the Seraphim ardentes do not manifest their virtues, by
the way of vision and theory; and whether practice be not a
sub-celestial and merely human virtue?
7th. Whether the vision beatific be anything more or less than a
perpetual representment, to each individual angel, of his own present
attainments, and future capabilities, somehow in the manner of mortal
looking-glasses, reflecting a perpetual complacency and self
8th. and last. Whether an immortal and amenable soul may not come to
be condemned at last, and the man never suspect it beforehand?
Learned Sir, my friend,
Presuming on our long habits of friendship, and emboldened further by
your late liberal permission to avail myself of your correspondence, in
case I want any knowledge, (which I intend to do, when I have no
Encyclopedia, or Ladies Magazine at hand to refer to, in any matter of
science,) I now submit to your enquiries the above theological
propositions, to be by you defended or oppugned, or both, in the schools
of Germany, whither, I am told, you are departing, to the utter
dissatisfaction of your native Devonshire, and regret of universal
England; but to my own individual consolation, if, through the channel of
your wished return, learned sir, my friend, may be transmitted to this
our island, from those famous theological wits of Leipsic and Gottingen,
any rays of illumination, in vain to be derived from the home growth of
our English halls and colleges. Finally wishing, learned sir, that you
may see Schiller, and swing in a wood, (vide poems) and sit upon a tun,
and eat fat hams of Westphalia,
Your friend and docile pupil, to instruct,
Mr. Coleridge, at first, appeared greatly hurt at this letter; an
impression which I endeavoured to counteract, by considering it as a
slight ebullition of feeling that would soon subside; and which happily
proved to be the case. I also felt concern, not only that there should be
a dissension between old friends, but lest Mr. Coleridge should be
inconvenienced in a pecuniary way by the withdrawal of C. Lloyd from his
domestic roof. To restore and heal, therefore, I wrote a conciliatory
letter to Charles Lloyd, to which he thus replied.
"Birmingham, 7th June, 1798.
My dear Cottle,
I thank you many times for your pleasing intelligence respecting
Coleridge. I cannot think that I have acted with, or from, passion
towards him. Even my solitary night thoughts have been easy and calm when
they have dwelt on him.... I love Coleridge, and can forget all that has
At present, I could not well go to Stowey. I could scarcely excuse so
sudden a removal from my parents. Lamb quitted me yesterday, after a
fortnight's visit. I have been much interested in his society. I never
knew him so happy in my life. I shall write to Coleridge today.
God bless you, my dear friend,
C. Lloyd, Jun."
Mr. C. up to this day, Feb. 18th, 1798, held, though laxly, the doctrines
of Socinus. On the Rev. Mr. Rowe, of Shrewsbury, the Unitarian minister,
coming to settle in Bristol, Mr. Coleridge was strongly recommended by
his friends of that persuasion, to offer himself as Mr. R.'s successor;
and he accordingly went on probation to Shrewsbury.
It is proper here to mention, in order that this subject may be the
better understood, that Mr. Poole, two or three years before, had
introduced Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Thomas Wedgewood. This gentleman formed a
high opinion of Mr. C.'s talents, and felt an interest in his welfare. At
the time Mr. Coleridge was hesitating whether or not he should persist in
offering himself to the Shrewsbury congregation, and so finally settle
down into an Unitarian minister, Mr. T. Wedgewood having heard of the
circumstance, and fearing that a pastoral engagement might operate
unfavourably on his literary pursuits, interfered, as will appear by the
following letter of Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Wade.
My very dear friend,
This last fortnight has been very eventful. I received one hundred pounds
from Josiah Wedgewood, 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...."
Mr. T. Wedgewood still adhering to his first opinion that Mr. Coleridge's
acceptance of the proposed engagement, would seriously obstruct his
literary efforts; sent Mr. C. a letter, in which himself and his brother,
Mr. Josiah Wedgwood, promised, conjointly, to allow him for his life, one
hundred and fifty pounds a year. This decided Mr. Coleridge to reject the
Shrewsbury invitation. He was oppressed with grateful emotions to these
his liberal benefactors, and always spoke, in particular, of the late Mr.
Thomas Wedgewood as being one of the best talkers, and as possessing one
of the acutest minds, of any man he had known.
The following is Mr. Coleridge's hasty reply to Mr. Wedgewood.
"Shrewsbury, Friday night, 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,
S. T. Coleridge.
T. Wedgewood, Esq."
While the affair was in suspense, a report was current in Bristol, that
Mr. Coleridge had rejected the Messrs. Wedgewoods' offer, which the
Unitarians in both towns ardently desired. Entertaining a contrary wish,
I addressed a letter to Mr. C. stating the report, and expressing a hope
that it had no foundation. The following satisfactory answer was
"My very dear Cottle,
The moment I received Mr. T. Wedgewood'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,
S. T. Coleridge."
In the year 1798, Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth determined upon
visiting Germany. A knowledge of this fact will elucidate some of the
"Feb. 18, 1798.
My dear Cottle,
I have finished my Ballad, it is 340 lines; I am going on with my
'Visions': altogether (for I shall print two scenes of my Tragedy, as
fragments) I can add 1500 lines; now what do you advise? Shall I add my
Tragedy, and so make a second volume? or shall I pursue my first
intention of inserting 1500 in the third edition? If you should advise a
second volume, should you wish, i. e. find it convenient, to be the
purchaser? I ask this question, because I wish you to know the true state
of my present circumstances. I have received nothing yet from the
Wedgewoods, and my money is utterly expended.
A friend of mine wanted five guineas for a little while, which I borrowed
of Poole, as for myself, I do not like therefore to apply to him. Mr.
Estlin has some little money I believe in his hands, but I received from
him before I went to Shrewsbury, fifteen pounds, and I believe that this
was an anticipation of the five guinea presents, which my friends would
have made in March. But (this affair of the Messrs. Wedgewoods turning
out) the money in Mr. Estlin's hand must go towards repaying him that sum
which he suffered me to anticipate. Meantime I owe Biggs L5. which is
heavy on my thoughts, and Mrs. I has not been paid her last quarter which
is still heavier. As to myself, I can continue to go on here, but this
L10 I must pay somehow, that is L5 to Biggs, and L5 to Mrs. F....
God bless you,
S. T. Coleridge."
P.S. This week I purpose offering myself to the Bridgwater Socinian
congregation, as assistant minister, without any salary, directly, or
indirectly; but of this say not a word to any one, unless you see Mr.
A visit to Mr. Coleridge at Stowey, had been the means of my introduction
to Mr. Wordsworth, who read me many of his Lyrical Pieces, when I
immediately perceived in them extraordinary merit, and advised him to
publish them, expressing a belief that they would be well received. I
further said he should be at no risk; that I would give him the same sum
which I had given to Mr. Coleridge and to Mr. Southey, and that it would
be a gratifying circumstance to me, to have been the publisher of the
first volumes of three such poets, as Southey, Coleridge, and Wordsworth;
such a distinction might never again occur to a Provincial bookseller.
To the idea of publishing he expressed a strong objection, and after
several interviews, I left him, with an earnest wish that he would
reconsider his determination.
Soon after Mr. Wordsworth sent me the following letter.
"Allfoxden, 12th April, 1798.
My dear Cottle,
... You will be pleased to hear that I have gone on very rapidly adding
to my stock of poetry. Do come and let me read it to you, under the old
trees in the park. We have a little more than two months to stay in this
place. Within these four days the season has advanced with greater
rapidity than I ever remember, and the country becomes almost every hour
more lovely. God bless you,
Your affectionate friend,
A little time after, I received an invitation from Mr. Coleridge to pay
himself and Mr. Wordsworth another visit. At about the same time, I
received the following corroborative invitation from Mr. Wordsworth.
"Dear Cottle, We look for you with great impatience. We will never
forgive you if you do not come. I say nothing of the 'Salisbury Plain'
till I see you. I am determined to finish it, and equally so that you
I have lately been busy about another plan, which I do not wish to
mention till I see you; let this be very, very soon, and stay a week if
possible; as much longer as you can. God bless you, dear Cottle,
Allfoxden, 9th May, 1798."
The following letter also on this subject, was received from Mr.
"My dear Cottle,
Neither Wordsworth nor myself could have been otherwise than
uncomfortable, if any but yourself had received from us the first offer
of our Tragedies, and of the volume of Wordsworth's Poems. At the same
time, we did not expect that you could with prudence and propriety,
advance such a sum as we should want at the time we specified. In short,
we both regard the publication of our Tragedies as an evil. It is not
impossible but that in happier times, they may be brought on the stage:
and to throw away this chance for a mere trifle, would be to make the
present moment act fraudulently and usuriously towards the future time.
My Tragedy employed and strained all my thoughts and faculties for six or
seven months; Wordsworth consumed far more time, and far more thought,
and far more genius. We consider the publication of them an evil on any
terms; but our thoughts were bent on a plan for the accomplishment of
which, a certain sum of money was necessary, (the whole) at that
particular time, and in order to this we resolved, although reluctantly,
to part with our Tragedies: that is, if we could obtain thirty guineas
for each, and at less than thirty guineas Wordsworth will not part with
the copy-right of his volume of Poems. We shall offer the Tragedies to no
one, for we have determined to procure the money some other way. If you
choose the volume of Poems, at the price mentioned, to be paid at the
time specified, i. e. thirty guineas, to be paid sometime in the last
fortnight of July, you may have them; but remember, my dear fellow! I
write to you now merely as a bookseller, and intreat you, in your answer,
to consider yourself only; as to us, although money is necessary to our
plan, [that of visiting Germany] yet the plan is not necessary to our
happiness; and if it were, W. could sell his Poems for that sum to some
one else, or we could procure the money without selling the Poems. So I
entreat you, again and again, in your answer, which must be immediate,
consider yourself only.
Wordsworth has been caballed against _so long and so loudly_, that he has
found it impossible to prevail on the tenant of the Allfoxden estate, to
let him the house, after their first agreement is expired, so he must
quit it at Midsummer; whether we shall be able to procure him a house and
furniture near Stowey, we know not, and yet we must: for the hills, and
the woods, and the streams, and the sea, and the shores, would break
forth into reproaches against us, if we did not strain every nerve, to
keep their poet among them. Without joking, and in serious sadness, Poole
and I cannot endure to think of losing him.
At all events, come down, Cottle, as soon as you can, but before
Midsummer, and we will procure a horse easy as thy own soul, and we will
go on a roam to Linton and Limouth, which, if thou comest in May, will be
in all their pride of woods and waterfalls, not to speak of its august
cliffs, and the green ocean, and the vast Valley of Stones, all which
live disdainful of the seasons, or accept new honours only from the
winter's snow. At all events come down, and cease not to believe me much
and affectionately your friend,
S. T. Coleridge."
In consequence of these conjoint invitations, I spent a week with Mr. C.
and Mr. W. at Allfoxden house, and during this time, (beside the reading
of MS. poems) they took me to Limouth, and Linton, and the Valley of
Stones. This beautiful and august scenery, might suggest many remarks, as
well as on our incidents upon the way, but I check the disposition to
amplify, from recollecting the extent to which an unconstrained
indulgence in narrative had formerly led me, in the affair of Tintern
At this interview it was determined, that the volume should be published
under the title of "Lyrical ballads," on the terms stipulated in a former
letter: that this volume should not contain the poem of "Salisbury
Plain," but only an extract from it; that it should not contain the poem
of "Peter Bell," but consist rather of sundry shorter poems, and, for the
most part, of pieces more recently written. I had recommended two
volumes, but one was fixed on, and that to be published anonymously. It
was to be begun immediately, and with the "Ancient Mariner;" which poem I
brought with me to Bristol. A day or two after I received the following.
"My dear Cottle,
You know what I think of a letter, how impossible it is to argue in it.
You must therefore take simple statements, and in a week or two, I shall
see you, and endeavour to reason with you.
Wordsworth and I have duly weighed your proposal, and this is an answer.
He would not object to the publishing of 'Peter Bell,' or the 'Salisbury
Plain' singly; but to the publishing of his poems in two volumes, he is
decisively repugnant and oppugnant.
He deems that they would want variety, &c. &c. If this apply in his case,
it applies with ten-fold more force to mine. We deem that the volumes
offered to you, are, to a certain degree, one work in kind, though not in
degree, as an ode is one work; and that our different poems are, as
stanzas, good, relatively rather than absolutely: mark you, I say in
kind, though not in degree. As to the Tragedy, when I consider it in
reference to Shakspeare's, and to one other Tragedy, it seems a poor
thing, and I care little what becomes of it. When I consider it in
comparison with modern dramatists, it rises: and I think it too bad to be
published, too good to be squandered. I think of breaking it up; the
planks are sound, and I will build a new ship of the old materials.
The dedication to the Wedgewoods, which you recommend, would be
indelicate and unmeaning. If, after four or five years, I shall have
finished some work of importance, which could not have been written, but
in an unanxious seclusion, to them I will dedicate it; for the public
will have owed the work to them who gave me the power of that unanxious
As to anonymous publications, depend on it, you are deceived.
Wordsworth's name is nothing to a large number of persons; mine stinks.
The 'Essay on Man,' the 'Botanic Garden,' the 'Pleasures of Memory,' and
many other most popular works, were published anonymously. However, I
waive all reasoning, and simply state it as an unaltered opinion, that
you should proceed as before, with the 'Ancient Mariner.'
The picture shall be sent. For your love gifts and book-loans accept
our hearty love. The 'Joan of Arc' is a divine book; it opens lovelily. I
hope that you will take off some half dozen of our Poems on great paper,
even as the 'Joan of Arc.'
Cottle, my dear Cottle, I meant to have written you an Essay on the
Metaphysics of Typography, but I have not time. Take a few hints, without
the abstruse reasons for them, with which I mean to favour you. 18 lines
in a page, the line closely printed, certainly more closely printed than
those of the 'Joan;' ('Oh, by all means, closer, _W. Wordsworth_')
equal ink, and large margins; that is beauty; it may even, under your
immediate care, mingle the sublime! And now, my dear Cottle, may God love
you and me, who am, with most unauthorish feelings,
Your true friend,
S. T. Coleridge.
P. S. I walked to Linton the day after you left us, and returned on
Saturday. I walked in one day, and returned in one."
A reference is made by Mr. Coleridge, in a letter (p. 177 [Letter
starting with "Neither Wordsworth nor myself...." Transcriber.]) to the
"caballing, long and loud" against Mr. Wordsworth, and which occasioned
him to remove from Somersetshire. To learn the nature of this annoyance,
may furnish some little amusement to the reader, while Mr. W. himself
will only smile at trifling incidents, that are now, perhaps, scarcely
Mr. W. had taken the Allfoxden House, near Stowey, for one year, (during
the minority of the heir) and the reason why he was refused a
continuance, by the ignorant man who had the letting of it, arose, as Mr.
Coleridge informed me, from a whimsical cause, or rather a series of
causes. The wiseacres of the village had, it seemed, made Mr. W. the
subject of their serious conversation. One said that "He had seen him
wander about by night, and look rather strangely at the moon! and then,
he roamed over the hills, like a partridge." Another said, "He had heard
him mutter, as he walked, in some outlandish brogue, that nobody could
understand!" Another said, "It's useless to talk, Thomas, I think he is
what people call a 'wise man.'" (a conjuror!) Another said, "You are
every one of you wrong. I know what he is. We have all met him, tramping
away toward the sea. Would any man in his senses, take all that trouble
to look at a parcel of water! I think he carries on a snug business in
the smuggling line, and, in these journies, is on the look out for some
wet cargo!" Another very significantly said, "I know that he has got a
private still in his cellar, for I once passed his house, at a little
better than a hundred yards distance, and I could smell the spirits, as
plain as an ashen fagot at Christmas!" Another said, "However that was,
he is sure_ly_ a desperd French jacobin, for he is so silent and dark,
that nobody ever heard him say one word about politics!" And thus these
ignoramuses drove from their village, a greater ornament than will ever
again be found amongst them.
In order to continue the smile on the reader's countenance, I may be
allowed to state a trifling circumstance, which at this moment forces
itself on my recollection.
A visit to Mr. Coleridge, at Stowey, in the year 1797, had been the means
of my introduction to Mr. Wordsworth. Soon after our acquaintance had
commenced, Mr. W. happened to be in Bristol, and asked me to spend a day
or two with him at Allfoxden. I consented, and drove him down in a gig.
We called for Mr. Coleridge, Miss Wordsworth, and the servant, at Stowey,
and they walked, while we rode on to Mr. W.'s house at Allfoxden, distant
two or three miles, where we purposed to dine. A London alderman would
smile at our prepation, or bill of fare. It consisted, of philosophers'
viands; namely, a bottle of brandy, a noble loaf, and a stout piece of
cheese; and as there were plenty of lettuces in the garden, with all
these comforts we calculated on doing very well.
Our fond hopes, however, were somewhat damped, by finding, that our
"stout piece of cheese" had vanished! A sturdy _rat_ of a beggar, whom we
had relieved on the road, with his olfactories all alive, no doubt,
_smelt_ our cheese, and while we were gazing at the magnificent clouds,
contrived to abstract our treasure! Cruel tramp! An ill return for our
pence! We both wished the rind might not choke him! The mournful fact was
ascertained a little before we drove into the courtyard of the house. Mr.
Coleridge bore the loss with great fortitude, observing, that we should
never starve with a loaf of bread, and a bottle of brandy. He now, with
the dexterity of an adept, admired by his friends around, unbuckled the
horse, and, putting down the shafts with a jerk, as a triumphant
conclusion of his work, lo! the bottle of brandy that had been placed
most carefully behind us on the seat, from the force of gravity, suddenly
rolled down, and before we could arrest this spirituous avalanche,
pitching right on the stones, was dashed to pieces. We all beheld the
spectacle, silent and petrified! We might have collected the broken
fragments of glass, but the brandy! that was gone! clean gone!
One little untoward thing often follows another, and while the rest stood
musing, chained to the place, regaling themselves with the Cogniac
effluvium, and all miserably chagrined, I led the horse to the stable,
when a fresh perplexity arose. I removed the harness without difficulty,
but after many strenuous attempts, I could not get off the collar. In
despair, I called for assistance, when aid soon drew near. Mr. Wordsworth
first brought his ingenuity into exercise, but after several unsuccessful
efforts, he relinquished the achievement, as a thing altogether
impracticable. Mr. Coleridge now tried his hand, but showed no more
grooming skill than his predecessors; for after twisting the poor horse's
neck almost to strangulation, and to the great danger of his eyes, he
gave up the useless task, pronouncing that the horse's head must have
grown, (gout or dropsy!) since the collar was put on! for, he said, it
was a downright impossibility for such a huge Os Frontis to pass through
so narrow a collar! Just at this instant the servant girl came near, and
understanding the cause of our consternation, "La, Master," said she,
"you do not go about the work in the right way. You should do like as
this," when turning the collar completely upside down, she slipped it off
in a moment, to our great humiliation and wonderment; each satisfied,
afresh, that there were heights of knowledge in the world, to which we
had not yet attained.
We were now summoned to dinner, and a dinner it was, such as every
_blind_ and starving man in the three kingdoms would have rejoiced to
_behold_. At the top of the table stood a superb brown loaf. The centre
dish presented a pile of the true coss lettuces, and at the bottom
appeared an empty plate, where the "stout piece of cheese" _ought_ to
have stood! (cruel mendicant!) and though the brandy was "clean gone,"
yet its place was well, if not _better_ supplied by an abundance of fine
sparkling Castalian champagne! A happy thought at this time started into
one of our minds, that some condiment would render the lettuces a little
more palatable, when an individual in the company, recollected a
question, once propounded by the most patient of men, "How can that which
is unsavoury be eaten without _salt?_" and asked for a little of that
valuable culinary article. "Indeed, sir," Betty replied, "I quite forgot
to buy salt." A general laugh followed the announcement, in which our
host heartily joined. This was nothing. We had plenty of other good
things, and while crunching our succulents, and munching our crusts, we
pitied the far worse condition of those, perchance as hungry as
ourselves, who were forced to dine, off aether alone. For our next meal,
the mile-off village furnished all that could be desired, and these
trifling incidents present the sum and the result of half the little
passing disasters of life.
The "Lyrical Ballads" were published about Midsummer, 1798. In September
of the same year, Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth left England for
Germany, and I quitted the business of a bookseller. Had I not once been
such, this book would never have appeared.
* * * * *
The narrative of Mr. Coleridge being concluded to the time when he left
Bristol, with Mr. Wordsworth, to visit Germany, I shall now, for the
present, leave him; and direct the reader's attention to Mr. Southey, by
introducing a portion of his long-continued correspondence with myself;