175. To Richard Brinsley Sheridan 1 Address: Richard Brinsley Sheridan Esq. | M. P. | London MS. Harvard College Lib. Hitherto unpublished. Stamped: Bridgewater. Stowey, near Bridgewater. Feb. 6th, 1797 Dear Sir I received a letter last Saturday from a friend 2 of the Revd W. L. Bowles, importing that You wished me 'to write a tragedy on some popular subject.' 3 I need not say, that I was gratified and somewhat elated by the proposal; and whatever hours I can win from the avocations, by which I earn my immediate subsistence, shall be sacred to the attempt. The attempt I shall make more readily, as I have reason to believe, that I can hope without expecting, and of course meet rejection without suffering disappointment. Indeed I have conceived so high an idea of what a Tragedy ought to be, that I am certain I shall myself be dissatisfied with my production; and I can therefore safely promise, that I will neither be surprized or wounded, if I should find you of the same opinion. I should consider myself well paid for my trouble by the improvement which my mind would have received from it, as an Exercise; and by the honor conferred on me by your having proposed it. The phrase 'popular subject' has a little puzzled me. Mr Bowles perhaps will be able to inform me, whether you meant by it to recommend a fictitious and domestic subject, or one founded on well-known History. The four most popular Tragedies of Shakespear ( Lear, Othello, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet) are either fictitious, or drawn from Histories and parts of History unknown to the Many: and the impression from Schiller's 'Fiesco' is weak compared to that produced by his 'Robbers.' There are however great advantages in the other scale. The Spectators come with a prepared Interest. -- I shall not cease to remember this your kind attention to me; and am pleased, that I have to add the feeling of individual obligation to the deeper and more lofty gratitude, which I owe you in common with all Europe. -- S. T. Coleridge ____________________ 1 Richard Brinsley Sheridan ( 1751-1816), dramatist and parliamentary orator. 2 Probably William Linley. Cf. Letter 211. 3 In compliance with Sheridan's request, Coleridge wrote Osorio. See Letters 209 and 212. -304-