176. To John The wall Address: Mr. Thelwall | . . . [address heavily inked out] (Readdressed in another hand] Mr. Hardy's | Tavistock Street | Covent Garden MS. Pierpont Morgan Lib. Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 214. Postmark: 9 February 1797. Stamped: Bridgewater. Stowey, near Bridgewater, Somerset. Feb. 6th 1797. I thank you, my dear Thelwall, for the parcel, & your Letters. Of the contents I shall speak in the order of their importance. First then, of your scheme of a school. I approve it; and fervently wish, that you may find it more easy of accomplishment, than my fears suggest. But try, by all means, try. Have hopes without expectations -- hopes to stimulate exertion, not expectations to hazard disappointment. -- Most of our patriots are tavern & parlour Patriots, that will not avow their principles by any decisive action; & of the few, who would wish to do so, the larger part are unable, from their children's expectancies on rich Relations &c &c. -- May there remain enough for your Stella to employ herself on! Try, by all means, try! For your comfort, for your progressiveness in literary excellence, in the name of every thing that is happy, and in the name of every thing that is miserable I would have you do any thing honest, rather than lean with the whole weight of your necessities on the Press. Get bread, & cheese, cloathing & housing independently of it; & you may then safely trust to it for beef and strong beer. You will find a country Life a happy one; and you might live comfortably with an hundred a year. Fifty £ you might, I doubt not, gain by reviewing; & furnishing miscellanies for the different magazines; you might safely speculate on twenty pound a year more from your compositions published separately -50+20 = 709 £ -- by severe economy, a little garden labor, & a pig stie, this would do -- and if the education scheme did not succeed, and I could get engaged by any one of the Reviews & the New Monthly Magazine, I would try it: & begin to farm by little & slow degrees. -- You perceive that by the Press I mean merely writing without a certainty. The other is as secure as any thing else could be to you. With health & spirits it would stand; & without health & spirits every other mode of maintenance, as well as reviewing, would be impracticable.-You are going to Derby! I shall be with you in Spirit. -- Derby is no common place; but where you will find citizens enough to fill your lecture room puzzles me. -- Dr Darwin will no doubt excite your respectful curiosity. On the whole, I think, he is the first literary character in Europe, and the most original-minded Man. Mrs Crompton is an Angel; & Dr Crompton a truly honest & benevolent man, possessing good sense & a large -305- portion of humour. I never think | without respect, & tenderness; never (for thank heaven! I abominate Godwinism) without gratitude. William Strutt is a man of stern aspect, but strong, very strong abilities: Joseph Strutt every way amiable. He deserves his Wife -- which is saying a great deal -- for she is a sweet-minded Woman, and one that you would be apt to recollect whenever you met or used the words lovely, handsome, beautiful &c -- 'While smiling Loves the shaft display, And lift the playful torch elate.' -Perhaps, you may be so fortunate as to meet with a Mrs Evans whose seat is at Darley, about a mile from Derby. Blessings descend on her! Emotions crowd on me at the sight of her name -We spent five weeks at her house -- a sunny spot in our Life! -- My Sara sits and thinks and thinks of her, & bursts into tears -- & when I turn to her, says -- I was thinking, my dear! of Mrs Evans & Bessy.( -- (i.e.) her daughter). I mention this to you, because things are charactered by their effects. She is no common Being who could create so warm & lasting an interest in our hearts: for we are no common people. Indeed, indeed, Thelwalll she is without exception the greatest WOMAN, I have been fortunate enough to meet with in my brief pilgrimage thro' Life. -- At Nottingham you will surely be more likely to obtain audiences; & I doubt not, you will find a hospitable reception there. I was treated by many families with kindliness, by some with a zeal of affection. Write me if you go & when you go. -- Now for your pamphlet. -- It is well-written; & the doctrines sound, altho' sometimes, I think, deduced falsely -- for instance -p. (111) It is true that all a man's children, 'however begotten, whether in marriage or out,' are his heirs in nature, and ought to be so in true policy; but instead of tacitly allowing that I meant by it to encourage what Mr B. & the Priests would call licentiousness, (and which surely, Thelwall I in the present state of society you must allow to be injustice, inasmuch as it deprives the woman of her respectability in the opinions of her neighbors) I would have shewn that such a law would of all others operate most powerfully in favor of marriage; by which word I mean not the effect of spells uttered by conjurors, but permanent cohabitation useful to Society as the best conceivable means (in the present state of Soc. at least:) of ensuring nurture & systematic education to infants & children. We are but frail beings at present; & want such motives to the practice of our duties. Unchastity may be no vice -- I think, it is -- but it may be no vice, abstractly speaking -- yet from a variety of causes unchaste women are almost without exception careless Mothers. Wife is a solemn name to me because of it's influence on the more solemn duties of Mother. -- Such passages -- -306- (page 80 is another of them) are offensive. They are mere assertions, and of course can convince no person who thinks differently: and they give pain & irritate. -- I write so frequently to you on this subject, because I have reason to know that passages of this order did give very general offence in your first part; & have operated to retard the sale of the second. -- If they had been arguments, or necessarily connected with your main argument, I am not the man, Thelwall! who would oppose the filth of prudentials merely to have it swept away by the indignant torrent of your honesty. But as I said before, they are mere assertions; & certainly their truth is not self-evident. -- Without [sic] the exception of these passages the pamphlet is the best, I have read, since the commencement of the war; warm, not fiery; well-reasoned without being dry; the periods harmonious yet avoiding metrical harmony; and the ornaments so disposed as to set off the features of truth without turning the attention on themselves. -- I account for it's slow sale partly from your having compared yourself to Christ in the first (which gave great offence to my knowlege, altho' very foolishly, I confess) & partly from the sore & fatigued state of men's minds which disqualifies them for works of principle that exert the intellect without agitating the passions. -- But it has not been reviewed yet -- has it? -- I read your narrative -- & was almost sorry, I had read it -- : for I had become much interested, & the abrupt 'no more' jarred me. -- I never heard before of your variance with Horne Tooke. -- Of the poems the two Odes are the best 1 -- Of the two Odes the last, I think -- it is in the best style of Akenside's best Odes. -- Several of the sonnets are pleasing -- & whenever I was pleased, I paused, & imaged you in my mind in your captivity. -- My Ode by this time you are conscious that you have praised too highly -- you wrote to me in the warmth of a first impression. With the exception of 'I unpartaking of the evil thing' which line I do not think injudiciously weak, I accede to all your remarks, & shall alte[r] accordingly -- Your remark that the line on the Empress had more of Juvenal than Pindar flasheà itself on my mind -- I had admired the line before; but I became immediately of your opinion -- & that criticism has convinced me that your nerves are exquisite electrometers of Taste. 2 -- You forgot to point out to me, that the whole Childbirth of Nature is at once ludicrous & disgusting -- an epigram smart yet bombastic. -- The Review of Bryant's pamphlet 3 is good -- the sauce is better than ____________________ 1 See Poems written in Close Confinement, 1795, pp. 13-22. 2 For this figure see also Letters 195 and 464. 3 Jacob Bryant ( 1715-1804) published a treatise against the doctrines of Thomas Paine. -307- the Fish. -- Speaking of Lewis's death, 1 surely, you forget that the Legislature of France were to act by Laws and not by general morals -- ; & that they violated the Law which they themselves had made. I will take in the Corresponding Society Magazine. -That good man, James Losh, has just published an admirable pamphlet translated from the French of Benjamin Constant entitled 'Considerations on the Strength of the present Government of France'. 2 'Woe to that country where crimes are punished by crimes, and where men murder in the name of Justice.' -- I apply this to the death of the mistaking but well-meaning Lewis.-I never go to Bristol -- from seven to half past eight I work in my garden; from breakfast till 12 I read & compose; then work again -feed the pigs, poultry &c, till two o'clock-after dinner work again till Tea -- from Tea till supper review. So jogs the day; & I am happy. I have society -- my friend, T. Poole and as many acquaintances as I can dispense with -- there are a number of very pretty young women in Stowey, all musical -- & I am an immense favorite: for I pun, conundrumize, listen, & dance. The last is a recent acquirement --. We are very happy -- & my little David Hartley grows a sweet boy -- & has high health -- he laughs at us till he makes us weep for very fondness. -- You would smile to see my eye rolling up to the ceiling in a Lyric fury, and on my knee a Diaper pinned, to warm. -- I send & receive to & from Bristol every week -- & will transcribe that part of your last letter & send it to Reed. I raise potatoes & all manner of vegetables; have an Orchard; & shall raise Corn with the spade enough for my family. -- We have two pigs, & Ducks & Geese. A Cow would not answer the keep: for we have whatever milk we want from T. Poole. -- God bless you & your affectionate S. T. Coleridge Sara's love to you, amorous Jeffery Ruddell! 3 -- & my Love to Stella. -- ____________________ 1 Louis XVI was guillotined at Paris, 21 Jan. 1793. 2 Henri Benjamin Constant pamphlet, De la force du gouvernement actuel et de la nécessité de s'y rallier, was published in 1796. James Losh's translation is not listed in the British Museum Catalogue. 3 Geoffrey de Rudel, the troubadour, fell in love with the Countess of Tripoli without having seen her. -308-