184. To Joseph Cottle From a catalogue of Browne and Browne, Booksellers, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Pub. E.L.G. i. 70. [Early April 1797] My dearest Cottle I love and respect you as a brother, and my memory deceives me woefully, if I have not evidenced by the animated tone of my conversation, when we have been téte-à-téte, how much your company interested me. But when last in Bristol the day I meant to have devoted to you was such a day of sadness, that I could do nothing. -- On the Saturday, the Sunday, and the ten days after my arrival at Stowey 3 I felt a depression too dreadful to be described So much I felt my genial spirits droop! My hopes all flat, nature within me seem'd In all her functions weary of herself. 4 Wordsworth's conversation, 5 &c roused me somewhat; but even ____________________ 1 Distant View of England from the Sea. 2 Hope. 3 Coleridge was in Bristol on 23 Mar. See Letter 185, headnote. 4 Samson Agonistes, 594-6. 5 On 19 Mar. 1797 Wordsworth had left Racedown for Bristol, from whence he expected to return in about a fortnight. Cf. Early Letters, 165. He may have seen Coleridge in Bristol; but it is certain from Coleridge's letter that Wordsworth visited Stowey, probably early in April, on his way back to Racedown. See Letter 190, which shows that Poole also met Wordsworth at this time. -319- now I am not the man I have been -- and I think never shall. A sort of calm hopelessness diffuses itself over my heart. -- Indeed every mode of life which has promised me bread and cheese, has been, one after another torn away from me -- but God remains. I have no immediate pressing distress, having received ten pounds from Lloyd's father at Birmingham. 1 -- I employ myself now on a book of Morals in answer to Godwin, and on my Tragedy. David Hartley is well, and grows. -- Sara is well and desires a sister's love to you. Tom Poole desires to be kindly remembered to you. I see they have reviewed Southey's Poems and my Ode in the Monthly Review. 2 Notwithstanding the Reviews, I, who in the sincerity of my heart am jealous for Robert Southey's fame, regret the publication of that volume. Wordsworth complains, with justice, that Southey writes too much at his eases 3 -- that he seldom 'feels his burthened breast Heaving beneath th' incumbent Deity.' He certainly will make literature more profitable to him from the fluency with which he writes, and the facility with which he pleases himself, But I fear, that to posterity his wreath will look unseemly -- here an ever living amaranth, and close by its side some weed of an hour, sere, yellow,and shapeless -- his exquisite beauties will lose half their effect from the bad company they keep. Besides I am fearful that he will begin to rely too much on story and event in his poems, to the neglect of those lofty imaginings, that are peculiar to, and definitive of, the poet. The story of Milton might be told in two pages -- it is this which distinguishes an Epic Poem from a Romance in metre. Observe the march of Milton -- his severe application, his laborious polish, his deep metaphysical researches, his prayers to God before he began his great poem, all that could lift and swell his intellect, became his daily food. I should not think of devoting less than 20 years to an Epic Poem. Ten to collect materials and warm my mind with universal science. I would be a tolerable Mathematician, I would thoroughly know Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Optics, and Astronomy, Botany, Metallurgy, Fossilism, Chemistry, Geology, Anatomy, Medicine -- then the mind of man -- then the minds of men -- in all Travels, Voyages and ____________________ 1 Charles Lloyd left Nether Stowey, presumably before 23 Mar., since Coleridge was in Bristol on that date. Shortly afterwards Lloyd was placed under the care of Dr. Erasmus Darwin, in a sanatorium at Lichfield. Lamb Letters, i. 107. 2 See Monthly Review, Mar 1797. 3 Cottle ( Early Rec. i. 191) omits the names of both Wordsworth and Southey and prints: 'There are some Poets who write too much at their ease.' -320- Histories. So I would spend ten years -- the next five to the composition of the poem -- and the five last to the correction of it. So I would write haply not unhearing of that divine and rightlywhispering Voice, which speaks to mighty minds of predestinated Garlands, starry and unwithering. God love you, S. T. Coleridge.