186. To Joseph Cottle Pub. Rem. 140, where the text is more complete than in Early Rec. i. 246. This letter, as printed by Cottle, is obviously a composite of parts of several letters. The first paragraph refers to Burnett's illness at his home in Huntspill, which probably explains Coleridge's presence there. The second paragraph sends a message to Mrs. Coleridge, even though the letter is headed 'Stowey'; this paragraph, therefore, probably belongs to a letter written ____________________ 1 The postscript Cottle printed here is a paragraph taken from Letter 182. -321- before Coleridge settled in Nether Stowey. The third paragraph presumably belongs to the Stowey period, though mice may have plagued the Coleridges at Clevedon or elsewhere. The postscript may be from a letter written in Stowey. Did Cottle group together Coleridge's comments on kittens, mice, and dogs for reasons known only to himself? Stowey. [Early April 1797?] 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. 1 [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! ____________________ 1 'It appears that Mr. Burnet had been prevailed upon by smugglers to buy some prime cheap brandy, but which Mr. Coleridge affirmed to be a compound of Hellebore, kitchen grease, and Assafoetida! or something as bad.' Rem. 140. -322-