198. To John Prior Estlin Address: Revd J. P. Estlin | St Michael's Hill | Bristol MS. Bristol Central Lib. Pub. R.L.G. i. 78. Stamped: Bridgewater. Stowey -- Sunday. [ 28 July 1797] My dear Friend I would accept your kind invitation immediately, but that I have a bad foot -- A scald imperfectly healed -- & I walked with it -after one day's walking I was obliged to return -- with a wound in my foot. -- But if possible, I will ride to Bristol at the end of the week. ---- Heaven forbid that there should not be worse vices of the mind than Prejudice -- for all of us, more or less, must necessarily be prejudiced. -- The worst vice of the Intellect, I believe, is malignant Prejudice -- & next to this, or perhaps co-equal with it, is Indifference. -- I have sometimes feared, from the dislike, the encreasing dislike, which I find in myself, to all chirurgical operations, that my mind is verging to this state -- it is certainly much nearer to it, than to any disquietude & restlessness of Temper concerning errors, which do not appear directly connected with vice & misery. -- I judge so much by the fruits, that I feel a constant yearning towards the belief that such tenets are not errors. -- Now all this applies to the present case. I cannot as yet reconcile my intellect to the sacramental Rites; but as I do not see any ill-effect which they produce among the Dissenters, and as you declare from your own experience that they have good effects, it is painful to me even simply to state my dissent -- and more than this I have not done, and, unless Christianity were attacked on this head by an Infidel of real learning & talents, more than this I do not consider myself as bound to do. -- I never even state my dissent unless to Ministers who urge me to undertake the ministry. -- My conduct is this -- I omit the rites, -- and wish to say nothing about it -- every thing that relates to Christianity is of importance; but yet all things are not of equal importance; and when the Incendiaries have surrounded the building, it is idle to dispute among ourselves whether an old Stair-case was placed in it by the original Architect, or added afterwards by a meaner Hand. ---- But notwithstanding this, it's little comparative importance, I cannot, I must not, play the hypocrite -- If I performed or received the Lord's supper, in my -337- present state of mind, I should indeed be eating & drinking condemnation. But this I need not say to you. ---- As to Norwich, it is an ugly place, and an extravagantly dear place -- & it is very, very far different from all I love, animate & inanimate -- & parties run high -- and I am wearied with politics, even to soreness. -- I never knew a passion for politics exist for a long time without swallowing up, or absolutely excluding, a passion for Religion --. Perhaps I am wrong: but so I think. -- However, I trust to see you by the end of the week. -- To Mrs Estlin remember me affectionately -and kiss for me the dear little ones. -- May Heaven love you and him who ever feels for you the mingled affections of Son, Brother, & Friend -- S. T. Coleridge