221. To John Prior Estlin Address: Revd J. P. Estlin | St Michael's Hill | Bristol single MS. Bristol Central Lib. Pub. D.L.G. i. 92. Stamped: Shrewsbury. [ 16 January 1798] My very dear Friend I answer your letter to Mr Row -- because it is probable that I must say all that he would say -- and that I shall have to say what he could not say for me. -- We have talked over the affair seriously -- and at the conclusion of our conversations our opinions have nearly coincided. -- First of all I must give you the information, which I have received on this affair -- & then I will proceed to make some direct observations on your very kind letter. In a letter full of elevated sentiments Mr Josiah Wedgewood offers me from himself & his brother Thomas Wedgewood 'an annuity of 150£ for life, legally secured to me, no condition whatever being annexed.' -- / -You seemed by the phrase of 'a family in this neighbourhood' to suppose that the offer proceeded from or included the Wedgewoods at Cote House -- this is not the case. Josiah Wedgewood lives in Staffordshire. Now nothing can be clearer than that I cannot accept the Ministerial Salary at Shrewsbury & this at the same time. For as I am morally certain that the Wedgewoods would not have thought it their duty, or rather would have found it to be not their duty, to have offered me 150£ yearly, if I had been previously possessed of an 150£ regular income -- it follows indisputably, that I cannot accept the first 150£ with the determination to accept the latter 150£ immediately after. -- But (independently of the animus donantis which is conclusive in this case) were I to accept the salary at Shrewsbury, I would not accept the annuity from the Wedgewoods. -- Many deserve it equally; and few would want it less. -- It is -370- almost equally clear to me, that as two distinct & incompatible objects are proposed to me, I ought to clause between them -- with reference to the advantages of each -- & not make the one a dernier resource if the other should fail. -- No, anteriorly to the decision of the Congregation here, I will send the Wedgewoods a definitive answer, either accepting or declining the offer -- If I accept it, I will accept it for itself -- and not to console me for a disappointment in the other object, which I should have preferred if I could have ensured it. -- Now then I can state clearly the Question on which I am to decide -- 'Shall I refuse 150£ a year for life, as certain, as any fortune can be, for (I will call it) another 150£ a year, the attainment of which is not yet certain, and the duration of which is precarious? -- ' You answer -- 'Yes! -- the cause of Christianity & practical Religion demands your exertions. The powers of intellect, which God has given you, are given for this very purpose, that they may be employed in promoting the best interests of mankind.' -- Now this answer would be decisive to my understanding, & (I think you know enough of me to believe me when I say that were the annuity 1500£ a year instead of 150£,) it should be decisive on my conduct, if I could see any reason why my exertions for Christianity & practical Religion depend -- I will not say, on my being at Shrewsbury, but -- on my becoming a stipendiary & regular minister. -- It makes me blush, I assure you, sitting alone as I now am, at the idea of mentioning two such names as I am about to do, with any supposeable reference to my own talents, present or to come / but the kind is not altered by the degree -- Did Dr HARTLEY employ himself for the promotion of the best interests of mankind? Most certainly. If instead of being a physician he had been an hired Teacher, that he would not have taught Christianity better, I can certainly say -- & I suspect, from the vulgar prejudices of mankind that his name might have been less efficacious. -- That however is a Trifle. A man who thinks that Lardner defended Christianity because he received 50 or 60£ a year for preaching at Crouched Friars, [Crutched Friars] 1 must be such a booby that it cannot be of much consequence what he thinks -- but -- Lardner! -do you really think, my dear Friend! that it would have been of much detriment to the Christian world if the author of the Credibility &c had never received nor accepted the invitation at Crouched Friars? -- Surely not. -- I should be very unwilling to think that my efforts as a Christian Minister depended on my preaching ____________________ 1 Nathaniel Lardner ( 1684-1768), nonconformist divine and biblical scholar, became assistant to Dr. Harris at the meeting-house in Poor Jewry Lane, Crutched Friars, in Sept. 1729. -371- regularly in one pulpit. -- God forbid! -- To the cause of Religion I solemnly devote all my best faculties -- and if I wish to acquire knowlege as a philosopher and fame as a poet, I pray for grace that I may continue to feel what I now feel, that my greatest reason for wishing the one & the other, is that I may be enabled by my knowlege to defend Religion ably, and by my reputation to draw attention to the defence of it. -- I regard every experiment that Priestly made in Chemistry, as giving wings to his more sublime theological works. -- I most assuredly shall preach often -- and it is my present purpose alternately to assist Dr Toulmin & Mr Howel, one part of every Sunday, while I stay at Stowey. -- 'I know (you say) that it was from the purest motives that he thought of entering into the ministry' -- My motives were as pure as they could be, or ought to be. Surely an especial attachment to a society, which I had never seen, was not one of them -- neither if I were to permit myself to be elected the Minister here, should I consider the salary as the payment of my services, i.e. my stated & particular services to the People here, but as a means of enabling myself to employ all my time both for their benefit & that of all my fellow-beings. -Two modes of gaining [a] livelihood were in my power -- The press without reference to Religion -- & Religion without reference to the Press. -- (By the Press as a Trade I wish you to understand, reviewing, newspaper-writing, and all those things in which I proposed no fame to myself or permanent good to society -- but only to gain that bread which might empower me to do both the one and the other on my vacant days. --) I chose the latter -- I preferred, as more innocent in the first place, & more useful in the second place, the ministry as a Trade to the Press as a Trade. -- A circumstance arises -- & the necessity ceases for my taking up either -- that is -- as a means of providing myself with the necessaries of Life. -- Why should I not adopt it? -- But you continue -- 'and I cannot but rejoice that he has it in his power to demonstrate this (i.e. the purity of my motives) to the satisfaction of others.' -- It is possible then that some may say, 'while he wanted money, he was willing to preach the gospel in order to get [it] -- when that want ceased, his zeal departed.' -- Let them say it -- I shall answer most truly -- While I could not devote my time to the service of Religion without receiving money from a particular congregation, I subdued the struggles of reluctance, & would have submitted to receive it -Now I am enabled -- as I have received freely, freely to give. -- If in the course of a few years I shall have appeared neglectful of the cause of Religion, if by my writings & preachings I shall not have been endeavouring to propagate it, then & not till then the charge will affect me. -- I have written you as the thoughts came upper- -372- most -- I might say a great deal more. I might talk of Shrewsbury in particular & state particular reasons of attachment to Stowey -but I chose to confine myself to generals. -- Anterior to any conversation Mr Row thought on the whole that I ought to accept the annuity -- He desires me to say, that he will leave this place on the Wednesday of next week, for Bristol -- I will serve for him as long as he clauses. Your's most affectionately S. T. Coleridge P. S. To this add that the annuity is independent of my health, &c &c -- the salary dependent not on health but on 20 caprices of 20 people. --