222. To Josiah Wedgwood Address: Josiah Wedgewood, Esq. | [Penzance | [Cornwall MS. Wedgwood Museum. Pub. E.L.G. i. 96. Coleridge's letter was written in answer to the following letter from the Wedgwoods, which arrived in Stowey after Coleridge's departure for Shrewsbury. Poole opened it and had a copy prepared and sent to Coleridge. Stamped: Shrewsbury. Penzance Jany 10th. 1798. Dear Sir In the absence of my Brother who has an engagement this morning, I take up the pen to reply to your letter received yesterday. I cannot help regretting very sincerely that at this critical moment we are separated by so great a length of the worst road in the kingdom. It is not that we have found much difficulty in deciding how to act in the present juncture of your affairs, but we are apprehensive that deprived of the benefit of conversation, we may fail somewhat in explaining our views & intentions with that clearness & persuasion which should induce you to accede to our proposal without scruple or hesitation, -- nay, with that glow of pleasure which an accession of merited good fortune & the observation of virtuous conduct in others, ought powerfully to excite in the breast of healthful Sensibility. -- Writing is painful to me. I must endeavor to be concise; yet to avoid abruptness. My Brother & myself are possessed of a considerable superfluity of fortune; squandering & hoarding are equally distant from our inclinations. But we are earnestly desirous to convert this superfluity into a fund of beneficence & we have now been accustomed, for some time, to regard ourselves rather as Trustees than Proprietors. We have canvassed your past life, your present situation & prospect; your character & abilities. As far as certainty is compatible with the delicacy of the estimate, we have no hesitation in declaring that your claim upon the fund appears to come under more of the conditions we have prescribed to ourselves for it's disposal, & to be every way more unobjectionable than we could possibly have expected. This result is so congenial with our heart-felt wishes that it will be a real mortification to us if any misconception or distrust of our intentions, or any unworthy diffidence of yourself, should interfere to prevent it's full operation in your favor. [ Tom Wedgwood.] -373- After what my brother Thomas has written I have only to state the proposal we wish to make to you. It is that you shall accept an annuity for life of £150 to be regularly paid by us, no condition whatsoever being annexed to it. Thus your liberty will remain entire, you will be under the influence of no professional bias, & will be in possession of a 'permanent income not inconsistent with your religious & political creeds' so necessary to your health & activity. I do not now enter into the particulars of the mode of securing the annuity &c. that will be done when we receive your consent to the proposal we are making, and we shall only say now that we mean the annuity to be independent of every thing but the wreck of our fortune, an event which we hope is not very likely to happen, though it must in these times be regarded as more than a bare possibility. Give me leave now to thank you for the openness with which you have written to me, & the kindness you express for me, to neither of which can I be indifferent, and I shall be happy to derive the advantages from them that a friendly intercourse with you cannot fail to afford me. I am very sincerely yours Josiah Wedgwood Dear Sir Shrewsbury Jan. 17th, 1798 Yesterday morning I received the letter which you addressed to me in your own and your brother's name. Your benevolence appeared so strange & it came upon my mind with such suddenness, that for a while I sat and mused on it with scarce a reference to myself, and gave you a moral approbation almost wholly unmingled with those personal feelings which have since filled my eyes with tears -- which do so even now while I am writing to you. What can I say? I accept your proposal not unagitated but yet, I trust, in the same worthy spirit in which you made it. -- . I return to Stowey in a few days. Disembarrassed from all pecuniary anxieties yet unshackled by any regular profession, with powerful motives & no less powerful propensities to honourable effort, it is my duty to indulge the hope that at some future period I shall have given a proof that as your intentions were eminently virtuous, so the action itself was not unbeneficent. With great affection & esteem | I remain | Your's sincerely S. T. Coleridge