242. To Joseph Cottle Pub. Early Rec. i. 311. [Early April 1798] 1 My dear Cottle, Neither Wordsworth nor myself could have been otherwise than uncomfortable, if any but yourself had received from us the first offer of our Tragedies, and of the volume of Wordsworth's Poems. At the same time, we did not expect that you could with prudence and propriety, advance such a sum, as we should want at the time we specified. In short, we both regard the publication of our Tragedies as an evil. It is not impossible but that in happier times, they may be brought on the stage: and to throw away this chance for a mere trifle, would be to make the present moment act fraudulently and usuriously towards the future time. My Tragedy employed and strained all my thoughts and faculties for six or seven months: Wordsworth consumed far more time, and far more thought, and far more genius. We consider the publication of them an evil on any terms; but our thoughts were bent on a plan for the accomplishment of which, a certain sum of money was necessary, (the whole) at that particular time, and in order to this we resolved, although reluctantly, to part with our Tragedies: that is, if we could obtain thirty guineas for each, and at less than thirty guineas Wordsworth will not part with the copy-right of his volume of Poems. We shall offer the Tragedies to no one, for we have determined to procure the money some other way. If you choose the volume of Poems, at the price mentioned, to be paid at the time specified, i.e. thirty guineas, to be paid sometime in the last fortnight of July, you may have them; but remember, my dear fellow! I write to you now merely as a bookseller, and intreat you, in your answer, to consider yourself only; as to us, although money is necessary to our plan, [that of visiting Germany] 2 yet the plan ____________________ 1 This letter follows Letters 239 and 240, since Wordsworth and Coleridge have now abandoned their plan to publish their Tragedies. On 12 Apr. Wordsworth wrote to Cottle inviting him to visit Alfoxden, and Coleridge's letter seems to have been written early in the same month. The clause, 'if thou comest in May', suggests that this letter belongs to April. 2 This seems to be Cottle's interpolation. Wordsworth wrote to James Losh on 11 Mar. of the proposed visit to Germany ( Early Letters, 189), but there is no evidence that either he or Coleridge had mentioned it to Cottle. -402- is not necessary to our happiness; and if it were, W. would sell his Poems for that sum to some one else, or we could procure the money without selling the poems. So I entreat you, again and again, in your answer, which must be immediate, consider yourself only. Wordsworth has been caballed against so long and so loudly, that he has found it impossible to prevail on the tenant of the Allfoxden estate, to let him the house, after their first agreement is expired, so he must quit it at Midsummer; whether we shall be able to procure him a house and furniture near Stowey, we know not, and yet we must: for the hills, and the woods, and the streams, and the sea, and the shores would break forth into reproaches against us, if we did not strain every nerve, to keep their Poet among them. Without joking, and in serious sadness, Poole and I cannot endure to think of losing him. At all events, come down, Cottle, as soon as you can, but before Midsummer, and we will procure a horse easy as thy own soul, and we will go on a roam to Linton and Linmouth, which, if thou comest in May, will be in all their pride of woods and waterfalls, not to speak of its august cliffs, and the green ocean, and the vast valley of stones, all which live disdainful of the seasons, or accept new honours only from the winter's snow. At all events come down, and cease not to believe me much and affectionately your friend, S. T. Coleridge