245. To John Prior Estlin Address: Revd J. P. Estlin | St Michael's Hill | Bristol MS. Bristol Central Lib. Pub. Letters, i. 246. Stamped: Bridgewater. Monday, May 14th, 1798 My dear Friend I ought to have written to you before; and have done very wrong in not writing. But I have had many sorrows; and some that bite deep, calumny & ingratitude from men who have been fostered in the bosom of my confidence! 1 -- pray God, that I may sanctify these events; by forgiveness, & a peaceful spirit full of love. -- This morning, half past one, my Wife was safely delivered of a fine boy; 2 she had a remarkably good time, better if possible than her last; & both she & the Child are as well as can be. -- By the by, it is only 8 in the morning now. -- I walked in to Taunton & back again; & performed the divine services for Dr Toulmin. I suppose you must have heard that his daughter in a melancholy derangement suffered herself to be swallowed up by the tide on the sea-coast between Sidmouth & Bere. -- These events cut cruelly into the hearts of old men; but the good Dr Toulmin bears it like the true practical Christian -- there is indeed a tear in his eye, but that eye is lifted up to the heavenly father! -- I have been too neglectful of practical religion -- I mean, actual & stated prayer, & a regular perusal of scripture as a morning & evening duty! May God grant me grace to amend this error; for it is a grievous one! -- Conscious of frailty I almost wish (I say it confidentially to you) that I had become a stated Minister: for indeed I find true Joy after a sincere prayer; but for want of habit my mind wanders, and I cannot pray as often [as] I ought. Thanksgiving is pleasant in the performance; but prayer & distinct confession I find most serviceable to my spiritual health when I can do it. But tho' all my doubts are done away, tho' Christianity is my Passion, it is too much my intellectual Passion: and therefore will do me but little good in the hour of temptation & calamity. -- My love to Mrs E. & the dear little ones: & ever, O ever believe me with true affection & gratitude | Your filial Friend S. T. Coleridge ____________________ 1 In a notebook entry for a Nov. 1810 Coleridge says that his suffering over the quarrel with Lamb and Lloyd prevented his finishing Christabel. Chambers, A Sheaf of Studies, 68. 2 Berkeley Coleridge. -407-