256. To Mrs. S. T. Coleridge Transcript Thomas Ward copy-book, New York Public Lib. The journal part of this letter was revised and published as Satyrane's Letters, i. See The Friend, No. 14, 28 November 1809, and Biog. Lit., 1817, ii.183-204. Ratzeburg Octbr 3d 1798 Wednesday My dearest love / At length out of the filth, the noise and the tallow-faced Roguery of Hamburg, I sit down, in quietness to fulfil my promise -- No little fish thrown back again into the water -- no Fly unimprisoned from a boy's hand, could more buoyantly enjoy it's element, than I this clear & peaceful house, situated in this wholesome Air! with this lovely view of the Town, woods and lake of Ratzeburg from the window, at which I write. -- In London I visited Mrs Barbauld; but before that I had introduced myself to Johnson, the Bookseller, who received me civilly the first time, cordially the second, affectionately the third -- & finally took leave of me with tears in his eyes. -- He is a worthy Man. -- At Yarmouth I had some long conversations with George Burnet -- Sunday Septr 16th 1798 -- Eleven o'clock -- The Packet set sail, & for the first time in my life I beheld my native land retiring from me -- my native Land to which I am convinced I shall return with an intenser affection -- with a proud Nationality made rational by my own experience of its Superiority. -- My dear dear Babies -I told you how, when the land quite disappeared, they came upon my eye as distinctly as if they had that moment died and were crossing me in their road to Heaven! -- Chester began to look ____________________ 1 Coleridge refers, of course, to the battle of the Nile, 1 Aug 1798. -420- Frog-coloured and doleful -- Miss Wordsworth retired in confusion to the Cabin -- Wordsworth soon followed -- I was giddy, but not sick, and in about half an hour the giddiness went away, & left only a feverish Inappetence of Food, arising I believe, from the accursed stink of the Bilge water, & certainly not decreased by the Sight of the Basons from the Cabin containing green and yellow specimens of the inner Man & brought up by the Cabin-boy every three minutes-I talked and laughed with the Passengers -- then went to sleep on the deck -- was awaked about three o'clock in the Afternoon by the Danes, who insisted in very fluent but not very correct English, that I should sit down and drink with them -- Accordingly I did -- My name among them was Docteur Teology -- (i.e. Theology) -- & dressed as I was all in black with large shoes and black worsted stockings, they very naturally supposed me to be a Priest. -- I rectified their mistake -- what then? said they -- Simply I replied, un Philosophe. -- Well, I drank some excellent wine & devoured Grapes & part of a pine-apple -- Good things I said, good things I eat, I gave them wisdom for their meat. -- And in a short time became their Idol -- Every now and then I entered into the feelings of my poor Friends below, who in all the agonies of sea-sickness heard us most distinctly, spouting, singing, laughing, fencing, dancing country dances -- in a word being Bacchanals -- The Dane (so by way of eminence I shall call a short thin limbed Man with white hair and farthing face slightly marked with the small pox). The Dane nearly tipsy got me to himself towards the Evening, & began to talk away in most magnific style, & as a sort of pioneering to his own Vanity flattered me with such Grossness! -- the most highest superlativities an Englishman can conceive would be mere debasements in comparison -- The following conversation I noted down immediately & is as accurate as the detail of a conversation can possibly be -- (Dane) 'Vat imagination! vat language! vat fast science! vat eyes! -- vat a milk vite forehead! -- O my Heafen! You are a God! -- Oh me! if you should tink I flatters you -- no, no, no -- I hafe ten tousand a year -- yes -ten tousand a year -- ten tousand pound a year! -- vell, vat's that? a mere trifle! -- I 'ouldn't give my sincere heart for ten times the money. -- Yes! you are a God! -- I a mere Man! -- But my dear Friend! tink of me as a Man. Is I not speak English very fine? Is I not very eloquent?' (STC) 'Admirably, Sir! most admirably! -Believe me, Sir! I never heard even a Native talk so fluently.' (Dane squeezing my hand most vehemently) 'My dear Friend! vat an affection & fidelity we hafe for each other! -- But tell me, do tell -421- me -- Is I not now & den speak some fault? Is I not in some wrong? --' (STC) 'Why, Sir! perhaps it might be observed by nice Critics in the Eéglish Language that you occasionally use the word "is" instead of "am" -- In our best Companies We generally say "am I" not "Is I" -- Excuse me Sir! -- It is so mere a Trifle' -(Dane) 'O! o! o! -- Is -- is -- is -- Am -- am -- am -- ah -- hah -- yes -- yes -- I know -- I knows' -- (STC) 'Am, art, is; are, are, are' (Dane) 'O yes! I know, I know -- Am, am, "am" is the presens, and "is" the Perfectum -- Yes! yes. yes! and "are" is the Plusquam perfectum' (STC. bridling in my face with a curb rein) 'And "art" Sir! is?' (Dane) 'My dear Friend! it is dhe plusquam perfectum' -- (then swinging my hand about & cocking his little bright hazle eyes at me, that danced with vanity and wine) 'You see, my dear Friend! I hafe some learning' -- (STC) Learning Sir! -- Who, dares suspect it! Who can hear you talk for a minute, who can even look at you without perceiving it? (Dane) 'My dear Friend!' (then with a somewhat humbler look & in a reasoning tone of voice) I could not talk so of Presens & Imperfectum & Futurum and Plusquam plueperfectum and all dat my dear Friend! widout some learning! -- (STC) To be sure, you could not --! Lordt Lord! Sir! -- A Man like you cannot talk on any subject without shewing the Depth of his information --! (Dane) [']Now I will tell you, my dear Friend! There did happen about me what de whole History of Denmark record no instance about no body else -- I is -- I AM dhe only instance. ! Dhe Bishop did ask me all dhe questions about all dhe Religion, in dhe Latin Grammar' -- (STC) 'Grammar, Sir? -- the language, I presume --?' (Dane a little offended) 'Yes! Grammar is language, and language is Grammar['] -- (STC) 'Ten thousand pardons-it is a blunder of my own.' -- (Dane) 'Vell, and I was only fourteen of my years' -- (STC) 'only fourteen years old?['] (Dane) 'Yes, only fourteen years old -- & he asked me all questions, Religion & Philosophy and all in dhe Latin Tongue. -- & I answered him all, every one, my dear Friend! -- all in dhe Latin Tongue!' -(STC) 'A Prodigy!' (Dane) 'No! no! no! he was a Bisehoff -- a Bisehoff!['] -- (STC, not knowing what he meant) 'Yes! a Bishop.' -- (Dane) 'Yes! a Bishop, not a Prédigé --' (STC) 'What is a Prédigé, my dear Friend?' -- (Dane) 'A Prediger -- a Priest that must preach efery sontay -- It was a Bishop' / STC (N.B. I have since discovered that Prédigér is the German word for an inferiour Priest -- however I now replied) 'My dear Sir! We have misunderstood each other. I said that your answering in Latin was a Prodigy, that is, a thing that is wonderful! that does not often happen!' (Dane) 'often! dhere is not von instance recorded in dhe whole History of Demnark.' (STC) 'And since then, Sir' -- (Dane) [']I was -422- sent ofer to dhe West Indies -- to an Island, & dhen I had no more to do wid books -- no, no! -- I put my genius anodher way -- & my dear Friend! I hafe made ten tousand a year -- is not dhat genius, my dear Friend! But vat is money? -- I tink dhe poorest Man alive my equal -- Yes! my dear Friend! my little fortune is pleasant to my generous heart because I can do good -- no Man with so little a fortune ever did so much generosity! -- no person-no man person, no woman person ever denies it. -- But we are Gotte's Children' -/ Here the Hanoverian interrupted us, and the Danes and the Prussian joined us -- The Prussian was a hale Man, tall, strong, & stout -and 60 years old -- a travelling Merchant -- full of stories and gesticulations, & buffoonery -- but manifestly with the soul as well as the look of a Mountebank, who while he is making you laugh picks your pocket. -- Amid all his droll looks and droll gestures, there remained one look, in his face, that never laughed -- and that one look was the Man -- the other looks were but his Garments -- The Hanoverian was a pale, fat, bloated, young Man, whose Father lives in Soho Square in London -- his name Eckand -- and he has made a large fortune as an army Contractor -- The Son emulated the English in Extravagance &c -- was a good-natured fellow not without information & literature; but a most egregious Coxcomb. -- He had attended constantly the house of Commons & Kemble & Mrs Siddons, at Drury Lane, had spoken, as he informed me, with considerable applause in several debating Societies -- was perfect in Walker's pronouncing Dictionary; and with an accent, which strongly reminded me of the Scotchman in Roderic Random, who professed to teach the true English Pronunciation. He was constantly deferring to my superiour Judgment whether or no I had spoken this or that word with propriety, or 'the true delicacy' His great ambition seemed to be towards Oratory & he introduced most liberally in all his conversation those cant phrases which disfigure the orations of our legislators -- as 'while I am on my legs I &c &c &c -- Of the two Danes not yet described, (N.B. one a Swede, not a Dane) one of them, the Brother of the Dane, a Man with a fair, white and unhealthy face, and white hair, looked silly, said little, and seemed to be absolutely dependent on his Brother-the second was a fiery featured, scurvy faced Man, his Complexion the colour of a red hot poker that is beginning to cool -- a blackish red -- he was however by far the best informed & most rational of the whole Party, & quite the Gentleman; but appeared miserably dependent on the Dane. This Man, the Swede, for reasons that will soon appear I distinguish by the name of 'Nobility.' -- The Englishman was a genteel Youth who spoke German perfectly and acted often as Interpreter of the Prussian's jokes for me -- The Jew -423- was in the Hold, & the French Man was so ill that I could observe nothing of him or concerning him except the affectionate attentions of his Servant to him -- The poor Fellow was very sick himself, & every now and then ran to the side of the vessel, discharged his stomach and returned in the twinkling of an eye to his sick Master -- now holding his head -- now wiping his forehead, and in the most soothing terms telling him he would soon be better; and his eye was always affectionate towards his Master. -- Sunday Afternoon 7 o'clock -- The Sea rolled higher; & the Dane by means of the greater agitation turned out of doors enough of what he had been drinking to make room for a. great deal more. His favourite drink was Sugar and Brandy -- i.e. a very little water with a great deal of Brandy, sugar and nutmeg -- His Servant boy, a black eyed Mulatto, had a goodnatured round face, exactly the colour of the peel of the fruit of the walnut-The Dane again got me to himself; we sate together in the ship's boat that lay on the Deck, and here began a conversation most truly ludicrous -- he told me that he had made a large fortune in the Island of Santa Cruz, & was returning to Denmark to enjoy it -- talked away in the most magnific style, till the Brandy aiding his Vanity, & garrulity aiding the Brandy, he talked like a Madman; entreated me to come and see him in Denmark -there I should find in what a style he would live, his influence with the Government of Denmark, and he would introduce me to the young King &c &c &c -- so he went on dreaming aloud; and then turning the conversation to Politicks, declaimed like a Member of the Corresponding Society about the Rights of Man; & how notwithstanding his fortune he thought the poorest Man alive his Equal --! 'All are equal, my dear Friend! all are equal -- we are all Gotte's Children -- The Poorest Man hafe the same rights with me -- Jack! Jack I some more sugar and Brandy! -- dhere is dat fellow now -- he is a Mulatto; but he is a Man -- he is my equal -- dhat's right, Jack I here you Sir I shake hands with dhis Gentleman -- shake hands with me you dog! -- Dhere, dhere, we are all equal, my dear Friend! -- Do I not speak like Socrates? -- Socrates & Plato & Aristotle -- they were all Philosophers, all very great Men -- and so was Homer & Virgil, but they were Poets -- Yes! I know all about it -but what can any body say more dhan dhis -- we are all equal -- we are all Gotte's Children -- Dho I have ten tousafid a year, I am no more dhan the meanest Man alive -- I have no pride, and yet my dear Friend! I can say do! and it is done! Ha! Ha! Ha! my dear Friend! -- Now dhere, is dhat Gentleman -- (pointing to 'Nobility') he is a Swedish Baron -- you shall see -- Ho! Ho! Ho! (calling to him) get me, will you, a bottle of wine from the cabin.['] (Swede) Here, Jack! go and get your Master a bottle of wine from the Cabin- -424- (Dane) No! no! no! -- do you go now -- you go yourself -- you go now -- (Swede) Pshaw! -- (Dane) Now go, go I pray you. -- And the Swede went! -- After this the Dane talked about Religion, and supposing me to be in the continental sense of the expression what I had called myself -- Un Philosophe', -- he talked of Deity in a declamatory style very much resembling some Parts of Payne's devotional Rants in the Age of Reason -- & then said, 'what damn'd Hypocrism all Jesus Christ's Business was,['] and ran on in the commonplace style about Christianity -- and appeared withered when I professed myself a Christian. I sunk 50 fathoms immediately in his Graces -- however I turned the conversation from a subject on which I never think myself allowed not to be in earnest -- I found that he was a Deist disbelieving a future state -- The Dane retired to the Cabin, and I wrapped myself up in my great Coat, lay in the Boat, and looked at the water, the foam of which, that beat against the Ship & coursed along by it's sides, & darted off over the Sea, was full of stars of flame -- I was cold, and the Cabin stunk, and I found reason to rejoice in my great Coat, which I bought in London, and gave 28 shillings for -- a weighty, long, high caped, respectable rug -- The Collar will serve for a night Cap, turning over my head -- I amused myself with two or three bright stars that oscillated with the motion of the sails -- fell asleep -- woke at one o'clock Monday Morning, and, it raining, I found myself obliged to go down to the cabin-accordingly 'I descended into Hell and rose again' the next morning after a most sound sleep -- my nose, the most placable of all our Senses, reconciled & insensible of the stink -- Monday Septr 17th. -- Eat a hearty breakfast -- talked much with the Swede, who spoke with contempt of the Dane, as a Fool, pursemad -- but he confirmed the Dane's boasts concerning the largeness of his Fortune, which he had acquired partly as a Planter, and partly as an Advocate -- that is -- a Barrister -- From the Dane and from himself I gathered that he was indeed a Swedish Nobleman, who had squandered his Fortune in high living and Gaming, & had sold his estates to the Dane, on whom he was absolutely dependent -- He seemed to suffer little pain, if any, from the Dane's Insolence -- was very humane & attentive to Miss Wordsworth, performing all the most disagreeable offices for her with the utmost delicacy and gentleness. Indeed, his manners and conversation were in a very high degree pleasing, and I struggled to believe his Insensibility respecting the Dane, Philosophical fortitude -- The Dane quite sober; but still his Character oozed out at every pore -- We dined &c -- & I partook of the Hanoverian's & Dane's wines, & Pine apples -- told them some hundred Jokes, and passed as many of my own /. Danced all together a sort of wild dance on the Deck -425- -- Wordsworth and Sister bad as ever -- The Dane, insolent with wine, every quarter of an hour or perhaps oftener would hollo to the Swede in these words -- 'Ho I Nobility, go and do such a thing -Mr Nobility, do that,' &c -- and so the Swede went by the name of Nobility. -- About 4 o'clock I saw a wild duck swimming on the waves -- a single solitary wild duck -- You cannot conceive how interesting a thing it looked in that round objectless desart of waters -- In the evening till dark talked with the Hanoverian -Sails lowered, for fear we should run foul on the land in the night -(the land is so flat that it can only be seen at a very small distance) -- went to bed -- awaked at 4 o'clock in the morning on Tuesday Septr 18th by the cry of Land! Land! -- It was an ugly Island Rock at a distance on our left, called Helgoland. -- About nine o'clock we saw the Main-land, which seemed as scarce able to hold it's head above water -- low, flat, and dreary -- so low that it edged the water -- low, flat, and dreary, with light houses & land marks that seemed to give a language & character to the dreariness -- We entered the mouth of the Elbe, having first passed closely the Island Newerck [Neuwerk] -- edn see but one bank, namely, the right -- saw a Church -- thanked God for my safe voyage, and thought most affectionately and with many tears of my wife and babies, and of my Friend -- and of my Friends at Bristol -- dear good Mr and Mrs Estlin, and Wade, whose heart has been ever so firm towards me.-Eleven o'clock -- arrive at Cuxhaven, which if you cannot find in the map, you will at least find the name of Ritzebuttel, which is almost the same place -- Here the ship dropped Anchor, and the boat was hoisted out, which carried the Hanoverian and a few others over to Cuxhaven -- The Captain agreed to take us all up to Hamburg for ten guineas -- hauled anchor and passed gently up the river -- At Cuxhaven in clear weather both sides of the river may be seen -- we could see only the right bank -- Passed a Multitude of English Merchant Ships that had been for nine days waiting for a wind -- Saw both banks; and both neat and flat; very neat and quite artificial -- On the left bank saw a Church or two in the distance -- on the right bank it was Steeple, and Windmill, and Cottage, and Windmill & house, and Steeple, and Windmill, & Windmill, and neat house, and Steeple. These are the objects; and this was the succession of them -- About 40 mile's from Cuxhaven we passed a most lovely Island, about a mile and a half in length, wedge shaped -- very green and woody, and with a nice farm-house on it. -- From Cuxhaven to this place the shore was very green, and not inelegantly planted with Trees -- where there were no Trees, it bore a striking resemblance to the Shore from Huntspill to Cummage. -- But five miles before we arrived at this Island, the night -426- came on, and (for the navigation of the Elbe is a most perilous one) we dropped anchor 85 miles from Cuxhaven. -- I began a letter to my dearest Sara -- the moon over the left bank of the Elbe -- a deep black cloud above it -- and a thin, very thin black cloud, like a strip of black crape stretched across it -- The line of Moonlight on the water, which had been so bright, glimmered very dim -- We saw lights in the houses on the right bank, two or three; I felt the striking contrast between the silence of this majestic Stream whose banks are populous with Men & Women & Children, & flocks and herds -- the Silence by night of the peopled river, contrasted with the ceaseless noise, the uproar, and the loud agitations of the desolate solitude of the ocean -- The Passengers below have retired to bed, and left me to all my best Feelings -- The Prussian this night had displayed all his talents to captivate the Dane, who had adopted him into his Train of Dependents -- The English Youth interpreted the Prussian's stories to me -- they were all obscene and abominable; but some sufficiently witty, and a few valuable as philosophical facts of the manners of the Countries, concerning the natives of which he related them -- His person, countenance, manners & conversation all coincided -- cold, tho' libidinous; cunning and calculative amid the roar of his boisterous Buffoonery. -- The German Taylor and his little Wife were both Characters; but these and some other things of less consequence I have reserved that I may have something to talk of when once more I sit in the great Arm Chair at Poole's over his strong beer -- God bless him -Wednesday Septr 19th. Hauled the Anchor at 5 o'clock in the morning -- at six a thick fog came on & we were obliged to drop it again -- and we were fearful that it would continue all Day; but about nine it cleared and we passed that beautiful Island -- We had but very little wind & did not go more than 4 miles an hour -The Shores became more beautiful; green and the Trees close to the water, with neat houses and sharp Steeples peering over them, some of the Steeples white, some black, & some red. There is the greatest profusion of Churches on the right bank. -- The Trees and Houses are very low; sometimes the low trees overtopping the yet lower houses; sometimes the low houses overtopping the lower Trees -- Both the right & left Banks are green to the very brink, & level with the water, like a park Canal. Forty six miles from Cuxhaven and 16 from Hamburg (English miles) the Village of Veder [Wedel ?] with a black Steeple -- it stands on the left bank which belongs all the way to Denmark -- Close by the Village of Veder and without any Church the village of Schulau, wild & pastoral -- and then the left bank rises at once 40 feet at least above the water, and stood a perpendicular sandy Facing -427- with thin patches of green like some parts of the shore near Shurton Bars. I look[ed] up the River along the same bank, and saw at some distance high lands, brown and barren with scars of naked sand -We now saw boats with Fishermen in them, and the Sea-gulls flying round and round about them -- We reach those high lands, and come to Blankenese, a very wild Village scattered amidst scattered Trees in three divisions over three Hills -- the Village in three divisions; yet seemingly continuous -- Each of the three hills stands towards the River, a facing of bare sand; and a great number of Boats with bare Poles stood in Files along the Banks, in a sort of fantastic Harmony with the steep facings of bare Sand. Between each Facing is a Dell green & woody, and one a deep Dell. It is a large Village made up of Individual houses, each house surrounded with Trees and with a separate path to it -- A village with a Labyrinth of Paths -- A Neighbourhood of houses is the best name I can find to give it -- Fishermen dwell here, and it is celebrated for making boats called Blankenese Boats. Here first we saw the Spires of Hamburg -- From Blankenese up to Altona the left bank of the Elbe very pretty -- high and green, prettily planted with Trees -houses near the water . . . 1 of Trees -- and Summer houses and Chinese things all up the high Banks -- all neat and comfortable, like a rural Place cut into Shapes & townified for the citizens who come here from Altona and Hamburg to smoke their pipes on Saturdays and Sundays -- The Boards of the houses (i.e. the Farm houses) are left unplaistered, painted green and black, like some old houses in England --- Wednesday 4 o'clock -- got ourselves out of the Vessel into a Boat at Altona, half a mile from Hamburg -- passed with trouble the huge masses of Shipping that choke the wide Elbe from Altona up to Hamburg -- and are now safe at the boom [baum] -- house Hamburg -Chester and I are well -- and comfortable. But I wish hourly for my dear Sara, & my Babes. God bless her & her faithful & affectionate Husband S T Coleridge