275. To Mrs. S. T. Coleridge Transcripi Thomas Ward copy-book, New York Public Lib. Pub. Letters, i. 284. Gottingen in der Wende Strasse April 8th. 1799 -- It is one of the discomforts of my absence, my dearest Love! that we feel the same calamities at different times -- I would fain write words of consolation to you; yet I know that I shall only fan into new activity the pang which was growing dead and dull in your heart -- Dear little Being! -- he had existed to me for so many months only in dreams and reveries, but in them existed and still exists so livelily, so like a real Thing, that although I know of his Death, yet when I am alone and have been long silent, it seems to me as if I did not understand it. -- Methinks, there is something awful in the thought, what an unknown Being one's own Infant is to one! -- a fit of sound -- a flash of light -- a summer gust, that is as it were created in the bosom of the calm Air, that rises up we know not how, and goes we know not whither! -- But we say well; it goes! it is gone! -- and only in states of Society in which the revealing voice of our most inward and abiding nature is no longer listened to, (when we sport and juggle with abstract phrases, instead of representing our feelings and ideas) only then we say it ceases! I will not believe that it ceases -- in this moving stirring and harmonious Universe I cannot believe it! -- Can cold and darkness -481- come from the Sun? where the Sun is not -- there is cold and darkness! But the living God is every where, & works every where -and where is there room for Death? -- To look back on the life of my Baby, how short it seems! -- but consider it referently to nonexistence, and what a manifold and majestic Thing does it not become? -- What a multitude of admirable actions, what a multitude of habits of actions it learnt even before it saw the light? and who shall count or conceive the infinity of its thoughts and feelings, it's hopes and fears, & joys, and pains, & desires, & presentiments, from the moment of it's birth to the moment when the Glass, through which we saw him darkly, was broken -- and he became suddenly invisible to us? -- Out of the Mount that might not be touched, and that burnt with fire, out of Darkness, and blackness and tempest, and with his own Voice, which they who heard entreated that they might not hear it again, the most high God forbad us to use his name vainly -- And shall we who are Christians, shall we believe that he himself uses his own power vainly? -- That like a child he builds palaces of mud and clay in the common road, and then he destroys them, as weary of his pastime, or leaves them to be trod under by the Hoof of Accident? -- That God works by general laws are to me words without meaning or worse than meaningless -- Ignorance and Imbecillity, and Limitation must wish in generals -- What and who are these horrible shadows necessity and general law, to which God himself must offer Sacrifices -hecatombs of Sacrifices? -- I feel a deep conviction that these shadows exist not -- they are only the dreams of reasoning Pride, that would fain find solutions for all difficulties without Faith! -that would make the discoveries which lie thick sown in the path of the eternal Future unnecessary; and so conceiting that there is sufficiency and completeness in the narrow present, weakens the presentiment of our wide and ever widening Immortality! -- God works in each for all -- most true -- but more comprehensively true is it, that he works in all for each. -- I confess that the more I think, the more I am discontented with the doctrines of Priestly. He builds the whole and sole hope of future existence on the words and miracles of Jesus -- yet doubts or denies the future existence of Infants -- only because according to his own System of Materialism he has not discovered how they can be made conscious -- But Jesus has declared that all who are in the grave shall arise -- and that those who should arise to perceptible progression must be ever as the Infant which he held in his Arms and blessed! -- And although the Man Jesus had never appeared in the world, yet I am Quaker enough to believe, that in the heart of every Man the Christ would have revealed himself, the Power of the Word, that was even in -482- the Wilderness -- To me who am absent this Faith is a real consolation -- & the few, the slow, the quiet tears which I shed, are the Accompaniments of high and solemn Thought, not the workings of Pain or Sorrow -- When I return indeed, and see the vacancy that has been made -- when no where any thing corresponds to the form which will perhaps for ever dwell on my mind, then it is possible that a keener pang will come upon me -- Yet I trust, my Love! -- I trust, my dear Sara! that this event which has forced us to think of the Death of what is most dear to us, as at all times probable, will in many and various ways be good for us -- To have shared -- nay, I should say -- to have divided with any human Being any one deep Sensation of Joy or of Sorrow, sinks deep the foundations of a lasting love -- When in Moments of fretfulness and Imbecillity I am disposed to anger or reproach, it will, I trust, be always a restoring thought -- 'We have wept over the same little one -- & with whom am I angry? -- with her who so patiently and unweariedly sustained my poor and sickly Infant through his long Pains -- with her -- who, if I too should be called away, would stay in the deep anguish over my death-pillow! who would never forget met!' -- Ah, my poor Berkley! -- A few weeks ago an Englishman desired me to write an Epitaph on an Infant who had died before it's Christening -- While I wrote it, my heart with a deep misgiving turned my thoughts homewards -- On an Infant, who died before it's Christening -- 1 Be rather than be call'd a Child of God! Death whisper'd. With assenting Nod It's head upon the Mother's breast The baby bow'd, and went without demur, Of the Kingdom of the blest Possessor, not Inheritor! ---- It refers to the second Question in the Church Catechism -- We are well, my dear Sara -- I hope to be home at the end of 10 or 11 weeks -- If you should be in Bristol, you will probably be shewn by Mr Estlin three letters which I have written to him all together -- & one to Mr Wade -- Mr Estlin will permit you to take the letters to Stowey that Poole may see them, & Poole will return them -- I have no doubt but I shall repay myself by the work which I am writing, to such an amount, that I shall have spent out of my income only 50 pounds at the end of August -- My love to your Sisters -- & love & duty to your Mother -- God bless you my love! and shield ____________________ 1 Poems, i. 312. -483- us from deeper Afflictions, or make us resigned unto them (and perhaps the latter Blessedness is greater than the former). Your affectionate & faithful | Husband S T Coleridge