277. To Thomas Poole Address: [M]r T. Poole | Nether Stowey | Somersetshire | England pay'd to Cuxhaven MS. British Museum. Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 295. The manuscript is torn and the words in brackets have been supplied from a transcript made by Thomas Ward. Postmark: Foreign Office, 17 May 1799. May 6th 1799, Monday Morning My dear Poole, my dear Poole! I am homesick. -- Society is a burthen to me; and I find relief only in labour. So I read & transcribe from morning to night / & never in my life have I worked so hard as this last month: for indeed I must sail over an ocean of matter with almost spiritual Speed, to do what I have to do in the time, in which I will do it, or leave it undone! -- / O my God! how I long to be at home -- My whole Being so yearns after you, that when I think of the moment of our meeting, I catch the fashion of German Joy, rush into your arms, and embrace you -- methinks, my Hand would swell, if the whole force of my feeling were crowded there. -- Now the Spring comes, the vital sap of my affections rises, as in a tree! -- And what a gloomy Spring! But a few days ago all the new buds were covered with snow; & every thing yet looks so brown & wintry, that yesterday the Roses (which the Ladies carried on the Ramparts, their Promenade) beautiful as they were, so little harmonized with the general face of Nature that they looked to me like silk & paper Roses. -- But these leafless spring Woods / O how I long to hear your whistle to the Rippers! ---There are a multitude of Nightingales here / poor things! they sang in the Snow / -- I thought of my own verses on the Nightingale, only because I thought of Hartley, my only child! -- Dear Lamb! I hope, he won't be dead, before I get home. -- There are moments in which I have such a power of Life within me, such a conceit of it, I mean -- that I lay the Blame of my Child's Death to my absence -- not intellectually; but I have a strange sort of sensation, as if while I was present, none could die whom I intensely loved -and doubtless it was no absurd idea of your's that there may be unions & connections out of the visible world. ---- Wordsworth & his Sister passed thro' here, as I have informed you -- / I walked on with them 5 english miles, & spent a day with them. They were melancholy & hypp'd -- W. was affected to tears at the thought of not being near me, wished me, of course, to live in the North of England near the Sir Frederic Vane's great Library / -- I told him, that independent of the expence of removing, & the impropriety of taking Mrs Coleridge to a place where she would have no -490- acquaintance, two insurmountable objections, the Library was no inducement -- for I wanted old books chiefly, such as could be procured any where better than in a Gentleman's new fashionable Collection / -- Finally, I told him plainly, that you had been the man in whom first and in whom alone, I had felt an anchor! With all my other Connections I felt a dim sense of insecurity & uncertainty, terribly uncomfortable / -- W. was affected to tears, very much affected; but he deemed the vicinity of a Library absolutely necessary to his health, nay to his existence. It is painful to me too to think of not living near him; for he is a good and kind man, & the only one whom in all things I feel my Superior -- & you will believe me, when I say, that I have few feelings more pleasurable than to find myself in intellectual Faculties an Inferior /. But my Resolve is fixed, not to leave you till you leave me! I still think that Wordsworth will be disappointed in his expectations of relief from reading, without Society -- & I think it highly probable, that where I live, there he will live, unless he should find in the North any person or persons, who can feel & understand him, can reciprocate & react on him. -- My many weaknesses are of some advantage to me; they unite me more with the great mass of my fellow-beings -but dear Wordsworth appears to me to have hurtfully segregated & isolated his Being / Doubtless, his delights are more deep and sublime; / but he has likewise more hours, that prey on his flesh & blood. --/ -- With regard to Hancock's House, if I can get no place within a mile or two of Stowey, I must try to get that -- but I confess, I like it not! -- not to say, that it is not altogether pleasant to live directly opposite to a person who had behaved so rudely to Mrs Coleridge, & whose Relation to your family necessarily makes me feel that rudeness, and remember it. But these are in the eye of reason all Trifles -- & if no other House can be got, in my eye too they shall be Trifles. ---- There have happened a multitude of Suicides in Germany within thes[e] last months; I have heard of eleven / and many of them curious enough. I relate the following, because I am sure of it's accuracy, & because it is quite German -- i.e. it has quite a Schiller-ish, Charles de Moorish Gloss about it. -- On the 3rd of Feb. Herlt, a Subaltern Officer in the Catholic Cours at Dresden, made a pleasure party in a Sledge with a woman with whom he lived in criminal connection, called Wilhelmine Pfeifer. The[y] went to the Heller, a little place in the midst of Woods two english miles from Dresden, to a Pleasure house there -- / here they feasted most gloriously, & enjoyed themselves / & in conclusion, Herlt shot the Girl dead, & then himself. -- He was a native of Bohemia, and had married a Tradesman's Daughter of Leibsic -- but had -491- lived unhappily with her, & became addicted to gambling & Drinking &c -- he had long declared his intention of destroying himself, to which the impossibility of being divorced, it was supposed, had impelled him. This however is contradicted by himself in a letter directed to his wife, which was found after his death on the table in the place where he shot himself, acquainting her with his Intention. The following is an extract from this letter -'Forgive me -- for ever! -- In yonder World perhaps we see each other again. My Death was unavoidable -- I and Thou are not the Causes; but Wicked Men; and the wickedest of all is Lieutenant Slawianowsky.' (N.B. On the news of Herlt's Suicide this man went off privately, & has not been heard of since.) 'Death must have it's Causes; mine has it's, has many causes which I will hold in silence. It may be easily supposed, that the Prospect into Futurity is a terrible one to me. But complain not. This Destiny was appointed me by the same being who appointed the Heavens & the Earth, and at the same time. I die as one who dies on a sick bed of a six months' Sickness. Since Michaelmas I too have been sick, & now I return again [to] the all-vivifying Being. From my Childhood Happiness has fled from me, [and) Misfortune persecuted me, especially in my Marriage. I utter no complaint against thee; for I knew that thou wert a weak Woman! Now & hereby receiv'st [thou] intelligence of my Death. The woman, with whom I am, I found by accident, loved her from day to day more impetuously, and we are, as thou seest, inseparable. Our Love cannot be legalized by Priests according to human ordinances -- in it's fitness to our being / it has legalized itself. This is not the reason why I leave this world. Thou knowest, how Mankind have treated me, how they have stripped me of my little Property. I am in debt; thou knowest how my Creditors surround me. Would to God that by living for years on bread & water I could satisfy their wishes. Entreat the Lieutenant Colonel in the name of all the Saints and of all the Departed that have ever lived upon Earth, that he procure us to be buried, let the spot of earth be where it will. (N.B. This has been done.) Provide for thine & my Child as a mother. He has lost a Father; a Father whom his fellow-men made miserable. The portrait of my Wilhelmine must S. carry to her Mother, & tell her, that we are insepara[ble] thro' the great all vivifying Being. -The Death hour strikes -- & we go! My Wilhelmine, last Being to me, for us both there is but one Grave. --' -- At the bottom of this letter Wilhelmine wrote the following, which in the original is in a wild irregular Verse -- 'To die with Herlt is my Will, I hope with exultation with thee, my Herlt! to die! And there in yonder Glory with thee to take possession of our Inheritance! I loved thee in -492- life impetuously, in death I love thee far more. Thou, whom I have found faithful, come with me -- let us go in triumph and ask Happiness of the Being that made us. Beautiful was the hour, in which thy fidelity was rewarded. (I presume, she means the hour of her first seduction by Herlt.) Thy resolve leads thee to the Cavern of Death; but a voice will echo there and call thee to a nobler Existence, the voice of him who in love destined thee to this Hour. I too am near to the Dwelling of the Grave. Thou hast led me to the Heller / there my Soul takes it's departure, goes full of Joy with thee and in thee in an inconceivable Inseparability to the spiritual World. -- Come, my Herlt!['] ---- In Tragedy we pronounce many things unnatural, only because we have drawn our notions of Nature from persons in a calm, or only moderately agitated state / but in all violent states of Passion the mind acts & plays a part, itself the actor & the spectator at once! -- My God! to think that this Girl should find a delight in the moment of Death in putting these thoughts into Rhyme; or rather from the wild nature of the verse the Rhymes perhaps half-led her to the Thoughts! --/ -- I have a number of affecting Stories of this kind to tell you, of winter Evenings. ---- O Poole! I am homesick. -- Yesterday, or rather, yesternight, I dittied the following hobbling Ditty; but my poor Muse is quite gone -- perhaps, she may return & meet me at Stowey. 1 'Tis sweet to him, who all the week Thro' city crowds must push his way, To stroll alone thro' fields and woods And hallow thus the Sabbath day. And sweet it is, in summer bower Sincere, affectionate, and gay, One's own dear Children feasting round, To celebrate one's marriage day. But what is all to his delight, Who having long been doom'd to roam Throws off the Bundle from his Back Before the Door, of his own Home? H[ome sickness] is no baby pang, [This feel] I hourly more and more: The[re's healing] only in thy wings, Thou Breeze, that play'st on Albion's shore! ____________________ 1 Poems, i. 314. -493- The Professors here are exceedingly read to all the Englishmen; but to me they pay [the most] flattering attention -- Especially, Blumenbach and Eichhorn. -- Nothing can be conce[ived more] delightful than Blumenbach's lectures / & in conversation he is indeed a most i[nteresting] man. / The learned Orientalist, Tychson, has given me instruction in the Gothic, [and] Theotiscan Languages, 1 which I can now read pretty well; & hope in the cou[rse of a] year to be thoroughly acquainted with all the Languages of the north, both [GERMAN] & Celtic. For I find being learned is a mighty easy thing, compared with [any study] else. My God! a miserable Poet must he be, & a despicable Metaphysician (whose] acquirements have not cost more trouble & reflection than all the lea[rning of] Tooke, Porson, & Parr united. With the advantage of a great Lib[rary] Learning is nothing, methinks -- merely a sort of excuse for being [idle -- Yet a] man gets reputation by it; and reputation gets money -- & for reputa[tion I don't care] a damn, but money -- yes -- Money I must get, in all honest [ways -- therefore) at the end of two or three years if God grant me life expect to see me come out with some horribly learned book, full of manuscript quotations from Laplandish and Patagonian Authors -possibly, on the striking resemblance between the Sweogothic & Sanscrit Languages, & so on! ---- N.B. Whether a sort of Parchment might not be made out of old Shoes; & whether Apples should not be engrafted on Oak Saplings; as then the Fruit would be the same as now, but the wood far more valuable? -- Two ideas of mine. To extract Aqua fortis from Cucumbers is a discovery not yet made; but Sugar from Bete, O! all Germany is mad about it. I have seen the Sugar, sent to Blumenbach from Achard, the great Chemist; & it is good enough. They say that an hundred pound weight of Bete will make 12 pound of Sugar; & that there is no expence in the preparation. It is the Beta altissima, belongs to the Beta vulgaris, and in Germany is called Runkel-rĂ¼be. Its leaves resemble those of the common red Bete. -- It is in shape like a clumsy nine pin, & about the size of a middling Turnip -- the flesh is white, but has rings of a reddish Cast. I will bring over a quantity of the Seed. --/ Likewise hath the Apothecary Cavette Sobies at Lille in Flanders discovered a means to heat rooms without Fire, in a pleasant & healthy manner. Take a tin vessel, the top of which must have screws in order to be screwed down / lay in a few pieces of Quick lime, which has been the moment before moistened with cold water, shut the vessel, screw down the top; & in two minutes the vessel will be burning hot, & it will keep a room in a comfortable ____________________ 1 See Biog. Lit., ch. x, for Coleridge's comments on Thomas Christian Tyschen ( 1758-1834), and on the Theotisc language. -494- & equable warmth for 2 Hours. ---- The Price of meat for Hanover as appointed by the Government for the month of May 1799 -- A pound of Beef L S D of the 1st sort -- 0 0 4 of the 2nd sort -- 0 0 3 1/2 of the 3rd sort -- 0 0 2 1/2 A pound of Veal of the 1st__________________ 3 1/2 of the ordinary sort____________ 2 3/4 a pound of Mutton of the 1st sort____________4 1/2 --2nd sort ____________ 3 3/4 -- 3rd sort ____________ 3 1/4 A Pound of Pork may not cost more [of whatever sort it is than] 3 pence. For Gottingen. D Wheat, 4 Shillings the Bushel Beef, 3 1/4 the pound Rye, three & eightpence. Veal, best 3 1/4 Barley half a crown. Veal, ordinary 2 1/4 Oats two shillings & 2d Veal of 3rd sort 2 Peas -- the same. Pork 3 1/4 Beans the same Mutton 3 1/4 x Venison 3 1/4 So you see, meat here is three pence farthing a pound in general; -- but People here complain bitterly of the dearness. [A Stupid l]etter -- I believe, my late proficiency in Learning has somewhat stupified me but live in hopes of one better worth the postage. In the last week of June, I trust, you will see me. -Chester is well, & desires love & duty to his family. -- I have a frightful Cold, which gives my Nose such a fecundity as beggars me in handkerchiefs -- I dry them, & use them three Lavas deep. Else I am well. -- To your dear Mother & to Ward give my kind Love ---- & to all who ask after me. -- My dear Poole! don't let little Hartley die before I come home. -That's silly -- true -- & I burst into tears as I wrote it. Your's S. T. Coleridge. -495-