283. To Josiah Wedgwood Address: Josiah Wedgewood Esq. | York Street | St James's Square | by favor of I Mr Hamilton MS. Wedgwood Museum. Pub. Tom Wedgwood, 68. May 21st, 1799 -- Gottingen My dear Sir I have lying by my side six huge Letters, 1 with your name on each of them / & all excepting one have been written for these three months. About this time Mr Hamilton, by whom I send this & the little parcel for my wife, was as it were, setting off for England; & I seized the opportunity of sending them by him, as without any mock-modesty I really thought that the expence of the Postage to me & to you would be more than their Worth. -- Day after day, & Week after week, was Hamilton going / & still delayed -- and now that it is absolutely settled that he goes tomorrow, it is likewise absolutely settled that I shall go this day three weeks / & I have therefore sent only this & the Picture by him / but the letters I will now take myself --/ for I should not like them to be lost; as they comprize the only subject, on which I have had any opportunity of making myself thoroughly informed / & if I carry them myself, I can carry them without danger of their being seized at Yarmouth, as all my letters were, your's to the Von Axens, &c excepted which were luckily not sealed. ---- Before I left England, I had read the Book of which you speak 2 -- I must confess, that it appeared to me exceedingly illogical. Godwin's & Condorcet's Extravagancies were not worth confuting; and yet I thought, that the Essay on Population had not confuted them. -- Before Wallace, 3 Derham 4 & a number of German Statistic & Physiko-theological Writers had taken the same ground / namely, that Population increases in a geometrical but the accessional nutriment only in an arithmetical ratio -- & that Vice & Misery, the natural consequences of this order of things, were intended by Providence as the Counterpoise. I have here no means of procuring so obscure a book, as Rudgard's; but to the best of my recollection, at the time that the Fifth Monarchy Enthusiasts created so great a sensation in England, under the Protectorates & the beginning of Charles the second's reign, Rudgard or Rutgard 5 (I am not positive even of ____________________ 1 See Letter 271. 2 Wedgwood had asked Coleridge's opinion of Malthus's Essay on Population. 3 Robert Wallace ( 1697-1771) published in 1761 Various Prospect of Mankind, Nature, and Providence, a work which is said to have influenced Malthus. 4 Coleridge probably refers to William Derham ( 1657-1785), who was a frequent contributor to the Transactions of the Royal Society. 5 Cf. Thomas Tanner, Primordia. . . . To which are added Two Letters ofMr. Rvdyerd's . . . One about the Multiplying of Mankind until the Floud. The Other concerning the Multiplying of the Children of Israel in Egypt. -517- the name) wrote an Essay to the same purpose / [in which he asserted, that if War, Pestilence, Vice, & Poverty were wholly removed, the World could not exist two hundred years &c. Süssmilch 1 in his great work concerning the divine Order & Regularity in the Destiny of the human Race has a chapter entitled a confutation of this idea / I read it with great Eagerness, & found therein, that this idea militated against the Glory & Goodness of God, & must therefore be false -- but further confutation found I none! -- This book of Sfissmilch's has a prodigious character throughout Germany; & never methinks did a Work less deserve it. -- It is in 3 huge Octavos, & wholly on the general Laws that regulate the Population of the human Species -- but is throughout most unphilosophical, & the Tables, which he has collected with great Industry, proved nothing. -- My objections to the Essay on Population you will find in my sixth Letter, at large -- but do not, my dear Sir! suppose that because unconvinced by this Essay I am therefore convinced of the contrary. -- No! God knows -- I am sufficiently sceptical & in truth more than sceptical, concerning the possibility of universal Plenty & Wisdom / but my Doubts rest on other grounds. -- I had some conversation with you before I left England on this subject; & from that time I had proposed to myself to examine as thoroughly as it was possible for me the important Question -- Is the march of the Human Race progressive, or in Cycles? -- But more of this when we meet. ----/ What have I done in Germany? -- I have learnt the language, both high & low German / I can read both, & speak the former so fluently, that it must be a torture for a German to be in my company -- that is, I have words enough & phrases enough, & I arrange them tolerably; but my pronunciation is hideous. -- 2ndly, I can read the oldest German, the Frankish and the Swabian. 3dly -- I have attended the lectures on Physiology, Anatomy, & Natural History with regularity, & have endeavoured to understand these subjects. -- 4th -- I have read & made collections for an history of the Belles Lettres in Germany before the time of Lessing -- & 5thly -very large collections for a Life of Lessing; -- to which I was led by the miserably bald & unsatisf[act]ory Biographies that have been hitherto given, & by my personal acquaintance with two of Lessing's Friends. -- Soon after I came into Germany, I made up my mind fully not to publish any thing concerning my Travels, as people call them / yet I soon perceived that with all possible ____________________ 1 J. P. Süssmilch, Die göttliche Ordnung in den Veränderungen des menschlichen Geschlechts, 1761. 5 Mr. Rvdyerd's . . . One about the Multiplying of Mankind until the Floud. The Other concerning the Multiplying of the Children of Israel in Egypt. 1683. -518- Economy my expences would be greater than I could justify, unless I did something that would to a moral certainty repay them. -- I chose the Life of Lessing for the reasons above assigned, & because it would give me an opportunity of conveying under a better name, than my own ever will be, opinions, which I deem of the highes[t] importance. -- Accordingly my main Business at Göttingen has been to read all the numerous Controversies in which L. was engaged / & the works of all those German Poets before the time of Lessing, which I could not, or could not afford to buy --. For these last 4 months, with the exception of last week in which I visited the Harz I have worked harder than, I trust in God Almighty, I shall ever have occasion to work again -- this endless Transcription is such a body-and-soul-wearying Purgatory! ---- I shall have bought 80 pounds worth of books (chiefly metaphysics / & with a view to the one work, to which I hope to dedicate in silence the prime of my life) -- but I believe & indeed doubt not, that before Christmas I shall have repayed myself; but before that time I shall have been under the necessity of requesting your permission, that I may during the year anticipate for 40 or fifty pound. -- I have hitherto drawn on you for 85 & 80 & 80 & 30 = 125£ -- of this sum I left about 32 or 33 pound in your hands, of Mr Chester's, when I left England -- & Chester has since desired his Brother to transmit 25£, & again in his last letter 30£ / Wordsworth has promised me that he will pay into your hands 4£ for me. 33 & 25 & 80 & 4 = 92£. -- Hitherto therefore I have drawn as it were about 88 or 84 pound / but this week, to pay both our Gottingen Bills, and our Journey to England I must draw for 70£. So that altogether I shall have in this year drawn for 103 Pound. ---.-- I never to the best of my recollection felt the fear of Death but once -- that was, yesterday when I delivered the Picture to Hamilton. -- I felt & shivered as I felt it, that I should not like to die by land or water before I see my wife & the little one that I hope yet remains to me! -- But it was an idle sort of feeling -- & I should not like to have it again. -- /Poole half mentioned in a hasty way a circumstance that depressed my Spirits for many days -- that you & Thomas were on the point of settling near Stowey but had abandoned it! -- 'God almighty! what a dream of happiness it held it [out?] to me'! writes Poole. -- I felt disappointment without having had hope! ---- -- In about a month I hope to see you. Till then may Heaven bless & preserve us! -- Believe me, my dear Sir! with every feeling of love, esteem, & gratitude Your affectionate Friend S. T. Coleridge -519-