294. To Robert Southey Address: Mr Southey | Mr Tucker's | Forestreet Hill | Exeter Single MS. Lord Latymer. Pub. E. L. G. i. 126. Stamped: Bridgewater. Monday Evening. Sept. 30 [, 1799] My dear Southey I am extremely interested with your account of Mr & Mrs Keenan. You have of course asked her whether Buonaparte is a man of Science / it is the mode & fashion to deny it. -- Do not forget to procure from old Jackson a copy of poor Bamfield's Sonnets & Poems 1 -- he will at least lend them you to copy out: -- & let me know what you think of old Jackson. 2 -- Male and Female Rhymes are neither more or less than single and double Rhymes -- Right, Light, are Masculine Rhymes; Ocean, Motion, feminine. -- At present, they are called Masculine & Feminine, not Male & Female -I should think that in Thalaba it would be better, on many accounts, if Allah were uniformly substituted for God -- the so frequent Repetition of that last word gives somehow or other a sermonic Cast to a Poem / and perhaps too it might give a not altogether unfounded offence, that a name so connected with awful realities, is (so often, & so solemnly) blended with those bold Fictions which ask & gain only a transient Faith. -- But I object now only from Recollection. Our little Hovel is almost afloat -- poor Sara tired off her legs ____________________ 1 John C. Bampfylde ( 1754-96) published Sixteen Sonnets in 1778. 2 William Jackson ( 1780-1808), musical composer of Exeter. It was Jackson who befriended Bampfylde and who gave Southey details of that unfortunate poet's life. See Life and Corres. ii. 26-29. -533- with servanting -- the young one fretful & noisy from confinement exerts his activities on all forbidden Things -- the house stinks of Sulphur -- I however, sunk in Spinoza, remain as undisturbed as a Toad in a Rock / that is to say, when my rheumatic pains are asleep. For you must know that our apothecary persuaded me & Sara to wear Mercurial Girdles, as Preventives -- accordingly Sara arrayed herself with this Cest of the Caledonian Venus, and I eke/ -On the first day I walked myself into a perspiration, and O Christus Jesus! -- how I stunk! -- Convinced as I was before of the necessity of all parts of the human body, I now received double-damning Nose-conviction, that all my pores were Necessary Holes with a Vengeance -- I walked, one Magnum Mercurii Excrementum, cursed with the faculty of Self-sentience. -- Well but the Nose is the most placable of all the senses / and to one's own evil odours one can reconcile oneself almost as easily as to one's own Vices. But whether I caught cold or no, I cannot tell; but the next day a fit of the Rheumatism laid hold of me from the small of my back down to the Calves of my Legs, shooting thro' me like hot arrows headed with adders' Teeth. Since my Rheumatic Fever at School I have suffered nothing like it! -- Of course, I threw off my girdle -- for such damned Twitches! I would rather have old Scratch himself, whom all the Brimstone in Hell can't cure, than endure them! ---- I am still however not free from them / tho' the latter attacks have decreased in violence. You'd laugh to see how pale & haggard I look -- & by way of a Clincher, I am almost certain that Hartley has not had the Itch --. A great affliction has fallen on poor Daddy Rich & his Wife. The old man's Son went away some two years ago for a Marine leaving his Currying Business / to bring him up to which the good old Creature had pinched his Belly & robbed his Back -- / Ever since he has been wishing & praying only to see him once more / and about a fortnight ago he returned, discharged as an ideot. -- The day after I came back to Stowey, I heard a cry of Murder, & rushed into the House, where I found the poor Wretch, whose physiognomy is truly hellish, beating his Father most unmercifully with a great stick -- / I seized him & pinioned him to the wall, till the peace-officer came -- / -- He vows vengeance on me; but what is really shocking he never sees little Hartley but he grins with hideous distortions of rage, & hints that he'll do him a mischief. -And the poor old People, who just get enough to feed themselves, are now absolutely pinched / & never fall to sleep without fear & trembling, lest the Son should rise in a fit of insanity, & murder them. -- I shall not let Poole rest, till he has called the Parish, that something may be done for them. -- -534- The money shall be remitted to Dyer as soon as the Books are received / The Bacon is for Poole. ----- I suppose you have read Stedman's Narrative of an Expedition to Surinam. 1 Vol. 2nd, page 299 are these remarkable Words, 'Vultures are compared by some to the Eagle, though those of Surinam possess very opposite Qualities. They are indeed Birds of Prey, but instead of feeding on what they kill, like the other noble animal, their chief pursuit is Carrion --' Now this tickles me -- the poor Vulture, the useful Scavenger in a Climate where Carrion would but for him breed the plague / the noble Eagle not only useless but a murderer, & probably tainting the air with his half devoured prey --! / There is indeed a sort of living Carrion, Sons of Corruption &c & eke some of the merciful Lady-Planters in Surinam, &c &c, &c, on which the Vulture might, without departing from his utility as a Scavenger, exercise the Eagle attribute of first knocking on the head -- /.When you want a subject for Stewart, do prefix the Quotation from Stedman, & make some Verses underneath. -- As to what you say about the School book, I dissent -- / I am decisive against ever publishing the Letters 2 -- & were I not, it would take me more trouble to fit 'em up, than they are worth. As to a Volume of Poems, I am not in a poetical Mood / & moreover am resolved to publish nothing with my name till my Great Work. -- But the School book, which I am planning, will I think be a lucrative Speculation / & it will be an entertaining Job When I have licked the plan enough for you to discern it's embryo Lineaments, I will send it you / -- There are two works which I particularly want -- & perhaps William Taylor has them -- the one is, Herder's Ideas for the History of the Human Race 3 -- I do not accurately remember the German Title / the second, Zimmerman's Geographie des Mensche 4 -- It is not the Zimmerman who wrote the dull Thing about Solitude 5 -- Would there be any impropriety in your asking W. Taylor to lend them me? -- Probably, you know some one in London who would take the Trouble of receiving them, & booking them off in the Bridgewater Mail, directed to be ____________________ 1 J. G. Stedman, Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild Coast of South America, from the Year 1772 to 1777, 2 vols., 1796. 2 Presumably Coleridge refers to his German letters to Poole and to Mrs. Coleridge. 3 Cf. J. G. von Herder, Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Mensehheit, 1784-91. 4 Cf. E. A. W. von Zimmermann, Geographische Geschichte des Mensehen, 1784-91. 5 J. G. Zimmermann, ber die Einsamkeit, 1756. The work ran to a number of English editions. -535- left at the old Angel, with my direction. -- But if there be the least Impropriety, I pray you, think no more of it ----- I would take care that they should be safely redelivered within a month --. -- I have very serious Thoughts of trying to get a couple of Pupils / very serious ones. ----- Poole desires to be kindly remembered to you. -- I wrote this Epigram on Naso Rubicund, Esq. a dealer in Secrets. 1 -- You're perfectly safe -- for so ruddy your Nose, That talk what you will, 'tis all under the Rose. I have found the long rigmarole Verses which I wrote about Pratt &c / but there's nothing in 'em, save facility of Language & oddity of Rhyme --. If however I go to Bristol, I will leave it with Cottle to be sent with any parcel that may be moving towards you -- Sara is anxious to hear from Eliza -- She desires her kind Love. Young Brimstonello is fast asleep -- he is a quaint Boy. When I told him, you had sent your love to him in the Letter, he sat, & thought & thought, and at last burst into a fit of Laughter -- /. God bless you & Edith -- & all of us! -- Your's with affectionate Esteem S. T. Coleridge