298. To Robert Southey Address: Mr Southey | Burton | near | Ringwood | Hampshire Single Sheet MS. Lord Latymer. Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 307. Stamped: Bridgewater. Stowey, Tuesday Evening, Oct. 15,1799 It is fashionable among our philosophizers to assert the existence of a surplus of misery in the world / which in my opinion is no proof, that either systematic Thinking or unaffected Self-observation is fashionable among them. -- But Hume wrote -- and the French imitated him -- and we the French -- and the French us -- and so philosophisms fly to and fro -- in serieses of imitated Imitations -- Shadows of shadows of shadows of a farthing Candle placed between two Looking-glasses. I was meditating on this when I received your last letter -- so I have begun with it. For in truth, ____________________ 1 The poem addressed to Coleridge became, of course, The Prelude. -538- my dear Southey! -- I am harrassed with the Rheumatism in my head and shoulders not without arm-and-thigh-twitches -- / but when the Pain intermits, it leaves my sensitive Frame so sensitive! My enjoyments are so deep, of the fire, of the Candle, of the Thought I am thinking, of the old Folio I am reading -- and the silence of the silent House is so most & very delightful -- that upon my soul! the Rheumatism is no such bad thing as people make for. -- And yet I have & do suffer from it, in much pain, and sleeplessness, & often sick at stomach thro' indigestion of the Food, which I eat from Compulsion -- / -- Since I received your former Letter, I have spent a few days at Upcott; 1 but was too unwell to be comfortable -- so I returned yesterday. -- Poor Tom! he has an adventurous Calling. I have so wholly forgotten my Geography, that I don't know where Ferrols 2 is, whether in France or Spain --. Your dear Mother must be very anxious indeed. -- If he return safe, it will have been good -- God grant, he may! ----- MASSENA! -- and what say you of the Resurrection & Glorification of the Saviour of the East after his Tryals in the Wilderness? 3 I am afraid that this is a piece of Blasphemy -- / but it was in simple verity such an Infusion of animal Spirits into me -- / -Buonaparte --! Buonaparte! dear dear DEAR Buonaparte! -- It would be no bad fun to hear the Clerk of the Privy Council read this paragraph before Pitt &c. -- You ill-looking frog-voiced Reptile! mind you lay the proper emphasis on the third DEAR / or I'll split your Clerkship's Skull for you! -- Poole has ordered a paper ----- he has found out, he says, why the newspapers had become so indifferent to him. -- Inventive Genius!s ----- he begs his kind remembrances to you -- / in consequence of the News he burns, like Greek Fire, under all the Wets and Waters of this health-and-harvest-destroying Weather. -- He flames while his Barley smokes ----- see! he says how it grows out again, ruining the prospects of those, who had cut it down! -- You are harvest man enough, I suppose, to understand the metaphor. -- Jackson is, I believe, out of all doubt a bad man. Why is it, if it be -- and I fear, it is -- why is it that the studies of Music & Painting are so unfavorable to the human Heart? -- Painters have been commonly very clever men -- which is not so generally the case with Musicians -- but both alike are almost uniformly ____________________ 1 The temporary residence of Josiah Wedgwood. 2 An erroneous report had reached England that the Sylph, on which Southey's brother Thomas was a midshipman, had been captured and brought to the port of Ferrol, a seaport in the province of Coruña, Spain. 3 On 25-26 Sept. 1799 André Masséna won a battle over the Russians at Zürich, where he had been earlier defeated by the Austrians in June. -539- Debauchees. -- It is superfluous to say how much your account of Bampfylde interested me -- / -- Predisposition to Madness gave him a cast of originality -- and he had a species of Taste which only Genius could give; but his Genius does not appear a powerful or ebullient Faculty -- / nearer to Lamb's than to the Gebir-man. 1 So I judge from the few specimens I have seen / if you think otherwise, you are right, I doubt not. -- I shall be glad to give Mr & Mrs Keenan the right hand of welcome with looks & tones in fit accompaniment -- / for the Wife of a man of Genius who sympathizes effectively with her Husband in his habits & feelings is a rara avis with me; tho' a vast majority of her own sex & too many of ours will scout her for a rara piscis. -- If I am well enough, Sara & I go to Bristol in a few days -- I hope, they will not come in the mean time. It is singularly unpleasant to me that I cannot renew our late acquaintance in Exeter without creating very serious uneasinesses at Ottery: Northmore is so preeminently an offensive character to the Aristocrats. -- He sent Payne's Books as a present to a Clergyman of my Brother's Acquaintance / a Mr Markes -- this was silly enough. -- Either however I will not visit Exeter, or I will visit Banfyl / for I am much taken with him. -- Did Hucks say aught of having received a letter from me, from Taunton, written on the same day on which we left Ottery? ----- Talking of Lane & Cosserat, do you know Baugh Allen, who was I believe in the same form with you --? -- Your intelligence concerning George Dyer rejoices me. -- I will set about Christabel with all speed; but I do not think it a fit opening Poem. -- What I think would be a fit opener, and what I would humbly lay before you as the best plan of the next anthologia, 2 I will communicate shortly in another letter entirely on this Subject. -- Mohammed I will not forsake; but my money-book I must write first. ----- In the last, or at least, in a late, monthly Magazine was an Essay on a Jesuitic Conspiracy & about the Russians. There was so much Genius in it, that I suspected William Taylor for the author -- but the style was so nauseously affected, so absurdly pedantic, that I was half-angry with myself for the suspicion. Have you seen Bishop Prettyman's Book? 3 ----- I hear, it is a curiosity. You remember Scott, the Attorney -- who held such a disquisition on my Simile of Property resembling Matter rather than Blood? -- and eke of St John? ____________________ 1 Coleridge did not know that Walter Savage Landor was the author of Gebir, published anonymously in 1798. 2 Coleridge refers to the Annual Anthology, edited by Southey in 1799 and 1800. Christabel was not published until 1816. 3 George Pretyman, Bishop of Lincoln, published Elements of Christian Theology in 1799. -540- And you remember too that I shewed him in my Face that there was no Room for him in my heart? -- Well, Sir! this man has taken a most deadly Hatred to me -- & how do you think he revenges himself? -- He imagines that I write for the Morning Post -- and he goes regularly to the Coffee houses, calls for the Paper -- & reading in it observes aloud -- 'What damn'd Stuff of Poetry is always crammed in this paper -----! such damn'd silly Nonsense! I wonder what Coxcomb it is that writes it! I wish, the Paper was kicked out of the Coffee House! --' Now but for Cruckshanks I could play Scott a precious Trick by sending to Stuart -- the Angry Attorney, a true Tale -- and I know more than enough of Scott's most singular particoloured Rascalities to make a most humorous & biting Satire of it. I have heard of a young Quaker who went to the Lobby, with a whore under his arm, a monstrous military cock'd Hat on his Head, with a scarlet coat, & up to his mouth in flower'd Muslin -swearing too most bloodily -- all 'that he might not be unlike other people!' A Quaker's Son getting himself christen'd to avoid being remarkable is as improbable a Lie as ever Self-delusion permitted the heart to impose upon the understanding -- or the understanding to invent without consent of the heart. -- But so it is. 1 -- Soon after Lloyd's arrival at Cambridge I understand Christopher Wordsworth wrote his Uncle Mr Cookson, that Lloyd was going to read Greek with him -- Cookson wrote back recommending caution & whether or no an intimacy with so marked a character might not be prejudicial to his academical Interests -- (this in his usual mild manner --) Christopher Wordsworth returned for answer that Lloyd was by no means a Democrat, & as a proof of it, transcribed the most favorable Passages from the Edmund Oliver -- and here the affair ended. -- You remember Lloyd's own account of this story of course more accurately than I -- and can therefore best judge how far my suspicions of falsehood & exaggeration were wellfounded. -- My dear Southey I the having a bad Heart, and the not having a good one are different Things. That Charles Lloyd has a bad Heart, I do not even think; but I venture to say & that openly, that he has not a good one. -- He is unfit to be any man's Friend, and to all but a very guarded man he is a perilous acquaintance. -Your conduct towards him, while it is wise, will, I doubt not, be ____________________ 1 In an unpublished letter to Coleridge Southey had written that Charles Lloyd's 'motive for being christened was that he might not be unlike other people, . . . and that he did not mean to budge an inch in matters of conscience. . . . With the conviction I feel that he has belied you and me to each other, I am somewhat irresolute how to act towards him.' MS. Bodleian Library. -541- gentle -- of confidence he is not worthy; but social Kindness and communicativeness purely intellectual can do you no harm, and may be the means of benefiting his character essentially. Aut ama me quia sum Dei, aut ut sim Dei, said St Augustin -- and in the laxer sense of the word 'Ama' there is wisdom in the expression notwithstanding it's wit. -- Besides, it is the way of PEACE. I have great affection for Lamb / but I have likewise a perfect Lloydand-Lambophobia! -- Independent of the irritation attending an epistolary Controversy with them, their Prose comes so damn'd dear! - Lloyd especially writes with a woman's fluency in a large rambling hand -- most dull tho' profuse of Feeling -- / I received from them in the last Quarter Letters so many, that with the Postage I might have bought Birch's Milton. ----- Sara will write soon -- our Love to Edith & your Mother -- from Bristol perhaps I go to London 1 / but I will write you where I am. Your's affectionately S. T. Coleridge