349. To William Godwin Address: Mr Godwin | Polygon | Sommers' Town | London Single MS. Lord Abinger. Pub. with omis. E. L. G. i. 151. Postmark: 11 September 1800. Stamped: Keswick. Monday [ 8 September 1800] Dear Godwin There are vessels every week from Dublin to Workington, which place is about 16 miles from my house thro' a divine Country -- but this is an idle regret. I know not the nature of your present pursuits, whether or no they are such as to require the vicinity of large and curious Libraries -- / if you were engaged in any work of imagination, or reasoning, not biographical, not historical, I should repeat & urge my invitation, after my wife's confinement. -- Our House is situated on a rising Ground, not two furlongs from Keswick, about as much from the Lake, Derwentwater, & about 2 miles or so from the Lake, Bassenthwaite -- both lakes & their mountains we command -- the River Greta runs behind our house, & before it too -- & Skiddaw is behind us, not half a mile distant -- indeed just distant enough, to enable us to view it as a Whole. The Garden, Orchard, Fields, & immediate country, all delightful. -- I have, or have the use of, no inconsiderable collection of Books -- in my Library you will find all the Poets & Philosophers, & many of our best old Writers -- below in our Parlor, belonging to my Landlord, but in my possession, are almost all the usual Trash of the Johnsons, Gibbons, Robertsons, &c with the Encyclopaedia Britannica, &c &c. Sir Wilfrid Lawson's magnificent Library is at some 8 or 9 miles distant -- and he is liberal in the highest degree in the management of it. -- And now for your letter. I swell out my chest, & place my hand on my heart, & swear aloud to all that you have written, or shall write, against Lawyers & the Practice of the Law. When you next write so eloquently & so well, against it or against anything, be so good as to leave a larger space for your wafer; as by neglect of this a part of your last was obliterated -- The character of Curran, which you have sketched most ably, 1 is ____________________ 1 For Godwin's description of John Philpot Curran ( 1750-1817), the Irish judge, see William Godwin, ii. 5-6. -619- a frequent one in it's moral Essentials; tho', of course, among the most rare, if we take it with all it's intellectual accompaniments. Whatever I have read of Curran's has impressed me with a deep conviction of his Genius. Are not the Irish in general a more eloquent race, than we? -- Of North Wales my recollections are faint; and as to Wicklow, I know only from the Newspapers, that it is a mountainous Country. As far as my memory will permit me to decide on the grander parts of Caernarvonshire, I may say, that the single objects are superior to any, which I have seen elsewhere -- but there is a deficiency in combination. I know of no mountain in the north altogether equal to Snowdon, but then we have an encampment of huge Mountains, in no harmony perhaps to the eye of a mere painter, but always interesting, various, and, as it were, nutritive. Height is assuredly an advantage, as it connects the Earth with the Sky, by the clouds that are ever skimming the summits, or climbing up, or creeping down the sides, or rising from the chasms, like smokes from a Cauldron, or veiling or bridging the higher parts or the lower parts of the water -- falls. That you were less impressed by N. Wales, I can easily believe -- it is possible, that the scenes of Wicklow may be superior, but it is certain, that you were in a finer irritability of Spirit to enjoy them. The first pause & silence after a return from a very interesting Visit is somewhat connected with languor in all of us -- / Besides, as you have observed, Mountains & mountainous Scenery, taken collectively & cursorily, must depend for their charms on their novelty -- / they put on their immortal interest then first, when we have resided among them, & learnt to understand their language, their written characters, & intelligible sounds, and all their eloquence so various, so unwearied. -- Then you will hear no'twice-told tale.' -- I question, if there be a room in England which commands a view of Mountains & Lakes & Woods & Vales superior to that, in which I am now sitting. I say this, because it is destined for your Study, if you come. -- You are kind enough to say, that you feel yourself more natural and unreserved with me, than with others. I suppose, that this arises in great measure from my own ebullient Unreservedness -- something too, I will hope, may be attributed to the circumstance, that my affections are interested deeply in my opinions --. But here you will meet too with Wordsworth 'the latch of whose Shoe I am unworthy to unloose' -- and four miles from Wordsworth Charles Lloyd has taken a house 1 -- Wordsworth is publishing a second Volume of the Lyrical Ballads -- which title is to be dropt, ____________________ 1 The Lloyds settled at Old Brathay near Ambleside, where they remained until 1815. -620- & his 'Poems' substituted 1 / Have you seen Sheridan since your return? How is it with your Tragedy? 2 Were you in town, when Miss Bayley's Tragedy was represented? 3 How was it, that it proved so uninteresting? Was the fault in the Theatre, the Audience, or the Play? -- It must have excited a deeper feeling in you than that of mere curiosity: for doubtless, the Tragedy had great merit. I know not indeed, how far Kemble might have watered & thinned it's consistence -- I speak of the printed Play. -Have you read the Wallenstein? -- Prolix & crowded & dragging as it is, yet it is quite a model for it's judicious management of the Sequence of Scenes -- and such it is held on the German Theatres. Our English Acting Plays are many of them wofully deficient in this part of the dramatic Trade & Mystery. Hartley is well & all life, and action / I expect that Mrs Coleridge will lay down her burthen in 7 or 8 days -- she desires to be remembered to you. -- Let me hear from you when you have leisure & inclination -- Your's with | unfeigned Esteem S. T. Coleridge Kisses for Mary & Fanny -- God love them! I wish, you would come & look out for a house for yourself here. You know 'I wish' is privileged to have something silly follow it.-----