362. To Josiah Wedgwood Address: Josiah Wedgewood Esq. | Gunville | near | Blandford | Dorset Single MS. Wedgzwod Museum. Pub.E. L. G. i. 157. Postmark: 4 November 1800. Stamped: Keswick. Nov. 1. 1800. -- Keswick My dear Sir I would fain believe, that the experiment which your Brother has made in the W. Indies, is not wholly a discouraging one. If a warm climate did nothing but only prevented him from growing worse, it surely evidenced some power -- and perhaps a climate equally favorable in a country of more various interest, Italy or the South of Frànce, may tempt your Brother to make a longer trial. If (disciplining myself into silent cheerfulness) I could be of any comfort to him by being his companion & attendant for two or three months, on the supposition that he should wish to travel & was at a loss for a companion more fit, I would go with him with a willing affection. You will easily see, my dear friend, that I say this, only to increase the Range of your Brother's choice -- for even in chusing there is some pleasure. -- There happen frequently little odd coincidences in time, that recall a momentary faith in the notion of sympathies acting in absence. I heard of your Brother's Return for the first time on -642- Monday last (the day on which your Letter is dated) from Stod. dart. 1 -- Had it rained on my naked Skin, I could not have felt more strangely. The three or 4 hundred miles that are between us, seemed converted into a moral distance; & I knew that the whole of this Silence I was myself accountable for, for I ended my last letter by promising to follow it with a second & longer one before you could answer the first. -- But immediately on my arrival in this country I undertook to finish a poem which I had begun, entitled Christabel, for a second volume of the Lyrical Ballads. I tried to perform my promise; but the deep unutterable Disgust, which I had suffered in the translation of that accursed Wallenstein, seemed to have stricken me with barrenness -- for I tried & tried, & nothing would come of it. I desisted with a deeper dejection than I am willing to remember. The wind from Skiddaw & Borrodale was often as loud as wind need be -- & many a walk in the clouds on the mountains did I take; but all would not do -- till one day I dined out at the house of a neighbouring clergyman, & some how or other drank so much wine, that I found some effort & dexterity requisite to balance myself on the hither Edge of Sobriety. The next day, my verse making faculties returned to me, and I proceeded successfully -- till my poem grew so long & in Wordsworth's opinion so impressive, that he rejected it from his volume as disproportionate both in size & merit, & as discordant in it's character. 2 -- In the meantime, I had gotten myself entangled in the old Sorites of the old Sophist, Procrastination -- I had suffered my necessary businesses to accumulate so terribly, that I neglected to write to any one -- till the Pain, I suffered from not writing, made me waste as many hours in dreaming about it, as would have sufficed for the Letter-writing of half a Life. But there is something beside Time requisite for the writing of a Letter -- at least with me. My situation here is indeed a delightful situation; but I feel what I have lost -- feel it deeply -- it recurs more often & more painfully, than I had anticipated -- indeed, so much so that I scarcely ever feel myself impelled, that is to say, pleasurably impelled to write to Poole. I used to feel myself more at home in his great windy Parlour, than in my own cottage. We were well suited for each other -- my animal Spirits corrected his inclinations to melancholy; ____________________ 1 Sir John Stoddart ( 1778-1856), the King's and the Admiralty Advocate at Malta, 1808-7. His sister, Sarah, married William Hazlitt. It was mainly because of Stoddart that Coleridge went to Malta in 1804. See Letter 513. 2 In an unpublished letter to Longman Wordsworth explains his reason for not including Christabel: 'A Poem of Mr Coleridge's was to have concluded the Volumes; but upon mature deliberation, I found that the Style of this Poem was so discordant from my own that it could not be printed along with my poems with any propriety.' MS. New York Public Lib. -643- and there was some thing both in his understanding & in his affection so healthy & manly, that my mind freshened in his company, and my ideas & habits of thinking acquired day after day more of substance & reality. -- Indeed, indeed, my dear Sir, with tears in my eyes, and with all my heart & soul I wish it were as easy for us all to meet, as it was when you lived at Upcott. -Yet when I revise the step, I have taken, I know not how I could have acted otherwise than I did act. Every thing, I promised myself in this country, has answered far beyond my expectation. The room in which I write commands six distinct Landscapes -- the two Lakes, the Vale, River, & mountains, & mists, & Clouds, & Sunshine make endless combinations, as if heaven & Earth were for ever talking to each other. -- Often when in a deep Study I have walked to the window & remained there looking without seeing, all at once the Lake of Keswic[k] & the fantastic Mountains of Borrodale at the head of it have entered into my mind with a suddenness, as if I had been snatched out of Cheapside & placed for the first time on the spot where I stood. -- And that is a delightful Feeling -- these Fits & Trances of Novelty received from a long known Object. The river Greta flows behind our house, roaring like an untamed Son of the Hills, then winds round, & glides away in the front -- so that we live in a penins[ula.] -- But besides this etherial Eye-feeding, we have very substantial Conveniences. We are close to the town, where we have a respectable & neighbourly acquainta[nce] and a sensible & truly excellent medical man. -Our Garden is part of a large nursery Garden / which is the same to us & as private as if the whole had been our own, & thus too we have delightful walks without passing our garden gate. My Landlord, 1 who lives in the Sister House (for the two Houses are built so as to look like one great one) is a modest & kind man, & a singular character. By the severest economy he raised himself from a Carrier into the possession of a comfortable Independence -he was always very fond of reading, and has collected nearly 500 volumes of our most esteemed modern Writers, such as Gibbon, Hume, Johnson, &c &c. -- / His habits of economy & simplicity remain with him -- & yet so very disinterested a man I scarcely ever knew. Lately when I wished to settle with him about the Rent of our House he appeared much affected, told me that my living near him & the having so much of Hartley's company were great comforts to him & his housekeeper 2 -- that he had no children to provide for, & did not mean to marry -- & in short, that he did not want any rent at all from me. -- This of course I laughed him ____________________ 1 William Jackson was the owner of Greta Hall. 2 Mrs. Wilson, the children's beloved 'Wilsy'. -644- out of; but he absolutely refused to receive any rent for the first half year under the Pretext, that the house was not completely finished. ----- Hartley quite lives at the house -- & it [is] as you may suppose no small joy to my wife to have a good affectionate motherly woman divided from her only by a Wall. Eighteen miles from our House lives Sir Guilfred Lawson, who has a princely Library, chiefly of natural History -- a kind, & generous, but weak & ostentatious sort of man, who has been abundantly civil to me. -Among other raree shews he keeps a wild beast or two, with some eagles &c ----- The Master of the Beasts at the Exeter change sent him down a large Bear -- with it a long letter [of] directions concerning the food &c of the animal, & many solicitations respecting other agreeable Quadrupeds which he was desirous to send to the Baronet at a moderate Price, concluding in this manner -- 'and remain your Honor's most devoted humble Servant, J.P. -P.S. -- Permit me, Sir Guilfred, to send you a Buffalo and a Rhinoceros.'-- ! ----- As neat a Postscript as I ever heard -- ! the tradesmanlike coolness with which those pretty little animals occurred to him just at the finishing of his Letter -----!! -- You will in the course of three weeks see the Letters on the rise & condition of the German Boors. 1 I found it convenient to make up a volume out of my Journeys &c in North Germany -- & the Letters (your name of course erased) are in the Printers' Hands -- /. I was so weary of transcribing & composing, that when I found those more carefully written than the rest, I even sent them off as they were. -- Poor Alfred! I have not seen it in print -- Charles Lamb wrote me the following account of it -- I have just received from Cottle a magnificent Copy of his Guinea Alfred! Four & 20 books to read in the Dog Days. I got as far as the mad Monk the first day, & fainted. Mr Cottle's Genius strongly points him to the very simple Pastoral, but his inclinations divert him perpetually from his calling. He imitates Southey as Row did Shakespeare with his Good morrow to you, good Master Lieutenant! -- Instead of a man, a woman, a daughter he constantly writes 'one, a man,' 'one, a woman,' 'one, his daughter' -- instead of the King, the Hero, he constantly writes 'He, the King' -- [']He, the Hero' -- two flowers of Rhetoric palpably from the Joan. But Mr Cottle soars a higher pitch, and when he is original, it is in a most original way indeed. His terrific Scenes are indefatigable. Serpents, Asps, Spiders, Ghosts, Dead Bodies, & Stair-cases made of NOTHING with Adders' Tongues for Bannisters -- my God! what a Brain he must have! he puts as many Plums in his Pudding as my Grandmother ____________________ 1 See Letter 271 headnote. -645- used to do -- & then his Emerging from Hell's Horrors into Light, & treading on pure Flats of this Earth for 23 Books together! -C.L. 1 ----- My littlest One is a very Stout Boy indeed-he is christened by the name of 'DERWENT' -- a sort of sneaking affection, you see, for the poetical & the novellish which I disguised to myself under the Shew, that my Brothers had so many children, Johns, James, Georges, &C &C -- that a handsome Christian-like name was not to be had, except by incroaching on the names of my little Nephews. If you are at Gunville at Christmas, I hold out Hopes to myself that I shall be able to pass a week with you then. -- I mentioned to you at Upcott a kind of a Comedy that I had committed -- to writing, in part. -- This is in the wind. Wordsworth's second Volume of the Ly. Ball. will, I hope & almost believe, afford you as unmingled pleasure as is in the nature of a collection of very various poems to afford to one individual mind. Sheridan has sent to him too, requesting him to write Tragedy for Drury Lane. But W. will not be diverted by any thing from the prosecution of his Great Work. I shall request permission to draw upon you shortly for 20£ -but if it be in the least inconvenient to you, I pray you, tell me so -- for I can draw on Longman, who in less than a month will owe me 60£, tho' I would rather not do it. Southey's Thalaba in 12 books is going to the Press. I hear -- his Madoc is to be nonum-in-annum'd. 2 -- Besides these, I have heard of four other Epic Poems -- all in Quarto I a happy age this for tossing off an Epic or two! ----- Remember me with great affection to your Brother-& present my kindest respects to Mrs Wedgewood. -- Your late Governess wanted one thing which, where there is Health, is I think indispensable in the moral character of a young person -- a light & chearful Heart --. She interested me a good deal; she appears to me to have been injured by going out of the common way without any of that Imagination, which if it be a Jack o'Lanthorn to lead us out of that way is however at the same time a Torch to light us whither we are going. A whole Essay might be written on the Danger of thinking without Images. -- God bless you, my dear Sir, & him who is with grateful and affectionate Esteem Your's ever S. T. Coleridge ____________________ 1 Cf. Lamb Letters, i. 211-12. For Lamb's kindly words to Cottle on the subject of the epic, ibid. i. 216-17. 2 Cf. Horace, Ars Poetica,388. The publication of Madoc was delayed until 1805. -646-