367. To William Godwin Address: Mr Godwin | Polygon | Sommers' Town | London MS. Lord Abinger. Pub. William Godwin, ii. 13. Postmark: 9 December 1800. Stamped: Keswick. Saturday Night. [ 6 December 1800] Dear Godwin The cause of my not giving you that immediate explanation which you requested was merely your own intimation that you could attend to nothing until the fate of your Melpomenie was decided. The plan was this -- a System of Geography taught by a re-writing of the most celebrated Travels into the different climates of the world, chusing for each climate one Traveller, but interspersing among his adventures all that was interesting in incident or observation from all former or after travellers or voyagers -annexing to each Travel a short Essay, pointing out what facts in it illustrate what laws of mind, &c &c. -- If a Bookseller of Spirit would undertake this work, I have no doubt of it's becoming a standard School Book -- It should be as large as the last Editions of Guthriel 1 -- 12 or 1400 pages. I mentioned it to you, because I thought that sort of Reading would be serviceable to your own mind -- but if you reject the idea, mention it to no one, for in that case I will myself undertake it. The Life of Bolin[g]broke will never do, in my opinion -- unless you have many original unpublished papers &c. The Good People will cry it down as a Satan's Hell-broth warmed up anew by Beelzebub. Besides, entre nous, my Lord Bolingbroke was but a very shallow Gentleman -- he had great, indeed amazing living Talents -- but there is absolutely nothing in his Writings, his philosophical Writings to wit, which had not been more accurately developed before him. All this, you will understand, goes on the supposition of your being possessed of no number of original Letters. If you are, & if they enable you to explain the junction of intellectual power & depraved Appetites, for heaven's sake, go on boldly -- & dedicate the work to your Friend Sheridan. For myself, I would rather have written the Mad Mother, 2 than all the works of all the Bolingbrokes & Sheridans, & their Brother Meteors, that have been exhaled from the Morasses of human depravity since the loss of Paradise. -- But this, my contempt of their intellectual powers as worthless, does not prevent me from feeling an interest & a curiosity in their moral Temperament: and I am not weak enough to hope or wish, that you should think or' feel as I think & feel. ____________________ 1 William Guthrie A New System of Modern Geography, or a Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar, 1770, was frequently reprinted. 2 Later entitled Her Eyes are Wild. -652- One phrase in your letter distressed me. You say, much of your tranquillity depends on the coming hour. I hope that this does not allude to any immediate embarrassment. -- If not, I should cry out against you loudly -- the motto which I prefixed to my Tragedy when I sent it to the manager I felt & have continued to feel -- Valeat res scenica, si me Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum! 1 The success of a Tragedy in the present size of the Theatres ( Pizarro 2 is a Pantomime) the success of a TRAGEDY is in my humble opinion rather improbable than probable --. What Tragedy has succeeded for the last 15 years? You will probably answer the Question by another -- What Tragedy has deserved to succeed? and to that I can give no answer. -- Be my Thoughts therefore sacred to Hope --! If EVERY Wish of mine had but a pair of Hands, your Play should be clapped thro' 160 successive nights -- and I would reconcile it to my conscience (in part) by two thoughts, first that you are a good man; & secondly that the divinity of Shakespere would remain all that while unblasphemed by the applauses of a Rabble, who if he were now for the first time to present his pieces would hiss them into infamy. Kου + ̑ϕον ἠ + ̑τορ ἔχει τὸ Πλεστον ι+̑νΘρώπων. The mass of Mankind are blind in heart, & I have been almost blind in my eyes. For the last 5 weeks I have been tormented by a series of bodily grievances and for great part of the time deprived of the use of my poor Eyes by inflammation / and at present I have six excruciating Boils behind my right Ear, the largest of which I have christened Captain Robert, in honor of Defoe's Capt. Robert Boyle 3 -- / Eke I have the Rheumatism in my hand -- If therefore there be any thing fretful & splenetic in this Letter, you know where to lay the fault -only do not cease to believe that I am interested in all that relates to you & your Comforts. God grant, I may receive your Tragedy, with the Πότνια Nίκη in the Title page. My darling Hartley has been ill; but is now better. My youngest is a fat little creature not unlike little Mary. God love you & S. T. Coleridge. P.S. -- Do you continue to see dear Charles Lamb often? -Talking of Tragedies, at every perusal my love & admiration of his ____________________ 1 Horace, Ep. II, i. 180-1; for scenica read ludicra. 2 Sheridan'patriotic melodrama', Pizarro, was produced at Drury Lane on 24 May 1799. 3 The Voyages of Captain R. Boyle, 1728, was not written by Defoe, but W. R. Chetwood. -653- Play 1 rises a peg. C. Lloyd is settled at Ambleside -- but I have not seen him. I have no wish to see him, & likewise no wish not to see him.)