388. To Thomas Pook Address: Mr T. Poole | N. Stowey I Bridgewater | Somerset. Single MS. British Museum. Pub. Letters, i. 350. Postmark: 26 March 1801. Stamped: Keswick. Monday Night [ 23 March 1801] My dear Friend I received your kind Letter of the 14th -- I was agreeably disappointed in finding that you had been interested in the Letter respecting Locke -- those which follow are abundantly more entertaining & important; but I have no one to transcribe them -- nay, three Letters are written which have not been sent to Mr Wedgewood, because I have no one to transcribe them for me -- & I do not wish to be without Copies -- / of that Letter, which you have, I have no Copy. -- It is somewhat unpleasant to me, that Mr Wedgewood has never answered my letter requesting his opinion of the utility of such a work, 3 nor acknowleged the receipt of the long Letter containing the evidence that the whole of Locke's system, as far as it was a system, & with the exclusion of those parts only which have been given up as absurdities by his warmest admirers, pre-existed in the writings of Des Cartes, in a far more pure, elegant, & delightful form. 4 ----- Be not afraid, that I shall join the party of the Little-ists 5 -- I believe, that I shall delight you by the detection of their artifices -- Now Mr Locke was the founder of this ____________________ 1 British Critic, Feb 1801. 2 Davy arrived in London on 11 Mar. 1801, and during the spring gave three courses of lectures at the Royal Institution. It was not until 15 July that he was officially appointed by the Managers. 3 No such letter has come to light. 4 See Letter 881, dated 18 Feb. 1801, and apparently sent at that time to both Josiah Wedgwood and Poole. 5 In acknowledging Letter 381, Poole on 14 Mar. warned Coleridge not to become a Little-ist: 'Think before you join the herd of Little-ists, who, without knowing in what Locke is defective, wish to strip the popular mind of him, leaving in his place nothing -- darkness, total darkness.' Thomas Poole. ii. 34. -708- sect, himself a perfect Little-ist. My opinion is this -- that deep Thinking is attainable only by a man of deep Feeling, and that all Truth is a species of Revelation. The more I understand of Sir Isaac Newton's works, the more boldly I dare utter to my own mind & therefore to you, that I believe the Souls of 500 Sir Isaac Newtons would go to the making up of a Shakspere or a Milton. But if it please the Almighty to grant me health, hope, and a steady mind, (always the 8 clauses of my hourly prayers) before smy 30th year I will thoroughly understand the whole of Newton's Works -- At present, I must content myself with endeavouring to make myself entire master of his easier work, that on Optics. I am exceedingly delighted with the beauty & neatness of his experiments, & with the accuracy of his immediate Deductions from them -- but the opinions founded on these Deductions, and indeed his whole Theory is, I am persuaded, so exceedingly superficial as without impropriety to be deemed false. Newton was a mere materialist -- Mind in his system is always passive -- a lazy Lookeron on an external World. If the mind be not passive, if it be indeed made in God's Image, & that too in the sublimest sense -- the Image of the Creator -- there is ground for suspicion, that any system built on the passiveness of the mind must be false, as a system. / I need not observe, My dear Friend, how unutterably silly & contemptible these Opinions would be, if written to any but to another Self. I assure you, solemnly assure you, that you & Wordsworth are the only men on Earth to whom I would have uttered a word on this subject -- . It is a rule, by which I hope to direct all my literary efforts, to let my Opinions & my Proofs go together. It is insolent to differ from the public opinion in opinion, if it be only opinion. It is sticking up little i by itself i against the whole alphabet. But one word with meaning in it is worth the whole alphabet together -- such is a sound Argument, an incontrovertible Fact. -- O for a lodge in a Land, where human Life was an end, to which Labor was only a Means, instead of being, as it [is] here, a mere means of carrying on Labor. -- I am oppressed at times with a true heart-gnawing melancholy when I contemplate the state of my poor oppressed Country. -- God knows, it is as much as I can do to put meat & bread on my own table; & hourly some poor starving wretch comes to my door, to put in his claim for part of it. -- It fills me with indignation to hear the croaking accounts, which the English Emigrants send home of America. The society is so bad -the manners so vulgar -- the servants so insolent. -- Why then do they not seek out one another, & make a society -- ? It is arrant ingratitude to talk so of a Land in which there is no Poverty but -709- as a consequence of absolute Idleness -- and to talk of it too with abuse comparatively with England, with a place where the laborious Poor are dying with Grass with[in] their Bellies! -- It is idle to talk of the Seasons -- as if that country must not needs be miserably misgoverned in which an unfavorable Season introduces a famine. No! No! dear Poole! it is our pestilent Commerce, our unnatural Crowding together of men in Cities, & our Government by Rich Men, that are bringing about the manifestations of offended Deity. -- I am assured, that such is the depravity of the public mind, that no literary man can find bread in England except by misemploying & debasing his Talents -- that nothing of real excellence would be either felt or understood. The annuity, which I hold, perhaps by a very precarious Tenure, will shortly from the decreasing value of money become less than one half of what it was when first allowed to me -- If I were allowed to retain it, I would go & settle near Priestly, in America / I shall, no doubt, get a certain price for the two or three works, which I shall next publish -- ; but I foresee, they will not sell -- the Booksellers finding this will treat me as an unsuccessful Author -- i.e. they will employ me only as an anonymous Translator at a guinea a sheet -- (I will write across my other writing in order to finish what I have to say.) I have no doubt, that I could make.500£ a year, if I liked. But then I must forego all desire of Truth and Excellence. I say, I would go to America, if Wordsworth would go with me, & we could persuade two or three Farmers of this Country who are exceedingly attached to us, to accompany us -- I would go, if the difficulty of procuring sustenance in this Country remain in the state & degree, in which it is at present. Not on any romantic Scheme, but merely because Society has become a matter of great Indifference to me -- I grow daily more & more attached to Solitude -- but it is a matter of the utmost Importance to be removed from seeing and suffering Want. God love you, my dear Friend! -- S. T. Coleridge.