394. To Thomas Poole Address: Mr T. Poole | N. Stowey | Bridgewater | SomersetSingle MS. British Museum. A few lines pub. Thomas Poole, ii. 44. Postmark: 21 April 1801. Stamped: Keswick. Saturday, April 18. 1801 My dearest Poole He must needs be an unthinking or a hard-hearted man who is not often oppressed in his spirits by the present state of the Country. There is a dearth of Wisdom still heavier than that of Corn / the mass of the inhabitants of the country are growing more & more acquainted with the blackness of the conspiracy, which the Wealthy have entered into, against their comforts & independence & intellect. But they perceive it only thro' the dimness of passions & personal indignation. The professed Democrats, who on an occasion of uproar would press forward to be the -719- Leaders, are without knowlege, talents, or morals. I have conversed with the most celebrated among them; more gross, ignorant, & perverted men I never wish to see again! -- O it would have made you, my friend I 'a sadder & a wiser man', if you had been with me at one of Horne Tooke's public Dinners! -- I could never discover by any train of Questions that any of these Lovers of Liberty had either [a] distinct object for their Wishes, or distinct views of the means. -- All seemed a quarrel about names! -- Taxes -- national Debt -- representation -- overthrow of Tythes & Church Establishments -- &c &c. -- I believe, that it would be easy to enumerate the causes of the evils of the Country, & to prove that they & they alone were the great & calculable, causes; but I doubt the possibility of pointing out a Remedy. -- Our enormous Riches & accompanying Poverty have corrupted the Morals of the nation. All Principle is scouted -- : by the Jacobins, because it is the death-blow of vainglorious Scepticism -- by the Aristocrats, because it is visionary & theoretical -- even our most popular Books of Morals, (as Paley's 1 for instance) are the corrupters & poisoners of all moral sense & dignity, without which neither individual or people can stand & be men. -- O believe me, Poole! it is all past by with that country, in which it is generally believed that Virtue & Prudence are two words with the same signification -- in which Vice is considered as evil only because it's distant consequences are more painful than it's immediate enjoyments are pleasurable -- and in which the whole human mind is considered as made up of just four ingredients, Impression, Idea, Pleasure and Pain. -- I said, that I doubted the possibility of pointing out a Remedy -- my reason is this -- The Happiness & Misery of a nation must ultimately be traced to the morals & understandings of the People. A nation where the Plough is always in the Hand of the owner, or (better still) where the Plough, the Horse, and the Ox have no existence, may be a great & a happy nation; and may be called so, relatively to others less happy, if it has only a manifest direction & tendency towards this 'best Hope of the World.' Now where there is no possibility of making the number of independent & virtuous men bear any efficient proportion to the number of the Tyrants & the Slaves -- that country is fallen never to rise again! There is no instance in the World in which a Country has ever been regenerated which has had so large a proportion of it's Inhabitants crowded into it's metropolis, as we in G. Britain. -- I confess, that I have but small Hopes of France; tho' the proportion there is not nearly so great. -- So enormous a metropolis imposes on the Governors & ____________________ 1 William Paley ( 1748-1805), Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, 1785. -720- People the necessity of Trade & Commerce -- these become the Idols -- and every thing that is lovely & honest fall[s] in sacrifice to these Demons. -- It is however consoling to me in some small degree to find these opinions of the iniquity of Wealth & Commerce more & more common / especially, among the humbler Quakers in the North, & the more religious Part of the Day Labourers in this County. I assure you, they legislate respecting the Rights & Wrongs of Property with great Boldness & not without a due sense of the enormous Difficulties that would attend the Enthronement of Justice & Truth. -- O merciful Heaven! if it were thy good Will to raise up among us one great good man, only one man of a commanding mind, enthusiastic in the depth of his Soul, calm on the surface -- and devoted to the accomplishment of the last End of human Society by an Oath which no Ear of Flesh ever heard, but only the omnipresent God! -- Even this unhappy nation might behold what few have the courage to dream of, and almost as few the goodness to wish. ----- I trust, that your troubles & commotions are now over. What well grounded Objection can there be to the fixing the Minimum of Wages by some article of a certain real value? If at any time there should be so many Candidates for Labor, that, but for this Law, the Masters could get Labourers at a still cheaper Rate, then the Parishes might be obliged to employ a large number in the cultivation of Lands, &c. O there are ways enough, Poolel to palliate our miseries -- but there is not honesty nor public spirit enough to adopt them. -- Property is the bug bear -- it stupifies the heads & hardens the hearts of our Counsellors & Chief Men! -- They know nothing better than Soup-shops -- or the boldest of them push forward for an abolition of Tythes! -- Honest Men! -- I trust, that these anti-tythe men will be the occasion of a miracle -- they will make even our Priests utter aloud the very Truth. It will be a proud Day for me, when the Gentlemen of landed Property set in good earnest about plundering the Clergy ------ 'When Rogues quarrel,' &c -- the proverb is somewhat musty. -- I have written a long Letter & said nothing of myself. In simple verity, I am disgusted with that subject. For the last ten days I have kept my Bed, exceedingly ill. I feel and am certain, that 'I to the Grave go down.' -- My complaint I can scarcely describe / it is a species of irregular Gout which I have not strength of constitution sufficient to ripen into a fair Paroxysm -- it flies about me in unsightly swellings of my knees, & dismal affections of my stomach & head. What I suffer in mere pain is almost incredible; but that is a trifle compared with the gloom of my Circumstances. -- I feel the transition of the Weather even in my bed -- at present, the Disease -721- has seized the whole Region of my Back, so that I scream mechanically on the least motion. -- If the fine Weather continue, I shall revive -- & look round me -- & before the Fall of the Year make up my mind to the important Question -- Is it better to die or to quit my native Country, & live among Strangers? -- Another Winter in England would do for me. -- Besides, I am rendered useless & wretched -- not that my bodily pain afflicts me -- God forbid! Were I a single man & independent, I should be ashamed to think myself wretched merely because I suffered Pain / that there is no Evil which may not ultimately be reduced into Pain, is no part of my Creed. I would rather be in Hell, deserving Heaven, than be in Heaven, deserving Hell. It is not my bodily Pain -- but the gloom & distresses of those around me for whom I ought to be labouring & cannot. -- Enough of this ----- It is the last time, I shall ever write you in such a [. . . ?] -- you have perplexities enough of your own. -- God love you, & S. T. Coleridge --