395. To John Thelwall Address: Mr Thelwall | Hereford single MS. Pierpont Morgan Lib. Hitherto unpublished. Postmark: 26 April 1801. Stamped: Keswick. April 23, 1801 Dear Thelwall I wish you all joy & comfort on the Safety of your Wife -& congratulate you both for the Mother and the Child. -- I should conjecture that you have written me some letter which must have miscarried, from the enigmatic style of some parts of that which I received yesterday; but that it is more probable that in the bustle & liveliness of your imagination you may have supposed that you had written what you had meant to write. -- I allude to 'the secret expedition' which you talk of; the word 'secret' is a word, I detest -- & I know of no expeditions but those to Holland, Ferrol, & Egypt. -- And what connection your 'Lady of the Lake' has with this Expedition; in other words, the meaning of the phrase The Lady of the Lake, therefore, quite eludes my powers of decyphering, which are in truth sufficiently blunt. -- I never likewise received a hint of your intention to translate the French Georgics -- I suppose, you meant -- his Country Gentleman, or Homme des Champs -- or his Poems on Gardens --. / It is true, he has translated Virgil's Georgics -- but you cannot have intended to translate a translation. 1 -- ____________________ 1 Jacques Delille, the French translator of Virgil, published L'Homme des Champs, ou Les Géorgiques Françaises, in 1800. -722- You say 'I should like to know your opinion on my mode of publication & my advertisement:' -- and certes, if I believed, it was not too late, and I at all capable of influencing your conduct, I should think it my duty to give it freely. As it is, I see no use in it -- especially in a letter, in which it is at all times difficult to make your full meaning understood, & very easy to occasion yourself to be misunderstood. -- Besides, we are so utterly unlike each other in our habits of thinking, and we have adopted such irreconcileably different opinions in Politics, Religion, & Metaphysics, (& probably in Taste too) that, I fear -- I fear -- I do not know how to express myself ----- but such, I fear, is the chasm between us, that so far from being able to shake hands across it, we cannot even make our Words intelligible to each other. -- Moral Esteem, frequent & kind wishes, & a lively Interest in your Welfare as a good Man & man of Talents make up in my mind for the too great want of similitude in our intellectual Habits & modes of Faith; (and, I presume, the same holds good in your feelings towards me) but this utter dissimilitude must needs render us fitter to do any other good service for each other, than to offer advice. -- I shall briefly say therefore, that I am exceedingly glad, you have published by Subscription -- first, because you have a right to do so, & secondly, I suspect, that in a very very short time the London Booksellers will be marvellously shy of EPIC Poems. -- The Lady of the Lake is rather an unlucky title; as since the time of Don Quixote the phrase has become a cant word in almost all European Languages for a Woman of Pleasure / A dramatic Legend is likewise not a happy combination. The Etyma of the words 'dramatic' & [']legend' directly contradict each other -- tho' not so absurd as the phrase 'speaking Pantomime' it is too much of the same class. -- Paternal Tears instead of Poems on that particular subject is a quaint &, at the same time, trite conceit. To call a poem a Tear is quite Italian -- Milton was young enough to be your Son when he used the phrase 'melodious Tear.' -- But these are trifles -- I am more concerned at your publication of two Books of your Epic Poem. First of all, you mean to publish the whole -- & then your Subscribers are to buy these two Books over again / but waiving this, it will appear a childish impatience if you have not finished the Poem; for then it is to be presumed that these books must be to a certain degree unfinished, at all events, not adjusted so as to be an harmonious part of the Whole. -- At least no Poet has a right to be certain, that any Book of a Poem will remain what it is, until he has written the whole. 1 -- But if you have written the whole, ____________________ 1 ThelwallPoems chiefly written in Retirement. The Fairy of the Lake, a Dramatic Romance; Effusions of Relative and Social Feeling: and Specimens ofthe Hope of Albion; -723- I should have advised you to have published it alone by Subscription. -- The Hope of Albion is a very vague title -- & would apply to a thousand Subjects. -- You say no part of the contents of this Volume are to be political? -- How is this possible if you give your Memoirs? ----- My health is very, very bad -- this day I have risen from my bed after another long confinement of fourteen Days / indeed, I feel & know, that (at all events, if I stay in this climate) I am going down to the Grave -- an event which neither [alarms nor depresses] me. -[If I d]ie, and I do not expect to live many years, my Brothers will, I have reason to believe, protect my Wife & children -- and from this Cause I am sure I need not request you not to mention my name in your memoirs 1 --. -- I say this, not thinking it at all probable that you would do so; but because the thing may be of some importance to my poor Wife & children. Your's &c S. T. Coleridge.