401. To Humphry Davy Address: Mr Davy | Royal Institution | Albermarle Street | LondonSingle MS. Royal Institution. Pub. with omis. Frag. Remains, 90. Postmark: 24 May 1801. Stamped: Keswick. Greta Hall, Keswick. May 20, 1801 My dear Davy I rested my whole weight on my crutch, & laughed so that I could scarce hold myself on the crutch, at the question, you put to me, in Underwood's 1 name. -- I suppose, that when I had begun to laugh, from my exceeding weakness I continued it nolens volens. -- But wherein the laughable of the Question consists, it may be difficult to shew. -- In the first place, I was excessively tickled by the sentence 'to love a woman called Haysor Taylor'. I did not (& do not) know how to understand these words -- whether Underwood loves a woman whose name he had mentioned to you, but you had forgotten whether the name, he mentioned, was Hayesor Taylor -- or whether the woman was really Hayesalias Taylor -- i.e. had sometimes' assumed one name, & sometimes another. On the first supposition, as no two Combinations of letters can well be more widely different from each other than Hayes & Taylor, it left me in no small scepticism as to the degree of attention, with which you had vitalized your auditory nerves at the moment that the little man had named his Amata to you; and of course, it became a possible case that neither Hayes nor Taylor ____________________ 1 T. R. Underwood, the artist. He was Tom Wedgwood's travelling companion to France and Switzerland in 1808. Coleridge sometimes referred to him as Subligno. -733- might be the Lady's name, but Saunderson, or Courtney, or any other. On the other supposition, it tickled me no little that a man should be in love before he had received a conviction even of the Woman's good character; but most of all at an inquiry into the character & honor of 'a woman named Hayesalias Taylor.' -Now Hayesalias Taylor may perhaps have had some other name, at the time I knew her -- / for certes No Lady of either of these names do I recollect (except Miss Mary Hayes, of literary note, whom I once saw for half an hour.) -- I went first thro' all the virtuous Women, I had ever known, as far as my Memory would assist -- but it was all Blank. Then (& verily I, a Husband & a Father, & for the last seven years of my Life a very Christian Liver, felt oddly while I did it) then, I say, I went as far as memory served, thro' all the loose women I had known, from my 19th to my 22nd year, that being the period that comprizes my Unchastities; but as names are not the most recollectible of our Ideas, & the name of a loose Woman not that one of her adjuncts, to which you pay the most attention, I could here recollect no name at all -- no, nor even a face nor feature. I remembered my vices, & the times thereof, but not their objects. ----- Bye the bye has not Underwood a wife & child? -- And of what nature is this Love? -- But I am not Underwood's confessor; & his creed & mine agree probably in very few articles. But it would give me great pleasure to save him from mischief, because there is much about the little man which I much like, tho' there is likewise more than a little which I could wish the Alchemist, Thought, to transmute. Therefore, when you see him, tell him from me that either from the confusion of my memory or of yours I am left ignorant, who it is, whom he means; but if he will bring back my former Self to me by a few Ubi Quando Circumstances -- where I knew her, & when -&c &c, I will then communicate all I know with great pleasure. Ask him what he thinks of a Trip to the Azores with me -- on a landskip scheme? It is a world of great & peculiar landskipbeauties; & I give it as my solemn advice, that the Oreads & the Dryads are the very best Ladies in the World for him to form a long amatory connection with: -- amatory, I say, as contradistinguished both from the conjugal and the amicitial connections. Tho' we of the North must forego you, my dear Davy, yet I shall rejoice when I receive a letter from you from Cornwall. I must believe, that you have made some important discoveries in Galvanism, and connected the facts with other more interesting ones -- or I should be puzzled to conceive how that subject could furnish matter for more than one Lecture. If I recollect aright, you have identified it with Electricity -- & that indeed is a wide field. -734- I shall dismiss my British Critic, & take in Nichol[son's] Journal -& then I shall know something about you. 1 I am sometimes apprehensive, that my passion for science is scarcely true & genuine -- it is but Davyism! that is, I fear that I am more delighted at your having discovered a Fact, than at the Fact's having been discovered. My health is better -- I am indeed eager to believe, that I am really beginning to recover -- tho' I have had so many short recoveries followed by severe Relapses, that I am at times almost afraid to hope. But chearful thoughts come with genial sensations; & Hope is itself no mean Medicine. I am anxious respecting Robert Southey! Why is he not in England? -- Remember me kindly to Tobin. As soon as I have any thing to communicate, I will write to him. But alas! Sickness turns large districts of Time into dreary uniformity & sandy Desolation. ----- Alas for Egypt! -- & Menou! 2 -- However, I trust the English will keep it if they take it -- & something still will be gained to the cause of human Nature. -- Heaven bless you! S. T. Coleridge