417. To Robert Southey MS. Lord Lalymer. Pub. with omis. E. L. G. i. 182. Oct. 21. 1801. -- The day after my Birth day -- 29 years of age! -- Who on earth can say that without a sigh! [De]ar Southey You did not stay long enough with us to love these mountains & this wonderful vale. Yesterday the snow fell -- and to day -- O that you were here -- Lodore full -- [the] mountains snow-crested -- & the -766- dazzling silver of the Lake -- this cloudy, sunny, misty, howling Weather! ---- After your arrival I move southward in the hopes that warm Rooms & deep tranquillity may build me up anew; & that I may be able to return in the Spring without the necessity of going abroad. I propose to go with you & Edith to London -- & thence to Stowey or Wedgewood's, as circumstances direct. -- My knee is no longer swoln, & this frosty weather agrees with me -- but O Friend! I am sadly shattered. The least agitation brings on bowel complaints, & within the last week twice with an ugly symptom -- namely -- of sickness even to vomiting -- & Sara -- alas! we are not suited to each other. But the months of my absence I devote to self -- discipline, & to the attempt to draw her nearer to me by a regular developemetit of all the sources of our unhappiness then for another Trial, fair as I hold the love of good men dear to me -- patient, as I myself love my own dear children. I will go believing that it will end happily -- if not, if our mutual unsuitableness continues, and (as it assuredly will do, if it continue) increases & strengthens, why then, it is better for her & my children, that I should live apart, than that she should be a Widow & they Orphans. Carefully have I thought thro' the subject of marriage & deeply am I convinced of it's indissolubleness. -- If I separate, I do it in the earnest desire to provide for her & [the]m; that while I live, she may enjoy the comforts of life; & that when I die, something may have been accumulated that may secure her from degrading Dependence. When I least love her, then m[ost] do I feel anxiety for her peace, comfort, & welfare. Is s[he] not the mother of my children? And am I the man not to know & feel this? -- Enough of this. But, Southey! much as we differ in our habits, you do indeed possess my esteem & affection in a degree that makes it uncomfortable to me not to tell you what I have told you. I once said -- that I missed no body -- I only enjoyed the present. At that moment my heart misgave me, & had no one been present, I should have said to you -- that you were the only exception -- / for my mind is full of visions, & you had been so long connected with the fairest of all fair dreams, that I feel your absence more than I enjoy your society: thol that I do not enjoy your society so much, as I anticipated that I should do, is wholly or almost wholly owing to the nature of my domestic feelings, & the fear, or the consciousness, that you did not & could not sympathize with him [them]. -- Now my heart is a little easy. -- God bless youl ---- Dear Davy! -- If I have not overrated his intellectual Powers, I have little fear for his moral character. Metaphysicians! Do, Southey, keep to your own most excellent word (for the invention of which you deserve a pension far more than Johnson for his Dictionary) & -767- always say -- Metapothecaries. There does not exist an instance of a deep metaphysician who was not led by his speculations to an austere system of morals --. What can be more austere than the Ethics of Aristotle -- than the systems of Zeno, St Paul, Spinoza (in the Ethical Books of his Ethics), Hartley, Kant, and Fichte? -- As to Hume, was he not -- ubi non fur, ibi stultus -- & often thief & blockhead at the same time? It is not thinking that will disturb a man's morals, or confound the distinctions, which to think makes. But it is talking -- talking -- talking -- that is the curse & the poison. I defy Davy to think half of what he talks: if indeed he talk what has been attributed to him. But I must see with my own eyes, & hear with my own ears. Till then I will be to Davy, what Max was to Wallenstein. Yet I do agree with you that chemistry tends in it's present state to turn it's Priests into Sacrifices. One way, in which it does it -- this however is an opinion, that would make Rickman laugh 1 at me if you told it him -- is this -- it prevents or tends to prevent a young man from falling in love. We all have obscure feelings that must be connected with some thing or other -- the Miser with a guinea Lord Nelson with a blue Ribbon -- Wordsworth's old Molly with her washing Tub -- Wordsworth with the Hills, Lakes, & Trees -- / all men are poets in their way, tho' for the most part their ways are damned bad ones. Now Chemistry makes a young man associate these feelings with inanimate objects -- & that without any moral revulsion, but on the contrary with complete self-approbation and his distant views of Benevolence, or his sense of immediate beneficence, attach themselves either to Man as the whole human Race, or to Man, as a sick man, as a painter, as a manufacturer, &c -- and in no way to man, as a Husband, Son, Brother, Daughter, Wife, Friend, &c &c --. That to be in love is simply to confine the feelings prospective of animal enjoyment to one woman is a gross mistake -- it is to associate a large proportion of all our obscure feelings with a real form -- A miser is in love with a guinea, & a virtuous young man with a woman, in the same sense, without figure or metaphor. A young poet may do without being in love with a woman -- it is enough, if he loves -- but to a young chemist it would be salvation to be downright romantically in Love -- and unfortunately so far from the Poison & antidote growing together, they are like the Wheat & Barberry. -- You are not the first person who has sought in vain for Mole & ____________________ 1 John Rickman ( 1771-1840), statistician, was at this time secretary to Charles Abbot, Chief Secretary for Ireland. In 1802, when Abbot became Speaker in the House of Commons, Rickman remained his secretary. In 1814 he was appointed Second Clerk Assistant at the Table of the House of Commons. -768- Mulla. 1 -- I shall end this Letter with a prayer for your speedy arrival, & a couple of Sapphic Verses translated in my way from Stolberg -- You may take your Oath for it, it was no admiration of the Thought, or the Poetry that made me translate them -- To the Will o/ the Wisps 2 -- But now I think of it -- no -- I will pursue my first thought ---- Lunatic Witch-fires! Ghosts of Light & Motion! Fearless I see you weave your wanton Dances Near me, far off me, You that tempt the Trav'ller Onward & onward, Wooing, retreating, till the Swamp beneath him Groans! -- And 'tis dark! -- This Woman's Wile -- I know it! Learnt it from thee, from thy perfidious Glances, Black-ey'd Rebecca! -- It is more poetical than the original, of which this is a literal Translation -- Still play, juggling Deceiverl still play thy wanton Dances, Fugitive child of Vapor, that fervently temptest onward the Wanderer's feet, then coyly fleest, at length beguilest into Ruin. These maiden Wiles -- I know them -- learnt them all out of thy blue eyes, fickle Nais. Heaven bless you -- . -- S. T. Coleridge