449. To Robert Southey Address: R. Southey Esq. | St James's Place | King's Down | BristolSingle Sheet MS. Lord Latymer, Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 384. Postmark: 81 July 1802. Stamped: Keswick. July 29, 1802. Greta Hall, Keswick My dear Southey Nothing has given me half the pleasure these many many Months as last week did Edith's Heralding to us of a minor Robert: for that it will be a boy, one always takes for granted. From the bottom of my heart, I say it, I never knew a man that better deserved to be a Father by right of virtues that eminently belonged to him, than yourself /; but besides this, I have cheering hopes that Edith will be born again -- & be a healthy woman. -- When I said, nothing had given me half the pleasure, I spoke truly, and yet said more than you are perhaps aware of -- for by Lord Lonsdale's Death there are excellent Reasons for believing, that the Wordsworths will gain 5000£ / the share of which (and no doubt Dorothy will have more than a mere share) will render William Wordsworth & his Sister quite independent. They are now in Yorkshire -- & he returns in about a month, one of us. -- A part of your today's Letter shocked me exceedingly -- it is the first Breath that I have heard respecting it -- I mean, Wade's Failure / for so, I suppose, I am to understand it -- and it is heavy to me in a double -828- way, for William Read's Loss. Wade ever behaved to me with steady & uniform affection / his Distresses or Misfortunes would afflict me severely -- & at are these compared with immoral conduct? I trust & have full faith, that he is more sinned against than sinning. Estlin's Sermons, I fear, are mere moral Discourses. If so, there is but small chance of their Sale. But if he had published a volume of sermons, of the same kind with those which he has published singly. -- i.e. apologetical & ecelesiastico-historical, I am almost confident, they would have a respectable circulation. Single Sermons to publish is almost always a foolish thing -- like single sheet quarto poems -- / Estlin's sermon on the Sabbath really surprized me / it was well-written, in style I mean / and the reasoning throughout is not only sound, but has a cast of novelty in it -- a superior Sermon altogether it appeared to me ---- I am myself a little theological -- and if any Bookseller will take the risque, I shall in a few weeks, possibly, send to the Press a small Volume under the Title of 'Letters to the British Critic concerning Grenville Sharp's Remarks on the uses of the Definitive article in the Greek Text of the new Testament, & the Revd C. Wordsworth's Six Letters to G. Sharp Esq. in confirmation of the same / together with a Review of the Controversy between Horsley & Priestly respecting the faith of the Primitive Christians.' -- This is no mere Dream, like my Hymns to the Elements / for I have written more than half the work / -- I purpose afterwards to publish a Book -Concerning Tythes & Church Establishment -- for I conceit, that I can throw great Light on the Subject / You are not apt to be much surprized at any change in my mind, active as it is -- but it will perhaps please you to know, that I am become very fond of History -- and that I have read much with very great attention. / -I exceedingly like the Job of Amadis de Gaul 1 -- I wish, you may half as well like the Job, in which I shall very shortly appear. Of it's sale I have no doubt; but of it's prudence? -- There's the Rub. -- Concerning Poetry, & the characteristic Merits of the Poets, our Contemporaries -- one Volume Essays, the second Selections / the Essays are on Bloomfield, Burns, Bowles, Cowper, Campbell, Darwin, Hayley, 2 Rogers, C. Smith, Southey, Woolcot, 3 Wordsworth -the Selections from every one, who has written at all, any way above the rank of mere Scribblers -- Pye & his Dative Case Plural, Pybus, 4 Cottle &c &c 5 -- The object is not to examine what is good ____________________ 1 Southey Amadis of Gaut, 1808. 2 William Hayley ( 1745- 1820), author of The Triumph of Temper, 1781. 3 John Wolcot ( Peter Pindar) ( 1738-1819), poet and satirist. 4 H. J. Pye ( 1745- 1813), poet laureate, and C. S. Pybus, author of The Sovereign. Addressed to Paul, Emperor of All the Russias, 1800. 5 Concerning these projected works, Southey wrote in reply: 'You spawn -829- in each writer, but what has ipso facto pleased, & to what faculties or passions or habits of the mind they may be supposed to have given pleasure / Of course, Darwin & Wordsworth having given each a defence of their mode of Poetry, & a disquisition on the nature & essence of Poetry in general, I shall necessarily be led rather deeper -- and these I shall treat of either first or last / But I will apprize you of one thing, that altho' Wordsworth's Preface is half a child of my own Brain / & so arose out of Conversations, so frequent, that with few exceptions we could scarcely either of us perhaps positively say, which first started any particular Thought -- I am speaking of the Preface as it stood in the second Volume [edition?] -- yet I am far from going all lengths with Wordsworth / He has written lately a number of Poems (82 in all) some of them of considerable Length / (the longest 160 Lines) the greater number of these to my feelings very excellent Compositions / but here & there a daring Humbleness of Language & Versification, and a strict adherence to matter of fact, even to prolixity, that startled me / his alterations likewise in Ruth perplexed me / and I have thought & thought again / & have not had my doubts solved by Wordsworth / On the contrary, I rather suspect that some where or other there is a radical Difference in our theoretical opinions respecting Poetry -- / this I shall endeavor to go to the Bottom of -- and acting the arbitrator between the old School & the New School hope to lay down some plain, & perspicuous, tho' not superficial, Canons of Criticism respecting Poetry. -- What an admirable Definition Milton gives quite in an obiter way -- when he says of Poetry -- that it is 'simple, sensuous, passionate.'! -- It truly comprizes the whole, that can be said on the subject. In the new Edition of the L. Ballads there is a valuable appendix, which I am sure you must like / & in the Preface itself considerable additions, one on the Dignity & nature of the office & character of a Poet, that is very grand, & of a sort of Verulamian Power & Majesty -- but it is, in parts, (and this is the fault, me judice, of all the latter half of that Preface) obscure beyond any necessity -- & the extreme elaboration & almost constrainedness of the Diction contrasted (to my feelings) somewhat harshly with the general style of the Poems, to which the Preface is an Introduction. Sara (why, dear Southey! will you write it always, Sarah? -- Sara, methinks, is associated with times that you & I cannot & do not wish ever to forget) Sara said with some acuteness, that she wished all that Part of the Preface to have been in Blank Verse -- & vice versa &c -- However, I need not say, that any diversity of opinion ____________________ plans like a herring; I only wish as many of the seed were to vivify in proportion.' Life and Cortes. ii. 190. -830- on the subject between you & myself, or Wordsworth and myself, can only be small, taken in a practical point of view. / I rejoice that your History marches on so victoriously. 1 It is a noble Subject, and I have the fullest confidence of your success in it -- The influence of the Catholic Religion -- the influence of national Glory on the individual morals of a people -- especial[l]y in the Downfall of the Nobility of Portugal -- the strange fact (which seems to be admitted as with one voice by all Travellers) of the vileness of the Portuguese Nobles compared with the Spanish -- and of the superiority of the Portuguese Commonalty to the same Class in Spain / the effects of Colonization on a small & not very fruitful Country / the effects, important & too often forgotten effects, of absolute accidents, such as the particular Character of a race of Princes, on a nation -- O what aweful subjects these are! -I long to hear you read a few Chapters to me -- But I conjure you, do not let Madoc go to Sleep. O that without words I could cause you to know all that I think, all that I feel, all that I hope, respecting that Poem! As to myself, all my poetic Genius, if ever I really possessed any Genius, & it was not rather a mere general aptitude of Talent, & quickness in Imitation / is gone -- and I have been fool enough to suffer deeply in my mind, regretting the loss -which I attribute to my long & exceedingly severe Metaphysical Investigations -- & these partly to Ill-health, and partly to private afflictions which rendered any subject, immediately connected with Feeling, a source of pain & disquiet to me / There was a Time when, tho' my Path was rough, I had a heart that dallied with distress; And all Misfortunes were but as the Stuff, Whence Fancy made me dreams of Happiness: For Hope grew round me, like the climbing Vine, And Fruits and Foliage, not my own, seem'd mine! But now Afflictions bow me down to Earth -Nor car'd I, that they robb'd me of my Mirth / But oh! each Visitation Suspends what Nature gave me at my Birth, My shaping Spirit of Imagination! (Here follow a dozen Lines that would give you no pleasure & then what follows --) For not to think of what I needs must feel; But to be still and patient all, I can -And haply by abstruse Research to steal ____________________ 1 Southey did not complete his projected history of Portugal. -831- From my own Nature all the natural Man! / This was my sole Resource, my wisest Plant And that which suits a part, infects the Whole And now is almost grown the Temper of my Soul. -- Having written these Lines, I rejoice for you as well as for myself, that I am able to inform you, that now for a long time there has been more Love & Concord in my House, than I have known for years before. I had made up my mind to a very aweful Step -- tho' the struggles of my mind were so violent, that my sleep became the valley of the Shadows of Death / & my health was in a state truly alarming. It did alarm Mrs Coleridge -- the thought of separation wounded her Pride -- she was fully persuaded, that deprived of the Society of my children & living abroad without any friends, I should pine away -- & the fears of widowhood came upon her -And tho' these feelings were wholly selfish, yet they made her serious-- and that was a great point gained -- for Mrs Coleridge's mind has very little that is bad in it -- it is an innocent mind--; but it is light, and unimpressible, warm in anger, cold in sympathy -- and in all disputes uniformly projects itself forth to recriminate, instead of turning itself inward with a silent Self-questioning. Our virtues & our vices are exact antitheses -- I so attentively watch my own Nature, that my worst Self-delusion is, a compleat Selfknowlege, so mixed with intellectual complacency, that my q[uick]ness to see & readiness to acknowlege my faults is too often frustrated by the small pain, which the sight of them give[s] me, & the consequent slowness to amend them. Mrs C. is so stung by the very first thought of being in the wrong that she never amends because she never endures to look at her own mind at all, in it's faulty parts -- but shelters herself from painful Self-enquiry by angry Recrimination. Never, I suppose, did the stern Match-maker bring together two minds so utterly contrariant in their primary and organical constitution. Alas! I have suffered more, I think, from the amiable propensities of my nature than from my worst faults & most erroneous Habits -- and I have suffered much from both -- But as I said -- Mrs Coleridge was made serious-- and for the first time since our marriage she felt and acted, as beseemed a Wife & a Mother to a Husband, & the Father of her children -- She promised to set about an alteration in her external manners & looks & language, & to fight against her inveterate habits of puny Thwarting & unintermitting Dyspathy -- this immediately -- and to do her best endeavors to cherish other feelings. I on my part promised to be more attentive to all her feelings of Pride, &c &c and to try to correct my habits of impetuous & bitter censure --. We -832- have both kept our Promise -- & she has found herself so much more happy, than she had been for years before, that I have the most confident Hopes, that this happy Revolution in our domestic affairs will be permanent, & that this external Conformity will gradually generate a greater inward Likeness of thoughts, & attachments, than has hitherto existed between us. Believe me, if you were here, it would give you a deep delight to observe the difference of our minutely conduct towards each other, from that which, I fear, could not but have disturbed your comforts, when you were here last. Enough. But I am sure, you have not felt it tedious -- So Corry & you are off? I suspected it; but Edith never mentioned an iota of the Business to her Sister. -- It is well. It was not your Destiny. Where ever you are, God bless you! -- My health is weak enough; but it is so far amended that it is far less dependent on the influences of weather. The mountains are better friends in this respect. -- Would that I could flatter myself, that the same would be the case with you. The only objecti[on] on my part is now, God be praised! done away -- the services, & benefits, I should receive from your society & the spur of your example, would be incalculable. The house consists, the first Floor, or rather ground Floor, of a Kitchen, & a Back Kitchen, a large Parlour, & two nice small Parlours -- the second Floor, of three Bed rooms, one a large one, & one large Drawing Room / the third Floor or Floors, of three Bed rooms -- in all of 12 Rooms -- besides these, Mr Jackson offers to make that nice Out-house, a Workshop, either two Rooms, or one noble Large one, for a Study -- if I wish it. -- If it suited you, you might have one Kitchen or (if Edith & Sara thought it would answer) we might have the two Kitchens in common / -- You might have, I say, the whole Ground Floor, consisting of two sweet Wingrooms, commanding that loveliest view of Borrodale, & the great Parlour / and supposing we each were forc'd to have two servants, a nurse-maid & a housemaid -- the two house-maids would sleep together in one of the upper Rooms and the Nursemaids have each a room to herself -- One of the Wing Rooms on the Ground Floor must be your & Edith's Room / and if Mary be with you, the other hers -- / We should have the whole second Floor -- consisting of the Drawing Room, which would be Mrs Coleridge's Parlour, two Bedrooms, which (as I am so often ill, & when ill cannot rest at all, unless I have a bed to myself) is absolutely necessary for me / & one room, for you, if occasion should be / or any friend of your's or mine. -- The highest Room in the house is a very large one, intended for two; but suffered to remain one by my Desire. It would be [a] capital, healthy Nursery. -- The outhouse would be- -833- come my Study -- and I have a Couch-Bed, on which I am now sitting (in bed) & writing to you -- it is now in the Study -- of course, would be removed to the Outhouse, when that became my Study -and would be a second Spare-bed. -- I have no doubt, but that Mr Jackson would willingly let us retain my present Study -- which might be your Library & Study Room. -- My dear Southey -- I merely state these Things to you. All our Lot on earth is Compromise -- Blessings obtained by Blessings foregone, or by Evils undergone. I should be glad, no doubt, if you thought that your Health & Happiness would find a home under the same Roof with me; and I am sure, you will not accuse me as indelicate or obtrusive in mentioning things as they are / but if you decline it altogether, I shall know that you have good reasons for so doing -- & be perfectly satisfied -- for if it detracted from your comfort, it could of course be nothing but the contrary of all advantage to me. You would have access to 4 or 5 Libraries -- Sir W. Lawson's, a most magnificent one but chiefly in Natural History, Travels -- &c -Carlton House (I am a PRODIGIOUS Favorite of Mrs Wallis, the Owner & Resident, mother of the Privy Counsellor Wallis), Carlisle Dean & Chapter, the Library at Hawkshead School, & another (of what value, I know not) at St Bees -- whither I mean to walk tomorrow, & spend 5 or 6 days, for Bathing -- it is four miles from Whitehaven by the Sea side. -- Mrs Coleridge is but poorly -- children well. Love to Edith & Mary-- & to all, in whom I am at all interested. God love you --. If you let me hear from you, it is among My FIRMEST RESOLVES, god ha' mercy on 'em! to be a regular Correspondent of your's -- S. T. Coleridge P.S. Mrs C. must have one room on the ground floor -- but this is only putting one of your rooms on the second Floor ----