463. To William Sotheby Address: W. Sotheby Esq. | Lodge | Loughton | Essex Single Sheet MS. Colonel H. G. Sotheby. Pub. E. L. G. i. 212. This letter is written on the fourth page of a foolscap sheet containing Coleridge's critical notes on Sotheby Orestes, 1802. These notes are too detailed for inclusion here, but two examples may be cited. Concerning the lines, 'Be but Orestes safe, and life new-born/ Will glow in every vein', Coleridge has this to say: '-- glow.? -- Pope played the devil with that word, wearing it to rags & tatters; & I never will use it except in it's original sense -- the visible vibratory motion in red hot Iron.' Having carried his comments through the first three acts of Orestes, Coleridge gave up further criticism with the following comment: 'Men almost always write most correctly when they write most passionately. It is a common opinion, but I will ever assert, that [it] is a compleat vulgar error that cold writers are the correct writers. Passion is the common Parent both of Harmony [and of correctness] / -- Now whether it be that the latter part of the Tragedy (rolling shoreward in larger billows of Passion) is indeed faultless in language, or that tho' I have read it over three times, I am still incapable of reading it with sufficient calmness to detect any minute faults -- I know not. The effect is certain -- I cannot find the dot of an I amiss in it. --' Postmark: 6 October 1802. Stamped: Keswick. Friday, Oct. [1, 18]02. Keswick My dear Sir I had written about half of a letter to you on the Orestes, as a Poem, & a Tragedy -- on it's excellencies & Beauties, and on it's defects -- when some necessary business, joined with ill-health, came & stopped me. Eam reverentiam cum Literis ipsis, tum scriptis tuis, debeo, ut sumere in manus illa, nisi vacuo animo, irreligiosum putem. -- But I shall have a day's Leisure in the beginning of next week / & believe me, I have no pleasanter employment to anticipate. In the mean time, I find lying before me a sheet of minutiae minutissimae, which I send you, halfashamed. After I had looked at the building with something of the eye of an architect, to turn myself into a fly, & creep over it with animalcular feet, & peer microscopically at the sand-grit of it's component Stones / this may give you no great idea of my Taste, but I am persuaded, it will please you as proof of the zeal, with which I read, while I read. ----- I have prefixed to the Sheet a significant? I mean to imply, that all below are mere Queries -- & -873- that if any word or sentence have a dogmatic tone, this was merely a mode of conveying the whole idea in my mind fully & broadly; & was absolutely unaccompanied by any feeling of dogmatism. How deeply I admire the Tragedy, & how sincerely / -- I flatter myself, I shall prove to you by proving that I understand it. It is matter of regret with me, that my Greek Tragedies are not yet come from London / but some future time I will write you yet another Letter (unconscionable Scribe that I am) giving a comparative analysis &c. -- Wordsworth will be married, Deo volente, on next Monday, Oct. 4. -- & purposes to be at his own Cottage at Grasmere on Wednesday, Oct. 6. -- He has every reason for a confident Hope, that Lord Lowther will pay the Debt. -- I am so extremely busy in the Morning Post at present, & shall continue so, for the ensuing fortnight, that I shall scarcely have time to look over & transcribe the First Navigator, till the 14th of this month / I would therefore fix the 20th (which is my 30th Birthday) for the time of sending it off to you / but yet if Mr Tomkyns really want it before, I will make time. My next letter will be dated two days earlier than this / for it will not be worth while to transcribe it -- I have had a very serious attack of low Fever -- & stopped it compleatly by the use of the muriatic acid -- which has however deranged my bowels, & both the Disease & the Remedy have left me very weak -S. T. Coleridge My most respectful remembrances to Mrs & Miss & Captn Sotheby. --