484. To Thomas Wedgwood Address: T. Wedgewood Esqre | C. Luff's Esqre | Glenridden | Ulswater -MS. Wedgwood Museum. Pub. with omis. Tom Wedgwood, 132. Friday Night, Jan. 14. 1803 Dear Friend I was glad at heart to receive your Letter (which came to me on Thursday morning, I do not know how) and still more gladdened by the reading of it. The exceeding kindness, which it breathed, was literally medicinal to me; & I firmly believe, cured me of a nervous rheumatism in my head & teeth. -- I daresay, that you mixed up the scolding & the affection, the acid & the oil, very -915- compleatly at Patterdale; but by the time, it came to Keswick, the oil was all atop. -- You ask, in God's name, why I did not return when I saw the state of the weather? The true reason is simple, tho' it may be somewhat strange -- the thought never once entered my head. The cause of this I suppose to be, that (I do not remember it at least) I never once in my whole life turned back in fear of the weather. Prudence is a plant, of which I, no doubt, possess some valuable specimens -- but they are always in my hot-house, never out of the glasses -- & least of all things would endure the climate of the mountains. In simple earnest, I never find myself alone within the embracement of rocks & hills, a traveller up an alpine road, but my spirit courses, drives, and eddies, like a Leaf in Autumn: a wild activity, of thoughts, imaginations, feelings, and impulses of motion, rises up from within me -- a sort of bottom-wind, that blows to no point of the compass, & comes from I know not whence, but agitates the whole of me; my whole Being is filled with waves, as it were, that roll & stumble, one this way, & one that way, like things that have no common master. I think, that my soul must have pre-existed in the body of a Chamois-chaser; the simple image of the old object has been obliterated -- but the feelings, & impulsive habits, & incipient actions, are in me, & the old scenery awakens them. The farther I ascend from animated Nature, from men, and cattle, & the common birds of the woods, & fields, the greater becomes in me the Intensity of the feeling of Life; Life seems to me then a universal spirit, that neither has, nor can have, an opposite. God is every where, I have exclaimed, & works every where; & where is there room for Death? In these moments it has been my creed, that Death exists only because Ideas exist / that Life is limitless Sensation; that Death is a child of the organic senses, chiefly of the Sight; that Feelings die by flowing into the mould of the Intellect, & becoming Ideas; & that Ideas passing forth into action re-instate themselves again in the world of Life. And I do believe, that Truth lies inveloped in these loose generalizations. -- I do not think it possible, that any bodily pains could eat out the love & joy, that is so substantially part of me, towards hills, & rocks, & steep waters! And I have had some Trial. On Monday Night I had an attack in my stomach, & right side, which in pain,& the length of it's continuance appeared to me by the far the severest, I ever had -- I was under the necessity of having a person set up with me till 3 in the morning / tho' about one o/clock the pain passed out of my stomach, like Lightning from a cloud, into the extremities of my right foot -- my Toe swelled & throbbed -- & I was in a state of delicious ease, which the pain in my Toe did not seem at all to interfere with. On Tuesday I was uncommonly -916- well all the morning, & eat an excellent dinner; but playing too long & too rompingly with Hartley & Derwent I was very unwell that evening-- on Wednesday I was well-- & after dinner wrapt myself up warm, & walked with Sara Hutchinson to Lodore-- I never ld any thing more impressive than the wild outline of the black masses of mountain, over Lodore & so on to the Gorge of Borrodale seen thro' the bare Twigs of a grove of Birch Trees, thro' which the road passes -- and on emerging from the Grove, a red planet, (so very red that I never saw a star so red, being clear & bright at the same time) stood on the edge of the point where I have put an Asterisk / it seemed to have sky behind it -- it started, as it were, from the Heaven, like an eye-ball of Fire. I wished aloud for you to have been with me at that moment. The walk appeared to have done me good; but I had a wretched Night -- had shocking pains in my head, occiput, & teeth -- & found in the morning that I had two blood-shot eyes. But almost immediately after the receipt & perusal of your Letter the pain left me, & I have bettered to this hour -- & am now indeed as well as usual, saving that my left eye is still very much blood-shot. It is a sort of duty with me to be particular respecting facts that relate to my health / I am myself not at all dispirited. I have retained a good sound appetite thro' the whole of it-- without any craving after exhilarants or narcotics -- & I have got well, as in a moment. Rapid recovery is constitutional with me; but the two former circumstances I can with certainty refer to the system of Diet, abstinence from vegetables, wine, spirits, & beer, which I have adopted by your advice. I have no dread or anxiety respecting any fatigue which either of us are at all likely to undergo even in continental Travelling. Many a healthy man would have been layed up with such a Bout of thorough Wet & intense Cold at the same time, as I had on Kirkstone. Would to God that also for your sake I were a stronger man; but I have strong wishes to be with you, & love your society; & receiving much comfort from you, & believing that I receive likewise much improvement, I find a delight (very great, my dear friend! indeed it is) when I have reason to imagine that I am in return an alleviation of your destinies, & a comfort to you. I have no fears: & am ready to leave home at a two days' warning -- / for myself I should say 2 hours; but bustle & hurry might disorder Mrs Coleridge. She & the three children are quite well. -- I grieve, that there is a lowring in politics --. The Moniteur contains almost daily some bitter abuse on our ministers & -917- parliament -- & in London there is great anxiety & omening. I have dreaded war from the time, that the disastrous fortunes of the Expedition to St Domingo under Le Clerc was known in France. 1 -- I have sent some Ginger -- & have tried to cater some thing for you at Keswick -- but could not succeed -- I could get neither Fish nor Hare. My kind remembrances to Mr & Mrs Luff. I have sent my three Razors, which I beg, Luff will regenerate for me upon the Golding -- & I will give him a Draft to any amount on the first Banking House, he will point out to me, on any part of Parnassus. -- The newspapers have been sent, while I was in bed, to Grasmere -- I will send a whole parcel of them to Penrith on Monday Night -- & if I can send any thing else, you will write me word by the man / at all events, write me one or two lines-as few, as you like -- only just how you are. -- Pray, is the Lake opposite to Glenridden frozen over? -- I am afraid, that in a few days there will be a great Fall of Snow. -- At the end of 5 days we shall have two beds vacant, for you -- & for Mr & Mrs Luff -- if it would be any change to you to come over to Keswick --. -- Heaven bless us all! -- I remain, | my dear Wedgewood | with most affectionate esteem & | grateful attachment | your sincere Friend S. T. Coleridge