485. To Samuel Purkis Address: Samuel Purkis Esqre | Brentford | Middlesex MS. Huntington Lib. Pub. E. L. G. i. 244. Postmark: 2 February 1803. Southey's, St James's Parade, Kingsdown, Bristol. Feb. 1. 1803 My dear Purkis For the last 5 months of my Life I seem to have annihilated the present Tense with regard to place -- you can never say, where is he? -- but only -- where was he? where will he be? -- From Keswick -- to London -- Bristol -- Pembroke -- Birmingham -- Manchester / Keswick -- Etruria -- Bristol -- & in a few days to Blandford -probably, Stowey, Exeter -- possibly, the Land's End. I am with ____________________ 1 In Dec. 1801 General Leclerc, Napoleon's brother-in-law, left France for Hispaniola at the head of a large expedition to conquer the island. Leclerc died of yellow fever in Nov. 1802 and was succeeded by General Rochambeau. His troops decimated by sickness and the ferocious resistance of the Negroes, Rochambeau capitulated to Dessalines in Nov. 1803. Thus France lost for ever the rich colony of Saint-Domingue. See Henry Christophe and Thomas Clarkson, ed. by E. L. Griggs and C. H. Prator, 1952, pp. 21-82. -918- Mr T. Wedgewood -- and expect after six weeks' stay w ith him in England to go thro' France, & Italy -- & to winter in Sicily -- but I am a Comet tied to a Comet's Tail, & our combined Path must needs be damnably eccentric, & a defying Puzzle to all Astronomers from La Lande & Herschell to YZ, who with 20 more Alphabetonymists likewise gave a solution to an astronomical problem in the last Lady's Diary. -- If I had not gone with Wedgewood, or if I should not go, I shall probably go to Gran Canaria or Teneriffe -for my health is miserable. While in warm rooms, all goes well; but any exposure inevitably diseases, almost disorganizes me. Cold & Wet are my He and She Devil. I am however better tho' not stronger / for I abstain, & have for the last 4 months, from all wine, spirits, beer -- & from all narcotics & exhilarants, whether from the Vintner's Shop or the Apothecary's -- My appetite is very keen in consequence-but I am not stronger / nor at all more hardy. -- I shall shortly publish a second Volume of Poems 1 -- My Poverty, & not my Will consenting -- I have likewise written a Tragedy & a Farce / & have planned out a long comic Poem / of regular & epic construction / as long as Hudibras; but tho' with infinitely less Wit, yet I trust with more humour, more variety of character, & a far, far more entertaining, & interesting Tale. Each book will be in a different metre / but all in rhyme -- & each book a regular metre. It seems to me, that a comic Epic Poem lies quite new & untouched to me -- Hudibras is rather a series of Satires than a comic Poem. -- My plan does not exclude the utmost beauty of Imagery & poetic Diction / and some parts will be serious & pathetic. -- So much of myself -- only let me add as interesting to dear Mrs Purkis -- that a day or two before last Christmas Day Mrs Coleridge was safely delivered of a fine Girl, whom we have baptized Sara. -- My wife & all my children are well. -- I write now to ask a little favor of you. There is a preparation of the Indian Hemp, called Bhang, or àang, or Banghee -- the same Drug, which the Malays take, & under it's influence become most pot-valiant Drawcansirs, run a muck, &c. My friend, T. Wedgewood, is exceedingly desirous to obtain a small specimen of it: from what he has heard of it, he conceives it possible that it may afford some alleviation to his most hopeless malady -- which is a dreadful inirritability of the intestinal Canal. Now I know that Sir Joseph Banks has a quantity of it -- and if you should see him sḥortly, & could procure a small quantity of it -- (you may mention, if you choose, for whom you want it -- & Sir Joseph was an intimate ____________________ 1 Cf. Letter 505. -919- Friend of old Mr Wedgewood's, & no stranger to T. Wedgewood) you would oblige me greatly -- For my poor Friend's Spirits are so very low, that he has no heart even to write half a dozen Lines himself. O Purkis! Purkis! -- what an awful Sight is this! A man of Genius (I know not his superior) of exquisite & various Taste, of extensive Information & subtle & inventive faculties -- active beyond example from nature -- add to these most affectionate Dispositions, a man loving many, & beloved by many -- deeply attached to a prosperous Family, who deserve & return his attachment / & deriving honors & cheering recollections from his noble Father, and crown all these things with a large Fortune, a fine person, a most benevolent Heart, which a calm & comprehensive & acute understanding organizes into genuine Beneficence / -- and what more can you think, as constituent of compleat Happiness! -All these Things unite in T. Wedgewood: & all these things are blasted by -- a thickening of the Gut! -- O God! Such a Tree, in full blossom -- it's fruits all medicinal & foodful -- & a grub -- a grub at the root! -- I am sad to hear of T. Poole's Health! O I yearn to be with him. -- Remember me kindly to Mrs Purkis -- & my best wishes attend your little ones. -- If you could succeed in your request, be so good as to send it by Coach to me, Josiah Wedgewood's Esqre, Gunville, Blandford, Dorset. God bless you & S. T. Coleridge