490. To Samuel Purkis Pub. The Life of Sir Humphry Davy, by John A. Paris, 2 vols., 1831, i. 173. This letter is not included in a one-volume edition of the same work also issued in 1831. Nether Stowey, Feb. 17, 1803 My dear Purkis, I received your parcel last night, by post, from Gunville, whither (crossly enough) I am going with our friend Poole to-morrow -926- morning. I do from my very heart thank you for your prompt and friendly exertion, and for your truly interesting letter. I shall write to Wedgwood by this post; he is still at Cote, near Bristol; but I shall take the Bang back with me to Gunville, as Wedgwood will assuredly be there in the course of ten days. Jos. Wedgwood is named the Sheriff of the County. When I have heard from Wedgwood, or when he has tried this Nepenthe, I will write to you. I have been here nearly a fortnight; and in better health than usual. Tranquillity, warm rooms, and a dear old friend, are specifics for my complaints. Poole is indeed a very, very good man. I like even his incorrigibility in small faults and deficiencies: it looks like a wise determination of Nature to let well alone; and is a consequence, a necessary one perhaps, of his immutability in his important good qualities. His journal, with his own comments, has proved not only entertaining but highly instructive to me. I rejoice in Davy's progress. There are three Suns recorded in Scripture: -- Joshua's, that stood still; Hezekiah's, that went backward; and David's, that went forth and hastened on. his course, like a bridegroom from his chamber. May our friend's prove the latter! It is a melancholy thing to see a man, like the Sun in the close of the Lapland summer, meridional in his horizon; or like wheat in a rainy season, that shoots up well in the stalk, but does not kern. As I have hoped, and do hope, more proudly of Davy than of any other man; and as he has been endeared to me more than any other man, by the being a Thing of Hope to me (more, far more than myself to my own self in my most genial moments,) -- so of course my disappointment would be proportionally severe. It were falsehood, if I said that I think his present situation most calculated, of all others, to foster either his genius, or the clearness and incorruptness of his opinions and moral feelings. I see two Serpents at the cradle of his genius, Dissipation with a perpetual increase of acquaintances, and the constant presence of Inferiors and Devotees, with that too great facility of attaining admiration, which degrades Ambition into Vanity -- but the Hercules will strangle both the reptile monsters. I have thought it possible to exert talents with perseverance, and to attain true greatness wholly pure, even from the impulses of ambition; but on this subject Davy and I always differed. When you used the word 'gigantic', you meant, no doubt, to give me a specimen of the irony I must expect from my PhiloLockian critics. I trust, that I shall steer clear of almost an offence. My book is not, strictly speaking, metaphysical, but historical. It perhaps will merit the title of a History of Metaphysics in England from Lord Bacon to Mr. Hume, inclusive. I confine myself to facts -927- in every part of the work, excepting that which treats of Mr. Hume: -- him I have assuredly besprinkled copiously from the fountains of Bitterness and Contempt. As to this, and the other works which you have mentioned, 'have patience, Lord! and I will pay thee all!' Mr. T. Wedgwood goes to Italy in the first days of May. Whether I accompany him is uncertain. He is apprehensive that my health may incapacitate me. If I do not go with him, (and I shall be certain, one way or the other, in a few weeks,) I shall go by myself, in the first week of April, if possible. Poole's kindest remembrances I send you on my own hazard; for he is busy below, and I must fold up my letter. Whether I remain in England or am abroad, I will occasionally write you; and am ever, my dear Purkis, with affectionate esteem, Your's sincerely, S. T. Coleridge. Remember me kindly to Mrs. Purkis and your children. T. Wedgwood's disease is not painful: it is a complete taedium vitae; nothing pleases long, and novelty itself begins to cease to act like novelty. Life and all its forms move, in his diseased moments, like shadows before him, cold, colourless, and unsubstantial.