513. To Robert Southey Address: Mr Southey | St James's Parade | Kingsdown | Bristol MS. Lord Latymer. Pub. with omis. E. L. G. i. 268. Stamped: Penrith. Sunday, Aug. 14. 1808 My dear Southey Your Letter affected me very deeply: I did not feel it so much the two first Days, as I have since done. I have been very ill, & in serious dread of a paralytic Stroke in my whole left Side. Of my disease there now remains no Shade of Doubt: it is a compleat & almost heartless Case of Atonic Gout. If you would look into the Article Medicine, in the Encyc. Britt. Vol. XI. Part 1. -- No 213. -p. 181. -- & the first 5 paragraphs of the second Column / you will read almost the very words, in which, before I had seen this Article, I had described my case to Wordsworth. -- The only nonagreement is -- 'an imaginary aggravation of the slightest Feelings, & an apprehension of danger from them.' -- The first sentence is unphilosophically expressed / there is a state of mind, wholly unnoticed, as far as I know, by any Physical or Metaphysical Writer hitherto, & which yet is necessary to the explanation of some of the most important phaenomena of Sleep & Disease / it is a transmutation of the succession of Time into the juxtaposition of Space, by which the smallest Impulses, if quickly & regularly recurrent, aggregate themselves -- & attain a kind of visual magnitude with a correspondent Intensity of general Feeling. -- The simplest Illustration would be the circle of Fire made by whirling round a live Coal -- only here the mind is passive. Suppose the same effect produced ab intra -- & you have a clue to the whole mystery of frightful Dreams, & Hypochondriacal Delusions. -- I merely hint this; but I could detail the whole process, complex as it is. -Instead of 'an imaginary aggravation &c' it would be better to say -- 'an aggregation of slight Feelings by the force of a diseasedly retentive Imagination.' -- As to the apprehension of Danger -- it would belong to my Disease, if it could belong to me. But Sloth, Carelessness, Resignation -- in all things that have reference to mortal Life -- is not merely in me; it is me. (Spite of Grammar -i.e. Lowth's 1 -- for I affirm, that in such instances 'it is me,' is genuine English & philosophical Grammar.) -- Mr Edmondson, whom I have consulted on the possibility or propriety of my tour into Scotland, recommends it. He is confident -- O that I were -that by the use of Carminative Bitters I may get rid of this truly poisonous, & body-&-soul-benumming Flatulence and Inflation: ____________________ 1 Robert Lowth, A Short Introduction to English Grammar, 1762. -974- & that if I can only get on, the Exercise & the Excitement will be of so much service as to outweigh the chances of Injury from Wet or Cold. I will therefore go: tho' I never yet commenced a Journey with such inauspicious Heaviness of Heart before. We -Wordsworth, Dorothy, and myself -- leave Keswick tomorrow morning. 1 We have bought a stout Horse -- aged but stout & spirited -- & an open vehicle, called a Jaunting Car -- there is room in it for 8 on each side, on hanging seats -- a Dicky Box for the Driver / & a space or hollow in the middle, for luggage -- or two or three Bairns. -- It is like half a long Coach, only those in the one seat sit with their back to those in the other / instead of face to face. -- Your feet are not above a foot -- scarcely so much -- from the ground / so that you may get off & on while the Horse is moving without the least Danger / there are all sorts of Conveniences in it /. We came from Grasmere last Thurday in it -- Wordsworth in the Dicky -- Dorothy, Mrs Wordsworth, our Mary, I, Hartley, Derwent, & Johnney Wordsworth / & this morning the same party -- only instead of me Mrs Coleridge & Sara / are gone to set Mrs Wordsworth 7 miles of the way on to Grasmere. -- What a nice Thing for us, if you & Edith were to take the other half of this House -- & my Health gave any probability of my stay in England. But I swear by my Maker, that I will no longer trifle. I will try this Tour / if I cannot bear it -- I shall return from Glasgow/ -- will try the new Gout Medicine / & you would be doing me an essential Service, if you would call on Dr Beddoes -- say, that I had long meditated a very long Letter to him on subjects, which have interested us both, in the shape of friendly remarks on his Hygeia / but I was hurried off from Gunville, where the Book was -- & partly the not having the Book to refer to, tho' I have the most thing-like Recollections of it's contents -- & far far more, the miserable State of my Health -- & the quantity, I wished to say -- have prevented me/ -- & now I am ashamed to write on a mere selfish Concern. -- I read his Pamphlet on the new Medicine with sincere admiration/. With the single exception of the last Page, it seemed to me to have all the character- ____________________ 1 In a letter postmarked 25 Aug. 1803 Mrs. Coleridge has this to say to Southey: 'Last Monday [15 Aug.] my husband, W. Wordsworth, and D. W. set off for Scotland in an Irish-Car and one horse -- W. is to drive all the way, for poor Samuel is too weak to undertake the fatigue of driving -- he was very unwell when he went off, and was to return in the Mail if he grew worse. . . . I hope he will be able to go for if the weather be tolerable it will do him much good, so Mr. Edmondson thinks. . . . My husband is a good man -- his prejudices -and his prepossessions sometimes give me pain, but we have all a somewhat to encounter in this life -- I should be a very, very happy Woman if it were not for a few things -- and my husband's ill health stands at the head of these evils!' MS. Lord Latymer. -975- istic excellencies of his manner clarified from his characteristic Defects -- I have been made to understand, that this new medicine is not to be procured without great Difficulty from the Empiric, nor without very heavy Expence / however whatever the expence be, I will give it one Trial -- & should be very greatly obliged to Dr Beddoes if he would desire Mr Wells to send down a sufficient Quantity of the Medicine, if he think it likely to be serviceable in a clear Case of atonic Gout / a case of capricious Appetite -indigestion / costiveness that makes my evacuations at times approach in all the symptoms to the pains of Labor -- viz -- distortion of Body from agony, profuse & streaming Sweats, & fainting -- at other times, looseness with griping -- frightful Dreams with screaming -- breezes of Terror blowing from the Stomach up thro' the Brain / always when I am awakened, I find myself stifled with wind / & the wind the manifest cause of the Dream / frequent paralytic Feelings -- sometimes approaches to Convulsion fit -- three times I have wakened out of these frightful Dreams, & found my legs so locked into each other as to have left a bruise -- / Sometimes I am a little giddy; but very seldom have the Headach / And on the whole my Head is wonderfully clear, considering -- tho' less so than in an earlier Stage of the Disease / & this being the strongest part of my Constitution, when that goes, all goes -- / My hands & fingers occasionally swell -- my feet are often inflamed / with pulsations in the Toes -- & twice last week I was lame in my left Leg, & the ancle was swoln / but these inflammatory Symptoms soon go off. My Mouth is endlessly full of water -- itself no small Persecution -- but above all, the asthmatic Stuffing -- which forms a true suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. -- I live very temperately -- drinking only one tumbler of Brandy & Water in the 24 hours / -- but when I awake screaming, I take Tea or Coffee, with an egg & a good deal of Cayenne Pepper / which seems to procure me ease & sometimes Sleep -- tho' no doubt it injures me in the long run. But what can I do ? -- I am sure, if Dr Beddoes lived near me, or in the same house with me, he would soften down his opinions respecting the inefficiency of Climate in Gout Cases. The effects of weather are to the full as palpable upon me, as upon the little Old Lady & Gentleman in the weather Box -- or on the Sea Weed in the Barber's Shop. However, my dear Southey! do call on Dr Beddbes -- & read such parts of this Letter to him, as you think fit -- Say, that I would have written to him formally as to a Physician; but that never having done so, if I should send a fee, it would seem as if I were willing to forget all his prior kindness to me, & all my Obligations to him for the many Letters of medical advice which he has heretofore sent me, as the richer Man to the Poorer. It is neither my -976- Theory nor my Practice to do any thing from Gratitude; but if I live & regain my powers of manifesting my Powers, I will act with Gratitude: for indeed Dr Beddoes has been very kind to me / & I am often uncomfortable in my inner feelings at having permitted myself to be affected by little calumnious tittle-tattle respecting him -- instead of daring to tell him with equal simplicity & honest zeal, wherein he is truly great & useful, & wherein he manifestly injures his own powers of benefiting his Fellow-Creatures.-----What I want is to have a quantity of the Gout Medicine sent to Greta Hall, Keswick, Cumberland -- by the waggon either from London or Bristol -- so that on my return from Scotland I may find it here. Whatever the expence may be, do you defray it for me / & I will remit you the money within a week of the receipt of your Letter which shall inform me of the Amount. -- If this fail, I then, by God! go off to Malta or Madeira / Madeira is the better place; but Stoddart is gone to Malta with a wife, with a place of 1500£ a year -- & has given me a very kind Invitation/ -- You had better write to me, the Post Office, Edingburgh. -- I shall write to you from Glasgow. -- Mrs C. is but middling: the children are quite well -- Derwent & Sara are as beautiful as Angels. I never saw a child so improved, as Sara is -- & she is quietness itself -- very lively, & joyous; but all in a quiet way of her own / She feeds on her Quietnesst, & 'has the most truly celestial expression of countenance, I ever beheld in a human Face.' -- Now I have set you the example, & you may give loose to the Father, & write about dear little Margaret. -- Only let me say, the words 'quoted' are Wordsworth's, not mine -- & Wordsworth's words always mean the whole of their possible Meaning. She h[as larg]e blue eyes.-- S. T. C.