519. To Robert Southey Address: Robert Southey Esqre | Greta Hall | Keswick | Cumberland | S. Britain. MS. Lord Latymer. Pub.with omis. Letters, i. 437. Postmark: 13 September 1803. Edinburgh Tuesday Morning [ 18 September 1803] My dear Southey I wrote you a strange Letter, I fear: but in truth your's affected my wretched Stomach, & that my head in such a way, that I wrote mechanically in the wake of the first vivid Idea. No Conveyance left or leaves this place for Carlisle earlier than to morrow morning -- for which I have taken my place. If the Coachman do not turn Panaceist, and cure all my Ills by breaking my neck, I shall be at Carlisle on Wednesday Midnight -- & whether I shall go on in the Coach to Penrith, & walk from thence, or walk off from Carlisle at once, depends on 2 circumstances -- whether the Coach goes on with no other than a common Bait to Penrith, & whether -- if it should not do so -- I can trust my cloathes &c to the Coachman safely, to be left at Penrith -- There is but 8 miles difference in the walk -- & eight or nine Shillings difference in the expence. At all events, I trust, that I shall be with you on Thursday by dinner time, if you dine at ½ past 2 or 3 o clock. -- God bless you! I will go call on Elmsley. 1 -- What a wonderful City Edinburgh is! -- What alternation of Height & Depth! -- a city looked at in the polish'd back of a Brobdignag Spoon, held lengthways -- so enormously stretched-up are the Houses! -- When I first looked down on it, as the Coach drove in on the higher Street, I cannot express what I felt -- such a section of a wasp's nest, striking you with a sort of bastard Sublimity from the enormity & infinity of it's littleness -the infinity swelling out the mind, the enormity striking it with wonder. I think I have seen an old Plate of Montserrat, that struck me with the same feeling -- and I am sure, I have seen huge Quarries of Lime or Free-Stone, in which the Shafts or Strata have stood perpendicularly instead of horizontally, with the same high Thin Slices, & corresponding Interstices! -- I climbed last night to the Crags just below Arthur's Seat, itself a rude triangle-shaped bare Cliff, & looked down on the whole City & Firth, the Sun then setting behind the magnificent rock, crested by the Castle / -- the Firth was full of Ships, & I counted 54 heads of mountains, of which at last 44 were cones or pyramids -- the smokes rising up from ten thousand houses, each smoke from some one family -- it ____________________ 1 Peter Elmsley ( 1773-1825), classical scholar and college friend of Southey's. -988- was an affecting sight to me! -- I stood gazing at the setting Sun, so tranquil to a passing Look, & so restless & vibrating to one who looks stedfast; & then all at once turning my eyes down upon the City, it & all it's smokes & figures became all at once dipped in the brightest blue-purple -- such a sight that I almost grieved when my eyes recovered their natural Tone! -- Meantime Arthur's Crag, close behind me, was in dark blood-like Crimson -- and the Sharpshooters were below, exercising minutely, & had chosen that place on account of the fine Thunder-Echo, which indeed it would be scarcely possible for the Ear to distinguish from Thunder. The passing a day or two, quite unknown, in a strange City, does a man's heart good -- He rises 'a sadder and a wiser man.' -- I had not read that part in your second Letter requesting me to call on Elmsley -- else perhaps I should have been talking away instead of learning & feeling. Walter Scott is at Laswade, 5 or 6 miles from Edinburgh -- his House in Edinburgh is divinely situated -- it looks up a street, a new magnificent Street, full upon the Rock & the Castle, with it's zig-zag Walls like Painters' Lightning -- the other way down upon cultivated Fields, a fine expanse of water, either a Lake or not to be distinguished from one, & low pleasing Hills beyond -- the Country well-wooded & chearful. I faith, I exclaimed, the Monks formerly, but the Poets now, know where to fix their Habitations. -- There are about four Things worth going into Scotland for, to one who has been in Cumberland & Westmoreland / -- the view of all the Islands at the Foot of Loch Lomond from the Top of the highest Island, called Inch devannoc [Inchtavannach]: 2. the Trossachs at the foot of Loch Ketterin 3. The Chamber & anti-chamber of the Falls of Foyers -- (the Fall itself is very fine -- & so after Rain is White water Dash -- 7 miles below Keswick & very like it -- & how little difference in the feeling a great real difference in height makes, you know as well as I -- no Fall, of itself, perhaps can be worth go[ing] a long Journey to see, to him who has seen any Fall of Water, but the Pool, & whole Rent of the Mountain is truly magnificent --) 4th & lastly, the City of Edinburgh. -- Perhaps, I might add Glen Coe: it is at all events a good Make-weight -- & very well worth going to see, if a Man be a Tory & hate the memory of William the Third -- which I am very willing to do -- for the more of these fellows, dead & living, one hates, the less Spleen & Gall there remains for those, with whom one is likely to have any thing to do, in real Life. I was very much amused by Welles's Letter -- & have written him a droll one enough in return -- of which, if I am not too lazy, I will take a Copy. -- I am tolerably well, meaning, the Day Time, for my last night was just such a noisy night of horrors, as 8 nights -989- out of 4 are, with me. O God! when a man blesses the loud Scream of Agony that awakes him, night after night; night after night! -& when a man's repeated Night-screams have made him a nuisance in his own House, it is better to die than to live. I have a Joy in Life, that passeth all Understanding; but it is not in it's present Epiphany & Incarnation. Bodily Torture! all who have been with me can bear witness that I bear it, like an Indian / it is constitutional with me to sit still & look earnestly upon it, & ask it, what it is ? -- Yea often & often, the seeds of Rabelaism germinating in me, I have laughed aloud at my own poor metaphysical Soul. -- But these Burrs, by Day, of the Will & the Reason, these total Eclipses by night -- O it is hard to bear them. I am complaining bitterly when I should be administering Comfort; but even this is one way of comfort. There are States of mind, in which even a Distraction is still a Diversion. We must none of us brood: we were not made to be Brooders. --God bless you, dear Friend, & S. T. Coleridge Mrs C. will get clean Flannels ready for me.