523. To George Coleridge Address: Reverend G. Coleridge | Ottery St Mary | Honiton | Devon. MS. Lady Cave and Victoria University Lib. Pub. E. L. G. i. 281. After filling four pages of a letter to his brother and not having exhausted himself, Coleridge wrote the conclusion on a sheet containing a letter from his wife to Mrs. George Coleridge. Postmark: 5 <1803.> Stamped: Keswick. Greta Hall, Keswick. Oct. 2. 1803. Sunday Evening My dear Brother I have this moment received your's of Sept. 28th /. It is indeed very long since I have written to you -- the sole reason has been, that I had nothing to communicate that was not of a depressing nature: & I am sick to the very soul of speaking or writing concerning my bodily miseries. My Disorder is supposed to be atonic Gout; in addition to which my medical friends suspect a scrofulous affection of the mesenteric Glands. While I am awake, & retain possession of my Will & Reason, I can contrive to keep the Fiend at Arm's length; but Sleep throws wide open all the Gates of the beleaguered City -- & such an Host of Horrors rush in -- that three nights out of four I fall asleep struggling to lie awake, and start up & bless my own loud Screams, that have awakened me. In the Hope that change of Scene might relieve me, & that hard Exercise might throw the Disease into the Extremities, I left my Home on August 15th & made the Tour of Scotland / -- and I am certainly better since my return, tho' I have a troublesome intermittent fever, that recurs with very severe Hemicrania, about 5 o clock every afternoon -- & which has hitherto baffled the use of Bark. -- Meantime I am neither weakened nor emaciated. The last 8 days of my walk I walked 263 miles -- about 34 miles a day on an average. Since my return I have been trying the celebrated new Gout medicine, & have had less affrightful Nights, & some symptoms of a disease ripening in the feet. No Bridegroom ever longed for rapture with more impatience than I do for Torture. So much of myself -- which I have written not without reluctance. -- Just before my arrival at Perth my heart had been visited with many tender Yearnings -1005- toward you & your family -- and indeed to all my Kin. I resolved if my Health should be endurable, & if I could arrange my moneymatters so as to make such a journey right & convenient -- to leave this place in the latter end of October with my family, & having passed a week or so with Sir G. Beaumont at Dunmow to push forward for Ottery -- & there to stay till Spring. But at Perth I found Letters from Southey -- his little Girl, an unexpected Gift after a 7 years' marriage, died of water on the Brain from teething -- and Southey & his Wife, almost heart-broken, immediately left Bristol, & came to Keswick, Southey for the comforts, he expected from my society, & Mrs Southey to be with her Sister. -- Still it is not improbable, that I may spend my Christmas among you -- only I shall come alone. ----- These, dear Brother! are awful Times; but I really see no reason for any feelings of Despondency. If it be God's will, that the commercial Gourd should be canker-killed -- if our horrible Iniquities in the W. India Islands & on the coasts of Guinea call for judgment on us -- God's will be done! -- Yet Providence seldom destroys a nation without first degrading it -- the Romans were effeminate, cowardly, basely oblivious of all public virtues, & below all comparison inferior to their barbarian Overwhelmers in domestic virtues, when Rome fell before the Huns -- Now bad as we may be, we assuredly are the best among the nations -- in strength & individual Valour superior to our enemies, & not so much their inferior in military Skill as to counterbalance our vast advantage in point of numbers. The times are awful -- I keep my spirit still & in a kind of devotional Calm; & I trust, would meet 'the sweet & Graceful Death pro patrig with as high an enthusiasm, as ever Spartan did. But I seriously think, that this Invasion, if attempted in vehement good earnest by the Corsican Tippoo Saib, 1 will be a Blessing to this Country & to Europe. Let us be humble before our Maker, but not spirit-palsied before our blood-thirsty Enemies. We will tremble at the possible punishment, which our national crimes may have made us worthy of, from retributive Providence; we will tremble at what God may do; but not at what our enemies can do, of themselves. When were we a more united People? When so well prepared? The very nature of the Invasion will cut off from the French army most of the opportunities of military Tactics -- & bring the affair, man to man, bayonet against bayonet. -- That this day was coming, I foresaw at the conclusion of the Peace -- & have not ceased in various ways & in various publications to warn & alarm the country -- & it is a comfort to me, far ____________________ 1 Tippoo Sahib, Sultan of Mysore, long a foe of the British, was finally killed at the storming of Seringapatam, 4 May 1799. -1006- beyond all the little vanities of Authorship, that my Essays & Alarum-trumpets in the Morning Post had an immediate & very extensive effect. Heaven knows! what a sacrifice I made in thus forcing myself away from the abstruse Researches, in which I am engaged, to embark on this stormy Sea of Politics -- but I felt it my Duty, the more especially as my former Essays during the Peace were those that had so extravagantly irritated the First Consul. In March, 1800, I published in the Morning Post a long & very severe ' Character of Mr Pitt,' promising at the same time a Character of Bonaparte. Since the Time of Junius no single Essay ever made more noise in a newspaper than this -- & day after day my character of Bonaparte was promised. I did not do it for reasons that appeared very forcible to me / in somewhat more than a month after the appearance of 'PITT,' Otto 1 sent privately to Stuart, & inquired when the character of Bonaparte would appear -- Stuart returned some evasive answer -- & Otto then sent a confidential friend to Stuart to beg a particular answer, & this Friend communicated to Stuart, that the question was asked at the instance of Bonaparte himself, who had been extremely impressed with the character of Pitt, & very anxious to see his own -- which, no doubt he expected, would be a pure eulogy. -- Stuart immediately came to me, & was in very high spirits on the occasion -- I turned sad, & answered him -- ['] Stuart, that man will prove a Tyrant, & the deadliest enemy of the Liberty of the Press.' -- 'Indeed?' -- ['] Yes! a man, the Dictator of a vast Empire, to be so childishly solicitous for the panegyric of a Newspaper Scribbler --! will he not be equally irritable at the Abuse of newspaper Scribblers! -- I am sick & sad, to feel how important little men become, when madmen are in power.' -- Stuart has often talked of publishing this conversation of mine as an instance of political prophecy. -- This will remind you of the Memoirs of P. P. Clerk of this Parish! 2 -- alas! that were no Burlesque in the present Day: & poor Dennis's request to the D. of Ma[r]lborough would now have nothing ridiculous in it. 3 The mad Vanity, & low Detail of vindictive Plans, of the first Consul are almost incredible. I will finish in my Wife's Letter. -- Continuation of my Letter. Enough of Politics -- at least, in words! I should have wholly ab- ____________________ 1 Louis-Guillaume Otto, French diplomat, who was sent to London in 1800 to arrange for the exchange of prisoners of war. 2 For Pope's burlesque of Bishop Burnet, ' Memoirs of P. P. Clerk of This Parish', see Works of Pope, ed. by W. Elwin and W. J. Courthope, 10 vols., 1871-89, x. 435. 3 John Dennis is said to have told the Duke of Marlborough of his fear that the French would make a stipulation for his extradition at the Peace of Utrecht. -1007- stained from a subject that is truly wearisome to my Spirit, if your Letter, dear Friend of my Childhood, had not appeared to me to breathe despondency beyond the occasion. -- I am sincerely & not slightly grieved that I have been silent so long. It is but a wretched Excuse to say, that all my friends have the same complaint to make: & in very truth my heart has been strangely shut up within itself. 'For not to think of what I needs must feel, But to be still and patient all, I can -- And haply by abstruse Research to steal From my own Nature all the natural Man -- This was my sole Resource, my wisest Plan! And that, which suits a Part, infects the Whole, And now is almost grown the Habit of my Soul! -----' I have sometimes derived a comfort from the notion, that possibly these horrid Dreams with all their mockery of Crimes, & Remorse, & Shame, & Terror, might have been sent upon me to arouse me out of that proud & stoical Apathy, into which I had fallen -- it was Resignation indeed, for I was not an Atheist; but it was Resignat[ion] -- witho[ut] religion because it was without struggle, without d[iff]iculty -- because it originated in the Understanding & a stealing Sp[irit of] Contempt, not in the affections. ----- But amid all my [struggles I] have been a severe, perhaps, too severe a Student -[I have written] much & prepared materials for more -- yet I trus[t that I do not) deceive myself when I say, that I could leave a[[1 I have done] without a pang --. I have not read on an average less than 8 hours a day for the last three years -- but all is vanity -I feel it more & more -- all is vanity that does not lead to Quietness & Unity of Heart, and to the silent aweful idealess Watching of that living Spirit, & of that Life within us, which is the motion of that Spirit -- that Life, which passeth all understanding. ----- Before I finish, let me say that there is yet one other cause of my silence -- Your last Letter on Faith & Reason had affected me very deeply -- I was sure, that we agreed in the depth & bottoms of our meaning -- yet I thought that you had expressed yourself inaccurately -- & began to reflect & make notes on the true Boundaries of Faith & Reason -- till I found that I should have written a Treatise instead of a Letter. -- However, it is my firm Intention, that in future no such unbrotherly Silence shall take place, on my part. You I have always loved & honored as more than mere Brother: & it was not my fault, that the mere names of Brother & of Kindred were of necessity less powerful in my feelings, than in those of other men who with perhaps vastly less Sensibility have had the good fortune to have been more domestically reared. But what I am is in con- -1008- sequence of what I have been; & there is enough in that, which I am, to be honorable & useful to my fellow-men, if the great Giver of all things give me the grace & the perseverance to call it forth wisely, & to apply it prudently. -- I shall hope to hear soon again from you -- in the mean time present my best Duty to our venerable Mother -- my kindest Love to your Wife & fatherly wishes for your Children -- to the Colonel, & all of his Family, & to Edward & those of his Household, a Brother's Love ----- & the same to Mrs Luke. My Derwent appears to me very like what William was when of the same age -- With affectionate Esteem & grateful & rememb'ring Love I am, my dearest Brother, ever your's, S. T. C. -----