524. To Thomas Poole Address: T. Poole, Esqre | Nether Stowey | Bridgewater | Somersetsingle Sheet MS. British Museum. Pub. E. L. G. i. 286. Postmark: 6 October 1808. Oct. 8. 1808. Keswick My dearest Friend Tho' I should write but half a dozen Lines, I will write; for my long Silence affects [me] almost with a sense of Guilt. Continual Ill-health, & Discomforts almost worse than that, have shut me up strangely -- I have written to no one -- God forbid that my worst Enemy should ever have the Nights & the Sleeps that I have had, night after night -- surprized by Sleep, while I struggled to remain awake, starting up to bless my own loud Screams that had awakened me -- yea, dear friend I till my repeated Night-yells had made me a Nuisance in my own House. As I live & am a man, this is an unexaggerated Tale -- my Dreams became the Substances of my Life -- A lurid Light, a ghastly Throng -- 1 Sense of insufferable wrong -- And whom I scorn'd, they only strong! -- Thirst of Revenge, the powerless will Still baffled, & yet burning still -- Tempestuous pride, vain-glorious Vaunting, Base Men my vices justly taunting ----- Desire with Loathing strangely mixt, On wild or hateful Objects fix'd -- Fantastic Passions, mad'ning Brawl, And Shame & Terror over all! -- ____________________ 1 An amended version of The Pains of Sleep, lines 18-32. See Poems, i. 389. -1009- Deeds to be hid, that were not hid, Which, all confus'd I might not know, Whether I suffer'd or I did: For all was Guilt, & Shame, & Woe -- My own or others', still the same, Life-stifling Fear, soul-stifling Shame! -- All symptoms conspired to prove that I had Gout, atonic stomach Gout, for one Disease -- & my medical attendant suspected Mesenteric Scrofula, in addition. -- I went into Scotland with Wordsworth & his Sister; but I soon found that I was a burthen on them / & Wordsworth, himself a brooder over his painful hypochondriacal Sensations, was not my fittest companion / so I left him & the Jaunting Car, & walked by myself far away into the Highlands -- in the hopes of forcing the Disease into my extremities -- at what a rate, you may guess, when I tell you, that the last eight Days I had walked 268 miles. At Perth I received two Letters from Southey, the first informing me of the certain Death of his Infant Child, & of the deplorable heart-stricken State in which he & his Wife were -- & of their wish to be at Keswick, he expecting comfort from me, Edith from her Sister / the second informed me of their arrival at Keswick -- I accordingly took a place in the Mail & hastened home / -- Soon after I received a large Cag of the new Gout medicine / & assuredly, it has been of manifest service to me -- & I write with my left hand swoln, & with strong symptoms of a fair full fit of the Gout in my Feet. No Bridegroom ever longed for Rapture more impatiently than I for Torture -- It is wonderful, how this has relieved me! how balsam-sweet & profound my Sleep has been -- how freely I breathe -- how freely my Spirits seem to move within me! ----- So much of myself. Southey seems very happy in my society -- & tho' overpowered at moments, acts like a man. -- How are you employed? what part have you taken in this Alarm? -- As to me, I think, the Invasion must be a Blessing. For if we do not repel it, & cut them to pieces, we are a vile sunken race / & it is good, that our Betters should crack us -- And if we do act as Men, Christians, Englishmen -- down goes the Corsican Miscreant, & Europe may have peace. At all events, dulce & decorum est pro patriĆ¢ mori -- & I trust, I shall be found rather seeking than shunning it, if the French army should maintain it's footing, even for a fortnight. -- Let me hear from you. It is not possible that you can feel any resentment now you know how calamitously I have been environed / Tell me all about yourself -- what you are doing, what meditating -- whether you can infuse any simple plain sense into -1010- the cerebellum of that foolish, well meaning Driveller, the Minister. -- Southey tells me, that Rickman meant to apply to you 1 -- Love to Ward -- S. T. Coleridge