525. To Thomas Poole Address: T. Poole Esqre | N. Stowey | Bridgewater | SomersetSingle Sheet MS. British Museum. Pub. with orals. E. L. G. i. 288. Friday, Oct. 14. 1803. Greta Hall, Keswick My dearest Poole I received your letter this evening, thank you for your kindness in answering it immediately, and will prove my thankfulness by doing the same. In answer to your Question respecting Leslie & T. Wedgwood, 2 I say -- to the best of my Knowlege, Not a word, at any time. I have examined & cross-examined my recollective Faculty with no common earnestness; and I cannot produce in myself even the dimmest Feeling of any such conversation. Yet I talk so much & so variously, that doubtless I say a thousand Things that exist in the minds of others, when to my own consciousness they are as if they had never been. I lay too many Eggs in the hot Sands with Ostrich Carelessness & Ostrich oblivion -- And tho' many are luckily trod on & smashed; as many crawl forth into Life, some to furnish Feathers for the Caps of others, and more alas! to plume the Shafts in the Quivers of my Enemies and of them 'that lie in wait against my Soul.' But in the present instance, if I had mentioned any thing of the Kind, T. Wedgwood has so great a Love for you, as well as respect & affectionate Regard for Leslie, that he would have both suffered & expressed great Pain / I should have instantly felt that I had done wrong -- & events of this sort I never forget. Likewise, I admire Leslie, & cherish high Hopes of him; & thought at the time, that part of your Dislike had been ill-founded, & that you had disliked him for a cause which had made you more than once treat me very harshly -- namely, a supposed disposition in me to detract from the merits of two or three, whom you from childhood had been taught to contemplate with religious awe; but whom I thought very second rate Men / not sufficiently considering, that for one man whom Leslie or myself might lower in the Symposium of Genius, there are 10 faces unknown at present to you, whom we ____________________ 1 In Dec. 1803 Poole came to London on Rickman's invitation to prepare an abstract of returns concerning the poor ordered by the House of Commons from the parish overseers. 2 Poole had asked Coleridge in a letter dated 9 Oct. 1803: 'Did you ever mention to T.W. that I disliked Leslie? tell me and what you said.' -1011- should place at the head of the Table & in the places of Honor -- in other words, that there is perhaps a larger mass (& a more frequent calling of it into activity) of awe & love of the great departed in my mind than in your's -- This was in my Heart -- for I suffered a great deal from your Expressions between Blandford & Gunville -- & would. of itself, have restrained me from making your Dislike a subject of Conversation / & as to the other cause of your Dislike, it is so very serious a Thing, that I should have thought myself downright a Rogue if I had mentioned it. -- I think therefore, that without the least rashness I may assert at once, that I never did speak to T. W. on the subject. If any thing of this nature have come to his ears from me, it must have been thro' some third or fourth Person -- Tobin for instance, who is an exceeding mischiefmaker, his Blindness, poor Fellow I making this sort of Gossip a high Treat to him / but I do not recollect having mentioned it to him -- or to any one, but, I believe, to Wordsworth / and I hope therefore, that it will not have originated in me at all. It would be very, very painful to me. But I cannot be as confident of this, as of the former. 1 Since I finished the Letter, I seem to have some dim, very dim, Feeling of having mentioned it once to Davy. I seem to feel, as if I had not mentioned it to Wordsworth -- but that it was Davy. But this is very likely to be all the mere straining of the memory -colours in the eyes from staring in the Dusk & rubbing them. Whoever mentioned [it] to T. W. acted a very unwise part -- to use the mildest phrase. If I mentioned your Dislike of Leslie to T. W., it would have been assuredly mentioned as common to myself & to Leslie [you?] -- and as arising from the same Cause -- tho' the Dislike in my instance was only for the moment, a bubble broken by the agitation that gave it Birth. -- O deeply, deeply do I detest this rage for Personality: & it is among the clamours of my Conscience, that I have so long delayed the Essay, which for so many years I have planned & promised! ----- Wordsworth is in good health, & all his family. He has one LARGE Boy, christened John. He has made a Beginning to his Recluse. He was here on Sunday last: his Wife's Sister, 2 who is on a visit at Grasmere, was in a bad hysterical way, & he rode in to consult our excellent medical men. I now see very little of Wordsworth: my own Health makes it inconvenient & unfit for me to go thither one third as often, as I used to do -- and Wordsworth's Indolence, &c keeps him at home. Indeed, were I an irritable man, and an unthinking one, I should probably have considered myself as having ____________________ 1 The three following sentences are interlined here in the MS. 2 This refers to Joanna Hutchinson. See Early Letters, 836, for an account of her illness. -1012- been very unkindly used by him in this respect -- for I was at one time confined for two months, & he never came in to see me / me, who had ever payed such unremitting attentions to him. But we must take the good & the ill together; & by seriously & habitually reflecting on our own faults & endeavouring to amend them we shall then find little difficulty in confining our attention as far as it acts on our Friends' characters, to their good Qualities. -- Indeed, I owe it to Truth & Justice as well as to myself to say, that the concern, which I have felt in this instance, and one or two other more crying instances, of Self-involution in Wordsworth, has been almost wholly a Feeling of friendly Regret, & disinterested Apprehension -- I saw him more & more benetted in hypochondriacal Fancies, living wholly among Devotees -- having every the minutest Thing, almost his very Eating & Drinking, done for him by his Sister, or Wife -- & I trembled, lest a Film should rise, and thicken on his moral Eye. -- The habit too of writing such a multitude of small Poems was in this instance hurtful to him -- such Things as that Sonnet of his in Monday's Morning Post, about Simonides & the Ghost 1 -- / I rejoice therefore with a deep & true Joy, that he has at length yielded to my urgent & repeated -- almost unremitting-requests & remonstrances -- & will go on with the Recluse exclusively. -- A Great Work, in which he will sail; on an open Ocean, & a steady wind; unfretted by short tacks, reefing, & hawling & disentangling the ropes ----- great work necessarily comprehending his attention & Feelings within the circle of great objects & elevated Conceptions -- this is his natural Element -- the having been out of it has been his Disease -- to return into it is the specific Remedy, both Remedy & Health. It is what Food is to Famine. I have seen enough, positively to give me feelings of hostility towards the plan of several of the Poems in the L. Ballads: & I really consider it as a misfortune, that Wordsworth ever deserted his former mountain Track to wander in Lanes & allies; tho'in the event it may prove to have been a great Benefit to him. He will steer, I trust, the middle course. -- But he found himself to be, or rather to be called, the Head & founder of a Sect in Poetry: & assuredly he has written -- & published in the M. Post, as W. L: D. 2 & sometimes with no signature -- poems written with a sectarian spirit, & in a sort of Bravado. -I know, my dear Poole, that you are in the habit of keeping my Letters; but I must request of you, & do rely on it, that you will be so good as to destroy this Letter -- & likewise, if it be not already ____________________ 1 Poet. Works, iii. 408. Wordsworth never reprinted the sonnet. 2 In 1803 Wordsworth printed seven sonnets in the Morning Post with the signature W.L.D. The initials, Thomas Hutchinson suggests, stand for Wordsworthius Libertati dedicavit. Poet. Works, iii. 452. -1013- done, that Letter which in the ebulliency of indistinct Conceptions I wrote to you respecting Sir Isaac Newton's Optics -- & which to my Horror & Shame I saw that Ward had transcribed -- a Letter which if I were to die & it should ever see the Light would damn me forever, as a man mad with Presumption. -- 1 Hartley is what he always was -- a strange strange Boy -- 'exquisitely wild'! 2 An utter Visionary! like the Moon among thin Clouds, he moves in a circle of Light of his own making -- he alone, in a Light of his own. Of all human Beings I never yet saw one so utterly naked of Self -- he has no Vanity, no Pride, no Resentment / and tho' very passionate, I never yet saw him angry with any body. He is, tho' now 7 years old, the merest Child, you can conceive -and yet Southey says, that the Boy keeps him in perpetual Wonderment-his Thoughts are so truly his own. [He is] not generally speaking an affectionate Child / but his Dispositions are very sweet. A great Lover of Truth, and of the finest moral nicety of Feeling -- apprehension all over -- & yet always Dreaming. He said very prettily about half a year ago -- on my reproving him for some inattention, & asking him if he did not see something -- [']My Father!['] quoth he with flute-like Voice -- 'I see it -- I saw it -- I see it now -- & tomorrow I shall see it when I shut my eyes, and when my eyes are open & I am looking at other Things; but Father! it's a sad pity -- but it can't be helped, you know -- but I am always being a bad Boy, because I am always thinking of my Thoughts.' -He is troubled with Worms -- & to night has had a clyster of oil & Lime water, which never fails to set him to rights for a month or two --. If God preserve his Life for me, it will be interesting to know what he will be -- for it is not my opinion, or the opinion of two or of three -- but all who have been with him, talk of him as of a thing that cannot be forgotten / Derwent, & my meek little Sara, the former is just recovering of a very bad epidemic Intermittent Fever, with tearing cough -- & the other sweet Baby is even now suffering ____________________ 1 Coleridge was so disturbed over his letter of 23 Mar. 1801 (Letter 388) that he wrote again about it on 30 Jan. 1804 (Letter 544). Despite his wishes, both the original letter and Ward's copy still exist. 2 Cf. To H.C. Six Years Old: O blessed vision I happy child! Thou art so exquisitely wild, I think of thee with many fears For what may be thy lot in future years. . . . . . . . Nature will either end thee quite; Or, lengthening out thy season of delight, Preserve for thee, by individual right, A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks. Wordsworth Poet. Works, i. 247. -1014- under it --. He is a fat large lovely Boy -- in all things but his Voice very unlike Hartley -- very vain, & much more fond & affectionate -- none of his Feelings so profound -- in short, he is just what a sensible Father ought to wish for -- a fine, healthy, strong, beautiful child, with all his senses & faculties as they ought to be -- with no chance, as to his person, of being more than a good-looking man, & as to his mind, no prospect of being more or less than a man of good sense & tolerably quick parts. -- Sara is a remarkably interesting Baby, with the finest possible Skin & large blue eyes -- & she smiles, as if she were basking in a sunshine, as mild as moonlight, of her own quiet Happiness. 1 She has had the Cow-pock. Mrs Coleridge enjoys her old state of excellent Health. We go on, as usual -- except that tho' I do not love her a bit better, I quarrel with her much less. We cannot be said to live at all as Husband & Wife / but we are peaceable Housemates. -- Mrs Lovell & Mrs Southey have miserable Health; but Mrs Southey, I hope, is breeding -- & Mrs Lovell never can be well, while there exist in the world such Things as Tea, and Lavender & Hartshorn Slops, & the absence of religious, & the presence of depressing, Passions. -- Southey I like more & more / he is a good man / & his Industry stupendous! Take him all in all, his regularity & domestic virtues, Genius, Talents, Acquirements, & Knowlege -- & he stands by himself. -But Mrs S. & Mrs Lovell are a large, a very large Bolus! -- but it is astonishing, how one's Swallow is enlarged by the sense of doing one's Duty -- at least where the Pill is to pass off some time or other -- & the Medicine to be discontinued. -- But scarcely can even the sense of Duty reconcile one to taking Jalap regularly instead of Breakfast, Ipecacuanha for one's Dinner, Glauber's salt in hot water for one's Tea, & the whole of the foregoing in their different Metempsychoses after having passed back again thro' the mouth, or onwards thro' the Bowels, in a grand Maw-wallop for one's Supper. -- My own Health is certainly improved by this new Gout medicine / I cannot however get delivered in a full natural way of this child of Darkness & Discomfort -- always threatening & bullying -- but the swelling never inflames sufficiently & all is commonly carried off in a violent Sweat -- a long sudden soaking Sweat. But God be praised! my Nights since I last wrote have been astonishingly improved & I am confident now that my Complaint is nothing but flying Gout with a little Gravel. -- This Letter I meant to be ____________________ 1 These descriptions of Hartley, Derwent, and Sara in some measure prognosticate the future of each child. Hartley was to become a poet and one of fortune's ne'er-do-wells, Derwent a successful clergyman and schoolmaster, and Sara a children's poet and editor, who with her husband strove to put her father's house in order. See E. L. Griggs, Hartley Coleridge, 1929, and Coleridge Fille, 1940. -1015- about myself -- O that I could but be in London with you. It seems to me that you are entering on the porch of a Temple, for which Nature has made & destined you to be the Priest. But more of this hereafter. I have been, to use a mild word, agitated by two INFAMOUS atrocious Paragraphs in the Morning Post of Thursday & Friday last -- I believe them to be Mackintosh's - -O that they were! I would hunt him into Infamy. -- I am now exerting myself to the utmost on this Subject. Do write me instantly what you think of them / or rather, what you thought, what you felt, what you said! -- S. T. Coleridge Many articles in the M. P. not mine are attributed to me. Very probably, those infamous articles may -- Stuart has sold the paper for 15000£ -- he netted 8000£ a year -- it was scarcely 2 years' purchase. -- Do write instantly on the subject of this No Quarter! ------ I have written twice to Stuart who still, I believe, superintends the paper in part -- & can get no answer from him. -- Ever & for ever, dearest Friend, gratefully & with affectionate Esteem your's --