Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey
by Joseph Cottle
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Here was a strong-minded illiterate woman on one side, impressed with a conviction of the justice of her cause; and further stimulated by a deep consciousness of the importance of success to herself and family; and on the other side, a refined mind, delicately alive to the least approximation to indecorum, and, not unreasonably, requiring deference and conciliation. Could such incongruous materials coalesce? Ann Yearsley's suit, no doubt was urged with a zeal approaching to impetuosity, and not expressed in that measured language which propriety might have dictated; and any deficiency in which could not fail to offend her polished and powerful patroness.

Ann Yearsley obtained her object, but she lost her friend. Her name, from that moment, was branded with ingratitude; and severe indeed was the penalty entailed on her by this act of indiscretion! Her good name, with the rapidity of the eagle's pinion, was forfeited! Her talents, in a large circle at once became questionable, or vanished away. Her assumed criminality also was magnified into audacity, in daring to question the honour, or oppose the wishes of two such women as Mrs. H. More, and Mrs. Montague! and thus, through this disastrous turn of affairs, a dark veil was suddenly thrown over prospects, so late the most unsullied and exhilarating; and the favorite of fortune sunk to rise no more!

Gloom and perplexities in quick succession oppressed the Bristol milkwoman, and her fall became more rapid than her ascent! The eldest of her sons, William Cromartie Yearsley, who had bidden fair to be the prop of her age; and whom she had apprenticed to an eminent engraver, with a premium of one hundred guineas, prematurely died; and his surviving brother soon followed him to the grave! Ann Yearsley, now a childless and desolate widow, retired, heart-broken from the world, on the produce of her library; and died many years after, in a state of almost total seclusion, at Melksham. An inhabitant of the town lately informed me that she was never seen, except when she took her solitary walk in the dusk of the evening! She lies buried in Clifton church-yard.

In this passing notice of the Bristol milkwoman, my design has been to rescue her name from unmerited obloquy, and not in the remotest degree to criminate Hannah More, whose views and impressions in this affair may have been somewhat erroneous, but whose intentions it would be impossible for one moment to question.[10]

The reader will not be displeased with some further remarks on Mrs. Hannah More, whose long residence near Bristol identified her so much with that city.

Mrs. H. More lived with her four sisters, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Martha, after they quitted their school in Park-Street, Bristol, at a small neat cottage in Somersetshire, called Cowslip Green. The Misses M. some years afterward built a better house, and called it Barley Wood, on the side of a hill, about a mile from Wrington. Here they all lived, in the highest degree respected and beloved: their house the seat of piety, cheerfulness, literature, and hospitality; and they themselves receiving the honour of more visits from bishops, nobles, and persons of distinction, than, perhaps, any private family in the kingdom.

My sisters having been educated by them, and myself having two intimate friends, who were also the friends of the Misses More; the Rev. James Newton,[11] and my old tutor, John Henderson, they introduced me to the family in Park Street, and the acquaintance then commenced was progressively ripened into respect that continued to the termination of all their lives. Hannah More gave me unrestricted permission to bring down to Barley-Wood, any literary or other friend of mine, at any time; and of which privilege, on various occasions I availed myself.

Many years before, I had taken down, then by express, invitation, Mr. Southey, to see these excellent ladies; and in the year 1814, I conducted Mr. Coleridge to Barley Wood, and had the pleasure of introducing him to Hannah More and her sisters. For two hours after our arrival, Mr. C. displayed a good deal of his brilliant conversation, when he was listened to with surprise and delight by the whole circle; but at this time, unluckily, Lady—was announced, when Mrs. Hannah, from politeness, devoted herself to her titled visitant, while the little folks retired to a snug window with one or two of the Misses More, and there had their own agreeable converse.

Hannah More's eminently useful life manifested itself in nothing more than the effort she made to instruct the ignorant through the medium of moral and religious tracts, and by the establishment of schools. These were made blessings on a wide scale, whilst their good effects are continued to this time, and are likely to be perpetuated.

It is here proper to mention that after superintending these various schools, either personally or by proxy, for more than a quarter of a century, and after the decease of her four benevolent and excellent sisters, Hannah More found it necessary to leave Barley Wood, and to remove to Clifton. Here her expenses were reduced one half, and her comforts greatly increased. The house she occupied, No. 4, Windsor Terrace, Clifton, was even more pleasant than the one she had left, and the prospects from it much more enlivening. I remember to have called on her with the late Robert Hall, when she discovered a cheerfulness which showed that Barley Wood was no longer regretted. She brought us to the windows of her spacious drawing room, and there, in the expanse beneath, invited us to behold the new docks, and the merchants' numerous ships, while the hill of Dundry appeared (at the distance of four miles) far loftier than her own Mendip, and equally verdant. From the window of her back room also, directly under her eye, a far more exquisite prospect presented itself than any Barley Wood could boast; Leigh Woods, St. Vincent's Rocks, Clifton Down, and, to crown the whole, the winding Avon, with the continually shifting commerce of Bristol; and we left her with the impression that the change in her abode was a great accession to her happiness.

In a letter to Mr. Wilberforce, Hannah More thus rather pleasantly writes:—

"4, Windsor Terrace, Oct. 29, 1828.

My Very Dear Friend,

... I am diminishing my worldly cares. I have sold Barley Wood. I have exchanged the eight "pampered minions," for four sober servants. As I have sold my carriage and horses, I want no coachman: as I have no garden, I want no gardener. I have greatly lessened my house expenses, which enables me to maintain my schools, and enlarge my charities. My schools alone, with clothing, rents, &c., cost me L150 a year."

Mrs. H. More was sometimes liberally assisted in the support of these schools (as I learned from Miss Martha More,) by three philanthropic individuals, the late Mr. Henry Thornton, the late Mr. Wilberforce, and the late Sir W. W. Pepys, Bart.

Mrs. H. More, in a letter to Sir W. W. Pepys, acknowledging the receipt of one hundred pounds, says, "My most affectionate respects to Lady Pepys. The young race, of course, have all forgotten me; but I have not forgotten the energy with which your eldest son, at seven years old, ran into the drawing room, and said to me, "After all, Ferdinand would never have sent Columbus to find out America if it had not been for Isabella: it was entirely her doing." How gratifying it would have been to H. More, had she lived two or three years longer, to have found in the round of human things, that this energetic boy of seven years, had become (1837) the Lord High Chancellor of England! and now again in 1846.

All the paintings, drawings, and prints which covered the walls of the parlour, on Hannah More's quitting Barley Wood, she gave to her friend, Sir T. D. Ackland, Bart, with the exception of the portrait, by Palmer, of John Henderson, which she kindly presented to myself.

* * * * *

As I purposed, in projecting the present work, to allow myself a certain latitude in commenting on persons of talent connected recently with Bristol, and with whom Mr. C. and Mr. S. were acquainted, and especially when those persons are dead, I shall here in addition briefly refer to the late Robert Hall.

Mr. Hall is universally admitted to have possessed a mind of the first order. He united qualities, rarely combined, each of which would have constituted greatness; being a writer of pre-eminent excellence, and a sacred orator that exceeded all competition.

Posterity will judge of Robert Hall's capacity by his writings alone, but all who knew him as a preacher, unhesitatingly admit that in his pulpit exercises (when the absorption of his mind in his subject rendered him but half sensible to the agony of internal maladies which scarcely knew cessation, and which would have prostrated a spirit less firm) that in these exercises, the superiority of his intellect became more undeniably manifest than even in his deliberate compositions. Here some might approach, who could not surpass; but, as a preacher, he stood, collected, in solitary grandeur.

Let the reader who was never privileged to see or hear this extraordinary man, present to his imagination a dignified figure[12] that secured the deference which was never exacted; a capacious forehead; an eye, in the absence of excitement, dark, yet placid, but when warmed with argument, flashing almost coruscations of light, as the harmonious accompaniments of his powerful language.

But the pulpit presented a wider field for the display of this constitutional ardour. Here, the eye, that always awed, progressively advanced in expression; till warmed with his immortal subject it kindled into absolute radiance, that with its piercing beams penetrated the very heart, and so absorbed the spirit that the preacher himself was forgotten in the magnificent and almost overpowering array of impassioned thoughts and images. With this exterior, let the reader associate a voice, though not strong, eminently flexible and harmonious; a mind that felt, and therefore never erred in its emphasis; alternately touching the chord of pathos, or advancing with equal ease into the region of argument or passion; and then let him remember that every sentiment he uttered was clothed in expressions as mellifluous as perhaps ever fell from the tongue of man.

Few would dispute the testimony of Dugald Stewart on subjects of composition; and still fewer would question his authority in ascribing, as he does, to Robert Hall, the excellencies of Addison, Johnson, and Burke, without their defects: and to the works of Mr. H. reference will hereafter doubtless be made, as exhibiting some of the finest specimens that can be adduced, of the harmony, the elegance, the energy, and compass of the English tongue.

After noticing the excellencies of Mr. Hall as a Christian advocate, it appears almost bordering on the anti-climax, to name, that a great accession to this his distinction as a writer arose from his exquisite taste in composition, sedulously cultivated through life; and which (as the reward of so chastened a judgment, attained with such labour) at length superseded toil in the arrangement of his words,'since every thought, as it arose in his mind, when expression was given to it, appeared spontaneously, clothed in the most appropriate language.

Often has Mr. H. expatiated to me on the subject of style, so as to manifest the depth and acuteness of his criticisms; as well as to leave a firm conviction that the superiority he had acquired arose from no lax endeavour and happy casualty, but from severe and permanent effort, founded on the best models; at least, in that period of his life when the structure of his mind was formed, or forming. He said that Cicero had been his chief model.

This habit of minute and general analysis, combined as it was with his fine luminous intellect, enabled him with almost intuitive discernment, to perceive promptly whatever was valuable or defective in the productions of others; and this faculty being conjoined with solid learning, extensive reading, a retentive memory, a vast tore of diversified knowledge, together with a creative fancy and a logical mind, gave him at all times, an unobtrusive reliance on himself; with an inexhaustible mental treasury that qualified him alike to shine in the friendly circle, or to charm, and astonish, and edify, in the crowded assembly.

That the same individual should so far excel both as a preacher and a writer, and at the same time be equally distinguished for his brilliant conversational talent, is scarcely conceivable, and would be too much reputation for any man, unless tempered, as it was in Mr. Hall, by no ordinary measure of Christian humility, and a preference ever expressed, for the moral over the intellectual character.

It is not meant to imply that Mr. Hall was perfect, (a condition reserved for another state) but he made gigantic strides towards that point, at which all should aim. That such rare talents should have been devoted, through a long and consistent life, to the cause of his Redeemer, must excite thankfulness in the breast of every Christian, and at the same time deepen the hue with which he contemplates some others, whose talents and influences, were, and are, all banefully exercised, from what might appear a design to corrupt man, and madly to oppose and defy the Supreme himself!

Some of Mr. Hall's later admirers may resist the idea that there ever was a period when his ministerial exercises were more eloquent than at the last; but without hesitation, I adopt a different opinion. The estimate formed of him in this place is chiefly founded on the earlier part of life, when, without any opposing influences, a more unbridled range was given to his imagination; when there was an energy in his manner, and a felicity and copiousness in his language, which vibrated on the very verge of human capability.

It is incredible to suppose that intense and almost unceasing pain, should not partially have unnerved his mind; that he should not have directed a more undiverted concentration of thought, and revelled with more freedom and luxuriance of expression, before, rather than during the ravages of that insidious and fatal disease, under which he laboured for so many years, and which never allowed him, except when in the pulpit, to deviate from a recumbent posture. However combated by mental firmness, such perpetual suffering must have tended in some degree to repress the vehemence of his intellectual fire; and the astonishment prevails, that he possessed fortitude enough to contend so long with antagonists so potent. Except for the power of religion, and the sustaining influence of faith, nothing could have restrained him from falling back on despondency or despair. Yet even to his final sermon, he maintained his preeminence; and in no one discourse of his last years, did he decline into mediocrity, or fail to remind the elder part of his audience of a period when his eloquence was almost superhuman.[13]

After allowing, that many humble but sincere preachers of the gospel of Christ may be as accepted of God, and be made as useful to their fellow-men as the most prodigally endowed, yet the possession of great and well-directed talents must not be underrated. Different soils require different culture, and that which is inoperative on one man may be beneficial to another, and it is hardly possible for any one to form a due estimate of the elevation of which pulpit oratory is susceptible who never heard Robert Hall. This character of his preaching refers more particularly to the period when his talents were in their most vigorous exercise; a little before the time when he published his celebrated sermon on "Infidelity."

This sermon I was so happy as to hear delivered, and have no hesitation in expressing an opinion that the oral was not only very different from the printed discourse, but greatly its superior. In the one case he expressed the sentiments of a mind fully charged with matter the most invigorating, and solemnly important; but, discarding notes, (which he once told me always "hampered him") it was not in his power to display the same language, or to record the same evanescent trains of thought; so that in preparing a sermon for the press, no other than a general resemblance could be preserved. In trusting alone to his recollection, when the stimulus was withdrawn of a crowded and most attentive auditory, the ardent feeling; the thought that "burned," was liable, in some measure, to become deteriorated by the substitution of cool philosophical arrangement and accuracy for the spontaneous effusions of his overflowing heart; so that what was gained by one course was more than lost by the other.

During Mr. Hall's last visit to Bristol, (prior to his final settlement there) I conducted him to view the beautiful scenery in the neighbourhood, and no one could be more alive to the picturesque than Mr. H. On former occasions, when beholding the expanse of water before him, he has said, with a pensive ejaculation, "We have no water in Cambridgeshire;" and subsequently, in noticing the spreading foliage of Lord de Clifford's park, he has observed with the same mournful accent; "Ah, sir, we have no such trees as these in Leicestershire." And when at this time he arrived at a point which presented the grandest assemblage of beauty, he paused in silence to gaze on the rocks of St. Vincent, and the Avon, and the dense woods, and the distant Severn, and the dim blue mountains of Wales, when with that devotional spirit which accorded with the general current of his feelings, in an ecstacy he exclaimed; "Oh, if these outskirts of the Almighty's dominion can, with one glance, so oppress the heart with gladness, what will be the disclosures of eternity, when the full revelation shall be made of the things not seen, and the river of the city of God!"

But "Recollections" of Mr. Hall are not intended, although it may be named, he stated, in one of these rides, that he had arisen from his bed two or three times in the course of the night, when projecting his "Sermon on the Death of the Princess Charlotte" to record thoughts, or to write down passages that he feared might otherwise escape his memory. This, at least, showed the intensity of the interest he felt, though a superabundance of the choicest matter was ever at his command; and if one idea happened accidentally to be lost, one that was better immediately supplied its place.

Perhaps this notice may be deemed, by some, too extended, if not misplaced; but if the present occasion of referring to Mr. Hall, had been neglected, no other might have occurred. The man whose name is recorded on high stands in no need of human praise; yet survivors have a debt to pay, and whilst I disclaim every undue bias on my mind in estimating the character of one who so ennobled human nature, none can feel surprise that I should take a favorable retrospect of Mr. H. after an intercourse and friendship of more than forty years. Inadequate as is the present offering, some satisfaction is felt at the opportunity presented of bestowing this small tribute to the memory of one whom I ever venerated, and, in so doing, of adding another attestation to the merits of so good and great a man.

* * * * *

The reader after this long digression, will have his attention directed once more, to Mr. Coleridge, who was left at Clevedon in the possession of domestic comfort, and with the hope, if not the prospect, of uninterrupted happiness. It could hardly be supposed, that in the element of so much excitement, the spirit of inspiration should remain slumbering. On my next seeing Mr. C. he read me, with more than his accustomed enthusiasm, those tenderly affectionate lines to his "Sara," beginning

"My pensive Sara, thy soft cheek reclined." &c,

Mr. Coleridge now began to console himself with the suspicion, not only that felicity might be found on this side the Atlantic, but that Clevedon concentrated the sum of all that Earth had to bestow. He was now even satisfied that the Susquehannah itself retired into shade before the superior attractions of his own native Severn. He had, in good truth, discovered the grand secret; the abode of happiness, after which all are so sedulously inquiring; and this accompanied with the cheering assurance, that, by a merely pleasurable intellectual exertion, he would be able to provide for his moderate expenses, and experience the tranquillizing joys of seclusion, while the whole country and Europe were convulsed with war and changes.

Alas, repose was not made for man, nor man for repose! Mr. Coleridge at this time little thought of the joys and sorrows, the vicissitudes of life, and revolutions of feeling, with which he was ordained ere long to contend! Inconveniences connected with his residence at Clevedon, not at first taken into the calculation, now gradually unfolded themselves. The place was too far from Bristol. It was difficult of access to friends; and the neighbours were a little too tattling and inquisitive. And then again, Mr. Coleridge could not well dispense with his literary associates, and particularly with his access to that fine institution, the Bristol City Library; and, in addition, as he was necessitated to submit to frugal restraints, a walk to Bristol was rather a serious undertaking; and a return the same day hardly to be accomplished, in the failure of which, his "Sara," was lonely and uneasy; so that his friends urged him to return once more to the place he had left; which he did, forsaking, with reluctance, his rose-bound cottage, and taking up his abode on Redcliff-hill. There was now some prospect that the printer's types would be again set in motion, although it was quite proper that they should remain in abeyance while so many grand events were transpiring in the region of the domestic hearth. This was late in the year 1795.

After Mr. Coleridge had been some little time settled in Bristol, he experienced another removal. To exchange the country, and all the beauties of nature, for pent-up rooms on Redcliff-hill, demanded from a poet, sacrifices for which a few advantages would but ill compensate. In this uneasy state of mind, Mr. C. received an invitation from his friend, Mr. T. Poole, of Stowey, Somersetshire, to come and visit him in that retired town, and to which place Mr. and Mrs. Coleridge repaired.

The volume of poems, that, in the presence of so many more important affairs, had retired into shade, was now about to reappear, as will be found by the following letter.


My dear Cottle,

I feel it much, and very uncomfortable, that, loving you as a brother, and feeling pleasure in pouring out my heart to you, I should so seldom be able to write a letter to you, unconnected with business, and uncontaminated with excuses and apologies. I give every moment I can spare from my garden and the Reviews (i. e.) from my potatoes and meat to the poem, (Religious Musings) but I go on slowly, for I torture the poem and myself with corrections; and what I write in an hour, I sometimes take two or three days in correcting. You may depend on it, the poem and prefaces will take up exactly the number of pages I mentioned, and I am extremely anxious to have the work as perfect as possible, and which I cannot do, if it be finished immediately. The "Religious Musings" I have altered monstrously, since I read them to you and received your criticisms. I shall send them to you in my next. The Sonnets I will send you with the Musings. God love you!

From your affectionate friend,

S. T. Coleridge."

Mr. Coleridge at this time meditated the printing of two volumes of his poems. He thus expresses his intention.

"I mean to have none but large poems in the second volume; none under three hundred lines; therefore I have crowded all my little pieces into this."

He speaks in the same letter, of two poems which I never saw. Perhaps they were composed in his own mind, but never recorded on paper; a practice which Mr. C. sometimes adopted. He thus writes. "The 'Nativity' is not quite three hundred lines. It has cost me much labour in polishing; more than any poem I ever wrote, and I believe deserves it more. The epistle to Tom. Poole, which will come with the 'Nativity,' is I think one of my most pleasing compositions."

In a letter of Mr. C. dated from Stowey, Mr. Coleridge also says, "I have written a Ballad of three hundred lines, and also a plan of general study." It appeared right to make these statements, and it is hoped the productions named may still be in existence.

Mr. Coleridge now finding it difficult to superintend the press at so great a distance as Stowey, and that it interfered also with his other literary engagements, he resolved once more to remove to Bristol, the residence of so many friends; and to that city he repaired, the beginning of 1796. A conviction now also rested on his mind, as there was the prospect of an increase in his family, that he must bestir himself, and effectually call his resolutions into exercise. Soon after he was fairly settled, he sent me the following letter.

"My dear Cottle,

I have this night and to-morrow for you, being alone, and my spirits calm. I shall consult my poetic honour, and of course your interest, more by staying at home, than by drinking tea with you. I should be happy to see my poems out even by next week, and I shall continue in stirrups, that is, shall not dismount my Pegasus, till Monday morning, at which time you will have to thank God for having done with

Your affectionate friend always, but author evanescent.

S. T. C."

Except for the serious effect, unintentionally produced, a rather ludicrous circumstance some time after this occurred, that is, after Mr. C. had "mounted his Pegasus" for the last time, and, permitted, so long ago, "the lock and key to be turned upon him."

The promised notes, preface, and some of the text, not having been furnished, I had determined to make no further application, but to allow Mr. C. to consult his own inclination and convenience. Having a friend who wanted an introduction to Mr. Coleridge, I invited him to dinner, and sent Mr. C. a note, to name the time, and to solicit his company. The bearer of the note was simply requested to give it to Mr. C. and not finding him at home, inconsiderately brought it back. Mr. Coleridge returning home soon after, and learning that I had sent a letter, which was taken back, in the supposition that it could relate but to one subject, addressed to me the following astounding letter.

"Redcliff-hill, Feb. 22, 1796.

My dear Sir,

It is my duty and business to thank God for all his dispensations, and to believe them the best possible; but, indeed, I think I should have been more thankful, if he had made me a journeyman shoemaker, instead of an author by trade. I have left my friends: I have left plenty; I have left that ease which would have secured a literary immortality, and have enabled me to give the public, works conceived in moments of inspiration, and polished with leisurely solicitude, and alas! for what have I left them? for—who deserted me in the hour of distress, and for a scheme of virtue impracticable and romantic! So I am forced to write for bread! write the flights of poetic enthusiasm, when every minute I am hearing a groan from my wife. Groans, and complaints, and sickness! The present hour I am in a quick-set hedge of embarrassment, and whichever way I turn, a thorn runs into me! The future is cloud, and thick darkness! Poverty, perhaps, and the thin faces of them that want bread, looking up to me! Nor is this all. My happiest moments for composition are broken in upon by the reflection that I must make haste. I am too late! I am already months behind! I have received my pay beforehand! Oh, wayward and desultory spirit of genius! Ill canst thou brook a taskmaster! The tenderest touch from the hand of obligation, wounds thee like a scourge of scorpions.

I have been composing in the fields this morning, and came home to write down the first rude sheet of my preface, when I heard that your man had brought a note from you. I have not seen it, but I guess its contents. I am writing as fast as I can. Depend on it you shall not be out of pocket for me! I feel what I owe you, and independently of this, I love you as a friend; indeed, so much, that I regret, seriously regret, that you have been my copyholder.

If I have written petulantly, forgive me. God knows I am sore all over. God bless you, and believe me that, setting gratitude aside, I love and esteem you, and have your interest at heart full as much as my own.

S. T. Coleridge."

At the receipt of this painful letter, which made me smile and sigh at the same moment, my first care was to send the young and desponding Bard some of the precious metal, to cheer his drooping spirits; to inform him of his mistake; and to renew my invitation; which was accepted, and at this interview he was as cheerful as ever. He saw no difference in my countenance, and I perceived none in his. The "thick cloud" and the "thorn" had completely passed away, whilst his brilliant conversation charmed and edified the friend for whose sake he had been invited.

At length, Mr. Coleridge's volume of poems was completed. On the blank leaf of one of the copies, he asked for a pen, and wrote the following:

"Dear Cottle,

On the blank leaf of my poems, I can most appropriately write my acknowledgments to you, for your too disinterested conduct in the purchase of them. Indeed, if ever they should acquire a name and character, it might be truly said, the world owed them to you. Had it not been for you, none perhaps of them would have been published, and some not written.

Your, obliged and affectionate friend,

S. T. Coleridge.

Bristol, April 15, 1796."

The particulars respecting the publication of Mr. Coleridge's volume of Poems have been continued unbroken, to the exclusion of some antecedent circumstances, which will now be noticed.

If it were my object to give a fictitious, and not a real character; to remove, scrupulously, all protuberances that interfered with the polish, I might withhold the following letter, which merely shows the solicitude with which Mr. C. at this time, regarded small profits. His purse, soon after his return to Bristol, being rather low, with the demands on it increasing, he devised an ingenious, and very innocent plan for replenishing it, in a small way, as will thus appear.

"My ever dear Cottle,

Since I last conversed with you on the subject, I have been thinking over again the plan I suggested to you, concerning the application of Count Rumford's plan to the city of Bristol. I have arranged in my mind the manner, and matter of the Pamphlet, which would be three sheets, and might be priced at one shilling.

'Considerations Addressed to the Inhabitants of Bristol, on a subject of importance, (unconnected with Politics.) BY S. T. C.'

Now I have by me the history of Birmingham, and the history of Manchester. By observing the names, revenues, and expenditures of their different charities, I could easily alter the calculations of the "Bristol Address," and, at a trifling expense, and a few variations, the same work might be sent to Manchester and Birmingham. "Considerations addressed to the inhabitants of Birmingham." &c. I could so order it, that by writing to a particular friend, at both places, the pamphlet should be thought to have been written at each place, as it certainly would be for each place. I think therefore 750 might be printed in all. Now will you undertake this? either to print it and divide the profits, or (which indeed I should prefer) would you give me three guineas, for the copy-right? I would give you the first sheet on Thursday, the second on the Monday following, the third on the Thursday following. To each pamphlet I would annex the alterations to be made, when the press was stopped at 250.[14]

God love you!

S. T. C."

Mr. Coleridge used occasionally to regret, with even pungency of feeling, that he had no relation in the world, to whom, in a time of extremity, he could apply "for a little assistance." He appeared like a being dropped from the clouds, without tie or connection on earth; and during the years in which I knew him, he never once visited any one of his relations, nor exchanged a letter with them. It used to fill myself and others with concern and astonishment, that such a man should, apparently, be abandoned. On some occasions I urged him to break through all impediments, and go and visit his friends at Ottery; this his high spirit could not brook. I then pressed him to dedicate his Poems to one of his relatives, his brother George, of whom he occasionally spoke with peculiar kindness. He was silent; but some time after, he said in a letter, "You, I am sure will be glad to learn, that I shall follow your advice."

In the poem which thus arose, what can be more touching than these lines in his dedication to his brother? (Second edition.)

"To me the Eternal Wisdom hath dispensed A different fortune, and more different mind— Me from the spot where first I sprang to light Too soon transplanted, ere my soul had fixed Its first domestic loves; and hence through life Chasing chance—started friendships. A brief while, Some have preserved me from life's pelting ills."

In certain features of their character, there was a strong resemblance between Chatterton and S. T. Coleridge, with a reverse in some points, for Chatterton was loved and cherished by his family, but neglected by the world. In the agony of mind which Mr. C. sometimes manifested on this subject, I have wished to forget those four tender lines in his Monody on Chatterton.

"Poor Chatterton! farewell! Of darkest hues, This chaplet cast I on thy unshaped tomb: But dare no longer on the sad theme muse, Lest kindred woes persuade a kindred doom!"

Mr. C. would not have felt so much, if his own natural and unshaken affections had been less ardent.

Before I enter on an important incident in Mr. Coleridge's Bristol life, I must previously observe, that his mind was in a singular degree distinguished for the habit of projecting. New projects and plans, at this time, followed each other in rapid succession, and while the vividness of the impression lasted, the very completion could scarcely have afforded more satisfaction than the vague design. To project, with him, was commonly sufficient. The execution, of so much consequence in the estimation of others, with him was a secondary point. I remember him once to have read to me, from his pocket book; a list of eighteen different works which he had resolved to write, and several of them in quarto, not one of which he ever effected. At the top of the list appeared the word "Pantisocracy! 4to." Each of these works, he could have talked, (for he often poured forth as much as half an 8vo. volume in a single evening, and that in language sufficiently pure and connected to admit of publication) but talking merely benefits the few, to the exclusion of the many. The work that apparently advanced the nearest to completion, was "Translations of the modern Latin Poets;" two vols. 8vo. This work, which no man could better have accomplished than himself, he so far proceeded in, as to allow of the Proposals being issued. It was to be published by subscription, and he brought with him from Cambridge a very respectable list of university subscribers. His excuses for not showing any part of the work, justified the suspicion that he had not advanced in it further than these said "Proposals."

Another prominent feature in Mr. Coleridge's mind, was procrastination. It is not to be supposed that he ever made a promise or entered on an engagement without intending to fulfil it, but none who knew him could deny that he wanted much of that steady, persevering determination which is the precursor of success, and the parent of all great actions. His strongest intentions were feebly supported after the first paroxysms of resolve, so that any judicious friend would strenuously have dissuaded him from an undertaking that involved a race with time. Mr. Coleridge, however, differently regarded his mental constitution, and projected at this time a periodical miscellany, called "The Watchman."

When the thought of this magazine first suggested itself to his mind, he convened his chief friends one evening at the Rummer Tavern, to determine on the size, price, and time of publishing, with all other preliminaries, essential to the launching this first-rate vessel on the mighty deep. Having heard of the circumstance the next day, I rather wondered at not having also been requested to attend, and while ruminating on the subject, I received from Mr. C. the following communication.

"My dear friend,

I am fearful that you felt hurt at my not mentioning to you the proposed 'Watchman,' and from my not requesting you to attend the meeting. My dear friend, my reasons were these. All who met were expected to become subscribers to a fund; I knew there would be enough without you, and I knew, and felt, how much money had been drawn from you lately.

God Almighty love you!

S. T. C."

In a few days the following prospectus of the new work was circulated far and near.

"To supply at once the places of a Review, Newspaper, and Annual Register.

On Tuesday, the 1st of March, 1796, will be published, No. 1, price fourpence, of a Miscellany, to be continued every eighth day, under the name of


This Miscellany will be comprised in two sheets, or thirty-two pages, closely printed in 8vo. the type, long primer.


1st. A History of the Domestic and Foreign Policy of the preceding days.

2nd. The Speeches in both Houses of Parliament, and during the recess. Select Parliamentary Speeches, from the commencement of the reign of Charles the First, to the present Aera, with Notes, Historical and Biographical.

3rd. Original Essays and Poetry.

4th. Review of interesting and important Publications.


FIRST. There being no Advertisements, a greater quantity of Original matter will be given, and the Speeches in Parliament will be less abridged.

SECOND. From its form, it may be bound up at the end of the year, and become an Annual Register.

THIRD. This last circumstance may induce men of letters to prefer this miscellany to more perishable publications as the vehicle of their effusions.

FOURTH. Whenever the Ministerial and Opposition Prints differ in their accounts of occurrences, &c. such difference will always be faithfully stated."

Of all men, Mr. Coleridge was the least qualified to display periodical industry. Many of his cooler friends entertained from the beginning no sanguine expectations of success, but now that the experiment was fairly to be tried, they united with him in making every exertion to secure it.

As a magazine it was worth nothing without purchasers. Bristol was the strong-hold, where about two hundred and fifty subscribers were obtained by myself, and one hundred and twenty by Mr. Reed. These were insufficient. What was to be done? A bold measure was determined upon. Mr. Coleridge, conceiving that his means of subsistence depended upon the success of this undertaking, armed himself with unwonted resolution, and expressed his determination to travel over half England and take the posse comitatus by storm.

In conformity with such resolution, he obtained letters of introduction to influential men in the respective towns he meant to visit, and, like a shrewd calculator, determined to add the parson's avocation to that of the political pamphleteer. The beginning of Jan. 1796, Mr. Coleridge, laden with recommendatory epistles, and rich in hope, set out on his eventful journey, and visited in succession, Worcester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Lichfield, Derby, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, &c. and as a crowning achievement, at the last, paid his respects to the great metropolis; in all which places, by bills, prospectuses, advertisements, and other expedients, the reading public were duly apprised of the "NEW REVIEW, NEWSPAPER, and ANNUAL REGISTER," about to be published.

The good people, in all the towns through which Mr. Coleridge passed, were electrified by his extraordinary eloquence. At this time, and during the whole of his residence in Bristol, there was, in the strict sense, little of the true, interchangeable conversation in Mr. C. On almost every subject on which he essayed to speak, he made an impassioned harangue of a quarter, or half an hour; so that inveterate talkers, while Mr. Coleridge was on the wing, generally suspended their own flight, and felt it almost a profanation to interrupt so impressive and mellifluous a speaker. This singular, if not happy peculiarity, occasioned even Madame de Stael to remark of Mr. C. that "He was rich in a Monologue, but poor in a Dialogue."

From the brilliant volubility before noticed, admiration and astonishment followed Mr. C. like a shadow, through the whole course of his peregrinations. This new "Review, Newspaper, and Annual Register," was largely patronized; for who would not give fourpence every eighth day, to be furnished, by so competent a man as Mr. Coleridge, with this quintessence, this concentration of all that was valuable, in Politics, Criticism, and Literature; enriched in addition, with Poetry of the first waters, luminous Essays, and other effusions of men of letters? So choice a morceau was the very thing that every body wanted; and, in the course of his journey, subscriptions poured in to the extent of one thousand; and Mr. C. on his return, after what might be called a triumph, discovered the elasticity of his spirit; smiling at past depressions, and now, on solid ground, anticipating ease, wealth, and fame.

The first of March arrived. The "Watchman" was published. Although deprived of the pleasure of contributing to Mr. Coleridge's fund, I determined to assist him in other ways, and that far more effectually. On the publication of the first Number, besides my trouble in sending round to so many subscribers,—with all the intense earnestness attending the transaction of the most weighty concerns, it occupied Mr. Coleridge and myself four full hours to arrange, reckon, (each pile being counted by Mr. C. after myself, to be quite satisfied that there was no extra 3-1/2 d. one slipped in unawares,) pack up, and write invoices and letters for the London and country customers, all expressed thus, in the true mercantile style:

Bristol, March 1st, 1796.

Mr. Pritchard, (Derby)

Dr. to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

To 73 No. 1 of the Watchman ... 3-1/2 d. ... L1 1 3-1/2

This routine was repeated with every fresh number. My part was zealously and cheerfully discharged, with the encouraging hope that it would essentially serve my anxious and valued friend. But all would not do!

A feeling of disappointment prevailed early and pretty generally, amongst the subscribers. The Prospectus promised too much. In the Review department, no one article appeared embodying any high order of talent. The Newspaper section pleased no one, from the confined limits to which the editor was restricted, independently of which, nearly all the subscribers had seen the Debates in their length, through other mediums; and yet this profitless part of the work gave most trouble to the compiler. Its dulness, I know, fretted Mr. Coleridge exceedingly.[15]

The theory of publishing was delightful; but the exemplification—the practice, proved, alas! teasing, if not tormenting. One pitiful subscriber of fourpence, every eighth day, thought his boys did not improve much under it. Another expected more from his "Annual Register!" Another wanted more Reviews! Another, more Politics! and those a little sharper. As the work proceeded, joys decreased, and perplexities multiplied! added to which, subscribers rapidly fell off, debts were accumulated and unpaid, till, at the Tenth Number, the Watchman at the helm cried "Breakers" and the vessel stranded!—It being formally announced, that "The work did not pay its expenses!"

The "Address to the readers of the Watchman," in the last page, was the following:

"This is the last Number of the Watchman.—Henceforward I shall cease to cry the state of the Political atmosphere. While I express my gratitude to those friends who exerted themselves so liberally in the establishment of this Miscellany, I may reasonably be expected to assign some reason for relinquishing it thus abruptly. The reason is short and satisfactory.—The work does not pay its expences. Part of my subscribers have relinquished it, because it did not contain sufficient original composition; and a still larger number, because it contained too much. Those who took it in as a mere journal of weekly events, must have been unacquainted with 'FLOWER'S CAMBRIDGE INTELLIGENCER;' a Newspaper, the style and composition of which would claim distinguished praise, even among the productions of literary leisure; while it breathes everywhere the severest morality; fighting fearlessly the good fight against tyranny, yet never unfaithful to that religion, whose service is perfect freedom. Those, on the other hand, who expected from it much and varied original composition, have naturally relinquished it in favour of the 'NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE;' a work which has almost monopolized the talent of the country, and with which I should have continued a course of literary rivalship, with as much success as might be expected to attend a young recruit, who should oppose himself to a phalanx of disciplined warriors. Long may it continue to deserve the support of the patriot and the philanthropist; and while it teaches its readers NATIONAL LIBERTY, prepare them for the enjoyment of it; strengthening the intellect by SCIENCE, and softening our affections by the GRACES! To return to myself. I have endeavoured to do well: and it must be attributed to defect of ability, not of inclination or effort, if the words of the Prophet be altogether applicable to me.

"O, Watchman! thou hast watched in vain."

Many readers will feel a concern in the arrangements and perplexities of Mr. Coleridge at the time of publishing his "Watchman;" for he had a more vital interest involved in the success of that work than he had, individually, in the rise and fall of empires. When he returned from his northern journey laden with subscribers, and with hope ripened into confidence, all that had yet been done was the mere scaffolding; the building was now to be erected. Soon after this time I received from Mr. Coleridge the following letter.


My ever dear Cottle,

I will wait on you this evening at 9 o'clock, till which hour I am on "Watch." Your Wednesday's invitation I of course accept, but I am rather sorry that you should add this expense to former liberalities.

Two editions of my Poems would barely repay you. Is it not possible to get twenty-five, or thirty of the Poems ready by to-morrow, as Parsons, of Paternoster Row, has written to me pressingly about them. 'People are perpetually asking after them.' All admire the Poetry in the 'Watchman;' he says, I can send them with one hundred "of the First Number," which he has written for. I think if you were to send half a dozen 'Joans of Arc,' [4to. L1. 1. 0] on sale or return, it would not be amiss. To all the places in the North, we will send my 'Poems,' my 'Conciones,' and the 'Joans of Arc,' together, per waggon. You shall pay the carriage for the London and the Birmingham parcels; I for the Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham, Manchester, and Liverpool.

With regard to the Poems I mean to give away, I wish to make it a common interest; that is, I will give away a sheet full of Sonnets. One to Mrs. Barbauld; one to Wakefield; one to Dr. Beddoes: one to Wrangham, (a College acquaintance of mine, an admirer of me, and a pitier of my principles!) one to George Augustus Pollen, Esq. one to C. Lamb; one to Wordsworth; one to my brother G. and one to Dr. Parr. These Sonnets I mean to write on the blank leaf, respectively, of each copy.[16]

Concerning the paper for the 'Watchman,' I was vexed to hear your proposal of trusting it to Biggs, who, if he undertook it at all, would have a profit, which heaven knows, I cannot afford. My plan was, either that you should write to your paper-maker, saying that you had recommended him to me, and ordering for me twenty or forty reams, at a half year's credit; or else, in your own name; in which case I would transfer to you, Reed's[17] weekly account, amounting to 120 3-1/2 d's, (or 35 shillings) and the Birmingham monthly account, amounting to L14. a month.

God bless you,

and S. T. Coleridge."

This letter requires a few explanations. In recommending that Biggs, the printer, should choose the paper, it was not designed for him to provide it, which, had he been so requested, he would not have done, but merely to select one, out of different samples to be submitted to him, as that which he, as a printer, thought the best. This was explained to Mr. C. It will be perceived, that Mr. Coleridge's two proposals were virtually one: as, if I ordered the paper for myself or for another, the responsibility would rest with me. The plain fact is, I purchased the whole of the paper for the "Watchman," allowing Mr. C. to have it at prime cost, and receiving small sums from him occasionally, in liquidation. I became responsible, also, to Mr. B. for printing the work, by which means I reduced the price per sheet, as a bookseller, (1000) from fifty shillings to thirty five shillings. Mr. C. paid me for the paper in fractions, as he found it convenient, but from the falling off of his own receipts, I never received the whole. It was a losing concern altogether, and I was willing to bear, uncomplaining, my proportion of the loss. There is some difference between this statement, and that of Mr. Coleridge in his "Biographia Literaria."[18] A defect of memory must have existed, arising out of the lapse of twenty two years; but my notices, made at that time, did not admit of mistake.

My loss was also augmented from another cause. Mr. C. states in the above work, that his London publisher never paid him "one farthing," but "set him at defiance." I also was more than his equal companion in this misfortune. The thirty copies of Mr. C.'s poems, and the six "Joans of Arc" (referred to in the preceding letter) found a ready sale, by this said "indefatigable London publisher," and large and fresh orders were received, so that Mr. Coleridge and myself participated in two very opposite feelings, the one of exultation that our publications had found so good a sale; and the other of depression, that the time of payment never arrived!

All the copies also, of Mr. C.'s Poems, and the "Joan's of Arc," which were sent to the North, so far as I am concerned, shared the same fate. I do not know that they were ever paid for. If they were, in combination with other things, it was my wish that the entanglement should never be unravelled, for who could take from Mr. C. any portion of his slender remittances.

The most amusing appendage to this unfortunate "Miscellany," will now be presented to the reader, in the seven following letters of Mr. Coleridge, addressed to his friend Mr. Josiah Wade, and written in the progress of his journey to collect subscribers for the "Watchman."

"Worcester, Jan. 1796.

My dear Wade,

We were five in number, and twenty-five, in quantity. The moment I entered the coach, I stumbled on a huge projection, which might be called a belly, with the same propriety that you might name Mount Atlas a mole-hill. Heavens! that a man should be unconscionable enough to enter a stage coach, who would want elbow room if he were walking on Salisbury Plain!

This said citizen was a most violent aristocrat, but a pleasant humourous fellow in other respects, and remarkably well-informed in agricultural science; so that the time passed pleasantly enough. We arrived at Worcester at half-past two: I of course dined at the inn, where I met Mr. Stevens. After dinner I christianized myself; that is, washed and changed, and marched in finery and cleanliness to High-Street. With regard to business, there is no chance of doing any thing at Worcester. The aristocrats are so numerous, and the influence of the clergy so extensive, that Mr. Barr thinks no bookseller will venture to publish the 'Watchman.'

P.S. I hope and trust that the young citizeness is well, and also Mrs. Wade. Give my love to the latter, and a kiss for me to little Miss Bratinella.

S. T. Coleridge."

"Birmingham, Jan. 1796.

My dear friend,

... My exertions have been incessant, for in whatever company I go, I am obliged to be the figurante of the circle. Yesterday I preached twice, and, indeed, performed the whole service, morning and afternoon. There were about fourteen hundred persons present, and my sermons (great part extempore) were preciously peppered with Politics. I have here, at least, double the number of subscribers, I had expected...."

"Nottingham, Jan. 7, 1796.

My dear friend,

You will perceive by this letter I have changed my route. From Birmingham, on Friday last, (four o'clock in the morning) I proceeded to Derby, stayed there till Monday morning, and am now at Nottingham. From Nottingham I go to Sheffield; from Sheffield to Manchester; from Manchester to Liverpool? from Liverpool to London, from London to Bristol. Ah, what a weary way! My poor crazy ark has been tossed to and fro on an ocean of business, and I long for the Mount Ararat on which it is to rest. At Birmingham I was extremely unwell; a violent cold in my head and limbs confined me for two days. Business succeeded very well; about a hundred subscribers, I think.

At Derby, also, I succeeded tolerably well. Mr. Strutt, the successor of Sir Richard Arkwright, tells me, I may count on forty or fifty in Derby. Derby is full of curiosities; the cotton and silk mills; Wright, the painter, and Dr. Darwin, the every thing but Christian! Dr. Darwin possesses, perhaps, a greater range of knowledge than any other man in Europe, and is the most inventive of philosophical men. He thinks in a new train on all subjects but religion. He bantered me on the subject of religion. I heard all his arguments, and told him, it was infinitely consoling to me—to find that the arguments of so great a man, adduced against the existence of a God and the evidences of revealed religion, were such as had startled me at fifteen, but had become the objects of my smile at twenty. Not one new objection; not even an ingenious one! He boasted 'that he had never read one book in favour of such stuff! but that he had read all the works of infidels.'

What would you think, Mr. Wade, of a man, who having abused and ridiculed you, should openly declare, that he had heard all that your enemies had to say against you, but had scorned to inquire the truth from any one of your friends? Would you think him an honest man? I am sure you would not. Yet such are all the infidels whom I have known. They talk of a subject, yet are proud to confess themselves profoundly ignorant of it. Dr. Darwin would have been ashamed to reject 'Hutton's Theory of the Earth,' without having minutely examined it: yet what is it to us, how the earth was made, a thing impossible to be known. This system the Dr. did not reject without having severely studied it; but all at once he makes up his mind on such important subjects, as, whether we be the outcasts of a blind idiot, called Nature, or, the children of an All-wise and Infinitely Good God! Whether we spend a few miserable years on this earth, and then sink into a clod of the valley; or, endure the anxieties of mortal life, only to fit us for the enjoyment of immortal happiness. These subjects are unworthy a philosopher's investigation! He deems that there is a certain self-evidence in Infidelity, and becomes an Atheist by intuition! Well did St. Paul say, 'Ye have an evil heart of unbelief.'

... What lovely children Mr. Barr, of Worcester has! After church, in the evening, they sat round and sung hymns, so sweetly that they overpowered me. It was with great difficulty that I abstained from weeping aloud! and the infant, in Mrs. B.'s. arms, leant forward, and stretched his little arms, and stared, and smiled! It seemed a picture of heaven, where the different orders of the blessed, join different voices in one melodious hallelulia! and the babe like a young spirit just that moment arrived in heaven, startled at the seraphic songs, and seized at once with wonder and rapture!...

From your affectionate friend,

S. T. Coleridge."

"Sheffield, Jan. 1796.

My very dear friend,

I arrived at this place, late last night, by the mail from Nottingham, where I have been treated with kindness and friendship, of which I can give you but a faint idea. I preached a charity sermon there last sunday; I preached in colored clothes. With regard to the gown at Birmingham (of which you inquire) I suffered myself to be over-persuaded:—first of all, my sermon being of so political a tendency, had I worn my blue coat, it would have impugned Edwards. They would have said, he had stuck a political lecturer in his pulpit. Secondly,—the society is of all sorts. Unitarians, Arians, Trinitarians, &c.! and I must have shocked a multitude of prejudices. And thirdly,—there is a difference between an Inn, and a place of residence. In the first, your example, is of little consequence; in a single instance only, it ceases to operate as example; and my refusal would have been imputed to affectation, or an unaccommodating spirit. Assuredly I would not do it in a place where I intended to preach often. And even in the vestry at Birmingham, when they at last persuaded me, I told them, I was acting against my better knowledge, and should possibly feel uneasy after. So these accounts of the matter you must consider as reasons and palliations, concluding, 'I plead guilty my Lord!' Indeed I want firmness. I perceive I do. I have that within me which makes it difficult to say, No! (repeatedly) to a number of persons who seem uneasy and anxious....

My kind remembrances to Mrs. Wade. God bless her, and you, and (like a bad shilling slipped in between two guineas.)

Your faithful and affectionate friend,

S. T. Coleridge."

Mr. Coleridge, in the course of his extensive journey, having had to act the tradesman on rather an extended scale; conferring and settling with all the booksellers in the respective towns, as to the means of conveyance, allowance, remittances, &c. he thus wrote in a dejected mood, to his friend Mr. Wade,—an unpropitious state of mind for a new enterprise, and very different from those sanguine hopes which he had expressed on other occasions.

"My dear friend,

... I succeeded very well here at Litchfield. Belcher, bookseller, Birmingham; Sutton, Nottingham; Pritchard, Derby; and Thomson, Manchester, are the publishers. In every number of the 'Watchman,' there be printed these words, 'Published in Bristol, by the Author, S. T. Coleridge, and sold, &c. &c.'

I verily believe no poor fellow's idea-pot ever bubbled up so vehemently with fears, doubts and difficulties, as mine does at present. Heaven grant it may not boil over, and put out the fire! I am almost heartless! My past life seems to me like a dream, a feverish dream! all one gloomy huddle of strange actions, and dim-discovered motives! Friendships lost by indolence, and happiness murdered by mismanaged sensibility! The present hour I seem in a quickset hedge of embarrassments! For shame! I ought not to mistrust God! but indeed, to hope is far more difficult than to fear. Bulls have horns, Lions have talons.

The Fox, and Statesman subtle wiles ensure, The Cit, and Polecat stink and are secure: Toads with their venom, Doctors with their drug, The Priest, and Hedgehog, in their robes are snug! Oh, Nature! cruel step-mother, and hard, To thy poor, naked, fenceless child the Bard! No Horns but those by luckless Hymen worn, And those, (alas! alas!) not Plenty's Horn! With naked feelings, and with aching pride, He bears th' unbroken blast on every side! Vampire booksellers drain him to the heart, And Scorpion critics cureless venom dart![19]

S. T. C."

"Manchester, Jan. 7, 1796.

My dear friend,

I arrived at Manchester, last night, from Sheffield, to which place I shall only send about thirty numbers. I might have succeeded there, at least, equally well with the former towns, but I should injure the sale of the 'Iris.' the editor of which Paper (a very amiable and ingenious young man, of the name of 'James Montgomery') is now in prison, for a libel on a bloody-minded magistrate there. Of course, I declined publicly advertising or disposing of the 'Watchman' in that town.

This morning I called on Mr. —— with H's letter. Mr. —— received me as a rider, and treated me with insolence that was really amusing from its novelty. 'Overstocked with these Articles.' 'People always setting up some new thing or other.' 'I read the Star and another paper; what can I want with this paper, which is nothing more.' 'Well, well, I'll consider of it.' To these entertaining bon mots, I returned the following repartee,—'Good morning, sir.' ...

God bless you, S. T. C."

"Mosely, near Birmingham, 1796.

My very dear Wade,

Will it be any excuse to you for my silence, to say that I have written to no one else, and that these are the very first lines I have written?

I stayed a day or two at Derby, and then went on in Mrs. —— carriage to see the beauties of Matlock. Here I stayed from Tuesday to Saturday, which time was completely filled up with seeing the country, eating, concerts, &c. I was the first fiddle, not in the concerts, but everywhere else, and the company would not spare me twenty minutes together. Sunday I dedicated to the drawing up my sketch of education, which I meant to publish, to try to get a school.

Monday I accompanied Mrs. E. to Oakover, with Miss W.—, to the thrice lovely valley of Ham; a vale hung by beautiful woods all round, except just at its entrance, where, as you stand at the other end of the valley, you see a bare, bleak mountain, standing as it were to guard the entrance. It is without exception, the most beautiful place I ever visited, and from thence we proceeded to Dove-Dale, without question tremendously sublime. Here we dined in a cavern, by the side of a divine little spring. We returned to Derby, quite exhausted with the rapid succession of delightful emotions.

I was to have left Derby on Wednesday; but on the Wednesday, Dr. Crompton, who had been at Liverpool, came home. He called on me, and made the following offer. That if I would take a house in Derby, and open a day-school, confining my number to twelve, he would send his three children. That, till I had completed my number, he would allow me one hundred a year; and and when I had completed it, twenty guineas a year for each son. He thinks there is no doubt but that I might have more than twelve in a very short time, if I liked it. If so, twelve times twenty guineas is two hundred and forty guineas per annum; and my mornings and evenings would be my own: the children coming to me from nine to twelve, and from two to five: the two last hours employed with the writing and drawing masters, in my presence: so that only four hours would be thoroughly occupied by them. The plan to commence in November. I agreed with the Doctor, he telling me, that if, in the mean time, anything more advantageous offered itself, I was to consider myself perfectly at liberty to accept it. On Thursday I left Derby for Burton. Prom Burton I took chaise, slept at Litchfield, and in the morning arrived at my worthy friend's, Mr. Thomas Hawkes, at Mosely, three miles from Birmingham, in whose shrubbery I am now writing. I shall stay at Birmingham a week longer.

I have seen a letter from Mr. William Roscoe, (Author of the life of Lorenzo the magnificent; a work in two quarto volumes, of which the whole first edition sold in a month) it was addressed to Mr. Edwards, the minister here, and entirely related to me. Of me, and my composition, he writes in terms of high admiration, and concludes by desiring Mr. Edwards to let him know my situation and prospects, and saying, if I would come and settle at Liverpool, he thought a comfortable situation might be procured for me. This day Edwards will write to him.

God love you, and your grateful and affectionate friend, S. T. Coleridge.

N. B. I preached yesterday."

Mr. Coleridge, in the preceding letters, states his having preached occasionally. There must have been a first sermon. It so happened that I heard Mr. C. preach his first and also his second sermon, with some account of which I shall now furnish the reader; and that without concealment or embellishment. But it will be necessary, as an illustration of the whole, to convey some previous information, which, as it regards most men, would be too unimportant to relate.

When Mr. Coleridge first came to Bristol, he had evidently adopted, at least to some considerable extent, the sentiments of Socinus. By persons of that persuasion, therefore, he was hailed as a powerful accession to their cause. From Mr. C.'s voluble utterance, it was even believed that he might become a valuable Unitarian minister, (of which class of divines, a great scarcity then existed, with a still more gloomy anticipation, from most of the young academicians at their chief academy having recently turned infidels.) But though this presumption in Mr. Coleridge's favour was confidently entertained, no certainty could exist without a trial, and how was this difficulty to be overcome? The Unitarians in Bristol might have wished to see Mr. C. in their pulpit, expounding and enforcing their faith; but, as they said, "the thing, in Bristol, was altogether impracticable," from the conspicuous stand which he had taken in free politics, through the medium of his numerous lectures.[20]

It was then recollected by some of his anxious and importunate friends, that Bath was near, and that a good judge of requisite qualifications was to be found therein in the person of the Rev. David Jardine, with whom some of Mr. C.'s friends were on terms of intimacy; so that it was determined that Mr. Coleridge, as the commencement of his brilliant career, should be respectfully requested to preach his inaugural discourse in the Unitarian chapel at Bath.

The invitation having been given and accepted, I felt some curiosity to witness the firmness with which he would face a large and enlightened audience, and, in the intellectual sense, grace his canonical robes. No conveyance having been provided, and wishing the young ecclesiastic to proceed to the place of his exhibition with some decent respectability, I agreed with a common friend, the late Mr. Charles Danvers, to take Mr. C. over to Bath in a chaise.

The morning of the important day unfolded, and in due time we arrived at the place of our destination. When on the way to the chapel, a man stopped Charles Danvers, and asked him if he could tell where the Rev. Mr. Coleridge preached. "Follow the crowd," said Danvers, and walked on. Mr. C. wore his blue coat and white waistcoat; but what was Mr. Jardine's surprise, when he found that his young probationer peremptorily refused to wear the hide-all sable gown! Expostulation was unavailing, and the minister ascended to the pulpit in his coloured clothes!

Considering that it had been announced on the preceding Sunday, that "the Rev. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from Cambridge University" would preach there on this day, we naturally calculated on an overflowing audience, but it proved to be the most meagre congregation I had ever seen. The reader will but imperfectly appreciate Mr. C.'s discourse, without the previous information that this year (1796) was a year of great scarcity, and consequent privation, amongst the poor; on which subject the sermon was designed impressively to bear. And now the long-expected service commenced.

The prayer, without being intended, was formal, unimpressive, and undevotional; the singing was languid; but we expected that the sermon would arouse the inattentive, and invigorate the dull. The moment for announcing the text arrived. Our curiosity was excited. With little less than famine in the land, our hearts were appalled at hearing the words, "When they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king, and their God, and look upward." (Isaiah viii. 21.) Mr. Winterbotham, a little before, had been thrown into prison for the freedom of his political remarks in a sermon at Plymouth, and we were half fearful whether in his impetuous current of feeling, some stray expressions might not subject our friend to a like visitation. Our fears were groundless. Strange as it may appear in Mr. Coleridge's vigorous mind, the whole discourse consisted of little more than a Lecture on the Corn Laws! which some time before he had delivered in Bristol, at the Assembly Boom.

Returning from our edifying discourse to a tavern dinner, we were privileged with more luminous remarks on this inexhaustible subject: but something better (or worse, as the reader's taste may be) is still in reserve. After dinner, Mr. Coleridge remarked that he should have no objection to preach another sermon that afternoon. In the hope that something redeeming might still appear, and the best be retained for the last, we encouraged his proposal, when he rang the bell, and on the waiter appearing, he was sent, with Mr. Coleridge's compliments, to the Rev. Mr. Jardine, to say "If agreeable, Mr. C. would give his congregation another sermon, this afternoon, on the Hair Powder Tax!"[21] On the departure of the waiter, I was fully assured that Mr. Jardine would smile, and send a civil excuse, satisfied that he had had quite enough of political economy, with blue coat and white waistcoat, in the morning; but to my great surprise, the waiter returned with Mr. Jardine's compliments, saying, "he should be happy to hear Mr. Coleridge!"

Now all was hurry lest the concourse should be kept waiting. What surprise will the reader feel, on understanding that, independently of ourselves and Mr. Jardine, there were but seventeen persons present, including men, women, and children! We had, as we expected, a recapitulation of the old lecture, with the exception of its humorous appendages, in reprobation of the Hair Powder Tax; and the twice-told tale, even to the ear of friendship, in truth sounded rather dull!

Two or three times Mr. C. looked significantly toward our seat, when fearful of being thrown off my guard into a smile, I held down my head, from which position I was aroused, when the sermon was about half over, by some gentleman throwing back the door of his pew, and walking out of the chapel. In a few minutes after, a second individual did the same; and soon after a third door flew open, and the listener escaped! At this moment affairs looked so very ominous, that we were almost afraid Mr. Jardine himself would fly, and that none but ourselves would fairly sit it out. A little before, I had been in company with the late Robert Hall, and S. T. Coleridge, when the collision of equal minds elicited light and heat; both of them ranking in the first class of conversationalists, but great indeed was the contrast between them in the pulpit. The parlour was the element for Mr. Coleridge, and the politician's lecture, rather than the minister's harangue. We all returned to Bristol with the feeling of disappointment;—Mr. C. from the little personal attention paid to him by Mr. Jardine; and we, from a dissatisfying sense of a Sunday desecrated. Although no doubt can be entertained of Mr. Coleridge having, in the journey before noticed, surpassed his first essay, yet, with every reasonable allowance, the conviction was so strong on my mind that Mr. C. had mistaken his talent, that my regard for him was too genuine to entertain the wish of ever again seeing him in a pulpit.

It is unknown when the following letter was received, (although quite certain that it was not the evening in which Mr. Coleridge wrote his "Ode to the Departing Year,") and it is printed in this place at something of an uncertainty.[22]

"January 1st.

My dear Cottle,

I have been forced to disappoint not only you, but Dr. Beddoes, on an affair of some importance. Last night I was induced by strong and joint solicitation, to go to a card-club, to which Mr. Morgan belongs, and, after the playing was over, to sup, and spend the remainder of the night: having made a previous compact, that I should not drink; however just on the verge of twelve, I was desired to drink only one wine glass of punch, in honour of the departing year; and, after twelve, one other in honour of the new year. Though the glasses were very small, yet such was the effect produced during my sleep, that I awoke unwell, and in about twenty minutes after had a relapse of my bilious complaint. I am just now recovered, and with care, I doubt not, shall be as well as ever to-morrow. If I do not see you then, it will be from some relapse, which I have no reason, thank heaven, to anticipate.

Yours affectionately,

S. T. Coleridge."

In consequence of Mr. Coleridge's journey to the north, to collect subscribers for the "Watchman," an incident occurred, which produced a considerable effect on his after life. During Mr. C.'s visit to Birmingham, an accident had introduced him to the eldest son of Mr. Lloyd, the eminent banker of that town. Mr. Lloyd had intended his son Charles to unite with him in the bank, but the monotonous business of the establishment, ill accorded with the young man's taste, which had taken a decidedly literary turn. If the object of Charles Lloyd had been to accumulate wealth, his disposition might have been gratified to the utmost, but the tedious and unintellectual occupation of adjusting pounds, shillings, and pence, suited, he thought, those alone who had never, eagle-like, gazed at the sun, or bathed their temples in the dews of Parnassus. The feelings of this young man were ardent; his reading and information extensive; and his genius, though of a peculiar cast, considerable. His mind appeared, however, subject to something of that morbid sensibility which distinguished Cowper. The admiration excited in Mr. L. by Mr. Coleridge's pre-eminent talents, induced him to relinquish his connexion with the bank; and he had now arrived in Bristol to seek Mr. C. out, and to improve his acquaintance with him.

To enjoy the enviable privilege of Mr. Coleridge's conversation, Mr. Lloyd proposed even to domesticate with him; and made him such a pecuniary offer, that Mr. C. immediately acceded to the proposal; and to effect this, as an essential preliminary, removed from Redcliff-hill, to a house on Kingsdown.

In this his new abode, Mr. Coleridge appeared settled and comfortable. Friends were kind and numerous. Books, of all kinds, were at his command. Of the literary society now found in Bristol, he expressed himself in terms of warm approval, and thought, in this feature, that it was surpassed by no city in the kingdom. His son Hartley, also, was now born; and no small accession to his comfort arose from his young and intelligent domestic associate, Charles Lloyd. This looked something like permanence; but the promise was fallacious, for Mr. Coleridge now experienced another removal.

His friend, Mr. Thomas Poole, of Nether Stowey, near Bridgwater, was desirous of obtaining Mr. C. again, as a permanent neighbour, and recommended him to take a small house at Stowey, then to be let, at seven pounds a year, which he thought would well suit him. Mr. Poole's personal worth; his friendly and social manners; his information, and taste for literature; all this, combined with the prospect of a diminished expense in his establishment, unitedly, formed such powerful inducements, that Mr. C. at once decided, and the more so, as Mr. Lloyd had consented to accompany him. To this place, consequently, the whole party repaired.

On Mr. Coleridge reaching his new abode, I was gratified by receiving from him the following letter.

"Stowey, 1796.

My dear Cottle,

We arrived safe. Our house is set to rights. We are all—wife, bratling, and self, remarkably well. Mrs. Coleridge likes Stowey, and loves Thomas Poole and his mother, who love her. A communication has been made from our orchard into T. Poole's garden, and from thence to Cruikshank's, a friend of mine, and a young married man, whose wife is very amiable, and she and Sara are already on the most cordial terms; from all this you will conclude we are happy. By-the-bye, what a delightful poem, is Southey's 'Musings on a Landscape of Gaspar Poussin.' I love it almost better than his 'Hymn to the Penates.' In his volume of poems. The following, namely,

'The Six Sonnets on the Slave Trade.—The Ode to the Genius of Africa.—To my own Miniature Picture.—The Eight Inscriptions.—Elinor, Botany-bay Eclogue.—Frederick, ditto.—The Ten Sonnets, (pp. 107-116.) On the death of an Old Spaniel.—The Soldier's Wife, Dactylics.—The Widow, Sapphics.—The Chapel Bell.—The Race of Banco. Rudiger.'

All these Poems are worthy the Author of 'Joan of Arc.' And 'The Musings on a Landscape,' &c. and 'The Hymn to the Penates,' deserve to have been published after 'Joan of Arc,' as proofs of progressive genius.

God bless you,

S. T. C."

The account of Mr. Coleridge's residence at Stowey, lies in the department of another; although he occasionally visited Bristol, with Mrs. C., as engagements or inclination prompted; some notice of which visits will here be taken.

Mr. Charles Lloyd was subject to fits, to one of which the second following letter refers. In the above letter Mr. C. pronounces himself happy, but as no condition, in this changeable world, is either perfect happiness or misery, so the succeeding letter presents Mr. C. over-powered, almost, with a feeling of despondency! The calculation of the course which genius, combined with eccentricity, would be likely to pursue, must be attended with uncertainty, but the probability is, that had Mr. C's mind been easy at this time, surrounded by domestic quiet and comparative seclusion, he might have been equal to any intellectual achievement; but soon after he settled at Stowey, he was reduced to the most prostrate state of depression, arising purely from the darkness of his pecuniary horizon. Happily for the reader, a brief mental respite succeeded, in which, if trouble existed, the letter which expressed that trouble, soon exhibits him (half forgetful) expatiating in those comprehensive surveys of possible excellence which formed the habit of his mind.

"Stowey, 1796.

My dearest Cottle,

I love and respect you as a brother, and my memory deceives me woefully, if I have not evidenced, by the animated tone of my conversation when we have been tete a tete, how much your conversation interested me. But when last in Bristol, the day I meant to devote to you, was such a day of sadness, I could do nothing. On the Saturday, the Sunday, and ten days after my arrival at Stowey, I felt a depression too dreadful to be described.

So much I felt my genial spirits droop, My hopes all flat; Nature within me seemed In all her functions, weary of herself,

Wordsworth's[23] conversation aroused me somewhat, but even now I am not the man I have been, and I think I never shall. A sort of calm hopelessness diffuses itself over my heart. Indeed every mode of life which has promised me bread and cheese, has been, one after another, torn away from me, but God remains. I have no immediate pecuniary distress, having received ten pounds from Lloyd. I employ myself now on a book of morals in answer to Godwin, and on my tragedy.

* * * * *

There are some poets who write too much at their ease, from the facility with which they please themselves. They do not often enough

'Feel their burdened breast Heaving beneath incumbent Deity.'

So that to posterity their wreaths will look unseemly. Here, perhaps, an everlasting Amaranth, and, close by its side, some weed of an hour, sere, yellow, and shapeless. Their very beauties will lose half their effect, from the bad company they keep. They rely too much on story and event, to the neglect of those lofty imaginings that are peculiar to, and definite of the Poet.

The story of Milton might be told in two pages. It is this which distinguishes an epic poem from a romance in metre. Observe the march of Milton; his severe application; his laborious polish; his deep metaphysical researches; his prayer to God before he began his great work; all that could lift and swell his intellect, became his daily food.

I should not think of devoting less than twenty years to an epic poem. Ten years to collect materials and warm my mind with universal science. I would be a tolerable Mathematician. I would thoroughly understand Mechanics; Hydrostatics; Optics, and Astronomy; Botany; Metallurgy; Fossilism; Chemistry; Geology; Anatomy; Medicine; then the mind of man; then the minds of men, in all Travels, Voyages, and Histories. So I would spend ten years; the next five in the composition of the poem, and the five last in the correction of it. So would I write, haply not unhearing of that divine and nightly-whispering voice, which speaks to mighty minds, of predestinated garlands, starry and unwithering.[24]

God love you.

S. T. Coleridge.

P. S. David Hartley is well and grows. Sara is well, and desires a sister's love to you."

In the spirit of impartiality, it now devolves on me to state a temporary misunderstanding between even the two Pantisocratans; Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Southey! The affair occurred in the autumn of 1795, but it could not be noticed at that time, without interrupting the narrative.

It is difficult to assign any other reason for the wild scheme of Pantisocracy, than the inexperience of youth, acting on sanguine imaginations. At its first announcement, every reflecting mind saw that the plan, in its nature, and in the agents who were to carry it into effect, was liable to insurmountable objections; but the individuals with whom the design originated, were young, ardent, and enthusiastic, and at that time entertained views of society erroneous in themselves, and which experience alone could correct. The fullest conviction was entertained by their friends, that as reason established itself in their minds, the delusion would vanish; and they themselves soon smile at extravagances which none but their own ingenious order of minds could have devised; but when the dissension occurred, before noticed, at Chepstow, Mr. Southey must have had conviction flashed on his mind, that the habits of himself and his friend were so essentially opposed, as to render harmony and success impossible.

Mr. Southey now informed Mr. Coleridge, that circumstances, and his own views had so altered, as to render it necessary for him candidly to state that he must abandon Pantisocracy, and the whole scheme of colonizing in America; and that he should accept an invitation from his uncle, to accompany him through Spain to Lisbon. The reader has had cause to believe that Mr. C. himself had relinquished this wild plan, but it was by implication, rather than by direct avowal. Perhaps, in the frustration of so many of his present designs, a latent thought might linger in his mind, that America, after all, was to be the fostering asylum, where, alone, unmingled felicity was to be found. The belief is hardly admissible, and yet the admission, extravagant as it is, derives some support from the unexpected effect produced on him by the disclosure of his friend.

On this announcement, or soon after, a tumult of fearful intensity arose in Mr. Coleridge's mind, which filled the whole circle of their friends with grief and dismay. This unexpected effect, perhaps, may be ascribed to the consciousness now first seriously awakened, of the erroneous principles on which all his calculations had been founded. He perceived at length, (it may be) that he had been pursuing a phantom; and the conviction must have been associated with self-upbraidings. It is commonly found, that the man who is dissatisfied with himself, is seldom satisfied long with those around him; and these compound and accumulated feelings must necessarily be directed against some object. At this brain-crazing moment, the safety-valve of feeling was Mr. Southey.

Being familiar with the whole affair, I completely justified Mr. S. as having acted with the strictest honour and propriety, and in such a way as any wise man, under such circumstances, would have acted. The great surprise with their friends was, that the crisis should not have occurred earlier, as a result certain to take place, and delayed alone by the vivid succession of objects that gave, it must be said, a temporary suspension to the full exercise of their understandings. Justice to Mr. S. requires it to be stated, that he acted purely on the defensive; adopting no epithets, and repelling offensive accusations and expressions, with sober argument and remonstrance alone. I spoke to each in succession, and laboured to procure a reconciliation; but oil and water would sooner have united than the accuser and the accused.

This difference occurred only two or three days before Mr. S. set off on his Spanish and Portuguese expedition. During his absence, the fire lay smouldering, and on his return to England, in May, 1796, the conflagration was renewed. Charges of "desertion," flew thick around; of "dishonourable retraction, in a compact the most binding"—I again spoke to Mr. Coleridge, and endeavoured to soften his asperity. I also wrote to Mr. Southey, and expressed a hope, that if he found it impossible at the present moment to return to cordiality, he would at least consent when he met Mr. Coleridge, to restrain the indignant look, which was painfully manifest on both countenances.

The most pleasant part of the narrative will now be unfolded. Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Southey met at the house of a relation when, without explanation, the relentings of nature threw them silently into each other's arms! I knew nothing of this happy reconciliation, the first intimation of which was their calling on me, arm in arm, after having taken a pleasant walk together into the country. Each seemed to relish the surprise and the delight which it was impossible for me to conceal; and I had reason afterwards to think, that this sprightly scene was a preconcerted arrangement to heighten the stage-effect. I shall now withdraw the reader's attention from Mr. Southey, and proceed with the narrative of Mr. Coleridge.

When Mr. Southey departed for the continent, Mr. Coleridge repaired to his own calm retreat at Stowey, from which place he sent me the following letter.

"Stowey, 1796.

Dear Cottle,

I write under great agony of mind, Charles Lloyd being very ill. He has been seized with his fits three times in the space of seven days: and just as I was in bed last night, I was called up again; and from twelve o'clock at night, to five this morning, he remained in one continued state of agonized delirium. What with bodily toil, exerted in repressing his frantic struggles, and what with the feelings of agony for his sufferings, you may suppose that I have forced myself from bed, with aching temples, and a feeble frame....

We offer petitions, not as supposing we influence the Immutable; but because to petition the Supreme Being, is the way most suited to our nature, to stir up the benevolent affections in our hearts. Christ positively commands it, and in St. Paul you will find unnumbered instances of prayer for individual blessings; for kings, rulers, &c. &c. We indeed should all join to our petitions: 'But thy will be done, Omniscient, All-loving Immortal God!'

Believe me to have towards you, the inward and spiritual gratitude and affection, though I am not always an adept in the outward and visible signs.

God bless you,

S. T. C."

A letter written by Mr. Coleridge to Miss Cruikshanks, living near Stowey during Mr. C.'s residence at that place, exhibits the law of association in a new light; and shows the facility with which ingenious men can furnish excuses, at all times, for doing that which they desire.

"Dear Mary,

I wandered on so thought-bewildered, that it is no wonder I became way-bewildered; however, seeing a road-post, in two places, with the name, 'Stowey;' one by some water and a stone-bridge, and another on a tree, at the top of the ascent, I concluded I was only gone a new way, when coming to a place where four roads met, I turned to my left, merely because I saw some houses, and found myself at Plansfield. Accordingly, I turned upward, and as I knew I must pay a farewell visit to Ashhalt, I dined with the B—s', and arrived at Stowey, just before dark.

I did not lose my way then, though I confess that Mr. B. and myself, disobedient to the voice of the ladies, had contrived to finish two bottles of Port between us, to which I added two glasses of mead. All this was in consequence of conversing about John Cruikshanks' coming down. Now John Cruikshanks' idea being regularly associated in Mr. B.'s mind, with a second bottle, and S. T. C. being associated with John Cruikshanks, the second bottle became associated with the idea, and afterwards with the body of S. T. C. by necessity of metaphysical law, as you may see in the annexed figure, or diagram.

/ / / / / J. C./ S. T. C.]

God bless you,

S. T. C."

Miss Cruikshanks has favored me with a letter of Mr. Coleridge to herself, explanatory of his political principles, when he had receded in a good measure from the sentiments pervading his "Conciones ad Populum." This letter was written at a later period, but is made to follow the preceding, to preserve a continuity of subject.

Miss C. it appears, had lent the first edition of Mr. Coleridge's poems to Lady Elizabeth Perceval,[25] in some parts of which volume the sentiments of an earlier day were rather too prominently displayed. To counteract the effect such parts were calculated to produce, Mr. Coleridge wrote the following letter, in the hope that by being shown to her ladyship, it might efface from her mind any unfavorable impression she might have received. In this letter he also rather tenderly refers to his American scheme.

(No date, supposed to be 1803.)

"My dear Miss Cruikshanks,

With the kindest intentions, I fear you have done me some little disservice, in borowing the first edition of my poems from Miss B—. I never held any principles indeed, of which, considering my age, I have reason to be ashamed. The whole of my public life may be comprised in eight or nine months of my 22nd year; and the whole of my political sins during that time, consisted in forming a plan of taking a large farm in common, in America, with other young men of my age. A wild notion indeed, but very harmless.

As to my principles, they were, at all times, decidedly anti-jacobin and anti-revolutionary, and my American scheme is a proof of this. Indeed at that time, I seriously held the doctrine of passive obedience, though a violent enemy of the first war. Afterwards, and for the last ten years of my life, I have been fighting incessantly in the good cause, against French ambition, and Trench principles; and I had Mr. Addington's suffrage, as to the good produced by my Essays, written in the Morning Post, in the interval of the peace of Amiens, and the second war, together with my two letters to Mr. Fox.[26]

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