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Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey
by Joseph Cottle
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Of my former errors, I should be no more ashamed, than of my change of body, natural to increase of age; but in that first edition, there was inserted (without my consent!) a Sonnet to Lord Stanhope, in direct contradiction, equally, to my then, as to my present principles. A Sonnet written by me in ridicule and mockery of the bloated style of French Jacobinical declamation, and inserted by Biggs, (the fool of a printer,) in order forsooth, that he might send the book, and a letter to Earl Stanhope; who, to prove that he was not mad in all things, treated both book and letter with silent contempt.[27] I have therefore sent Mr. Poole's second edition, and if it be in your power, I could wish you to read the 'dedication to my brother,' at the beginning, to Lady E. Perceval, to obtain whose esteem, so far at least as not to be confounded with the herd of vulgar mob flatterers, I am not ashamed to confess myself solicitous.

I would I could be with you, and your visitors. Penelope, you know, is very high in my esteem. With true warmth of heart, she joins more strength of understanding; and, to steady principle, more variety of accomplishments, than it has often been my lot to meet with among the fairer sex. When I praise one woman to another I always mean a compliment to both. My tenderest regards to your dear mother, whom I really long to spend a few hours with, and believe me with sincere good wishes, Yours, &c.

S. T. Coleridge."

Fragment of a Theological letter of Mr. Coleridge, date unknown.

... The declaration that the Deity is "the sole Operant" (Religious Musings) is indeed far too bold: may easily be misconstrued into Spinosism; and, therefore, though it is susceptible of a pious and justifiable interpretation, I should by no means now use such a phrase. I was very young when I wrote that poem, and my religious feelings were more settled than my theological notions.

As to eternal punishments, I can only say, that there are many passages in Scripture, and these not metaphorical, which declare that all flesh shall be finally saved; that the word aionios is indeed used sometimes when eternity must be meant, but so is the word 'Ancient of Days,' yet it would be strange reasoning to affirm, that therefore, the word ancient must always mean eternal. The literal meaning of 'aionios' is, 'through ages;' that is indefinite; beyond the power of imagination to bound. But as to the effects of such a doctrine, I say, First,—that it would be more pious to assert nothing concerning it, one way or the other.

Ezra says well, 'My Son, meditate on the rewards of the righteous, and examine not over-curiously into the fate of the wicked. (This apocryphal Ezra is supposed to have been written by some Christian in the first age of Christianity.) Second,—that however the doctrine is now broached, and publicly preached by a large and increasing sect, it is no longer possible to conceal it from such persons as would be likely to read and understand the 'Religious Musings.' Third.—That if the offers of eternal blessedness; if the love of God; if gratitude; if the fear of punishment, unknown indeed as to its kind and duration, but declared to be unimaginably great; if the possibility, nay, the probability, that this punishment may be followed by annihilation, not final happiness, cannot divert men from wickedness to virtue; I fear there will be no charm in the word Eternal.

Fourth, that it is a certain fact, that scarcely any believe eternal punishment practically with relation to themselves. They all hope in God's mercy, till they make it a presumptuous watch-word for religious indifference. And this, because there is no medium in their faith, between blessedness and misery,—infinite in degree and duration; which latter they do not practically, and with their whole hearts, believe. It is opposite to their clearest views of the divine attributes; for God cannot be vindictive, neither therefore can his punishments be founded on a vindictive principle. They must be, either for amendment, or warning for others; but eternal punishment precludes the idea of amendment, and its infliction, after the day of judgment, when all not so punished shall be divinely secured from the possibility of falling, renders the notion of warning to others inapplicable.

The Catholics are far more afraid of, and incomparably more influenced in their conduct by, the doctrine of purgatory, than Protestants by that of hell! That the Catholics practise more superstitions than morals, is the effect of other doctrines. Supererogation; invocation of saints; power of relics, &c. &c. and not of Purgatory, which can only act as a general motive, to what must depend on other causes.

Fifth, and lastly.—It is a perilous state in which a christian stands, if he has gotten no further, than to avoid evil from the fear of hell! This is no part of the Christian religion, but a preparatory awakening of the soul: a means of dispersing those gross films which render the eye of the spirit incapable of any religion, much less of such a faith as that of the love of Christ.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but perfect love shutteth out fear. It is sufficient for the utmost fervour of gratitude that we are saved from punishments, too great to be conceived; but our salvation is surely not complete, till by the illumination from above, we are made to know 'the exceeding sinfulness of sin,' and that horribleness in its nature, which, while it involves all these frightful consequences, is yet, of itself more affrightful to a regenerated soul than those consequences. To him who but for a moment felt the influence of God's presence, the thought of eternal exclusion from the sense of that presence, would be the worst hell his imagination could conceive.

N.B. I admit of no right, no claim of a creature on its Creator. I speak only of hopes and of faith deduced from inevitable reason, the gift of the Creator; from his acknowledged attributes. Above all, immortality is a free gift, which we neither do, nor can deserve....

S. T. C."

To descend now to humbler things.

There are persons who will be interested in learning how the bard and his bookseller managed their great pecuniary affairs. A second edition of Mr. Coleridge's poems being demanded, I was under no obligation, the copy-right being mine, in publishing a second edition, to make Mr. Coleridge any payment, alterations or additions being optional with him: but in his circumstances, and to show that my desire was to consider Mr. C. even more than myself, I promised him, on the sale of the second edition of 500, twenty guineas. The following was his reply: (not viewing the subject quite in the right light; but this was of little consequence.)

"Stowey, Oct. 18th, 1796.

My dear Cottle,

I have no mercenary feelings, I verily believe; but I hate bartering at any time, and with any person; with you it is absolutely intolerable. I clearly perceive that by giving me twenty guineas, on the sale of the second edition, you will get little or nothing by the additional poems, unless they should be sufficiently popular to reach a third edition, which soars above our wildest expectations. The only advantage you can derive therefore from the purchase of them on such terms, is, simply, that my poetry is more likely to sell when the whole may be had in one volume, price 5s., than when it is scattered in two volumes; the one 4s., the other possibly 3s. In short, you will get nothing directly, but only indirectly, from the probable circumstance, that these additional poems added to the former, will give a more rapid sale to the second edition than could otherwise be expected, and cause it possibly to be reviewed at large. Add to this, that by omitting every thing political, I widen the sphere of my readers. So much for you. Now for myself. You must see, Cottle, that whatever money I should receive from you, would result from the circumstances that would give me the same, or more—if I published them on my own account. I mean the sale of the poems. I can therefore have no motive to make such conditions with you, except the wish to omit poems unworthy of me, and the circumstance that our separate properties would aid each other by the union; and whatever advantage this might be to me, it would, of course, be equally so to you. The only difference between my publishing the poems on my own account, and yielding them up to you; the only difference I say, independent of the above stated differences, is, that, in one case, I retain the property for ever, in the other case, I lose it after two editions.

However, I am not solicitous to have any thing omitted, except the sonnet to Lord Stanhope and the ludicrous poem; I should like to publish the best pieces together, and those of secondary splendour, at the end of the volume, and think this is the best quietus of the whole affair.

Yours affectionately,

S. T. Coleridge."

In consequence of a note received from Mr. Coleridge, I called at the Bristol Library, where I found Mr. George Catcott, the Sub-Librarian, much excited. "See," said he, immediately I entered the room, "here is a letter I have just received from Mr. Coleridge. Pray look at it." I read it. "Do you mean to give the letter to me, with its ponderous contents?" I said. "O yes, take it," he replied. This gift enables me to lay the letter in question before the reader. Mr. George Catcott though of singular manners, was a person of worth. He was the patron of Chatterton, and chiefly through his efforts, the Poems of "Rowley" were preserved.

"Stowey, May, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

I have sent a curious letter to George Catcott. He has altogether made me pay five shillings! for postage, by his letters sent all the way to Stowey, requiring me to return books to the Bristol Library....

"Mr. Catcott,

I beg your acceptance of all the enclosed letters. You must not think lightly of the present, as they cost me, who am a very poor man, five shillings.

With respect to the 'Bruck. Hist. Crit,' although by accident they were registered on the 23d of March, yet they were not removed from the Library for a fortnight after; and when I received your first letter, I had had the books just three weeks. Our learned and ingenious Committee may read through two quartos, that is, one thousand and four hundred pages of close printed Latin and Greek, in three weeks, for aught I know to the contrary. I pretend to no such intenseness of application, or rapidity of genius.

I must beg you to inform me, by Mr. Cottle, what length of time is allowed by the rules and customs of our institution for each book. Whether their contents, as well as their size, are consulted, in apportioning the time; or whether, customarily, any time at all is apportioned, except when the Committee, in individual cases, choose to deem it proper. I subscribe to your library, Mr. Catcott, not to read novels, or books of quick reading and easy digestion, but to get books which I cannot get elsewhere,—books of massy knowledge; and as I have few books of my own, I read with a common-place book, so that if I be not allowed a longer period of time for the perusal of such books, I must contrive to get rid of my subscription, which would be a thing perfectly useless, except so far as it gives me an opportunity of reading your little expensive notes and letters.

Yours in Christian fellowship,

S. T. Coleridge."

Mr. C. was now preparing for a second edition of his Poems, and had sent the order in which they were to be printed, with the following letter, accompanying two new Poems.

"Stowey, Friday Morning.

My dear Cottle.

... If you do not like the following verses, or if you do not think them worthy of an edition in which I profess to give nothing but my choicest fish, picked, gutted, and cleaned, please to get some one to write them out and send them, with my compliments, to the editor of the New Monthly Magazine. But if you think of them as I do (most probably from parental dotage for my last born) let them immediately follow 'The Kiss.'

God love you,

S. T. C."

TO AN UNFORTUNATE YOUNG WOMAN. WHOM I HAD KNOWN IN THE DAYS OF HER INNOCENCE.

Maiden! that with sullen brow, Sitt'st behind those virgins gay; Like a scorched, and mildew'd bough, Leafless mid the blooms of May.

Inly gnawing, thy distresses Mock those starts of wanton glee; And thy inmost soul confesses Chaste Affection's majesty.

Loathing thy polluted lot, Hie thee, Maiden! hie thee hence! Seek thy weeping mother's cot, With a wiser innocence!

Mute the Lavrac[28] and forlorn While she moults those firstling plumes That had skimm'd the tender corn, Or the bean-field's od'rous blooms;

Soon with renovating wing, Shall she dare a loftier flight, Upwards to the day-star sing, And embathe in heavenly light.

ALLEGORICAL LINES ON THE SAME SUBJECT.

Myrtle Leaf, that, ill besped, Pinest in the gladsome ray, Soiled beneath the common tread, Far from thy protecting spray;

When the scythes-man o'er his sheaf, Caroll'd in the yellow vale, Sad, I saw thee, heedless leaf, Love the dalliance of the gale.

Lightly didst thou, poor fond thing! Heave and flutter to his sighs While the flatterer on his wing, Woo'd, and whisper'd thee to rise.

Gaily from thy mother stalk Wert thou danced and wafted high; Soon on this unsheltered walk, Hung to fade, and rot, and die!

The two poems as printed in Mr. Coleridge's edition of 1835, here follow, which by being compared with the same poems, in their preceding original form, will exhibit a study, particularly to the Poet.[29]

ON AN UNFORTUNATE WOMAN AT THE THEATRE.

With Mr. Coleridge's last corrections.

Maiden, that with sullen brow Sitt'st behind those virgins gay, Like a scorched and mildew'd bough, Leafless mid the blooms of May.

Him who lured thee and forsook, Oft I watch'd with angry gaze, Fearful saw his pleading look, Anxious heard his fervid phrase.

Soft the glances of the youth, Soft his speech, and soft his sigh; But no sound like simple truth, But no true love in his eye.

Loathing thy polluted lot, Hie thee, maiden, hie thee hence! Seek thy weeping mother's cot, With a wiser innocence.

Thou hast known deceit and folly, Thou hast felt that vice is woe; With a musing melancholy, Inly armed, go, maiden! go.

Mother, sage of self dominion, Firm thy steps, O melancholy! The strongest plume in wisdom's pinion Is the memory of past folly.

Mute the sky-lark and forlorn While she moults the firstling plumes, That had skimm'd the tender corn, Or the bean-field's odorous blooms.

Soon with renovated wing, Shall she dare a loftier flight, Upward to the day-star spring, And embathe in heavenly light.

ON AN UNFORTUNATE WOMAN, Whom The Author Had Known In The Days Of Her Innocence.

(With Mr. Coleridge's last corrections.)

Myrtle-leaf that ill-besped, Pinest in the gladsome ray; Soiled beneath the common tread, Far from thy protecting spray!

When the partridge o'er the sheaf Whirred along the yellow vale, Sad I saw thee, heedless leaf! Love the dalliance of the gale.

Lightly didst thou, foolish thing! Heave and flutter to his sighs, While the flatterer on his wing, Woo'd and whispered thee to rise.

Gaily from thy mother stalk Wert thou danced and wafted high— Soon upon this sheltered walk, Flung to fade, to rot, and die.

Mr. Coleridge having requested me to decide concerning the introduction into his volume of the two preceding Poems, I approved of the second, with certain alterations, (which was accordingly printed,) and rejected the first, for the reasons assigned in the following letter. This letter is introduced for the sake of Mr. C.'s reply, and to exhibit the candid and untenacious quality of his mind. As a mark of Mr. Coleridge's solicitude to obtain the observations of another, without surrendering his own ultimate judgment, he always encouraged my remarks on his compositions. When about to send the second edition of his Poems to the press, he thus wrote to me.

"My dear Cottle,

... On Thursday morning, by Milton, the Stowey carrier, I shall send you a parcel, containing the book of my Poems interleaved, with the alterations, and likewise the prefaces, which I shall send to you, for your criticisms...."

This is mentioned as an apology for the freedom of the remarks I then took, for it was always my principle not to spare a friend through mistaken kindness;—however much I might spare myself.

"Dear Coleridge,

You have referred your two last Poems to my judgment. I do not think your first, 'Maiden! that with sullen brow,' admissible, without a little more of your nice picking.

The first verse is happy, but two objections apply to the second. To my ear, (perhaps too fastidious) 'inly,' and 'inmost,' are too closely allied for the same stanza; but the first line presents a more serious objection, in containing a transition verb, (or rather a participle, with the same government) without an objective:

'Inly gnawing, thy distresses Mock those starts of sudden glee.'

Gnawing what? surely not distresses; though the bar of a comma can hardly keep them apart. In order to give it any decent meaning, a tortuous ellipsis is necessary; to pursue which, gives the reader too much toil. Rejecting the first horse in the team, the three last are beautiful animals.

To the last line in the third stanza, I rather object; 'With a wiser innocence.' The meaning, it appears to me, would be more definite and in character, if you were to say, as you do not represent her utterly debased, 'With thy wreck of innocence.' The apostrophe to the 'Weeping mother's cot,' is then impressive. In the fourth stanza, why do you introduce the old word 'Lavrac' a word requiring an explanatory note? Why not say at once, sky-lark? A short poem, you know better than I, should be smooth as oil, and lucid as glass. The two last stanzas, with their associates, will require a few of your delicate touches, before you mount them on the nautilus which is to bear them buoyant round the world. These two last stanzas, about the 'Lavrac' though good in themselves, (with the exception of one line, which I will not point out, its roughness absolutely reminds one of 'Bowling-green Lane!') appear to me to be awkward appendages. The illustration is too much extended. It is laboured; far-fetched. It is an infelicitous attempt to blend sportive fancy with fact that has touched the heart, and which, in this its sobered mood, shrinks from all idle play of imagination. The transition is too abrupt from truth to fancy. This simile of two stanzas, also, out of five, is a tail disproportioned to the size of so small a body:—A thought elongated, ramified, attenuated, till its tendril convolutions have almost escaped from their parent stem. I would recommend you to let this Lavrac fly clean away, and to conclude the Poem with the third affecting stanza, unless you can continue the same train of feeling. This you might readily effect, by urging the 'unfortunate' in seeking her 'weeping mother's cot' to cheer that mother by moral renovation.

I now come to the second Poem, 'Allegorical lines.' This poem has sound materials, but it wants some of your hard tinkering. Pardon my unceremonious language. I do not like that affected old word, 'ill-besped' in the first line. To ascribe human feelings to a leaf, as you have done through the whole Poem, notwithstanding your authority, as I conceive, offensively violates reason. There is no analogy; no conceivable bond of union between thought and inanimate things, and it is about as rational as though, in sober reasoning, you were to make the polished shoe remonstrate with its wearer, in being soiled so soon after it had received its lustre. It is the utmost stretch of human concession, to grant thought and language to living things;—birds, beasts, and fishes; rights which the old fablers have rendered inalienable, as vehicles of instruction; but here, as I should think, the liberty ends. It is always a pity when sense and poetry cannot go together. They are excellent arm-in-arm companions, but quarrelsome neighbours, when a stile separates them. The first line in the second stanza I do not like.

'When the scythesman o'er his sheaf.'

Two objections apply to this line. The word scythesman, for a short poem, is insufferably rough; and furthermore requires the inhalation of a good breath, before it can be pronounced; besides which, as the second objection, by connecting sheaves with scythesman, it shows that the scythe is cutting wheat, whereas, wheat is cut with a hook or sickle. If my agricultural knowledge be correct, barley and oats are cut with a scythe, but these grains are not put into sheaves. Had you not better substitute rustic, for scythesman?

The first line in the third stanza is not happy. The spondee, in a compound word, sometimes gives a favourable emphasis; but to my taste, rarely, when it is formed of a double epithet. It has the appearance of labour, like tugging against a hill. Would not 'foolish' be simpler and better than 'poor fond?' I have one other objection, and that, unfortunately, is in the last line.

'Flung to fade, and rot, and die!'

Surely, if it rots, it must die, or have died.

Query. 'Flung to wither and to die.'

I am astonished at my own temerity. This is reversing the order of things; the pupil correcting his master. But, candidly speaking, I do think these two poems the most defective of any I ever saw of yours, which, usually, have been remarkably free from all angles on which the race of snarlers can lay hold.

From, &c. &c.,

Joseph Cottle."

Mr. Coleridge's reply to the preceding letter.

"Wednesday morning, 10 o'clock.

My dearest Cottle,

... 'Ill besped' is indeed a sad blotch; but after having tried at least a hundred ways, before I sent the Poem to you, and often since, I find it incurable. This first Poem is but a so so composition. I wonder I could have been so blinded by the ardour of recent composition, as to see anything in it.

Your remarks are perfectly just on the 'Allegorical lines,' except that, in this district, corn is as often cut with a scythe, as with a hook. However, for 'Scythesman' read Rustic. For 'poor fond thing' read foolish thing, and for 'flung to fade, and rot, and die,' read flung to wither and to die.[30]

* * * * *

Milton (the carrier) waits impatiently.

S. T. C."

Having once inquired of Mr. Coleridge something respecting a nicety in hexameters, he asked for a sheet of paper, and wrote the following. These hexameters appear in the last edition of Mr. C.'s Poems, though in a less correct form, and without the condensed and well-expressed preliminary remarks. Two new lines are here also added.

"The Hexameter consists of six feet, or twelve times. These feet, in the Latin and Greek languages, were always either dactyls, or spondees; the time of a dactyl, being only that of a spondee. In modern languages, however, metre being regulated by the emphasis, or intonation of the syllables, and not by the position of the letters, spondees can scarcely exist, except in compound words, as dark-red. Our dissyllables are for the most part, either iambics, as desire; or trochees, as languid. These therefore, but chiefly the latter, we must admit, instead of spondees. The four first feet of each line may be dissyllable feet, or dactyls, or both commingled, as best suits the melody, and requisite variety; but the two last feet must, with rare exceptions, be uniformly, the former a dactyl, the latter a dissyllable. The amphimacer may, in English, be substituted for the dactyl, occasionally.

EXAMPLES.

Oh, what a life is the eye! What a fine and inscrutable essence! He that is utterly blind, nor glimpses the fire that warms him; He that never beheld the swelling breast of his mother, He that smiled at the bosom, the babe that smiles in its slumber, Even to him it exists. It moves, and stirs in its prison; Lives with a separate life, and "Is it a spirit?" he murmurs, Sure it has thoughts of its own, and to see is only a language.

ANOTHER SPECIMEN, DESCRIBING HEXAMETERS IN HEXAMETERS.

Strongly it tilts us along, o'er leaping and limitless billows, Nothing before, and nothing behind, but the sky and the ocean.

ANOTHER SPECIMEN.

In the Hexameter rises the fountain's silvery column In the Pentameter still, falling melodious down.

* * * * *

THE ENGLISH DUODECASYLLABLE.

This consists of two dactyls, and three trochees; the two dactyls first; and the trochees following.

Hear, my beloved! an old Milesian story; High and embosomed in congregated laurels, Glimmered a temple, upon a breezy headland In the dim distance, amid the skyey billows, Rose a fair island; the God of flocks had blest it: From the dim shores of this bleak resounding island, Oft in the moon-light a little boat came floating, Came to the sea-cave beneath the breezy headland, Where between myrtles a path-way stole in mazes, Up to the groves of the high embosomed temple. There in a thicket of consecrated roses, Oft did a Priestess, as lovely as a vision, Pouring her soul to the son of Cytherea, Pray him to hover around the light canoe boat, And with invisible pilotage to guide it Over the dusky waves, till the nightly sailor Shiv'ring with ecstacy sank upon her bosom. Now, by the immortals! he was a beauteous stripling, Worthy to dream the sweet dream of young Endymion."

In the last edition of Mr. Coleridge's poems, (3 vols., 1835) there is a poem, called "The Destiny of Nations, a Vision;"—a sounding title, with which the contents but ill accord. No note conveys information to the reader, what was the origin of this poem; nor does any argument show its object, or train of thought. Who the maid is, no one can tell, and if there be a vision respecting the destiny of nations, it is nearly as confused and incoherent as a true vision of the night; exciting in the mind some such undefined wonderment, as must have accompanied the descent of one of Peter Wilkins' winged Aerials.

The reader may here be informed, that the Second book of Mr. Southey's "Joan of Arc," to line 452, as acknowledged, was written by Mr. Coleridge, with the intermixture of 97 lines, written by Mr. Southey, in which there are noble sentiments, expressed in the loftiest poetical diction; and in which also there is a tutelary spirit introduced to instruct and counsel the Maid of Orleans. In the second edition of "Joan of Arc," Mr. Southey omitted the whole of these lines, and intimated to Mr. C. his intention so to do, as early as the autumn of 1795. I advised Mr. Coleridge, from the intrinsic merit of the lines, to print them in the second edition of his poems. To this he assented, but observed, that he must greatly extend them.

Some considerable time after, he read me the poem in its enlarged state, calling it "The Progress of Liberty, or the Visions of the Maid of Orleans." After hearing it read, I at once told him, it was all very fine, but what it was all about, I could not tell: that it wanted, I thought, an obvious design, a definite purpose, a cohesion of parts, so as to make it more of a whole, instead of its being, as it then was, profuse, but detached splendour, and exhibiting in the management, nothing like construction. Thus improved, I told him the poem would be worthy of him. Mr. C. was evidently partial to the lines, and said, "I shall consider of what you say, and speak again about them."

Amongst my papers I find two or three notes from Mr. C. on this subject, subsequently received.

"Stowey.

My dear Cottle,

If you delay the press it will give me the opportunity I so much wish, of sending my "Visions of the Maid of Arc" to Wordsworth, who lives[31] not above twenty miles from this place; and to Charles Lamb, whose taste and judgment, I see reason to think more correct and philosophical than my own, which yet I place pretty high...."

In a succeeding letter Mr. Coleridge says,

"My dear Cottle,

The lines which I added to my lines in the 'Joan of Arc' have been so little approved by Charles Lamb, to whom I sent them, that although I differ from him in opinion, I have not heart to finish the poem." Mr. Coleridge in the same letter, thus refers to his "Ode to the Departing Year."

"... So much for an 'Ode,' which some people think superior to the 'Bard' of Gray, and which others think a rant of turgid obscurity; and the latter are the more numerous class. It is not obscure. My 'Religious Musings' I know are, but not this 'Ode.'"

Mr. C. still retained a peculiar regard for these lines of the "Visions" and once meant to remodel the whole, as will appear from the following letter.

"Stowey, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

I deeply regret, that my anxieties and my slothfulness, acting in a combined ratio, prevented me from finishing my 'Progress of Liberty, or Visions of the Maid of Orleans' with that Poem at the head of the volume, with the 'Ode' in the middle, and the 'Religious Musings' at the end.

... In the 'Lines on the Man of Ross' immediately after these lines,

'He heard the widow's heaven-breathed prayer of praise, He mark'd the shelter'd orphan's tearful gaze.'

Please to add these two lines.

'And o'er the portioned maiden's snowy cheek, Bade bridal love suffuse its blushes meek.'

And for the line,

'Beneath this roof, if thy cheer'd moments pass.'

I should be glad to substitute this,

'If near this roof thy wine-cheer'd moments pass.'

These emendations came too late for admission in the second edition; nor have they appeared in the last edition. They will remain therefore for insertion in any future edition of Mr. Coleridge's Poems.[32]

"Stowey, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

... Public affairs are in strange confusion. I am afraid that I shall prove, at least, as good a Prophet as Bard. Oh, doom'd to fall, my country! enslaved and vile! But may God make me a foreboder of evils never to come!

I have heard from Sheridan, desiring me to write a tragedy. I have no genius that way; Robert Southey has. I think highly of his 'Joan of Arc' and cannot help prophesying, that he will be known to posterity, as Shakspeare's great grandson. I think he will write a tragedy or tragedies.

Charles Lloyd has given me his Poems, which I give to you, on condition that you print them in this Volume, after Charles Lamb's Poems; the title page, 'Poems, by S. T. Coleridge. Second Edition; to which are added Poems, by C. Lamb, and C. Lloyd.' C. Lamb's poems will occupy about forty pages; C. Lloyd's at least one hundred, although only his choice fish.

P. S. I like your 'Lines on Savage.'[33]

God bless you,

S. T. Coleridge."

In a letter received from Mr. Coleridge soon after, he says, "I shall now stick close to my tragedy (called Osorio,) and when I have finished it, shall walk to Shaftesbury to spend a few days with Bowles. From thence I go to Salisbury, and thence to Christchurch, to see Southey."

This letter, as was usual, has no date, but a letter from Mr. Wordsworth determines about the time when Mr. C. had nearly finished his Tragedy.

"September 13, 1797.

... Coleridge is gone over to Bowles with his Tragedy, which he has finished to the middle of the 5th Act. He set off a week ago."

Mr. Coleridge, in the summer of 1797 presented me with an extract from his "Osorio," which is here given to the reader, from Mr. C.'s own writing.

FOSTER-MOTHER'S TALE.

Scene, Spain.

FOSTER-MOTHER.

Now blessings on the man, whoe'er he be, That joined your names with mine! O my sweet lady As often as I think of those dear times, When you two little ones would stand, at eve, On each side of my chair, and make me learn All you had learnt in the day, and how to talk In gentle phrase, then bid me sing to you— 'Tis more like heaven to come than what has been.

MARIA.

O my dear mother! this strange man has left us, Troubled with wilder fancies than the moon Breeds in the love-sick maid who gazes at it, Till lost in inward vision, with wet eye She gazes idly!—But that entrance, Mother!

FOSTER-MOTHER.

Can no one hear? It is a perilous tale!

MARIA.

No one.

FOSTER-MOTHER.

My husband's father told it me, Poor Old Leoni—Angels rest his soul! He was a woodman, and could fell and saw With lusty arm. You know that huge round beam Which props the hanging wall of the old Chapel. Beneath that tree, while yet it was a tree He found a baby wrapt in mosses, lined With thistle beards, and such small locks of wool As hang on brambles. Well, he brought him home, And reared him at the then Lord Velez' cost. And so the babe grew up a pretty boy, A pretty boy but most unteachable— And never learnt a prayer nor told a bead, But knew the names of birds, and mocked their notes, And whistled, as he were a bird himself. And all the autumn 'twas his only play To get the seeds of wild flowers and to plant them With earth and water on the stumps of trees. A Friar who gathered simples in the wood, A grey-haired man—he loved this little boy, The boy loved him—and, when the Friar taught him, He soon could write with the pen; and from that time Lived chiefly at the Convent or the Castle. So he became a very learned man. But O! poor youth!—he read, and read, and read, 'Till his brain turned—and ere his twentieth year, He had unlawful thoughts of many things: And though he prayed, he never loved to pray With holy men, nor in a holy place— But yet his speech, it was so soft and sweet, The late Lord Velez ne'er was wearied with him. And once as by the north side of the Chapel They stood together, chained in deep discourse, The earth heaved under them with such a groan, That the wall tottered, and had well-nigh fallen Right on their heads. My Lord was sorely frightened: A fever seized the youth; and he made confession Of all the heretical and lawless talk Which brought this judgment: so the youth was seized, And cast into that hole. My husband's father Sobbed like a child—it almost broke his heart: And once, as he was working in the cellar, He heard a voice distinctly; 'twas the youth's, Who sung a doleful song about green fields, How sweet it were on lake or wild savannah To hunt for food, and be a naked man, And wander up and down at liberty. He always doated on the youth, and now His love grew desperate; and defying death, He made that cunning entrance I described: And the young man escaped.

MARIA.

'Tis a sweet tale: Such as would lull a listening child to sleep, His rosy face besoiled with unwiped tears. And what became of him?

FOSTER-MOTHER.

He went on ship-board With those bold voyagers, who made discovery Of golden lands: Leoni's younger brother Went likewise, and when he returned to Spain, He told Leoni, that the poor mad youth, Soon after they arrived in that new world, In spite of his dissuasion, seized a boat, And all alone set sail by silent moonlight, Up a great river, great as any sea, And ne'er was heard of more: but 'tis supposed, He lived and died among the savage men.

The following letter of Mr. C. was in answer to a request for some long-promised copy, and for which the printer importuned.

"Stowey, 1797.

My dear, dear Cottle,

Have patience, and everything shall be done. I think now entirely of your brother:[34] in two days I will think entirely for you. By Wednesday next you shall have Lloyd's other Poems, with all Lamb's, &c. &c....

S. T. C."

A little before this time, a singular occurrence happened to Mr. C. during a pedestrian excursion into Somersetshire, as detailed in the following letter to Mr. Wade.

"My dear friend,

I am here after a most tiresome journey; in the course of which, a woman asked me if I knew one Coleridge, of Bristol, I answered, I had heard of him. 'Do you know, (quoth she) that that vile jacobin villain drew away a young man of our parish, one Burnet' &c. and in this strain did the woman continue for near an hour; heaping on me every name of abuse that the parish of Billingsgate could supply. I listened very particularly; appeared to approve all she said, exclaiming, 'dear me!' two or three times, and, in fine, so completely won the woman's heart by my civilities, that I had not courage enough to undeceive her....

S. T. Coleridge.

P. S. You are a good prophet. Oh, into what a state have the scoundrels brought this devoted kingdom. If the House of Commons would but melt down their faces, it would greatly assist the copper currency—we should have brass enough."

To refer now to another subject. Robert Burns had died in 1796. Finding that his family had little more than their father's fame to support them, I consulted with Mr. Coleridge, whether it would not be possible to add to the fund then being raised, by promoting a subscription in Bristol, in furtherance of such design. It being deemed feasible, while Mr. C. undertook to write a Poem on the subject for a Bristol paper, I sent the following advertisement to the same vehicle.

TO THE CITIZENS OF BRISTOL.

It will doubtless afford much pleasure to the liberal portion of the inhabitants of this city, to understand that a subscription has been set on foot in different parts of the kingdom, for the wife and five small children of poor Burns, the Scotch poet. There has already been subscribed—

At Dumfries (where the Bard lived) L104 12 0 At Edinburgh ... ... ... 64 16 0 At Liverpool ... ... ... 67 10 0

Whoever, in Bristol, from their admiration of departed genius, may wish to contribute, in rescuing from distress the family of Robert Burns, will be pleased to leave their donations with Mr. Cottle, High-Street. Mr. Nichol, of Pall-Mall, London, will publicly acknowledge the receipt of all monies subscribed in this city.

The sum we transmitted to the general fund, did credit to the liberality of Bristol.

Mr. Coleridge had often, in the keenest terms, expressed his contemptuous indignation at the Scotch patrons of the poet, in making him an exciseman! so that something biting was expected.

The Poem was entitled, "To a Friend, who had declared his intention of writing no more Poetry." In reading the Poem immediately after it was written, the rasping force which Mr. C. gave to the following concluding lines was inimitable.

"Is thy Burns dead? And shall he die unwept, and sink to earth, Without the meed of one melodious tear? Thy Burns, and nature's own beloved Bard, Who to 'the illustrious of his native land,'[35] So properly did look for patronage. Ghost of Maecenas! hide thy blushing face! They took him from the sickle and the plough— To guage ale firkins! O, for shame return! On a bleak rock, midway the Aonian Mount, There stands a lone and melancholy tree, Whose aged branches to the midnight blast Make solemn music, pluck its darkest bough, Ere yet th' unwholesome night dew be exhaled, And weeping, wreath it round thy Poet's tomb: Then in the outskirts, where pollutions grow, Pick stinking henbane, and the dusky flowers Of night-shade, or its red and tempting fruit; These, with stopped nostril, and glove-guarded hand, Knit in nice intertexture, so to twine Th' illustrious brow of Scotch Nobility!"

If Mr. C.'s nature had been less benevolent, and he had given full vent to the irascible and satirical, the restrained elements of which abounded in his spirit, he would have obtained the least enviable of all kinds of pre-eminence, and have become the undisputed modern Juvenal.

Mr. George Burnet resided sometimes with his relations, sometimes with Mr. Coleridge, at Stowey. Mr. and Mrs. C. happened to be now in Bristol, when the former was summoned home on account of Burnet's sudden and serious illness. On reaching Stowey, Mr. C. sent me the following letter.

"Stowey.

My dear friend,

I found George Burnet ill enough, heaven knows, Yellow Jaundice,—-the introductory symptoms very violent. I return to Bristol on Thursday, and shall not leave till all be done.

Remind Mrs. Coleridge of the kittens, and tell her that George's brandy is just what smuggled spirits might be expected to be, execrable! The smack of it remains in my mouth, and I believe will keep me most horribly temperate for half a century. He (Burnet) was bit, but I caught the Brandiphobia.[36] [obliterations ...]—scratched out, well knowing that you never allow such things to pass, uncensured. A good joke, and it slipped out most impromptu—ishly.

The mice play the very devil with us. It irks me to set a trap. By all the whiskers of all the pussies that have mewed plaintively, or amorously, since the days of Whittington, it is not fair. 'Tis telling a lie. 'Tis as if you said, 'Here is a bit of toasted cheese; come little mice! I invite you!' when, oh, foul breach of the rites of hospitality! I mean to assassinate my too credulous guests! No, I cannot set a trap, but I should vastly like to make a Pitt—fall. (Smoke the Pun!). But concerning the mice, advise thou, lest there be famine in the land. Such a year of scarcity! Inconsiderate mice! Well, well, so the world wags.

Farewell, S. T. C.

P. S. A mad dog ran through our village, and bit several dogs. I have desired the farmers to be attentive, and to-morrow shall give them, in writing, the first symptoms of madness in a dog.

I wish my pockets were as yellow as George's phiz!"[37]

The preceding letter is about a fair example of that playful and ebullient imagination for which Mr. Coleridge, at this time, was distinguished. Subjects high and low received the same embellishment. Figure crowded on figure, and image on image, in new and perpetual variety.

He was once reprobating the introduction of all bull and bear similes into poetry. "Well," I replied, "whatever your antipathies may be to bulls and bears, you have no objection to wolves." "Yes," he answered, "I equally abominate the whole tribe of lion, bull, bear, boar, and wolf similes. They are more thread-bare than a beggar's cast-off coat. From their rapid transition from hand to hand, they are now more hot and sweaty than halfpence on a market day. I would as soon meet a wolf in the open field, as in a friend's poem." I then rejoined, "Your objection, once at least, to wolf similes, was not quite so strong, seeing you prevailed on Mr. Southey to throw into the first book of "Joan of Arc," a five-line flaming wolf simile of yours. One could almost see the wolf leap, he was so fierce!" "Ah" said Mr. C. "but the discredit rests on him, not on me."

The simile, in question, if not a new subject, is at least, perhaps, as energetically expressed as any five lines in Mr. Coleridge's writings.

As who, through many a summer night serene Had hover'd round the fold with coward wish; Horrid with brumal ice, the fiercer wolf, From his bleak mountain and his den of snows Leaps terrible and mocks the shepherd's spear. Book 1. L. 47.

"June, 1796.

My dear Cottle,

I am sojourning for a few days at Racedown, Dorset, the mansion of our friend Wordsworth; who presents his kindest respects to you....

Wordsworth admires my tragedy, which gives me great hopes. Wordsworth has written a tragedy himself. I speak with heartfelt sincerity, and I think, unblinded judgment, when I tell you that I feel myself a little man by his side, and yet I do not think myself a less man than I formerly thought myself. His drama is absolutely wonderful. You know I do not commonly speak in such abrupt and unmingled phrases, and therefore will the more readily believe me. There are, in the piece, those profound touches of the human heart, which I find three or four times in the "Robbers" of Schiller, and often in Shakspeare, but in Wordsworth there are no inequalities....

God bless you, and eke,

S. T. Coleridge."

Respecting this tragedy of Mr. W.'s, parts of which I afterwards heard with the highest admiration, Mr. Coleridge in a succeeding letter gave me the following information. "I have procured for Wordsworth's tragedy, an introduction to Harris, the manager of Covent Garden, who has promised to read it attentively, and give his answer immediately; and if he accepts it, to put it in preparation without an hour's delay.

This tragedy may or may not have been deemed suitable for the stage. Should the latter prove the case, and the closet be its element, the public after these intimations, will importunately urge Mr. W. to a publication of this dramatic piece, so calculated still to augment his high reputation.

There is a peculiar pleasure in recording the favorable sentiments which one poet and man of genius entertains of another, I therefore state that Mr. Coleridge says, in a letter received from him March 8th, 1798, "The Giant Wordsworth-God love him! When I speak in the terms of admiration due to his intellect, I fear lest these terms should keep out of sight the amiableness of his manners. He has written near twelve hundred lines of blank verse, superior, I hesitate not to aver, to any thing in our language which any way resembles it."

And in a letter received from Mr. Coleridge, 1807, he says—speaking of his friend Mr. W. "He is one, whom God knows, I love and honour as far beyond myself, as both morally and intellectually he is above me."

"Stowey, 1797.

My dear Cottle,

Wordsworth and his exquisite sister are with me. She is a woman indeed! in mind I mean, and heart; for her person is such, that if you expected to see a pretty woman, you would think her rather ordinary; if you expected to see an ordinary woman, you would think her pretty! but her manners are simple, ardent, impressive. In every motion, her most innocent soul outbeams so brightly, that who saw would say,

"Guilt was a thing impossible in her."

Her information various. Her eye watchful in minutest observation of nature; and her taste, a perfect electrometer. It bends, protrudes, and draws in, at subtlest beauties, and most recondite faults.

She and W. desire their kindest respects to you.

Your ever affectionate friend.

S. T. C."

"Stowey, Sept. 1797.

My very dear Cottle,

Your illness afflicts me, and unless I receive a full account of you by Milton, I shall be very uneasy, so do not fail to write.

Herbert Croft is in Exeter gaol! This is unlucky. Poor devil! He must now be unpeppered.[39] We are all well. Wordsworth is well. Hartley sends a grin to you? He has another tooth!

In the wagon, there was brought from Bath, a trunk, in order to be forwarded to Stowey, directed, 'S. T. Coleridge, Stowey, near Bridgwater.' This, we suppose, arrived in Bristol on Tuesday or Wednesday, last week.

It belonged to Thelwall. If it be not forwarded to Stowey, let it be stopped, and not sent.

Give my kind love to your brother Robert, and ax him to put on his hat, and run, without delay to the inn, or place, by whatever bird, beast, fish, or man distinguished, where Parsons's Bath wagon sets up.

From your truly affectionate friend,

S. T. Coleridge."

A letter, written, at this time, by Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Wade, more particularly refers to Mr. Thelwall's visit at Stowey.

"Stowey, 1797.

My very dear friend,

... John Thelwall is a very warm-hearted, honest man; and disagreeing as we do, on almost every point of religion, of morals, of politics, and philosophy, we like each other uncommonly well. He is a great favorite with Sara. Energetic activity of mind and of heart, is his master feature. He is prompt to conceive, and still prompter to execute; but I think he is deficient in that patience of mind which can look intensely and frequently at the same subject. He believes and disbelieves with impassioned confidence. I wish to see him doubting, and doubting. He is intrepid, eloquent, and honest. Perhaps, the only acting democrat that is honest, for the patriots are ragged cattle; a most execrable herd. Arrogant because they are ignorant, and boastful of the strength of reason, because they have never tried it enough to know its weakness. Oh! my poor country! The clouds cover thee. There is not one spot of clear blue in the whole heaven!

My love to all whom you love, and believe me, with brotherly affection, with esteem and gratitude, and every warm emotion of the heart,

Your faithful

S. T. Coleridge."

"London, 1797.

Dear Cottle,

If Mrs. Coleridge be in Bristol, pray desire her to write to me immediately, and I beg you, the moment you receive this letter, to send to No. 17, Newfoundland Street to know whether she be there. I have written to Stowey, but if she be in Bristol, beg her to write to me of it by return of post, that I may immediately send down some cash for her travelling expenses, &c. We shall reside in London for the next four months. God bless you, Cottle, I love you,

S. T. Coleridge."

P. S. The volume (second edition, Coleridge, Lloyd, and Lamb) is a most beautiful one. You have determined that the three Bards shall walk up Parnassus, in their best bib and tucker.

"Stowey, June 29th, 1797.

My very dear Cottle,

... Charles Lamb will probably be here in about a fortnight. Could you not contrive to put yourself in a Bridgwater coach, and T. Poole would fetch you in a one-horse chaise to Stowey. What delight would it not give us....

It was not convenient at this time to accept Mr. C.'s invitation, but going to Stowey two or three weeks afterwards, I learnt how pleasantly the interview had been between Charles Lamb and himself. It is delightful, even at the present moment, to recal the images connected with my then visit to Stowey, (which those can best understand, who, like myself, have escaped from severe duties to a brief season of happy recreation). Mr. Coleridge welcomed me with the warmest cordiality. He talked with affection of his old school-fellow, Lamb, who had so recently left him; regretted he had not an opportunity of introducing me to one whom he so highly valued. Mr. C. took peculiar delight in assuring me (at least, at that time) how happy he was; exhibiting successively, his house, his garden, his orchard, laden with fruit; and also the contrivances he had made to unite his two neighbours' domains with his own.

After the grand circuit had been accomplished, by hospitable contrivance, we approached the "Jasmine harbour," when to our gratifying surprise, we found the tripod table laden with delicious bread and cheese, surmounted by a brown mug of true Taunton ale. We instinctively took our seats; and there must have been some downright witchery in the provisions which surpassed all of its kind; nothing like it on the wide terrene, and one glass of the Taunton, settled it to an axiom. While the dappled sun-beams played on our table, through the umbrageous canopy, the very birds seemed to participate in our felicities, and poured forth their selectest anthems. As we sat in our sylvan hall of splendour, a company of the happiest mortals, (T. Poole, C. Lloyd, S. T. Coleridge, and J. C.) the bright-blue heavens; the sporting insects; the balmy zephyrs; the feathered choristers; the sympathy of friends, all augmented the pleasurable to the highest point this side the celestial! Every interstice of our hearts being filled with happiness, as a consequence, there was no room for sorrow, exorcised as it now was, and hovering around at unapproachable distance. With our spirits thus entranced, though we might weep at other moments, yet joyance so filled all within and without, that, if, at this juncture, tidings had been brought us, that an irruption of the ocean had swallowed up all our brethren of Pekin; from the pre-occupation of our minds, "poor things," would have been our only reply, with anguish put off till the morrow. While thus elevated in the universal current of our feelings, Mrs. Coleridge approached, with her fine Hartley; we all smiled, but the father's eye beamed transcendental joy! "But, all things have an end." Yet, pleasant it is for memory to treasure up in her choicest depository, a few such scenes, (these sunny spots in existence!) on which the spirit may repose, when the rough, adverse winds shake and disfigure all besides.

Although so familiar with the name and character of Charles Lamb, through the medium of S. T. Coleridge, yet my intercourse (with the exception of one casual visit) commenced with him in the year 1802, during a residence of many months in London, when we often met. After this period, from my residing permanently in Bristol, our acquaintance was intermitted, till 1819, when he requested the loan of a portrait, for the purpose expressed in the following letter.

"Dear Sir,

It is so long since I have seen or heard from you, that I fear that you will consider a request I have to make, as impertinent. About three years since, when I was in Bristol, I made an effort to see you, by calling at Brunswick Square, but you were from home. The request I have to make, is, that you would very much oblige me, if you have any small portrait of yourself, by allowing me to have it copied, to accompany a selection, of the likenesses of 'Living Bards,' which a most particular friend of mine is making. If you have no objection, and would oblige me by transmitting such portrait, I will answer for taking the greatest care of it, and for its safe return. I hope you will pardon the liberty,

From an old friend and well wisher,

Charles Lamb."

In consequence of this application, I sent Charles Lamb a portrait, by Branwhite, and enclosed for his acceptance, the second part of my "Messiah." When the portrait was returned, it was accompanied with the following letter, containing a few judicious remarks, such as might have been expected from one whose judgment Mr. Coleridge so highly estimated.

"Dear Sir,

My friend, whom you have obliged by the loan of your picture, has had it very nicely copied (and a very spirited drawing it is; so every one thinks who has seen it.) The copy is not much inferior to yours, done by a daughter of Joseph's, R. A.

I accompany the picture with my warm thanks, both for that, and your better favour the 'Messiah' which I assure you I have read through with great pleasure. The verses have great sweetness, and a New Testament plainness about them which affected me very much. I could just wish that in page 63, you had omitted the lines 71 and 72, and had ended the period with,

The willowy brook was there, but that sweet sound— When to be heard again on earthly ground!"

Two very sweet lines, and the sense perfect.

And in page 154, line 68,

He spake, 'I come, ordain'd a world to save, To be baptis'd by thee in Jordan's wave."

These words are hardly borne out by the story, and seem scarce accordant with the modesty with which our Lord came to take his common portion among the baptismal candidates. They also anticipate the beauty of John's recognition of the Messiah, and the subsequent confirmation by the Voice and Dove.

You will excuse the remarks of an old brother bard, whose career, though long since pretty well stopped, was coeval in its beginning with your own, and who is sorry his lot has been always to be so distant from you. It is not likely that C. L. will see Bristol again, but if J. C. should ever visit London, he will be a most welcome visitor to C. L. My sister joins in cordial remembrances.

Dear sir, Yours truly,

Charles Lamb."

Having always entertained for Charles Lamb a very kind feeling, independently of my admiration of his wit and genius, I requested his acceptance of my poem of the "Fall of Cambria," to which he sent the following characteristic reply.

"London, India House, May 26, 1829.

My dear Sir,

I am quite ashamed of not having acknowledged your kind present earlier, but that unknown something which was never yet discovered, though so often speculated upon, which stands in the way of lazy folks' answering letters, has presented its usual obstacle. It is not forgetfulness, nor disrespect, nor incivility, but terribly like all these bad things.

I have been in my time a great Epistolatory scribbler, but the passion, and with it the facility, at length wears out, and it must be pumped up again by the heavy machinery of duty or gratitude, when it should run free. I have read your 'Fall of Cambria' with as much pleasure as I did your 'Messiah.' Your Cambrian Poem I shall be tempted to repeat oftenest, as human poems take me in a mood more frequently congenial than divine. The character of Llewellyn pleases me more than anything else perhaps; and then some of the Lyrical pieces are fine varieties.

It was quite a mistake that I could dislike anything you should write against Lord Byron, for I have a thorough aversion to his character, and a very moderate admiration of his genius; he is great in so little a way. To be a poet is to be the man; not a petty portion of occasional low passion worked up into a permanent form of humanity. Shakspeare has thrust such rubbishly feelings into a corner—the dark dusky heart of Don John, in the 'Much Ado about Nothing.' The fact is, I have not seen your 'Expostulatory Epistle' to him. I was not aware, till your question, that it was out. I shall inquire and get it forthwith.

Southey is in town, whom I have seen slightly. Wordsworth expected, whom I hope to see much of. I write with accelerated motion, for I have two or three bothering clerks and brokers about me, who always press in proportion as you seem to be doing something that is not business. I could exclaim a little profanely, but I think you do not like swearing.

I conclude, begging you to consider that I feel myself much obliged by your kindness, and shall be most happy at any and at all times to hear from you.

Dear Sir, yours truly,

Charles Lamb."

Mr. Coleridge, in the second edition of his poems, transferred some of the poems which appeared in the first, to a supplement, and, amongst others, some verses addressed to myself, with the following notice.

"The first in order of these verses which I have thus endeavoured to reprieve from immediate oblivion, was originally addressed "To the Author of Poems published anonymously at Bristol." A second edition of these poems has lately appeared with the author's name prefixed: (Joseph Cottle) and I could not refuse myself the gratification of seeing the name of that man amongst my poems, without whose kindness, they would probably have remained unpublished; and to whom I know myself greatly, and variously obliged, as a poet, a man, and a Christian.

LINES ADDRESSED TO JOSEPH COTTLE.

My honor'd friend! whose verse concise, yet clear, Tunes to smooth melody unconquer'd sense, May your fame fadeless live, "as never seer" The ivy wreathes yon oak, whose broad defence Embow'rs me from noon's sultry influence! For like that nameless riv'let stealing by, Your modest verse to musing quiet dear Is rich with tints heaven-borrow'd, the charm'd eye Shall gaze undazzled there, and love the soften'd sky.

Circling the base of the poetic mount A stream there is, which rolls in lazy flow; Its cold-black waters from oblivion's fount; The vapour poison'd birds that fly too low, Fall with dead swoop, and to the bottom go. Escaped that heavy stream on pinion fleet, Beneath the mountain's lofty frowning brow, Ere aught of perilous ascent you meet, A mead of mildest charm delays the unlab'ring feet.

Not there the cloud-climb rock, sublime and vast, That like some giant king, o'er-glooms the hill; Nor there the pine-grove to the midnight blast Makes solemn music! But the unceasing rill To the soft wren or lark's descending trill Murmurs sweet under-song 'mid jasmine bowers. In this same pleasant meadow at your will, I ween, you wander'd—there collecting flow'rs Of sober tint, and herbs of medicinal powers!

There for the monarch-murder'd soldier's tomb You wove the unfinish'd[40] wreath of saddest hues, And to that holier[41] chaplet added bloom Besprinkling it with Jordan's cleansing dews. But lo! your[42] Henderson awakes the Muse— His spirit beckon'd from the mountain's height! You left the plain and soar'd mid richer views! So nature mourn'd, when sank the first day's light, With stars, unseen before, spangling her robe of night!

Still soar my friend those richer views among, Strong, rapid, fervent, flashing fancy's beam! Virtue and truth shall love your gentler song: But Poesy demands th' impassion'd theme: Wak'd by heaven's silent dews at Eve's mild gleam What balmy sweets Pomona breathes around? But if the vex'd air rush a stormy stream, Or autumn's shrill gust moan in plaintive sound With fruits and flowers she loads the tempest honor'd ground."

While the first edition of Mr. Coleridge's poems was in the press, I received from him the following letter.

"My dear Sir,

... There is a beautiful little poetic epistle of Sara's, which I mean to print here. What if her epistle to you were likewise printed, so as to have two of her poems? It is remarkably elegant, and would do honour to any volume of poems."

The first epistle I never received. The second was printed in the first edition of Mr. C.'s poems, and in no other. On account of its merit it is here inserted.

"THE PRODUCTION OF A YOUNG LADY,[43] ADDRESSED TO HER FRIEND, J. COTTLE.

* * * * *

She had lost her thimble, and her complaint being accidentally overheard by her friend, he immediately sent her four others to take her choice from.

* * * * *

As oft mine eye, with careless glance, Has gallop'd o'er some old romance, Of speaking birds, and steeds with wings, Giants and dwarfs, and fiends, and kings: Beyond the rest, with more attentive care, I've loved to read of elfin-favor'd fair— How if she longed for aught beneath the sky, And suffered to escape one votive sigh, Wafted along on viewless pinions airy, It kid itself obsequious at her feet: Such things I thought we might not hope to meet, Save in the dear delicious land of fairy! But now (by proof I know it well) There's still some peril in free wishing— Politeness is a licensed spell, And you, dear sir, the arch-magician.

You much perplexed me by the various set: They were indeed an elegant quartette! My mind went to and fro, and wavered long; At length I've chosen (Samuel thinks me wrong) That around whose azure brim, Silver figures seem to swim, Like fleece-white clouds, that on the skyey blue, Waked by no breeze, the self-same shapes retain; Or ocean nymphs, with limbs of snowy hue, Slow floating o'er the calm cerulean plain.

Just such a one, mon cher ami (The finger-shield of industry,) The inventive gods, I deem, to Pallas gave, What time the vain Arachne, madly brave, Challenged the blue-eyed virgin of the sky A duel in embroidered work to try. And hence the thimbled finger of grave Pallas, To th' erring needle's point was more than callous.

But, ah, the poor Arachne! she, unarmed, Blund'ring, through hasty eagerness, alarmed With all a rival's hopes, a mortal's fears, Still miss'd the stitch, and stained the web with tears. Unnumbered punctures, small, yet sore, Full fretfully the maiden bore, Till she her lily finger found Crimson'd with many a tiny wound, And to her eyes, suffused with watery woe, Her flower-embroidered web danced dim, I wist, Like blossom'd shrubs, in a quick-moving mist; Till vanquish'd, the despairing maid sank low.

O, Bard! whom sure no common muse inspires, I heard your verse that glows with vestal fires; And I from unwatch'd needle's erring point Had surely suffered on each finger joint, Those wounds, which erst did poor Arachne meet; While he, the much-loved object of my choice, (My bosom thrilling with enthusiast heat) Pour'd on my ear, with deep impressive voice, How the great Prophet of the desert stood, And preach'd of penitence by Jordan's flood: On war; or else the legendary lays, In simplest measures hymn'd to Alla's praise; Or what the Bard from his heart's inmost stores, O'er his friend's grave in loftier numbers pours: Yes, Bard polite! you but obey'd the laws Of justice, when the thimble you had sent; What wounds your thought-bewildering muse might cause, 'Tis well, your finger-shielding gifts prevent.

SARA."

"Dear Cottle,

I have heard nothing of my Tragedy, except some silly remarks of Kemble's, to whom a friend showed it; it does not appear to me that there is a shadow of probability that it will be accepted. It gave me no pain, and great pleasure, in finding that it gave me no pain.

I had rather hoped than believed that I was possessed of so much philosophical capability. Sheridan most certainly has not used me with common justice. The proposal came from himself, and although this circumstance did not bind him to accept the tragedy, it certainly bound him to every, and that the earliest, attention to it. I suppose it is snugly in his green bag, if it have not emigrated to the kitchen.

I sent to the Monthly Magazine, (1797) three mock Sonnets, in ridicule of my own Poems, and Charles Lloyd's, and Lamb's, &c. &c. exposing that affectation of unaffectedness, of jumping and misplaced accent, in common-place epithets, flat lines forced into poetry by italics, (signifying how well and mouthishly the author would read them) puny pathos, &c. &c. the instances were almost all taken from myself, and Lloyd, and Lamb.

I signed them 'Nehemiah Higginbotham.' I think they may do good to our young Bards.

God love you,

S. T. C."

P. S. I am translating the 'Oberon' of Wieland; it is a difficult language, and I can translate at least as fast as I can construe. I have made also a very considerable proficiency in the French language, and study it daily, and daily study the German; so that I am not, and have not been idle....

SONNETS.

ATTEMPTED IN THE MANNER OP CONTEMPORARY WRITERS.

* * * * *

SONNET I.

Pensive, at eve, on the hard world I mus'd, And my poor heart was sad: so at the moon I gazed, and sigh'd, and sigh'd! for ah! how soon Eve darkens into night! Mine eye perus'd With tearful vacancy the dampy grass, Which wept and glitter'd in the paly ray: And I did pause me on my lonely way, And muse me on those wretched ones, who pass O'er the black heath of sorrow. But alas! Most of MYSELF I thought: when it befel That the sooth SPIRIT of the breezy wood Breath'd in mine ear—"All this is very well; But much of one thing is for no-thing good." Ah! my poor heart's inexplicable swell!

NEHEMIAH HIGGINBOTHAM.

SONNET II.

TO SIMPLICITY.

O! I do love thee, meek simplicity! For of thy lays, the lulling simpleness Goes to my heart, and soothes each small distress, Distress, though small, yet haply great to me! 'Tis true, on lady fortune's gentlest pad, I amble on; yet, though I know not why, So sad I am!—but should a friend and I Grow cool and miff, oh, I am very sad! And then with sonnets, and with sympathy. My dreamy bosom's mystic woes I pall; Now of my false friend 'plaining plaintively, Now raving at mankind in gener-al But whether sad or fierce, 'tis simple all, All very simple, meek SIMPLICITY!

NEHEMIAH HIGGINBOTHAM.

SONNET III.

ON A RUINED HOUSE WHICH JACK BUILT.

And this reft house is that, the which he built, Lamented Jack! and here his malt he piled, Cautious in vain! These rats that squeak'd so wild, Squeak, not unconscious of their fathers' guilt. Did ye not see her gleaming through the glade? Belike 'twas she, the Maiden all forlorn. What though she milk no cow with crumpled horn, Yet, aye she haunts the dale where erst she stray'd: And, aye beside her stalks her amorous knight! Still on his thighs his wonted brogues are worn, And through those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn, His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white; As when through broken clouds, at night's high moon. Peeps in fair fragments forth—the full-orb'd harvest moon!

NEHEMIAH HIGGINBOTHAM.[44]

The moralist rightly says, "There is nothing permanent in this uncertain world;" and even most friendships do not partake of the "Munition of Rocks."

Alas! the spirit of impartiality now compels me to record, that the inseparable Trio; even the three "Groscolliases" themselves, had, somehow or other, been touched with the negative magnet, and their particles, in opposition, flew off "as far as from hence to the utmost pole." I never rightly understood the cause of this dissension, but shrewdly suspected that that unwelcome and insidious intruder, Mr. Nehemiah Higginbotham, had no inconsiderable share in it.

Mr. C. even determined in his third projected edition, (1798) that the production of his two late friends should be excluded. The three next letters refer to this unpleasant affair. It is hardly necessary to add, that the difference was of short continuance.

The Latin motto, prefixed to the second edition of Mr. C.'s poems, puzzled everybody to know from what author it was derived. One and another inquired of me, to no purpose, and expressed a wish that Mr. C. had been clearer in his citation, as "no one could understand it." On my naming this to Mr. Coleridge, he laughed heartily, and said, "It was all a hoax." "Not meeting" said he, "with a suitable motto, I invented one, and with references purposely obscure," as will be explained in the next letter.[45]

"March 8th, 1798.

My dear Cottle,

I have been confined to my bed for some days, through a fever occasioned by the stump of a tooth, which baffled chirurgical efforts to eject, and which, by affecting my eye, affected my stomach, and through that my whole frame. I am better, but still weak, in consequence of such long sleeplessness and wearying pains; weak, very weak. I thank you, my dear friend, for your late kindness, and in a few weeks will either repay you in money, or by verses, as you like. "With regard to Lloyd's verses, it is curious that I should be applied to, 'to be persuaded to resign' and in hopes that I might 'consent to give up' (unknown by whom) a number of poems which were published at the earnest request of the author, who assured me, that the circumstance was of 'no trivial import to his happiness'!

Times change and people change; but let us keep our souls in quietness! I have no objection to any disposal of Lloyd's poems except that of their being republished with mine. The motto which I had prefixed—"Duplex, &c." from Groscollias, has placed me in a ridiculous situation, but it was a foolish and presumptuous start of affectionateness, and I am not unwilling to incur the punishment due to my folly. By past experiences we build up our moral being. God bless you,

S. T. Coleridge."

A reference to this "stump of a tooth." was more particularly made, in the following letter to Mr. Wade.

"March 21st, 1798.

My very dear friend,

I have even now returned from a little excursion that I have taken for the confirmation of my health, which had suffered a rude assault from the anguish of the stump of a tooth which had baffled the attempts of our surgeon here, and which confined me to my bed. I suffered much from the disease, and more from the doctor; rather than again put my mouth into his hands, I would put my hands into a lion's mouth. I am happy to hear of, and should be most happy to see, the plumpness and progression of your dear boy; but-yes, my dear Wade, it must be a but, much as I hate the word but. Well,—but I cannot attend the chemical lectures. I have many reasons, but the greatest, or at least the most ostensible reason, is, that I cannot leave Mrs. C. at that time; our house is an uncomfortable one; our surgeon may be, for aught I know, a lineal descendant of Esculapius himself, but if so, in the repeated transfusion of life from father to son, through so many generations, the wit and knowledge, being subtle spirits, have evaporated....

Ever your grateful and affectionate friend,

S. T. Coleridge."

"1798.

My dear Cottle,

I regret that aught should have disturbed our tranquillity; respecting Lloyd, I am willing to believe myself in part mistaken, and so let all things be as before. I have no wish respecting these poems, either for or against re-publication with mine. As to the third edition, if there be occasion for it immediately, it must be published with some alterations, but no additions or omissions. The Pixies, Chatterton, and some dozen others, shall be printed at the end of the volume, under the title of Juvenile Poems, and in this case I will send you the volume immediately. But if there be no occasion for the volume to go to press for ten weeks, at the expiration of that time, I would make it a volume worthy of me, and omit utterly near one-half of the present volume—a sacrifice to pitch black oblivion.[46]

Whichever be the case, I will repay you the money you have paid for me, in money, and in a few weeks; or if you should prefer the latter proposal, i. e. the not sending me to the press for ten weeks, I should insist on considering the additions, however large, as my payment to you for the omissions, which, indeed, would be but strict justice.

I am requested by Wordsworth, to put to you the following questions. What could you, conveniently and prudently, and what would you give for—first, our two Tragedies, with small prefaces, containing an analysis of our principal characters? Exclusive of the prefaces, the tragedies are, together, five thousand lines; which, in printing, from the dialogue form, and directions respecting actors and scenery, are at least equal to six thousand. To be delivered to you within a week of the date of your answer to this letter; and the money which you offer, to be paid to us at the end of four months from the same date; none to be paid before, all to be paid then.

Second.—Wordsworth's 'Salisbury Plain,' and 'Tale of a Woman'; which two poems, with a few others which he will add, and the notes, will make a volume. This to be delivered to you within three weeks of the date of your answer, and the money to be paid as before, at the end of four months from the present date.

Do not, my dearest Cottle, harass yourself about the imagined great merit of the compositions, or be reluctant to offer what you can prudently offer, from an idea that the poems are worth more. But calculate what you can do, with reference simply to yourself, and answer as speedily as you can; and believe me your sincere, grateful, and affectionate friend and brother,

S. T. Coleridge."

I offered Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth, thirty guineas each, as proposed, for their two tragedies; but which, after some hesitation, was declined, from the hope of introducing one, or both, on the stage. The volume of Poems was left for some future arrangement.

"My dear Cottle,

I never involved you in the bickering, and never suspected you, in any one action of your life, of practising guile against any human being, except yourself.

Your letter supplied only one in a link of circumstances, that informed me of some things, and perhaps deceived me in others. I shall write to-day to Lloyd. I do not think I shall come to Bristol for these lectures of which you speak.[47] I ardently wish for the knowledge, but Mrs. Coleridge is within a month of her confinement, and I cannot, I ought not to leave her; especially as her surgeon is not a John Hunter, nor my house likely to perish from a plethora of comforts. Besides, there are other things that might disturb that evenness of benevolent feeling, which I wish to cultivate.

I am much better, and at present at Allfoxden, and my new and tender health is all over me like a voluptuous feeling. God bless you,

S. T. Coleridge."

When the before noticed dissension occurred, Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd, between whom a strong friendship had latterly sprung up, became alienated from Mr. Coleridge, and cherished something of an indignant feeling. Strange as it may appear, C. Lamb determined to desert the inglorious ground of neutrality, and to commence active operations against his late friend; but the arrows were taken from his own peculiar armoury; tipped, not with iron, but wit. He sent Mr. Coleridge the following letter. Mr. Coleridge gave me this letter, saying, "These young visionaries will do each other no good." The following is Charles Lamb's letter to Mr. C.

"THESES QUAEDAM THEOLOGICAE.

1st. Whether God loves a lying angel better than a true man?

2nd. Whether the archangel Uriel could affirm an untruth, and if he could, whether he would?

3rd. Whether honesty be an angelic virtue, or not rather to be reckoned among those qualities which the school-men term 'Virtutes minus splendidae'?

4th. Whether the higher order of Seraphim illuminati ever sneer?

5th. Whether pure intelligences can love?

6th. Whether the Seraphim ardentes do not manifest their virtues, by the way of vision and theory; and whether practice be not a sub-celestial and merely human virtue?

7th. Whether the vision beatific be anything more or less than a perpetual representment, to each individual angel, of his own present attainments, and future capabilities, somehow in the manner of mortal looking-glasses, reflecting a perpetual complacency and self satisfaction?

8th. and last. Whether an immortal and amenable soul may not come to be condemned at last, and the man never suspect it beforehand?

Learned Sir, my friend,

Presuming on our long habits of friendship, and emboldened further by your late liberal permission to avail myself of your correspondence, in case I want any knowledge, (which I intend to do, when I have no Encyclopedia, or Ladies Magazine at hand to refer to, in any matter of science,) I now submit to your enquiries the above theological propositions, to be by you defended or oppugned, or both, in the schools of Germany, whither, I am told, you are departing, to the utter dissatisfaction of your native Devonshire, and regret of universal England; but to my own individual consolation, if, through the channel of your wished return, learned sir, my friend, may be transmitted to this our island, from those famous theological wits of Leipsic and Gottingen, any rays of illumination, in vain to be derived from the home growth of our English halls and colleges. Finally wishing, learned sir, that you may see Schiller, and swing in a wood, (vide poems) and sit upon a tun, and eat fat hams of Westphalia,

I remain,

Your friend and docile pupil, to instruct,

Charles Lamb."

Mr. Coleridge, at first, appeared greatly hurt at this letter; an impression which I endeavoured to counteract, by considering it as a slight ebullition of feeling that would soon subside; and which happily proved to be the case. I also felt concern, not only that there should be a dissension between old friends, but lest Mr. Coleridge should be inconvenienced in a pecuniary way by the withdrawal of C. Lloyd from his domestic roof. To restore and heal, therefore, I wrote a conciliatory letter to Charles Lloyd, to which he thus replied.

"Birmingham, 7th June, 1798.

My dear Cottle,

I thank you many times for your pleasing intelligence respecting Coleridge. I cannot think that I have acted with, or from, passion towards him. Even my solitary night thoughts have been easy and calm when they have dwelt on him.... I love Coleridge, and can forget all that has happened.

At present, I could not well go to Stowey. I could scarcely excuse so sudden a removal from my parents. Lamb quitted me yesterday, after a fortnight's visit. I have been much interested in his society. I never knew him so happy in my life. I shall write to Coleridge today.

God bless you, my dear friend,

C. Lloyd, Jun."

Mr. C. up to this day, Feb. 18th, 1798, held, though laxly, the doctrines of Socinus. On the Rev. Mr. Rowe, of Shrewsbury, the Unitarian minister, coming to settle in Bristol, Mr. Coleridge was strongly recommended by his friends of that persuasion, to offer himself as Mr. R.'s successor; and he accordingly went on probation to Shrewsbury.

It is proper here to mention, in order that this subject may be the better understood, that Mr. Poole, two or three years before, had introduced Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Thomas Wedgewood. This gentleman formed a high opinion of Mr. C.'s talents, and felt an interest in his welfare. At the time Mr. Coleridge was hesitating whether or not he should persist in offering himself to the Shrewsbury congregation, and so finally settle down into an Unitarian minister, Mr. T. Wedgewood having heard of the circumstance, and fearing that a pastoral engagement might operate unfavourably on his literary pursuits, interfered, as will appear by the following letter of Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Wade.

"Stowey,

My very dear friend,

This last fortnight has been very eventful. I received one hundred pounds from Josiah Wedgewood, in order to prevent the necessity of my going into the ministry. I have received an invitation from Shrewsbury, to be minister there; and after fluctuations of mind, which have for nights together robbed me of sleep, and I am afraid of health, I have at length returned the order to Mr. Wedgwood, with a long letter, explanatory of my conduct, and accepted the Shrewsbury invitation...."

Mr. T. Wedgewood still adhering to his first opinion that Mr. Coleridge's acceptance of the proposed engagement, would seriously obstruct his literary efforts; sent Mr. C. a letter, in which himself and his brother, Mr. Josiah Wedgwood, promised, conjointly, to allow him for his life, one hundred and fifty pounds a year. This decided Mr. Coleridge to reject the Shrewsbury invitation. He was oppressed with grateful emotions to these his liberal benefactors, and always spoke, in particular, of the late Mr. Thomas Wedgewood as being one of the best talkers, and as possessing one of the acutest minds, of any man he had known.

The following is Mr. Coleridge's hasty reply to Mr. Wedgewood.

"Shrewsbury, Friday night, 1798.

My dear sir,

I have this moment received your letter, and have scarcely more than a moment to answer it by return of post. If kindly feeling can be repaid by kindly feeling, I am not your debtor. I would wish to express the, same thing which is big at my heart, but I know not how to do it without indelicacy. As much abstracted from personal feeling as possible, I honor and esteem you for that which you have done.

I must of necessity stay here till the close of Sunday next. On Monday morning I shall leave it, and on Tuesday will be with you at Cote-House.

Very affectionately yours,

S. T. Coleridge.

T. Wedgewood, Esq."

While the affair was in suspense, a report was current in Bristol, that Mr. Coleridge had rejected the Messrs. Wedgewoods' offer, which the Unitarians in both towns ardently desired. Entertaining a contrary wish, I addressed a letter to Mr. C. stating the report, and expressing a hope that it had no foundation. The following satisfactory answer was immediately returned.

"My very dear Cottle,

The moment I received Mr. T. Wedgewood's letter, I accepted his offer. How a contrary report could arise, I cannot guess....

I hope to see you at the close of next week. I have been respectfully and kindly treated at Shrewsbury. I am well, and now, and ever,

Your grateful and affectionate friend,

S. T. Coleridge."

In the year 1798, Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth determined upon visiting Germany. A knowledge of this fact will elucidate some of the succeeding letters.

"Feb. 18, 1798.

My dear Cottle,

I have finished my Ballad, it is 340 lines; I am going on with my 'Visions': altogether (for I shall print two scenes of my Tragedy, as fragments) I can add 1500 lines; now what do you advise? Shall I add my Tragedy, and so make a second volume? or shall I pursue my first intention of inserting 1500 in the third edition? If you should advise a second volume, should you wish, i. e. find it convenient, to be the purchaser? I ask this question, because I wish you to know the true state of my present circumstances. I have received nothing yet from the Wedgewoods, and my money is utterly expended.

A friend of mine wanted five guineas for a little while, which I borrowed of Poole, as for myself, I do not like therefore to apply to him. Mr. Estlin has some little money I believe in his hands, but I received from him before I went to Shrewsbury, fifteen pounds, and I believe that this was an anticipation of the five guinea presents, which my friends would have made in March. But (this affair of the Messrs. Wedgewoods turning out) the money in Mr. Estlin's hand must go towards repaying him that sum which he suffered me to anticipate. Meantime I owe Biggs L5. which is heavy on my thoughts, and Mrs. I has not been paid her last quarter which is still heavier. As to myself, I can continue to go on here, but this L10 I must pay somehow, that is L5 to Biggs, and L5 to Mrs. F....

God bless you,

S. T. Coleridge."

P.S. This week I purpose offering myself to the Bridgwater Socinian congregation, as assistant minister, without any salary, directly, or indirectly; but of this say not a word to any one, unless you see Mr. Estlin.

A visit to Mr. Coleridge at Stowey, had been the means of my introduction to Mr. Wordsworth, who read me many of his Lyrical Pieces, when I immediately perceived in them extraordinary merit, and advised him to publish them, expressing a belief that they would be well received. I further said he should be at no risk; that I would give him the same sum which I had given to Mr. Coleridge and to Mr. Southey, and that it would be a gratifying circumstance to me, to have been the publisher of the first volumes of three such poets, as Southey, Coleridge, and Wordsworth; such a distinction might never again occur to a Provincial bookseller.

To the idea of publishing he expressed a strong objection, and after several interviews, I left him, with an earnest wish that he would reconsider his determination.

Soon after Mr. Wordsworth sent me the following letter.

"Allfoxden, 12th April, 1798.

My dear Cottle,

... You will be pleased to hear that I have gone on very rapidly adding to my stock of poetry. Do come and let me read it to you, under the old trees in the park. We have a little more than two months to stay in this place. Within these four days the season has advanced with greater rapidity than I ever remember, and the country becomes almost every hour more lovely. God bless you,

Your affectionate friend,

W. Wordsworth."

A little time after, I received an invitation from Mr. Coleridge to pay himself and Mr. Wordsworth another visit. At about the same time, I received the following corroborative invitation from Mr. Wordsworth.

"Dear Cottle, We look for you with great impatience. We will never forgive you if you do not come. I say nothing of the 'Salisbury Plain' till I see you. I am determined to finish it, and equally so that you shall publish.

I have lately been busy about another plan, which I do not wish to mention till I see you; let this be very, very soon, and stay a week if possible; as much longer as you can. God bless you, dear Cottle,

Yours sincerely,

W. Wordsworth.

Allfoxden, 9th May, 1798."

The following letter also on this subject, was received from Mr. Coleridge.

"My dear Cottle,

Neither Wordsworth nor myself could have been otherwise than uncomfortable, if any but yourself had received from us the first offer of our Tragedies, and of the volume of Wordsworth's Poems. At the same time, we did not expect that you could with prudence and propriety, advance such a sum as we should want at the time we specified. In short, we both regard the publication of our Tragedies as an evil. It is not impossible but that in happier times, they may be brought on the stage: and to throw away this chance for a mere trifle, would be to make the present moment act fraudulently and usuriously towards the future time.

My Tragedy employed and strained all my thoughts and faculties for six or seven months; Wordsworth consumed far more time, and far more thought, and far more genius. We consider the publication of them an evil on any terms; but our thoughts were bent on a plan for the accomplishment of which, a certain sum of money was necessary, (the whole) at that particular time, and in order to this we resolved, although reluctantly, to part with our Tragedies: that is, if we could obtain thirty guineas for each, and at less than thirty guineas Wordsworth will not part with the copy-right of his volume of Poems. We shall offer the Tragedies to no one, for we have determined to procure the money some other way. If you choose the volume of Poems, at the price mentioned, to be paid at the time specified, i. e. thirty guineas, to be paid sometime in the last fortnight of July, you may have them; but remember, my dear fellow! I write to you now merely as a bookseller, and intreat you, in your answer, to consider yourself only; as to us, although money is necessary to our plan, [that of visiting Germany] yet the plan is not necessary to our happiness; and if it were, W. could sell his Poems for that sum to some one else, or we could procure the money without selling the Poems. So I entreat you, again and again, in your answer, which must be immediate, consider yourself only.

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