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family business of banking, was extremely desirous of becoming a philosopher and a poet under the guidance and under the roof of the philosopher and poet who was but two years his senior. Nothing was then settled, but towards the end of September, Lloyd's parents gave their consent, and invited 1 Coleridge to pay them a visit. Mrs. Coleridge having miscalculated times and seasons allowed him to go, and while at the Lloyds' house he was surprised by an announcement that on the previous day, the 19th September, he had become the father of a son. He hastened home, taking Charles Lloyd with him. The poet's and the father's tumultuous feelings in presence of this crisis required three sonnets 2 for their expression, but they were summed up in these lovely lines:
So for the mother's sake the child was dear,
And dearer was the mother for the child.
The father having at this period a great dislike for all sacramental rites,3 the son was not baptized, but he was named David Hartley,' in honour of the wisest of mortal kind,' and solemnly dedicated to the service of the truths 'so ably supported by that great master of Christian Philosophy.'5 So he informed Poole, going on to write about his other son, born to him, as it were, on the same day as David Hartley. 'Charles Lloyd wins upon me hourly.. I believe his fixed plans are of being always with me. My dearest Poole, can you conveniently receive us in the course of a week? We can both sleep in one bed, as we do now; and I have much, very much, to say to you, and to consult you about; for my heart is heavy respecting Derby; and my feelings are so dim and huddled, that though I can, I am sure, communicate them to you by my looks and broken sentences, I scarcely know how to convey them in a letter. C. Lloyd also wishes much to know you personally.' Poole, of course, replied, 'Come at once'; and truly Coleridge was never more in need of the wise sympathy and advice which always awaited him at Stowey. He had no settled prospects. Lloyd's contribution to the household expenses was limited to £80 a year, and this was supplemented only by the proceeds of a little reviewing, etc., which Coleridge hoped might yield £40 in a year. The deficiency could not always be filled up by sympathetic offerings, nor could he have contemplated with complacency the continued acceptance of such aid. His consuming desire was to live in the country, near Poole, and to support himself by a mixture of literature and husbandry.
We are fortunate in possessing a vivid and comprehensive picture of his views and tastes at this period in a series of unprinted letters addressed by him to Thelwall, once in the late Mr. F. W. Cosens's MS. collections. I have room for only a few sentences: 'I am, and ever have been, a great reader, and have read almost everything. . . . I am deep in all out-of-the-way books, whether of the monkish times or of the puritanical era. I have read and digested most of the historic writers, but I do not like history. Metaphysics and poetry and "facts of the mind" (.e. accounts of all strange phantasms that ever possessed your philosophy-dreamers, from Theuth the Egyptian to Taylor the English pagan) are my darling studies. In short, I seldom read except to amuse myself, and I am almost always reading. Of useful knowledge—
1 S. T. C. to Poole, September 24; printed in Biog. Lit. 1847, ii. 374.
2 Page 66, and 'Notes,' 94-96, p. 582, post.
5 Letter to Poole, Sept. 24, 1796 (T. Poole and his Friends, i. 157).
6 Biog. Lit. 1847, ii. 375.
7 T. Poole and his Friends, i. 189.
I am a so-so chemist, and I love chemistry—all else is blank-but I will be ( God) an horticulturist and farmer. I compose very little, and I absolutely composition. Such is my dislike that even a sense of duty is sometimes too weak to A month later he writes to the same unseen friend: As to my own overpower it.' poetry, I do confess that it frequently, both in thought and language, deviates from "nature and simplicity." But that Bowles, the most tender, and with the exception of Burns, the only always natural poet in our language, that he should not escape the charge of Della-Cruscanism, this cuts the skin and surface of my heart' His own poetry, he goes on to say, 'seldom exhibits unmixed and simple tenderness passion; my philosophical opinions are blended with or deduced from my feelings, and this, I think, peculiarises my style of writing, and like everything else it is But do not let us introduce an Act of sometimes a beauty and sometimes a fault. I have room enough in my brain to admire, aye, and Uniformity against Poets. almost equally, the head and fancy of Akenside and the heart and fancy of Bowles, 'the the solemn lordliness of Milton, and the divine chit-chat of Cowper, and whatever a man's excellence is, that will be likewise his fault.' He speaks of Bowles as bard of my idolatry,' and sends a commission to Thelwall to buy for him the works of Jamblichus, Proclus, Porphyry, the Emperor Julian, Sidonius Apollinaris, and The Plotinus a little Neo-Platonic library.
In the summer of this year (1796) Southey had returned from Portugal. quarrel revived, but about the time of Hartley's birth Southey made overtures which were accepted with seeming cordiality. But it was only seeming, for at the end of .; we are acquaintthe year Coleridge wrote to Thelwall: We are reconciled ances, and feel kindliness towards each other, but I do not esteem or love Southey as I must esteem and love whom I dare call by the holy name of Friend! . . . And 3 As the days shortened, Coleridge grew more and more vice versa, Southey of me.' impatient with the delays and disappointments which dogged his efforts to find a house near Poole. He was sick at heart, and the depression brought on neuralgia, and the neuralgia brought on laudanum-a disease of which he was never completely cured. The attack of the temporary evil, which began on the 2nd November, My was renewed on the 3rd, when Coleridge took between 60 and 70 drops of laudanum, and sopped the Cerberus just as his mouth began to open. medical attendant decides it to be altogether nervous, and that it originates either in severe application or excessive anxiety. My beloved Poole, in excessive anxiety, I believe, it might originate. I have a blister under my right ear, and I take 25 drops of laudanum every five hours, the ease and spirits [italics in original] gained by which have enabled me to write you this flighty but not exaggerating account.' 4
The baby son flourished, but not so Lloyd; and the epileptic fits to which he was Its master had yet found no moneysubject, caused the household much anxiety. making employment, so that a gift of fifteen guineas, which came through Estlin, On the 15th November he wrote to Poole: 'My must have been welcome. He told his friend anxieties eat me up. . . . I want consolation-my Friend! my Brother! write and Poole's consolation was of a modified character. console me. of a wayside cottage obtainable at Stowey, but had little but evil to say of its accom
1 See also Lamb's letter to Coleridge, July 1st, 1796.
2 Biog. Lit. 1847, ii. 376.
3 Unprinted letter once in Mr. F. W. Cosens's collection.
4 S. T. C. to Poole, Nov. 5, 1796 (T. Poole and his Friends, i. 177, and Biog. Lit. 1847, ii. 380).
5 T. Poole and his Friends, i. 179.
modations. These seemed to be unequal even to the poor poet's modest requirements. But by the end of the month Coleridge confesses to Poole that he is childishly impatient,' and, as nothing better offers, will put up with the cottage. One day he writes, I will instruct the maid in cooking'; the next that he will keep no servant' -will himself be everything, even 'occasional nurse.' This last heroic resolve was communicated to Poole in a letter of the 11th December. It was crossed by one in which Poole not only reiterated the disadvantages of the cottage, but dissuaded the poet strongly from burying himself in a village so remote, as was Stowey, from braries and from the society of a stimulating and helpful group of friends. This letter caused Coleridge 'unexpected and acute pain.' His frenzied reply must be read at its full length of ten printed pages in Mrs. Sandford's book. No summary could do it the least justice. It is a whirl of appeals, adjurations, reproaches, cries de profundis, plans and plans of life framed and torn up, and resumed to be again abandoned, in bewildering profusion : a vivid and sincere (because unconscious) revelation, not merely of the passing mood, but of the very deeps of character and nature, which is probably unique in autobiography. As truly as of any Lucy Gray——
'Tis of a little child
Upon a lonesome wild,
Not far from home, but she hath lost her way:
And now moans low in bitter grief and fear,
And now screams loud, and hopes to make her mother hear.2
IV. STOWEY-LYRICAL BALLADS
This letter was begun immediately on the receipt of Poole's, and concluded on the following day, but it concluded as it began, with the expression of a determination to settle at once in the cottage, if only Poole will assure him that he has kept, back no reason to the contrary-for he fears that Poole's family connections are at the bottom of the dissuasion. He must have received the reassurance he wanted, for he took up his abode in the cottage on the last day of the year. A poor cottage
now, then a poorer; but then it had a garden of an acre and a half, and that garden touched Poole's at the rear. Just then no place in the world could have been more attractive. 'Literature,' he told Poole, though I shall never abandon it, will always be a secondary object with me. My poetic vanity and my political furor have been exhaled, and I would rather be an expert self-maintaining gardener than a Milton, if I could not unite both.' To Thelwall he wrote, in an unpublished letter, a few days later: 'My farm will be a garden of one acre and a half, in which I mean to raise vegetables and corn for myself and wife, and feed a couple of snouted and grunting cousins from the refuse. My evenings I shall devote to literature, and by reviews in the Magazine [Monthly] and other shilling-scavengering, shall probably gain £40 a year-which Economy and Self-denial, gold-beaters, shall hammer till it covers my annual expenses. I am not fit for public life; yet the light shall!
stream to a far distance from the taper in my cottage window.'
Coleridge's last employment before finally quitting Bristol with his wife and child on the 30th December was 'to get some review-books off his hands.'3 A week before, he had executed an order from his friend Benjamin Flower for an ode to be published 2 Dejection: an Ode, p. 162.
1 T. Poole and his Friends, i. 184-193.
3 Estlin Letters, p. 25.
on the last day of the year in the Cambridge Intelligencer-the paper he had recommended to the disappointed subscribers to the Watchman. The ode duly appeared, and at the same time Coleridge published it in an expanded form in a thin quarto pamphlet with the title, Ode on the Departing Year,1 and a dedication to Thomas Poole. The superfluous page at the end he filled with the lines to Charles Lloyd in his character of a young man of fortune who abandoned himself to an indolent and causeless melancholy (p. 68).
When Lamb heard of the farm,' he asked sceptically, And what does your worship know about farming?' and recommended the cultivation of the muse as something more in his friend's way, reminding him of a project for an epi, on the Origin of Evil. But the first thing to be done at Stowey was to continue preparations begun three months before for a second edition of the Poems, the first having been sold out. The lines contributed to Southey's Joan of Arc were to be reclaimed, and recast into an independent poem, The Visions of the Maid of Arc, with which the new edition was to lead off. 'I much wish' (wrote Coleridge to Cottle early in January 1797) 'to send my Visions of the Maid of Arc and my corrections to Wordsworth, who lives not above 20 miles from me, and to Lamb, whose taste and judgment I see reason to think more correct and philosophical than my own, which yet I place pretty high.'2
The arrangement for a 'second edition' of the Poems had been made in October 1796. Cottle proposed to give Coleridge twenty guineas for an edition of five hundred, reminding us (as he probably reminded Coleridge) that this was an act of pure charity, the copyright being his. If the poet chose to omit and alter and add, it was his affair. In his reply, Coleridge hinted very strongly that he thought the proposal unjust, but that 'hartering' with Cottle was absolutely intolerable.' He was clearing out the rubbish, and especially the political verses the absence of which would widen the sphere of his readers—and supplying their place with new poems of better and more attractive quality. If he left Cottle to reprint the old volume, and himself published the new, he would make more money, and save the copyright in them. He ends, however, by accepting Cottle's proposal, being 'solicitous only for the omission of the sonnet to Lord Stanhope, and the ludicrous poem' (Written after a Walk before Supper, p. 44).3 The printing dragged on till March 1797, and when the volume was almost completed, Coleridge wrote thus to Cottle, in a letter which has not been fully published: 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.' He goes on to explain that although the bulk of the volume will thus be increased, so also will be its saleability, seeing
1 Estlin Letters, p. 26, 'I have printed that ODE-I like it myself.' See also 'APPENDIX K,' p. 539, and Note 103,' p. 586, post.
2 The letter is mutilated and inaccurately printed by Cottle. This portion occurs at p. 130 of the Reminiscences-another at p. 100. Wordsworth and his sister were then living at Racedown, in Dorsetshire (the post-town being Crewekerne), a house lent to them by a member of the Bristol family of Pinney. The precise date of the first meeting of Coleridge and Wordsworth (a point which has been discussed) has not been ascertained, but a careful examination of all the evidence available, published and unpublished,
has all but convinced me that the meeting took place in either September or October 1796. Mr. Ernest Coleridge arrived, independently, at the same conclusion. I may add that there are various indications, too minute for detail here, that the intercourse which took place between the two poets, previous to June 1797, had been more considerable than has hitherto been suspected.
3 See Cottle's Rem. p. 115. In the E. Recoll. (1837) Cottle suppressed most of Coleridge's letter; but pretends to give it complete in the Rem. I have not seen the original.
that, he doubts not, 'Lloyd's connections will take off a great many, more than a hundred.'
It was about this time that Coleridge received a request from Sheridan that he would write a play for Drury Lane, and with a feeling in which confidence and misgivings were pretty equally mingled, Coleridge began the attempt. The composition occupied a good deal of his time until the middle of October, when the finished manuscript of Osorio was despatched to the theatre. But these months were varied by many other interests and occupations, and by one fateful event-the settlement of the Wordsworths at Alfoxden. On most Sundays-whether in blue coat and white waistcoat, or in some more conventional costume, is unknown-Coleridge preached in the Unitarian chapels of Bridgwater or Taunton, often travelling on foot, and never receiving hire: on week-days he learned potato-culture and tanning, in the kindly companionship of Thomas Poole : Charles Lloyd occupied some hours of each morning when the neophyte's health permitted. Nor were the duties of 'occasional nurse' neglected. 'At my side, my cradled infant slumbers peacefully,' he says in Frost at Midnight, and to Thelwall he writes, You would smile to see my eye rolling up to the ceiling in a lyric fury, and on my knee baby-clothes pinned to warm.' Stowey had not brought wealth or even competency, but it had revived hope, and Coleridge generally found that a sufficing diet. He had not, perhaps, like another great poet, waited very patiently, but, nevertheless, his cry had been heard, he felt that his feet had been set upon a rock, and his goings established, and he was soon to learn, that a new song had been put into his mouth.
About the beginning of June, Poole saw that a fresh subscription for Coleridge's benefit was needful, and confiding his views to Lloyd and Estlin, begged the latter to be treasurer, and to apply to none but to those who love him, for it requires affection and purity of heart to offer, with due associations, assistance of this nature to such a man.' Coleridge had 'preached an excellent sermon at Bridgwater' on the previous day on the necessity of religious zeal in these times,' and from Bridgwater he seems to have proceeded to Racedown on a visit to Wordsworth. Thence, probably on the 9th, and again on the 10th, he wrote to Estlin asking him to give to Mrs. Fricker and to Mrs. Coleridge five guineas each, out of the subscription money, expressing a hope and a trust that this will be the last year' in which he can conscientiously accept of those contributions, which,' 'in my present lot, and conscious of my present occupations, I feel no pain in doing.' To Cottle he wrote 5 with some corrections for the Ode on the Departing Year (then at press for the Poems, 1797) and announcing his return to Stowey on a Friday,' which may be calculated as probably the 16th June. Wordsworth, he announces, admires his tragedy, 'which gives me great hopes'; and then he goes on to estimate Wordsworth's own tragedy in terms which, when we remember he is speaking of The Borderers, compel a smile. His drama is absolutely wonderful. . . There are in the piece those profound truths of the human heart, which I find three or four times in the Robbers of Schiller, and often in Shakespere, but in Wordsworth there are no inequalities.' He feels himself a little man' by Wordsworth's side; and adds (a passage suppressed
1 The history of this effort, from its inception to its triumphant accomplishment at Drury Lane in 1813, is fully detailed in 'Note 230,' p. 649. 2 Unpublished letter of Feb. 6, 1797.
2 T. Poole and his Friends, i. 231, and Estlin Letters, p. 39.
4 Estlin Letters, p. 40.
5 Cottle prints this important letter (Rem. p. 142) in a form both garbled and incomplete, and with the date June 1796.' The original was lent me by the late Mr. F. W. Cosens.