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and from without, he is the darling of the sun and of the breeze. Nature seems to bless him as a thing of her own. He looks at the clouds, the mountains, the living beings of the earth, and vaults and jubilates ! Solemn looks and solemn words have been hitherto connected in his mind with great and magnificent objects only: with lightning, with thunder, with the waterfall blazing in the sunset. Then I say, shall I suffer him to see grave countenances and hear grave accents, while his face is sprinkled ? Shall I be grave myself, and tell a lie to him? Or shall I laugh, and teach him to insult the feelings of his fellow-men? Besides, are we not all in this present hour, fainting beneath the duty of Hope? From such thoughts I stand up, and vow a book of severe analysis, in which I will tell all I believe to be truth in the nakedest language in which it can be told.
“My wife is now quite comfortable. Surely you might come and spend the very next four weeks, not without advantage to both of us. The very glory of the place is coming on. The local Genius is just arranging himself in his highest attributes. But above all, I press it, because my mind has been busied with speculations that are closely connected with those pursuits which have hitherto constituted your utility and importance; and ardently as I wish you success on the stage, I yet cannot frame myself to the thought that
you should cease to appear as a bold moral thinker. I wish you to write a book on the power of the words, and the processes by which the human feelings form affinities with them. In short, I wish you to philosophize Horne Tooke's system, and to solve the great questions, whether there be reason to hold that an action bearing all the semblance of pre-designing consciousness may yet be simply organic, and whether a series of such actions are possible? And close on the heels of this question would follow, Is Logic the Essence of Thinking? In other words, Is Thinking impossible without arbitrary signs? And how far is the word • arbitrary’a misnomer? Are not words, &c., parts and germinations of the plant? And what is the law of their growth ? In something of this sort I would endeavour to destroy the old antithesis of Words and Things; elevating, as it were, Words into
Things, and living things too. All the nonsense of vibrating, &c., you would of course dismiss. If what I have written appear nonsense to you, or commonplace thoughts in a harlequinade of outré expressions, suspend your judgment till we see each other.Yours sincerely,
S. T. COLERIDGE. “ I was in the country when Wallenstein was published. Longman sent me down half-a-dozen. The carriage back, the book was not worth."
The Same to the Saine.
“Monday, Oct. 13, 1800. “ DEAR GODWIN, I have been myself too frequently a grievous delinquent in the article of letter-writing to feel any inclination to reproach my friends when peradventure they have been long silent. But, this is out of the question. I did not expect a speedier answer, for I had anticipated the circumstances which you assign as the causes of your delay.
“An attempt to finish a poem of mine for insertion in the second volume of the ‘ Lyrical Ballads' has thrown me so fearfully back in my bread-and-beef occupations, that I shall scarcely be able to justify myself in putting you to the expense of the few lines which I may be able to scrawl on the present paper ; but some
your letter interested me deeply, and I wished to tell you
First, then, you know Kemble, and I do not. But my conjectural judgments concerning his character lead me to persuade an absolute, passive obedience to his opinions; and this, too, because I would leave to every man his own trade. Your trade has been in the present instance, ist, To furnish a wise pleasure to your fellow-beings in general; and 2dly, to give to Mr Kemble and his associates the means of themselves delighting that part of your fellow-beings assembled in a theatre. As to what relates to the first point, I should be sorry indeed if greater men than Mr Kemble could induce you to alter a 'but' to a 'yet,' contrary to your own convictions.
Above all things, an author ought to be sincere to the public; and when William Godwin stands in the
title page, it is implied that W. G. approves that which follows. Besides, the mind and finer feelings are blunted by such obseqiousness. But in the theatre, it is as Godwin & Co. ex professo. I should regard it almost in the same light as if I had written a song for Haydn to compose and Mara to sing. I know indeed what is poetry, but I do not know so well as he and she what will suit his notes and her voice. That actors and managers are often wrong is true; but still their trade is their trade, and the presumption is in favour of their being right. For the Press, I should wish you to be solicitously nice, because you are to exhibit before a larger and more respectable multitude than a theatre presents to you, and in a new part—that of a poet employing his philosophical knowledge.
“If it be possible, come therefore, and let us discuss every page and
every line. The time depends of course on the day fixed for the representation of the piece.
“Now for something which I would fain believe is still more important, namely the property of your philosophical speculations. Your second objection, derived from the present ebb of opinion, will be best answered by the fact that Mackintosh and his followers have the flow. This is greatly in your favour, for mankind are at present gross reasoners. They reason in a perpetual antithesis ; Mackintosh is an oracle, and Godwin therefore a fool. Now it is morally impossible that Mackintosh and the sophists of his school can retain this opinion. You may well exclaim with Job, 'Othat my adversary would write a book !' When he publishes, it will be all over with him, and then the minds of men will incline strongly to those who would point out in intellectual perceptions a source of moral progressiveness. Every man in his heart is in favour of your general principles. A party of dough-baked democrats of fortune were weary of being dissevered from their fellow rich men. They want to say something in defence of turning round. Mackintosh puts that something into their mouths, and for awhile they will admire and be-praise him. In a little while these men will have fallen back into the ranks from which they had stepped out, and life is too SYSTEM OF GEOGRAPHY.
melancholy a thing for men in general for the doctrine of unprogressiveness to remain popular. Men cannot long retain their faith in the Heaven above the blue sky, but a Heaven they will have, and he who reasons best on the side of that universal wish will be the most popular philosopher. As to your first objection, that you are no logician, let me say that your habits are analytic, but that you have not read enough of Travels, Voyages, and Biography, especially of men's lives of themselves, and you have too soon submitted your notions to other men's censures in conversation. A man should nurse his opinions in privacy and self-fondness for a long time, and seek for sympathy and love, not for detection or
Dismiss, my dear fellow, your theory of Collision of Ideas, and take up that of Mutual Propulsions. I wish to write more to state to you a lucrative job, which would, I think, be eminently serviceable to your own mind, and which you would have every opportunity of doing here. I now express a serious wish that you would come and look out for a house.
S. T. COLERIDGE.
“I would gladly write any verses, but to a prologue or epilogue I am utterly incompetent.
The Same to the Same.
Saturday night, [Dec. 9th, 1800.] “DEAR GODWIN.—The cause of my not giving you that immediate explanation which you requested, was merely your own intimation that you could attend to nothing until the fate of your ‘Melpomene,' was decided. The plan was this : a system of Geography, taught by a re-writing of the most celebrated Travels into the different climates of the world, choosing for each climate one Traveller, but interspersing among his adventures all that was interesting in incident or observation from all former or after travellers or voyagers : annexing to each travel a short essay, pointing out what facts in it illustrate what laws of mind, &c. If a bookseller of spirit would undertake this work, I have no doubt of its being a standard school-book. It should be as large as the last edition of Guthrie-12 or 1400 pages. I mentioned it to you because I thought this sort of reading would be serviceable to your mind : but if you reject the offer, mention it to no one, for in that case I will myself undertake it. The Life of Bolingbroke' will never do in my opinion, unless you have many original unpublished papers, &c. The good people will cry it down as a Satan's Hell-broth, warmed up a-new by Beelzebub. Besides, entre nous, my Lord Bolingbroke was but a very shallow gentleman. He had great, indeed amazing, living talents, but there is absolutely nothing in his writings, his philosophical writings to wit, which had not been more accurately developed before him. All this, you will understand, goes on the supposition of your being possessed of no number of original letters. If you are, and if they enable you to explain the junction of intellectual power and depraved appetites, for heaven's sake go on boldly, and dedicate the work to your friend Sheridan. For myself, I would rather have written the 'Mad Mother' than all the works of all the Bolingbrokes and Sheridans, those brother meteors, that have been exhaled from the morasses of human depravity since the loss of Paradise. But this, my contempt of their intellectual powers as worthless, does not prevent me from feeling an interest and a curiosity in their moral temperament, and I am not weak enough to hope or wish that you should think or feel as I think
“One phrase in your letter distressed me. You say that much of your tranquillity depends on the coming hour. I hope that this does not allude to any immediate embarrassment. If not, I should cry out against you loudly. The motto which I prefixed to my tragedy when I sent it to the manager, I felt, and I continue to feel.
66 Valeat res scenica, si me Palma negata mærum, donata reducit opimum.' “ The success of a tragedy in the present size of the theatres ( Pizarro' is a pantomime) is in my humble opinion rather improbable than probable. What tragedy has succeeded for the last 15 years? You will probably answer the question by