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CURIOUS FRAGMENTS, extracted from a common-
place-book which belonged to Robert Burton, the
famous Author of the Anatomy of Melancholy · 171
'ROSAMUND GRAY, a Tale.......
RECOLLECTIONS OF CHRIST'S HOSPITAL ........ 267
S.T. COLERIDGE, Esq.
MY DEAR COLERIDGE, You will smile to see the slender labors of your friend designated by the title of Works ; but such was the wish of the gentlemen who have kindly undertaken the trouble of collecting them, and from their judgment could be no appeal.
It would be a kind of disloyalty to offer to any one but yourself a volume containing the early pieces, which were first publisbed among your poems, and were fairly derivatives from you and them. My friend Lloyd and myself came into our first battle (authorship is a sort of warfare) under cover of the greater Ajax. How this association, which shall always be a dear and proud recollection to me, came to be broken,—who snapped the three-fold cord, whether yourself (but I know that was not the case) grew ashamed of your former companions,-or whether (which is by much the more probable) some ungracious bookseller author of the separation,- I cannot tell ;-but wanting the support of your friendly elm, (I speak for myself,) my vine has, since that time, put forth few or no fruits; the sap (if ever it had any) has become, in a manner, dried up and extinct; and you will find your old associate, in his second volume, dwindled into prose and criticism.
Am I right in assuming this as the cause? or is it that, as years come upon us, (except with some more healthy-happy spirits,) Life itself loses much of its Poetry for us? we transcribe but what we read in the great volume of Nature; and, as the characters grow dim, we turn off, and look another way. You yourself write no Christabels, nor Ancient Mariners, now.
Some of the Sonnets, which shall be carelessly turned over by the general reader, may happily awaken in you remembrances, which I should be sorry should be ever totally extinctthe
Of summer days and of delightful years
even so far back as to those old suppers at our old ********** Inn,-when life was fresh, and topics exhaustless, -and you first kindled in me, if not the power, yet the love of poetry, and beanty, and kindliness.
What words have I heard
Spoke at the Mermaid!
The world has given you many a shrewd nip and gird since that time, but either my eyes are grown dimmer, or my old friend is the same, who stood before me three and twenty years ago his hair a little confessing the hand of time, but still shrouding the same capacious brain, his heart not altered, scarcely where it “ alteration finds."
One piece, Coleridge, I have ventured to publish in its original form, though I have heard you complain of a certain over-imitation of the antique in the style. If I could see any way of getting rid of the objection, without rewriting it entirely, I would make some sacrifices. But when I wrote John Woodvil, I never proposed to myself any distinct deviation from common English. I had been newly initiated in the writings of our elder dramatists; Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger, were then a first love ; and from what I was so freshly conversant in, what wonder if my lauguage inperceptibly