« AnteriorContinuar »
I replied, “I will."
“I will.” I then gave him Mr. Coleridge's letter, requesting him to put it in his pocket, and read it, at his leisure. Soon after, , I received the following communication from Mr. De Quincey.
“My dear Sir, I will write for the three hundred pounds to
I am not able to say any thing farther at present, but will endeavour to call on you in a day or two. I am very sincerely, and with many thanks for your trouble in this affair,
Thomas De Quincey."
In a day or two, Mr. De Quincey enclosed me the three hundred pounds, when I received from Mr. Coleridge, the following receipt, which I still retain.
“ November 12, 1807, Received from Mr. Joseph Cottle, the sum of three hundred pounds, presented to me, through him, by an unknown friend.
S. T. Coleridge. Bristol."
I have been thus particular in detailing the
whole of this affair, so honourable to Mr. De Quincey; and, as I was the communicating agent, I thought it right, on this occasion, to give publicity to the transaction, on the principle of doing justice to all. (Notwithstanding the prohibition, some indirect notices from myself, could have left no doubt with Mr. C. of the source of this handsome gift.)
It is singular, that a little before this time, (1807) Mr. Coleridge had written to his friend Mr. Wade, a melancholy letter, from which the following is an extract.
660 God! if you knew the weight of my heart, the misery that cleaves to my spirit ! I have too much reason to suspect and fear, that I must not much longer expect my annuity! [it was reduced eventually, from £150 per annum, to £75, which was the moiety left by Mr. T. Wedgewood, and received by Mr. C. through life. The cause of this diminution need not here be noticed,] so that at my age, I am to be penniless, resourceless, in heavy debt, my health and spirits absolutely broken down, and with scarce a friend in the world !"
So that Mr. De Quincey's £300 must have been received at an acceptable time !
No date determines when the following letter was written : supposed, 1807.
“My dear Cottle,
The common end of all narrative, nay, of all poems is, to convert a series into a whole, to make those events, which, in real or imagined history, move on in a straight line, assume to our understandings a circular motionthe snake with its tail in its mouth. Hence, indeed, the almost flattering and yet appropriate term, Poesy, i. e. Poieses—making. Doubtless, to His eye, which alone comprehends all past and all future, in one eternal, what to our short sight appears straight, is but a part of the great cycle, just as the calm sea to us appears level, though it be indeed only a part of a globe. Now what the globe is in geography, miniaturing in order to manifest the truth, such is a poem to that image of God, which we were created into, and which still seeking that unity, or revelation of the one, in and by the many, which reminds it, that though in order to be an individual being, it must go further from God; yet as the receding from him, is to proceed toward nothingness and privation, it must still at every step turn back toward him, in order to be at all. A straight line continually retracted, forms of necessity a circular orbit. Now God's will and word CANNOT be frustrated. His fiat was, with ineffable awfulness, applied to man, when all things, and all living things, and man himself as a mere animal) included, were called forth by the Universal, Let there be,' and then the breath of the Eternal superadded, to make an immortal spirit, immortality being, as the author of the “ Wisdom of Solomon ' profoundly expresses it, “the only possible reflex, or image of eternity. The immortal finite is the contracted shadow of the eternal Infinite. Therefore, nothingness, or death, to which we move, as we recede from God and from the Word, cannot be nothing ; but that tremendous medium between nothing and true being, which Scripture and inmost reason present as most, most horrible ! Affectionately,
Tuesday night, i. e. Wednesday morning. My best and dearest friend,
I have barely time to scribble a few lines, so as not to miss the post, for here as every where, there are charitable people, who, taking for granted that you have no business of your own, would save from the pain of vacancy, by employing you in theirs.
As to the letter you propose to write to a man who is unworthy even of a rebuke from you, I might most unfeignedly object to some parts of it, from a pang of conscience forbidding me to allow, even from a dear friend, words of admiration, which are inapplicable in exact proportion to the power given to me of having deserved them, if I had done my duty.
It is not of comparative utility I speak : for as to what has been actually done, and in relation to useful effects produced, whether on the minds of individuals, or of the public, I dare boldly stand forward, and (let every man have his own, and that be counted mine which, but for, and through me, would not have existed) will challenge the proudest of my literary contemporaries to compare proofs with me, of usefulness in the excitement of reflection, and the diffusion of original or forgot