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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. I. 1800
Samuel Taylor Coleridge to William Godwin, [11 September 1800]

Contents Vol. I
Ch. I. 1756-1785
Ch. II. 1785-1788
Ch. III. 1788-1792
Ch. IV. 1793
Ch. V. 1783-1794
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Ch. VII. 1759-1791
Ch. VII. 1791-1796
Ch. IX. 1797
Ch. X. 1797
Ch. XI. 1798
Ch. XII. 1799
Ch. XIII. 1800
Contents Vol. II
Ch. I. 1800
Ch. II. 1800
Ch. III. 1800
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Ch. V. 1802-1803
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
Ch. VIII. 1811-1814
Ch. IX. 1812-1819
Ch. X. 1819-1824
Ch. XI. 1824-1832
Ch. XII. 1832-1836
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Produced by CATH
Monday, [Sep. 11, 1800.]

Dear Godwin,—There are vessels every week from Dublin to Workington, which place is 16 miles from my house, through a divine country, but these are idle regrets. I know not the nature of your present pursuits, whether or no they are such as to require the vicinity of large and curious libraries. If you were engaged in any work of imagination or reasoning, not biographical, not historical, I should repeat and urge my invitation, after my wife’s confinement. Our house is situated on a rising ground, not two furlongs from Keswick, about as much from the Lake Derwentwater, and about two miles from the Lake Bassenthwaite—both lakes and mountains we command. The river Greta runs behind our house, and before it too, and Skiddaw is behind us—not half a mile distant, indeed just distant enough to enable us to view it as a Whole. The garden, orchards, fields, and immediate country all delightful. I have, or have the use of, no inconsiderable collection of books. In my library you will find all the Poets and
Philosophers, and many of the best old writers. Below, in our parlour, belonging to our landlord, but in my possession, are almost all the usual trash of
Johnsons, Gibbons, Robertsons, &c., with the Encyclopedia Britannica, &c. Sir Wilfred Lawson’s magnificent library is some 8 or 9 miles distant, and he is liberal in the highest degree in the management of it. And now for your letter. I swell out my chest and place my hand on my heart, and swear aloud to all that you have written, or shall write, against lawyers, and the practice of the law. When you next write so eloquently and so well against it, or against anything, be so good as to leave a larger space for your wafer; as by neglect of this, a part of your last was obliterated. The character of Curran, which you have sketched most ably, is a frequent one in its moral essentials, though, of course among the most rare, if we take it with all its intellectual accompaniments. Whatever I have read of Curran’s, has impressed me with a deep conviction of his genius. Are not the Irish in general a more eloquent race than we? Of North Wales my recollections are faint, and as to Wicklow I only know from the newspapers that it is a mountainous country. As far as my memory will permit me to decide on the grander parts of Caernarvonshire, I may say that the single objects are superior to any which I have seen elsewhere, but there is a deficiency in combination. I know of no mountain in the North equal to Snowdon, but then we have an encampment of huge mountains, in no harmony perhaps to the eye of a mere painter, but always interesting, various, and, as it were, nutritive. Height is assuredly an advantage, as it connects the earth with the sky, by the clouds that are ever skimming the summits, or climbing up, or creeping down the sides, or rising from the chasm, like smoke from a cauldron, or veiling or bridging the higher parts or lower parts of the waterfalls. That you were less impressed by N. Wales I can easily believe; it is possible that the scenes of Wicklow may be superior, but it is certain that you were in a finer irritability of spirit to enjoy them. The first pause and silence after a return from a very interesting visit is somewhat connected with languor in all of us. Besides, as you have
observed, mountains, and mountainous scenery, taken collectively and cursorily, must depend for their charms on their novelty. They put on their immortal interest then first, when we have resided among them, and learned to understand their language, their written characters, and intelligible sounds, and all their eloquence, so various, so unwearied. Then you will hear no ‘twice-told tale.’ I question if there be a room in England which commands a view of mountains, and lakes, and woods, and vales, superior to that in which I am now sitting. I say this, because it is destined for your study, if you come. You are kind enough to say that you feel yourself more natural and unreserved with me than with others. I suppose that this in great measure arises from my own ebullient unreservedness. Something, too, I will hope may be attributed to the circumstance that my affections are interested deeply in my opinions. But here, too, you will meet with
Wordsworth, ‘the latch of whose shoe I am unworthy to unloose,’ and five miles from Wordsworth, Charles Lloyd has taken a house. Wordsworth is publishing a second volume of the ‘Lyrical Ballads,’ which title is to be dropped, and his ‘Poems’ substituted. Have you seen Sheridan since your return? How is it with your tragedy? Were you in town when Miss Bayley’s tragedy was represented? How was it that it proved so uninteresting? Was the fault in the theatre, the audience, or the play? It must have excited a deeper feeling in you than that of mere curiosity, for doubtless the tragedy has great merit. I know not indeed how far Kemble might have watered and thinned its consistence; I speak of the printed play. Have you read the ‘Wallenstein?’ Prolix and crowded and dragging as it is, it is yet quite a model for its judicious management of the sequence of the scenes, and such it is held in German theatres. Our English acting plays are many of them wofully deficient in this part of the dramatic trade and mystery.

Hartley is well, and all life and action.—Yours, with unfeigned esteem,

S. T. Coleridge.

“Kisses for Mary and Fanny. God love them! I wish you would come and look out for a house for yourself here. You
know, ‘I wish’ is privileged to have something silly to follow it.”