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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Samuel Taylor Coleridge to William Godwin, 8 July 1801

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Keswick, July 8, 1801.

My dear Godwin,—I have this evening sent your tragedy (directed to you) to Penrith to go from thence to London by the mail. You will probably receive it on Saturday. . . . It would be needless to recount the pains and evils that prevented me from sending it on the day I meant to do. Your letter of this morning has given me some reason to be glad that I was prevented. My criticisms were written in a style, and with a boyish freedom of censure and ridicule, that would have given you pain and perhaps offence. I will re-write them, abridge, or rather extract from them their absolute meaning, and send them in the way of a letter. In the tragedy I have frequently used the following marks: *, T, I, ‡. Of these, the first calls your attention to my suspicions that your language is false or intolerable English. The second marks the passages which struck me as flat or mean. The third is a note of reprobation, levelled at these sentences in which you have adopted that worst sort of vulgar language, common-place book language: such as ‘Difficulties that mock narration,’ ‘met my view,’ ‘bred in the lap of luxury.’ The last mark implies bad metre. I was much interested by the last three acts, indeed, I greatly admire
your management of the story. The two first acts, I am convinced, you must entirely re-write. I would indeed open the play with the conspirators in Ispahan, confident of their success. . . . In this way you might with great dramatic animation explain to the audience all you wish, and give likewise palpable motives of despair and revenge to Bulac’s after conduct. But this I will write to you—the papers in which I have detailed what I think might be substituted, I really do not dare send.

“You must have been in an odd mood when you could write to a poor fellow with a sick stomach, a giddy head, and swoln and limping limbs, to a man on whom the dews of heaven cannot fall without diseasing him, ‘You want, or at least you think you want, neither accommodation nor society as ministerial to your happiness,’ and strangely credulous too, when you could gravely repeat that in the island of St Michael’s, the chief town of which contains 14,000 inhabitants, no other residence was procurable than ‘an unwindowed cavern scooped in the rock.’ I must have been an idle fool indeed to have resolved so deeply without having made enquiries how I was to be housed and fed. Accommodations are necessary to my life, and society to my happiness, though I can find that society very interesting and good which you perhaps would find dull and uninstructive. One word more. You say I do not tolerate you in the degree of partiality you feel for Mrs I., and will not allow your admiration of Hume, and the pleasure you derive from Virgil, from Dryden, even in a certain degree from Rowe. Hume and Rowe I for myself hold very cheap, and have never feared to say so, but never had any objection to any one’s differing from me. I have received, and I hope still shall, great delight from Virgil, whose versification I admire beyond measure, and very frequently his language. Of Dryden I am, and always have been, a passionate admirer. I have always placed him among our greatest men. You must have misunderstood me, and considered me as detracting when I considered myself only as discriminating. But were my opinions otherwise, I should fear that others would not tolerate me in holding opinions different from those of people in general, than feel any difficulty in tolerating
others in their conformity with the general sentiment. Of Mrs I. I once, I believe, wrote a very foolish sentence or two to you. And now for ‘my late acquisitions of friends.’ Aye, friends!
Stoddart indeed, if he were nearer to us, and more among us, I should really number among such. He is a man of uncorrupted integrity, and of very very kind heart; his talents are respectable, and his information such, that while he was with me I derived much instruction from his conversation. Sharpe and Rogers had an introductory note from Mr Wedgwood; as to Mr Rogers, even if I wished it, and were in London the next week, I should never dream that any acquaintance I have with him would entitle me to call on him at his own house.

S. T. Coleridge.”